ROBERT WILLIAMS BUCHANAN (1841 - 1901)

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BUCHANAN AND THE LAW (4)

 

“Lady Gladys”

 

[‘Buchanan v. Langtry’ lasted two days and, given its ‘celebrity nature’, was covered extensively in the press. The following daily reports are taken from The Times, Daily News and The Standard, concluding with the account of the trial in The Era. Some additional reports from other papers are available on a separate page.]

 

The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser (27 September, 1888 - p.5)

     Mrs. Langtry has been in England some weeks; but few folk have seen anything of her. She has not favoured her old haunts as expected, and she did not put in appearance either at Doncaster or at Sandown; neither has she been discovered among the “first-nighters” at the theatres. The object of her visit to this country, which, by the way, was a business one, has been completed, and she will leave Liverpool for America at the end of the week. The main purpose of her visit was to consult Mr. Robert Buchanan, who has written a comedy for her. The piece is modern, and will lend itself to the display of some marvellously fine costumes which Worth has constructed for her.

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The Era (29 September, 1888 - p.9)

     MRS LANGTRY’S short swallow flight to Europe terminates this day (Saturday), when she sails for New York, having completed the twofold object of her journey by settling with Mr Robert Buchanan in the details of the new play from his pen, which she is to produce next January, and arranging with M. Worth for the new and elaborate costumes to be worn in the production. Besides the drama for Mrs Langtry, Mr Buchanan has also in hand the dramatised version of Scott’s “Marmion,” commissioned by Messrs Howard and Wyndham; a new play commissioned by Mr A. M. Palmer, for Palmer’s Theatre, New York; and the new comedy for the Vaudeville, to be produced whenever the popularity of Joseph’s Sweetheart, now in the seventh month of its run, may be exhausted.

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The Era (20 October, 1888 - p.13)

     MRS LANGTRY arrived from Liverpool on the Alaska yesterday morning. She will open her season at Omaha, Neb., on next Monday night, and her new play by Robert Buchanan will not be produced until she appears at the Fifth Avenue Theatre, in this city, on Jan. 7th.

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The Era (1 December, 1888)

     MR CHARLES COGHLAN has retired temporarily from Mrs Langtry’s support, to devote all his time to an elaborate revival of Macbeth at the Fifth-avenue Theatre, New York. He proposes to appear as the Thane to Mrs Langtry’s Lady Macbeth.

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St. James’s Gazette (9 August, 1889 - p.12)

     An interesting action affecting dramatic rights will probably come before the courts. Messrs. Kaye and Guedalla, solicitors to Mr. Robert Buchanan, the well-known novelist and playwright, have issued a writ against Mrs. Langtry to recover £2,000 damages for the non-production by her of a play written by Mr. Buchanan for that lady’s last New York season. Mr. George Lewis, on the other hand, on behalf of Mrs. Langtry, has set up a counter-claim against Mr. Buchanan for the return of the amount paid by Mrs. Langtry on the signing of the contract. The action will probably turn upon the point as to whether or not the parts in the play were written as stipulated.

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The Liverpool Mercury (14 November, 1890 - p.5)

MR. BUCHANAN AND MRS. LANGTRY.

     In the Court of Queen’s Bench, London, yesterday, the case of Buchanan v. Langtry came before Mr. Justice Charles and a special jury. This was an action by Mr. Robert Buchanan, the well-known author, against Mrs. Langtry, at present the lessee and manageress of the Princess’s Theatre, to recover damages in respect of the production of a play written by Mr. Buchanan. — Mr. F. Lockwood, Q.C., for Mrs. Langtry, asked that the trial should be postponed, as several witnesses engaged in a new play to be produced next Tuesday were unable to attend. Mr. Winch, Q.C., appeared for the plaintiff. It was ultimately arranged that the trial should commence on Wednesday next.

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The Times (21 November, 1890 - p.13)

(Before MR. JUSTICE CHARLES and a Common Jury.)

BUCHANAN V. LANGTRY.

     This was an action to recover damages for breach of contract.
     Mr. Winch, Q.C., and Mr. Studd appeared for the plaintiff and Mr. Lockwood, Q.C., and Mr. Le Breton for the defendant.
     The plaintiff was the well-known dramatist and the defendant Mrs. Lillie Langtry.
     The plaintiff alleged that in September, 1888, by a contract partly verbal and partly in writing, it was arranged that he should write a drama for the defendant “to open her next season in New York.” The terms of the contract are set out in the following letters:—
                                                                                                                             “Sept. 14, 1888.
     “Dear Mr. Buchanan,—I accept your offer to write me a modern drama in not less than four acts, with a leading star part for myself, on the terms proposed—namely, that I pay you £150 down and £150 on delivery of the manuscript, and the sum of £50 weekly during my performance of the piece. It is understood that the above prepayment of £300 is on account of the said weekly royalty of £50.
     “It is also understood that I have the sole right of performing the said drama for a period of three years.
     “The piece is to be delivered to me in New York not later than the 30th of November, and to be produced on or about the 7th of January in New York City.         “Yours truly,          “LILLIE LANGTRY.”

                                                                                       “Hamlet-court, Southend, Essex, Sept. 14.
     “Dear Mrs. Langtry,—I herewith acknowledge receipt of your letter of this date recapitulating our agreement as follows:—
     “(1) That I am to write you a play, in not less than four acts, with a leading star part for yourself, and to deliver it to you in New York not later than the 30th of November next.
     “(2) That you are to pay for author’s royalties the fixed sum of £50 weekly whenever the play is acted, and wherever, and in consideration of your so doing you are to have the sole acting rights for a term of three years.
     “(3) That you are to pay me in advance of said royalties £150 (one hundred and fifty pounds) down and £150 on delivery of the manuscript; and
     “(4) That the play is to be produced by you in New York on or about the 7th of January next.
     “To all this I once more agree, and you may rely on my using my stringent endeavours to produce a drama worthy of your talents and of the occasion. Awaiting the receipt of your cheque for the first sum of £150 as arranged,
         “I am, dear Mrs. Langtry, yours most truly,
                                             “ROBERT BUCHANAN.
     “Mrs. Langtry.
     “P.S.—You will greatly oblige me by sending me the list of the leading members of the company, also by letting me know the exact date of your return to town that I can see you and make some preliminary suggestions on the subject of the play.          “B.”

                                                                           “Pulteney Hotel, 13, Albemarle-street, W., Friday.
     “Dear Mr. Buchanan,—I enclose cheque for 150 pounds. Please let me have a note in answer to mine. I omitted to say that I should prefer if possible not too long a cast, and also to tell you that nice supers are hard to get anywhere in America, and impossible in some parts. Still, of course, if necessary, they can be found.          “Yours truly,
                                                                                                                                             “LILLIE LANGTRY.”
     “I shall look forward to hearing something of the plot before I leave for America.”

                                                                           “Pulteney Hotel, 13, Albemarle-street, W., Saturday.
     “Dear Mr. Buchanan,—I have received your letter. My company consists of :—C. Coghlan, leading man; Fred Everill, comedian and character; Louis Calvert, juvenile, or better in rough part; Ivan Peronet, wg. gentleman (dudish); Sidney Herbert, light comedy; Miss Russell, leading lady—Ada Rehan’s sister, rather like her in style, about my height, slight Irish accent, scarcely noticeable; Mrs. Calvert, soubrette; Miss Florence, very pretty ingénue, long fair hair. These are all the principals I have at present. Should there be a strong lover part in the piece as well as Coghlan’s I could engage some one especially, Calvert not being a good stage lover. You will see I have no old man nor old woman, but, of course, would engage. So I really think you had better not consider the company much beyond Coghlan and Fred Everill, who is excellent.
         “Yours truly,          “LILLIE LANGTRY.
     “Of course you will make me a woman’s not a girl’s part.”

     The plaintiff wrote a drama called Lady Gladys, and sent it to Mrs. Langtry in November, 1888. She, however, was not pleased with it, and consequently the play was never produced.
     The defendant pleaded that it was part of the contract that she should not be bound to accept the drama or pay for the same unless it was a piece of which she approved, and which was suited to the powers and styles of acting of the defendant and the members of her company, and alleged that the drama Lady Gladys was of no use to her.
     Mr. Buchanan, the plaintiff, in his evidence, stated that the agreement with the defendant was substantially to the effect stated in the above letters. She wrote the letter of September 14 in his presence, and he took it away with him. The £150 was paid to him on same day. Lady Gladys was a play in which defendant’s part would be a “leading star” part. The play would involve four changes of dress.
     Cross-examined by Mr. LOCKWOOD, Q.C.—The play was to be a “modern” piece. The sort of play wanted was discussed on the 13th of September. The defendant said she wanted a strong and sympathetic part. He set to work at once. He expressed no pleasure at having to write a part for Mr. Coghlan. He came in the second act. Mr. Everill would have played Sir Gilbert. Mrs. Langtry would have played the part of the daughter of a broken-down earl, who had been dispossessed by Sir Gilbert Vane. The main incident was the shooting of a dog by Sir Gilbert which was to enter on the stage with Mrs. Langtry. Any retriever dog could have done the part. Lady Gladys makes it unpleasant for the old earl whose son she had married. [The learned counsel went through the play somewhat in detail, and asked whether his description was substantially correct.] That is rather bare. He was of opinion defendant made up her mind to reject the play before she read it.
     Mrs. Langtry, in her evidence, said that she was very anxious to produce a new play in the United States in the autumn of 1888, and consulted Mr. Buchanan with reference thereto. She impressed upon him that her part must be strong and sympathetic. She received the drama in Toronto. Macbeth was only rehearsed about three weeks afterwards. Lady Gladys was not a strong or sympathetic part. She did not know where to find a dog such as that mentioned in the play.
     In cross-examination she stated she thought so much of the plaintiff that she imagined he could write a play to suit her. She did not insist that her part was to be “strong” in the letter of September 14, because she thought it was included in the words “leading star” part. On December 1, when the play arrived, she had made arrangements to appear as Lady Macbeth during the New York season, which ran for ten weeks from January 10. She had been rather unfortunate before with play-writers—for instance, with Mr. Hatton Chambers, with whom she had an arbitration concerning a play he wrote for her, Mr. Bancroft being the arbitrator.
     At this stage of the case the Court adjourned.

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Daily News (21 November, 1890)

