The United States Magazine of Science, Art, Manufactures, Agriculture, Commerce and Trade
New York: 15 May 1854



  ..."The Moral Drama" is at present all the rage in our city, the success of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" at the National theatre having induced a sternly moral fit among the managers in the eastern portion of the city. "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet" to most people, but not to some of our metropolitan amusement seekers--an outward show of strict morality is necessary to attract their attention, thus the moral drama of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," with its maudlin sensibility, violations of unity, probability and congregation of horrors has attracted large audiences for we know not how many months, owing to the piece being well spiced with clap-trap moral sentiments, bearing on the question of involuntary bondage, and scraps of religion, which, we maintain, are highly improper introductions in stage representations. A theatre is not the place for religious or doctrinal discussions, nor should they ever be permitted. The moral bait, however, has taken--people have visited the theatre who were never there before, and the manager, with his pockets well filled, becoming quite a moral man, laughs in his sleeve at the credulity of the public.

  The success of "Uncle Tom," at the National, induced his introduction at both the Bowery theatre, and Barnum's museum--followed by a "Hot Corn" young lady (of the same moral school), at all the establishments. At the Bowery theatre, we imagine, the cause of morality will be served but little by the production of "Hot Corn"--the piece itself is a tissue of absurdity, a series of scenes without purpose or connection, a sort of pot pouri of "The Bottle"--"The Drunkard's Fate," and other equally profitable dramas. We have philanthropists, victims of intemperance, virtuous wives, erratic daughters, "loafers," Christian ministers, keepers of night cellars, and dance houses--elbowing each other, on and off the stage; virtue in poverty, vice in velvet; scenes depicted, and personages introduced, of the most questionable character--we say questionable, because we have yet to learn that the cause of morality is promoted by the public exhibition of depravity in glaring colors; but we complain even less of this than of the way in which religious "points" are made, both in the drama and the bills of the play. We quote verbatim some of the great features in the latter:--"A Christian minister faithfully fulfilling the duties of an heavenly mission;" "There is joy in heaven over a sinner that repenteth;" "Let us pray;" "Lead us not into temptation;" "Consolations of religion;" "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take," etc., etc. If this be not turning the morbid morality of a class of well meaning, but weak minded, persons to a mercenary account, we know not what is. If we are to have moral dramas and "religious mysteries" represented on the stage again, as they were in the early days of Christianity, let us have them pure and intact, not mixed up with sickening scenes of vice and depravity.