40. The White Rose (1892)
The White Rose
by Robert Buchanan and George R. Sims (an adaptation of the novel, Woodstock by Sir Walter Scott).
London: Adelphi Theatre. 23 April to 10 June, 1892 (42nd performance).
The Nottingham Evening Post (30 March, 1892 - p.4)
The new Adelphi drama was read to the company on Monday afternoon by Mr. Robert Buchanan, who occupied four hours in the process. It is a romantic drama in four acts by Messrs. Buchanan and G. R. Sims, and its production after Easter will necessitate material changes in Messrs. Gatti’s company.
The Stage (31 March, 1892 - p.11)
When you find “Dagonet” in the Referee devoting paragraphs to the doings and sayings of Mr. Robert Buchanan you may bet your bottom dollar that “something is up” between the two. And so it appears. For some time “Dagonet” has been telling us about Mr. Buchanan at Brighton and his wonderful staying powers. He has also described the poet as having indulged in the frivolities of the fancy dress ball at Covent Garden. Now for the sequel. On, or near to, Easter Monday, a new romantic drama, written by George R. Sims and Robert Buchanan, will be produced at the Adelphi, where it was read to the company on Monday. There you have the cause of the effect in a nutshell. The play in question is in four acts, and Windsor Castle will be one of the scenes. In it you will find a well-known actor, who has been from England some time, appearing as Cromwell.
[Note: “Dagonet” was a pseudonym of G. R. Sims.]
The Edinburgh Evening News (2 April, 1892 - p.2)
Aristocratic villainy and virtuous humbleness are evidently going out of fashion at the Adelphi Theatre, where melodrama has so long reigned supreme, and made its sacred home. The transition, however, to another style of entertainment is not to be too sharp. These popular caterers, G. R. Sims and Robert Buchanan, have been hard at work of late on a romantic drama, to be adapted from Scott’s “Woodstock.”
The Era (2 April, 1892 - p.10)
MESSRS G. R. SIMS AND ROBERT BUCHANAN’S new drama, Woodstock; or, the Cavalier, was put in rehearsal at the Adelphi Theatre on Thursday, for production, if possible, at Easter. Mr Cartwright is to play Oliver Cromwell, Mr Leonard Boyne will be the virtuous hero, and Miss Millard and Mrs Patrick Campbell are also in the cast.
The Graphic (9 April, 1892 - p.16)
ONCE more the creations of Sir Walter Scott are to furnish the playwright with material. This time it is Mr. G. R. Sims and Mr. Robert Buchanan who, weary of the modern realistic drama, have turned their attention to this inexhaustible store. “Woodstock” is the novel chosen; thus, at Easter or soon after, the ADELPHI stage will be trodden by Cavaliers and Roundheads in the stirring days of 1651. Cromwell and Prince Charles will, of course, be prominent personages, as will Cromwell’s favourite daughter Elizabeth, who is to be endowed with a prominence not bestowed upon her in Scott’s pages. It is understood that the authors, who have a large company to provide for, have not hesitated to introduce new incidents and even one entirely new character in the shape of a comic butler, to be played by Mr. Lionel Rignold.
Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper (24 April, 1892 - p.1)
LAST NIGHT’S THEATRICALS.
After a most successful run the Trumpet Call gave place last night to a new drama by Messrs. G. R. Sims and R. Buchanan, called The White Rose, and a typical Adelphi audience assembled with appetite whetted by rumours that the new work was to differ in some respects from the ordinary domestic or modern sensational drama hitherto supplied by the joint authors. In fact they have gone to the pages of Sir Walter Scott for their inspiration, and the somewhat gloomy story of “Woodstock” is the subject selected for fresh dramatic illustration. It may be said at once that Scott is handled freely, and that, while the main interest and incidents of the novel are preserved, there is a modernising freshness about the literary treatment of it, and a vigorous handling of historical facts in order to secure effective and moving situations. For the sake of comic reliefs liberties are taken with the Puritan Joseph Tomkins, who is here made a hypocritical knave flirting with Phśbe Mayflower, and in rivalry to a comic butler; but an Adelphi audience must have its fun, and Mr. Charles Collette and Mr. Lionel Rignold do their best to supply it. The drama opens with the incidents of the seizure of Woodstock Lodge, which are treated in a thoroughly dramatic spirit. The humiliation of Sir Harry Lee, the escape of Charles from Worcester, and the intervention of Markham Everard at a moment when the old cavalier is ordered by the churlish commissioners of Cromwell, are elements of a spirited Act, pictorially illustrated by two artistic scenes. In the second Act another strong situation occurs where Markham, accused by his rival, Colonel Yarborough, of treachery to the Roundhead cause, justifies himself before Cromwell, and is forgiven on the intercession of Elizabeth, the Pretender’s daughter. Here Cromwell’s perturbation of mind, his remorse at Charles’s death, and his fears for his daughter’s life are powerfully pourtrayed by Mr. Cartwright; and a dream showing tableaux of the execution of Charles I. and the death of Elizabeth give force to a situation which sealed the success of the piece last night. Plaudits loud and long rewarded both the actor and Mrs. Patrick Campbell, whose Elizabeth is a sympathetic and graceful impersonation. The next act is devoted to the Royal fugitive at Woodstock who abuses Sir Harry’s hospitality by making improper advances to Alice Lee. Markham is made madly jealous and is about to slay the King, when learning his rank he spares him and assists him to pass the Parliamentary laws to save the Parliamentary cause from another crime—regicide. The discovery by Cromwell of the hero’s weakness in his cause makes another strongly dramatic scene. The success of the play is beyond a doubt, differing as it does from the ordinary fare supplied at this house. The martial stage pictures of a picturesque period are triumphs of stage craft. In the acting there are opportunities for a strong company that are amply taken. Mr. Cartwright’s Cromwell is a well-studied fine personality; Mr. Leonard Boyne finds in the manly soldier Markham a character as romantic as may be, while there is a taking dash about the Roger Wildrake of Mr. Charles Dalton, and a noble dignity in Mr. Beveridge’s Sir Harry Lee. Miss Evelyn Millard is a charming Alice Lee, and Miss Jecks makes a merry Phśbe Mayflower. When the curtain fell the verdict of the audience was unmistakeable. The players were called and also the authors, while special honour was done to Mr. Cartwright, who, in the last act especially, rose to an intensity that suggested that this excellent actor has at last found his opportunity.
Reynolds’s Newspaper (24 April, 1892 - p.8)
LAST NIGHT’S THEATRICALS.
Last night Messrs. Gatti replaced the successful drama, “The Trumpet Call,” by another from the pen of those successful collaborators, Messrs. Sims and Buchanan, entitled “The White Rose.” The authors have taken for their groundwork Sir Walter Scott’s novel, “Woodstock,” and have fabricated therefrom a charmingly romantic story. The main incident in the book is the escape of the young Charles Stuart through the stratagem of Albert Lee; but the authors effect the future King’s safety by the kindly help of a young Cromwellian, Colonel Markham Everard. The interest of the play starts with the rising of the curtain, and is never for a moment allowed to flag until the final curtain fall. In the first act we are shown the gates to Woodstock Chase, and view the Puritans wending their way to the parish church to return thanks for the victory over the Royalist forces at Worcester. Woodstock is proclaimed, and is to be forfeited to “The Man of Iron,” the owner, Sir Harry Lee, being an upholder of the fugitive Stuart. Colonel Yarborough is entrusted with this order of the Commissioners, with instructions to take only formal possession of the estate; but, his love suit having been spurned by Alice Lee, he is about to turn the aged Sir Harry and his beautiful daughter from their home, when his project is frustrated by the intervention of his fellow-officer, Markham Everard, a kinsman of the Lees, and the accepted lover of the charming Alice, thus increasing the enmity of his rival, Yarborough. The second act is a very strong one—perhaps the strongest of the four in which the story is told. Everard, hearing that his rival has suddenly left for Windsor, follows him there, and attempts to justify his conduct to Cromwell in countermanding the order of the wily Yarborough. Cromwell’s daughter is with him, and “Old Noll,” having previously questioned her as regards her affection for young Everard, for a time is constrained to look favourably on the young Colonel. He leaves them together, and a charmingly pretty and pathetic scene takes place between them. Elizabeth questions Everard about Alice, of whom she has heard, and then has perforce to listen to an account of Everard’s love for his beautiful kinswoman, she, meanwhile, undergoing the pangs of an unrequited love. In this act we see Cromwell also repentant of his share in the late King’s death, and in his uneasy slumber are shown two visions—one of the tragedy at Whitehall, and the other of the deathbed of his favourite child, Elizabeth. In the third act we return to Woodstock, whither Cromwell himself has travelled. He takes possession of the mansion, and learns that young Charles Stuart, who has been in hiding there, has escaped by the aid of Markham Everard. Incensed beforehand at the knowledge of the future King’s escape at Worcester, he becomes furious that his enemy should be aided by one of his officers, and Everard is condemned to die. All efforts and entreaties are unavailing for his pardon, when the rakish Cavalier and friend of Everard bribes a Puritan to allow him to pass the lines, and he speedily returns accompanied by Elizabeth Cromwell. The two women, Elizabeth and Alice, meet, both eager to sacrifice herself for the man they love. Elizabeth entreats her father to forgive the prisoner, but he remains obdurate. But the scheming Yarborough is made not only the rival of Everard, but of Cromwell, for he seeks to ingratiate himself with the Parliament; and the Man of Iron, hearing of this, takes upon himself the blame of young Everard’s fault, and the lovers are made happy. Although the authors have taken certain liberties with historical fact, no fault can be found with them on that score, for they have given us a play replete with interest, the characterization of which gives evidence of the superior workmanship of the authors. All the praise, however, must not be awarded to the authors, for no effort has been spared on the part of the management to provide this charmingly- romantic story with an appropriate setting. To this end the whole resources of the Adelphi have been brought into play, consequently we are regaled with a series of bright, picturesque, and realistic scenery, and the mise-en-scčne is quite up to, if it does not excel, the usual high Adelphi standard. The dresses, too, are excellent, the gay costumes of the Cavaliers standing out in strong contrast to those of the Puritans. The company, for excellence, could not have been excelled. Mr. Cartwright played with full dramatic power as the Lord General Cromwell, leaving no effort unturned to make the part effective; Mr. Leonard Boyne as the hero, Markham Everard, played with his usual force; and Mr. George Cockburn, as Yarborough, the traitor to friend and General alike, was capital; Mr. Fuller Mellish was satisfactory as the fugitive King, his manner lacking the historical gallantry for which the original was noted; Mr. J. D. Beveridge was stately and effective as Sir Harry Lee, and Mr. Mathew Brodie did well in the small part of Albert Lee. Miss Evelyn Millard and Mrs. Patrick Campbell were equally charming as Alice and Elizabeth, both imparting to their respective parts a truly pathetic charm. Mr. Howard Russell, Miss Clara Jecks, and Mr. Lionel Rignold were effective; to the last two of whom the lighter element was entrusted. Mr. Charles Collette gave an excellent character sketch of a self-righteous Puritan and, in direct contrast, Mr. Charles Dalton, as the swaggering devil-may-care Wildrake, was capital. The house was crowded in every part by an attentive and appreciative audience. At the end of each act the principals were one and all called before the curtain, and at the conclusion both principals and authors were called, to which they all responded; and it is safe to predict that “The White Rose” is in for a long run.
