The Dramatic Mirror
Henry F. Stone
Philadelphia: 25 March 1901

Memories of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

NEWARK, N.J., March 25.

To the Editor of The Dramatic Mirror:

  SIR.—Long familiarity with Uncle Tom's Cabin, both as an actor and as a spectator, may qualify me to express an opinion on some of the players that have taken prominent parts in the famous old drama. I was a member of J.B. Rice's company, Chicago, when a version of Uncle Tom by Mrs. Anna Marble was produced, about the same time that Aiken's play was rendered at Troy, N.Y. It has been a disputed point which was the first representation. My next experience as an "Uncle Tommer" was as Gumption Cute, during the long run at the National Theatre, New York. As an eyewitness my judgment, added to the opinions of many critics, would pronounce the following the best exponents of the roles named:

  Uncle Tom: Edwin Harris, who had previously been a Shakespearean actor with marked success. Possessed of a powerful and melodious voice, he gave great earnestness and feeling to the part, besides rendering some popular negro melodies in a fine baritone voice.

  Deacon Perry: George L. Fox, who, although best known to fame as a pantomimist, was a great character actor and presented this part with an artistic humor I never saw equaled.

  Topsy: Lotta Crabtree, one of the most artistic and charming actresses that ever adorned the American stage.

  St. Clair: J.B. Howe, who came here from England and made his first appearance at the National Theatre on the retirement of George C. Howard. He gave the character a dash and finish and rendered sweetly and with feeling St. Clair's song in memory of his daughter (nowadays omitted from the representation).

  George Harris: J.J. Prior, a leading man and a splendid actor and elocutionist.

  Simon Legree: Theodore Roberts, now appearing in the role at the Academy of Music. He is the best Legree by far that I have met with. His work has none of the conventional style. He endows the part with an individuality both in acting and make-up, and throws new lights and shades upon it.

  Lawyer Marks: Andrew Waldron, an excellent comedian and vocalist, whom I saw in California.

  Eliza: Mrs. J.J. Prior. one of the best leading women of former years, and also a Shakespearean actress of repute.

  Aunt Ophelia: Mrs. Amy Stone, who ranks high as a character actress at the present day.

  Marie St. Clair: Alice Evans. This part is considered of minor Importance; but Miss Evans would make a decided hit if placed in a more prominent role of this sort.

  Cassie: Emily Rigl. I have seen the part played very creditably often, but never witnessed so dramatic and artistic a portrayal as Miss Rigl's.

  Little Eva: Little Irma Day, a child of four years and a half, who appeared lately at Newark, N.J., and with her childish artlessness and sweet singing surprised every one.

  Phineas Fletcher: William Mestayer. This role is scarcely understood nowadays, as Kentuckian dialect parts have become nearly extinct. But Mestayer had witnessed many prominent actors who made a specialty of them, and being a good all around actor himself he imparted this characterization to Mrs. Stowe's creation.