AND certain actors and singers, had a good deal to do with the business. All through these years, off and on, I frequented the old Park, the Bowery, Broadway and Chatham-square theatres, and the Italian operas at Chambers-street, Astor-place or the Batterymany seasons was on the free list, writing for papers even as quite a youth. The old Park theatrewhat names, reminiscences, the words bring back! Placide, Clarke, Mrs. Vernon, Fisher, Clara F., Mrs. Wood, Mrs. Seguin, Ellen Tree, Hackett, the younger Kean, Macready, Mrs. Richardson, Ricesingers, tragedians, comedians. What perfect acting! Henry Placide in Napoleons Old Guard or Grandfather Whitehead,or the Provoked Husband of Cibber, with Fanny Kemble as Lady Townleyor Sheridan Knowles in his own Virginiusor inimitable Power in Born to Good Luck. These, and many more, the years of youth and onward. Fanny Kemblename to conjure up great mimic scenes withalperhaps the greatest. I remember well her rendering of Bianca in Fazio, and Marianna in the Wife. Nothing finer did ever stage exhibitthe veterans of all nations said so, and my boyish heart and head felt it in every minute cell. The lady was just matured, strong, better than merely beautiful, born from the footlights, had had three years practice in London and through the British towns, and then she came to give America that young maturity and roseate power in all their noon, or rather forenoon, flush. It was my good luck to see her nearly every night she playd at the old Parkcertainly in all her principal characters.
I heard, these years, well renderd, all the Italian and other operas in vogue, Sonnambula, the Puritans, Der Freischutz, Huguenots, Fille dRegiment, Faust, Etoile du Nord, Poliuto, and others. Verdis Ernani, Rigoletto, and Trovatore, with Donnizettis Lucia or Favorita or Lucrezia, and Aubers Massaniello, or Rossinis William Tell and Gazza Ladra, were among my special enjoyments. I heard Alboni every time she sang in New York and vicinityalso Grisi, the tenor Mario, and the baritone Badiali, the finest in the world.
This musical passion followd my theatrical one. As boy or young man I had seen, (reading them carefully the day beforehand,) quite all Shaksperes acting dramas, playd wonderfully well. Even yet I cannot conceive anything finer than old Booth in Richard Third, or Lear, (I dont know which was best,) or Iago, (or Pescara, or Sir Giles Overreach, to go outside of Shakspere)or Tom Hamblin in Macbethor old Clarke, either as the ghost in Hamlet, or as Prospero in the Tempest, with Mrs. Austin as Ariel, and Peter Richings as Caliban. Then other dramas, and fine players in them, Forrest as Metamora or Damon or BrutusJohn R. Scott as Tom Cringle or Rollaor Charlotte Cushmans Lady Gay Spanker in London Assurance. Then of some years later, at Castle Garden, Battery, I yet recall the splendid seasons of the Havana musical troupe under Maretzekthe fine band, the cool sea-breezes, the unsurpassd vocalismSteffanone, Bosio, Truffi, Marini in Marino Faliero, Don Pasquale, or Favorita. No better playing or singing ever in New York. It was here too I afterward heard Jenny Lind. (The Batteryits past associationswhat tales those old trees and walks and sea-walls could tell!)