The Scotsman (25 April, 1892 - p.7)
The whirligig of time has brought with it another romantic drama at the Adelphi. For the moment present-day melodrama is put aside, and an older class prevails in its stead. The change is pleasant, even though the new work be not of any very remarkable merit either from the dramatic or from the literary point of view. One welcomes “The White Rose” of Messrs G. R. Sims and Robert Buchanan as a pleasant revival of an old and favourite style. There we are once more in an atmosphere of love-locks and round heads, of plumed hats and high boots, of lace ruffles and buff jerkins, of “king” and “Parliament,” of “go tos” and “verilys”—an atmosphere which we breathed not so long ago, when “The Royal Oak” was produced at Drury Lane. Messrs Sims and Buchanan have gone, they say, to Scott’s “Woodstock” for their inspiration, but they have not taken from it so much as might be supposed. The Cromwellian Colonel Markham Everard (Mr Boyne) is in love with and beloved by the Royalist Alice Lee (Miss Millard), who has just rejected the suit of Colonel Yarborough, another Cromwellian officer (Mr Cockburn.) Alice’s brother Albert takes refuge in Woodstock Lodge, bringing with him the young King (Mr Fuller Mellish), whom old Sir Harry Lee (Mr Beveridge) is only too proud to succour. The King makes love to Alice, but, in despite of this, Everard helps him to escape through the Roundhead lines. Cromwell’s daughter Elizabeth (Mrs Patrick Campbell), who is the apple of her father’s eye, is enamoured of Everard, who only admires her and says so. Cromwell, therefore, has no scruple in punishing Everard for his share in the King’s escape, and would have the Colonel shot but for the intervention of Elizabeth, who hands her lover over to the distracted Alice. It will be seen that in giving such prominence to “Old Noll” and his daughter, Messrs Sims and Buchanan diverge considerably from “Woodstock.” They have, indeed, rather overdone this divergence, giving us something too much of the Protector and his child. The general result, however, is good. When the last act of “The White Rose” has been freely “cut” the play will go well and attract powerfully. The story is interesting and full of sympathetic action. The humorous episodes are few, but as compensation there are a couple of tableaux, representing visions which Cromwell (Mr Cartwright) is supposed to see in a dream, and which were received to-night with abundant favour. They show the execution of Charles and the deathbed of Elizabeth Cromwell. Mr Collette, Mr Reginald, and Miss Jecks are the comedians, and make much fun out of characters which are necessarily subordinate. The principal role is that of Cromwell, which Mr Cartwright enacts with a good deal of rugged force, but with too great sameness in intonation. Next in importance comes the Markham Everard of Mr Boyne, which has all the necessary earnestness and vigour. Mr Cockburn shows some power as Everard’s rival and traducer, Mr Beveridge is a dignified Sir Harry Lee, Mr Brodie a gallant Albert Lee, and Mr Mellish a Charles Stuart more notable for humour than for kingliness. Alice finds in Miss Millard a pretty and spirited representative, while Mrs Campbell is graceful and touching as the ill-fated Elizabeth. The success of the piece is unquestionable. Mr Cartwright was twice “called” after his dream scene, and had, as Mr Boyne also had, a special “call” at the end. The authors were also summoned and duly appeared. “The White Rose” will not become a classic, but it is calculated to give much pleasure to many playgoers before it is finally put upon the shelf.
The Times (25 April, 1892 - p.10)
There are fashions in drama as in dress. Whence they come and what conditions determine the length of their stay are mysteries akin to the perplexing phenomena observed in the world of millinery, where one “creation,” for no apparent reason, supplants another, only to be itself in turn supplanted. If one man in his time plays many parts, it is equally true that he sees a good many varieties of play in vogue, from grave to gay, from lively to severe. There are veteran actors within whose experience the taste of the public has ranged over as wide a dramatic field as that sketched out by Polonius. Less than 40 years elapsed between the reign of Sheridan Knowles and that of T. W. Robertson—authors who may almost be said to represent the opposite poles of dramatic writing; and, while the claims of a literary drama are now being vigorously pushed in so many quarters, it is only a few years ago that all classes of the community were content to be regaled at two out of every three West-end theatres with comic opera or burlesque. Such are the broader aspects of this question. Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis would be an excellent, if somewhat hackneyed, motto for the playwrights of all countries and periods. That melodrama, although, generally speaking, one of the stablest of dramatic forms, has not gone scatheless amid the fluctuations of public taste is of course a foregone conclusion. If it has not passed through as many phases as burlesque, it has nevertheless been obliged in some degree to accommodate itself to its surroundings; whence it comes that the methods of Boucicault and Watts Phillips have given place to those of Sims, Pettitt, and Buchanan. The existing formula of melodrama may be said to have come in with The Lights o’ London; and, ten years being an exceptionally long run of popularity for a theatrical fashion, however good, the question has naturally arisen whether the time has not come for a change in this class of entertainment. To feel the pulse of the playgoing public in such matters is, however, an operation of considerable delicacy. Audiences can indicate plainly enough that they are tiring of the fare set before them, but they are not equally explicit as to what they would like to have in its place; in truth, they do not know. They are in the position of the gourmet who trusts to his chef to discover and minister to the requirements of a jaded palate; and this responsibility the management of the Adelphi, together with their purveyors in chief, Messrs. Sims and Buchanan, have frankly recognized to the extent that they do not even wait for their hydra-headed patron to express his dissatisfaction with the current menu, but strive to anticipate his appetites. At the Adelphi on Saturday night the Eastertide change of bill partook accordingly of the nature of a new departure, the familiar realism of The Trumpet Call giving place to the romance of a drama of the Cavalier and Roundhead period. Whether or not the bold experiment has been happily timed the events of the next few weeks or months will show. As regards the first-night audience there could certainly be no doubt of the entire success of the new play, which was applauded as warmly as the best of its predecessors in the heyday of their fortunes.
The White Rose is a dramatic version of Sir Walter Scott’s “Woodstock,” but the transition here effected by the authors from one dramatic plane to another is not quite as sharp or as violent as this circumstance might imply. They have borrowed the historical characters of the novel and assigned them to their appropriate place and period. But, availing themselves of the licence which Scott himself claimed and of which Shakespeare is the most signal example, Messrs. Sims and Buchanan have handled their material in their own way. Thus the well-known lines of the Sims-Buchanan melodrama, blurred a little though they be, in the new play, are still distinguishable. Mr. Leonard Boyne, as Markham Everard, the sober Cromwellian officer, remains what he has ever been at the Adelphi, the hero of one unfaltering love, proof alike against misfortune and temptation; and to this monumental passion Miss Millard, as Alice Lee, the Royalist beauty, responds as devotedly, through good and evil report, as if she were the modern village maiden betrothed to the young squire. Moreover, Everard finds in one Desborough, Cromwell’s High Commissioner, a rejected rival and secret enemy, corresponding in everything save his garb to the polished and relentless villain of the modern play, who entertains nefarious designs with respect to the lady and “the property”; while Mr. Lionel Rignold and Miss Clara Jecks, as dependents in a Cavalier household, carry on their comic courtship in the old familiar way—a courtship disturbed as usual by the advances of a rival swain, who in this instance is a hypocritical Roundhead, impersonated in a lively fashion by Mr. Charles Collette with the catchphrase—an echo of so many plays of the period—”Yea, verily,” with the accent on the “y.” In all such details of their story Messrs. Sims and Buchanan have kept pretty closely to their beaten track. We recognize the old melodrama without much difficulty in its new guise. The hands are the hands of Esau, but the voice is the voice of Jacob. Where the authors do acquit themselves fully and satisfactorily of their new responsibilities, where they break wholly fresh ground and invest their story with an interest such as the typical Adelphi play of the past ten years has never known, is in the building up of the massive central figure of Oliver Cromwell, in the representation of which they have the assistance of Mr. Charles Cartwright, an actor wonderfully well-adapted to the part in voice and bearing. This figure is the pivot of the entire action, and dwarfs curiously the rest of the dramatis personć. Not that it is history, or even the Cromwell of Scott’s romance. The authors have given us a Cromwell of their own, a rugged, honest, God-fearing soldier—a character conforming, it will be seen, much more closely to the historical portrait than the late Mr. Wills’s curiously perverted sketch in Charles I., but still departing from all precedent in this respect, that the Man of Iron is dominated throughout less by his sense of duty than by his overweening love for his daughter Elizabeth, whose gentle counsels, at every juncture of affairs, dispose him to mercy and forbearance. It is the pleading of Elizabeth which allows Sir Harry Lee and his daughter Alice to retain possession of Woodstock; it is the same sweet influence again which saves Markham Everard from a traitor’s doom for having assisted the escape of the young King Charles. Cromwell’s is the hand, but Elizabeth’s the spirit which rules; and whatever may be said for or against this conception on historical grounds, there can be no question of its commanding merit from the dramatic point of view. The new Cromwell is a most impressive and sympathetic character, admirably embodied by Mr. Cartwright.
Designed as they are to bring out the new side of the Protector’s character, the relations of Markham Everard and Cromwell in the play are not exactly those of the novel. Everard is indeed engaged to Alice Lee, but he is beloved by Elizabeth Cromwell, whose heart has gone out to the young soldier, it appears, with out any encouragement, and Cromwell has marked him out as a son-in-law. When, therefore, Everard openly prefers Alice to Elizabeth, Cromwell pursues him, for his Royalist leanings, with something like vindictiveness, subordinating the interests of the State to his interests as a father. This is a startling element of weakness to introduce into the Protector’s character, but it is so very human! Indeed, it would be difficult to praise too highly this portion of the authors’ scheme, which not only humanizes Cromwell in a remarkable degree, but gives an opportunity for the display of a touching generosity and true womanliness on the part of Elizabeth—a character in which Mrs. Patrick Campbell reveals an unsuspected command of the tender note. From first to last, Cromwell’s relations with his favourite daughter are a beautiful and elevating feature of the play. The part of Alice Lee is prettily sympathetic in its way likewise, and in the hands of Miss Millard loses nothing of its native sweetness. Mr. Leonard Boyne invests the young Roundhead officer with the fine cavalierly qualities indispensable to a character of heroic mould. Circumstances have driven the authors to bestow upon Everard this dual aspect, but there is not doubt that in so doing they weaken the part dramatically. It is difficult to sympathize with a soldier whose conscience is with the King while he lends his sword to the Parliament, and Mr. Boyne’s fine speeches are only a partial veneer to Everard’s inconsistencies. Various incidental characters traverse the action picturesquely. Such are the Sir Harry Lee, the fine, old, stanch cavalier of Mr. Beveridge, the devil-may-care Roger Wildrake of Mr. Dalton, and the feeble, self-indulgent Charles of Mr. Fuller Mellish, all derived from the novel. A fine play, in short, is this of The White Rose, interesting above all for its characterization, and therefore in the best sense literary. It would be a thousand pities if its many beauties were not appreciated as they deserve, but happily there is so far every sign that the confidence of the management and the authors in the judgment of the Adelphi public has not been misplaced.
Daily News (25 April, 1892 - p.2)
THE NEW DRAMA AT THE ADELPHI.
