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machinery of a school. The New York trustees determined to adopt this system in the new school. A suitable teacher was engaged as principal, and a school opened in May, 1806, in a hired apartment in Bancker, now Madison, Street. The attendance in a few days was forty-two. This was the first public free school in the city and the first employment in the United States of the Lancasterian system, which subsequently became much in vogue. It was really a charity school, providing, when needed, food and raiment, as well as instruction, for its indigent pupils. The plan worked well, and was appreciated by the Legislature, which, in 1807, granted $4,000 for the erection of a school-building, with an annual gift of $1,000 to the Society. The City Corporation granted an old building, known as the Arsenal, in the northeastern angle of the Park, adjacent to the Alms-house, for the accommodation of the school. It was fitted up at considerable expense, and opened in December, 1809, with an able address by De Witt Clinton. By the terms of the Corporation grant, the children of the Almshouse were to

be gratuitously instructed. An arrangement was also made with the Fire Department for the admission of fifty pupils. At the end of the year the school had 550 pupils. This public school, No. 1, remained on its first site, at the corner of Tryon Row and Chatham Street, till 1837, when the building was taken down for the opening of Centre Street. It then occupied a new building in William Street, near Duane, which retains the designation No. 1 under the new system of Ward Schools. A second school was opened in 1811 on ground in Henry Street, presented by Colonel Henry Rutgers. Others followed at various intervals, planted where most needed, in different parts of the city, till the number in 1840 reached eighteen. There were also two colored schools and some fifty primary schools, mostly in hired rooms, under the management of the Society, which up to 1842 had the entire control of the funds provided for the commonschool education of the city. In that year there was a serious encroachment on its powers and efficiency by the Act of the Legislature constituting a Board of Education for the City of New York, composed of Commissioners, to be annually elected by the people, intrusted with the organization of schools in the districts where they might be required, at the request of a body of Ward trustees, created for their local management in the several Wards. This left the Public School Society a voluntary association, with limited resources to cope with the organized resources of the State. The new Board was not only more popular in its representative character than the old private corporation, but it had the advantage of a regular system of taxation in meeting its requirements. It was undoubtedly more liberal and expansive in its character in raising the standard of education in its classes, the old system being limited by its plan and resources. The latter soon found itself restricted and embarrassed at every turn. The result was that, after eleven years of prolonged existence, parallel with the new system of Ward schools, it yielded to the latter, and resigning its privileges, in ac



cordance with an Act of the Legislature passed in June, 1 but unsuccessful season, came to New York, in August, 1853, transferred its entire property, real and personal, where there was, at first, some opposition to the revival valued at about $600,000, to the Corporation of the of stage plays on the part of the magistrates, who refused City, to be placed under the management of the Board of as an unhallowed gift a donation from the company of a Education. The Public School Society then ceased to hundred dollars to the poor of the Almshouse. Conexist.

scious of the popular prejudice, Hallam began his enterAn elaborate history of the School Society has been tainments as a course of lectures, with an infusion of written by William Oland Bourne, which exhibits with mi- farce and pantomime, succeeded by the performance of a nuteness the working of the old system, and offers many few regular plays, which somewhat taxed the strength of poiuts for profitable consideration in the study of the his limited company. Having thus obtained a footing in general subject of popular education for the future. the Summer months, in November, having associated In the records of education in the city and country, the with him in the management John Henry, an Irish actor, disinterested labors of its trustees must ever be remem- and reinforced the company, he opened the theatre for a bered with honor. The long period of faithful service, regular season with “The Gamester,” and “Love à la involving no little care and anxiety, of a large number of Mode." Among the new performers was Wignell, a the trustees, is something remarkable. Thirty served for cousin of the elder Hallam, who had come to America to an average of

join the comnearly twenty

pany at New five years.

