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Edwin Forrest, William Macready, and the Astor Place Riot in contemporary newspapers

The Astor Place Riot (10 May 1849) is one of the odder events in the history of violence in America. Apparently precipitated by a rivalry between actors Edwin Forrest and William Macready (it was referred to as the “Forrest and Macready riots” in actor Joseph Jefferson’s autobiography), the riot was built less on their rivalry than it was on a greater rivalry between the U. S. and England.

Contemporary newspaper articles give a flavor of the rivalry, the reactions to the rivalry, and the experience of attending the theater in 19th-century England and the U.S. It was … lively, with the audience (or “auditory,” as one paper puts it) vocally critiquing the actors or helping them out by supplying a forgotten line. So, when Forrest and Macready were publicly pitted against each other, the audience was primed to cheer or throw whatever was at hand.

The rivalry appears to have begun in England, where Forrest had a few disasters on a tour in 1845 and 1846. “The Alleghanian Actors in England” describes a painfully bad performance as Othello; “Letter from Edwin Forrest” includes an amusing audience reaction to Forrest’s stage fighting. Watching Macready play Hamlet in London, Forrest hissed his performance and had to defend himself. The hiss was discussed and discussed, in The Times and in American papers.

When Macready toured the U. S. in 1848 and 1849, the rivalry got out of hand. To a major extent, it was promoted by Forrest, who in Philadelphia and Baltimore pitted himself against Macready by acting in a rival theater—often, the same part in the same play on the same night. After Macready toured the South and Midwest and was on his way back to New York, Forrest published letter after letter after overly detailed letter describing Macready’s actions against him. By the time Macready reached New York, Forrest was already there, appearing at the Broadway Theater and apparently prepared to again appear in the same part in the same play the same night as Macready.

This time, however, the rivalry turned deadly. While Philadelphia audiences had pelted Macready one night and adored him the next, New York audiences weren’t going to let him off as easily. The first night, eggs, chairs, and pennies rained onto the stage (Macready calmly picked up a penny and put it into his pocket), signs were paraded, and shouting made the dialog impossible to hear. The performance was given up, and Macready vowed not to try again. Unfortunately, several prominent New Yorkers—among them Washington Irving and Herman Melville—sent a letter encouraging him to appear again, and the result was the disastrous performance of May 10.

Transcribed here are over 80 pieces appearing in mostly American newspapers, starting with a prediction of Forrest’s success in 1826 and ending with some reactions to the Astor Place Riot in 1849. Some highlights include descriptions of acting styles and descriptions of Macready as Hamlet. “Meeting in the Park” points up the difficulties of reporting in a time before video, as the reporter loses track of what’s going on; it also has a remarkably cavalier response to the death of a child. The coroner’s inquest is transcribed from the weekly edition of the Herald, which may differ from that in the daily edition. Pieces aren’t in strict chronology; when I’ve had to use a version appearing in a later paper, it appears near the date it would have been first printed. While I’ve tried to correct obvious typographical errors, a number of words and names are spelled with great creativity. “The Emute Last Monday Evening” contains a noxious racial slur attached to the name of Frederick Douglass.

“Mr. Forrest.” National Advocate [New York, New York] 23 Nov 1826

Forrest in England: “The Theatres.” The Evening Star[New York, New York] 7 Jan 1837

Macready in New York: Joe Sykes. “Correspondence Commercial Advertiser.” Spectator [New York, New York] 4 Oct 1843

“The Alleghanian Actors in England.” The New York Herald [New York, New York] 12 April 1845

“Professional Jealousy.” The Times [London, England] 12 March 1846

Edwin Forrest. “To the Editor of The Times.” The Times [London, England] 4 April 1846

F. L. “To the Editor of The Times.” The Times [London, England] 6 April 1846

“The Theatres & Public Amusements: Princess’s.” The Times [London, England] 14 April 1846

James H. Hackett. Letter about Macready and Forrest. Evening Post [New York, New York] 1 May 1846

“Extract of a letter dated Dublin, 18th April, 1846.” Evening Post [New York, New York] 7 May 1846

Notice. Philadelphia Inquirer [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] 21 Feb 1848

“Theatricals.” Public Ledger [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] 30 Aug 1848

“Tragedians at War.” Daily Evening Transcript 22 Sept 1848

“Macready.” The Bee [Boston, Massachusetts] 22 Sept 1848

“Legitimate Drama—American Actors.” The New York Herald [New York, New York] 22 Sept 1848

“News of the Day.” Alexandria Gazette [Alexandria, Virginia] 13 Nov 1848

Editorial remarks on Forrest and Macready. The Bee [Boston, Massachusetts] 16 Nov 1848

“Theatrical Rivalry.” Public Ledger [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] 20 Nov 1848

“Local Affairs.” Public Ledger [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] 21 Nov 1848

Forrest’s card. 21 Nov 1848.

Macready’s response. 22 Nov 1848

“Local Affairs.” Public Ledger [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] 22 Nov 1848

“Actors’ Quarrels.” Public Ledger [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] 23 Nov 1848

“Local Affairs: Mr. Macready’s Second Appearance.” Public Ledger [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] 23 Nov 1848

Correspondence from Philadelphia, Nov. 24, 1848. The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 25 Nov 1848

“Theatrical Emute at Philadelphia.” Evening Post [New York, New York] 25 Nov 1848

“Local Affairs.” Public Ledger [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] 25 Nov 1848

Forrest and Macready. Daily Evening Transcript [Boston, Massachusetts] 27 Nov 1848

“Local Affairs: King Lear.” Public Ledger [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] 27 Nov 1848

Note about “Mr Macready and Mr Forrest.” Daily Evening Transcript [Boston, Massachusetts] 27 Nov 1848

“Mr Macready and Mr Forrest.” Daily Evening Transcript [Boston, Massachusetts] 27 Nov 1848

“Mr. Macready &c.” The Bee [Boston, Massachusetts] 28 Nov 1848

Satiric allusion. The Bee [Boston, Massachusetts] 28 Nov 1848

“War among the Actors—Acting off the Stage!” State Gazette [Trenton, New Jersey] 28 Nov 1848

“The High Tragedy Fight.” National Police Gazette [New York, New York] 2 Dec 1848

“Mr Forrest.” Daily Evening Transcript [Boston, Massachusetts] 4 Dec 1848

“English Arrogance.” Daily Evening Transcript [Boston, Massachusetts] 4 Dec 1848

“Macready’s First Appearance.” The Sun [Baltimore, Maryland] 12 Dec 1848

“Mr. Forrest, as Macbeth.” The Sun [Baltimore, Maryland] 12 Dec 1848

“Mr. Forrest’s Second Appearance.” The Sun [Baltimore, Maryland] 13 Dec 1848

“Mr. Macready’s Second Appearance.” The Sun [Baltimore, Maryland] 13 Dec 1848

“Mr. Macready’s last appearance and Farewell Benefit.” The Sun [Baltimore, Maryland] 16 Dec 1848

“Mr. Forrest as Hamlet.” The Sun [Baltimore, Maryland] 16 Dec 1848

“Macready and Forrest.” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 20 Jan 1849

“Letter from Edwin Forrest.” Evening Post [New York, New York] 23 March 1849

“Forrest and Macready.” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 24 March 1849

“Forrest and Macready Again.” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 24 March 1849

“Mr. Macready’s Speech at New Orleans.” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 7 April 1849

“Forrest and Macready.” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 7 April 1849

“Forrest and Macready—Another Letter from Mr. Forrest.” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 14 April 1849

“Another Letter from Edwin Forrest.” Evening Post [New York, New York] 24 April 1849

“Edwin Forrest.” The Sun [Baltimore, Maryland] 24 April 1849

“Mr. Macready.” Richmond Whig [Richmond, Virginia] 24 April 1849

“Mr. Forrest.” Public Ledger [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] 25 April 1849

