Bronson Howard: Dean Of The American Drama
( Originally Published 1911 )
As Dean of the American Drama, Bronson Howard occupies a most significant position. The theatre is a very sensitive barometer, registering current ideas and local manners, and if one should range Mrs. Mowatt's "Fashion" (1847), Mrs. Bateman's "Self" (1856), and Mr. Howard's "Saratoga" (1870) side by side, the timely differences would be very strikingly felt. The point of view held by Mr. Howard just before his death had a broad sweep toward the future and a very vital sweep along the past. For, in respect to the latter position, he was able to estimate the value of that dramatic soil and of those dramatic traditions from which he sprung; he was so situated that he could step aside from the main current, and note wherein the later drama had profited by its inheritance.
It is unfortunate that in the years to come, the estimate of Mr. Howard, based upon his numerous popular successes, will not be a very high one, even though "The Banker's Daughter" and "Aristocracy" are marked with a certain literary quality. This stricture is partly due to the fact that he wrote at a time when our American stage was flooded with French imitations or importations; when, as Mr. Howard himself declared, adaptations for the English speaking stage not only meant a change to English life and English characters, but meant also that in the transference, these characters continued "to express foreign ideas and to act like foreigners."
But Mr. Howard's right to the title of Dean of the American Drama can never be disputed, for, whatever is done in the future to enrich our native dramaturgic literature, it will have been through the efforts of Mr. Howard that the first impetus toward that efflorescence was given. In the early seventies he stood single-handed, with the Anglicism and classicism of Daly, Palmer, and Wallack as his chiefest opposition, and he forced the public gaze upon current thought and manners. So as to accomplish this object, he was obliged to have recourse to conventions more French than they were American. What is of most importance is that Mr. Howard by his plays established the fact of the American drama's existence — plays in a way far more native than those romantic pieces by George Boker and the Philadelphia group. It is an unfortunate possibility, however, that unless our dramatic literature emphasizes the essential elements from which our national drama has come, Mr. Howard in the future will be little more than a name to theatre-goers, outside of the profession. For his plays are hardly literary in the sense that they possess reading style or grace. That is to be deplored, inasmuch as Mr. Howard, intellectually, was of a high type of mind, while as Dean he always supported that which aimed to be the best.
It were futile indeed to regard Mr. Howard as a producing playwright from any other angle of vision than that of his day. His technique, his observation, his locale, are of a generation that is gone; and though the humanity of his characters still retain acting possibilities, the American drama of today is subject to far different influences. We are now passing through the fires of scientific query and realistic handling of the sex question. Dion Boucicault, as recent as 1890, only vaguely felt that there was something in Ibsen which demanded what he called serious regard. Long before this storm and stress period in stage history, Mr. Howard's method was so far crystallized as to remain unaffected by later technique. And toward the latter part of his life, it was curious to behold in him a man intellectually so far in advance of his method of writing. For, despite Ibsen and Zola and Tolstoi; despite Howells and James and Meredith; despite Pinero and Jones and Shaw, Mr. Howard's last comedy, "Kate," is untouched by current influences, however much it strove to be modern. In this play his ideas of life deepened, his technical grasp became firmer, his insight keener, but his discussions were all clad in form typical of "The Banker's Daughter," "One of Our Girls," and "The Henrietta."
Before 1870, the American Drama was very broadly and very crudely manipulated in two directions: American history and the American type were chiefly to be reckoned with. We find long lists of Indian plays, of Revolutionary dramas, of spectaculars unfolding the marvels of colonization and the successes of 1812. These early pieces are all forgotten, save one perhaps — the "Metamora" of Judge Stone, so closely identified with the personality of Edwin Forrest. The Indian plays, as a genre, before 1846, were not, however, any more common than the American types which dominated the boards in such mushroom thickness that the elder Hackett followed one play of the kind with another; and his rival actor, Hill, became popularly known as "Yankee " Hill.
It is customary for the dramatic historian of to-day to discount the influence of the character type on the American stage — a type which disappeared usually with the passing of the actor who created it. But the value of W. J. Florence's Bardwell Slote, of John T. Raymond's Mulberry Sellers, of Murdoch's and Mayo's Davy Crockett, of Chanfrau's Mose, and of Jefferson's Asa Trenchard, lay in the fact that they helped to create in the minds of theatre-goers a belief in national distinctions; they helped to preserve American characteristics on the stage, however cartoon the pictures might have been. All drama must thus work itself out from extravagance to refinement.