THE
BUCHANAN-LANGTRY ACTION.
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     Yesterday, before Mr. Justice Charles and a Special Jury, the trial of the action brought by Mr. Robert Buchanan, the well-known author and dramatist, against Mrs. Langtry to recover 150l., the balance of the alleged contract price for a play called “Lady Gladys,” came on for hearing. There was also a counter claim for 150l. by the defendant for a deposit paid on account in respect of the play. The case has from time to time been postponed, one of the reasons given being that the defendant’s time was taken up during the day by the rehearsals of “Antony and Cleopatra” at the Princess’s Theatre. It was set down for hearing on Wednesday, but was last on the list and the day was occupied with other cases. It seemed that a similar fate would befall it yesterday, for several cases stood in the way, one of them being an action for libel against General Booth, in which a large number of members of the Salvation Army appeared as witnesses. The list, however, with the exception of this case, was disposed of by luncheon-time, and, the Salvation Army case being removed to another court, Mr. Justice Charles was left free to deal with the dispute between Mr. Buchanan and Mrs. Langtry. The parties to the suit were present in good time. To begin with the plaintiff, in order of time, Mr. Robert Buchanan came into court accompanied by Miss Harriet Jay and another lady, and sat down in the well of the court behind Mr. Winch, his counsel. He gave his evidence without any of the hesitation hat characterises the ordinary witness, and was extremely ready in answering the skilful points made by Mr. Lockwood, sometimes indeed assuming the aggressive, rather than the defensive attitude himself. Latitude of evidence in civil cases, as compared with criminal trials, is so extensive that a witness like Mr. Buchanan could hardly help enlarging and explaining his answers beyond the mere “Yes” or “No” that was required of him, and Mr. Lockwood was at times compelled either to request the witness not to argue the point with him, or, on his own part, to decline to enter into an argument at the then juncture of affairs. The defendant, Mrs. Langtry, was naturally the most conspicuous personage in court. Accompanied by Mr. Lewis, junior, she entered the court, and took a seat also in the well of the court, just below her counsel. She was attired in a blue serge open tunic and skirt, the waistcoat underneath being of brocaded old gold, the bottom of the skirt being fringed in the same colour in narrow stripes round the entire width. The felt hat was of a colour to match, and was trimmed with Russian squirrel tails and the head of the animal in question. Her gloves were of yellow Suède. She gave her evidence with great deliberation, and as all actors and actresses in a court of justice do, spoke with as much clearness and distinctness, and at times, it must be added, with as much effect as though she were on the stage. She several times evinced a disposition to develop an ordinary answer into an explanatory dissertation, and it should also be remarked that neither her own advocate, nor the opposing counsel, nor the learned judge on the bench, showed any disinclination to listen to it. During one of the inevitable legal arguments that will arise as to the admission of a certain question Mrs. Langtry, not being called upon to discuss the point, manifested some sign of weariness, and expressed a wish to sit  down, saying that she was very tired. The usher thereupon arranged the contrivance upon which witnesses may rest, which is a small plank on hinges. This being let down forms a seat, and Mrs. Langtry reclined thereon while the legal argument was going on. When the examination was resumed she rose to her feet again alert and active, and declined the invitation of Bar and Bench to be seated. Her examination concluded, she asked with a sigh of relief, “Am I released?” and then, finding that she was penned into the witness-box by the seat which had been lowered behind her, she turned to the usher, with a smile of entreaty, and changed her form of appeal into “May I be released?” This being successfully accomplished, Mrs. Langtry regained her former seat in court, and the proceedings being adjourned, remained in the great hall with Mr. Lewis and her brother, Mr. Le Breton, who is junior counsel on her side, until the crowd outside the precincts of the courts had to some extent cleared away. Among others in court were Mr. Coghlan, of whom frequent mention was made during the case; Mr. F. Everill, another member of Mrs. Langtry’s company; and Mr. F. C. Phillips, the author of “As in a Looking Glass,” one of the plays in which Mrs. Langtry has achieved distinction.
     Mr. Winch, Q.C., and Mr. Studd appeared for the plaintiff; Mr. Lockwood, Q.C., and Mr. Le Breton for the defendant.
     Mr. Winch, in opening the case, said that the claim of his client was for a balance of 150l. due to him for a play which he wrote for the well-known actress, Mrs. Langtry, who had already paid 150l. on account. In September, 1888, Mrs. Langtry was desirous of having written for her a play which she might bring out in New York. On the 10th of September Mr. Buchanan received a telegram asking him to meet Mrs. Langtry on Friday, the 13th. On the 14th Mr. Buchanan saw Mrs. Langtry at the Pulteney Hotel, and had a conversation with her as to her requirements. Mrs. Langtry told him that she desired him to write a play which she might produce in New York, and of which she would take the chief part. She also told him that she had been to Paris and had bought a number of beautiful dresses, and she desired that the piece should be so arranged that she could wear those beautiful dresses. Then Mr. Buchanan, with a prudence which afterwards turned out to be so wise and desirable, put the agreement into writing, so that there should be no mistake about it, and in consequence of that Mrs. Langtry wrote the following letter:

                                                                                                                                         Sept. 14, 1888.
     Dear Mr. Buchanan,—I accept your offer to write me a modern drama in not less than four acts, with a leading star part for myself, on the terms proposed, viz., that I pay you £150 down and £150 on the delivery of the MS., and the sum of £50 weekly during my performances of the piece. It is understood that the above prepayment of £300 is on account of the said weekly royalty of £50. It is also understood that I have the sole right of performing the said drama for a period of three years. The piece is to be delivered to me in New York not later than the 30th of November, and to be produced on or about the 7th of January in New York City.
Yours truly,                                                                       LILLIE LANGTRY.

Mr. Buchanan replied in the following terms:

                                                                                                                                         Sept. 14. ’88
     Dear Mrs. Langtry,—I herewith acknowledge receipt of your letter of this date recapitulating our agreement as follows:—(1) That I am to write you a play in not less than four acts, with a leading star part for yourself, and to deliver it to you in New York not later than the 30th of November next.   (2) That you are to pay for author’s royalties the fixed sum of £50 weekly whenever the play is acted and wherever, and in consideration of your so doing you are to have the sole acting rights for a term of three years.  (3) That you are to pay me in advance of said royalties £150 down and £150 on delivery of the MS.; and (4) that the play is to be produced by you in New York on or about the 7th of January next. To all these I once more agree, and you may rely on my using my stringent endeavours to produce a drama worthy of your talents and of the occasion. Awaiting the receipt of your cheque for the first sum of £150 as arranged, I am, dear Mrs. Langtry, yours most truly,                                                                  ROBERT BUCHANAN.
     P.S.—You will greatly oblige me by sending on a list of the leading members of the company, also by letting me know the exact date of your return to town, that I can see you and make some preliminary suggestions on the subject of the play.

     Counsel continued—Mr. Buchanan put all his other work on one side, and finished the play which he had held in his hand. He had not read it all himself, but he understood that his learned friend had read a part of it.
     Mr. Lockwood—Quite enough. (Laughter.)
     Mr. Winch said he did not think it necessary to read the whole of the play to the jury. They must remember that Mr. Buchanan had a very great interest in writing a good play, because, although he would get 300l. on its delivery, yet there would be a royalty to be received in the event of its running beyond the six weeks which the 300l. covered. Mrs. Langtry had sent a cheque for 150l., with the following letter:

     Dear Mr. Buchanan,—I enclose cheque for £150. Please let me have a note in answer to mine. I omitted to say that I should prefer, if possible, not too long a cast, and also to tell you that nice supers are hard to get anywhere in America, and impossible in some parts. Still, of course, if necessary, they can be found.—Yours truly,        LILLIE LANGTRY.
     I shall look forward to hearing something of the plot before I leave for America.

Mrs. Langtry also wrote the following:

     Dear Mr. Buchanan,—My company consists of C. Coghlan, leading man, Fred Everill, comedian and character. . . . These are all the principals I have at present. Should there be a strong lover’s part in the piece as well as Coghlan’s I could engage some one specially, Calvert not being a good stage lover. You will see I have no old man nor old woman, but of course would engage. So I really think you had better not consider the company much beyond Coghlan and Fred Everill, who is excellent.—Yours truly,
                                                                                                                               LILLIE LANGTRY.
     Of course you will make me a woman’s, not a girl’s, part.

Some time afterwards, however, Mr. Buchanan heard that it was Mrs. Langtry’s intention to produce “Macbeth” in America, and he wrote to her as follows:

                                                                                                                                           December 1st.
     Dear Mrs. Langtry,—It has been stated here in many newspapers that you are arranging to open at the Fifth Avenue Theatre with a revival of “Macbeth.” I trust it is not true, as it would mean the breach of your contract with me for the production of my play on January 7th. If, however, you desire to change your plans we had better come to some amicable arrangement, for as your season in New York is very short I should be a heavy loser after my cordial efforts to keep faith with you and provide you with a popular play. Kindly let me know how you propose to act in the matter. I am quite content to meet you in every way. I am awaiting your acknowledgement of the M.S., together with the balance of deposit money—£150. I shall be very sorry indeed if there are to be any difficulties between us, as I have great faith in the popular qualities of “Lady Gladys.”—With all good wishes, yours truly,                           ROBERT BUCHANAN.

     Mrs. Langtry replied on Dec. 12:

     Dear Mr. Buchanan,—By this post I return your MS. of “Lady Gladys,” in sending which I fancy you must have made a mistake, as it is so very unlike what you promised and I expected. I hope by this time you have discovered the error and that the right play is now on its way to New York. If it is indeed the play you intended for me, I may tell you it is not of the slightest service to me. The part is weak (as I think is the play) and unsympathetic, and the surroundings nil. You must remember what we arranged, and you agreed and promised to write for me—a play with the heroine, a star part, strong, emotional, and sympathetic—the hero, of weight and power, such as I could offer to Mr. Coghlan, two or three well-defined characters of importance, and others as you might require to fill out the plot. You have placed me in a serious dilemma. I desired and had promised to produce a new play in New York, and relied entirely on you for that play, and now at the last moment I am left to seek for others; but I cannot accept or produce a play so unworthy of both you and me.—Yours faithfully,  LILLIE LANGTRY.