“Forrest vs. Macready.” The Flag of Our Union [Boston, Massachusetts] 28 April 1849

Advertisements. New York Evening Post [New York, New York] 3 May 1849

“Forrest and Macready.” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 5 May 1849

“Theatrical and Musical.” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 5 May 1849

“Macready and Forrest.” Commercial Advertiser [New York, New York] 8 May 1849

“The Emute Last Monday Evening—Mr. Macready Driven from the Stage.” From “Dreadful Riot and Bloodshed at the Astor Place Theatre!” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 12 May 1849

“Disgraceful Row at the Opera House.” The Boston Daily Atlas [Boston, Massachusetts] 9 May 1849

Advertisements. Evening Post [New York, New York] 8 May 1849

Response from Theodore Sedgwick. Evening Post [New York, New York] 9 May 1849

“Mr. Macready’s Reply.” From the New York Courier & Enquirer. Richmond Whig [Richmond, Virginia] 15 May 1849

Advertisements. Evening Post [New York, New York] 9 May 1849

“Macready and For[r]est.” Albany Evening Journal [Albany, New York] 10 May 1849

Mr. Macready consents to proceed. Evening Post [New York, New York] 10 May 1849

Advertisements. Evening Post [New York, New York] 10 May 1849

“Riot and Loss of Life.” Commercial Advertiser [New York, New York] 11 May 1849

“Terrible Riot.” Albany Evening Journal [Albany, New York] 11 May 1849

“Alarming Riot at the Astor Place Theatre.” Evening Post [New York, New York] 11 May 1849

“The Awful Events of Thursday.” From “Dreadful Riot and Bloodshed at the Astor Place Theatre!” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 12 May 1849

“Further Particulars of the Riot.” Albany Evening Journal [Albany, New York] 12 May 1849

Advertisements. Evening Post [New York, New York] 11 May 1849

“The Night After a Riot.” Spectator [New York, New York] 14 May 1849

“Meeting in the Park.” From “Dreadful Riot and Bloodshed at the Astor Place Theatre!” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 12 May 1849

“The Tragedy at Astor Place.” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York], Second Edition. 12 May 1849

“Forrest and Macready.” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York], Second Edition. 12 May 1849

“Inquest on the Bodies of Those Killed in the Late Riot.” Commercial Advertiser [New York, New York] 14 May 1849

“The Inquest—Continued.” Commercial Advertiser [New York, New York] 14 May 1849

“The Coroner’s Inquest.” Commercial Advertiser [New York, New York] 14 May 1849

“The Inquest—Concluded.” Commercial Advertiser [New York, New York] 15 May 1849

“Mr. Macready.” Commercial Advertiser [New York, New York] 16 May 1849

“The Late Tragedy—Opinions of the Press—Verdict of the Coroner’s Jury—Socialism in New York.” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 19 May 1849

M. Y. Reaction in Paris. Commercial Advertiser [New York, New York] 16 June 1849

“The Astor Place Riot.” The Flag of Our Union [Boston, Massachusetts] 9 June 1849

“Social Exclusiveness.” From the Kalida Venture [Kalida, Ohio]. Daily Ohio Statesman [Columbus, Ohio] 13 June 1849

Reactions in London. From the Lowell Courier [Lowell, Massachusetts]. Daily Evening Transcript [Boston, Massachusetts] 21 June 1849

“The English Press.” From The Sun [New York, New York]. Daily Evening Transcript [Boston, Massachusets] 23 June 1849

“Mr. Forrest.” National Advocate [New York, New York] 23 Nov 1826; p. 2.

We saw this gentleman in Damon on last Tuesday evening. It was certainly a very splendid piece of acting and may enter into successful competition with Cooper, Conway or Macready. There is not the slightest doubt in our minds but Mr. Forrest may reach the highest ranks of the drama if he be prudent and studious. His style has more natural spirit in it than any of the three actors which we have mentioned. It approaches in a slight degree to Kean’s passion and earnestness.

“The Theatres.” The Evening Star[New York, New York] 7 Jan 1837; p. 1.

From our Special Correspondent.

Forrest’s success continues, as at first, very extraordinary. Macready is said to have been as constant an attendant at Drury Lane, of late, as his own engagement at Covent Garden would permit. On one occasion, it is said, that when some one asked him “Will the American do?” Macready’s reply was, “Sir, he is the only man we have had since the days of John Kemble.” If Macready said this, it is something, for a rival’s praise is the best tribute merit can receive.

Forrest has been attacked, pretty indefatigably, by two papers, the London Examiner and Despatch. It is in corroboration of what, months since, I took leave [to] anticipate. I then told you that Forrest would have fair play from a British audience, but that the Macready and Charley Kean’s newspaper friends would attack him. As regards Kean it seems that he is now not mentioned in the London papers. At Liverpool, during his last engagement, he was played down by the superior acting of Stuart, the chief tragedian of the stock company. He ‘stars’ in country theatres, where his great power of imitating the style and exaggerating the faults of his father’s acting gives delight to the unwashed of the gallery, who like noise and stamping, bustle and splutter, handsome dresses and so forth. A few weeks since, Charley Kean’s friends, vexed at the applause Forrest was receiving, inserted a paragraph in various country papers, to the effect that he had received offers of engagement from both the great metropolitan theatres. Now considering that Osbaldistone had engaged Macready, Vandenhoff, Charles Kemble, H. Wallack, and G. Bennett, it was not likely that there was any room for Charles Kean at Covent Garden. And considering that Mr. Burn has Forrest (a host in himself,) and Cooper and Warde and that he meant, all along, to make the season more of opera and ballet than tragedy, it is not very likely that Kean, junior, was invited to act at Drury Lane. If ever he does go to London, it cannot be on a permanent engagement: because he can only play six characters respectably, (his Hamlet is really admirable), and a London audience want more than this limited range. If Forrest were announced as playing Othello, Lear, Spartacus and Damon—and no more—the public would think little of him. It is for what he has not played, as much (almost) as for what he plays, that they wonder at and admire him. They have seen his triumphs in these characters, and they are forming a thousand anticipations as to what will be his Richard, his Shylock, his Hamlet, and so on. Master Betty had his day, and so will Master Kean. …

But to come back to Forrest and the press. The critic in the Examiner is a very clever man named Forster. He is the table friend of Macready: hence, it is inferred, comes his abuse of Forrest. The critic in the Despatch is a Mr. Cummings, a Scotchman, commonly (from his anti-saponaceous habits) called Dirty Cummings. He is the friend of Vandenhoff, and it does look suspicious, that while this “dorty bairn” abuses Forrest and abuses Macready, he contrives to exalt Vandenhoff as the very prince of players!

Forrest is worked pretty well. What his terms are no one pretends to know, but the receipts are immense. Last week, it is said that 3200l. ($16,000) were taken at Drury Lane Theatre. This is just half what the lessee pays for the rent of the house for an entire year. I suppose that Forrest may have 500l. a week. His benefit will be immense. He did not play on Monday night, and will not this evening (Monday.) On Tuesday evening he appeared in Othello, and, last night, would act in King Lear. On tomorrow, he is up for Damon, a part which is quite beneath him, though he makes more of it than actor ever made before. His reason for not playing on Monday or this evening, is the re-appearance of Junius Brutus Booth. But Booth deserves a fresh paragraph, and must have it. …

Joe Sykes. “Correspondence Commercial Advertiser.” Spectator [New York, New York] 4 Oct 1843; p. 2.

[Transcriber’s note: This chatty epistle wanders from a plug for Joseph Gillott’s steel pens through an appreciation of New York City in autumn to a plug for the Astor House hotel.]

