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Second Preface

'HE customs of the old actors, in the dressing of Shakes

than their mutilations of his plays. Macklin appears to have been first in the appropriate regulation of theatrical dressing; he dressed Shylock, 1741, in a loose black gown, a peaked beard, and a red hat, and he dressed Macbeth, 1772, in Scottish garmentswhereas, prior to that time, Macbeth had been arrayed in a suit of scarlet and gold, with a tail wig. Garrick, Barry, and Smith, as Macbeth, wore the uniform of a British military officer. Singing-witches were introduced into that tragedy, and Mrs. Anna Maria Crouch, 1763-1805, as the first and most important of those warblers, assumed an elaborate raiment, including a fancy hat, point lace, and powdered hair. The apparel usually worn for Othello was a coat, waistcoat, and trousers of white cloththe coat and waistcoat being profusely decorated with silver lace--a black wig with long hair, the appendage called a ramillies, about three feet in length, white silk stockings and dancing pumps. Fennell describes that habiliment, as customary in the theatre, and as having been worn by himself in 1787. John Philip Kemble presented Othello, 1788, in the blazing effulgence of a British general. Garrick, as Hamlet, wore a court dress, of the time of George III. The garb of the elder Booth, as Richard III, and that of Edwin Forrest, in almost all of the parts that he played, as may be seen in the photographs of him made by M. B. Brady, and reproduced in W. R. Alger's well known Life, were such as, to an educated audience of to-day, would be ludicrous. Contemporary portraits of Frances Abington, Elizabeth Farren, Dora




Jordan, and Mrs. Siddons, that have come down to us from their times, depicting them in Rosalind and in other comedy characters of Shakespeare, suggest figures that now wouli be called "guys." Much improvement, certainly, has been made in this department of stage art, since Macklin set his good example. John Philip Kemble made salutary changes, and much was done to insure correctness, without the sacrifice of effect, by Charles Kean, the scholar-like and fastidious Macready, and Edwin Booth.

In the present day the art of theatrical dressing and of stage picture has been carried to great perfection by Henry Irving and Augustin Daly. The plays of Shakespeare, as now produced, are condensed, and in some particulars are slightly altered, but the adapters of the nineteenth century are far behind those of the seventeenth and eighteenth, in the matter of editorial license. Many examples might be given. Garrick always acted Cibber's " Richard III,never Shakespeare's; his stage version of Hamlet,which omitted the clowns, etc,, was little better than a butchery; and his version of Romeo and Juliet," based without credit on that of Theophilus Cibber, incorporating a silly dirge and lines from Otway, and causing Juliet to awake before Romeo's death, in the tomb, was a profanation. The reader can find it in Bell's Theatre." Garrick also mangled The Winter's Taleand turned The Tempestinto an opera, and although he discarded Davenant's alteration of Macbeth," he yet encumbered that tragedy with superfluous music and singing women, and introduced for Macbeth a dying speech, which is not only needless but absurd. Thomas Sheridan, when acting Romeo, spoke Mercutio's speech about Queen Mab and dreams. John Philip Kemble, in acting Coriolanus, always used the version that mixes Thomson with Shakespeare; and so, at a later time, did Edwin Forrest. The purists of the present, who utter the voice of indignant pro


test against even the slightest alteration of the original Shakespearean structure, seem to suppose that earlier times displayed a greater reverence in this matter ; but that is a mistake.

The truth is that no one of Shakespeare's plays can be presented and spoken exactly as it is fashioned and written, and that, in the regular theatre, no one of them ever has been performed, since Shakespeare's time, without some curtailment. In the Universities and on scholastic occasions the literal original has, now and then, been given. At Stratford-uponAvon, for example, during the Shakespeare Festival, in April, 1899, the whole of Hamletwas represented, some of it in the afternoon and the rest of it in the evening. In Shakespeare's period, when theatrical performances OCcurred in the day, and when brit little use was made of scenery, the whole of such a piece as · Richard IIImight have been given, but no audience would endure it now. Every actor who, achieving distinction, has attained power, uses his own stageversions of Shakespeare, and if all those versions had been preserved we should possess, in writing, the stage-traditions which now, for the most part, are preserved only in memory, of a rapidly vanishing race of players., A considerable number of the MS. prompt-books used in Drury Lane Theatre, in the Garrick period and later, do, indeed, exist, in the rich and very remarkable collection made by Augustin Daly; but these are inaccessible to the public.

As an example of the utility of good stage-business, and of the importance of preserving the expedients that are devised in this line of art by the best actors, reference may be made to Edwin Booth's treatment of the scene with the sexton at Ophelia's grave. The sexton, as he digs and sings, throws out bones and skulls, and, in the course of his ensuing colloquy with Hamlet, he designates one of those relics as

“ Yorick's skull, the King's jester." In the old custom of the stage

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no token was provided by which the skull of Yorick could be
identified. In Edwin Booth's ordainment of the stage-busi-
ness this omission was, for the first time, remedied, by the
simple provision that one of the skulls thus cast out by the
grave-digger should have a tattered rag of a fool's-cap ad-
herent to it, and that the sexton should recognize it, with a

jocular and half affectionate greeting, as he laid it aside,
to be presently taken up and shown to the Prince as the sad
and ghastly remnant of an old friend. There were many
delicate pieces of stage-business similar to this in Edwin
Booth's production of Hamlet," and, indeed, all his produc-
tions evinced the instructive results of close study, deep medi-
tation, poetic apprehension, and practical experiment. It
must ever be my regret that I did not succeed in preserving
all of them. Those of them that were preserved are shown
in these volumes, now finally dedicated to the service of the
American stage and to the memory of its greatest tragedian
in the latter half of the nineteenth century, EDWIN BOOTH.
" Nec viget quidquam simile aut secundum."

New York, June 30, 1899.

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