     The defence which was set up was that it was a verbal agreement, the terms of which were that Mrs. Langtry was not bound to accept the drama unless it was one of which she should approve. But he pointed out that if that condition were to hold good the play writer would be at the mercy of anybody who ordered a play, and then from some cause or other considered that it was unsuitable. Possibly an actor or an actress might not be able to act up to the part. He, on the contrary, suggested that it had been decided to put “Macbeth” on the stage, and that “Lady Gladys,” in spite of the contract, had been shelved to make room for it.
     Mr. ROBERT BUCHANAN was then called. he said—I am a dramatic author. On the 10th of September, 1888, I received a telegram, in consequence of which I called on Mrs. Langtry. She requested me to write a play for her, and to suit it as far as possible to her abilities as an actress. She said she required it to open with in New York in the following January, and desired me to deliver it by the 30th of November following. She said she would leave the material and treatment of the play entirely in my hands, and thereupon I spoke of terms. I said I thought a fair price would be 50l. weekly for every week she played it. I asked for the usual deposit, so much down and so much on the delivery of the manuscript. To these terms she assented.
     How was it you came to have the document in writing?—She wrote it in my presence. (Counsel read the document stating the terms of the contract.) I took that letter away, and wrote back repeating the terms of the contract. I received a cheque for 150l.
     Is this a play which you have written to the best of your ability?—Unquestionably.
     Is it a play in which Mrs. Langtry’s part would be a leading star part?—Decidedly. She mentioned to me in conversation that she desired to have some modern dresses, and that she had bought some in Paris. I said that it would be such a play. There would be about four changes.
     Cross-examined by Mr. Lockwood—It was distinctly understood to be a modern piece. She asked me to provide a piece in which she could use modern costumes. I saw Mrs. Langtry on more than one occasion. I saw her on the 13th as well as the 14th September. I don’t think we discussed the terms on that day. We did not discuss the money part of the contract.
     She said that she did not want a “girl’s part”?—No. She never said anything about that till she wrote me a letter. I should never have thought of writing her a girl’s part—in the theatrical sense.
     Did you express pleasure at the prospect of writing a part for Mr. Coghlan?—None whatever. Why should I?
     I don’t know. (Laughter.) Did you write the part for Mr. Coghlan?—Yes, I thought it would suit him.
     You also wrote a part for Mr. Everill?—There were two old men’s parts, either of which I thought would suit him.
     Now, my learned friend has said that he has not read all the play. I understand that Mrs. Langtry’s part was that of the daughter of a broken-down earl?—Yes.
     There is no harm in that?—No; they often break down. (Laughter.)
     And the main incident turned upon the shooting of a dog which was to appear on the stage with Mrs. Langtry?—That was a part of the first act.
     In the directions we are told that the dog must be trained to carry out the business of the scene?—Yes.
     Where was Mrs. Langtry to get this intelligent dog?—Almost any retriever would do, as all that the dog had to do was to follow his mistress about.
     Did you indicate where Mrs. Langtry could get such a dog?—I could have sent her one. There could be no difficulty, as any retriever would follow its mistress.
     Do you mean to say you had a dog in your mind when you wrote this?—Yes, any intelligent retriever dog would be able to do it.
     A great deal turns upon the shooting of the dog?—Yes, it is an important incident in the piece, and I meant it should be. The dog was not shot upon the stage. It was shot “off.”
     The learned counsel then proceeded to give a summary of the play. Lady Gladys, after the dog had been killed, married the son of the proprietor of the estate, which originally belonged to her father, on which the dog had been shot, and having induced her husband to transfer the estate to her by deed of gift, returned home in order to turn out the father of her husband.
     Mr. Lockwood—Does she not do that merely out of revenge?—Not exactly out of revenge alone, but partly to repossess herself of her father’s property.
     But her father had died? He is like the dog; he dies. (Laughter.)—Yes, he practically dies on the stage. He faints on the stage.
     Yes, but all people that faint on the stage do not die? (Laughter.)—No, I did not say so.
     When Lady Gladys returns she turns out the old man?—Not absolutely; she makes it unpleasant for him. (Laughter.)
     I don’t mean that she takes him neck and crop; she orders him off the premises?—Yes.
     Then she ascertains that during her father’s poverty he was in receipt of anonymous gifts from Edgar Vane; her heart melts, and then curtain?—That is a very ad captandum description.
     Oh! I forget. I have left out something. I have left out the humour. Will you call my attention to any portion of the play which is more humorous than that which I am about to read to you.
     Mr. Lockwood then, in a very solemn, not to say lugubrious manner, read the following piece of dialogue which takes place between Major Hubert, a major on half pay (“Very dear at the price,” the learned counsel incidentally remarked) and a Mrs. Pope. Speaking to Mrs. Pope the Major says, “I say, Mrs. Pope, what a jolly story that was of yours about the fellah who went to India, and when he got back found his wife had married another fellah.” Mrs. Pope (referring to some book she had written): “Oh, ‘Twice Wedded’—an early effort.”—Major: “Haw, haw! an idea! Why don’t you write a story about a woman who has worn mourning for two husbands walking in a garden, and call it ‘Twice Weeded.’ Ha! ha! ha! you are welcome to the title.” (Laughter.)
     Mr. Lockwood (continuing): You take that as humorous?—It is meant to be. It is not so as you read it.
     Can you show me anything that is more humorous than that? If not, we had better pass on.—Yes. I think you had better pass on. I don’t pretend that it is a funny play. You have no right to read separate passages like that.
     The Judge (to Mr. Lockwood)—If you were to read “She Stoops to Conquer” in that style I don’t think any one would laugh.
     Mr. Lockwood—Do you really consider the part of Lady Gladys a sympathetic part?—Yes.
     You were to be the sole arbiter as to whether it was sympathetic?—Yes; but I offered a compromise afterwards without being able to get a hearing. The contract was broken before that, as she was then rehearsing “Macbeth,” as the English newspapers and Mr. Coghlan, if you call him, will tell you.
     Do you suggest that Mrs. Langtry had made up her mind to reject your play before it reached her, and that after paying 150l.?—Yes, I do.
     Re-examined by Mr. Winch—The dog had nothing to do except to follow his mistress on and off the stage. His death took place at the wings.
     So that was all the dog had to do?—Yes. As to the parts of Major Herbert and Mrs. Hope, they were simply what are called “comic relief,” and were written up to suit the characters that were sketched.
     This closed the plaintiff’s case.
     Mr. Lockwood, for the defence, repudiated any suggestion of bad faith on Mrs. Langtry’s part, remarking that though Mr. Buchanan might know something of stage manners and the sympathies and emotions that swayed theatrical audiences, he evidently knew nothing of the emotions and affections that influenced a British jury, or he would never have made an imputation of the kind. He contended that the play supplied by Mr. Buchanan in no way came up to the stipulations that Mrs. Langtry laid down in her interviews with him.
     Mrs. Langtry was then called and examined by Mr. Lockwood—She said: My Christian name is Lillie, and I am an actress. In November, 1888 I was about to leave London for New York with an acting company.
     For that purpose were you anxious to produce a new comedy?—Very anxious. I put myself in communication with Mr. Buchanan. I asked him to write me a modern play, with a strong, emotional, sympathetic part. He asked me who was in my company and I said Mr. Coghlan and Mr. Everill. He said he was very glad to hear Mr. Coghlan was in my company; that he was a very fine actor, and that he would take great pleasure in writing him a good part. We went into some details; but I can’t quite remember what they were. He promised to let me know something about the plot before we sailed, but he wrote me a letter to say that the time was so short that he was unable to do so. I am sorry to say I have not the letter. I never keep letters. I ought to. I think we had nothing more to say with reference to the play further than to impress upon Mr. Buchanan that the part must be strong.
     And I think you said sympathetic?—Yes; I can’t say where I received the MS. I think it was in Toronto. It would be about the 2nd of December.
     Is it true to suggest that you had determined to reject the play before you received it?—No.
     Is it true that you had produced “Macbeth” before you received it?—No; we rehearsed “Macbeth” about a fortnight after.
     It is true that “Lady Gladys” is a strong and sympathetic part?
     The Judge doubted whether the question was admissible.
     Mr. Lockwood contended that it was, as being put to an expert.
     The Judge asked who was to be the tribunal to decide whether the part was strong, emotional, and sympathetic. The writer said it was, and the lady said it was not. He supposed the jury would have to judge. Was the learned counsel going to read the play to the jury?
     Mr. Lockwood hoped not, but said that he would not object to take a small part in it, so long as it was not the part of the major. (Laughter.) Perhaps his learned friend Mr. Winch would take that part and he would take the part of the dog. He had once been obliged to read a great part of a play when he had had the honour of appearing for Mr. Herman Merivale before Mr. Justice Field, but he could not say how much his lordship had heard of it. (Laughter.)
     Question eventually allowed, the judge taking a note of the objection.
     Was that in your opinion a sympathetic part?—No; nor strong. I afterwards showed it to Mr. Everill. I don’t remember whether Mr. Coghlan was with me at the time.
     Did you regard it as such an easy matter to find a dog to train for this part as Mr. Buchanan seemed to think?—No; I did not, in America. I opened at New York on the 7th of January. I had intended to rehearse “Lady Gladys” on tour. I did not begin to rehearse “Macbeth” till a fortnight or three weeks afterwards.
     Cross-examined by Mr. Winch—I had known Mr. Buchanan by name and reputation, and I hoped that he would be able to write me a play.
     Will you explain why you did not put the condition that the play was to be strong and sympathetic in your written contract?—Because it was hastily drawn and in a friendly manner.
     Counsel read the contract and again asked the question.—Witness said that the character was not one to arouse the sympathy of the audience. It was that of a mean and vindictive woman. It seemed to her that Lady Gladys cared more about the death of the dog than about the death of her father. Mr. Buchanan (she continued) wrote to me that the dog was a very important dog. I was travelling at the time when the play arrived. Mr. Coghlan had left me at the time. It was the early part of December, 1888. He had gone to arrange for the scenery in “Macbeth,” which was to be produced after this play. I was obliged to make preparations in advance. I never knew a play to run more than four weeks in New York and I had to be prepared with a change. We always have to keep looking forward. I am even now considering what I am going to produce next, though I hope that “Cleopatra” will run for a day or two. (Laughter.)
     You have been unfortunate before with play-writers?—Yes; with Mr. Haddon Chambers.
     You rejected one of his plays?—Yes. We did not go to law, but to arbitration. It came before Mr. Bancroft, and an offer which I had previously made was carried out.
     Was that a play that you had ordered?—No; it was not a new play. It was a play in which a part had been written up for me; but the part had been written up so strongly that it would have killed the piece. The character was out of all proportion to those of the male actors.
     At this point the Court adjourned till to-day.

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The Standard (21 November, 1890 - p.2)

QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION.
(Before Mr. Justice CHARLES and a Common Jury.)