I went with the crowd last night, hot within and stormy without as it was, to see the first appearance, after a long absence, of Mr. Macready in Macbeth. No man could desire a better house, for the Park was crammed from pit to dome. I saw around me many of the wisest and best men in the city, who, seventeen years ago, had heard him, and who informed me that they had come to be reminded of olden times. At length, the witches having given out their “fearful portents,” Macbeth entered, saying—

“So foul and fair a day I have not seen.”

It was then raining in torrents without, and the real thunder and lightning exceeded the artificial. But the audience was quiet and gave him any thing but a warm reception. A few Scotch and English gentlemen present were enthusiastic, and one man in the pit arose and swung his hat. Another sung out “three more,” as though three cheers had been given, but oh! how faint the response.

Perhaps no man understands the tricks of the stage better than Macready, and his conceptions of the meaning of the great poet of nature are as good as those of any gentleman who has devoted to him years of study, but in my humble opinion he is far, very far, from being the best reader or actor of the present day. Although I sat near the stage and had a favorable opportunity, he did

“so mouth it, as some of our players do,”

that I lost much of what I would have heard. He made some capital points, but many of the most beautiful in the play were hurried over and jumbled together and entirely sacrificed. The dagger scene was pretty well done, and his exit to do the deed was inimitable. So was his re-entrance with the bloody dagger, saying—“I have done the deed,” which he uttered in a whisper that reached every part of the house. But the banquet scene was not well done. He murdered that where the eight kings appear, and so he did the scene with the Doctor, where he inquired

“Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased.”

Upon the whole, I must say I was disappointed. I shall go again, and if he does not make a more favorable impression, I shall say, for my amusement take back Macready and send us the elder Vandenhoff, or give me Forrest. A few good houses will be drawn, and I predict it will all be over.

“The Alleghanian Actors in England.” The New York Herald [New York, New York] 12 April 1845; p. 1.

[Transcriber’s note: Theatrical news which includes information on the economic adventures of theaters and actors, especially James Henry Hackett, a popular New York actor then in London.]

London, March 5th, 1845.

I mean now to give you a dish of theatricals. …

But “the greatest is behind.” Forrest, your particular friend, shut out at Paris, engaged and appeared at the same theatre in “Othello,” the week after Miss Cushman’s debut, was cordially greeted, little applauded, called out at the end, but severely handled by all the press, save the Times, because the late Mr Bacon, (Stephen Price’s friend,) of the Times, was a few years ago his staunch supporter. Bacon’s successor, as an editor in that paper, a Mr De Laine, who married Bacon’s widow, (Horace Twiss’s daughter by the way,) and Forrest and his wife, have met at dinner, and Oxenford has been, of course, instructed to put the best possible face upon all Forrest’s attempts; yet Oxenford’s duty to his journal and his own reputation, has compelled him to state certain facts, though abstaining from comments. Suffice it to state, that the repetition of “Othello,” was said to be “very thinly attended.” On his third night he played “Macbeth.” Henry Inman, who returns per Great Western on the 29th, accompanied Hackett to the theatre on his first visit to that place. Forrest was greeted with considerable applause at his entrée; he looked more fat, fuzzy and clumsy, than I ever saw him before; his plaid tunic being too short behind, had a ludicrous effect, rather! entre nous, he attempted to be expressively intellectual in his style by abstaining from becoming gesticulation and a recourse to the powers of his lungs, and by a substitution of a smothered sublime sobulating utterance, which rendered him quite inaudible and inarticulate even to the audience immediately about him. In the dagger scene, his style became intolerable to the gallery, and one cried out, “speak up!” at which he suddenly flirted his body, as when shot in “Metamora,” and striking an attitude of defiance, looked unutterable things at them for some seconds. Another who had got tired of his continual superfluous and unmeaning pauses, ejaculated, “Oh, come! go on!” A titter followed, and from that time either a dead silence reigned in his scenes or loud laughter and hissing doubly redoubled; particularly when he “came the Bowery grimaces, and piled up the agony,” as in the discovery of the air-drawn dagger, and that intrusive ghost of Banquo. To speak the truth, I was ashamed of Forrest’s palpable demerits, yet I began to be patriotically savage at hearing him “talk’d” and laughed at, and hissed. I hoped he would bring up in his gladiatorial combat; but alas! poor Forrest! “the last end of that man was worse than the first,” for he was treated as the public formerly received John Reeve, in a burlesque; and, indeed, when Forrest came to guard with Macduff, he rattled his blade against the other, in such a manner as to cause a general laugh, and when he whirled about and said, in a hurried and comical Indian tone, “I’ll not fight with thee,” there was, irresistibly, one universal shout of laughter. He fell without applause and the curtain descended amidst a shower of hisses, and received a practical insult, in the fact that not one voice was raised for him, whilst there was a general call for a Mr Graham, who played “Macduff,” a second rate part by a third rate actor of a minor theatre, who was received with great applause as he came forward. Then another cry was raised for Miss Cushman, who had been much applauded throughout, as “Lady Macbeth.” She was received with the waving of handkerchiefs and other demonstrations of approbation. I did not go to that theatre afterwards; but according to report, every thing had been done to sustain Forrest in his repetitions of “Macbeth,” until “Metamora” could be got ready, which was then in some dramatists hands for re-writing. The houses had been wretched since the repetitions of “Macbeth,” though some people, “in kindness of heart, and by pity moved, swore him assistance, and performed it too,” by applauding him and getting him out on the second night; but it is all up with him as an actor.

Macready was at New Castle, and had behaved in a friendly manner towards Hackett. Mr. and Mrs. Kean were at Plymouth, and invited Hackett to spend Passion week with them, at their seat in Hampshire; he had to be in Scotland at that period, therefore was obliged to refuse; but promised to visit them during the summer.

“Professional Jealousy.” The Times [London, England] 12 March 1846; p. 8.

The Scotsman of the 4th inst., after noticing the appearance of Mr. Macready at the Edinburgh Theatre, in the character of Hamlet, and announcing the enthusiastic applause with which he was honoured, adds—“We feel compelled, however, to notice one flagrant exception to the general, or, indeed, unanimous approbation. A gentleman, occupying a prominent position in the house, made himself unenviably conspicuous by loud and repeated solitary hissing, with the view of expressing his disapproval of the manner in which Mr. Macready gave effect to a particular passage. We should not have thought it worth while to mention such a circumstance, had it not been reported, though we scarcely think it credible, that the offender was a brother actor, and one, too, who probably considers himself a rival. We must distinctly state, however, that the stigma does not apply to any member of our regular theatrical company.” We believe that Mr. Forrest, an American actor, is the party supposed.

Edwin Forrest. “To the Editor of The Times.” The Times [London, England] 4 April 1846; p. 7.

Sir,—Having seen in your journal of the 12th inst. an article headed “Professional Jealousy,” a part of which originally appeared in the Scotsman, published in Edinburgh, I beg leave, through the medium of your columns, to state that at the time of its publication I addressed a letter to the editor of the Scotsman upon the subject, which, as I then was in Dumfries, I sent to a friend in Edinburgh, requesting him to obtain its insertion; but, as I was informed, the Scotsman refused to receive any communication upon the subject. I need say nothing of the injustice of this refusal. Here then I was disposed to let the matter rest, as upon more mature reflection I did not deem it worth further attention, but now, as the matter has assumed a “questionable shape,” by the appearance of the article in your journal, I feel called upon, though reluctantly, to answer it.

There are two legitimate modes of evincing approbation and disapprobation in the theatre—one expressive of approval by the clapping of hands, and the other by hisses to mark dissent; and, as well timed and hearty applause is the just meed of the actor who deserves well, so also is hissing a salutary and wholesome corrective of the abuses of the stage; and it was against one of these abuses that my dissent was expressed, and not, as was stated, “with a view of expressing his (my) disapproval of the manner in which Mr. Macready gave effect to a particular passage.” The truth is, Mr. Macready thought fit to introduce a fancy dance into his performance of Hamlet, which I thought, and still think, a desecration of the scene, and at which I evinced that disapprobation for which the pseudo-critic is pleased to term me an “offender;” and this was the only time during the performance that I did so, although the writer evidently seeks, in the article alluded to, to convey a different impression. It must be observed also, that I was by no means “solitary” in this expression of opinion.

That a man may manifest his pleasure or displeasure after the recognized mode, according to the best of his judgment, actuated by proper motives, and for justifiable ends, is a right which, until now, I have never once heard questioned, and I contend that that right extends equally to an actor, in his capacity as a spectator, as to any other man. Besides, from the nature of his studies, he is much more competent to judge of a theatrical performance than any soi-disant critic, who has never himself been an actor.

The writer of the article in the Scotsman, who has most unwarrantably singled me out for public animadversion, has carefully omitted to notice the fact that I warmly applauded several points of Mr. Macready’s performance, and more than once I regretted that the audience did not second me in so doing.

As to the pitiful charge of “professional jealousy” preferred against me, I dismiss it with the contempt it merits, confidently relying upon all those of the profession with whom I have been associated for a refutation of the slander.

Yours, respectfully,

March, 1846.

F. L. “To the Editor of The Times.” The Times [London, England] 6 April 1846; p. 3.

Sir,—I am unwilling to intrude upon your time and columns, at this busy season, by meddling with such a very uninviting subject as the quarrels of actors. But the letter which appears in your paper of to-day, signed “Edwin Forrest,” really provokes a remark or two. I am not about to criticize the style or animus of this notable production, but I should like to direct attention to a few points not a little curious as specimens of professional modesty and good feeling. Mr. Forrest, an American actor, whose first appearance on the London stage was heralded with much pomp, and whose pretensions were treated with much courtesy and liberality both by critics and audiences, renders himself conspicuous in the Edinburgh Theatre by hissing Mr. Macready during the performance of the character of Hamlet. Mr. Forrest, it seems, can discover no impropriety in this, and possibly it may be a Yankee fashion, although I am inclined to believe that if Mr. Macready had displayed a like spirit in America, Mr. Forrest’s countrymen would have pelted our tragedian, sans ceremonie, from their stage.

Mr. Forrest also informs us that he must, by virtue of his profession, be “a better judge of theatrical performances than any soi-disant critic who has never himself been an actor.” A very convenient doctrine, no doubt, although somewhat peculiar, and not readily admissible in this country. Brother Jonathan, indeed, may be inclined to favour it, inasmuch as his habits, in these matters, if we are to credit modern travellers, are somewhat different from ours; a favourable criticism, with him, depending on the fee of the criticised, who may possibly, therefore, be entitled and accustomed to panegyrize himself.

The most startling passage, however, in Mr. Forrest’s note is that wherein he acquaints us with the motive for his sibillations. Mr. Macready, he asserts, introduced “a fancy dance” (!) into his performance of Hamlet,—a wonderful introduction truly, and one which has certainly escaped the notice of “soi-distant critics” and ordinary observers as well, for although I have seen Mr. Macready in the character alluded to several times, I cannot remember the “fancy dance,” and I am curious to know where it occurs and how it is accomplished. Will Mr. Forrest inform me if it comes off between the acts or in the ghost scene? before the Danish Court or at Ophelia’s grave? Is it a hornpipe in fetters, a pastoral solo, or a “pas de carving knife” with Laertes? The fact is, that the charge is too ridiculous to be credited, and can only be explained by the supposition that Mr. Macready’s idea of graceful motion is somewhat different from Mr. Forrest’s—a difference, in my humble opinion, greatly to the former’s advantage.

In short, the whole epistle is an unpleasant effusion of professional jealousy, quite unworthy of Mr. Forrest, and calculated to lower his character much in the estimation of the English public.

I have only to add that I am not a critic, either soi-distant or otherwise, and that I am quite unacquainted with any actor or actress off the stage, being merely “one of the public” occasionally in the habit of “going to the play.”

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
F. L.

“The Theatres & Public Amusements: Princess’s.” The Times [London, England] 14 April 1846; p. 5.

Mr. Macready reappeared last night at the Princess’s Theatre, after a six or eight weeks’ tour in the provinces. He took Hamlet as the first of his present series of representations, and performed it in most masterly and accomplished style from first to last. We saw nothing which the severest criticism could denounce as the “fancy dance,” which Mr. Forrest assures us so affronted him in the Edinburgh version; nor was there a dissentient, and scarcely a silent voice when Mr. Macready was called before the curtain at the end of the tragedy. …

James H. Hackett. Letter about Macready and Forrest. Evening Post [New York, New York] 1 May 1846; p. 2.

The following note appears in the Courier of this morning:

Will you afford me the medium of replying to various enquirers, who are “desirous to learn whether either of my old editions of Shakspeare’s Hamlet contain any authority for Mr. Macready’s having introduced a “fancy dance” before the play scene in that tragety?”

Imprimis, I presume curiosity upon that subject to have grown out of the republication here of the following paragraph from a British journal:

Mr. Macready and Mr. Forrest.—Mr. Edwin Forrest, the American tragedian, has written to the London Times, justifying his conduct in hissing Mr. Macready during his performance of Hamlet at the Edinburgh theatre. He states that he frequently applauded parts of which he approved, and had an equal right to hiss at passages which he thought erroneous. “The truth is,” says Mr. Forrest, “Mr. Macready thought fit to introduce a fancy dance into his performance of Hamlet, which I thought and still think, a desecration of the scene.”

I will venture to explain what I suppose Forrest meant by a “fancy dance.”

Hamlet after his instructions to the players and his confidential remarks to his friend Horatio, just before the play-scene commences, observes to him,—

“They are coming to play; I must be idle:

Get you a place.”

consequently, I have always understood Hamlet to mean by the word “idle,” in this situation, that he must seem to have no fixed motive or industrious object, during the performance of the play about to be represented; policy dictating the expediency of his rather appearing listless and unoccupied, in order that his guilty uncle, the King, might disregard his presence, attend closely to the play, and become entrapped into some exhibitions of compunction and remorse.

Mr. Macready, however, when I saw him act Hamlet at the Park in 1843, appeared to construe the word “idle” very differently for the reason that he immediately assumed the manner of silly youth, tossed his head right and left, and skipped back and forth across the stage five or six times before the footlights, at the same time switching his handkerchief, held by a corner, over his right and left shoulder alternately;—indeed, making gyrations not unlike those fire-ribbons which I have seen idle and thoughtless urchins cut in the air with a stick burnt to a live coal at one end, until the whole Court have had sufficient time to parade and be seated, and until Hamlet finds himself addressed by the King who enquires after his health.

I therefore submit whether this manner, of Mr. Macready’s rendering the scene upon the stage, is not what was only comparatively referred to as “a fancy dance” by Mr. Forrest, being elsewhere also alluded to as a “pas de mouchoir.” At all events, I beg to state that, in no edition of Shakspeare, which I own or have ever seen, is there any pretext for the introduction of a dance before the play-scene, or upon the stage erected for the performance before the king and Court of Denmark.

The public’s obedient servant,

Astor House, April 29, 1846.

“Extract of a letter dated Dublin, 18th April, 1846.” Evening Post [New York, New York] 7 May 1846; p. 2.

Extract of a letter dated Dublin, 18th April, 1846:

“Forrest’s engagement here has been thus far the best of the season. He was preceded by Miss Cushman, whose engagement was not successful, and by Mr. Macready, who was attractive in characters not Shaksperian. On Saturday, Forrest plays (by request, which is equal to a royal command) before the Viceroy, Lord Hytesbury, and the Court. It is the first command he has given for the theatre since he has been in office.”

