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eral great lyrics afterward, but whatever he may have said of other soldiers, the tribute he paid to McClellan in 1861 was the outpouring of a sincere and hopeful heart.
[January 21, 1872.]
The first theatrical performance in Philadelphia of which there is any mention was in January of 1749, evidently conducted by home-made Thespians. In 1754 some genuine artists arrived, called “Hallam’s Company,” and got a license to open their “New Theatre in Water Street," in William Plumstead's store, corner of the first alley above Pine Street. Here they acted “The Fair Penitent” and “Miss in her Teens” as their first effort. Boxes, 6s.; pit, 45.; gallery, 2s.6d. In 1759 they opened at the corner of Vernon Street, then beyond the city bounds, so as to be out of the reach of the city authorities. They were violently assailed by the Friends, and they made every effort to evade this hostility by calling their entertainment a “Concert of Music," and by playing “George Barnwell” “for the benefit of the College of Philadelphia," and "to improve youth in the divine art of psalm and church music.” The British occupation of Philadelphia revived the drama. They used the Southwark Theatre, the performers being officers of Howe's army, the proceeds going to the widows and orphans of the soldiers. Major André and Captain Delancy were the scenepainters. In 1793 the Chestnut Street Theatre, northwest corner of Sixth and Chestnut, was erected, under the name of the “New Theatre," in opposition to the Southwark Theatre, known afterward as the Old Theatre. This is the house patronized by Washington, the statesmen in Congress, and the Cabinet and their families.
OLD THEATRES OF PHILADELPHIA.
The New Theatre was not opened, in consequence of the yellow-fever, until the 17th of February, 1794. The manager was Wigfall or Wignell, famous in the annals of the American stage, and “the house was fitted up with a luxurious elegance hitherto unknown in this country.” The principal actors were Whitlock, Harwood, Morton, Darley, Mrs. Oldmixon, Mrs. Morris, and Mrs. Marshall. Harwood married Miss Bache, granddaughter of Dr. Franklin. Mrs. Whitlock was a sister of Mrs. Siddons. The illustrious John Jay writes from Philadelphia to his wife on the 13th of April, 1794, just previous to his appointment as envoy extraordinary to the Court of London, as follows: “Two evenings ago I went to the theatre with Mrs. Robert Morris and her family. "The Gamester,' a deep tragedy, succeeded by a piece called “The Guardian,' were played.” An English traveler describes the theatre "as elegant, convenient, and large as that of Covent Garden. I should have thought myself still in England. The ladies wore small bonnets of the same fashion as those I saw in London, some of checkered straw; many had their hair full dress, without caps, as with us, and very few had it in the French style. Gentlemen had round hats, coats with high collars, cut quite in the English fashion, and many coats of striped silk.” The motto over the stage, “The eagle suffers little birds to sing," is explained by the fact that when it was in contemplation to build the theatre, the Quakers used all their influence with Congress to prevent it; but Robert Morris and General Anthony Wayne successfully advocated the establishment of theatres for the public amusement. Wigfall, the manager, fell under the displeasure of the beautiful Mrs. Bingham. The cause of the quarrel seems to have been because she desired to furnish and decorate her box at her own expense, with the absolute condition that the key should be kept by herself and no admission allowed to any one, except on her assent. Wigfall refused the exclusive request, and in consequence Mrs. Bingham and her set rarely attended the theatre. The great rival of the new Chestnut Street Theatre was “the Grand Circus,” controlled and owned by the celebrated Ricketts. Washington and his family went frequently to both their performances.
On Monday, the 27th of February, 1797, Benjamin Franklin Bache's Philadelphia Aurora and Advertiser contained the following paragraph: “The President of the United States, we understand, intends to visit the theatre THIS EVENING, for the last time.” The performance was the celebrated new comedy, for the fourth time, called "The Way to Get Married," "as performed at Covent Garden (I copy from the advertisement) thirty-nine nights without intermission, the first season, and since upward of one hundred and fifty nights, with unbounded applause. At the end of the comedy the pantomime ballet, composed by Mr. Byrne, called 'Dermit Kathleen,' to which will be added a farce called 'Animal Magnetism.' Boxes, $1 25; pit, seven eighths of a dollar; gallery, half a dollar. The doors of the theatre will open at five o'clock, and the curtain will rise precisely at six o'clock. Ladies and gentlemen are requested to send their servants to keep places a quarter before five o'clock, and to order them, as soon as the company are seated, to withdraw, as they can on no account be permitted to remain."