     BUCHANAN V. LANGTRY.—This action was brought by Mr. Robert Buchanan, the dramatic author, against Mrs. Lillie Langtry, who is now the lessee and manageress of the Princess’s Theatre, to recover damages, laid at 2000l., for alleged breach of a contract to open her New York theatrical season last year with a play written by the Plaintiff. Mrs. Langtry admitted making the contract, but pleaded that one of its terms was that she should not be bound to accept the drama unless it was suited to her own powers and style of acting; that the Plaintiff’s play did not suit her or her company, and therefore she was not liable. Further the Defendant counter-claimed for 150l. which she had paid the Plaintiff in respect of the play. Mr. Winch, Q.C., and Mr. Studd appeared for the Plaintiff; and Mr. Lockwood, Q.C., and Mr. C. M. Le Breton for the Defendant.
     Mr. Winch, in opening the case, said that the claim of his client was for a balance of 150l. due to him for a play which he wrote for the well-known actress, Mrs. Langtry, who had already paid 150l. In September, 1888, Mrs. Langtry was desirous of having written for her a play which she might produce in New York. On the 10th of September Mr. Buchanan received a telegram asking him to meet Mrs. Langtry on Friday, the 13th. On the 14th Mr. Buchanan saw Mrs. Langtry and had a conversation as to her requirements. Mrs. Langtry told him that she desired him to write a play which she might produce in New York, and of which she would take the chief part. Amongst other things Mrs. Langtry told Mr. Buchanan that she had been to Paris and had bought a number of very beautiful dresses, and that the scenes of the play were to be so arranged that she could wear these beautiful dresses. Accordingly Mr. Buchanan, with a prudence that, as events turned out, was very wise, asked Mrs. Langtry to give him an agreement. The agreement was written as follows:—“Sept. 14. Dear Mr. Buchanan,—I accept your offer to write me a modern drama in not less than four acts, with a leading star part for myself, on the terms proposed, viz.:—That I should pay you 150l. down, and 150l. on the delivery of the MS. and the sum of 50l. weekly during my performances of the piece. It is understood that the above prepaid 300l. is on account of the said weekly royalty of 50l. a week. It is also understood that I have the sole right of performing the said drama for a period of three years. The piece is to be delivered to me in New York not later than the 30th of November, and to be produced on or about the 7th of January in New York City.—Yours truly, Lillie Langtry.” On the same day Mr. Buchanan acknowledged the receipt of the letter, and reiterated the terms upon which the play was to be written. In the same letter he informed Mrs. langtry that she might rely upon him using very stringent efforts to write a play worthy of her talents. On the following Friday mrs. Langtry again wrote to Mr. Buchanan, enclosing a cheque for 150l., and saying that she would prefer not too long a cast, as “nice supers are hard to get in America and impossible in some parts, though of course, if necessary, they can be found.” In answer to mr. Buchanan, Mrs. Langtry wrote the names of the company, and said that there must be a “strong lover’s part” in the piece, as well as a strong part that she could offer to Mr. Coghlan, as “Mr. Calvert was not a good stage lover” (laughter). “Of course,” continued Mrs.  Langtry, “you will make me a woman’s, and not a girl’s part.” Upon receiving the deposit, Mr. Buchanan put on one side all his other work, and set to work to write the play. The play, which was called Lady Gladys, he had not read, though he understood that his learned friend had read it.
     Mr. Lockwood—Quite enough of it (laughter).
     Mr. Winch pointed out that Mr. Buchanan had a very great interest in writing a play that would have a long run. Some time afterwards Mr. Buchanan wrote to Mrs. Langtry, asking her if there was truth in the rumour given in all the English newspapers that she was to re-open the Fifth Avenue Theatre with a revival of Macbeth. “I trust,” said Mr. Buchanan, “that this is not true, as it would amount to a breach of your contract with me. If, however, you desire to change your plans, we had better come to some amicable arrangement, as your season in New York being short, I shall be a heavy loser. I am, however, quite prepared to meet you in any way.” To that letter Mr. Buchanan got an answer, in which nothing was said about the revival of Macbeth. That letter said:—“By this post I return your MS., in sending which I venture to think that you must have made a mistake, as it is so very unlike what you promised. I hope you have discovered the error, and that the right play is now on the way to New York. If, however, it is the play you intended for me, I may tell you that it is not of the slightest service. The part is weak, as is the play. It is unsympathetic, and the surroundings nil. You must remember what we arranged for was a play with a heroine star part, strong, emotional, and sympathetic, and a hero’s part weighty and powerful, such as I could offer to Mr. Coghlan. You have placed me in a serious dilemma. I desired and promised to produce a new play in New York, and relied upon you. Now, at the last moment, I am obliged to seek other plays, for I cannot produce a play so unworthy of you and of me.” After that letter Mr. Buchanan made an effort to compromise the matter, and was willing to let Mrs. langtry have the play. Unfortunately, no settlement had been arrived at, and the question was now left for the decision of the Jury.
     Mr. Robert Buchanan was called and examined by Mr. Winch. He stated that he was a dramatic author. On Sept. 14, Mrs. Langtry requested him to write for her a play which should, as far as possible, be suited to her abilities as an actress. She said that she required the play to open her season in New York in the following January, and desired him to deliver it by November 30. She said that she would leave the material and the treatment of the play entirely in his hands. Thereupon he spoke of terms, and said he thought that fair terms would be 50l. for every week she played the piece. He asked for the usual deposit down, and so much on the delivery of the MS. To these terms she assented. Mrs. Langtry, during the interview, wrote the agreement given in the opening. A day or so afterwards he received a cheque for 150l., Mrs. Langtry stating that she had not a banking account in London, and would have to open one. The play was written and was delivered on Nov. 30, notwithstanding great difficulty in finding Mrs. Langtry. Lady Gladys was a play that he had written with the best of his ability, and was a play in which Mrs. Langtry’s part would be that of a “star.” Mrs. Langtry stated that she had bought some good modern dresses in Paris and desired to use them. There would be four changes.
     Cross-examined by Mr. Lockwood.—The question of dress was merely as to period?—No; the play was to be a modern play.
     Where was that discussed?—During our conversation. She asked for a piece in which she could use modern costumes.
     Are you sure it was on the 14th September only?—I saw her on more than one occasion. I saw her, I think, on tnhe previous day.
     Was the contract partly made on the 13th?—We discussed whether I would write a play.
     She said particularly that she did not want a girl’s part?—That was put in the letter. I should never have thought of writing her a girl’s part—in the theatrical sense.
     When did you set to work?—Practically at once after I got the deposit.
     Did you express pleasure at writing a part for Mr. Coghlan?—Not in the least; why should I? (laughter.)
     What part was for Mr. Coghlan?—Edgar Vane. I was not particular that he should play it.
     I don’t know. (Laughter.) Did you write the part for Mr. Coghlan?—Yes, I thought it would suit him.
     As I understand the play, Mrs. Langtry’s part was that of the daughter of a broken-down earl?—Yes.
     There is no harm in breaking down an earl (laughter)?—Theatrically, I suppose, no.
     The main act turned upon the shooting of a dog which was to appear on the stage with Mrs. Langtry?—That is an incident of the first act.
     In the directions we are told that the dog must be trained to carry out the business of the scene?—Yes.
     Where was Mrs. Langtry to get this intelligent dog?—Almost any retriever would do, as all that the dog had to do was to follow his mistress about.
     Did you indicate where Mrs. Langtry could get such a dog?—I could have sent her one. There could be no difficulty, as any retriever would follow its mistress.
     A great deal turned on the dog?—No; he was not killed on the stage.
     In the play Lady Gladys marries, under an assumed name, a man named Gascoigne, and obtains from him a deed of gift, with which she returns to England in order to turn out the father of her husband. Does she not do that merely out of revenge?—Not exactly out of revenge alone, but partly to repossess herself of her father’s property.
     But her father had died? He is like the dog; he dies (laughter)?—Yes, he practically dies on the stage. He faints on the stage.
     Yes, but all people that faint on the stage do not die (laughter)?—No, I did not say so.
     When Lady Gladys returns she turns out the old man?—Not absolutely; she makes it unpleasant for him (laughter).
     I don’t mean that she takes him neck and crop; she orders him off the premises?—Yes.
     Then she ascertains that during her father’s poverty he was in receipt of anonymous gifts from Edgar Gascoigne; her heart melts, and then curtain?—That is a very ad captandum description.
     I have left out the humour?—You have left out a good deal. You might describe Hamlet or Macbeth in the same way.
     I have left out the humour. I will read a passage, and will ask you to call my attention to any other portion of the play which you consider more humorous. There is a person who plays the part of Major Fitz Herbert, an oficer on half-pay—and very dear at the price (laughter)—and a Mrs, Pope. Speaking to Mrs. Pope the Major says, “I say, Mrs. Pope, what a jolly story that was of yours about the fellah who went to India, and when he got back found his wife had married another fellah.” Mrs. Pope (referring to some book she had written): “Oh, ‘Twice Wedded’—an early effort.”— Major: “Haw, haw! An idea! Why don’t you write a story about a woman who has worn mourning for two husbands walking in a garden, and call it ‘Twice Weeded.’ Haw! haw! you are welcome to the title” (laughter.) Mr. Lockwood (continuing): You take that as humorous?—It is meant to be so. It is meant to be as you read it.
     Can you call my attention to any funnier part?—I don’t pretend that it is funny.
     Is this a serious play?—Yes.
     Show me a livelier passage?—I don’t think you have any right to read passages like that.
     The Judge.—If you read She Stoops to Conquer like that no one would laugh at it.
     Mr. Lockwood apologised for his want of histrionic ability, and resumed his cross-examination.—Do you really consider the part of Lady Gladys a sympathetic part?—Yes.
     You were to be the sole arbiter as to whether it was sympathetic?—Yes; but I offered a compromise afterwards without being able to get a hearing. The contract was broken before that, as she was then rehearsing Macbeth, as the English newspapers and Mr. Coghlan, if you call him, will tell you.
     Do you suggest that Mrs. Langtry had made up her mind to reject your play before it reached her, and that after paying 150l.?—Yes, I do.
     In re-examination, mr. Buchanan said that the characters from whose parts mr. Lockwood had read were known in theatrical parlance as comic reliefs. The speech was in character with the man who spoke it.
     In contrast with the tragedy of Mrs. Langtry?—Yes.
     This concluded the case for the Plaintiff.
     Mr. Lockwood, in opening the case for the Defendant, pointed out that Mr. Buchanan stood in a very different position from that which would be occupied by a painter who had been commissioned to paint a portrait. Mr. Buchanan was bound by the promise he had made and by the contract into which he had entered. And really in respect of the promise there appeared to be not very much dispute between Mr. Buchanan and Mrs. Langtry. Mrs. Langtry asked the Plaintiff to write a play upon terms, one of which was that the leading part for herself should be strong and sympathetic. She started for America, looking forward to the production of a new play which she had promised to bring forward in New York. He regretted that the Plaintiff had thought fit to impute to Mrs. Langtry dishonourable conduct of which she could never be capable. The Plaintiff’s suggestion was that before seeing the play and after paying a deposit of 150l.  Mrs. Langtry had determined to throw up the piece, and to produce Macbeth. That statement was absolutely  unfounded. It was unjust, as well as untrue, and was unworthy of the talented man who had made it. The case might well have been conducted without introducing so envenomed and unfair a suggestion. He contended that the part provided for Mrs. Langtry was that of a woman who could have excited no sympathy in any audience. Lady Gladys might have been played with success by some actresses, though she was unsuitable for Mrs. Langtry, being a woman who acted throughout from vengeful motives—a woman who married fraudulently under an assumed name, and who obtained by fraud a deed of gift that enabled her to turn out of doors her husband’s father. He urged that Mr. Buchanan had not fulfilled his part of the contract in providing a character suited to the powers of Mrs. Langtry, and that he was therefore not entitled to a verdict.
     Mrs. Langtry, examined by Mr. Lockwood, said that in 1888 she was about to go on tour in America, and was anxious to produce a new play in New York. She saw Mr. Buchanan in September, and asked him to write a modern play with a strong sympathetic part. Mr. Buchanan asked who was in her company. She replied there were mr. Coghlan and mr. Everill. Mr. Buchanan expressed pleasure at finding Mr. Coghlan in the company, as he considered him a good actor, and added that he would write a part worthy of mr. Coghlan. Mr. Buchanan promised to let her know something of the plot before she sailed, but he wrote saying that he had not been able to think of a plot. She was, she believed, in Toronto when she received the play in December.
     Mr. Lockwood.—Is it true to suggest that you had determined to reject the play before seeing it?
     Witness.—It is not true.
     Is it the fact that you had put Macbeth in rehearsal before receiving the play?—Not until three weeks afterwards at New York.
     Was this a strong and sympathetic part provided for you?
     Mr. Winch objected that this was not an admissible question, insasmuch as there was no such stipulation in the contract.
     After some argument, his Lordship pointed out that whatever might have passed in conversation the parties had, in the most formal manner, reduced their contract to writing.
     Mr. Lockwood contended that Mrs. Langtry had stipulated for a leading “star” part for herself, and Mr. Buchanan must be taken to have understood what the capabilities of the actress were.
     The Judge said that the contract, according to the learned counsel, was for a strong and sympathetic part. he author said he had supplied such a part. Who was to decide?
     Mr. Lockwood supposed the Jury must decide.
     The Judge asked if it was proposed that the Jury should read the play?
     Mr. Lockwood said he himself had not had time to read the play, though he should have no objection to taking a part in it (laughter). In a case in which he appeared for Mr. Herman Merivale, he had to read the play to Mr. Justice Field. He did not know how much his Lordship heard of it (laughter).
     The Judge said that if the highest efforts of dramatic genius were to be measured by Mr. Lockwood’s success on the previous occasion, the matter would be left pretty much where it was.
     The learned Counsel was ultimately allowed to ask Mrs. Langtry whether the part was a sympathetic one, and suited to her.
     Witness said it certainly was not. The part was one which could not command the sympathy or interest of the audience. Her part was that of a mean and vindictive character. It seemed to her that Lady Gladys cared more about the death of the dog than about the death of her father (laughter).
     The Judge intimated that it was hardly necessary to go into that.
     Mr. Winch (to Mr. Lockwood).—You introduced the dog.
     Mr. Lockwood.—Well, de mortuis nil nisi bonum.
     In cross-examination, Mrs. Langtry denied that she had resolved to reject mr. Buchanan’s play before she received it, or that she had decided to produce Macbeth. She had put Macbeth in rehearsal merely as a matter of precaution. She opened in new York with Peril, and followed it with As in a Looking Glass. She knew nothing as to whether the play she rejected had subsequently turned out a success.
     The case was adjourned.

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The Times (22 November, 1890 - p.17)

(Before MR. JUSTICE CHARLES and a Common Jury.)
BUCHANAN V. LANGTRY.

     The further hearing of this case was resumed to-day.
     Mr. Winch, Q.C., and Mr. Studd appeared for the plaintiff; and Mr. Lockwood, Q.C., and Mr. Le Breton for the defendant.
     Mr. Everill was called and stated he had had 38 years’ experience of the stage. In his opinion the part of Lady Gladys was not a strong, or emotional, or sympathetic part for Mrs. Langtry.
     This closed the defendant’s evidence.
     The learned JUDGE intimated that the question he should leave to the jury was whether it was a term of the contract that the play should be one which, in Mrs. Langtry’s judgment, should be fitted for her—in other words, whether what passed on the 13th of September was part of the promise or bargain, and, if so, whether that bargain was performed.
     Mr. LOCKWOOD, Q.C., in his address to the jury, insisted that it was unlikely that it could have been intended that the plaintiff was to be the sole arbiter of the excellence of his work. Mrs. Langtry’s part was to be “a strong part,” and this was not a play in which her part was of such a nature. There was no foundation for the statement that she had rejected the play before reading it. The part allotted to her was perfectly inadequate and unsuitable. The balance of probability was that the defendant would provide in any contract she made that she should have a part which should be “strong and sympathetic” and suited to her.
     Mr. WINCH, Q.C., in his reply, commented on the fact that it had not been made a part of the written contract that Mrs. Langtry’s part should be “strong and sympathetic.” The agreement simply provided that she should have a “leading star” part, which was a very different thing, but such a thing was provided for in the drama. He showed that any one could make a play or work, however well written, seem ridiculous, by reading fragmentary or isolated bits of it, as Mr. Lockwood had done with Lady Gladys. At any rate, even the defendant had not proved that the part was to be strong and sympathetic for her, but simply maintained that it ought to be “a strong and sympathetic part.”
     MR. JUSTICE CHARLES having summed up,
     The jury immediately returned a verdict for the plaintiff, with £150 damages.

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Daily News (22 November, 1890)

THE
BUCHANAN-LANGTRY ACTION.
_____

VERDICT AND JUDGMENT.

