Page:Cartoon portraits and biographical sketches of men of the day.djvu/33

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Dion Boucicault.

went to the United States, where they resided for seven years. During this period he adopted the stage as a profession; but as his performance of Irish character proved to be his most perfect delineation, he has of late confined himself to that specialty. In 1860 he returned to England, and appeared in September in the memorable 'Colleen Bawn,' as Myles-na-Coppaleen. In 1864 he joined Mr. Vining at the Princess's, and produced 'The Streets of London' and 'Arrah-na-Pogue.' Very few authors have been so uniformly successful, but very few possess the assemblage of powers and qualifications which unite in him to render success almost a certainty. He is not only an experienced dramatist and actor, but his knowledge of all departments of the theatre and their resources is complete. He models and sketches his own scenery, and contrives his mechanical effects. He selects the appropriate music, fashions the action of his piece, drills the supernumeraries and ballet. We shall not forget the effect produced by the crowd of Irish peasantry in 'Arrah-na-Pogue.' He exercises and teaches each performer; and, indeed, instils into all parts of his works a vigour and a life that we rarely find elsewhere. Where capacity and experience are thus found allied with untiring labour, it would be strange if the result were doubtful.

Those who regard a theatrical life as one of idleness and ease may find some difficulty in reconciling their prejudice with such a programme. No life ought to be more methodical.

In 1868, after an engagement in Dublin, Mr. Boucicault declared his intention of retiring from the stage, and devoting himself exclusively to literary pursuits. But his reappearance a few months ago seemed to be the result of a conviction that his 'second thoughts are the best;' the more so that his retirement withdrew from the stage his wife, the most elegant and purest of our soubrettes, whose performances cannot be called delineations: they are personifications of the characters in which she appears, so perfect of their kind, that no actress possibly, in her own line of characters, could be acceptable to the public in her stead.