When Mr. Howard began to write for the theatre, the influence of Scribe, and his manner of unfolding plot and counterplot, had not yet been succeeded by a more natural method of development. Dumas, fils, with "Camille," had injected into the romantic play of intrigue and infidelity, a species of emotional analysis which was somehow mistaken for an ethical purpose. Furthermore, Robertson and Taylor, borrowing freely from the elder Dumas and Hugo on one hand, and from the comedy of incident and manner on the other, simply Anglicized the French form of drama for the English stage. Mr. Howard found such to be the conditions when he began his struggles.
He found that English managers realized it was less expensive, and involved less risk, to employ Boucicault, for example, to translate French plays, to adapt them, as they phrased it, than to experiment with a new play that had never been tried upon the public He found that in America the situation was very much the same. Popular opinion was led to value an importation, and to discount any serious treatment of American character or of American life. He found, finally, that there was only half-hearted interest in the American drama on the part of two of the leading managers of that era, however much they might write encouragingly of the subject in current reviews or in their reminiscences. Lester Wallack in no way encouraged native talent, even though his excellence as a stage manager helped to give the theatre an abundant amount of English comedy and tragedy; even though he was author of a local play called "Central Park." 1 The same may well be claimed of Augustin Daly, who nevertheless aimed to be American in "Under the Gas-light." But his was likewise a foreign ambition, for he mounted adaptations of French and German farces whenever he wished to depart from the Shakespearean or classical comedy repertoire of his New York theatres; he catered distinctively to culture, and how well he succeeded is measured by the atmosphere which for so long a while after his death clung to his Broadway playhouse at Thirtieth Street.
Of the three prominent managers, A. M. Palmer may be said to have done the most to have encouraged native dramatic ability. He and Mr. Daly were both involved in the development of Bronson Howard.
Such is the setting to aid us in claiming for this writer the full appropriateness of the title: Dean of the American Drama. Mr. Howard was born at Detroit in 1842, during a time when that city was considered the extreme West. To undertake a journey there from the East was a notable accomplishment, and in one of James Fenimore Cooper's numerous autobiographical references, we find him boasting of the feat. In the "Leatherstocking" series, moreover, one of the characters was based on Mr. Howard's father — a man of adventurous nature, of firm disposition and determination — a man, in fine, of the pioneer type. The intense American strain in this family reaches back as far as 1759, when one of the Howards came over from England with Wolfe's army, and, strange to say, almost immediately began to realize that the colonies were right in their attitude toward the mother-country. This sympathy increased to such an extent that Howard enlisted with the "rebel" forces during the Revolution — an act that resulted in his death on the field at Monmouth, New Jersey.
Mr. Howard's grandfather was quick to catch the West-ward spirit, though loath to break from the East. He was a roving farmer who moved from Howard's Settlement on Lake Ontario, thence to a point in New York State, near the St. Lawrence River, and he instilled into his own son that same instinct to migrate which had prompted the Revolutionary sire to roam from place to place.
Mr. Howard's father was a commission merchant in Detroit at the time of his son's birth. He had been a captain of a schooner in the days when sea-faring encouraged mutinous crews—composed mostly of a cursing, grog-beset, brutal type of sailor. But Howard, Sr., was of a different calibre from most sea commanders. He banished the freedom of oaths from the deck; he cleared the lockers and holds of all grog; he insisted upon discipline which his friends told him could never be maintained where grog was denied. His actions as commander hastened the establishment of liquor regulations in the maritime service, and abolished from its prominent position on deck the water-cooler which had up to this time been filled with grog for anyone who cared to turn the faucet. His immediate reward was that he obtained differential rates of insurance which other seamen coveted, but were denied. Bronson Howard was proud of this bit of family history.
Without giving up entire interest in the ship business, Howard, Sr., joined the firm of Alvin Bronson and Company, Bronson, after whom the young man was named, being at one time State Senator at Albany from Oswego County. In some of the early playbills we find the full name of the dramatist recorded as Bronson Crocker Howard, Mr. Crocker being another partner of the firm. Many of his journalistic friends used to address him as B. C. Howard, though he preferred the shorter form as more distinctive and individualistic.
