The papers contained in this volume, chosen out of hundreds that the author has written on dramatic subjects, are assembled with the hope that they may be accepted, in their present form, as a part of the permanent record of our theatrical times. For at least thirty years it has been a considerable part of the constant occupation of the author to observe and to record the life of the contemporary stage. Since 1860 he has written intermittently in various periodicals, and since the summer of 1865 he has written continuously in the New York Tribune, upon actors and their art; and in that way he has accumulated a great mass of historical commentary upon the drama.
surprise that the veteran moralist should be wedded to his idols of the past, and should often be heard sadly to declare that all the good actors--except these--are dead. He forgets that scores of theatres now exist where once there were but two or three; that the population of the United States has been increased by about fifty millions within ninety years; that the field has been enormously broadened; that the character of, the audience has become one of illimitable diversity; that the prodigious growth of the star-system, together with all sorts of experimental catch-penny theatrical management, is one of the inevitable necessities of the changed condition of civilisation; that the feverish tone of this great struggling and seething mass of humanity is necessarily reflected in the state of the theatre; and that the forces of the stage have become very widely diffused. Such a moralist would necessarily be shocked by the changes that have come upon our theatre within even the last twenty-five years--by the