Everybody at the Adelphi on Saturday evening appeared to be delighted with the new romantic drama to which Messrs. Sims and Buchanan have given the title of “The White Rose.” The romantic personages, both historical and unhistorical, from Sir Walter Scott’s “Woodstock” were welcomed as old friends; the new people whom the authors, skilled to discern the tendencies of playgoing tastes, have associated with these—not forgetting the humorous snuffling Puritan rogue with his hankering after bribes, or the Royalist serving-man with Sancho-Panzian views in the matter of discretion as a concomitant of valour who are rarely absent from a romantic drama dealing with Cavaliers and Roundheads—were not less cordially greeted, and the bright and picturesque scenery that Messrs. Bruce Smith, Hann, and Perkins had so lavishly provided for the setting of the long succession of striking tableaux—from the view of Woodstock Chase, with the “little red-tiled town among the trees” far away in the pleasant Oxfordshire valley, down to the Lodge at Woodstock, where the sunshine falls at last upon the long-darkened faces of the hero and heroine—received their well-earned meed of applause. In brief, the bold experiment of forsaking the realistic drama of modern life for the manners, the costumes, the feelings, and aspirations of a long bygone time, was crowned with a success which scarcely needed the defiling before the curtain of all the leading performers in couples, and the final appearance of the authors, bowing and smiling on the same narrow strip of stageland, to show that the time had come again for historical drama in the Adelphi bill. But what, it may be asked, about English history? Here, no doubt, the report must be less satisfactory. The dramatists have not aimed at a chronicle, but rather at a historical romance. They have not sought to give form and substance to a chapter in their country’s annals, but, permitting themselves more than the customary licence, they have used history, as Juliet’s nurse says, “at their pleasure.” Scott, who wrote in the dark ages of our knowledge of the Cromwellian period, has, it is true, depicted the Lord General Cromwell as subject to strange fits of weakness, and has attributed to him an apostrophe (duly incorporated in the play) to Vandyck’s portrait of King Charles on the walls in Windsor Castle, which is not a little absurd; but the authors of “The White Rose” have perversely chosen to present him as a habitually hesitating and vacillating creature—a feebly amiable sentimentalist, who scarcely knows his own mind from scene to scene, or even within the same scene. One moment despotic beyond anything that Carlyle’s “Carrion Heath” has charged, the Adelphi Cromwell visits Colonel Everard’s connivance at the young Prince’s escape with sentence of death without the formality of a court martial. Then, vowing he will ne’er relent, he sets his prisoner free at the last moment because he desires to show the world that he cares nothing for some anonymous traducer’s ridiculous slander that the wearer of “Worcester’s laureate wreath” had himself been a party to the Prince’s escape to France. But the oddest graft upon Scott’s story of the chequered loves of Colonel Everard and the daughter of Sir Henry Lee of Ditchley is that where, borrowing something more than a hint from the late Mr. Wills’s “Buckingham,” the authors represent the Lord General as deliberately fostering the love-sick fancy of his beloved daughter Elizabeth for Colonel Everard, and almost throwing her—as folk say—at the head of that rather unsteadfast and lukewarm Parliamentarian. The absurdity of all this is the more striking because Elizabeth Cromwell, as is well known, was married when a mere girl to Mr. Claypole, and was, at the period of this play, a staid and serious-minded wife and mother of a family. Mr. Cartwright’s capricious intonations and restless movements did not, it must be confessed, do much towards imparting dignity to this queer caricature of the future Lord Protector, though Mrs. Patrick Campbell’s womanly tenderness and sweet resignation inspired some interest in the character of Elizabeth Cromwell, even under these conditions. More fortunate still are the authors in the case of their heroine, Alice Lee—a part to which Miss Evelyn Millard brings a native grace and gentleness in combination with a high-spirited resolution that makes her an ideal representative of the character. The tone and manner in which she rebukes the licentious levity of the young Prince, marking the while the loyal regard of her house for his family and his kingly office, were full of subtlety and peculiarly pleasing. Mr. Fuller Mellish could make little of so contemptible a profligate as the Prince appears both in the novel and the play, not without hints of authority in the Boscobel Tracts. Mr. Leonard Boyne plays the Colonel in his bold, picturesque, impassioned manner, which will be more welcome when he has abated a trifle of its exuberance. The list of personages is occupied with numerous other names, which, though less conspicuous than those mentioned, are far from unimportant or unacceptable to the audience. Foremost among these is the sprightly serving-maid Phśbe Mayflower, in the always welcome person of Miss Clara Jecks, with her lover Holdfast, a character introduced for the convenience of that great favourite of Adelphi audiences, Mr. Lionel Rignold, who makes the most of the comic cowardice and other conventional attributes of the part. Mr. Dalton’s Wildrake is too uniformly boisterous. The part of Sir Harry Lee is played with an effective air of gracious authority by Mr. Beveridge; Mr. Collette contributes a rather highly-coloured but amusing sketch of the canting Roundhead Tomkins, and in the character of Colonel Yarborough—the saturnine yet impressionable Royal Commissioner—Mr. Cockburn furnished one of the most consistent and, in a small way, most finished portraits in this extensive gallery. The authors have adopted here and there the language of the novel, but more often their dialogue is their own. It would be improved by some attempt to give it a flavour of past times. Cavaliers who habitually address young ladies by the prefix “Miss,” seem hardly less manifestly spurious than coins with the date, “55 B.C.”
The Morning Post (25 April, 1892 - p.2)
Under the title of “The White Rose,” Messrs. G. R. Sims and Robert Buchanan have written a picturesque and romantic drama, based upon Sir Walter Scott’s famous story, “Woodstock.” This was produced on Saturday night, to the entire satisfaction of a very large audience, and it was evident that the change of style, tone, and locality in the new Adelphi drama was not unwelcome. There were signs of late that the vagrants’ dens, the scenes of murder and violence, the rags, dirt, and slang of East-end slums, were beginning to lose whatever interest they may once have had, and it was a relief to exchange these horrors for the sylvan glades of Woodstock Chase and the stately chambers of Windsor Castle, and to have these scenes peopled with Cavaliers and Roundheads, and mingled with exciting incidents more or less historical. What is termed a “costume play” is a novelty at the Adelphi, and the presentation of the picturesque, chivalrous, and romantic drama may be a new departure leading to the banishment of the “rag and famish” school of dramatic art. “Taking one consideration with another,” as Mr. W. S. Gilbert says, it is to be hoped so. The stage would gain by the introduction of brighter scenes and more elevated characters than have strutted and fretted upon it for some time past. When the curtain rose upon a beautiful scene of Woodstock Chase, with a charming sketch of a sylvan landscape beyond gleaming in the sunlight, there were pleasant anticipations of a more healthy and genial form of drama, and the magic name of Sir Walter Scott had clearly not lost its old spell, although Messrs. Sims and Buchanan have introduced the “modern touch” extensively. It is soon ascertained that Colonel Markham Everard, an officer in Cromwell’s army, is in love with Alice Lee, daughter of Sir Harry Lee, a stanch adherent of Charles Stuart, the period being immediately after the Battle of Worcester. Albert Lee, Sir Harry’s son, is on his way to Woodstock, bringing with him the fugitive King for shelter there until he can escape to France. Markham Everard had been Sir Harry Lee’s favourite in boyhood, and the old Royalist can hardly forgive his taking part with the Roundheads, and objects to his addresses to Alice. Everard, knowing that Woodstock Chase is about to be confiscated, does what he can to soften the blow, but too late. The representatives of Cromwell, headed by Colonel Yarborough, come to announce to Sir Harry Lee that Woodstock is no longer his home, and the Commissioners are about to drive father and daughter from their old home in a violent storm when Markham Everard takes upon himself to countermand the order, and to send the Commissioners away. meanwhile Albert Lee and the King have arrived, and are hidden in a secret chamber until the immediate danger has passed. The second act is at Windsor Castle, where Colonel Yarborough hastens to have an interview with Cromwell to complain of the interference of Everard. Colonel Yarborough is a rejected suitor of Alice Lee, and is bent upon revenge in consequence of her favouring Everard. He represents the conduct of Everard in such a manner as at first to give Cromwell the impression that he is a traitor, but there are reasons why he wishes to judge Everard leniently. His daughter, Elizabeth, is deeply attached to the gallant young officer, and this Cromwell has discovered. He would be willing for Elizabeth to become the wife of Everard, and, in fact, gives every encouragement to the young couple. Everard, while greatly admiring Elizabeth, frankly confesses his love for Alice Lee, and the gentle girl, plainly showing how tenderly she loves him, displays no bitterness, but appears only anxious for his happiness. Apart from historical accuracy, which is not perhaps of great importance in a drama of this kind, the scene between the young people is tender and sympathetic, and deeply interested the audience. Elizabeth, however, warns Everard to keep his attachment to Alice Lee a secret for the present. In the course of this act effective use is made of the troubled state of Oliver Cromwell’s mind respecting the execution of Charles I. After gazing upon the portrait of Charles he speaks of the execution as a terrible necessity, and, weary of State affairs, falls asleep, only to dream of the scene upon the scaffold and the death of his daughter. These incidents are displayed in a couple of visionary scenes which are extremely picturesque, and the curtain falls upon Cromwell awaking in intense agitation to be soothed by his beloved daughter. In the third act Charles is found in the panel chamber at Woodstock, keenly attracted by the beauty and grace of Alice Lee. Indeed, the amorous young Monarch becomes so marked in his attentions as to arouse the jealousy of Everard, and at a critical moment that hero enters the chamber to find the young King embracing his sweetheart. Rushing upon his rival, their swords cross, when Alice, who has hitherto kept the King’s secret, reveals to her lover who his antagonist is, and, after a severe struggle between love and allegiance to Cromwell, Everard not only consents to the King’s escape, but even aids him, and then yields himself as a prisoner to the Parliamentary forces. Cromwell sentences him to be shot, but in a series of tender scenes the gentle Elizabeth so earnestly pleads the cause of Everard, and rejoices so greatly that her father is spared the necessity of sacrificing another Royal victim to the advance of his cause, that Cromwell yields, and his leniency is further strengthened by doubts as to the good faith of Colonel Yarborough and some irritation at hints from the Parliament that he has favoured the escape of Charles. Therefore, in a moment of impulse hardly to be expected from the traditional records of “Old Noll,” he pardons Everard, and all ends happily with a passionate embrace of the lovers. “The White Rose” has been superbly placed upon the stage. The lovely glades of Woodstock, with deer gliding beneath the trees, made a beautiful picture, as did the exterior of Woodstock Lodge at dawn, with the golden mists gently melting before the sunshine. Everything went smoothly from first to last, and there was not a single hitch in the four long acts. Mr. Leonard Boyne acted with the utmost energy, and with picturesque and emotional effect, as the hero. He was a manly and sympathetic lover, and won enthusiastic applause in his principal scenes. Mr. Boyne was extremely spirited in the scene with the King, and his acting was chivalrous and dignified in the closing scenes. Mr. Cartwright was the representative of Oliver Cromwell, and here, as the Marchioness says in Dickens’ story, “One must make believe a little.” It is very convenient in watching the pleasant and exciting scenes of “The White Rose” to forget all about the sturdy portrait of Cromwell given by the late Thomas Carlyle, and to ignore certain letters and State papers still in existence. It is not worth while to inquire too curiously about the tender episodes in which Cromwell sounds the depths of his daughter’s affection for the young soldier. Enough that they interest the audience, and that hearty applause was given to the grim tableaux of Charles I.’s execution, and to the pathetic scene of Elizabeth’s death. Mr. Cartwright acted with great earnestness and ability in accordance with the character the dramatist had provided him, and if a sentimental and fatherly instead of a stern and soldierly Cromwell suits the purpose of the play nothing more need be said, and due recognition may be made of Mr. Cartwright’s ability. Mr. Fuller Mellish was animated as the King, if not entirely regal in his bearing. Mr. J. D. Beveridge was excellent as Sir Harry Lee, Mr. Mathew Brodie made a genial Albert Lee, and the roystering Roger Wildrake was in good hands as played by Mr. Charles Dalton. The humour of the play was well sustained by Mr. Collette, Mr. Lionel Rignold, and Miss Clara Jecks. The principal feminine characters were admirably played. There was a refinement, delicacy, and tenderness in the Elizabeth Cromwell of Mrs. Patrick Campbell which made the character most interesting and loveable, and Miss Evelyn Millard may be congratulated upon her complete success as Alice Lee. The charming, impulsive, and romantic girl was realised to the life. The entire representation was worthy of the theatre and the performers. All did their best, especially Messrs. Gatti, who had spared no pains or expenditure to present the play in the most picturesque manner. The authors also had done their work well, and were fully entitled to the rousing cheers that greeted them at the fall of the curtain. Altogether, the production of “The White Rose” may be regarded as one of the most successful first nights seen at the Adelphi Theatre for some years.