From 1842 to 1858, therefore, young Howard remained in Detroit, long enough to secure the rudiments of an education, to see his father Mayor of the city (1849), and to develop what his father bequeathed him — an inventive taste which expanded later and aided him, when ingenuity was required of him behind the scenes at the theatre.
Howard, Sr., was accustomed to whittle rough vessels from blocks of wood; this we may consider as symbol of the mechanical side of dramatic construction. In fact, before the Prismatic Club of Detroit, Mr. Howard once claimed that the mechanical engineer and the dramatist required essentially the same technical training. He afterwards, before the students of Harvard University, reasserted this, in connection with his play, "The Banker's Daughter."
Young Howard was now sent East to prepare for Yale,—the class of 1865; but though General Russell's preparatory school did its work successfully, nature went against the scheme, and Howard's eyes failed him in 1860. Later, he was granted the privilege of attending a few lectures with his class, but he was never able to matriculate.
During this time, the written drama as a profession was farthest from his thoughts. He had manufactured a few skits for his school, and had become unswerving in his determination not to enter a trade. In fact, stimulated by the books and by the lecturing of Bayard Taylor, Howard was bent on becoming a writer. With this phase we must now deal, for it will indicate how subtly and how surely natural inclination asserts itself. Unknowingly, we are led whither our tastes prompt us, and Howard's first literary effort, based upon a purely literary enthusiasm for the then recently published American translation of "Les Misérables," proved to be a play.
With all the confidence of youth, he persuaded a manager to let him attempt a drama called "Fantine," based on some of the Hugo incidents. It was played by a local stock company, managed according to the custom of the day. The "star" was the only one to travel, going from one city to another, in each of which a stock company was ready to support him. When written, this crude first at-tempt was found to be unfit for the practical side of the theatre; with all the inexperience of the inexperienced amateur, Howard had expanded the first act until it was sufficiently long to be a play in itself. But, undaunted, he set about pruning and cutting. What man can ever expect to become a playwright without that energetic willingness to slave, labor, and hope? Mr. Howard always possessed to a large degree the unfailing optimism of the true craftsman, and he once said, after he had gone through thirty-eight years of theatre service: "I never can understand the doubts as to whether one can do a play, if he really has it in him; he just goes and does it without questioning." This determination which Mr. Howard always preached was an inspiration to his younger associates, and to many of them he used to say, "When you find yourself standing in the way of dramatic truth, clear the track!"
An interesting state of affairs existed in those days, excellently illustrated by the fate of "Fantine." This play was never published; in fact, for a long while Mr. Howard considered the manuscript as lost. The only trace of it to be had was a "skeleton" copy which it was customary to give to the prompter: that is, the play with all the leading parts omitted, and only the cues as a guide. This "skeleton" precaution was necessary because of the copyright weakness which allowed all kinds of piracy to be committed in the profession. There were slight means of protecting the author's property in those days, a fact which added to Mr. Howard's interest in the dramatic copyright debates. Under such conditions, it would never do to allow the prompter to have in his possession the entire manuscript. The "skeleton" was of small value to Mr. Howard; but fortunately, the "leads" being extant, they turned up unexpectedly some years after, and were dropped into the setting like missing stones in a mosaic.
The eventful year of 1864, therefore, found Bronson Howard making a start as playwright. Another interest was drawing him to the stage, for he was serving a Detroit paper as dramatic critic and besides, was reading plays for his own amusement, familiarizing himself with the historical development of playwriting, which is a necessary acquisition for dignified theatre work.
These were war times, but young Howard does not seem to have been drawn into the vortex, until it was rumored that an invasion of the Union was to be attempted by the English from Canada. For several nights, in consequence, Howard tramped the shores of the Lake, waiting in the darkness for momentary attack, and experiencing all the excitement that comes before a battle. There was no invasion, so he left Detroit in 1865, and landed in the Tribune office, New York, where he was detailed as reporter to write up the novel opening of the season at Coney Island. From 1867, intermittently until 1872, Howard attended isolated lectures, but most of his energies were expended on journal-ism, in a day when newspapers were being quickly founded, and were as rapidly changing hands.