     Mr. Buchanan’s action against Mrs. Langtry, to recover 150l., the balance of the contract price, stated at 300l., for the play of “Lady Gladys,” which he had engaged to write for her on her American tour, was resumed yesterday before Mr. Justice Charles. Considerable interest was still manifested in the proceedings, though the evidence was, with the exception of one witness, completed, and only one of the parties to the suit was present. This was Mr. Buchanan, who was accompanied as before by Miss Harriet Jay. Mrs. Langtry did not come to the Court at all, and there was nobody of note present.
     Mr. Winch, Q.C., and Mr. Studd appeared for the plaintiff; the defendant was represented by Mr. Lockwood, Q.C., and Mr. C. M. Le Breton.
     Mr. FREDERICK AUGUSTUS EVERILL was called and examined by Mr. Le Breton. He said—I am an actor of about 38 years’ experience. I have acted in Mrs. Langtry’s company for seven years.
     Are you able to form a judgment of what would be a strong and sympathetic part in her hands?
     Mr. Winch—I take the same objection that I did before.
     The Judge took a note of the objection, and under those circumstances allowed the question to be put.
     Mr. Le Breton—Was it a part in which she would have had the slightest chance of success?—No.
     The Judge—That must be a matter of conjecture.
     Mr. Lockwood respectfully agreed with his lordship’s objection, but submitted that he was entitled to get the witness’s opinion as to whether the part was a strong and sympathetic one, and suited to Mrs. Langtry’s powers.
     Mr. Winch—Leaving it in that way, I have nothing more to add.
     Mr. Lockwood then examined the witness on the subject of the dates of the various engagements. Mr. Everill produced a diary for 1888, from which it appeared that the company were at Toronto from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2. They opened at New York on Jan. 7 The first play was “Peril,” which ran for one week, and the next was “As in a Looking Glass.” That ran till the 19th. “Macbeth” was produced on the 21st, and after that they had to use their répertoire, as they had nothing else. The season at the Fifth Avenue Theatre terminated on the 7th of March.
     Mr. Lockwood—I suppose that an original comedy in three acts would have been a great attraction in New York? —Yes.
     I suppose that even the “immortal bard” would not draw like that would?—Not at the Fifth Avenue.
     Cross-examined by Mr. Winch—Was it not really the intention of Mrs. Langtry to produce “Macbeth” on the 7th of January?—No, it was not. We had to hurry up “Macbeth.” It was because we could not get anything else ready. I don’t think it was Mrs. Langtry’s intention to produce “Macbeth” first, unless we had nothing else. If we had had the new comedy ready we should have produced it on the 7th of January.
     Mr. Lockwood—I suppose you have to look a little way ahead in theatrical matters?—I should do so, certainly.
     This concluded the case for the defendant.
     The Judge said that the real question upon that evidence was whether the contract was that a play should be furnished which, in the opinion of the defendant, contained a strong and sympathetic part.
     Mr. Lockwood did not contend that Mrs. Langtry’s opinion was to be final. If he had suggested that, it would not have been necessary for him to have called Mr. Everill.
     The Judge said that after all the only question that could be left to the jury was whether the defendant had made out her case in respect of the third paragraph, which simply amounted to this, that her stipulation was that the piece was to be one of which she herself could approve.
     Mr. Lockwood—And whether, in fact, it was a part which was suited to the style and the powers of the actress.
     The Judge—The whole of the evidence goes to show that it was unsuited to her, and that evidence is corroborated by a member of her own company. After some further discussion, he observed that it was quite clear that it would be useless to trouble the jury by reading the play to them. He did not think the jury would wish to hear the play read. It would cast upon them a task which was almost impossible to perform. Anybody who had the slightest acquaintance with dramatic literature knew perfectly well that a book read in the study gave no indication whatever of how it would act on the stage. He owned himself, as he had said the day before, that his opinion was that there was no evidence to go to the jury, but he should ask them whether it was one of the terms of the bargain that the play should be one which in Mrs. Langtry’s judgment was suited for her.
     Mr. Lockwood upon that said that the two questions were—first, what were the terms of the contract; and next, whether the conditions had been fulfilled. He did not present the case, and never had done so, as one in which Mrs. Langtry’s judgment was to be final and decisive.
     The Judge—Well, that is what I propose to ask, if not exactly in those words. In other words, I shall ask whether what passed on the 13th of Sept. was or was not part of the bargain, and if it was, whether that bargain was fulfilled.
     Mr. Lockwood then addressed the jury upon these points, contending that the conversation of the 13th of Sept. related to the contract. Upon that he argued that it was a probable thing that she should impress upon Mr. Buchanan that the play which was to be produced for her must contain a strong and sympathetic part in which she should be enabled to succeed. Mr. Buchanan with his experience knew perfectly well the actress for whom he was writing, and in view of that knowledge, he submitted that Mr. Buchanan had not fulfilled that part of the contract which provided that he should write Mrs. Langtry up a part which should be strong and sympathetic.
     Mr. Winch replied for the plaintiff, and argued that it was simply absurd to suppose that a dramatist of the ability of Mr. Buchanan should be foolish enough to write a play of which Mrs. Langtry was to be the sole judge of whether it fulfilled the terms of the contract or not. There was a “strong and sympathetic” part in the piece, but Mrs. Langtry’s only contention was that that part was not suited to her own peculiar style and ability, and there was nothing in the contract that included such a condition.
     The Judge briefly summed up the facts to the jury, and left it to them to say whether it was likely that Mr. Buchanan would enter into a contract the conditions of which were to be absolutely decided by Mrs. Langtry. No attempt had been made by the defence to show that the play did not contain a strong and sympathetic part, and all that Mr. Lockwood had urged was that the part was not strong and sympathetic in Mrs. Langtry’s hands. He left it to the jury to say whether or not the letters of the 14th of Sept. (given in The Daily News of yesterday) constituted a contract, and if so whether they thought that the evidence of Mr. Everill given that day was sufficient corroboration to induce them to believe that Mr. Buchanan had committed a breach of the contract.
     The Jury, without leaving the box and after a few moments’ deliberation, returned a verdict for the plaintiff.
     Mr. Studd—Then I ask your lordship for judgment with costs. The learned counsel subsequently stating that his client had not quite understood the nature of the verdict.
     The Judge said that judgment would be entered for the plaintiff for 150l., costs to follow the event.

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The Standard (22 November, 1890 - p.2)

QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION.
(Before Mr. Justice CHARLES and a Common Jury.)

     BUCHANAN V. LANGTRY.—The hearing of the action brought by Mr. Robert Buchanan against Mrs. Lillie Langtry, the lessee and manageress of the princess’s Theatre, was resumed. The Plaintiff sought to recover damages for alleged breach of a contract by the Defendant to open her New York theatrical season last year with a play written by him. Mrs. Langtry admitted making the contract, but pleaded that one of its terms was that she should not be bound to accept the drama unless it was suited to her own powers and style of acting; that the Plaintiff’s play did not suit her or her company, and therefore she was not liable. Further, the Defendant counter-claimed for 150l., which she had paid the Plaintiff in respect of the play.—Mr. Winch, Q.C., and Mr. Studd appeared for the Plaintiff; and Mr. Lockwood, Q.C., and Mr.  C. M. Le Breton for the Defendant.
     Mr. Frederick Augustus Everill, examined by Mr. Le Breton, said that he was an actor of 38 years’ experience, and had been in Mrs. Langtry’s company for seven years. He was able to form an opinion as to what would be a strong and sympathetic part for Mrs. Langtry. He had read the play Lady Gladys, and the part of Lady Gladys was not such as he would describe as a strong, emotional, and sympathetic part.
     Was it such a part as would have the slightest chance of success?
     The Judge.—That must be a matter for conjecture.
     Mr. Lockwood.—I respectfully agree as to that. I am, however, entitled to the answer as to whether or not the part was a strong and sympathetic part suited to Mrs. Langtry’s powers.
     Mr. Winch.—Limited in that way, I have nothing to ask the witness.
     Mr. Lockwood.—There is one point which I think I can get from Mr. Everill. You have a diary for 1888, in which you have put down your various engagements. Will you say on what date you were at Toronto?—From Nov. 29 to December 2. We opened at New York on January 7 with Peril. The next piece was As In a Looking Glass.
     How long did that run?—For a week; until the 19th.
     And then?—Macbeth, on the 21st. And after that we had to use our répertoires, as we had nothing else.
     The Judge.—On what date did the season terminate?
     Witness.—We left New York for Philadelphia on March 16, and returned to New York for a fortnight.
     The Judge.—When did the season terminate at the Fifth Avenue Theatre?—On March 7.
     Mr. Lockwood.—An original comedy would have been a succes in New York?—Yes.
     Even “the immortal bard” will not always draw?—Not at the Avenue.
     Cross-examined by Mr. Winch.—Were not Peril and As In a Looking Glass put on because you were not ready to produce Macbeth?—I don’t think that that was the intention of Mrs. Langtry. She was anxious to get a new play which we could have produced in New York on the 7th of January. Such a play could have been produced more readily than Macbeth.
     Mr. Lockwood.—I suppose you have to look forward a little way ahead in theatrical matters?—We should do.
     This concluded the evidence for the Defendant.
     The Judge said that the question was whether, upon this evidence, the Defendant had been furnished with a strong and sympathetic part.
     Mr. Lockwood observed that he did not contend that Mrs. Langtry’s opinion was to be final. If he had suggested that, it would not have been necessary for him to call Mr. Everill.
     The Judge said it seemed to him that the entire question was whether the part was a strong and sympathetic one.
     Mr. Lockwood.—Whether it was a part suited to the style and powers of the actress.
     The Judge.—The whole of her evidence goes to show tat the part was unsuited to her, and in that opinion she is corroborated by a member of the company.
     Mr. Lockwood submitted that the question was whether Mr. Buchanan undertook to write a part which was strong and sympathetic, and whether he had fulfilled his contract.
     After some further conversation, the Judge said it would be useless to read the play to the Jury. Anyone who had the slightest knowledge of dramatic literature knew perfectly well that the reading of a play in the study frequently gave no indication as to how it would act. His own opinion was that there was no evidence which he ought to leave to the Jury; but he would ask them whether it was a part of the bargain that the play should, in Mrs. Langtry’s opinion, be one which was suited to her.
     Mr. Lockwood repeated that he had never presented the case as one in which Mrs. Langtry’s opinion was to be final.
     The Judge said he should ask the Jury whether what passed upon the 13th September was part of the bargain, and if so, whether the bargain was fulfilled.
     Mr. Lockwood, in addressing the Jury, said the two questions which he understood his Lordship intended to leave to them was, first, as to whether the conversation deposed to by Mrs. Langtry was in fact part of the bargain between herself and Mr. Buchanan; and, secondly, supposing they should be of opinion that that was so, whether Mr. Buchanan had carried out his bargain with her. The first step in the inquiry was for them to satisfy themselves that there was a conversation between Mrs. Langtry and Mr. Buchanan on the 13th of September. It was a very odd circumstance that when Mr. Buchanan himself had an opportunity in his examination in chief of detailing his account of the transaction there was no reference whatever to anything which took place on the 13th September; but they found Mr. Buchanan, by his particulars, stated that the contract was one partly verbal and partly in writing, and being pressed as to the verbal part of it he said it depended upon conversations which took place on the 13th September and 14th September. He hoped to show conclusively by the letter of Mr. Buchanan himself, that on the 14th September the Defendant stated that he was recapitulating an agreement previously entered into between Mrs,. Langtry and himself. The question was—When could this have happened? There was only one time suggested—viz., the 13th Sept. In his letter Mr. Buchanan said, “I herewith acknowledge receipt of your letter of this date, recapitulating our agreement as follows,” and in his last paragraph he said, “To all this I once more agree.” When had he done it before? On the 13th September in the conversation with her.
     His Lordship said there was no doubt that the conversation took place, but the question was as to the contract.
     Mr. Lockwood said he was endeavouring to show the Jury how the conversation related to the contract. In the letter of the 14th September, copied by Mrs. Langtry, she said: “I accept your offer to write me a modern drama in not less than four acts, with a leading star part for myself.” If her story were true, Mr. Buchanan had already accepted the responsibility of writing a part which should be strong for her, and it was not necessary for her to go further, and insist that the whole of the conversation should be given. Supposing the Jury were of opinion that the conversation took place, and accepted the version given by Mrs. Langtry, the question to be put to them was whether or not it was part of the contract. Let them look at the probability of the matter. Mrs. Langtry was to pay a considerable sum of money for that whcih might or might not prove a remunerative investment for her. Was it or was it not a probable thing that in making a bargain of that description she should impress upon Mr. Buchanan that the play which was to be produced for her must contain a part which was sympathetic to her, in which she would be enabled to succeed? Was it probable that she should insist upon that as the term of contract? Was it improbable that Mr. Buchanan should accept such terms? The whole balance of probability was in favour of the contention that Mr. Buchanan, having, as he naturally had, great faith in his own powers, had no doubt as to being able to fulfil the requirements of Mrs. Langtry. The play was turned out in a commendably short time, and the fear was whether it was not turned out too quickly from the manufactory. The learned Counsel went on to repudiate the suggestion that Mrs. Langtry’s determination was to get rid of the play when it reached her in America. What better chance of theatrical success than to open in New York with an original comedy having at its head a name as well known as that of Mr. Buchanan? Mrs. Langtry, in arranging to play Macbeth, did that which was done every day in theatrical amanagement; she looked ahead, and contemplated that if Mr. Buchanan’s play was not a success, Macbeth should be substituted. Mrs. Langtry had only done as all other theatrical managers did in such matters. It had been stated that Mr. Buchanan was not the first author Mrs. Langtry had had disputes with. He (Mr. Lockwood) wished, however, that he was in a position to call Mr. Bancroft before them, to give evidence. What was the story as they now knew it? Mr. Haddon Chambers made a claim against Mrs. Langtry, and she thereupon offered a certain sum of money, but ultimately the matter came before Mr. Bancroft as arbitrator, and he decided that Mrs. Langtry had made ample offer for any claim against her. Supposing he (Mr. Lockwood) had brought up as ghosts occasions when Mr. Buchanan had failed to produce a successful play on the stage? Supposing he had spoken of “Sweet Nancies,” “Sixth Commandments,” and “Struggles for Life”! (laughter). Mrs. Langtry had nothing whatever to be ashamed of in that transaction, as her conduct has been approved by the gentleman who served as arbitrator. Turning to the question as to whether or not this was a strong and sympathetic part, he agreed with his Lordship that this should not be a question for Mrs. Langtry alone. They had heard the nature of the play. He was not disputing that there might be actresses who would be able to fill this extremely unpleasant situation with success. Mrs. Langtry saw that the part was one in which she could not succeed. Mr. Buchanan knew perfectly well the kind of actress for whom he wrote. Mr. Buchanan knew well the direction of her talents. Part of the contract was that the piece should be strong and sympathetic, and he submitted that Mr. Buchanan had not fulfilled that part of the contract.
     Mr. Winch, addressing the Jury for the Plaintiff, said he was extremely glad that the only point on which his learned friend had censured him was the introduction of the previous repudiation of a play by Mrs. Langtry. His learned friend had, however, introduced a great number of topics, not as answers to the action, but to prejudice the minds of the Jury. A dog had been introduced by his learned friend in order to draw their minds from the real question. They had not, however, followed that dog. With his unrivalled powers of turning anything into ridicule, his learned friend had read part of the play. He had taken some of the conversation of an idiotic old major, and had no difficulty in making the major appear a drivelling idiot. It was impossible to read a play in the way adopted by his learned friend. He remembered a part in which a young man had great success, although the only observation that appeared in his part of the play was, “Look at my red socks” (laughter). The actor made a wonderful thing of this by the manner in which he drew attention to his socks. To read a bit of a play was not the way to criticise it, though if his learned friend would read the same extracts in the interests of Mr. Buchanan, he was sure that the major’s part would be received with acclamation. But the real question for the Jury was the contract of September. What was the position at that time? Mrs. Langtry was not personally acquainted with Mr. Buchanan, but knew him by reputation as a successful playwright—with, as his learned friend had said, failures. Even successful advocates had failures, and he was the best who had the fewest. Mr. Buchanan was admittedly an artist of high degree, and a play by him would at any time command its price. Could they believe that Mr. Buchanan would be foolish enough to enter into a bargain to agree to write a play of which Mrs. Langtry should be the sole judge whether or not it fulfilled the terms of the contract? No one had suggested that the play was not strong and sympathetic except Mrs. Langtry. The Jury were asked to state that Mr. Buchanan, having gauged the mental capacities of Mrs. Langtry, undertook to write a play, and leave her alone to decide whether or not it was suited to her. Such a proposition was monstrous and incredible. His learned friend said that Mrs. Langtry had written the contract herself, and that she could hardly be expected to put into it the precise terms which would be inserted by a lawyer. But Mrs. Langtry was a woman of business, and had on many occasions shown her capability for business, and there could be no doubt that she was quite equal to looking after her own interests. Mr. Buchanan agreed to write a leading star part, but there was nothing in the contract to show that the part was to be specially suited to Mrs. Langtry. Mr. Lockwood tried to twist the words “leading star part” into a stipulation that it must as a matter of course have reference to Mrs. Langtry personally. It was not in dispute that in the conversation of Sept. 13 the terms were generally agreed upon, and they were reduced to writing upon the 14th. There was the contract before them, and despite its plain words they were asked to read into it a stipulation which altered its whole tenour and was absolutely inconsistent with it. His learned friend had been severe upon Mr. Buchanan because he had suggested that it was Mrs. Langtry’s intention, before she received the play, to reject it, and to produce Macbeth instead. His learned friend was very indignant at the idea that dishonourable conduct should be imputed to the lady. What men would consider dishonourable conduct ladies did not. In this case he suggested that Mrs. Langtry seemed to have acted merely out of caprice, thinking that the part of Lady Macbeth would suit her better than that of Lady Gladys, and accordingly resolved not to produce Mr. Buchanan’s play. At the very time the manuscript of the play arrived she had it in contemplation to produce Macbeth, for Mr. Coghlan had left the company and gone ahead to prepare for the Shakespearean revival. The Defendant said that it was necessary to have a second string to her bow; but she had in reserve Peril and As In a Looking Glass; and there could, therefore, ahve been no necessity for her to prepare Macbeth. He did not impute to Mrs. Langtry dishonourable conduct, but he did say that she had thought herself at liberty to put aside this piece and to play Macbeth, merely because she thought that her success in that play would be greater than in the other. In conclusion, he remarked that Mr. Buchanan had the disadvantage of being Plaintiff against a lady who was an actress to whom Nature had been mopre than usually kind. He was, however, sure that the Jury would not allow themselves to be influenced by personal considerations of that kind.
     Mr. Justice Charles, in summing up, said that the points involved were not of a very intricate kind. Mrs. Langtry declared that the play was not suited to her, and therefore was not according to contract. Mr. Buchanan’s account of the matter was that he did engage to write a strong and sympathetic part, but he did not undertake that it should be specially suited to Mrs. Langtry. He had not thought it worth while to allow the Jury to be troubled by the reading of the play, because that was practically useless as a test. Many a play which read uncommonly well in the study acted uncommonly badly, and many a play which read badly acted well. The Jury had to decide whether it was likely that Mr. Buchanan would enter into such a contract as the Defendant alleged, and whether he was to put himself so entirely in her hands that unless she chose he was to get nothing for his labour, seeing that she even claimed back the 150l. paid on account. The parties had reduced their contract to plain writing, and the Jury must form their opinion of it.
     The Jury, without leaving the box, gave a verdict for the Plaintiff, damages 150l., and his Lordship certified for judgment, with costs.