Aberdeen Weekly Journal (25 April, 1892)
The Adelphi Theatre has for many a long day been the acknowledged home of melodrama, but the tone and style of the various plays produced there during the past few years has gradually improved until the Messrs Gatti have finally resolved to play a bold stroke, and put on a romantic drama founded on a historical subject. It is a pleasing task to record the emphatic and brilliant success of “The White Rose,” by Messrs George R. Sims and Robert Buchanan. Cheers loud and long greeted the two popular dramatists when they appeared at the fall of the curtain. “The White Rose” is founded on Sir Walter Scott’s “Woodstock,” but, while following the novel in many essential points, the authors have, if anything, improved upon the original plot, at all events for dramatic purposes, and have introduced characters, such as Cromwell’s daughter, Elizabeth, which greatly strengthen the story. It is not necessary to dwell on the tale itself, so I will merely say that it is full of absorbing interest from start to finish. The greatest success of last evening was honourably gained by Mr Charles Cartwright, who makes a welcome return to the scene of former triumphs as “Cromwell.” The actor was loudly called for on the fall of the curtain, and he thoroughly deserved the compliment. Mr Leonard Boyne, Mr Charles Collette, Miss Jecks, and all the Old Adelphi favourites were alike admirable, but the Messrs Gatti would be wise to engage a leading actress of acknowledged ability without delay.
The Derby Daily Telegraph (25 April, 1892 - p.2)
Cromwell on the stage.
A fresh caricature of Oliver Cromwell has just been given to British play-goers by two popular and industrious writers, viz., Mr. Robert Buchanan and Mr. Geo. R. Sims. A play from the pens of these gentlemen was produced at the Adelphi Theatre on Saturday night, and the performance of it appears to have delighted a very large audience. Nominally speaking, “The White Rose” (thus the drama is named) is a dramatic rendering of Sir Walter Scott’s favourite novel “Woodstock,” and, as a consequence, a good deal of prominence is given to the doings of the Lord Protector. Now, nobody expected that experienced authors commissioned to write a piece for a house like the Adelphi, whose patrons have long been accustomed to highly-seasoned fare, would give us a faithful portrait of Oliver Cromwell. Truth to tell, he was personally uninteresting. That he was courageous and determined, that he learned the art of war with a rapidity absolutely astonishing, and that he proved a strong and sagacious administrator under conditions which would have appalled many a stout heart, is true enough; but that he was, in himself, a gloomy, rather common-place person is also certain. Since modern playwrights cannot very well deal with the public aspects of his character, it is clear there is not much in Cromwell’s private career to work upon. They must of necessity have recourse to invention. This course Messrs. Sims and Buchanan have adopted, and what we have to complain of is that their imaginary sketch is unnecessarily stupid and repulsive. They have given us a figure which will long be remembered for its grotesqueness. They have converted the patriot of iron-will and inflexible bravery into a veritable nincompoop. The Daily News, as one of the chief organs of British Nonconformity, is in despair over the latest picture of its hero. Our contemporary is disposed to make allowance for Walter Scott’s own delinquencies in this matter, for the reason that he “wrote in the dark ages of our knowledge of the Cromwellian period,” but it seems to have looked for something better than a gross perversion of history from two educated Englishmen of to-day. The authors of “The White Rose” have sinned unpardonably. They have, says the Daily News, perversely chosen to present him as “a habitually hesitating and vacillating creature—a feebly amiable sentimentalist, who scarcely knows his own mind from scene to scene, or even within the same season. One moment despotic beyond anything that Carlyle’s ‘Carrion Heath’ has charged, the Adelphi Cromwell visits Colonel Everard’s connivance at the young prince’s escape with sentence of death without the formality of a court martial. Then, vowing he will ne’er relent, he sets his prisoner free at the last moment because he desires to show the world that he cares nothing for some anonymous traducers’ ridiculous slander that the wearer of “Worcester’s laureate wreath’ had himself been a party to the Prince’s escape to France.” After this, nobody will be surprised to read that minor perversions of fact crop up at many points of the play. The device of making Cromwell’s daughter a pining, love-sick girl is not a new one, but in this instance it is the more ridiculous because, as we are reminded, the lady in question was, at the period dealt with in the play, “a staid, serious-minded wife and mother of a family.” Of course, it may be urged that the compilers of this “history” are following precedent in holding the memory of a great Englishman up to ridicule. To go no further than the play of “Charles I.,” which the late Mr. W. G. Wills wrote for Mr. Irving, and of which that eminent actor thinks very highly, we find My Lord Protector depicted as a scheming knave. And the strangest part of the business is that the public seem to approve of this systematic persecution. The majority of the people who were wont to execrate the unscrupulous Cromwell of the Lyceum, must, like the excited individuals who set the seal of their approval upon the Adelphi caricature, have known that they were tolerating acts of injustice. Indeed, we are rather disposed to hold them responsible for such burlesques. We suppose Messrs. Sims and Buchanan are prepared to admit that in these days, not less than in Garrick’s time, “The drama’s lives [laws] the drama’s patrons give. Who live to please must please to live.” We are unwilling to believe that they would have painted the latest Cromwellian picture, if their knowledge of modern theatrical taste had not been extensive and peculiar. When Artemus Ward exhibited the “False Apostle,” in the city of Utica, an orthodox citizen “caved in his head,” and gave as his reason that the people would not stand him at any price. The authors of “The White Rose” are anxious to guard against such a mistake as wounding the susceptibilities of the British public, by whom it appears to have been decided that Cromwell must be presented in a comic disguise.
. . .
OUR LONDON LETTER.
LONDON, Monday Morning.
. . .
When melodrama leaves the Adelphi Theatre and historical romance takes the vacant place, surely playgoers have something to think about. They must realise that the change is no ordinary one, and may and probably does bear serious portent. For the Adelphi is a theatre whose fortunes have been built up with an unbroken succession of modern melodramas. It may be called the nursery of this form of dramatic art. Here Mr. Robert Buchanan and Mr. George R. Sims singly and in collaboration have produced their very best plays—plays which have delighted not only Londoners, but the whole people of these islands. When, therefore, we find melodrama no longer furnished forth to the patrons of the Adelphi, are we to take it that those who have been fed on it during recent years have grown tired of the fare? Are we to understand, in fact, that melodrama is about to go out of fashion and make way for some other form of dramatic effort?
The experience of Saturday night, taken with all its limitations, certainly points to an affirmative reply. The same class of audience which has hitherto derived enjoyment from such a play as “The Trumpet Call” crowded the Adelphi Theatre, and lavished its applause on a work written by Messrs. Sims and Buchanan of quite a different type. “The White Rose” takes up the story of Scott’s novel of “Woodstock.” It does not follow it in every detail. The variations, however, are not such as to offend those who have read and cherish the charming work of the novelist. All the main features of the latter are clearly and cleverly brought out. An historical play it is, different as night from day from the modern melodrama. The strong scenes, and there are many of them, are reached by no short cuts, but by the legitimate paths of the dramatic art. Tricky low comedian parts are unknown in the play. While as to the scenery and mounting, although they have been carefully regarded, they are not oppressively gorgeous, or calculated to distract attention unduly. In every particular the play is thoroughly sound, and likely to add lustre to the reputation of its authors. Its reception, too, by the audience was eminently satisfactory. On the fall of the curtain after the last act all the principal performers and after them the authors were called to the front.
The Pall Mall Gazette (26 April, 1892 - p.2)
“THE WHITE ROSE” AT THE ADELPHI.
It is with honest pleasure that we greet the new Adelphi play, and we sincerely hope that the change from melodrama to romantic drama will be rewarded by success. We do not feel quite confident of this; for, in some respects, the authors have gone to work even too boldly. Not content with deserting their old formulas, they have even attempted something like a psychological study in the part of Cromwell. The consequence is that we have some long soliloquies that can hardly prove entertaining to the theatre’s usual patrons, nor, unfortunately, are they of a quality that will please the critical. One would scarcely expect Messrs. Sims and Buchanan to write a successful play about such a strange, complex man as Cromwell; and for them to make him a minor character and then develop him at disproportionate length is very unwise. Nor is the part in the hands of an actor well suited to it. Mr. Charles Cartwright is a very able actor, as his past work at the Adelphi and his Iago with Mr. Benson have proved, but once out of touch with his part and he falls strangely below his own standard: his performance as Claudius at the Globe showed this, and now as Cromwell he makes it painfully apparent. For he is monotonous and too simple in method, though not at times devoid of force. Till his part has been sharply cut we think the play will not go brilliantly. In other respects it requires cutting and quicker playing. With the subject we need not deal at great length. Tacked on to a tale admittedly founded on “Woodstock” is the story of Elizabeth Cromwell’s hopeless love for Markham Everard, the young Parliamentarian soldier who is in love with Mistress Alice Lee, the Royalist. Everard incurs Cromwell’s displeasure by protecting Alice Lee and her father from maltreatment when Woodstock is confiscated, but is pardoned on the intercession of Elizabeth, whose father conceives the plan of making Everard his son-in-law. When the Dictator finds Everard prefers Alice Lee, and for her sake has aided Charles Stuart in his escape, he condemns him to death and seems inflexible. Nor is it till the last moment that the gentle Elizabeth succeeds in persuading Cromwell to forgive the man who only loves his daughter as a sister. The character of Elizabeth is gracefully drawn, and her part of the tale is very skilfully handled and in good taste. Luckily, too, the part is very ably played by Mrs. Patrick Campbell. This lady is making wonderful progress. Her Rosalind last year at the Shaftesbury was a skilful but uneven piece of acting, and her Astrea, in “The Trumpet Call,” showed an advance in technique. Her Elizabeth exhibits a still further improvement, and was a performance of really great merit. Miss Clara Jecks, in the soubrette part, comes out of the ordeal of acting in a new style of play better than some of her comrades. Mr. George Cockburn, whose acting in Mr. Wills’s Napoleonic play was the ablest piece of work in the production, and who followed it up by playing very cleverly in “Theodora,” is seen to considerable advantage as the villain of “The White Rose.” The rest of the company are well-established popular favourites, who need no further praise than they have had already.
The Stage (28 April, 1892 - p.12)
On Saturday, April 23, 1892, was produced here a romantic drama in four acts and seven scenes, founded on Sir Walter Scott’s novel “Woodstock,” by George R. Sims and Robert Buchanan, entitled:—
The White Rose.
Colonel Markham Everard ... Mr. Leonard Boyne
Oliver Cromwell ... ... Mr. C. Cartwright
Colonel Yarborough ... ... Mr. George Cockburn
General Harrison ... ... Mr. R. Davis
Mr. Bletson ... ... Mr. H. Cooper, jun.
Captain Pearson ... ... Mr. Howard Russell
Joseph Tomkins ... ... Mr. Charles Collette
Ezekiel Robins ... ... Mr. F. T. Lingham
Ephraim Wood ... ... Mr. W. Northcote
Habakuk ... ... Mr. E. Saxon
Corporal of the Guard ... ... Mr. F. Anderson
Elizabeth Cromwell ... ... Mrs. Patrick Campbell
Charles Stuart ... ... Mr. Fuller Mellish
Sir Harry Lee ... ... Mr. J. D. Beveridge
Albert Lee ... ... Mr. Mathew Brodie
Roger Wildrake ... ... Mr. Charles Dalton
Jolliffe ... ... Mr. Arthur Leigh
Jeremiah Holdfast ... ... Mr. Lionel Rignold
Landlord ... ... Mr. H. Cooper
Alice Lee ... ... Miss Evelyn Millard
Maid at Inn ... ... Miss Alice Bronse
Phśbe Mayflower ... ... Miss Clara Jecks
In The Trumpet Call Messrs. Sims and Buchanan took a step out of the very much beaten track of Adelphi melodrama, and now in The White Rose they have plunged into the wildwood of romantic drama. In this adventurous course they have relied largely on Sir Walter Scott in “Woodstock” as guide and friend, not disdaining a hint or two by the way from W.G. Wills in Charles I. and Buckingham. The play that is the outcome of these excursions is in a new style, that should commend itself to Adelphi playgoers, whose name is legion. It belongs altogether to a higher reach of dramatic writing than the unbroken succession of melodramas that Mr. Sims, alone or in collaboration—with an ability that may easily be decried but not easily excelled—has contributed to the boards of this popular theatre. The White Rose is a well-made play, in a vein in which drama and melodrama are judiciously blended. The interests are strong, and they are set forth with a vigour of expression and an ingenuity of treatment likely to captivate Adelphi audiences for a very long time to come.
