A clash with Forbes
Some relationships in the arts are inherently charged with friction. More often then not, they are the collaborations where the artist must come to terms with the business of art in the person of the agent or manager. The minstrel troupes and the stock companies, were in a constant state of dissolution and recombination. Fallouts were weekly gossip. As a professional, Ben Cotton participated in his share. None was more prolonged than his three year, on-again-off-again tenure with Charles Forbes, a manger with lots of experience circulating in the variety halls of the Midwest. Forbes had a great deal of skill moving his companies around and dispatching advance men armed with printed press materials, posters, and persistence. Ben Cotton's first tiff with Forbes was sparked by the poor quality of the players he had been supplied. If they could not carry their weight, the audience evaporated. When matters came to a head, Forbes announced that he would continue, with a newly fortified cast, even though the Cotton Family had decamped. He used the New York Clipper to state the his case. The card was headlined: "We Still Live." In an oblique explanation, on his part, he worried about the effect of the strenous performance schedule on Idalene, Cotton's young daughter. Parenthetically Forbes recalled that Cotton had an interest in returning to the minstrel stage.