Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. J. A. Harrison), “The Drama (part III),” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. XII: Literary Criticism - part 04 (1902), pp. 210-212


[page 210, continued:]


[Broadway Journal, Aug. 2, 1845.]

AT Niblo’s Mrs. Mowatt concluded her engagement on the 26th ult. Her last appearance was as the Duchess in “Faint Heart Never Won Fair Lady,” and Katherine in “Katherine and Petruchio.” The former of these pieces is one of the best things of its kind. It has all the neat epigrammatic spirit of the French Vaudeville — the ingenuity of its construction is remarkable — its incidents are vivid yet natural — its characters are well sustained — its sentiments are occasionally noble — and, upon the whole, we know nothing of the same nature which combines so much of truthfulness with so much of true jeu d’esprit. Not its least merit is its unity of effect.

Nothing, we think, could be better than Mrs. Mowatt’s personation of the Duchess. The part, to be sure, affords little opportunity for histrionic display — but the astonishment at Ruy Gomez’ audacity — this astonishment at first merged in indignation — then gradually becoming admiration — and this suddenly converted into love — were points so admirably managed by the fair actress, as to leave nothing to desire. The beautiful lips of Mrs. Mowatt have, we fear, a singular facility in the expression of contempt. [page 211:]

In Ruy Gomez Mr. Crisp was intolerable. He entirely misconceives the character. The Spaniard, as designed by Planché, is a dashing, ardent, chivalric cavalier, urged to the extreme of audacity by the madness of his passion, but preserving through all a true dignity, and the most uncompromising respect for the lady of his love. Mr. Crisp makes him an impudent trickster — at times even a vulgar chuckling mountebank — occasionally a simpering buffoon. The Marquis of Santa Cruz was well represented by Nickerson. Miss Taylor spoke and stepped more like a chambermaid than a princess.

Even of the “Katherine and Petruchio,” as Shakspeare conceived it, we have no very exalted opinion. The whole design of the play is not only unnatural but an arrant impossibility. The heart of no woman could ever have been reached by brute violence. But, as this drama originally stood, it contained many redeeming traits of nature and truth. These, it was the opinion of Cibber, interfered with the spirit of the thing, and accordingly he left them out — or if one or two were suffered to remain, our modern managers unsparingly uprooted them. The “Katherine and Petruchio” of Niblo’s, is absolutely beneath contempt — a mere jumble of unmeaning, rant, fuss, whip-smacking, crockery-cracking, and other Tom-Foolery of a similar kind. With a play of this character nothing could be done — and as far as we could perceive, nothing was.

In taking leave of Mrs. Mowatt for the present, we have only again to record our opinion that, if she be true to herself, she is destined to attain a very high theatrical rank. With the one exception of mere physical force, she has all the elements of a great actress. Her conceptions of character are good. Her [page 212:] elocution is excellent, although still susceptible of improvement. Her beauty is of the richest and most impressive character. Her countenance is wonderfully expressive. Her self-possession is marvellous. Her step is queenly. Her general grace of manner has never, in our opinion, been equalled on the stage — most decidedly it has never been surpassed. These qualities alone would suffice to assure her a proud triumph — but she possesses a quality beyond all these — enthusiasm — an unaffected freshness of the heart the capacity not only to think but to feel.

At the Park the French operatic troupe have been delighting large, fashionable, and intellectual audiences, La Juive has been the attraction. The admirable manner in which it is brought upon the stage, cannot be too highly commended. For farther comments on this opera, we refer the reader to our Musical Department.

At Castle Garden, Pico has been singing — delightfully of course — and Herr Cline has been performing his usual wonders upon the tight rope. The audiences have been large and very respectable.

At the Chatham[[,]] a vast number of people without coats, have been thrown into raptures by the representation of “The Female Horsethief,” in which the leading character is one Margaret Catchpole, and the leading incident her riding en homme a very lazy and very stupid little horse.





[S:1 - JAHCW, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (J. A. Harrison) (The Drama (part III))