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fragrance of gratitude to Iim by whose great degree to this fact, that the stage hand it was fashioned.
To the eyes of has continued to lag in the rear of all the Pharisee, who denounces all dramatic other institutions on this side of the representations, while with self-applauding Atlantic; it has not appealed to the symrighteousness he boldly approaches the pathies and tastes of the people; the actors throne of mercy, this ballet girl,' like have been aliens, and the picces they perthe poor publican, stood 'afar off.' To formed have all been foreign; to go inside the eyes of the great judge, which stood of our theatres was like stepping out of the nearer?”
New-York into London, where the scene The theatrical business in New York of nearly all the comedies presented is has, until within a short time, been almost laid. English lords and ladies, English entirely in the hands of Eng'ishmen, and squires, clodhoppers, and Cockneys; Engeven the majority of the players are still lish rogues, English heroes, and English foreigners, and it is doubtless owing in a humors form the staple of nearly all the
plays put upon our stage. The actors and actresses speak with a foreign accent. and all their allusions and asides are foreign. The only places of amusement where the entertainments are indigenous are the African Opera Houses, where native American vocalists, with blackened faces, sing national songs, and utter none but native witticisms. These native theatricals, which resemble the national plays of Italy and Spain, more than the performances of the regular theatres, are among the best frequented and most profitable places of amusement in New-York. While every attempt to establish an Italian Opera here, though originating with the wealthiest and best educated classes, has resulted in bankruptcy, the Ethiopian Opera has flourishel like a green bay tree, and some of the conductors of these establishments have become millionaires. It was recently proved that one of the · Bone soloists' attached to a company of Ethiopian minstrels, had spent twentyseven thousand dollars of his income within
It is surprising that the managers of our theatres do not take a hint from the success of the Ethiopian Opera, and adapt their performances to the public tastes and sympathies. The manager of the National Theatre, one of the least attractive of all the places of public amusement, has made a fortune by putting Mrs. Stowe's Uncle Tom upon his stage. l'ncle Tom, as a drama, has hardly any merit, it is rudely constructed, without any splendors of scenery and costume, or the fascinations of music; the dialogue is religious, and the Bible furnishes its chief illustrations; but it is American in tone, all the allusions have a local significance, and the sympathies of the people are directly appealed to. The result is an unheard-of success, such as has never before been accorded to any theatrical performance in the New World. The manager of the National Theatre is himself an American, and nearly all his corps of actors are also natives, and though he only aims at the tastes of the lowest
sentiment of his plays are foreign to us. of the theatre, as the Greek tragedy, or He nowhere gives that touch of nature the mediaeval mysteries. The theatre which makes the whole world kin, but survives for other purposes than the recompels us all the while to feel that we are presentation of the drama; its presentaassisting at an alien performance. There is tions are merely sensuous, and not intelone point, however, he may claim the credit lectual; Shakespeare is only endured for of having established; he has greatly im the sake of the star actor who impersonproved the upholstery of the stage, and. ates the one character suited to his physiby the introduction of "real furniture"
The pieces which attract transformed the before bare-looking scenes audiences and fill the treasury are as unof interiors into something which bears a Shakespearian as possible. Tableaux, recognizable resemblance to a modern burlesques, thrilling melo-dramas, ballets, drawing-room. Mr. Bourcicault is the spectacles, horses, dwarfs, giants, ropemost successful of the present class of dancers, any thing that is monstrous and English dramatists ; but, the regular wonderful, form now the great attractions drama died with Sheridan ; since the of the theatres, and any thing is considerSchool for Scandal was produced, there ed as "legitimate" by the public, which has been no play written in England which affords amusement, and as proper, by the stands the remotest chance of being known manager, which
his house. by name half a century hence. The regu The lecture-room has now become a lar drama is as foreign now to the wants kind of compromise between the theatre
and the Church, it is a neutral ground, by immense numbers of people whose upon which all parties and conditions morals need looking after, should be suffimay, and do meet, and the peripatetic ciently strong reasons for the clergy, and star lecturer occupies nearly the same posi all others who are by virtue of their office tion which Roscius did in the early days public teachers, to exert themselves to of the stage. The greatest achievements render it as little harmful as possible. in poetry are the plays which were never To stand outside and denounce the theatre intended for print ; and, doubtless, the without knowing any thing of its interior, best additions to our literature will be the is not the true way to improve it. The lectures which were only written to amuse representation of moral, and even religious an audience, and not intended for publica- plays has been found not only very effection in another form.
tive upon the audiences who attend upon There are innumerable places of recrea them, but profitable to the manager who tion in such cities as New York, which brings them out. are not properly entitled to be classed un As religious novels form a very considerder the head of places of public amuse able part of the popular books of the day, ment, which we are considering now. we see no reason why religious dramas The theatre has always been, and still should not also form an important part is, the principal place of public amuse of theatrical entertainments. The fact ment, and, though its character has that such a drama as Uncle Tom's Cabin greatly changed, and its frequenters are can be represented two hundred nights in no longer of the class who once gave it its succession, at one of the lowest theatres in chief support, it occupies too pronnirent a New-York, converting the place into a place in the social organization of our kind of conventicle, and banishing from it great towns to be overlooked by professed the degraded class, whose presence has moralists and religious teachers. Its exis been one of the strongest objections to the tence, and the fact of its being frequented theatre which has been made by moralists,