In the Dublin Times of April 18th, the following notice of Mr. Forrest’s performances appeared:

Theatre Royal.—Mr. Forrest, the American actor, has appeared in several Shaksperian characters during the week, Richard III., Antony, Othello and Macbeth, and, on every occasion ahs added to the high reputation he formerly acquired among us. Mr. Forrest possesses intellectual and physical attributes, which fully justify him in assuming the foremost position on the stage.

“His conception of the author’s meaning is, to our mind, almost always perfectly correct, and with his splendid voice, which, like an organ, can be raised with ease to the loftiest pitch, and again modulated to the softest tones, he gives forth the glorious language that is scattered with measureless profusion through the pages of Shakspeare, alike free from a display of the stiff and disagreeable mannerism of Macready, or the affected, half-convulsive croaking of Charles Kean.

“The manner in which he exhibited to us the love, triumph, jealousy, agony and despair of the Moor of Venice, was one of the most finished and successful pieces of acting we have ever beheld. A most unworthy attempt has been made by some of our cotemporaries, on both sides of the Channel, to prejudice the public against Forrest, because, while in the Edinburgh Theatre, as a spectator, he had the audacity to convey his disapprobation of Macready’s performance of Hamlet rather [i]n unequivocal style—viz. by very audible sicilations. We are told that it was bad taste for one actor to hiss another, &c. &c.

“Now this is just as absurd as if we should be told that one author should not condemn the writings of another that he considered false and pernicious. Besides, if Forrest, who has done so much to revive and sustain the taste for the Shaksperian drama, had not a perfect right to condemn any improprieties in Macready’s conception of Hamlet, we can’t imagine who would have any claim to do so. Then, again, it is asserted that Forrest, being an American, he should have bridled his feelings. Now we are sufficiently cosmopolitan to rebuke such a narrow and provincial sneer as this.[”]

Notice. Philadelphia Inquirer [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] 21 Feb 1848; p. 2.

Mr. Macready has accepted an engagement in the United States, and will leave England at the expiration of the term which he has undertaken to perform at the Princess’s Theatre, London.

“Theatricals.” Public Ledger [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] 30 Aug 1848; p. 2.

Forrest commenced an engagement at the Broadway theatre on Monday evening, to a crowded house. . . . Mr. Macready, at last dates, had just been playing a farewell engagement, previous to setting out for America. He is expected here in three or four weeks. …

“Tragedians at War.” Daily Evening Transcript 22 Sept 1848; p. 2.

The “b’hoys” of the Empire Club, New York, threaten to hiss Macready off the stage because he did not invite Forrest when last in England to his house. We should think that Forrest was abundantly able to fight his own battles. He had the independence to hiss Macready at the Edinburgh theatre, because the latter did not play Hamlet to suit him, having introduced what Forrest called a pas de mouchoir in the scene where the king is “frightened with false fire,” and Hamlet discovers that the ghost’s word was true. In this scene Macready whirls round, waving his handkerchief at the same time, as if elated at the success of his scheme for entrapping the king into a betrayal of his guilt. Forrest thought his action beneath the dignity of the play.

“Macready.” The Bee [Boston, Massachusetts] 22 Sept 1848; p. 2.

This gentleman appears to be in bad odor. The “Empire boys” of New York threaten to hiss him, to prevent his playing in that city, if possible, because he did not invite the great Mr. Forrest to his house when the latter gentleman was in England, a year or more ago. We do not [know] that Mr. Macready is censurable, in the least for this. We take it that each man’s house is his own, and he can invite or refuse to invite to visit him whom he pleases. If Mr. Macready did not see fit to hold social intercourse with Mr. Forrest, the matter is altogether of a personal character. But the papers are now calling him an old hack, and advising him to quit the stage. Mannerist, and bad mannerist though he is, he is not quite a hack. We must confess, however, that it is very painful to us to witness his personation at times; we desire to see less art and more nature than Mr. Macready throws into his style. He has his admirers and will be well received here, if not in New York.

“Legitimate Drama—American Actors.” The New York Herald [New York, New York] 22 Sept 1848; p. 2.

Since the commencement of the theatrical season, some three weeks ago, the legitimate drama seems to have recovered from the starving condition to which it was reduced at the close of the last season. The popularity of Mr. Forrest has filled the Broadway Theatre, night after night, for three weeks. His acting seems to have just touched the right chord of public taste, and the consequence is apparently in overflowing houses and enthusiastic audiences.

Mr. Forrest is the first American actor who has succeeded in building up a home and foreign reputation, of any magnitude. Obliged to struggle against the disadvantages of birth and education, he deserves great credit for the perseverance and energy by which he has attained his present eminent position. In his individual character, we believe, he is very praiseworthy.

It would be curious to examine into the causes of his professional success. His style is of the Black Hawk school. He revels mightily in a passion; and in a mock hand-to-hand combat, what actor bears himself so doughtily? He is fond of strong light and shade—of combining the widest contrasts—of startling an audience into wrapt attention—or, perhaps it would be fairer to say, he does startle them, whether he intends it or not. His style is not unlike his design of the castle on the Hudson. He agglomerates into one plan the most heterogeneous fancies. He wholly disregards those niceties of art which others regard as essentials; and with a vigorous strength of acting, which makes him masterly in some characters, he unites an uncouthness of manner, which would shock Charles Kean or Macready. The greater number of popular Shaksperian characters are not within the scope of his peculiar genius. His good sense teaches him seldom to attempt Hamlet. King Lear he has adopted as one of his favorite parts, but we think injudiciously. In some portions of the part he is very powerful; to others he is unequal. His delineation of the character is uneven. Sometimes, for instance, he simulates the weak, quavering voice of the old man to perfection; at others, he gives full play to those natural deep cavernous tones, which he uses with such effect in Spartacus and Jack Cade. His conception of Richelieu is rather faulty. He throws into the part a brusquerie which does not belong to it. The Cardinal whom he puts on the stage is very different from the aristocratic old courtier—proud as a De Courcy, and wily as a Metternich—who was the terror of the French nobles, and the matchless adversary of every court in Europe. This, however, is scarcely surprising, as there are few characters so little understood as that of Richelieu. Mr. Forrest’s Othello and Macbeth, both of which he is fond of personating, are marred with many blemishes. In no parts have we seen him to such advantage as in Spartacus, Damon, and Jack Cade. In these, and such characters, he is truly great. As for Metamora, it is a melo-dramatic absurdity, unworthy of him, and which he should, at once and forever, eschew.

It will be seen, by what we have said above, that although there is an astonishing revival of what may be called the legitima[t]e drama, yet, for the higher and more refined range of it, there is no demand. The only dramatic furor of late has been caused by Mr. Forrest’s appearance at the Broadway Theatre. Mr. Forrest is soon, however, to have a rival in the field. Mr. Macready, who ranks as one of the most refined and artistic delineators of Shaksperian character, is engaged at the Park, and will soon appear, we understand, on its boards, in his usual range of parts. What this will give rise to, we are, at present unprepared to say. There will be a highly interesting competition between Macready and Forrest—between the Broadway and the Park. We rather think both will be well sustained. Those who like strong excitement and great natural power, will resort to the Broadway; those who prefer more artistic and finished performances, will patronize the Park.

For this last year there has been extraordinary confusion in the theatrical world. Model artists and menageries upset the drama, ancient and modern, and turned the heads of the community. Now, however, there seems to be a better prospect. At several theatres, music and the ballet have taken the place of horses and nude figures; and everything conduces to the belief that a more refined taste is beginning to prevail. We trust there will be no backsliding.

“News of the Day.” Alexandria Gazette [Alexandria, Virginia] 13 Nov 1848; p. 2.

Forrest and Macready are both about to appear simultaneously at different theatres in Philadelphia, and it is understood they will subsequently appear in the same way in Baltimore. Their rivalry will doubtless beget considerable excitement in theatrical circles. …

Editorial remarks on Forrest and Macready. The Bee [Boston, Massachusetts] 16 Nov 1848; p. 2.