Passing from the play considered by itself to the play in relation to the fiction of Scott and to the fact of the Civil War, perhaps terms must become more qualified. The authors’ indebtedness to Scott is considerable. They have followed very closely certain main incidents in the novel, touching the sequestration of Woodstock, the love-making of Markham Everard and Alice Lee, the harbouring and the escape of Charles Stuart, and the coming of Cromwell and his soldiery on the scene. Herein, but for occasional change of sequence and curtailment of matter, they employ freely both incidents and words as they are found in “Woodstock.” The original element, which is considerable, tends to weaken the scheme, which is really Scott’s. The characters of Everard, Charles, and Cromwell suffer, the last-named especially. Cromwell is presented as a mere matrimonial matchmaker, subordinating thereto affairs of high politics. He desires that Everard shall marry his daughter Elizabeth, and on the success or the failure of this project he bases his whole treatment of Everard and the Lees. He pardons treasonable conduct on Everard’s part when he thinks doing so will make his officer a warmer suitor; he visits a repetition of it with sentence of death when there is no hope of this result. Everard himself is made an officer of Cromwell’s, instead of an ally with whom, because of the power of the Everards, the General is particularly anxious to stand well. Markham Everard, moreover, as this Cromwellian officer, rather than a leader of Parliamentary forces, is the more inexcusable in his proneness to help Royalists in place of Roundheads. As for Charles, his qualities are not great in the novel; they are despicable in the play. Trusty Tompkins, among minor persons, is the worse for the transference: he is reduced to an oleaginous buffoon. These comparisons are doubtless odious, but it is impossible for the reader of the novel not to make them. After all, it is one of the inevitable consequences of adaptation from print to boards. And the authors are, in some of these respects, as unkind to fact as to fiction. For example, the real Cromwell was of quite other clay and spirit than the wordy, partial, vacillating, vision-haunted man depicted; and his daughter, far from the love-lorn maid depicted, was, as school books record, Mrs. Claypole at 17.
A brief recital will show the arrangement of the dramatic action by the authors. In the first scene, a delightful piece of old English sylvan landscape, Sir Harry Lee is troubled with the news of the sequestration of Woodstock. As in the novel, his daughter Alice reasons with him, without avail; the rough intrusion of Joseph Tomkins, the steward to the Commissioners follows and then, in the heat of encounter, the interposition of Colonel Markham Everard takes place. The old man is bitter with the once boyish favourite, now a Commonwealth officer. In this scene two new interests are thus early touched upon—the rejected passion of one of the Commissioners, Colonel Yarborough, for Alice Lee, and the friendship—reciprocated by love—of Everard for Oliver Cromwell’s daughter. The second scene provides a comic interlude for Tomkins, Phśbe Mayflower, and an original character, Jeremiah Holdfast (who is perhaps too closely named after the presbyter, Nehemiah Holdenough of the story), and also serves to show the Roundhead soldiery on the alert for fugitive Royalists, who it is believed are harboured at Woodstock. Then in the third scene of the act, which is laid in the Panel Chamber, the son Albert Lee arrives, with the hunted young Charles Stuart, disguised as the young Scots page Louis Kerneguy, but without Dr. Rochecliffe, who plays so prominent a part in the novel. Sir Harry and Alice do not suspect the identity of their guest. The fugitives are disturbed by the abrupt entrance of the Commissioners, and hastily conceal themselves in the secret passages. The Commissioners, who come to take possession, find Sir Harry obdurate, and the vindictive Yarborough orders him and his household to be driven out into the stormy night. Hereupon Everard again intervenes and an appeal on his part to the soldiers has the remarkable effect of completely discomfiting their own Commissioners. Everard then sends his secretary, Roger Wildrake, with a petition to Cromwell for the removal of the Commissioners and the abandonment of the sequestration of the estates. Cromwell is depicted here not only uneasy in his mind about the execution of the King—as in the novel—but also keenly desirous of marrying his favourite daughter Elizabeth to Markham Everard, whom he knows she loves. His interrogation of Wildrake is similar to that of the story, as are his instructions; here, too, he compels himself to look upon the picture of Charles I. He is about to write the required order, when Yarborough is announced. The Commissioner is quickly followed by Everard himself, whom Cromwell hears in preference to Yarborough. Cromwell leaves Everard with his daughter, with a hint that all will be well if the Colonel woos and wins the gentle Elizabeth. But Everard, from his sense of chivalry, makes known the fact, hitherto unsuspected, that he can be only brother, not lover, to Elizabeth. The daughter crushes down her own pain in her unselfish devotion to Everard, but not so the father. He has been worked upon by Yarborough, who persuades Cromwell that Everard has not only abused the Commissioners and sheltered fugitives, but, engaged as he is to the old Royalist’s daughter, also deceived Elizabeth. Everard admits the first charge, and says little in mitigation of the second; and he gives up his sword. But Elizabeth intercedes, and Cromwell, moved that she should plead for him, returns him his sword, and bids him go back to Woodstock and take command there. With the reflection that he has established a powerful claim of gratitude upon Everard, which can be exerted in Elizabeth’s favour, Cromwell prepares for sleep ere journeying himself to Woodstock. But he cannot rest: dreams oppress him, and two visions come to him—one of the execution of Charles I., and the other of the death of Elizabeth. He rises shrieking from the last, and says as he finds the fond arms of his daughter about him, that he does not want the blood of young Charles Stuart upon him. With the third act a return is made to the Panel Chamber at Woodstock Lodge. Everard has become jealous of Charles Stuart, whom he believes to be the dissolute Lord Wilmot in disguise. Charles has revealed himself to Alice Lee, of whom he has become violently enamoured. The Wilmot ring which figures in “Woodstock” he persuades, or rather requires, her to wear, and forces upon her his company, which is too ardent to be acceptable. Markham sees them walking on the terrace, finds the ring on her finger, taxes Charles with being Lord Wilmot, calls him to account, and sends Wildrake to him with a challenge. Night comes on; all retire, and Charles lies down in the Panel Chamber to rest prior to his flight in the morning. Soon Alice runs hurriedly in, with news of the approach of Cromwell and his soldiers. Charles, reckless of his danger, seizes Alice, breathes passionate words into her ears, and attempts to do her violence. Alice cries out; Markham answers her, enters, and is only prevented from throwing himself on the supposed Lord Wilmot by the revelation of Charles’s true condition. A brief struggle with himself, and Markham Everard not only sanctions, but abets Charles’s escape. To Cromwell, who then forces his way in, he confesses what he has done, yields up his sword, and hears unmoved the sentence of death passed upon him. In the last act, Alice Lee obtains audience of Cromwell, and pleads for her lover’s life, or at least for a final interview. Cromwell, seeing in her only the rival of his daughter, will grant her nothing. Elizabeth supplicates too; then upbraids. Her father, she says, is not in this act justifying his country’s cause, but executing personal vengeance. Markham Everard is to die not because he let Charles Stuart escape, but because he would not marry Elizabeth Cromwell. The father is moved to tears. The guard, with Everard, pass by on the way to execution. Cromwell orders them to halt. Yarborough presents despatches from London, in which it is hinted that the Parliament thinks Cromwell himself connived at the escape of Charles Stuart. Cromwell is roused: Parliament may think what it pleases—Everard is not to die. And the rest is—applause: for here, after these psychological novelties, the curtain comes down.
The White Rose puts the members of the excellent Adelphi company to new tests, out of which they emerge much more successfully than could be expected. Mr. Leonard Boyne makes a most spirited figure of Colonel Markham Everard. He may not quite escape the long accustomed exuberance of melodrama, but the romantic fervour of his playing is not to be gainsaid. It is a bold, strong picture, touched with no niggard art, that he presents in the character of the soldier lover. Equally prominent is the Oliver Cromwell of Mr. Charles Cartwright, which is full of tense acting; indeed, nervous yet somewhat concentrated force is what dominates it throughout. It is far from the Cromwell of history, as modern research has revealed that great general and greater soul; it may not be the ideal Cromwell of the stage. But Mr. Cartwright has had to work upon given materials, and out of them he has wrought a most effective personality. Of conspicuous merit is the Colonel Yarborough of Mr. George Cockburn, a young actor whose good work, formerly in the country and latterly at the New Olympic, has often been remarked in our columns. His villain is a most refined piece of work, of the nicest finish, that yet leaves the strength of it unimpaired. Mr. J. D. Beveridge, sound actor always, is a courtly Sir Harry, but the quality of distinction is rather wanting in the Charles Stuart of Mr. Fuller Mellish, and the Roger Wildrake of Mr. Charles Dalton. The fugitive heir, first in his disguise as the page and then in his own person, is a difficult part for a young actor to essay. Mr. Mellish is better as page than prince; there is plenty of good character in the former, but in the latter not enough grace and glow of kinghood. Mr. Mellish sheathes a sword rather inexpertly. Roger Wildrake is a gallant of mad moods: Mr. Dalton emphasises the moods at the expense of the gallant. The result is not altogether satisfactory—Roger becomes too much a common wild braggart, and too little a poor gentleman whose reckless jollity is the goad of his life. Mr. Mathew Brodie plays forcibly, if with slight exaggeration here and there, as Albert Lee. Mr. Charles Collette as the Puritan steward and Mr. Lionel Rignold as the Royalist serving-man make the most of rather attenuated humours, in which not very grateful task they are joined by Miss Clara Jecks, sprightly as ever as Phśbe Mayflower. Mr. Howard Russell acts with his old skill as Captain Pearson, and remaining minor rôles are duly filled by Messrs. R. Davis (General Harrison), H. Cooper, jun. (Mr. Bletson), F. T. Lingham (Robins), W. Northcote (Wood), E. Saxon (Habakuk), and Arthur Leigh (Jolliffe). The female interest is confined to Alice Lee and Elizabeth Cromwell, two parts that are very ably, if not quite perfectly, performed by Miss Evelyn Millard and Mrs. Patrick Campbell. Miss Millard has not hitherto done anything better than her Alice Lee, which is a surprising performance from so young an artist. Miss Millard has not yet the ease and the freedom of playing that come of experience, but otherwise little fault can be found with her eminently pleasing portrayal of the sylph-like Alice, as fresh and sweet, as tender and true, as Old English maiden could be. Mrs. Campbell makes another decided advance in her art on the present occasion. There is a full charm in her mild Elizabeth, softly spoken and tenderly clinging. The dressing of the part we do not greatly like, but a spirit so sincere as Mrs. Campbell breathes into her Elizabeth cannot be much affected by mere externals.
The Brothers Gatti have come liberally to the aid of the authors in the setting and general presentation of the drama. Messrs. Bruce Smith, W. Perkins, and Walter Hann have painted a series of delightful scenes; Messrs. L. and H. Nathan have executed, from designs by “Karl,” and abundance of picturesque costumes, and Mr. Henry Sprake has supplied instrumental, and Mr. Stedman choral, music of attractive quality, while—witness the uninterrupted smoothness of the first night!—Mr. E. H. Norman has, under the personal direction of the authors, cleverly produced The White Rose.
The progress of The White Rose on Saturday was accompanied by every token of success, and at the close authors and actors were summoned and re-summoned to the front, in the midst of much enthusiasm.
