TOWARDS the end of 1897 my father wrote a one-act play, The Goal. He said he wrote the play for Henry Irving; meaning that as soon as the leading character, that of an old engineer who is dying of angina, took shape in his brain, he "saw" Irving in the part. He called it "A Dramatic Fragment," and he was very fond of this little play. After the war, he often quoted with great pride the old engineer's words, "There's a great world-tussle coming. Dan--I shan't live to see it--but it's coming and the engineer that ties England and America will do a good turn to both countries." H. A. J. would add, "I knew it was coming, even then." The first performance of The Goal was in New York in October 1914; it was not until 1919 that it was first played in London.
Another play belonging to this period was Grace Mary, a one-act tragedy in the Cornish dialect. It was never acted, but was thought worthy of inclusion in Clayton Hamilton's Library Edition of my father's plays. W. D. Howells , in an article on "The Plays of Henry Arthur Jones," published in the North American Review in 1907, referred to "that beautiful and touching little one-act play, Grace Mary. . . . The author reaches a height of poetry untouched elsewhere in his work. Next it, in a certain literary quality, is that mere scene which he calls The Goal, and which also is unalloyedly good."
In October 1928, I said to my father, "Grace Mary's a lovely little play," to which he replied, "Yes, it's a little beauty, isn't it?--there's real tragedy there too." Bernard Shaw thought very highly of the play, and after reading it he wrote to H. A. J. twice. Unfortunately his first letter was lost. In the second he said: