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"I was little more than a godfather on the occasion, and the alterations should have been subscribed Anon."

The best production of this comcdy ever accomplished on the English : . stage was that effected by Charles Kean, at the Princess's Theatre, Lon.

don,-managed by him from August, 1850, till August 29, 1859.

Thc first performance of “ A Midsummer Night's Dream" ever given in America occurred at the old Park Thcatrc, for the bcncfit of Mrs. Hil. son, on November 9, 1826. Mr. Ireland, in his valuable Records, has preserved a part of the cast, rescued from a mutilated copy of the playbill of that night: Theseus, Mr. Lec; Bottom, Mr. Hilson ; Snout, Mr. Placide ; Obcron, Mr. Peter Richings; Puck, Mrs. Hilson ; Titania, Mrs. Sharpc; Ilippolita, Mrs. Stickncy; Hermir, Mrs. Hackett. On August 30, 1841, thc comedy was again revived at this theatre, with a cast that included Mr. Fredericks as Theseus, Mr. W. H. Williams as Bottom, WIrs. Knight as Puck, Charlotte Cushman as Oberon, Mary Taylor as Ti. {anin, Susan Cushman as Helena, Mrs. Groves as Hippolita, Miss Buloid (afterward Mrs. Abbott), as Hormia, William Wheatley as Lysander, C. W. Clarke as Demetrius, Mr. Bellamy as Egens, and Mr. Fisher (not Charles), as Quince. It kept the stage only one week. The next revivals. camc on February 3 and 6, 1854, at Burton's Theatre and at the Broad. way Theatre, rival houses. The parts were cast as follows :

Al Broadway.

Al Burton's.
.F.B. Conway.......

.Charles Fisher.
Lysander .............. Lannergan........

.George Jordan.
Dcmctrius. ............. Grosvenor......

.W. H. Norton.
.Matthew's ..........

...... Moore.
Boltom ....... . William Davidge..... .. W. E. Burton.

.T. Johnston.

....... Whiting............. ....G. Barrett
........ Fisk .........

........ Russell
Snout................. .Henry ............

..G. Andrews. Starveling..... ......Cutter ................


.... Miss Viola Crocker... ....Mast. Parsloe.
..Mme. Ponisi..

..Miss E. Raymond

..Mrs. Abbott............. ....Mrs. Burton. Hippoiita ..............Mrs. Warren............. Mrs. J. Cookc. Hicrinia ................ Mrs. Nagle...........

..Mrs. Hough. Helena ................ Miss A Gougenheim ............ Mrs. Buckland.

Great stress, in both cases, was laid upon Mendelssohn's music. At cach house it ran for a month. It was not revived in New York again until April 18, 1859, when Laura Keene brought it forward at her thcatre, and kept it on till May 28th, with C. W. Couldock as Theseus, William Rufus Blake as Botlom, Miss Macarthy as Oberon, Miss Stevens, as Helo cnn, Miss Ada Clifton as Hernin, and herself as. Puck. It was a failure. Even Blakc failed as Bottom—the most acute critic of that period (Ed. :


en bessionisti

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ward G. P. Wilkins), describing the performance as." not funny, not even
grotesque, but vulgar and unpleasant." Charles Peters was good as Thisbe.
The stage-version used was made by R. G. Whitc. This same thcatre sub.
sequently became the Olympic (not Mitchell's, but the second of that name),
and herc, on October 28, 1867, under the management of Mr. Jancs E.
Hayes and the direction of Joseph Jefferson, who had brought over from
London a finc Grecian panorama by Tolbin, “A Midsummer Night's
Drcam" was again offered, with a cast that included G. L. Fox as Bottom,
W. Davidge as Quince, Owen Marlowe as Flute, Cornclia Jefferson as Ti. .
tania, Clara Fisher as Peasblossom, Miss Fanny Stockton as Oberon, Miss i
Alice Harrison as a Fairy, Master Willic Young as Puck, Mr. Harry Wall ..
as Theseus, Jr. J. J. Wallace as Demetrius, ir. J. Franks as Lysander,
Mr. T. J. Hind as Egous, Mrs. Edmonds as Hippolita, Mrs. Wallace as
Hermin, Miss Louisa Hawthorne as Helena, Mr. M. Quinlan as Slout, i
Mr. C. K. Fox as Snug, Mr. J. B. Howland as Starvcling, and Miss Vin. :
cent, Miss Howard, Miss Thomas, and Miss Lc Brun as Fairies. Telo,
bin's panorama, a magnificent work, displayed the country supposed to lie
between Athens and the forest whcrcin the Fairy Qucen and the lovers
arc cnchanted and bewitched and the sapicnt Bottom is “ translated."
Fox undertook Botlom, for the first time, and he was drolly conscquential
and stolidly conceited in it. Landseer's famous picture of Titania and
the ass-licaded Botton was well copied, in one of the scenes. Mr. Hayes
provided a gorgcous tablcau at the close. Mendelssohn's music was
played and sung, with excellent skill and cffcct-the chief vocalist being
Clara Fisher. Owen Marlowe, as Thisbe, gave a burlesque of the manner
of Rachel. Thic comcdy, as then given, ran for one hundred nights-from
October 28, 1867, till February 1, 1868. The stage version used was that
of Charles Kcan.

