Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/289

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271
Actors

tied hand and foot. He was borrowing French villains, and making his American men exclaim "egad."

Daly adapted and wrote over four dozen plays. Among his so-called original attempts, this generation can recall only Divorce (Fifth Avenue Theatre, 5 September, 1871), Horizon (Olympic Theatre, 25 March, 1871), and Pique (Fifth Avenue Theatre, 14 December, 1875); among his adaptations, Leah the Forsaken (Niblo s Garden, 19 January, 1863), Frou-Frou (Fifth Avenue Theatre, 12 February, 1870), and Article 47 (Fifth Avenue Theatre, 2 April, 1872). But in these, as in most of his attempts, he does not deserve any more claim to native originality than Matilda Heron does for her version of Camille (Wallack s Broome St. Theatre, 22 January, 1857), or A. M. Palmer for his productions of D'Ennery and Cormon's A Celebrated Case, adapted by A. R. Cazauran (Boston Museum, 28 January, 1878), and D'Ennery's The Two Orphans, adapted by Hart Jackson (Union Square Theatre, 21 December, 1874). What he did so successfully, and what Clyde Fitch did so well in later years, was to create rôles for the special qualities in his players: he wrote Frou-Frou for Agnes Ethel, Article 47 for Clara Morris, and Pique for Fanny Davenport.

The emotional play went hand in hand with the emotional actress, and one fails to find Clara Morris showing a penchant for the American drama; her success in Miss Mutton, a play built on a French version of East Lynné (Union Square Theatre, 20 November, 1876), and her Cora in Article 47 measured her taste and training, rather than her Lucy Carter in Howard's Saratoga, which Daly produced. Palmer and Daly gave their players large doses of foreign drama or the classics. In such tradition Fanny Davenport flourished, and Ada Rehan was reared.

This was an unsettled period, therefore, of taste and managerial inclination; it is necessary to pick up the scant threads of American drama and hold them fast lest they be forgotten. Such a play as Densmore's pirated version of The Gilded Age, in which John T. Raymond made such a success during the early seventies, is scarcely known, even by Mark Twain's biographer; Benjamin Woolf's The Mighty Dollar (Park Theatre, 6 September, 1875), once the talk of the American theatre, is, so far as Woolf's family is concerned, non-existent.