The Penny Illustrated Paper (30 April, 1892)
The great majority of playgoers will, I am certain, feel grateful to MM. A. and S. Gatti and MM. G. R. Sims and Robert Buchanan, the authors, not only for producing a spirited and engrossing historical drama of the greatest interest in “The White Rose,” ingeniously adapted from Sir Walter Scott’s romance of “Woodstock,” but also for presenting to Adelphi audiences a noble portrait of Cromwell, which must do much to counteract the effect of the burlesque, venal Cromwell the late Mr. Wills drew in the Lyceum play of “Charles I.” To anyone who has recently reperused “Woodstock,” and thereby endured not a few of the “bad quarters of an hour” that abound, I must confess, in Scott’s novels, it must be a welcome surprise to see what a stirring and exciting play from first to last the skilled dramatists have made of this Cromwellian romance. Literally, from the rising of the curtain and the adroit introduction of the handsome old Royalist, Sir Harry Lee, of Woodstock Chase, with beauteous Alice Lee and her chivalrous young Cromwellian suitor, Colonel Markham Everard, to the moving dénoűment in which the belated lover awaits execution, “The White Rose” is throughout full of interest. I hold it is the most exciting piece at present on the London boards. Love and patriotism are well intermingled. The right note is struck—from the People’s side—with regard to the libertine young Prince who subsequently becomes Charles II., and with respect to the People’s champion, Oliver Cromwell, of whom a surprisingly good portrait is given by that excellent actor, Mr. Charles Cartwright, who has evidently studied the historic paintings of the great Protector. The face is well-nigh perfect. Mr. Cartwright has never done anything better than this Cromwell. His moving scenes with his gentle daughter, Elizabeth Cromwell, for whom he seeks, but in vain, to gain Markham Everard as a husband, are infinitely touching. This is due alike to the histrionic art of Mr. Cartwright and to the rare skill of Mrs. Patrick Campbell, whose refined representation of Elizabeth Cromwell cannot fail to enhance her reputation, already high. Granted such episodes as Everard’s natural jealousy as seeing his fair sweetheart in company with the reckless scapegrace Prince, as the same dashing Cromwellian’s magnanimous action in saving the careless gallant at a critical moment, are not unfamiliar on the stage. Granted, too, that history is not accurately followed in the romantic episode of Elizabeth Cromwell’s life. Yet this is a venial deviation on the part of the dramatists, and full warrant for it is to be found in the undoubted strength of the situations caused by the gentle rivalry of Alice Lee and Elizabeth Cromwell. The tableaux of Cromwell’s dream—visions of the execution of Charles I. at Whitehall, and of the death of Elizabeth Cromwell—of the panel chamber at Woodstock Chase, and of the picturesque park scene at Woodstock, are veritable scenic triumphs on the part of MM. Bruce Smith, W. Hann, and W. Perkins; and, while Mr. E. B. Norman is to be commended for the general stage production, I must not forget to commend Mr. Henry Sprake for the exceptionally good musical interludes, which comprised Mendelssohn’s “Songs without Words,” Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana,” and Charles Coote’s dansante “Yours Sincerely Waltz.” To return to the acting of “The White Rose,” let praise be likewise awarded to Miss Evelyn Millard, who, as Alice Lee, was simply charming in her love scenes with Mr. Leonard Boyne, whom the valiant part of Markham Everard suited like a glove; Mr. George Cockburn, as Colonel Yarborough, gave Mr. Charles Dalton, the exuberant Roger Wildrake, a lesson in sobriety of acting by keeping well within the picture; and the light comedy was, of course, admirably done by clever and sprightly Miss Clara Jecks, never seen to greater advantage than as comely Phśbe Mayflower; by genuinely droll and amusing Lionel Rignold as Jeremiah Holdfast, and by Mr. Charles Collette as the hypocritical Joseph Tomkins. I noticed bright and pretty Miss Vizetelly in a well-filled small part; doubtless this talented young actress is understudy for one or other of the principal parts. Finally, “The White Rose” was such an emphatic success that rounds of the heartiest applause at the close greeted the leading members of the company, MM. Sims and Buchanan, and Mr. A. Gatti, who smiled his acknowledgments.
The Graphic (30 April, 1892)
“The White Rose” at the Adelphi
BY W. MOY THOMAS
HISTORICAL truth is not to be looked for—or, if looked for, is certainly not to be found in the new historical play at the ADELPHI; but the piece is the work of two practised dramatists, and there can be no question that The White Rose, on Saturday evening, greatly interested and excited the audience. There have been adaptors of Sir Walter Scott’s novel of “Woodstock” long before Messrs. Sims and Buchanan. Isaac Pocock, a well-known playwright—unceremoniously stealing a march upon Daniel Terry, whom Scott preferred—brought out an adaptation immediately after the novel appeared, in 1826, at Covent Garden Theatre, in which Charles Kemble played Prince Charles. In France also, where Scott has been and still is scarcely less popular than in his own country, there is an old piece called Le Château de Woodstock, which has been adapted and played at our minor theatres. These versions of Scott’s “tale of the year 1651,” however, belong to the times when a plain outline of a favourite novel sufficed for the simple tastes of the average playgoer. Nowadays a broader canvas, a more complex intrigue, a brisker succession of romantic incidents and picturesque tableaux are imperatively demanded—at least by Adelphi audiences. The authors of The White Rose have accordingly enlarged the basis of the story of the loves of Alice, the daughter of the staunch Royalist, Sir Harry Lee, of Ditchley, and the Parliamentary officer, Colonel Everard, and have provided a list of personages in which figure some two and twenty characters, divided into “Roundheads” and “Royalists” in about equal proportion.
Free use of history, the authors of The White Rose have unquestionably made. Inspired, as it would seem, by the late Mr. Wills’s daring example in his now forgotten play, entitled Buckingham, they have chosen Cromwell’s favourite daughter Elizabeth—who can hardly be said to appear in the novel—for a position so prominent that she may almost be said to have become the pivot of the entire action of the play. Elizabeth Cromwell was, as most people know, a pious and decorous lady, who married at the early age of seventeen a Mr. Claypole, who survived her. At the period of the play, the action of which all passes within a week or two after the battle of Worcester, she was the mother of a young family. But, after the fashion of Mr. Wills, the authors have chosen to depict her as an unmarried lady, with a sentimental passion for a young officer, who is so far from returning her feeling that Elizabeth is fain, at last, in a mood of generous self-sacrifice, to promote his union with her more favoured rival. Cromwell was hardly the man to sympathise with such love-sick fancies, the more especially as Colonel Everard, towards whom his beloved daughter exhibits a decidedly “coming-on disposition,” is a Parliamentarian of a no very pious or enthusiastic pattern. To such a Cromwell, however, as Messrs. Sims and Buchanan have chosen to depict—weak, amiable, vacillating, and sentimental—all things are possible. Accordingly, no one is much surprised to find the Lord general conniving at his daughter’s weakness, and, partly at her entreaty, partly, as he explains, to give a convincing proof that he cares nothing for the slanderous rumour that he himself has favoured Prince Charles’s escape, reprieving Colonel Everard from a sentence of death passed on him by himself for that same offence. The limits of permissible license in such matters are, it is true, not very clearly defined; still, there are limits. Of course the object of all this is to present the contrast of the loves of the two women; and it must be confessed that the notion, fundamentally absurd though it is, gives rise to some touching passages and not a few dramatic situations, to which full effect is given by Mrs. Patrick Campbell as Elizabeth Cromwell and that refined and pathetic actress, Miss Evelyn Millard in the character of Alice Lee. If Mr. Cartwright’s Cromwell is wanting in dignity and self-possession it may be said that the Adelphi Cromwell has been careful shorn by the authors of both these qualities. Mr. Leonard Boyne, though too uniformly brimful of emotion, is a capital representative of Colonel Everard, and Charles Stuart, whom the new society of “The White Rose” will be shocked to find in the playbill described as “afterwards” Charles II., is played with ease and discretion by Mr. Fuller Mellish. Of the rest of the long list time serves not now to tell, but I must not omit to note that Mr. Lionel Rignold, supported by the sprightly Miss Clara Jecks as an Innkeeper’s daughter, makes the most of the conventional humours of a cowardly, good-tempered butler, and Mr. Collette, as the snuffling, self-seeking puritan, who is a no less familiar figure in stories of the Commonwealth period, is not less successful. The scenic artists, Messrs. Bruce, Smith, Hann, and Perkins, have turned to good account the picturesque opportunities of the story. The gates of Woodstock Chase with the peaceful English landscape in the distance, the postern gate at Windsor, and the Panel Chamber at Woodstock, are excellent examples of scenic illusion, and the dream of Cromwell—the Cromwellian drama is rarely without a dream—wherein the spectator beholds tableaux of the execution of Charles and the death of Cromwell’s daughter—is very skilfully and effectively managed.
The Era (30 April, 1892)
“THE WHITE ROSE.”
A New Romantic Drama,
Founded on Sir Walter Scott’s “Woodstock,”
by George R. Sims and Robert Buchanan,
First Produced at the Adelphi Theatre, April 23d.
Colonel Markham Everard ... Mr LEONARD BOYNE
Oliver Cromwell ... ... Mr CHAS. CARTWRIGHT
Colonel Yarborough ... ... Mr GEORGE COCKBURN
General Harrison ... ... Mr R. DAVIS
Mr. Bletson ... ... Mr H. COOPER, Jun.
Captain Pearson ... ... Mr HOWARD RUSSELL
Joseph Tomkins ... ... Mr CHARLES COLLETTE
Ezekiel Robins ... ... Mr F. T. LINGHAM
Ephraim Wood ... ... Mr W. NORTHCOTE
Habakuk ... ... Mr E. SAXON
Corporal of the Guard ... ... Mr F. ANDERSON
Elizabeth Cromwell ... ... Mrs PATRICK CAMPBELL
Charles Stuart ... ... Mr FULLER MELLISH
Sir Harry Lee ... ... Mr J. D. BEVERIDGE
Albert Lee ... ... Mr MATTHEW BRODIE
Roger Wildrake ... ... Mr CHARLES DALTON
Jolliffe ... ... Mr ARTHUR LEIGH
Jeremiah Holdfast ... ... Mr LIONEL RIGNOLD
Landlord ... ... Mr H. COOPER
Alice Lee ... ... Miss EVELYN MILLARD
Maid at Inn ... ... Miss ALICE BRONSE
Milkmaid ... ... Miss VIZETELLY
Phśbe Mayflower ... ... Miss CLARA JECKS
A brilliant audience last Saturday night gave a hearty welcome to the latest play of Messrs G. R. Sims and Robert Buchanan. It was quite a pleasant change to see a “costume play” at the Adelphi. Time was when Cavaliers and Roundheads, Cropheads, and fluttering tresses figured largely upon the English stage, but latterly the slums have had the largest share in the drama. Poverty and crime, forgery and murder have harrowed upon souls, and people began to inquire if something more genial, pure, and picturesque could not be placed upon the stage. It was, therefore, a happy thought to dip into the glowing pages of Sir Walter Scott, and in his story “Woodstock” a subject was found which suited the purpose of Messrs Sims and Buchanan exactly. That these brilliant dramatists have not adhered literally to the novel of Scott will not be regarded as a serious offence, nor will it be charged against them that they have treated history in an unconventional fashion. Some may say “We don’t find Thomas Carlyle or M. Guizot representing ‘Old Noll’ in the same spirit as Messrs Sims and Buchanan.” Similarly Mr Wills’s portrait of Charles the First caused a flutter in the minds of certain readers of history. But history is not supposed to deal with the inner life of its heroes. Charles the First may have been as gentle, true, and tender as Mr Wills paints him, and as he is so exquisitely represented upon the stage of the Lyceum, and burly Oliver Cromwell possibly loved his sweet affectionate daughter as fondly as in the Adelphi drama. Once when the elder Dumas was accused of altering facts he retorted that “he had improved upon them.” Many will think Messrs Sims and Buchanan have done so. They had one object in view, to produce a drama full of human interest, excitement, picturesque movement, and attractive characters, and they have done their work so well that, when the curtain fell on Saturday night, the house—not the pit only—but the entire audience “rose at them,” and with ringing cheers gave a most emphatic verdict of approval, while not forgetting the liberal support of Messrs Gatti in giving carte blanche to all concerned in the production. The representation of The White Rose was nothing short of a triumph. This everybody must be glad of, as we can well spare for a time the hackneyed scenes of sensational melodrama. The White Rose opens charmingly at the gates of Woodstock Chase, a beautiful sylvan landscape, where, after an introductory scene in order to start the main incidents, Colonel Markham Everard appears. That young officer in Cromwell’s army is sad at heart. Convinced of the justice of Cromwell’s mission he had broken with the old traditions and had imperilled even his love in order to fulfil what he considers his duty. Therefore, he comes to Woodstock Chase with news for his sweetheart, pretty Alice Lee, which he knows will grieve her, and make her father, the stout Royalist, Sir Harry Lee, furious. He brings the intelligence that the fair ancestral home of the Lees is confiscated. The Commissioners from the Parliament are even now on their way to drive from its noble roof Sir Harry and his daughter. But Everard hopes to soften the inevitable blow, and to prepare them for the sacrifice. After an angry scene between Sir Harry and the Colonel, in which the former reproaches the lover with abandoning the Royal house, excitement is caused by the actual arrival of Cromwell’s soldiers. They have learned that Charles Stuart has escaped after the battle of Worcester, and is likely to seek shelter at Woodstock, for Albert Lee, Sir Harry’s son, fought for the King. After these incidents the scene changes to the Panel Chamber of the Mansion, and Albert arrives with a friend—none other than the King in disguise—but fearing to trust the secret, Albert only introduces him as a Scottish friend who had fought with him. Events progress, the Commissioners arrive, and it is necessary to conceal the fugitives. A thunderstorm is coming on, and Colonel Yarborough, at the head of the Commission, informs Sir Harry what is the decision of the Parliament, when Colonel Markham Everard boldly countermands the orders of Yarborough, and declares that Sir Harry and his daughter shall not be driven from their home in the midst of the storm. The soldiers, taking their orders from Everard, accordingly take the Commissioners away, and the first act closes with a picturesque and exciting picture.