York on the From 1805 to

eve of its dis1853, the

persiou by the whole period

resolution of of the So

the Continenciety, there

tal Congress. were six pres

He now apidents : De

peared to Witt Clinton,

establish him Henry Rut.

self firmly gers, Peter A.

with the pubJay, Robert C.

lic as an acCornell, Lind

complished ley Murray,

comedian, and and George

su bsequently T. Trimble.

as the successTheir work

ful manager of was eminently

the theatre at practical, and,

Philadelphia. a quality not

Henry, who always to be

also took an found in phil

active part in anthropical

the performexertions, it

ances, was was carried

something of on with a just

a humorist off regard to

the stage. economy. The

Dunlap tells founder of the

us he was the system on

only actor in which the

America who schools were

kept a coach, generally con

a very small FULTON'S STEAMBOAT "THE CLERMONT.” ducted, Jos

one, however, eph Lancaster, after much ill-rewarded exertion in his “just sufficient to carry himself and wife to the theatre, own country, came to America in 1818. He frequently drawn by one horse and driven by a black boy." Being visited the schools in New York, whose records contain subject to attacks of the gout, he justified the extravamany kindly expressions of his approval. It was on gance to the public by the representation on the panels leaving one of the schools, in Chrystie Street, where he of two crutches crossed, with the motto, “This or had attended an examination of the pupils, that, in | These.” crossing Grand Street, he was thrown down by a horse, The theatre was opened for successive seasons, with and received such injuries, that two days after, on the representations of the "standard drama " which then 24th of October, 1838, he expired. He had just com- occupied the stage, varied in April, 1787, with the perpleted his sixtieth year. His remains were placed in the formance, for the first time on the boards of an American burying-ground of the Society of Friends, in Houston theatre, of an original play, a comedy in five acts, entitled, Street.

“ The Contrast,” the production of a man of brilliant The players of the old American Company had, at first, wit, Royal Tyler, of Massachusetts, subsequently Chief but a cold reception when they returned from the West Justice of Vermont, and author also of the first American Indies, after the Revolution. The younger Hallam, who novel, “The Algerine Captive." "The Contrast " was of had succeeded Douglass in the management, opened a genuine native growth and subject, introducing to the theatre in Philadelphia, in March, 1785, and after a short public in the part of Jonathan, acted by Wignull, the


vernacular Yankee, who in one dress or other still holds possession of the stage. The next month saw the production of another native American play by Tyler, written for Wignell, entitled, “May Day in Town; Or, New York in an Uproar,” a practical topic for farce of venerable standing, even then antiquated, the humors of which are not yet exhausted in our city life, if, as we presume, the “moving accidents” of the day furnished the theme. Tyler's success in home authorship was soon followed by Dunlap's first acted play, “The Father,” the precursor of a host of others, which entitle the author to be classed with the most prolific and successful in the somewhat scanty ranks of American dramatic authorship. It is pleasant to note the favorable reception of this writer, to whose literary productions, inadequately remunerated in their own day, the history of our city now owes so much in various departments, dramatic, artistic, social, and political. William Dunlap was, indeed, a man of mark, to be ranked with West, Trumbull, Leslie, Charles Brockden Brown, Fulton, and others, original developments of the new mental activities sown by the Revolution. The son of a British soldier who had fought with Wolfe at Quebec, on the arrival of the English Army in 1776, he was carried by his father from his home at Perth Amboy within the lines at New York, where he passed the years of his boyhood during the war, emerging at the age of seventeen with faculties invigorated by the stirring life he had witnessed—a youth of lively powers of imagination, marked for a life of artistic culture. Bent upon the study of the arts of design, and flattered by the opportunity of painting the portrait of Washington, he was sent to seek the friendly assistance, never asked in vain by his young countrymen, of Benjamin West, in London. England he developed a decided disposition for the drama, fostered by his opportunity of witnessing the performances of the consummate school of actors of the day, including Henderson, Kemble, Miss Siddons, Miss Farren, Mrs. Jordan, the Bannisters, Quick, and a host of minor notables some of whom he was to see transferred to the stage in America. On his return to New York, he became, naturally, a frequenter of the old John Street theatre, where he had witnessed his “first play,” “Farquhar's Beaux'Strategem,” performed by the British officers in the days of the Revolution. His success as a dramatic author on its boards, with his familiar acquaintance with the actors, led to his taking part with Hodgkinson, one of the most accomplished of them, as manager in the organization of a new company, for which a new building was provided. This was the building which concentrates in the memory of New Yorkers so many pleasant recollections, the old Park Theatre. The last performance at the John Street Theatre, Fielding’s “Tom Thumb,” took place on the 13th of January, 1798. On the 29th of the month its successor, the New Theatre, as it was called, was opened with “As You Like It,” a good omen of its future career, in the many worthy representations on its stage, by the best actors of England and America, of the Shakespearean drama. The building, 80 feet front by 165 in depth, occupied a site on Park Row midway between Ann and Beekman Streets. It was several years in process of erection, the cornerstone having been laid in May, 1795. The edifice was originally planned by the French engineer Brunel, then a Revolutionary exile in New York, and subsequently known to the worll as the constructor of the Thames Tunnel. The design attributed to him for the ornamentation of the front was certainly not carried out in the bare exterior of the edifice as it smrvived in its orioinal appearance to our own day; but, if the arrangement of the


