'O, star of strength! I see thee stand
And smile upon my pain;
Thou beckonest with thy mailed hand
And I am strong again.'—LONGFELLOW.
'There is a tide in the affairs of men,' &c.
Right! worthy Willie Shakspeare, perfectly right—there is a tide, not only in the affairs
of men, but in the casualties of the Drama also, that bears the fortunate object to success,
provided the opportunity is not neglected. There could not have been a better time chosen for
the production of this most successful and Domestic Drama, than the season it was first
performed at the Boston Museum. No unprejudiced person will attempt to deny that it was the
cause of much good, and materially aided the Temperance movement it was meant to advocate. In
the representation it was a powerful and living picture, and all that saw it, felt it,
for IT WAS TRUE. No one who had not seen it would feel inclined, from
the mere reading, to believe the very powerful effect produced.
The action of the play located in our own city and vicinity—the scenery mostly local views,
excellent—the arrangements admirable, while the acting in some instances was not to be surpassed,
and throughout each character above mediocrity, all served to aid in the triumphant success that
was awarded it on its first representation. Mr. Smith's personation of Edward, evidently the
result of accurate and laborious study, and deep knowledge of human frailty, was at times
terribly real, particularly the scene of delirium tremens, which though
far short of the horrors of that dreadful malady, and appearing, to those unacquainted with the
disease to be overstepping the bounds of nature, was true to the letter, and universally
be the most natural, effective acting ever seen in this city. In this scene, and those depicting
the distress of the family, it was no uncommon thing to see scores of men and women in the
audience weeping like children, while at the next moment their faces would radiate with smiles at
the quaint humor of Bill Dowton, or the pompous peculiarities of Miss Spindle.
Many inquiries have been made as to the authorship of the Drunkard and as rumor has named a
dozen or more persons, some of whom have never troubled themselves to deny their identity in regard
to connexion with the subject, we give the following facts which, if of any importance to any but
those immediately concerned, are simply as follows. "The proprietor of the Museum, ever ready to
take the tide on its flood in any matter of general interest, conceiving that a Drama might aid
the cause of Temperance, and prove highly productive to his establishment, engaged a gentleman of
known and appreciated literary acquirements to undertake the task. Unfortunately his production,
though eminently worthy of the gentleman and scholar, was from want of theatrical experience, merely
a story in dialogue, entirely deficient in stage tact and dramatic effect. Under these circumstances,
the manuscript was placed in the hands of Mr. W. H. Smith, with the request that he would finish and
prepare it for the stage. That gentleman revised what was written, altering what he considered
ineffective, and introducing the entire under-plot, together with the last scene of the second act,
and the entire of the third, fourth, and fifth parts. No claim is laid to originiality of invention
in the character of Cribbs, Agnes, or any other part in the piece. The object was no so much to
prepare an original, as an effective drama.
The piece was produced under the direction of Mr. Smith, in the winter of 1844, and performed
that season for upwards of one hundred and fourty times, and is by all acknowledged to be the most
successful play ever acted in Boston."