It is said that Macready and Forrest will appear simultaneously at different Theatres in New York and Philadelphia. This should not be, as it does not exhibit a generous rivalry, an ambition for real fame, but it looks rather like an appeal unto American feelings against foreign talent. If the abilities of the two men be measured by the audiences (in numbers) which they will draw, Forrest will doubtless bear off the palm. But this is no real test, as is well known to every theatre goer. If this test is brought to bear at all, the quality of the houses (that is the kind and class of people who attend) must be compared. Upon this ground Mr. Macready would have an infinite advantage over his competitor. For mannerist though he be, in our opinion, he is infinitely superior as an actor to Mr. Forrest.

“Theatrical Rivalry.” Public Ledger [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] 20 Nov 1848; p. 3.

This evening commences a week of theatrical rivalry between two of the greatest actors of the day, Macready and Forrest—the first at the head of his profession in England, the second at the top of it in the United States—each perfect in his style, yet so various as to leave ample room for difference of judgment which is the best. Macready has to contend with age, and the present engagement will probably be his last in America. Forrest is in the prime of a vigorous and robust manhood, with judgment and experience to aid it. Circumstances in the profession have given the public the idea of rivalry between these two great actors, and their engagement, and the parts they respectively perform the same evening, go to confirm the public impression. They each appear this evening in the character of Macbeth, Macready at the Arch and Forrest at the Walnut. Unfortunately for a comparison of their merits, the public are not like newspaper folks, gifted with ubiquity, and those who go to see the one must forego the pleasure of seeing the other, consequently the public will be as much divided in opinion as ever. But the point of most importance to the managers is not which is best, but which will draw the best, a question in which the actors themselves sympathise very strongly with the manager, and are doubtless willing to rest the public estimation of their merits upon the receipts of the treasury.

“Local Affairs.” Public Ledger [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] 21 Nov 1848; p. 2.

Mr. Forrest, at the Walnut, had an immense audience, very part of the theatre, even to the outside of the box down, being crowded. He went through his part with unusual spirit and effect, and was warmly applauded. He appears this evening in Metamora.

Mr. Macready appeared last night at the Arch, and the announcement drew a very crowded audience. The house inside was packed and outside there was a gathering large enough for a town meeting. Curiosity had drawn these “outsiders” in expectation of a row, and we are sorry to say that the conduct of a portion of the audience inside justified their expectations, for they did all they could by hissing and noises to destroy all the effect of the play. In this, however, they were only partially successful, a very large portion of the audience were respectable people, and their plaudits silenced every attempt at interruption, though these were so frequent as to mar the beauty of the performance. During the play cheers were several times made for Forrest, and drowned by louder ones for Macready. Pennies were thrown upon the stage amid calls and cries of the most disgraceful character, and in the last act, while Mr. M. was on the stage, an egg was thrown, and falling near his feet broke. Still he heeded not the insult, but proceeded on through the piece. At the fall of the curtain there was the usual call and Mr. Macready came before the curtain amid an almost universal waving of hats, and the most tumultuous applause ever heard in a theatre. It was several minutes before he attempted to speak, so loud and general was the noise of friends and foes. He at length said he had understood, at New York and Boston that he was to be met by an organized opposition, but he had an abiding confidence in the justice of the American people. [Here the noise and confusion completely drowned his voice, and three cheers were attempted for Forrest and three hearty ones were given for Macready.] He resumed by saying it was the custom in his country never to condemn a man unheard. [Cheers and calls in which Forrest’s name was heard.]

Mr. M. said that it had been said that he entertained hostile feelings towards an actor in this country, and that he had evinced a feeling of opposition towards him—all which statements, severally and in the aggregate, he declared wholly and entirely unfounded. The actor alluded to had done that towards him what he was sure no English actor would do, and what he believed no other American actor would do—he had openly hissed him. [Great noise and confusion, hisses and hurras.] That up to the time of that act he had never entertained towards that actor a feeling of unkindness nor had he ever shown any since. [Collision in boxes and great uproar all over the house.] When opposition in his country had been organized against a French company, he actively interested himself to allay it. [Here he said something of the disreputable character of those who participate in such outrages, which amid the tumult was lost to our ear.] He said he fully appreciated the character and feelings of the audience, and as to his engagement, if it was their will he was willing to give it up at once, [no! no!—cheers and hisses] but that he should retain in his memory the liveliest recollection of the warm and general sentiments of regard shown him and should speak of the American people, whom he had known and studied for the last twenty years, with the same kind feelings that he ever had done.

Throughout the closing scene, as indeed he did throughout the entire play, Mr. Macready bore up under the many vexatious annoyances of a small part of the audience with great apparent good humor, but once, so far as we saw, showing any warmth of feeling, and then but for a moment.

The movement of the whole evening was the most disgraceful that we ever saw in a theatre, and it was gratifying to hear the object of an assault so brutal and uncalled for, attribute it to the proper source—to a few ill-bred, riotous persons, to be found in every community—in every nation.

[Forrest had a “card” printed in Philadelphia papers, including the Public Ledger of 21 Nov 1848. As it doesn’t appear in available databases, the version included here is taken from Account of the Terrific and Fatal Riot at the New-York Astor Place Opera House.]

Mr. Macready, in his speech, last night, to the audience assembled at the Arch Street Theatre, made allusion, I understand, to “an American actor” who had the temerity, on one occasion, “openly to hiss him.” This is true, and by the way, the only truth which I have been enabled to gather from the whole scope of his address. But why say “an American actor?” Why not openly charge me with the act? for I did it, and publicly avowed it in the Times newspaper of London, and at the same time asserted my right to do so.

On the occasion alluded to, Mr. Macready introduced a fancy dance into his performance of Hamlet, which I designated as a pas de mouchoir, and which I hissed, for I thought it a desecration of the scene, and the audience thought so too, for in a few nights afterwards, when Mr. Macready repeated the part of Hamlet with the same “tom-foolery,” the intelligent audience of Edinburgh greeted it with a universal hiss.

Mr. Macready is stated to have said last night, that up to the time of this act on my part, he had “never entertained towards me a feeling of unkindness.” I unhesitatingly pronounce this to be a wilful and unblushing falsehood. I most solemnly aver and do believe, that Mr. Macready, instigated by his narrow envious mind, and his selfish fears, did secretly—not openly—suborn several writers for the English press, to write me down. Among them was one Forster, a “toady” of the eminent tragedian—one who is ever ready to do his dirty work; and this Forster, at the bidding of his patron, attacked me in print even before I appeared upon the London boards, and continued his abuse at every opportunity afterwards.

I assert, also, and solemnly believe, that Mr. Macready connived, when his friends went to the theatre in London to hiss me, and did hiss me, with the purpose of driving me from the stage—and all this happened many months before the affair at Edinburgh, to which Mr. Macready refers, and in relation to which he jesuitically remarks, that “until that act, he never entertained towards me a feeling of unkindness.” Bah! Mr. Macready has no feeling of kindness for any actor who is likely, by his talent, to stand in his way. His whole course as manager and as actor proves this—there is nothing in him but self—self—self—and his own countrymen, the English actors, know this well. Mr. Macready has a very lively imagination, and often draws upon it for his facts. He said in a speech at New York, that there, also, there was an “organized opposition” to him, which is likewise false. There was no opposition manifested towards him there—for I was in the city at the time, and was careful to watch every movement with regard to such a matter. Many of my friends called upon me when Mr. Macready was announced to perform, and proposed to drive him from the stage for his conduct towards me in London. My advice was, do nothing—let the superannuated driveller alone—to oppose him would be but to make him of some importance. My friends agreed with me it was, at least, the most dignified course to pursue, and it was immediately adopted. With regard to ” an organized opposition to him” in Boston, this is, I believe, equally false, but perhaps in charity to the poor old man, I should impute these “chimeras dire,” rather to the disturbed state of his guilty conscience, than to any desire on his part wilfully to misrepresent.

