Darling of Misfortune: Edwin Booth: 1833-1893

Darling of Misfortune: Edwin Booth: 1833-1893

Darling of Misfortune: Edwin Booth: 1833-1893

Darling of Misfortune: Edwin Booth: 1833-1893

Excerpt

To raise the curtain on the life of Edwin Booth, tragedian, is to reveal a melodrama of abashing theatricalism. We shall find it preposterously extravagant, and then we must remember that it is a melodrama written by Fate. No lesser playwright could have escaped catcalls while offering such a tale; the superior smiles which come to the faces of those who are asked to believe too much would have been the inevitable return for his abundant generosity. Only Fate could have brought it off; only Fate could have crowded into one life such heaped-up misfortune, or made so obvious and immediate the compensation allowed for that misfortune. As the play proceeds, we shall more than once suspect that it is all quite too impossible and that Fate's indifference to the limits of our credulity is equaled only by her bland refusal to have anything to do with subtlety.

To find any merely human dramatist who would dare a tenth as much, we must return to Shakspere and his imitators, and even then we shall discover that one major calamity was usually considered quite enough. If in yesterday's extravagant melodrama we discover a romantic and . . .

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