Colonel Yarborough has been a rejected suitor of Alice Lee, and, full of hatred, is only too glad of the opportunity to denounce Everard to Cromwell, who is at Windsor Castle. There Colonel Yarborough hastens, but Markham has already found a trusty messenger in Roger Wildrake, a reckless, boisterous adherent, but one who is ready to risk everything to serve his friend. Wildrake’s interview with “Old Noll” in the stately chamber at Windsor is amusing, and, although Cromwell is somewhat surprised at the treatment the Commissioners have met with, he is disposed to think Markham justified in his conduct until Colonel Yarborough arrives, flaming with jealousy and desirous of revenge. Both stories are told, and then Everard himself arrives and is heard. Cromwell hears Everard patiently, and has a conference with his daughter Elizabeth. He has long suspected that she loves the young officer, and so deeply is he attached to her that he would gladly see her wedded to Everard, as he believes her happiness would thus be secured. It is amusing to see the great Puritan leader, the destroyer of thrones, the victorious general, as a tender father with a love match on hand. But the whole of the scene, from a stage point of view, is delicate, sympathetic, and charming in the extreme. Everard is a manly fellow, and, left alone with the gentle Elizabeth, cannot help seeing that she loves him. But in a courteous and earnest manner he tells Cromwell’s daughter of the state of affairs at Woodstock. The authors have given a most exquisite picture of true womanhood in Elizabeth. She sees that her dream of future happiness is broken, and cannot restrain her tears. The young soldier, still faithful to Alice, is deeply moved, but after a time Elizabeth recovers her wonted calm, and in gently tones speaks only of Everard’s happiness, and promises to be a sister to him. Knowing what is in her father’s mind, however, she advises Everard to keep secret for the present his love for Alice Lee. A prettier scene of sentiment, or one more wholesome and pure, has never been witnessed upon the modern stage. We shall have, later on, to speak of the charming acting of Mrs Patrick Campbell as Elizabeth. She has never been seen to such advantage as in her portrait of Cromwell’s gentle daughter. There are two effective scenes in this act, in which a successful attempt is made to show the agitation of Cromwell as he thinks of the execution of Charles the First. Looking at the portrait of the King, he speaks of the execution as a stern necessity, but, sitting down wearily, he is inclined to pray that the Second Charles may not become his prisoner. Then , falling asleep, a tableau is shown of the execution, with the King, the headsman, and all the grim accessories of the scaffold. This was very impressive, but still more pathetic was the tableau of the death of Elizabeth. This was what had ever haunted the mind of Cromwell, and he awakes from these terrible dreams in violent agitation, to be calmed by his devoted daughter.
The third act takes place in the Panel Chamber of Woodstock, where the King is still hidden waiting for the opportunity to escape to France. The young monarch cannot resist the charms of Alice Lee, much to the disgust of her lover, who is ignorant of his identity, and believes it is the notorious Lord Wilmot, whose adventures with the fair sex are but too well known. Consequently Everard, coming upon them suddenly, is staggered to witness Alice receiving an embrace and a kiss from the supposed libertine. In an instant his sword is drawn, but Alice informs her lover it is the King, and implores him to aid Charles’s escape. There is no time to lose, for again the troopers of Cromwell are upon his track. In strict duty, Everard is bound to deliver the King to the Roundheads, but, after a severe mental struggle, he determines to save Charles, and even to assist his flight.
The fourth act is the exterior of the Lodge at Woodstock, another lovely scene, in which artistic realism is carried out to the extent of making the mists of dawn melt in the sunshine, while a herd of deer is seen under the branches of the trees in the park. Colonel Everard having secured the safety of the King, gives himself up to Cromwell, who sentences him to be shot. Again the gentle Elizabeth pleads, and even tells her father that, but for Everard’s engagement to Alice Lee, he would still find excuses to grant him a pardon. Meanwhile Colonel Yarborough exults in Everard’s downfall. He is too open in his hatred, and Cromwell detects it. There is also an irritating message from the Parliament in which Cromwell is accused of favouring Charles’s flight. These incidents have some influence on “Old Noll,” and once more the devoted Elizabeth exerts herself on behalf of the prisoner, with the result that Cromwell sets him free, and declares that if the Parliament is displeased with him he will create another.
Mr Charles Cartwright most zealously carried out the ideas of the authors in their portrait of Cromwell. We shall not object to their idea of “Old Noll,” who is an extremely pleasant Puritan, as seen in his devoted attachment to his daughter. In the scene in which Cromwell dreams of the execution and of his daughter’s death, Mr Cartwright’s emotional style proved very effective and won hearty applause. In the final scenes, where Cromwell hesitates respecting the sentence upon Everard, the actor also played with capital effect. Mr Leonard Boyne put considerable spirit into his portraiture of the hero, but was occasionally somewhat indistinct in his delivery. Mr George Cockburn may be warmly praised as Colonel Yarborough. He represented an unscrupulous man bent upon revenge with great intelligence, not making the character too much of a melodramatic villain, yet showing the workings of his mind with unquestionable ability. Mr Fuller Mellish played the King with plenty of animation, his scene with Alice Lee being spirited and buoyant. If a little more regal dignity could be added, his rendering of the character would be entirely satisfactory. Mr J. D. Beveridge gave an excellent idea of the staunch Royalist, Sir Harry Lee. Mr Matthew Brodie was a genial representative of Albert Lee, and Mr Charles Dalton as the roystering Roger Wildrake, equally at his ease in the presence of Cromwell, or with his boon companions, was just the actor for the part, and succeeded completely. The humour of the play was confided to Mr Charles Collette, Mr Lionel Rignold, and Miss Clara Jecks. It was mainly a series of scenes, in which Mr Collette, as a Puritan, is the rival in love of a Royalist butler, played by Mr Lionel Rignold with his customary genial humour; while Mr Collette’s Puritanical references to the “pretty lamb,” represented charmingly by Miss Clara Jecks, never failed to evoke hilarity. The two principal feminine characters are delightfully played. Mrs Patrick Campbell makes of Cromwell’s daughter one of the sweetest figures imaginable. The interview in the second act between Elizabeth and Everard was quite poetical in feeling and tone. Mrs Campbell displayed intellectual as well as emotional power; and, in fact, the character was quite a creation, full of grace and charm. In the part of Alice the ability of Miss Evelyn Millard was fully displayed, and with the best possible results. Miss Millard’s prepossessing appearance and command of vivacity and tenderness, as seen in the incident with the King and in the interviews between Alice and her lover, made the character a most attractive one, and the merits of the performance were not overlooked by the audience. Several other parts were well played, for example, that of Captain Pearson by Mr Howard Russell. Miss Alice Bronse and Miss Vizetelly are also to be commended.
The White Rose is a success of the most decided kind. So interesting, pure, and effective a drama should certainly attract large audiences to the Adelphi for many a month to come.
The Illustrated London News (30 April, 1892 - p.14)
BY CLEMENT SCOTT.
The miserable playgoer must recently have murmured to himself, after meeting with failure after failure—
Once I said, almost despairing,
“This must break my spirit now,”
But I bore it, and am bearing,
Only do not ask me how!
Melodrama seemed to have gone to the dogs at its old home, the Princess’s, in Oxford Street. Not even the vast experience of Charles Warner, or the delicate art of Mrs. Dion Boucicault, or the brilliant promise of young Mr. Bedford, or the energy of Mr. Abingdon could restore tone to worn out and debilitated sensation plays. Even the Ibsenites, who were born at a late date to set us all right and to inform us what fools we were ever to like Shakspere, or Sheridan, or Sardou, began to lose heart. For almost the first time in her career Mrs. Nora Helmer, of Doll’s House Villa, Scandinavia, could not be tolerated or endured. She had lost her good looks and her Norwegian simplicity, and she had come back from her journey round the world an attitudinising, grimacing, irritatingly restless young person, who would have justified the prig Torvald in resorting to personal violence in order to keep her quiet. The whole ménage of Doll’s House Villa was utterly upset. Mr. Charles Charrington, the best of all the Dr. Ranks, was certainly not the best, or anything like the best, of the Torvald Helmers; and the charm of the whole thing seemed suddenly to have evaporated. We wanted Mr. Waring, and we sighed for Miss Elizabeth Robins, and we wished Mr. Fulton could be back again as Krogstadt; but most of all we pined for Mrs. Nora Janet Achurch, who left us the ideal “squirrel,” and has come back a far more assertive ad demonstrative denizen of the forest ways.
And I should not think that the Ibsenites are best pleased with Mr. Austin Fryers. In “Beata” he has written a play quite as interesting as anything the ”master” ever wrote. He has shown conclusively that it is the easiest thing in the world to imitate the master’s style and manner, but he has been cruel enough to kill poor Parson Rosmer far before his time. We all know that Parson Helmer and Miss Rebecca West waltzed off to the mill-race, hand in hand, when they discovered they bored one another to death, and could not quite clear their consciences of that little affair about Mrs. Rosmer. But Mr. Austin Fryers has decreed that the parson shall follow his ill-used spouse, and be denied the privilege of Miss West’s society for the future. This treatment, of course, opens up the possibility of another play. Why should not Miss West start a “Platonic” attachment with the infidel editor, and see how she gets on with Mrs. Rosmer’s asthmatic old uncle? All that I should like to see would be the pride of Rebecca lowered by that dear old grey-haired servant who was sold to her husband in exchange for a cow. I should not mind if Helspeth gave Rebecca a good shaking coram populo. That would bring down the house. My congratulations all the same to Miss Frances Ivor for her touching and tender personation of the amiable wife; to Miss Estelle Burney for her vigorous and impassioned Rebecca, one of the most hateful and detestable women in all modern fiction; and to Miss Susie Vaughan for her dear old housekeeper. Mr. Leonard Outram’s parson was also artistically detestable—a lady in my immediate vicinity said, “The beast! I should like to throw something at his head!”