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The Era (22 November, 1890)

BUCHANAN V. LANGTRY.
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     In the Court of Queen’s Bench, on Thursday, the case of Buchanan v. Langtry came before Mr Justice Charles and a Common Jury. Great interest was shown in the proceedings, the court being crowded.
     The action was brought by Mr Robert Buchanan, the dramatic author, against Mrs Lillie Langtry, who is now the lessee and manageress of the Princess’s Theatre, to recover damages, laid at £2,000, for alleged breach of a contract to open her New York theatrical season last year with a play written by the plaintiff. Mrs Langtry admitted making the contract, but pleaded that one of its terms was that she should not be bound to accept the drama unless it was suited to her own powers and style of acting; that the plaintiff’s play did not suit her or her company, and therefore she was not liable. Further, the defendant counterclaimed for £150, which she had paid the plaintiff in respect of the play. Mr Winch, Q.C., and Mr Studd appeared for the plaintiff; and Mr Lockwood, Q.C., and Mr Le Breton for the defendant.
     Mr Winch, in opening the case, said that the claim of his client was for a balance due to him for a play which he wrote for Mrs Langtry, who had already paid £150. In September, 1888, Mrs Langtry was desirous of having written for her a play which she might produce in New York. On Sept. 10th Mr Buchanan received a telegram asking him to meet Mrs Langtry on Friday, the 13th. On the 14th Mr Buchanan saw Mrs Langtry, and had a conversation as to her requirements. Mrs Langtry told him that she desired him to write a play which she might produce in New York, and of which she would take the chief part. Amongst other things Mrs Langtry told Mr Buchanan that she had been to Paris and had bought a number of very beautiful dresses, and that the scenes of the play were to be so arranged that she could wear these beautiful dresses. Accordingly Mr Buchanan, with a prudence that, as events turned out, was very wise, asked Mrs Langtry to give him an agreement. The agreement was written as follows:—

     Sept. 14th.     Dear Mr. Buchanan,—I accept your offer to write me a modern drama in not less than four acts, with a leading star part for myself, on the terms proposed—viz., that I should pay you £150 down, and £150 on the delivery of the MS., and the sum of £50 weekly during my performances of the piece. It is understood that the above prepaid £300 is on account of the said weekly royalty of £50 a-week. It is also understood that I have the sole right of performing the said drama for a period of three years. The piece is to be delivered to me in New York not later than the 30th of November, and to be produced on or about the 7th of January in New York City.    Yours truly,    LILLIE LANGTRY.

     On the same day Mr Buchanan acknowledged the receipt of the letter, and reiterated the terms upon which the play was to be written. In the same letter he informed Mrs Langtry that she might rely upon him using very stringent efforts to write a play worthy of her talents. On the following Friday Mrs Langtry again wrote to Mr Buchanan, enclosing a cheque for £150, and saying that she would prefer not too long a cast, as “nice supers are hard to get in America, and impossible in some parts, though, of course, if necessary, they can be found.” In answer to Mr Buchanan, Mrs Langtry wrote the names of the company, and said that there must be “ a strong lover’s part” in the piece, as well as a strong part that she could offer to Mr Coghlan, as “Mr Calvert was not a good stage lover.” “Of course,” continued Mrs Langtry, “you will make me a woman’s, and not a girl’s part.” Upon receiving the deposit, Mr Buchanan put on one side all his other work, and set to work to write the play. The play, which was called Lady Gladys, he had not read, though he understood that his learned friend had read it. [Mr Lockwood—Quite enough of it.] Mr Winch pointed out that Mr Buchanan had a very great interest in writing a play that would have a long run. Some time afterwards Mr Buchanan wrote to Mrs Langtry, asking her if there was truth in the rumour given in all the English newspapers, that she was to reopen the Fifth Avenue Theatre with a revival of Macbeth. “I trust,” said Mr Buchanan, “that this is not true, as it would amount to a breach of your contract with me. If, however, you desire to change your plans, we had better come to some amicable arrangement, as, your season in New York being short, I shall be a heavy loser. I am, however, quite prepared to meet you in any  way.” To that letter Mr Buchanan got an answer, in which nothing was said about the revival of Macbeth. That letter said:—

     By this post I return your MS., in sending which I venture to think that you must have made a mistake, as it is so very unlike what you promised. I hope you have discovered the error, and that the right play is now on the way to New York. If, however, it is the play you intended for me, I may tell you that it is not of the slightest service. The part is weak, as is the play. It is unsympathetic, and the surroundings nil. You must remember what we arranged for was a play with a heroine star part, strong, emotional, and sympathetic, and a hero’s part weighty and powerful, such as I could offer to Mr. Coghlan. You have placed me in a serious dilemma. I desired and  promised to produce a new play in New York, and relied upon you. Now, at the last moment, I am obliged to seek other plays, for I cannot produce a play so unworthy of you and of me.