The next production of“ A Midsummer Night's Dream" was cffccted by Augustin Daly at the Grand Opera House, on August 19, 1873. The scenery then employed, especially a woodland painted by Mr. G. Heis. ter, was of extraordinary beauty-delicate in color, sensuous in fecling, sprightly in fancy. Mr. Fox again played Bottom ; . Miss Fanny Kemp Bowler appeared as Oberon, Miss Fay Templeton as Puck, Miss Fanny Hayward (Stocqueler) as Titania, Miss Nina Varian as Helena, Miss : Adelaide Lennox as Hermia, Miss M. Chambers as Hippolita, Mr. M. A. Kennedy as Thescus, Mr. D. H. Harkins as Lysander, Mr. James Taylor as Demetrius, and Mr. Frank Hardenburgh as Egcus. The piece ran three weeks.

The attentive reader of this stage-version, made by Mr. Daly, will obo. serve that much illustrative stage-business has been introduced by him, . which is new and effective. The disposition of the groups at the start is fresh, and so is the treatment of the quarrel between Uberon and Titania, : with disappearance of the Indian child. The moonlight effects, in the

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transition from act sccond to act third, and the gradual assembly of gob. lins and fairics in the shadowy mists through which the firc.flics glimmer, at the close of act third, arc novel and beautiful. Curs and transpositions have been made at the end of the fourth act, in order to close it with the voyage of the baryc of Theseus, through a summer landscape, on thc silver stream that ripples down to Atlicns. The third act has been judiciously compressed, so that the spectator may not scc too much of the perplexed and wrangling lovers. Only a few clanges have been madc, and those only such as arc absolutciy csscntial. But little of the original tcxt has becn omitted. The music for the choruscs has been selected from various English composers : that of Mendelssolin is used only in the orchestra. It is upon the strength of the comedy, and not upon the inci. dental music, that rcliance lias been placed, in cffecting this revival. The accepted doctring of traditional criticism-a doctrinc madc sccmingly potcnt by reitcration-that“A Midsummer Night's Drcam” is not for the stagc, nccd not necessarily be considered final. Hazlitt was the first to insist on that idca. “Poctry and the stage," said that great writer, “do not agree well together. The attempt to reconcile thcm, in this in stancc, fails not only of effect, but of dccorum. The idcal can have no place upon the stage, which is a picture without perspective. The imagination cannot sufficiently qualify the actual impression of the son. scs." But this is only saying that there are difficultics. The remark applics to all the higher forms of dramatic literaturc; and, logically, if this doctrinc were observed in practice, nonc of thc grcat plays would be attempted. “A Midsummer Night's Drcam," with all its idcal spirit, is csscntially dramatic; it ought not to be lost to thc stage; and to some extent, certainly, the difficulties can be surmounted. In the spirit of a dream the play was written, and in thic spirit of a drcam it can be


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The student of " A Midsummer Night's Dream,” as often as he thinks upon this lofty and lovely expression of a most luxuriant and happy poctic fancy, must necessarily find himself impressed with its cxquisite purity of spirit, its affluence of invention, its extraordinary wcalth of contrasted characters, its absolute symmetry of form, and its great bcauty of poctic diction. The essential, wholesome cleanliness and sweetness of Shakspere's mind, unaffected by the gross animalism of his times, appcar conspicuously in this play. No single trait of the piccc inpresses the reader more agrecably than its frank display of the sponta. neous, natural, and entirely delightful exultation of Theseus and Hippolita in their approaching nuptials. They are grand crcatures both, and they rejoice in cach other and in their perfectly accordant love. Nowhere in Shaksperc is there a more imperial man than Thescus ; nor, despite her feminine impaticncc of dulness, a woman more bcautiful and more es. sentially woman-like than Hippolita. It is thought that the immediate