So I turned with joy from these prigs and pessimists, from the gospel of socialism and the epistle of infidelity, from an atmosphere tainted with agnosticism, or some other “ism,” to a new play at the dear old Adelphi. Bravo! George Sims and Robert Buchanan. You have led us forth into moral sunshine again. To watch and smell “The White Rose” is like issuing from a crowded, fśtid, festering court into the light of God’s day. We experience the same joy in dear old Woodstock Chase as we do when the first gleam of spring sunshine braces the nerves and gladdens the heart. Good and grand old Cromwell! I don’t like you much when I go church and cathedral hunting. I don’t relish the traces of you at Lichfield or Ripon. I lament the empty niches and the battered carvings and the hideous desecration of old Noll and his bigoted soldiery—the Salvation Army of the Commonwealth; but, after all, what a fine old fellow, what a noble Englishman, what a man of fibre and blood and iron you are, you much-abused old gentleman, by the side of the godless parsons and the sexless women, and the Mr., Mrs., and Miss Egomets, who are so idolised by the new school! It does one’s heart good to change from the land of the midnight sun to the dear homeland of the White Rose. Who shall say now that George Sims and Robert Buchanan cannot get beyond the slums and stews of Cockney-land? They have let in light and air for us, and the heart of the playgoer will delight in this relief from melancholy and everlasting gloom. Let us not mourn that the Oliver Cromwell is not the Cromwell of history. Even the historians have not settled that point. Carlyle and Gardiner are still at loggerheads in the text-books. We are not very much concerned with the Cromwell of history, nor shall we break our hearts because Cromwell’s daughter Elizabeth had not an ounce of romance in her. We have got a human Cromwell, at any rate; and the new Elizabeth is one of the most enchanting pictures of delicate womanhood on the modern stage. Mrs. Patrick Campbell has astonished her best admirers and the keenest prophets of her ultimate success. What a change this, the delicate, fair-haired, lily-handed woman, with the voice with the pathetic throb in it—no, my dear Sirs, not an affected voice, or you have no ear for beautiful sound—what a change this Elizabeth Cromwell, purest, most womanly, and unselfish of creatures, from the throaty, evil-browed, dark-haired gipsy Stella, who has vanished from our view! And why should not Mrs. Campbell be allowed to suggest the Florentine women of the Middle Ages in her dress? It is a romantic play, and a little poetical license is surely admissible. But, as it happens, both the heroines of this pretty play are “fair to look upon, goodly to greet,” and they act as well as they look. Truly, it is a gay and delightful scene, dominated by Mr. Leonard Boyne, one of the best of our romantic actors, who wears his smart clothes to perfection, and makes love with passion and fights like a man—a relief from the effete and the epicene—and recalls the dashing and daring fellows who made England’s history in Cromwell’s time. As for Oliver Cromwell, all the advice I can give Mr. Charles Cartwright is the one given to a certain old lady in the song, “Pray, Goody, please to moderate the rancour of your tongue.” I think Cromwell would be more effective if he were more dignified and a little less noisy. It is the greatest mistake in the world to suppose that there are any groundlings at the New Adelphi who want their ears split. If you doubt it, watch the effect of Mr. Cockburn’s admirable performance of a Cromwellian officer. Mr. Cartwright’s Cromwell is wholly in the right vein, but on the first night he acted in too high a key. The brothers Gatti appear to understand the business of theatre-managing better than most of their brethren. They have helped us so far out of the Slough of Despond, and, if I mistake not, the Adelphi “White Rose” will be “softly blooming” in the Strand long after its garden companions have scattered their scented petals on the path.
The Sporting Times (30 April, 1892 - p.2)
AN important change of programme took place at the Adelphi on Saturday evening, when the White Rose took the place of the successful Trumpet Call. The new play is a fine romantic drama by George R. Sims and Robert Buchanan. It is founded on Sir Walter Scott’s “Woodstock,” and deals with the troublesome times of the Protectorate and the plottings and rivalries of Roundheads and Royalists. The experiment of introducing a play of this nature at the Adelphi was rather a bold one, but the reception accorded by the fashionable first-night audience left little room for doubt that it was successful. There should be no doubt that this verdict will be endorsed by subsequent audiences for a long time to come. The authors have dealt very freely with the characters in “Woodstock,” and have made many departures from the original. They have, however, succeeded in building up a most charming romance, full of strong, stirring situations, and embellished with a wealth of poetical language.
THE great central figure of the play is that of Oliver Cromwell. All others are subordinated to that, and the production will be notable for the opportunity it has given Mr. Charles Cartwright of showing a magnificent piece of acting as the Protector. He fairly took the house by surprise, and time after time he had to come to the front and acknowledge the complimentary applause showered upon him. The portrait of Cromwell given us by the authors is that of a rugged, God-fearing man, with his faith pinned to gunpowder and the Bible; a hard, stern man, of relentless fanaticism, but swayed withal in his actions by his sweet and gentle daughter Elizabeth, a character delightfully portrayed by Mrs. Patrick Campbell. Mr. Leonard Boyne has a part that fits him like a glove in the handsome, dashing Roundhead officer, Colonel Markham Everard. In the fact that this gentleman is in love with the daughter of a Royalist, that he also aids in the escape of the fugitive King from Worcester field, and that further, Elizabeth Cromwell has fallen desperately in love with him arise all the troubles. Colonel Markham has a rival in a scheming brother officer, Colonel Yarborough, who is the villain of the piece, a part well played by Mr. George Cockburn. To Miss Evelyn Millard is entrusted the part of the heroine, Alice Lee, the lover of Colonel Markham Everard, and her touchingly sympathetic rendering of this difficult part was distinctly good.
MR. FULLER MELLISH invests the part of Charles Stuart, the weak, vacillating, self-indulgent King, with a good deal of life, and Mr. J. D. Beveridge, it is needless to say, plays the part of the stately old Royalist, Sir Harry Lee, with dignity and effect. There is not much of the humorous element in the play, but Mr. Charles Collette as Joseph Tomkins, Mr. Lionel Rignold as Jeremiah Holdfast, and Miss Clara Jecks manage to brighten up the piece during the various scenes. In fact, Charles Collette’s “Pretty Lamb!” is sure to catch on. Mr. Charles Dalton has a good part as the careless, rollicking Roger Wildrake. The piece is beautifully mounted, the scenery of Woodstock, and the Glade in the Chase being especially good. The authors and actors were received with vociferous cheering, and The White Rose was launched under every pleasant augury.
The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (30 April, 1892 - p.28)
VERY complete is the change just effected by Messrs. Gatti in the style of melodrama upon which they rely at the Adelphi, and very cordial is the welcome which has in many critical quarters been accorded to the innovation. One might indeed almost think, from the tone in which some of them are greeting the substitution of The White Rose for The Trumpet Call, that the popular dramatic work of which the latter is the type represented all that is most blameworthy and most discreditable on the stage of the day. It seems, in fact, to be thought impossible to give its due meed of praise to the melodrama of historical romance without running down the melodrama of modern lower class life, and forgetting all that we have been writing of its “healthy” morality, its “breezy” humour, its cockney wit, and its rural geniality. There is, it seems to us, no need to make so much as this of a swing of the pendulum which may, or may not, prove to mark a genuine change of the public taste. Of its kind Messrs. Sims and Buchanan’s new piece is a very good one, just as was its predecessor in a different way. But for ourselves we discover little in the one play that is more unconventional or more ambitiously artistic than anything in the other. In spite, moreover, of the first-night success which evidently and deservedly attended The White Rose, we have our doubts whether to the average Adelphi audience, say at its second or third representation, the story of “Woodstock” possesses anything like the charm of excitement, of sentiment, or of fun, provided by its less pretentious predecessor. It is interesting but not very stirring, and its sympathetic purpose is not always achieved with clear precision. Its merits are undeniable, but they do not appear to us superlative even by comparison with that of such humble efforts of ordinary melodrama, The Bells of Haslemere, or In the Ranks, The Harbour Lights, or The Trumpet Call. On the other hand as a work of romantic art The White Rose of the Adelphi certainly compares very favourably with The Royal Oak of Drury Lane, wherein it will be remembered there was made a somewhat similar attempt to rouse the interest of the many-handed in the Stuart-Cromwell period of our history.
Though Messrs. Sims and Buchanan’s play is avowedly inspired by the “Woodstock” of Scott it departs widely from the scheme of that novel. It brings into prominence Cromwell’s daughter Elizabeth, whom it boldly makes the victim of an unreturned passion for Markham Everard, the rival of Colonel Yarborough for the hand of Alice Lee. This new element of the story is of course meant to add a fresh significance to the prolonged strife between Alice’s suitors, one of whom is in the confidence of the tyrannical Protector, whilst the other finds in the Protector’s fair daughter an irresistible advocate. Of course the King, under the guidance of Albert Lee, takes refuge in Sir Henry Lee’s house at Woodstock, where also, as a matter of course, the opposition between the two Puritan officers, Everard and Yarborough, soon declares itself. In Everard’s appeal to Cromwell on behalf of old Sir Henry—whom he has been ordered to evict—he would have but little chance of success were it not for the pleading of Elizabeth, whilst things also work well for him in the terrible vision of Charles’s execution and of his daughter’s death, which appears before the conscience-stricken Roundhead chief. This is in its way an impressive passage, though it is perhaps hardly so striking as the passage in which the motive is to come extent repeated, by making Everard’s escape from summary execution depend upon Elizabeth’s tears and prayers. Everard’s imminent danger is, it may be explained, due to his prominent share in effecting the King’s escape through the customary panelled chamber—a deed of loyalty all the more chivalrous because it is undertaken on behalf of a monarch by whom his sweetheart is being treated in a very undesirable way. The pardon which the young man owes to Elizabeth’s intercession is naturally followed by his acceptation as a son-in-law by the old cavalier, Sir Henry, who can respect gallantry wherever he comes across it. With this main fabric of sentimental romance is interwoven, not too homogeneously, a thread of comic relief in the rivalry of a hypocritical Puritan lover and a timid Royalist man-servant for the hand of a sprightly coquette of the period. It will be seen that there is here plenty of good dramatic, if not very trustworthy historic, material; and when the drama plays more closely and is worked up to climaxes of more excitement, it will doubtless hold the attention of its audience with a firmer grip. Much of its dialogue is extremely well written, and the delineation of one at least of the characters is achieved with true feeling and genuine skill. This character is that of Elizabeth Cromwell, whose tender womanly qualities find charming expression in the acting and refined elocution of Mrs. Patrick Campbell, who here makes a marked advance upon any of her previous work. It is, perhaps, hardly Mr. Cartwright’s fault that his portrait of Cromwell is so much less effective, but the truth is no one looks on the stage or elsewhere for a Cromwell who is merely the loving father unable to resist the pleadings of his favourite child. Such a Cromwell there may have been, but it does not answer the dramatic purpose of either playwright or player to introduce him on the stage. Moreover, if the truth be told, Cromwell has rather too much dialogue set down for him, and Mr. Cartwright cannot always prevent its growing tedious. Mr. Fuller Mellish is similarly hampered by the playwrights’ decidedly unkingly conception of King Charles, but his Scotch is good, whilst the Everard of Mr. Leonard Boyne has all the charm of romance and chivalry which would be expected from this most winning of jeunes premiers. Another distinct success is scored by Mr. Beveridge in the dignity with which he invests the rôle of Sir Henry; and Mr. George Cockburn handles with a great deal of tact the ungrateful character of Yarborough. The humours of the play, which are not very brilliant and are of course additions to the novel, are quite safe in the hands of Miss Clara Jecks, deservedly a great favourite here, Mr. Collette and Mr. Lionel Rignold, and Miss Evelyn Millard makes Alice Lee very pleasant to the eye. The scenic illustrations of a bygone age are all that could be desired, and altogether The White Rose is allowed its full chance of a flourishing career.
The White Rose - continued