In the usual journalistic career, which, as we have said, is so characteristic of many of our native playwrights, Mr. Howard's history is exceptional. For he was trained in a newspaper school that produced Whitelaw Reid, and from 1868 to 1872 he was filling varied positions on many editorial staffs. He received his first honorarium as dramatic critic, under Charles H. Sweetzer, who founded The Round Table, a precursor of The Nation, and was next sent to report the Yale commencement and the Yale-Harvard boat race, for the Evening Gazette. It was while on the latter paper that one of his associate reporters was assigned a notable task — to follow up and describe how the first bag of mail was brought to New York from Philadelphia, an incident which was the beginning of the post-office system on its present gigantic scale.
Howard then followed Sweetzer to his new paper, The Mail, assuming the nominal office of first president of the Mail Association. But the paper was sold in 1870, and John Russell Young then employed Howard on the Tribune, making him exchange editor. Toward the latter part of 1871, he went over to the Post, continuing his journalistic career, despite his intervening dramatic ventures, through 1876, during which year he wrote Centennial articles for the London Pall Mall Magazine, and for the Detroit Free Press. Before this, however, his determination had been firmly settled to devote all of his energies to the drama. It was probably about this time that his intimacy with Mr. (now Sir) Charles Wyndham began. The latter's first managerial venture occurred in "Hurricanes," which, written by Mr. Howard, was renamed "Truth" in James Albery's adaptation for England. In 1880, Miss Wyndham became Mrs. Bronson Howard.
Despite the lethargic state in which Mr. Howard found the American dramatist, and despite the absolute inertia of the American drama itself, he entered the contest with great energy. So thoroughly were foreign models dominant on the boards that he later confessed how one of his earliest manuscripts contained speeches in which Newport people went about exclaiming "Egad! " in real eighteenth century style. Mr. Howard was always fully aware of the historical changes in drama, the shifting of social attitudes, of moral conventionalities. Every dramatist, unless he be distinctly a re-former, is loath to overstep such conventionalities. Mrs. Inchbald, in one of her dramatic prefaces, refers to playwrights of her day as being far behind the period in method and in subject matter; yet at the same time she was astounded to find Mrs. Centilever utilizing the clergy in one of her plays! It took years for the stage minister to make his appearance in society drama.
Mr. Howard once said that in Rachel Crothers' "The Three of Us," such a heroine as is there portrayed — one who enters a man's room at midnight, to outface his threats and to outwit his claim that he will compromise her — was thirty or forty years in coming. Augustus Thomas has announced that he held "The Witching Hour" in his desk for several seasons, waiting the psychological moment when public sentiment would be alive to the truth of hypnotism. Ibsen trained us all to an acceptance of heredity as a stage subject, and he confessed in his correspondence that he was willing and anxious to shock average conservatism, without waiting for the opportune time to do things. He was always in advance of his public; hence his isolation and loneliness; hence the storms of protest raised against him. This only indicates the sensitiveness to dramatic change.
Mr. Howard accepted theatrical convention as it existed in 1870; his one and only fight was for the recognition of the American dramatist. Just before Robertson held sway in the early sixties on the English stage, the old style drama was in the ascendancy; nineteenth century people were viewing and were accepting manners of another era. But Robert-son gave a twist to such a state of affairs; the theatre pendulum swung back to its normal balance, and though he did riot entirely free himself of the foreign yoke and of the earlier romantic influence, Robertson at least focussed the glass upon contemporary condition. This accounts for such a play as "Caste"; it explains many touches in the dramas by Bronson Howard.
From "Saratoga" (1870) to "Kate" (1906), Mr. Howard dealt with American character, largely in the midst of foreign atmosphere. The advance from the same "Saratoga" to his "Aristocracy" (1892), was only an advance in neatness and closeness of dialogue. That feminine brightness which drew down upon him the wrath of contemporary critics, was admirably adapted, as it was in the case of Clyde Fitch, to the French treatment. But the Anglo-French back-ground detracts from the sincerity of American drama. Yet, should one look closer, and not judge by externals entirely, it will be seen, in the case of Mr. Howard, that in spite of the prejudice against American dramatists and American themes, in spite of the exoteric character of his technique, of his construction, he anticipated many of our present-day dramatic workers in the selection of his themes.
"The Young Mrs. Winthrop" (1882), however stereotyped in its adherence to the "aside," is a domestic play of strong import, by the side of which Alfred Sutro's "The Walls of Jericho" is no more powerful arraignment of society forces drawing husband and wife apart. "Moorcroft," though it failed, exhibited Mr. Howard as aware of the value of timeliness in theatre work. He had witnessed the instantaneous effect of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and had noticed the melodramatic success of Boucicault's "The Octoroon." It is natural, therefore, that this "Moorcroft," based on a story by John Hay, should have dealt with the slave trade in similar melodramatic manner.