interior, with its admirable adaptation to the two great ends of theatrical architecture, perfect sight and hearing, was due to him, then assuredly the two generations which witnessed the performances on its boards were indebted to Brunel for an opportunity of appreciating the acted drama which has never been surpassed, if quite equaled, in any of the more showily-decorated theatres since erected in the city. The old Park was perfect in these respects, the compact, manageable stage area, with the inclosed pit and boxes, allowing the actors to be heard in their natural tones. Among the notices printed in the first playbill occur a few paragraphs, curious as illustrations of the manners of New York ninety years ago. To assure the public of the loyalty of the old company to the new state of affairs, the playbill closed with a strongly-printed “Vivat Respublica.” The old direction was renewed: “Ladies and gentlemen are requested to be particular in sending servants early to keep boxes.” Another has a strange sound, coming from the vaunted era of politeness of these “good old times'': “The offensive practice to ladies. and dangerous to the house, of smoking cigars during the performance, it is hoped every gentleman will consent to an absolute prohibition of.” It is to be “hoped” that the audience took the hint. Certainly the oldest playgoer whose reminiscences of the old Park we have listened to, never had any complaint of the infringement of the regulation. With the exception of that blot on the old theatre management, English and American—the immoralities of the third tier—from which, we believe, the public was first relieved by the exertions of Mr. Macready, at Covent Garden, there was nothing in the manners of the Park particularly worthy of censure. About fifty-five years ago, to be sure, Mrs. Trollope, in her censorship of the Americans, with the aid of the clever French artist who accompanied her, left an amusing picture in her book of an undress box company at the Chatham Theatre, the central figure a hatted, coatless gentleman, sitting on the front, presenting a broad back to the audience. The sketch was remembered ; and for a long time after, at the Park, whenever any one in the boxes appeared in a similar attitude to the company, as sometimes happened in the intervals of the acts, the offender was instantly recalled to a sense of propriety by a cry from pit and gallery, “Trollope 1 Trollope l’” It would occupy more space than the present work can afford barely to enumerate the chief of the plays and actors, for more than half a century the charm of the old Park Theatre to the most cultivated and appreciative of audiences. There were, at the very start, the versatile Hodgkinson and the accomplished lady, his wife, who had been transplanted with him from the famous theatre at Bath, and Joseph Jefferson, long a favorite comedian on the old boards, the son of an admired English actor, the father and grandfather of others of the same name. eminent on the American stage, the present approved representative of Rip Van Winkle, being his direct descendant. The month after the opening the company was reinforced by the arrival, from Philadelphia, of Thomas Abthorp Cooper, in the height of his early fame, for he was at this time but twenty-two, when he won the admiration of the New York public by his graceful and spirited impersonation of leading Shakespearean characters, appearing successively in Hamlet, King John and Romeo. The son of an Irish gentleman, a surgeon in the service of the East India Company, he had, on the death of that parent in India, been placed by his mother under the gnardianship of the celebrated novelist and political reformer, William Godwin, by whom he had been