Edwin Forrest.

Philadelphia,, Nov. 21, 1848.

[Macready’s response appeared in Philadelphia papers of 22 Nov 1848. As it doesn’t appear in available databases, the version included here is taken from Account of the Terrific and Fatal Riot at the New-York Astor Place Opera House.]


In a card published in the Public Ledger and other morning papers of this day, Mr. Forrest having avowed himself the author of the statements, which Mr. Macready has solemnly pledged his honor to be without the least foundation, Mr. Macready cannot be wanting in self-respect so far as to bandy words upon the subject, but as the circulation of such statements is manifestly calculated to prejudice Mr. Macready in the opinion of the American Public, and affect both his professional interests and his estimation in society, Mr. Macready respectfully requests the public to suspend their judgment upon the question, until the decision of a Legal Tribunal, before which he will immediately take measures to bring it, and before which he will prove his veracity, hitherto unquestioned, shall place the truth beyond doubt.

Reluctant as he is to notice further Mr. Forrest’s Card, Mr. Macready has to observe, that when Mr. Forrest appeared at the Princess’s Theatre in London, he himself was absent some hundred miles from that city, and was ignorant of his engagement until after it had begun; that not one single notice on Mr. Forrest’s acting appeared in the Examiner during that engagement (as its files will prove,) Mr. Forster, the distinguished Editor, whom Mr. Macready has the honor to call his friend, having been confined to his bed with a rheumatic fever during the whole period, and some weeks before and after.

For the other aspersions upon Mr. Macready, published in the Boston Mail, and now, as it is understood, avowed by Mr. Forrest, Mr. Macready will without delay appeal for legal redress.

Jones’s Hotel, Nov. 22d, 1848.

“Local Affairs.” Public Ledger [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] 22 Nov 1848; p. 2.

Mr. Macready makes his second appearance at the Arch this evening, in the tragedy of Othello. Forrest appears at the Walnut in the same character. They will both do full justice to the character.

“Actors’ Quarrels.” Public Ledger [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] 23 Nov 1848; p. 2.

The public are getting into a very pleasant state of excitement respecting the quarrels of two distinguished actors at rival theatres, and have got up a scene or two, not down in the bills, by interfering in an affair that seems to be merely personal. Mr. Forrest, in England, received some affront from Mr. Macready, and therefore Mr. Macready is to be insulted by being hooted from the stage in the United States. This is all very just and very patriotic, because people do not go to the theatre for their own pleasure or amusement, to see Macbeth or Othello represented by artists excelling in their profession, they go to sustain the fame of Mr. Forrest or Mr. Macready, make themselves partisans to their quarrels, and chastise any insolence exhibited to their favorite. Really this theatrical emeute is the most laughable affair that has recently happened, and as if to make it more ridiculous, we have the two great Thespian rivals themselves making speeches and shooting paper pellets at each other’s sconces in the form of cards, remarkable only for exceeding bad temper and coarse language. If anything should bring these partisans to a little cool reflection and induce them to leave these two gentlemen to their own quarrels, it should be those “cards” in which they show that they have sufficient bitterness to enable them to fight all their own battles, without any extra help from the public. Somebody should dramatize this great feud immediately.

“Local Affairs: Mr. Macready’s Second Appearance.” Public Ledger [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] 23 Nov 1848; p. 2.

The disgraceful conduct of a portion of the audience on the evening of Mr. Macready’s first appearance at the Arch street theatre, and the apprehensions that in consequence of Mr. Forrest’s card, which appeared in yesterday’s Ledger, some further difficulty would ensure, attracted a large audience to the theatre last evening, whilst upon the outside of the building the gathering was denser than on the previous night. The curtain rose to a house crammed in every part, and until the appearance of Othello, no symptoms of approbation or disapprobation were heard. The moment Mr. Macready advanced upon the stage—the most clamorous, deafening applause broke out from pit and boxes. This continued for several minutes, during which Mr. M. stood unmoved, merely bowing his thanks—as the applause slackened four or five hisses were heard from the second and third tiers, but these were speedily silenced by fresh applause and cries of “turn them out” from all parts of the house.

The hisses then ceased and the play went on. No further difficulty occurred; not a single hiss was heard during the performance—and there seemed to be more of a disposition to over applaud than otherwise. the tragedy was rendered with great effect by all the characters. The interesting points were heard with heartfelt attention. After the curtain fell there was a general call for Mr. Macready. In a few minutes he appeared before the curtain, bowed his thanks, but, with good taste, refrained from making a speech.

After he had withdrawn, some one in the pit proposed “three cheers for Macready,” which were heartily given—with “three more,” and “three more.” Another one in the pit proposed “three cheers for Ned Forrest,” which were given with considerable strength, but not equal to those just given for Macready. “Three more cheers” were given for Macready; after which affairs settled down quietly, and the persons composing the audience either withdrew or waited for the afterpiece.

Correspondence from Philadelphia, Nov. 24, 1848. The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 25 Nov 1848; p. 173.

Forrest and Macready were both favored with houses thronged to the utmost last evening. The former was hailed with nine cheers from his audience, who were inconsiderate enough to follow this expression of delight by three groans for Macready. This émeute in theatricals has enabled the managers to coin money for themselves—that is certain.

“Theatrical Emute at Philadelphia.” Evening Post [New York, New York] 25 Nov 1848; p. 1.

On Mr. Macready’s appearance at the Arch street Theatre on Monday evening last, there was a strong disposition manifested to drive him from the stage, which resulted in scenes of noise and confusion, usual on similar occasions, during which the name of Mr. Forrest was frequently mentioned. As nearly as we can gather, the motive of the Philadelphians was to resent the gross injustice which their distinguished fellow citizen received in London. The allegation, we infer, was, that Mr. Macready, or his friends, were mainly instrumental in producing the indignities with which Mr. Forrest was so unjustly assailed in England. It is certain that in nearly all the theatres of that country where Mr. Macready had no controlling influence, Mr. Forrest was welcomed with that warm-hearted enthusiasm which his genius merits.

Mr. Macready, at the close of his engagement in the Astor Place House, where he was treated with courtesy, by audiences less numerous than he expected, made a speech, in which he referred to an organized opposition, which, however, feared to show itself—and allusions were made in that speech, which every reader thought pointed directly to Mr. Forrest. If such was Mr. Macready’s meaning he did less than justice to Mr. Forrest. No doubt some of Mr. Forrest’s over-zealous admirers would gladly have availed themselves of an occasion to avenge his wrongs; but he and his nearest friends took every opportunity to express disapprobation of such a course, and so successfully that Mr. Macready was most courteously welcomed here. All this Mr. Macready knew when he made the allegation: had Mr. Forrest given the least encouragement to the feeling that existed, nay had he only remained passive, there would have been a serious tumult, and this Mr. Macready must have known, and known it quite as well as he knew that by a single word he could have stopped the abuse which the people of London lavished on Mr. Forrest.

Mr. Macready with the most positive knowledge of Mr. Forrest’s good ser[vi]ce, at the close of the performances at Philadelphia, came before the curtain, and again referred to the “organized opposition,” and said it was the custom in his country never to condemn a man unheard. If so the rule was violated when Mr. Forrest first appeared at the Princes[s] theatre; for there, before he had opened his mouth, he was assailed with hisses. But Mr. Macready denied that he had evinced any feeling of opposition to him, and added, that when an organized opposition was got up in London (which was in June last) against a French company performing there, he actively interested himself to allay it. That company (pursuing a different path from Mr. Macready,) if we remember rightly, played two nights, and were compelled to abandon the theatre. When Mr. Macready published a card in a London paper, saying that he had always been well received in Paris, and he thought the French company should therefore receive courtesy in London; this, as near as we can remember, was the purport of the card. Admit that this proved he “actively interested” himself in the case of the Frenchmen; yet he brings not a word to prove that he ever lifted his little finger to stop the tor[r]ents of abuse that would, if it could, have overwhelmed the distinguished American.