"Baron Rudolph" (1881) foreshadowed by many years the stage treatment of the struggle between capital and labor, so crudely handled by Charles Klein in "The Daughters of Men." Then there was "The Henrietta" (1887), to my mind one of Mr. Howard's most characteristically American plays, — barring a few out-of-date touches, — which might very well be classed with "The Lion and the Mouse," Frank Norris's "The Pit" (dramatized by Channing Pollock), and "Business is Business" ("Les Affaires sont les Affaires") in which Crane acted. In claiming this distinction of previousness for Mr. Howard, it must always be borne in mind that his was pioneer treatment, which won its way in the face of managerial prejudice and productive barrenness. "Shenandoah" later became the forerunner of such a superior drama as William Gillette's "Secret Service."
Mr. Howard's progress toward the recognized position of dean of his profession was by no means a rapid or an easy one. I have before me accusations of diverse kinds registered against the dramatist, for there were many critics who could not see originality in any of his work. In 1874, when "Saratoga" (Anglicized "Brighton" by Frank Mar-shall) was presented in London, the Times loudly pro-claimed that the play was simply a recast of Scribe's "Les Eaux." Mr. Howard protested vigorously in the newspaper columns, yet he was dignifiedly silent when critics pointed to his "Diamonds" (1872), and discovered in it distinct reflections of "Still Waters Run Deep"; or claimed that the charming sentiment in "Old Love Letters" was akin in form and feeling to Gilbert's "Sweethearts."
Despite the fact, for example, that a certain special re-viewer was proverbially harsh in his judgments of Mr. Howard, hinting that "One of Our Girls" (1885) leaned upon "A Scrap of Paper" in its third act, and upon "The School for Scandal" in its fourth act, should one follow those re-views, there would be detected that with the appearance of each new play by Mr. Howard, increasing credit and respect were bestowed upon him. This was largely due to the maturity of the dramatist's touch — to the surety of his technique.
To his feminine interest, Mr. Howard added a repartee which came from close observation of small detail. At first, in such pieces as " Saratoga," and later, in " One of Our Girls," the style bordered on the frivolous. It seemed that there was but one way for him to picture the American girl: by making her, amidst the conservatism of English convention, a bold, frank, "natural" type, surprising every-one with her freedom, her boisterousness. There was little of the intensive life to be detected in her struggles, in her marital misunderstandings, unless we except "The Young Mrs. Winthrop."
The formula of imported drama was used by Mr. Howard; in order to win his battle, he was obliged to compromise somewhere. The formula prescribed duels and French indiscretions; it necessitated the American characters being lavish with money. A certain grace was bestowed upon the feminine type, but otherwise the manner of depiction was the same as that used by Taylor in his character portrayal of Asa Trenchard.
The social amenities, the comedies and tragedies of smart set life, are to-day very much as they were yesterday. We find as many of the nouveau riche, anxious to pepper conversation with French phrases, as many of the so-called aristocracy boasting of association with titled folk; and there are still to be seen the destitute foreign noblemen — mere fortune-hunters such as Mr. Howard introduced into " Aristocracy" and "Kate." Snobbery has lost none of its rampant coarseness. Yet we have outgrown this cartoon, this farce element, in depicting American condition on the stage; we seek for less of the incongruous.
Wall Street is just as potent a factor in the shattering of homes as it was when "The Henrietta" was first produced; but the framework of social drama, of the problem play, is now more solid, and less prone to be shaped by the caprice of external incident. Mr. Howard, despite the transitory chat of his dialogue, impresses one with the feeling that beneath the surface incident there lay a very distinct idea — a much more substantial view of life than his execution would lead us to believe. His criticism of American condition was always thorough and just, and his culture sense was so keen that it is surprising to find how little his plays reflect the solid character of his intellect. His dramas were mostly received with enthusiasm, netting him a comfortable for-tune. Yet, regarding their permanence there is doubt, for the very reason that they are cast in a mould so easily discarded, a mould which held only the froth of manners.
