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

The best production of this comedy 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.

The first performance of “ A Midsummer Night's Dream" ever given in America occurred at the old Park Thcatrc, for the bencfit 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 play. bill of that night: Thescuis, Mr. Lcc; Bottom, Mr. Hilson ; Snout, Mr. Placidc ; Obcron, Mr. Peter Richings ; Puck, Mrs. Hilson ; Titania, Mrs. Sharpe; Hippolita, Mrs. Stickncy; Hermin, Mrs. Hackett. On August 30, 1841, the comedy was again revived at this thcatrc, with a cast that included Mr. Fredericks as Theseus, Mr. W. H. Williams as Bottom, Jlrs. Knight as l'uck, Charlotte Cushman as Oberon, Mary Taylor as Ti. {anin, Susan Cushman as Helena, Mrs. Grovcs as Hippolita, Miss Buloid (afterward Mrs. Abbott), as Hermia, William Whcatley 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.
.F.B. Conway...

.Matthew's ......

William Davidge. ....Howard. ......


Theseils... Lysander Dcmctrius. Egcus... Bottom Quince.. Flutc.... Snug. Snout. Starveling. Puck..... Oberon.... Titania... Ilippoiita Hlcrinia Hclcna.


Al Burton's, ... Charles Fisher.

George Jordan.
...... W. H. Norton.

W. E. Burton.
..T. Johnston.
..G. Barrett.

....G. Andrews.

.Mast. Parsloe.
..Miss E. Raymond

..Mrs. Burton.
....Mrs. J. Cookc.
....Mrs. Hough.

Mrs, Buckland.

.Miss Viola Crocker..
.Mme. Ponisi..
.Mrs. Abbott.
..Mrs. Warren.
Mrs. Nagle.......
Miss A Gougenheim

Great stress, in both cases, was laid upon Mendelssohn's music. At cach housc 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 Bollom, Miss Macarthy as Oberon, Miss Stevens, as Helo enn, Miss Ada Clifton as Hermin, and herself as . Puck. It was a failure. Even Blakc failed as Bottonthe most acute critic of that period (Ed.

ward G. P. Wilkins), describing the performance as" not funny, not even grotesque, but vulgar and unpleasant.” Charles Peters was good as Thisde. The stage-version used ivas made by R. G. Whitc. This same thcatrc subsequently became the Olympic (not Mitchell's, but the second of that name), and here, on October 28, 1867, under the management of Mr. Janics E. Hayes and thc direction of Joseph Jerserson, who had brought over from London a finc Grecian panorama by Telbin, “A Midsummer Night's Dream" 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 Alice Harrison as a Fairy, Master Willie Young as Puck, Mr. Harry Wall as Theseus, Mr. J. J. Wallacc as Demetrins, nr. J. Franks as Lysander, Mr. T. J. Hind as Egens, Mrs. Edmonds as Hippolita, Mrs. Wallace as Hermin, Miss Louisa Hawthorne as Helena, Mr. M. Quinlan as Slout, Mr. C. K. Fox as Snug, Mr. J. B. Howland as Starvcling, and Miss Vin. cent, Miss Howard, Miss Thomas, and Miss Le Brun as Fairies. Tel. bin's panorama, a magnificent work, displayed the country supposed to lie between Athens and the forest wherein the Fairy Queen and the lovers arc enchanted and bewitched and the sapicnt Bottom is translated." Fox undertook Bottom, for the first time, and he was drolly consequential and stolicly conceited in it. Landseer's famous picture of Titania and the ass-lıcaded Botton was well copied, in one of the scenes.

Mr. Hayes provided a gorgeous tablcau at the close. Mendelssohn's music was played and sung, with cxcellent skill and cffect-the chief vocalist being Clara Fisher. Owen Marlowe, as Thisbe, gave a burlcsquc of the manner of Rachel. The comedy, as then given, ran for once hundred nights-from October 28, 1867, till February 1, 1868. The stage version used was that of Charles Kean.

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 cxtraordinary 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 Theseus, 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 ob. serve that much illustrative stage-business has been introduced by him, wliich is new and effective. The disposition of the groups at the start is fresh, and so is the treatment of the quarrel between Oberon and Titania, with disappearance of the Indian child. The moonlight effects, in the

transition from act second to act third, and the gradual assembly of gobe lins and fairics in the shadowy mists through which the firc-flics glimmer, at the closc 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 hargc of Theseus, through a summer landscape, on the silver stream that ripples down to Athcns. The third act has been judiciously compressed, so that the spectator may not scc too much of the perplexed and wrangling lovers. Only a scw changes have been made, and those only such ?s are absolutely csscntial. But little of the original text has been omitted. The music for the choruscs has been sclected from various English composers : that of Mendelssohın is used only in the orchestra. It is upon the strength of the comedy, and not upon the inci. dental music, thai rcliance has been placed, in cffecting this revival. The accepted doctrinc of traditional criticism--a doctrinc madc sccmingly poicnt by reiteration-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. Poetry and the stage," said that great writer, “ do not agree well together. Thc attempt to reconcile thcm, in this instance, fails not only of cffect, but of dccorum. The ideal can have no place upon the stage, which is a picture without perspective. The imagination cannot sufficiently qualify the actual impression of the son

But this is only saying that there are difficultics. The remark applics to all the higher forms of dramatic literature; and, logically, if this doctrinc were observed in practice, none of thic great plays would be attempted. "A Midsummer Night's Dreamn," with all its idcal spirit, is cssentially dramatic; it ought not to be lost to the stage ; and to some extent, certainly, the difficulties can be surmounted. In the spirit of a dream thc play was written, and in the spirit of a dream it can be acted.