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impulse of this comedy, in Shaksperc's mind, was the marriage of his friend and bencfactor, thc Earl of Southampton, with Elizabeth Vcrnon-which, whilc it did not in fact occur till 1598, was very likely agreed upon, and had received Queen Elizabeth's sanction, as carly as 1594-95. In old . English literature it is scen that such a theme often proved suggestive of. ribaldry; but Shaksperc could prcscrvc thc sanctity even whilc lic rcvcllcd in the passionate ardor of love, and "A Midsummer Night's Dream,"... whilc it possesses all the rosy glow, the physical thrill, and the melting ton. : derness of such picccs as Herrick's “ Nuptiall Song," is likewisc fraught . with all the moral clcvation and unaffected chastity of such picccs as Mil. ton's “Conius." Human nature is shown in it as socling no shamc in its clemental and rightful passions, and as having no reason to feel ashamed of them. The atmosphere is free and bracing; thic tonc honcst; the note truc. Then, likewise, the scriility and fclicity of the poct's invention -intertwining the lovcs of carthly sovercigns and of their subjects with the disrensions of fairy inonarchs, thic pranks of mischicvous clvcs, the protective care of attendant sprites, and the comic but kind-hearted and well-mcant fcalty of boorish pcasants-arouse lively interest and kocp it steadily alert. In no other of his works has Shaksperc more brilliantly shown that complete dominance of theme which is manifested in thc perfcct prcscrvation of proportion. The strands of action arc braided with astonishing gracc. The fourfold story is ncver allowed to lapse into dul. ness or obscurity. There is caprice, but no distortion. The supernatu. ral machinery is never wrested toward the production of startling or mon. strous cffccts, but it dcftly iinpcls cach mortal personage in the natural line of human development. The drcam-spirit is maintained throughout, and perhaps it is for this reason--that thc poct was living and thinking and writing in thc frcc, untrammellcd world of his own spacious and airy imagination, and not in any definitc sphere of this carth-that “A Midsummer Night's Dream" is so radically superior to the other comc. dies written by him at about the same period, “The Two Gon:lcmcn of Verona," “ The Comedy of Errors," Love's Labor's Lost," and "The Taming of the Shrew." His genius overflows in this piccc, and the rich excess of it is seen in passages of the most cxquisite poetry-such as the beautiful specches of Titanir and Overor, in the sccond act-over against which is set that triumph of humor, that immortal Intcrlı:dc of “ Pyramus and Thisbe," which is the father of all thc burlesc:ics in our language, and which, for freshness, pungency of apposite satire, and general applicabil. ity to the foiblc of self-lovc in human nature, and to ignorance and folly in human affairs, inight have been written yesterday. The only faults in this play are a slight tinge of monotony in the third act, concerning the lovers in the wood, and an excess of rhymed passages in thc tcxt throughout. Shakspere had not yet cast aside that custom of rhyme which was in vogue when he came first upon the scenc. But thcsc dcfects arc urifics.


Tlc bcautics overwhelm them. It would take many pages to cnumcr. atc and fitly to descant on the selicitics of literature that we owe to this coinccy-rems such as the famous passage on "the course of truc lovc;". thic regal picturc of Queen Elizabeth as “a fair vcstal thronéd by the

est;" the finc description of the stormy summer (that of 1594 in Eng. land, according to Stowe's Clironiclc and Dr. Simon Forman's Diary); the vision of Titanin aslccp upon the bank of wild thyme, oxlips, and vioIcts; tlic cloquent contrasts of lover, madman, and poet, each subducd and im.pelled by that "strong imagination" which“ bodies forth the forms of things unknown ;” and the wonderfully spirited lines on the hounds of Sparta, “ with cars that swept away the morning dew." In character likcwisc, and in thosc salutary lessons which the truthful portraiture of · character invariably teaches, this piccc is exceptionally strong. Helena, noblc and loving, yet a little perverted from truc dignity by her sexual in. fatuation ; Hermia, shrewish and violcnt, despite her feminine swcctness, and possibly because of her impctuous and clinging ardor ; Demetrius and Leisurer, cach sellish and ricrcc in his love, but manly, straightfor. ward fellows, abounding more in youth and desire than in brains ; Bottom, the quintessence of bland, unconscious cgotism and self-conceit; and Theo seus, thc princely gentleman and typical ruler-these makc up, assur. cdly, onc of the most interesting and significant groups that can be found in fiction. The self-centred nature, the broad-minded view, the mag. nanimous spirit, the calm adequacy, the fine and high manner of Theseus, make this character alone the inspiration of the comedy and a most potent Icsson upon the conduct of life. Through ccrtain of his pcoplc-such as Ulyssis in “Troilus and Cressida," the Duke in " Measure for Mcas. urc," and Prospero in “The 'Tempost"-the voice of Shaksperc himself, spcaking personally, is clearly heard ; and it is hcard also in Theseus. “ The best in this kind arc but shadows," says this wise observer of life, when he comes to speak of the actors who copy it," and the worst arc no worse, if imagination amend thein." There is no higher strain of princclike courtesy and considerate grace, even in the perfect breeding of Ham. let, than is visible in the preference of Theseus for the play of the hard. handed men of Athens :

• And what roor duty cannot do
Noblc respect takes it in might, not mcrit.
For never anything can bc amiss
When simpleness and duty tender it."

With reference to the question of suitablc method in the acting of " A Midsummer Night's Dream," it may be observed that too much stress can scarcely be laid upon the fact that this comcdy was conceived and written absolutely in the spirit of a drcam. It ought not, therefore, to be trcated as a rational manifestation of orderly design. It possesses, indeed,

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