As a worker, Mr. Howard was always zealous and pains-taking. His manuscripts indicate that labor and sacrifice are the dramatist's watchwords. Let a doubt as to effectiveness once possess him, and he went to any amount of trouble to overcome the scenic difficulty. The well-thumbed volumes on the Civil War in his library were evidence of his care in detail while planning "Shenandoah," the first draft of which was a network of emendations.
He wrote and re-wrote a scene in "One of Our Girls" six times before he could prove to his own satisfaction that the original way was the only way for his particular purpose. The lecture he delivered at Harvard University, in 1886, applied the general laws of drama to certain alterations made in "The Banker's Daughter." His object was to show the student that whatever changes of primary importance were made by him, affected other details in preceding and succeeding situations. A drama is an organism, with relative spatial values fluctuating according to dynamic principles. Mechanical effectiveness has its constructive equation, and character must develop consistently along lines of evolution and of life.
But Mr. Howard, while illustrating these laws by means of the changes in his piece, also too clearly revealed in that lecture a distinct danger underlying the stagecraft of his day — a danger bequeathed us by the French, and engrafted by Robertson and Taylor upon English drama and American drama as well—a danger counteracted by the Ibsen technique, with its vital ideas. The caprice of incident was more thought of than the humanity of individuals; artifice therefore largely took the place of art. "One of the most important laws of dramatic construction," said Mr. Howard before the Harvard audience, "might thus be formulated: If you want a particular thing done, choose a character to do it that an audience will naturally expect to do it. In `The Banker's Daughter' I wanted a man to fall in love with my heroine after she was a married woman, and, of course, I chose a French Count for the purpose."
We now ask again, in view of all this activity, by what right is Mr. Howard called Dean of the American Dramatists? He always had the interest of native playwrights at heart; he fought for them unceasingly, even as ardently as Mark Twain did for the author in the copyright agitations, making appeal for proper protection of plays as early as 1879; he founded for his craft a permanent organization, known as the Dramatist Club. But more than that, he established the fact of the American drama's existence, and stood ready to render encouragement to the younger generation. Unlike "The Master Builder," he hastened the newer school, always gracious and always helpful.
We emphasize in our literary histories the importance of such writers as Bret Harte, who preserved a native flavor in the short story, dependent upon native Life. The American idea in literature has largely been subservient to local interest and local need. Politically, socially, spiritually, and economically, locality has governed our literary expression, and has been externalized on the stage. Save in isolated instances, idea in American literature has in no way equalled vividness of local condition. While Mr. Howard's local claim was harmed by his manner of construction, he nevertheless, like Robertson and Taylor, swung the pendulum across the dial of contemporary life, and reflected the conventional phases of contemporary society. He recognized that Boker in Philadelphia had done no ordinary work; that American drama, from the Revolution, was no insignificant quantity, however varying the quality. What was needed seemed to be confidence in native ability and in native discernment; what was needed proved to be a local dramatic market for modern wares. Mr. Howard was the founder of such a market. It was confidence on his part that cleared the way for the present. And by right of this struggle, dramatic history should stamp him, as others in his family have been stamped, as pioneer in his particular field.
Mr. Howard died in 1908. His plays appeared in the following order, the star indicating that they have been published in French's "Standard Drama":
"Fantine" (1864), "Saratoga" (1870), "Diamonds" (1872), "Moor-croft; or, The Double Wedding" (1874), "Hurricanes" (1878, — called "Truth" in England), "Old Love Letters" * (1878), "The Banker's Daughter" * (1878 — called in England "The Old Love and the New"; also known as "Lillian's Last Love"), "Baron Rudolph" (1881), "Young Mrs. Winthrop" * (1882), "One of Our Girls" * (1885), "Met by Chance" (1887), "The Henrietta" * (1887), "Shenandoah" * (1889), "Aristocracy" * (1892), "Kate" * (1906—Harper & Bros.).
In 1879, Mr. Howard also wrote "Wives," in which scenes from Molière's "L'École de Maris" and "L'École des Femmes" were blended. He likewise wrote "Peter Stuyvesant " (1899), in conjunction with Professor Brander Matthews. In the casts presenting the comedies we note such names as Sara Jewett, W. J. LeMoyne, J. H. Stoddart, George Clarke, Henry Miller, Agnes Booth, E. H. Sothern, Viola Allen, and Wilton Lackaye. The early actors were the most important, and they included Fanny Davenport, Clara Morris, and their contemporaries.