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 exquisite purity of spirit, its affluence of invention, its extraordinary wealth of contrasted characters, its absolute symmetry of form, and its great bcauty of poctic diction. The essential, wholesome clcanliness 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 agreeably than its frank display of the spontaneous, natural, and entirely delightful exultation of Theseus and Hippolita in their approaching nuptials. They are grand crcatures both, and they rejoice in caclı 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 essentially 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, the Earl of Southampton, with Elizabeth Vernon-which, while 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 seen that such a theme often proved suggestive of ribaldry; but Shaksperc could preserve the sanctity even while he revelled in the passionate ardor of love, and "A Midsummer Night's Dream,”. while it possesses all the rosy glow, thc pliysical thrill, and the melting ten. derness of such picccs as Herrick's “Nuptiall Song," is likewisc fraughi: with all the moral clevation and unaffected chastity of such picccs as Mil. ton's “Conius." Human nature is shown in it as fccling no shamc in its clemental and rightful passions, and as having no reason to foci ashamed of them. The atmosphere is free and bracing; thic lonc honcst; the note truc. Then, likewise, thic fertility and felicity of the poct's invention -intertwining the loves of carthly sovereigns and of their subjects with the dissensions of fairy inonarchs, thc pranks of mischicrous clvcs, the protective care of attendant sprites, and the comic but kind-hearted and well-meant fcalty of boorish peasants-arouse lively interest and keep it steadily alert. In no other of his works has Shaksperc more brilliantly shown that complete dominance of theme which is manisested in thc perfcct preservation of proportion. The strands of action arc braided with astonishing grace. The fourfold story is never allowed to lapse into dul. ness or obscurity. There is caprice, but no distortion. Thc supernatu. ral machincry is never wrested toward the production of startling or mon. strous cffccts, but it doftly impcls cach mortal personage in the natural line of human development. The dream-spirit is maintained throughout, and perhaps it is for this reason-that the poet was living and thinking and writing in thc froc, untrammellcd world of his own spacious and airy imagination, and not in any dcfinitc sphere of this carth-that “A Midsummer Night's Dream” is so radically superior to the other comc. dies written by him at about thic same period, “The Two Gcn:lcmcn of Verona,"

" " The Comedy of Errors,” “Love's Labor's Lost," and “The Taming of thc 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 bcautiful specches of Titanii and Overvir, in the second act--over against which is set that triunph of humor, that immortal Interlude of “ Pyramus and Thisbe," which is the father of all thc burlesquies in our language, and which, for freshness, pungency of apposite satire, and general applicabile ity to the foible of self-love in human nature, and to ignorance and folly in human affairs, might 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 the text throughout. Shakspere had not yet cast aside that custom of rhyme which was in vogue when he came first upon the scene. But these dcfccts are trifics.


Thc bcautics overwhelm them. It would take many pages to cnumcr.
atc and fitly to descant on the felicitics of literature that we owe to this
coinccy - ems such as the famous passage on "the course of truc lovc;".
thic regal picture of Queen Elizabeth as “a fair vestal throned by the
yest;" the fine 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 Titaniu aslccp upon the bank of wild thyme, oxlips, and vio-
lets; thic cloqucnt contrasts of lover, madman, and poet, each subducd
and impelled 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
likewise, and in thosc salutary lessons which the truthsul 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 violent, despite her feminine swcctness,
and possibly because of her impetuous and clinging ardor ; Demetrius
and Lysander, cach selfish and fierce in his love, but manly, straightfor-
ward fellows, abounding more in youth and desire than in brains ; Bollon,
thic quintessence of bland, unconscious cgotism and sell-conceit; and The-
seus, thc princely gentleman and typical ruler-these makc up, assur.
cdly, one 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 certain of his pcoplc-such
as Ulyssi's in “ Troilus and Cressida," the Duke in " Measure for Mcas-
ure," and Prospero in "The Tempest"-the voice of Shakspere himself,
speaking personally, is clearly heard ; and it is heard also in Theseus.
“ The best in this kind arc but shadows," says this wise obscrver of life,
when he comes to speak of the actors who copy it," and thc worst arc no
worse, if imagination amend them." There is no higher strain of princc-
like 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 :

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" And what poor duty cannot do

Noble respect takes it in might, not merit.
For never anything can be amiss
When simpleness and duty tonder it."

With rcference 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 comedy was conceived and written absolutely in the spirit of a drcam. It ought not, therefore, to be treated as a rational manifestation of orderly design. It possesses, indeed,

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