instructed in the elements of a liberal education, including, with a study of the classics, a thorough acquaintance with the plays of Shakespeare. Encouraged by an intimacy with the dramatist Holcroft, the youth chose the stage for a profession, and was consigned to Stephen Kemble, then managing a theatre in Edinburgh, who cautiously gave him some small employment in the company, till one night, on his failure in the part of Malcolm, in “Macbeth,” he was summarily dismissed. Returning to London, he studied carefully the parts of Hamlet and Macbeth, under the direction of Godwin and Holcroft, and at the age of nineteen appeared in both those characters, with applause, on the London stage. In the flush of this success, he was induced by Wignell to join the company in America, where he passed the remainder of his career. He was long a favorite tragedian on the Park boards and in the social circles of New York, his position in the latter being enhanced by his marriage to a celebrated belle of the city, the daughter of Major James Fairlie, the Sophy Sparkle of Irving's “Salmagundi.” In his later years, in the failure of his powers, he was superseded by other performers; but a kindly feeling was always entertained for him, as was proved by the extraordinary success of a benefit given to him at the Bowery Theatre in 1833, which yielded a gross amount of $4,500, “the largest sum,” says Mr. Ireland, “than ever received for a single night's performance at any theatre in America.” In 1810, Cooper, having become associated with Stephen Price in the management of the Park Theatre, visited England, where he succeeded in engaging for the American boards no less a personage than George Frederick Cooke. Of undoubted genius, with an acute and strong intellect, with admirable qualities for the stage, Cooke, in spite of gross intemperance, had won his way by sheer force of merit to a divided sovereignty with John Philip Kemble, at Covent Garden, in the personation of the leading Shakespearan characters. In Richard III., Shylock, Iago, Lear, Falstaff, and in Macklin's strong parts of Sir Archy McSarcasm and Sir Pertinaz McSycophant, he was admitted to be unsurpassed. It was something of a triumph in those days to remove, even for a short season, so eminent an actor from London to New York ; and it required all the American manager's tact, working on Cooke's restlessness under the burden of his irregularities, to accomplish the object. Had he been gifted with the prudence of Kemble, he would probably never have been seen on this side of the Atlantic. The sea-voyage, with the enforced temperance due to the Yankee captain's scant supplies of strong drink, restored the tone of the actor's powerful constitution. His arrival produced an extraordinary excitement among the theatrical, then including the best social, circles of New York. The report of his engagement, heralded by a letter to Price, was not generally credited. “It appeared as impossible to many,” says his excellent biographer, Dunlap, “that the great London actor should be removed to America, as that St. Paul's Cathedral should be transported across the Atlantic. Englishmen in New York swore roundly that it could not be. It was some other performer of the same name. It was even insinuated that the whole was an imposition. ‘Cooke come to Americal pool, l’” At his first appearance in the city as Richard III., on the 21st of November, the throng was so great that many persons were violently borne by the crowd through the doorways into the theatre without the opportunity of paying for a ticket. Ladies were brought to the boxes through a back entrance from behind the curtain. There were 2,200 persons in the house ; the receipts were $1,820. Richard was fol