     After that letter, Mr Buchanan made an effort to compromise the matter, and was unwilling to let Mrs Langtry have the play. Unfortunately no settlement had been arrived at, and the question was now left for the decision of the jury.
     Mr Robert Buchanan was called and examined by Mr Winch. He stated that he was a dramatic author. On Sept. 14th Mrs Langtry requested him to write for her a play which should, as far as possible, be suited to her abilities as an actress. She said that she required the play to open her season in New York in the following January, and desired him to deliver it by Nov. 30th. She said that she would leave the material and the treatment of the play entirely in his hands. Thereupon he spoke of terms, and said that he thought that fair terms would be £50 for every week she played the piece. He asked for the usual deposit down, and so much on the delivery of the MS. To these terms she assented. Mrs Langtry, during the interview, wrote the agreement given in the opening. A day or so afterwards he received a cheque for £150. Mrs Langtry stating that she had not a banking account in London, and would have to open one. The play was written and was delivered on Nov. 30th, notwithstanding great difficulty in finding Mrs Langtry. Lady Gladys was a play that he had written with the best of his ability, and was a play in which Mrs Langtry’s part would be that of a “star.” Mrs Langtry stated that she had bought some good modern dresses in Paris, and desired to use them. There would be four changes.
     Cross-examined by Mr Lockwood—The question of dress was merely as to period?—No; the play was to be a modern play.
     Where was that discussed?—During our conversation. She asked for a piece in which she could use modern costumes.
     Are you sure it was on Sept. 14th only?—I saw her on more than one occasion. I saw her, I think, on the previous day.
     Was the contract partly made on the 13th?—We discussed whether I would write a play.
     She said particularly that she did not want a girl’s part?—That was put in the letter. I should never have thought of writing her a girl’s part—in the theatrical sense.
     When did you set to work?—Practically at once after I got the deposit.
     Did you express pleasure at writing a part for Mr Coghlan?—Not in the least; why should I?
     What part was for Mr Coghlan?—Edgar Vane. I was not particular that he should play it.
     As I understand the play, Mrs Langtry’s part was that of the daughter of a broken-down earl?—Yes.
     There is no harm in breaking down an earl?—Theatrically, I suppose, no.
     The main act turned upon the shooting of a dog which was to appear on the stage with Mrs Langtry?—That is an incident of the first act.
     In the direction we are told that the dog must be trained to carry out the business of the scene?—Yes.
     Where was Mrs Langtry to get this intelligent dog?—Almost any retriever would do, as all that the dog had to do was to follow his mistress about.
     Did you indicate where Mrs Langtry could get such a dog?—I could have sent her one. There could be no difficulty, as any retriever would follow his mistress.
     A great deal turned on the dog?—No; he was not killed on the stage. In the play Lady Gladys marries, under an assumed name, a man named Gascoigne, and obtains from him a deed of gift, with which she returns to England in order to turn out the father of her husband.
     Does she not do that merely out of revenge?—Not exactly out of revenge alone, but partly to repossess herself of her father’s property.
     But her father had died? He is like the dog; he dies?—Yes, he practically dies on the stage. He faints on the stage.
     Yes, but all people that faint on the stage do not die?—No, I did not say so.
     When Lady Gladys returns she turns out the old man?—Not absolutely; she makes it unpleasant for him.
     I don’t mean that she takes him neck and crop; she orders him off the premises?—Yes.
     Then she ascertains that during her father’s poverty he was in receipt of anonymous gifts from Edgar Gascoigne; her heart melts, and then curtain?—That is a very ad captandum description.
     I have left out the humour.—You have left out a good deal. You might describe Hamlet or Macbeth in the same way.
     I have left out the humour. I will read a passage, and will ask you to call my attention to any other portion of the play which you consider more humorous. There is a person who plays the part of Major Fitz Herbert, an officer on half-pay —and very dear at the price—and a Mrs Pope. Speaking to Mrs Pope the Major says, “I say Mrs Pope, what a jolly story that was of yours about the fellah who went to India, and when he got back found his wife had married another fellah.” Mrs. Pope (referring to some book she had written)— “Oh, ‘Twice Wedded,’ an early effort.” Major— “Haw, haw! An idea! Why don’t you write a story about a woman who has worn mourning for two husbands walking in a garden, and call it ‘Twice Weeded.’ Haw! haw! you are welcome to the title.” Mr Lockwood (continuing)—You take that as humorous?—It is meant to be so. It is meant to be as you read it.
     Can you call my attention to any funnier part?—I don’t pretend that it is funny.
     Is this a serious play?—Yes.
     Show me a livelier passage.—I don’t think you have any right to read passages like that.
     The Judge—If you read She Stoops to Conquer like that no one would laugh at it.
     Mr Lockwood apologised for his want of histrionic ability, and resumed his cross-examination.—Do you really consider the part of Lady Gladys a sympathetic part?—Yes.
     You were to be the sole arbiter as to whether it was sympathetic?—Yes; but I offered a compromise afterwards without being able to get a hearing. The contract was broken before that, as she was then rehearsing Macbeth, as the English newspapers and Mr Coghlan, if you call him, will tell you.
     Do you suggest that Mrs Langtry had made up her mind to reject your play before it reached her, and that after paying £150?—Yes, I do.
     In re-examination Mr Buchanan said that the characters from whose parts Mr Lockwood had read were known in theatrical parlance as comic reliefs. The speech was in character with the man who spoke it.
     In contrast with the tragedy of Mrs Langtry?—Yes.
     This concluded the case for the plaintiff.
     Mr Lockwood, in opening the case for the defendant, pointed out that Mr Buchanan stood in a very different position from that which would be occupied by a painter who had been commissioned to paint a portrait. Mr Buchanan was bound by the promise he had made and by the contract into which he had entered. And really, in respect of the promise, there appeared to be not very much dispute between Mr Buchanan and Mrs Langtry. Mrs Langtry asked the plaintiff to write a play upon terms, one of which was that the leading star part for herself should be strong and sympathetic. She started for America, looking forward to the production of a new play which she had promised to bring forward in New York. He regretted that the plaintiff had thought fit to impute to Mrs Langtry dishonourable conduct of which she could never be capable. The plaintiff’s suggestion was that before seeing the play, and after paying a deposit of £150, Mrs Langtry had determined to throw up the piece, and to produce Macbeth. That statement was absolutely unfounded. It was unjust, as well as untrue, and was unworthy of the talented man who had made it. The case might well have been conducted without introducing so envenomed and unfair a suggestion. He contended that the part provided for Mrs Langtry was that of a woman who could have excited no sympathy in any audience. Lady Gladys might have been played with success by some actresses, though she was unsuitable for Mrs Langtry, being a woman who acted throughout from vengeful motives—a woman who married fraudulently under an assumed name, and who obtained by fraud a deed of gift that enabled her to turn out of doors her husband’s father. He urged that Mr Buchanan had not fulfilled his part of the contract in providing a character suited to the powers of Mrs Langtry, and that he was therefore not entitled to a verdict.
     Mrs Langtry, examined by Mr Lockwood, said that in 1888 she was about to go on tour in America, and was anxious to produce a new play in New York. She saw Mr Buchanan in September, and asked him to write a modern play with a strong sympathetic part. Mr Buchanan asked who was in her company. She replied there were Mr Coghlan and Mr Everill. Mr Buchanan expressed pleasure at finding Mr Coghlan in the company, as he considered him a good actor, and added that he would write a part worthy of Mr Coghlan. Mr Buchanan promised to let her know something of the plot before she sailed, but he wrote saying that he had not been able to think of a plot. She was, she believed, in Toronto when she received the play in December.
     Mr Lockwood—Is it true to suggest that you had determined to reject the play before seeing it?—It is not true.
     Is it the fact that you had put Macbeth in rehearsal before receiving the play?—Not until three weeks afterwards at New York.
     Was this a strong and sympathetic part provided for you?
     Mr Winch objected that this was not an admissible question, inasmuch as there was no such stipulation in the  contract.
     After some argument his Lordship pointed out that whatever may have passed in conversation the parties had, in the most formal manner, reduced their contract to writing.
     Mr Lockwood contended that Mrs Langtry had stipulated for a leading “star” part for herself, and Mr Buchanan must be taken to have understood what the capabilities of the actress were.
     The Judge said that the contract, according to the learned counsel, was for a strong and sympathetic part. The author said he had supplied such a part. Who was to decide?
     Mr Lockwood supposed the jury must decide.
     The Judge asked if it was proposed that the jury should read the play?
     Mr Lockwood said he himself had not had time to read the play, though he should have no objection to taking a part in it. In a case in which he appeared for Mr Herman Merivale, he had to read the play to Mr Justice Field. He did not know how much his Lordship heard of it.
     The Judge said that it the highest efforts of dramatic genius were to be measured by Mr Lockwood’s success on the previous occasion, the matter would be left pretty much where it was.
     The learned counsel was ultimately allowed to ask Mrs Langtry whether the part was a sympathetic one, and suited to her.—Witness said it certainly was not. The part was one which could not command the sympathy or interest of the audience. Her part was that of a mean and vindictive character. It seemed to her that Lady Gladys cared more about the death of the dog than about the death of her father.
     The Judge intimated that it was hardly necessary to go into that.
     Mr Winch (to Mr Lockwood)—You introduced the dog.
     Mr Lockwood—Well, De mortuis nil nisi bonum.
     In cross-examination, Mrs Langtry denied that she had resolved to reject Mr Buchanan’s play before she received it, or that she had decided to produce Macbeth. She had put Macbeth in rehearsal merely as a matter of precaution. She opened in New York with Peril, and followed it with As In a Looking-Glass. She knew nothing as to whether the play she rejected had subsequently turned out a success.
     The case was adjourned.
     On Friday Mr Frederick Augustus Everill, examined by Mr Le Breton, said that he was an actor of thirty-eight years’ experience, and had been in Mrs Langtry’s company for seven years.
     Are you able to form an opinion as to what would be a strong and sympathetic part for Mrs Langtry?—Yes.
     Mr Winch—Of course, I raise the same objection as before.
     The Judge—I take note of the objection.
     Mr Le Breton (resuming his examination)—Did you read the play Lady Gladys?—Yes.
     Was the part of Lady Gladys such as you would describe as a strong, emotional, and sympathetic part?—No.
     Was it such a part as would have the slightest chance of success?
     The Judge—That must be a matter for conjecture.
     Mr Lockwood—I respectfully agree as to that. I am, however, entitled to the answer as to whether or not the part was a strong and sympathetic part suited to Mrs Langtry’s powers.
     Mr Winch—Limited in that way, I have nothing to ask the witness.
     Mr Lockwood—There is one point which I think I can get from Mr Everill. You have a diary for 1888, in which you have put down your various engagements. Will you say on what date you were at Toronto?—From Nov. 29th to Dec. 2d.
     On what date did you open at New York?—On Jan. 7th.
     The Judge—With what did you open?—With Peril.
     What was the next piece?—As In a Looking-Glass.
     How long did that run?—For a week; until the 19th.
     And then?—Macbeth, on the 21st. And after that we had to use our répertoires, as we had nothing else.
     The Judge—On what date did the season terminate? Witness—We left New York for Philadelphia on March 16th, and returned to New York for a fortnight.
     The Judge—When did the season terminate at the Fifth Avenue Theatre? Witness—On March 7th.
     Mr Lockwood—An original comedy would have been a success in New York?—Yes.
     Even “the immortal bard” will not always draw?—Not at the Avenue.
     Cross-examined by Mr Winch—Were not Peril and As In a Looking-Glass put on because you were not ready to produce Macbeth?—I don’t think that that was the intention of Mrs Langtry. She was anxious to get a new play which we could have produced in New York on Jan. 7th. Such a play could have been produced more readily than Macbeth.
     Mr Lockwood—I suppose you have to look forward a little way ahead in theatrical matters?—We should do.
     This concluded the evidence for the defendant.
     The Judge said that the question was whether, upon the evidence, the defendant had been furnished with a strong and sympathetic part.
     Mr Lockwood observed that he did not contend that Mrs Langtry’s opinion was to be final. If he had suggested that it would not have been necessary for him to call Mr Everill.
     The Judge said it seemed to him that the entire question was whether the part was a strong and sympathetic one.
     Mr Lockwood—Whether it was a part suited to the style and powers of the actress.
     The Judge—The whole of her evidence goes to show that the part was unsuited to her, and in that opinion she is corroborated by a member of the company.
     Mr Lockwood submitted that the question was whether Mr Buchanan undertook to write a part which was strong and sympathetic, and whether he had fulfilled his contract.
     After some further conversation the Judge said it would be useless to read the play to the Jury. Anyone who had the slightest knowledge of dramatic literature knew perfectly well that the reading of a play in the study frequently gave no indication as to how it would act. His own opinion was that there was no evidence which he ought to leave to the Jury; but he would ask them whether it was a part of the bargain that the play should, in Mrs Langtry’s opinion, be one which was suited to her.
     Mr Lockwood repeated that he had never presented the case as one in which Mrs Langtry’s opinion was to be final.
     The Judge said he should ask the Jury whether what passed upon the 13th September was part of the bargain, and if so, whether the bargain was fulfilled.
     Mr Lockwood, in addressing the jury, said the two questions which he understood his lordship intended to leave to them was, first, as to whether the conversation deposed to by Mrs Langtry was in fact part of the bargain between herself and Mr Buchanan; and, secondly, supposing they should be of opinion that that was so, whether Mr Buchanan had carried out his bargain with her. The first step in the inquiry was for them to satisfy themselves that there was a conversation between Mrs Langtry and Mr Buchanan on Sept. 13th. It was a very odd circumstance that when Mr Buchanan himself had an opportunity in his examination-in-chief of detailing his account of the transaction there was no reference whatever to anything which took place on Sept, 13th, but they found Mr Buchanan, by his particulars, stated that the contract was one partly verbal and partly in writing, and, being pressed as to the verbal part of it, he said it depended upon conversations which took place on Sept. 13th and 14th. He hoped to show conclusively by the letter of Mr Buchanan himself that on Sept. 14th the defendant stated that he was recapitulating an agreement previously entered into between Mrs Langtry and himself. The question was—When could this have happened? There was only one time suggested—viz., Sept. 13th. In his letter Mr Buchanan said:—“I herewith acknowledge receipt of your letter of this date, recapitulating our agreement as follows,” and in his last paragraph he said, “To all this I once more agree.” When had he done it before? On Sept. 13th in the conversation with her.
     His Lordship said there was no doubt that the conversation took place, but the question was as to the contract.
     Mr Lockwood said he was endeavouring to show the jury how the conversation related to the contract. In the letter of Sept. 14th, copied by Mrs Langtry, she said:—“I accept your offer to write me a modern drama in not less than four acts, with a leading star part for myself.” If her story were true, Mr Buchanan had already accepted the responsibility of writing a part which should be strong for her, and it was not necessary for her to go further, and insist that the whole of the conversation should be given. Supposing the Jury were of opinion that the conversation took place, and accepted the version given by Mrs Langtry, the question to be put to them was whether or not it was part of the contract.
     After a brief summing-up by the Judge, the Jury returned a verdict for the Plaintiff, damage £150. On the application of counsel, the learned Judge gave judgment with costs.

langtrysm

(Lillie Langtry in 1890.)