The first President and all his successors were constant attendants at the theatres, although it was some years before such an institution was built in Washington City after it became the national capital.
The habit of attending places of public amusement had no exception in our Presidents. It was a good way to see and to be seen by the people. Mrs. John Adams wrote in eulogy of the New Chestnut, in Philadelphia, and her husband, the second President, attended of course. Jefferson's residence in France, his musical tastes, his fondness for polite literature, all made him like the stage. Madison, Monroe, and John Quincy
INFLUENCE OF ACTORS.
Adams were all men of letters, and the latter as late as 1845 had quite a discussion with James H. Hackett on the character of Hamlet. Jackson went frequently to the play, and Van Buren followed his example. So of John Tyler, Polk, Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, and Buchanan. Lincoln was killed in the theatre. Andrew Johnson liked the drama when he was in Congress, and did not give it up when he was Chief Magistrate. General Grant conforms to the custom of his predecessors.
Actors have always wielded a large influence, though few have been politicians. It was Talma, I believe, who boasted that he had played to " a whole pit full of kings." Jefferson, the grandfather of Joseph, who, by acting a single character, has made himself rich in fortune and fame, was a rare favorite with the leading men of Pennsylvania, especially with Chief Justice John Bannister Gibson, who wrote the impressive words upon his tombstone at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Forrest has been welcome in every social circle, where, by his humor and genius, he has surpassed all rivals. John Brougham is perhaps the finest of dinner-table companions, only excelled by the late John Van Buren and John T. Sullivan. There is no more genial gentleman than Davenport, whom you meet at most of the great parties in Philadelphia. Edwin Booth is exceedingly popular in New York society. Nobody, during his lifetime, was so much sought after as Power, the incomparable Irish comedian. The late William B. Wood was even more interesting off than on the stage. William E. Burton, in his time, distinguished himself by uncommon versatility as a writer and a comedian. The Wallacks have made fame for themselves by scholarship and success as managers and actors. Fanny Kemble, the last of a long list of great artists, shone with equal brilliancy in private and public life. It is natural that such people should be attractive to statesmen. Students of the manners and habits of other countries, and mimics of the manners and habits of our own, where can the wearied public servant find a surer and a better rest than in listening to the words of the great men of the past as these are echoed from the stage by cultivated students? The President, who visits the theatre, not only sees the people and is seen by them, but reposes, so to speak, without interruption, upon the delightful utterances of deathless minds. Mr. Lincoln liked the theatre not so much for itself as because of the rest it afforded him. I have seen him more than once looking at a play without seeming to know what was going on before him. Abstracted and silent, scene after scene would pass, and nothing roused him until some broad joke or curious antic disturbed his equanimity. We are in the habit of saying that the drama of the present is not equal to the drama of the past-a truism, like many others, easily contradicted. Turn to New York, Philadelphia, or any of the great cities, and compare the number of amusements offered every night with the scarcity of the same attractions fifty years ago ; the delightful repetition of the works of the great masters; the endless inventions of modern playwrights; the infinite variety of opera, comedy, tragedy, and spectacular pantomime; and no other fact is needed to enforce the argument that if we are not wiser than our ancestors, we certainly ought to be.
[January 28, 1872.]
Much of the recreation of the public men at the capital of the nation in former times was entertaining and instructive. The era of lectures seems to have superseded these symposiaperhaps for the better; but I always recur to them as the unforgotten and unsurpassed pleasures of my life. There were cards and wine, of course; but the real attractions were impromptu wit and humor, recitations, magnetic speeches, music,