lowed by Sir Pertinac McSycophant, Shylock, Macbeth, Sir Giles Overreach, Falstaff, and several minor parts. For the seventeen nights of this first engagement the manager received $21,578. This was a brilliant success, but it was even thus early marred by those violent exhi. bitions of caprice and passion which always attended Cooke in his fits of intemperance ; for, spite of his clean bill of health on landing, he soon succumbed to the generous hospitalities of the city. Thenceforth, at Boston, at Philadelphia, on his return to New York, wherever he appeared, his performances were at intervals interfered. with by his recurring irregularities. Spite of his excesses, however, his strong constitution enabled him constantly to rally and act with his customary power the familiar round of characters which had become a part of his very nature. The strain, however, with the frequent temptations of that hard-drinking time, became too great even for his extraordinary endurance. His vital powers, so often assailed, were at last exhausted. He was now constantly under the care of physicians, and, on the 26th of September, 1812, at the age of fifty-seven, expired in the City of New York. He was attended at his residence, at Mechanic Hall, corner of Broadway and Park Place, by Dr. Hosack and his youthful assistant, Dr. Francis. The latter was with him, during his last night, till the morning hour in which he passed away. Among the many vivid pages in which Francis, in the decline of life, recorded his recollections of “Old New York,” none are more genial than those which he devoted to the memory of the great actor When the elder Kean visited this country he caused to be erected, in 1821, the monument which covers the remains of Cooke in St.Paul's Churchyard. To Cooke succeeded another British actor of eminence in Holman, the representative of Lord Townley and other genteel-comedy characters, accompanied by his daughter, by whom he was admirably supported in the upper walks of the drama. Holman made his first appearance in the city as Hamlet, two days after Cooke's death. He passed the remainder of his life in America, dying suddenly at Rockaway in August, 1817. Meanwhile, with others of merit, Hilson and his wife, the favorite, a Miss Johnson; Mr. and Mrs. Darley; Simpson, subsequently partner with Price in the management, and afteward sole lessee; and Mrs. Wheatly, who so long held her popularity on the boards, the regard in which she was held ripening into strong personal esteem, maintained the excellence of the stock company. Hackett, whose frequent engagements in his famed American parts and in Falstaff were always welcome, made his first appearance at this theatre, in 1826. Placide, for a long period perhaps the most popular and useful actor of the company, sharing the honors of comedy with Barnes and Fisher two or three years earlier. In 1820 came Edmund Kean, opening like his predecessor, Cooke, in Richard III., and repeating his fiery career on the American boards in Shylock and Sir Giles Overreach, Leror, Othello, with the addition of Hamlet, and Macbeth, which the great George Frederick never could make entirely his own. It is not easy to overestimate the impression which the genius of Kean made upon the public in these characters. Happily a worthy record of the appreciation which he received remains to us, in a fine critical essay on his acting by the poet and philosopher, Richard Henry Dana. Kean revisited the country in 1825, his last appearance in America being at the Park Theatre, closing, as he began, with Richard, in December, 1826. His son Charles first visited America in 1830. He had little of his father's inspiration, but by his personal

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RECENT ASPECT OF THE MANHATTAN COMPANY'S WATERWORKS. qualities and solid attainments won his way to high rank Of the distinguished comedians who have visited Ameas a Shakespearean actor. He was several times in this rica, Charles Mathews was, in point of time, as in excelcountry, and was always welcomed, none the less in his lence, the foremost. He first came in 1822, opening at last engagements in 1845 and 1865 for the support which the Park in Goldfinch, and played his famous round of he had from Mrs. Kean, who had previously received the parts in comedy and farce, with the exquisite mimicry heartiest admiration on the American stage as Miss Ellen and characterization of his entertainment, so strongly Tree in her gentle personations of Viola, Bealrice, and a marked by his individuality, “Mathews at Home." He host of other refined characters of the higher drama, not revisited the country in 1834, delighting a new generation forgetting her memorable representation of Tulfourd's of playgoers with the old humors ; but his health was Son.

then failing, and he survived his tour to this country but
a few months. His son Charles, who had previously
married Ma-
dame Vestris,
came with her,
in 1838, to New
York, and was
supported by
her in a round
of light comedy
characters at
the Park.
| Charles Kem-
ble first ap-
peared at this
theatre on Sep-
tember 17th,
1832, as Ham-
ter, Fanny
Kemble, the following evening playing Bianca in
“Fazio”; and the next, Juliet to her father's Romeo.

Tyrone Power, the best actor of Irish parts, played his first engagement at the Park, in 1833, and his last in 1841, leaving for home in the steamer President on her fatal voyage.

Edwin Forrest, the most distinguished, in his long career, of American tragedians, a native of Philadelphia, had been several years on the stage when he made his

first appearance at the Park, in June, 1826, in the char. ROMAYNE'S MONUMENT TO THE VICTIMS OF THE PRISON-SHIPS. Tacter of Othello. The decided impression which he made

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