[In May, 1894, Lillie Langtry appeared at the Opera Comique Theatre in London in a play entitled A Society Butterfly, written by Robert Buchanan and Henry Murray. It was this play which bankrupted Buchanan. In the same month, Lady Gladys opened in New York, to decidedly mixed reviews, with Minnie Seligman in the title role. Despite this court case and the disaster of A Society Butterfly, Buchanan continued his association with Mrs. Langtry, writing (in collaboration with Harriett Jay) a third play for her, The Diamond Necklace in 1899. She rejected this one also and produced  instead, in 1901, another version of the same story, A Royal Necklace by Pierre and Claude Berton.]

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“Heredity”

 

The Times (19 December, 1891 - p.7)

     CLAIM AGAINST MR. ROBERT BUCHANAN.—In the Westminster County Court yesterday, the case of “Greenberg v. Buchanan” came before Judge Bayley. The claim was for £89 for advertisements inserted in various newspapers for Mr. Robert Buchanan, the dramatist. The case for the plaintiff was that the defendant intended to have the play Heredity run at the Avenue Theatre. The manager and lessee was Mr. Henry Lee, and the orders were given by the last-named for advertisements to be inserted in the newspapers. Although Mr. Lee gave the orders, Mr. Buchanan altered the form of the advertisements. On one occasion defendant complained that more prominence was given to the farce than to the play, and he had the advertisements altered accordingly. A cheque for £34 was given by the defendant to Lee, who endorsed it. Mr. Buchanan received it back and then he handed it to the plaintiff’s clerk. The whole account came to £122. It was admitted that the account was entered in all cases in the name of Lee. The defendant was called, and in reply to his counsel he said that he had an agreement with Mr. Lee, who was entitled to give orders for advertisements on his behalf. Lee was not to be found. He had gone to America. His Honour gave judgment for the plaintiff for the amount claimed, with costs.

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The Era (19 December, 1891)

ROBERT BUCHANAN AND HENRY LEE.
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     In the Westminster County Court, on Friday, the case of Grunberg v. Buchanan came on for hearing before his Honour, Judge Bayley. The plaintiffs, who are advertising contractors, sought to recover a balance of account of £87 19s. 1d., for advertisements inserted to the order of the defendant, in respect of the production of Heredity, at the Avenue Theatre.
     Mr Moyses, for the plaintiffs, said that for some time prior to the production of Heredity his clients had been advertising another production, known as The Henrietta, run under the management of Mr Henry Lee, but that gentleman was always regarded by the plaintiffs as a “man of straw,” to whom they would in no case give credit, and they therefore insisted upon being paid day by day for the advertisements which were inserted. On May 23d last Lee’s advertisements in respect of The Henrietta ceased, and then Buchanan and Lee appeared to have entered into an arrangement for the production of Heredity. On May 20th, and on several subsequent dates, the plaintiffs’ canvasser called at the Avenue Theatre, and on each occasion saw both Lee and Buchanan. On May 23d an order was given for advertising Heredity, which was to be produced on June 2d, and Buchanan gave instructions from time to time as to the form which the advertisements should take. On June 3d the plaintiffs’ representative asked for payment of the account up to that date, and a bill was then produced for £34 0s. 3d. Buchanan drew a cheque, and made it payable to Lee. On June 5th plaintiffs’ man again saw Lee at the Hotel Métropole, and Buchanan gave further instructions, and said that he was the person to be looked to for payment. On the following Sunday the plaintiffs’ representative again saw Buchanan, who asked him for his private address, in order that he might communicate with him if it was necessary, with a view to arranging further advertisements. On the evening of the same day Buchanan sent a telegram to the plaintiffs’ representative, asking him to come at once and arrange for further important advertisements. On the following Tuesday, June 9th, the plaintiff saw Buchanan at the theatre and asked him for payment of the account, and he promised it on the following day. On the same evening Buchanan stopped the insertion of any further advertisements, but did not pay the cheque. On the following day he wrote to the plaintiffs, and said that as all the arrangements had been made through Lee, the payment must also be paid through him. On June 13th the plaintiffs again applied for payment, and the defendant then said that he had paid the money to Lee.
     Mr Harry Boucher said he conducted the plaintiffs’ business both with Lee and Buchanan. So far as The Henrietta was concerned, Lee was liable, but they (the plaintiffs), would not give him credit, and insisted upon payment day by  day. The first advertisements which were inserted for Buchanan appeared on May 21st, and referred to the production of Heredity. On the following Saturday Lee paid everything that was due from him for The Henrietta. Later in the day witness saw Buchanan, who told him to reduce the advertisements in certain papers, as they were costing too much money. On May 26th he had an interview with Buchanan and Lee on the stage at the Avenue, and Buchanan then told him he could have his money daily, or even hourly, if he liked, but it was ultimately agreed that the account should be a weekly one. In pursuance of that arrangement the accounts were rendered weekly. On May 29th Buchanan gave further instructions for alterations to be made in the advertisements. On the night prior to the production of the piece witness went to the theatre and asked for payment, and Buchanan then said he had not got his cheque-book with him, but would pay on the following day. Two days later the defendant did give his cheque for the sum then due. The cheque was made payable to Lee, and he endorsed it. On several subsequent dates interviews took place, and Buchanan gave instructions from time to time until the piece was withdrawn. On Tuesday, June 9th, the advertisements ceased in consequence of instructions given by Buchanan. It was not until after that date that the defendant ever attempted to repudiate the  account.
     Cross-examined—Lee’s management of the Avenue ceased on May 23d, and he was not looked to for any payment after that date. The first instructions for advertising Heredity came through Lee on behalf of Buchanan, and Buchanan was, from first to last, regarded as the responsible party. The accounts were always rendered to Lee and not to Buchanan. He (witness) would swear positively that he had on several occasions received instructions from Buchanan in respect of the advertisements, but he could not say that he actually gave the orders for them.
     Mr Leopold Grunberg was called, and said he was one of the plaintiffs in the action. From first to last he considered he was giving credit to Mr Robert Buchanan. He knew Lee by repute, and certainly never would have given him credit, as he had done Buchanan in this case. He could not say where Lee was now, but noticed that he was not in court.
     For the defence Mr Robert Buchanan was called, and said he entered into arrangement with Lee for the production of Heredity, and to some extent Lee acted as his agent for the insertion of advertisements. He was perfectly certain that the plaintiffs knew what the arrangement was. He admitted that he agreed with Lee to be liable for the first week’s payments, and that was how it came about that he paid the first cheque which had been referred to. He had paid Lee money in respect of this and other accounts, and in fact had paid him everything which he had claimed.
     Cross-examined—Lee had eloped to America, but he (witness) would swear that he paid Lee everything which he demanded.
     At this point in the case the learned judge interposed, and remarked that Mr Buchanan had admitted that Lee was authorised to act as his agent, and he (the judge) thought that put an end to the case. Judgment therefore must be for the plaintiffs for the amount claimed, with costs, as there was no evidence to show that the plaintiff was aware of any existing agreement between the defendant and Lee.

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The Morning Post (12 February, 1892 - p.6)

LAW INTELLIGENCE.
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HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE.
QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION.—THURSDAY.

. . .

(Before Justices LAWRANCE and WRIGHT.)
GREENBERG AND ANOTHER V. BUCHANAN.

     This was a matter which came before their Lordships by way of appeal from a decision in the Westminster County Court.
     Mr. Buckmaster was for the appellant, and Mr. Leslie Probyn for the respondent.
     It was stated that the plaintiffs were a firm of advertising agents, and they claimed to recover from the defendant, Mr. Robert Buchanan, the amount of their account for advertising the play, “The Henrietta.” The order for advertising was given by Mr. Lee, and the question was whether he was agent to do this so as to bind Mr. Buchanan. An agreement had been signed by Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Lee, which said that Mr. Lee agreed to produce the play with a cast provided by Mr. Buchanan, and to consult Mr. Buchanan upon all details of expenditure, and should there be any deficiency between the weekly receipts and the weekly expenses Mr. Buchanan agreed to receive, as royalty for the play, and as consideration of supplying such deficiency (if any), one equal half of the net profits weekly. The County Court Judge, after hearing some evidence, held that Mr. Lee was agent for Mr. Buchanan to order advertisements for him, and there was a verdict for the plaintiffs. It was this decision that was now appealed against, and it was submitted to their Lordships that the Judge in the Court below was wrong in coming to his decision.
     Mr. Justice Wright, however, did not think that any injustice had been done.
     The appeal was dismissed, with costs.

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[On July 24th, 1891, Henry Lee began a libel action against The Era concerning a letter which was published from Mr. W. H. Perrette, criticising Lee’s business practices. The case never came to court but in June, 1892, The Era printed a series of ‘witness statements’ which it had intended to use in the trial. One of these was from Robert Buchanan:

The Era (25 June, 1892)

MR ROBERT BUCHANAN’S STATEMENT.

     I am a dramatic author. In 1891 I entered into an arrangement with Henry Lee for him to produce a piece of mine, called The Gifted Lady, at the Avenue Theatre, for a week certain, I paying any losses on the production, and having the option of continuing the piece for a longer period, if necessary. I decided to withdraw the piece at the end of the first week, and handed his manager, Mr Arthur Yates, two cheques payable to order of Henry Lee, one for £30 about, and one for £68 odd, to pay Greenberg and Co.’s bill for advertising. I heard nothing more for some weeks, when Greenberg and others applied to me for payment of their accounts. I repudiated my liability. Greenberg sued me for amount, and obtained judgment.

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[Since the majority of the other statements do not concern Buchanan or this case, there is no point transcribing the rest of the article, but for those who are interested in the minutiae of the Victorian theatre the original copy is available here.
Reviews of Buchanan’s satire on Ibsen, whose original title, Heredity was subsequently changed to The Gifted Lady, are available in the Plays section.]

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House Painting

 

The Bedfordshire Advertiser (9 March, 1894 - p.8)

YESTERDAY.
Before His Honour JUDGE HOLL, Q.C.

     The solicitors present were Mr. Henry Pettit, Mr. H. T. Willis, Mr. Sydney Ollard, and Mr. Price.

ORDER AGAINST A DRAMATIC ARTIST.

     Mr. Henry Pettit applied for leave to serve an order out of the district upon Mr. Robert Buchanan, the eminent dramatic artist. He said that two years ago he employed a tradesman to repaint a house he had taken in the district, the cost amounting to £6 3s. A bill was sent in from time to time, but he never made any attempt at payment, and eventually execution was put into his house, but the sheriff being in possession it was withdrawn. Then he wired in January this year, “Have mislaid papers, kindly wire amount payable and will remit.” The information was sent, but nothing had since been heard from him.
     His Honour granted the order.

 

[This is the only information I have on this case but it serves to show (along with the following case) Buchanan’s cavalier attitude to financial matters, which ultimately led to his bankruptcy. I would suggest that the repainted house was not a regular domicile of Buchanan’s but is connected somehow to the following item from two years earlier, when Buchanan was staying in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire:

The Yorkshire Evening Post (17 October, 1892 - p.2)

TWO LITERARY ‘SPORTSMEN.’

     Mr. G. R. Sims and Mr. Robert Buchanan have been observed (says the Referee) armed with guns in the neighbourhood of Leighton Buzzard, where the Highland minstrel has a shooting box. Up to the present no casualties are reported, not even to a rabbit. The poet is a most humane man, and whenever by accident his gun goes off and kills a rabbit he always sheds a sympathetic tear before he takes it home and gives instructions about the onion sauce. Mr. Sims assured an interviewer who found him with a gun that he only carried it to exercise his nerves, which have lately gone considerably wrong. He is at Leighton Buzzard with the Bard, collaborating not in game, but play—a play which in the fulness of time will face the footlights at the Adelphi. ]

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“The Charlatan”

 

The Pall Mall Gazette (3 May, 1894)

MR. BUCHANAN IN THE COUNTY COURT.

TYPEWRITING “THE CHARLATAN.”

     There was quite an interesting moment in the Bloomsbury county-court yesterday morning. Miss Stubington, typist, of 122, Stamford-street, sued Mr. Robert Buchanan, the well-known author, for the sum of £3. This money was claimed for copies of plays, including, among others, the recent Haymarket piece, “The Charlatan.” Miss Stubington gave evidence to the effect that she had type-written the play in question having paid several visits to Mr. Buchanan’s residence for the purpose. The defendant had been several times applied to for a settlement of the claim, but had made no response. He did not appear in answer to the summons, and in his absence judgment was given for the plaintiff for the sum claimed.

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