Mr. Macready said he had known and studied the American people for twenty years, and thought well of them. How would it sound in London ears, if an American actor was to address a theatrical audience there in similar phrase? No American would presume so far—nor would the people tolerate him. It strikes us as very ludicrous, to say the least, for any foreigner to announce before an American audience, an opinion so very oracular.

But, both in his speech in New York and at Philadelphia, Mr. Macready has, we believe, done Mr. Forrest injustice—a man above all meanness, evasion or equivocation—one who speaks right out on the first impulse—and in such a mood the following card was undoubtedly written.

Edwin Forrest, Esq.—We received the following card from this gentleman late last evening, and lay it before our readers without any hesitation. It is a reply to the speech of Mr. Macready, at the Arch street Theatre, on Monday evening, and to our mind is abundantly sufficient and satisfactory. We have no room to say more.—[Phila. Pennsylvania.

A Card.—Mr. Macready, in his speech last night to the audience assembled at the Arch Street Theatre, made allusion, I understand, to “an American actor” who had the temerity, on one occasion, “openly to hiss him.” This is true, and by the way, the only truth which I have been enabled to gather from the whole scope of his address. But why say “an American actor?” Why not openly charge me with the act? for I did it, and publicly avowed it in the Times newspaper of London, and at the same time asserted my right to do so.

On the occasion alluded to, Mr. Macready introduced a fancy dance into his performance of Hamlet, which I designated as a pas de mouchoir, and which I hissed, for I thought it a desecration of the scene, and the audience thought so too, for in a few nights afterwards, when Mr. Macready repeated the part of Hamlet with the same “tom-foolery,” the intelligent audience of Edinburgh greeted it with a universal hiss.

Mr. Macready is stated to have said last night, that up to the time of this act on my part, he had “never entertained towards me a feeling of unkindness.” I unhesitatingly pronounce this to be a wilful and unblushing falsehood. I most solemnly aver and do believe, that Mr. Macready, instigated by his narrow envious mind, and his selfish fears, did secretly—not openly—suborn several writers for the English press, to write me down. Among them was one Forster, a “toady” of the eminent tragedian—one who is ever ready to do his dirty work; and this Forster, at the bidding of his patron, attacked me in print even before I appeared upon the London boards, and continued his abuse at every opportunity afterwards.

I assert, also, and solemnly believe, that Mr. Macready connived, when his friends went to the theatre in London to hiss me, and did hiss me, with the purpose of driving me from the stage—and all this happened many months before the affair at Edinburgh, to which Mr. Macready refers, and in relation to which he jesuitically remarks, that “until that act, he never entertained towards me a feeling of unkindness.” Bah! Mr. Macready has no feeling of kindness for any actor who is likely, by his talent, to stand in his way. His whole course as manager and as actor proves this—there is nothing in him but self—self—self—and his own countrymen, the English actors, know this well. Mr. Macready has a very lively imagination, and often draws upon it for his facts. He said in a speech at New York, that there, also, there was an “organized opposition” to him, which is likewise false. There was no opposition manifested towards him there—for I was in the city at the time, and was careful to watch every movement with regard to such a matter. Many of my friends called upon me when Mr. Macready was announced to perform, and proposed to drive him from the stage for his conduct towards me in London. My advice was, do nothing—let the superannuated driveller alone—to oppose him would be but to make him of some importance. My friends agreed with me it was, at least, the most dignified course to pursue, and it was immediately adopted. With regard to ” an organized opposition to him” in Boston, this is, I believe, equally false, but perhaps in charity to the poor old man, I should impute these “chimeras dire,” rather to the disturbed state of his guilty conscience, than to any desire on his part wilfully to misrepresent.


Philadelphia,, Nov. 21, 1848.

“Local Affairs.” Public Ledger [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] 25 Nov 1848; p. 2.

Richelieu is to be performed this evening, both at the Arch and at the Walnut, Macready appearing in it at the former, and Forrest at the latter. Both houses, of course, will be full.

Forrest and Macready. Daily Evening Transcript [Boston, Massachusetts] 27 Nov 1848; p. 2.

Forrest and Macready were bo[t]h favored with houses thronged to the utmost on Thursday evening. The former was hailed with nine cheers from his audience, which expression of delight was followed by three groans for Macready. This emeute in theatricals has enabled the managers to coin money for themselves—that is certain.

“Local Affairs: King Lear.” Public Ledger [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] 27 Nov 1848; p. 2.

To-night the tragedy of King Lear is performed by Macready at the Arch and Forrest at the Walnut. Each is great in this character, and each will, no doubt, do it full justice. Two great artists, like these, should show a generous rivalry in attempting to excel, and not in the endeavor to depreciate the talents of each other.

Note about “Mr Macready and Mr Forrest.” Daily Evening Transcript [Boston, Massachusetts] 27 Nov 1848; p. 2.

We publish on our last page a communication from a friend of Mr Macready, in regard to a recent letter of Mr Forrest. We publish it, without any endorsement, however, of the writer’s inferences and conclusions so far as they are unfavorable to Mr Forrest. That the letter of Mr F. was hasty and unjustifiable, his best friends probably will not deny. But that he asserted aught that he did not believe to be entirely true, no one who knows him personally will admit. Mr Macready’s avowed determination to submit the matters at issue to the adjudication of a legal tribunal, renders it unnecessary that we should say more on this point. But the English actor being the assailed party, we have not felt at liberty to withhold the offered vindication, after having published Mr Forrest’s choleric attack.

“Mr Macready and Mr Forrest.” Daily Evening Transcript [Boston, Massachusetts] 27 Nov 1848; p. 4.

To the Editor of the Transcript: Your paper of Thursday last contains a liberal extract from a letter from Mr Forrest, in regard to Mr Macready upon which I beg leave to offer a few remarks.

I have nothing to say upon the general tone of the letter, or upon the outrageous terms in which Mr Forrest has permitted himself to speak of a great artist, and an accomplished gentleman, not more remarkable for professional eminence than for private virtues. Comment is unnecessary to deepend the impression which must have been made by that letter upon every man in the community, except those,—if there be any such,—with whom patriotism is an excuse for want of taste, want of good temper, and want of decency, and whose creed is that an American can do nothing wrong and an Englishman can do nothing right.

But there are certain positive charges brought in that letter against Mr Macready, of somewhat serious import. This is not the first time that they have been made in the public prints, but hitherto they have appeared in such shape that the friends of that gentleman have not felt themselves called upon to take any notice of them. But the slander which may be despised in an anonymous scribbler for a penny paper assumes a new aspect when Mr Forrest lends it the sanction of his name.

Mr Forrest charges Mr Macready with having secretly suborned several writers for the English press to write down him, Mr Forrest. If Mr Macready did do this, he acted in an ungenerous and disreputable manner. If he did not do it, Mr Forrest has stated that which is not true. We put the alternative distinctly to Mr Forrest and his friends. It is not difficult to ascertain the facts.

Mr Forrest, it will be observed, offers no proof. He says that he “solemnly avers and does believe” it. It is of no use to bandy assertions in this matter. I believe the whole thing to be a pure invention on Mr Forrest’s part. I believe that Mr Macready is incapable of any such assassin-like course as is here imputed to him, and I believe that no man of letters in London would lend himself to such a measure, least of all the gentleman whom Mr Forrest has had the rashness to name.

Mr Forrest “solemnly avers and does believe” Mr Macready “secretly suborned” several writers to write him down and among them “one Foster.” Had Mr Forrest’s good angel prompted him to go no farther than the general phrase, “several writers” he might have thrown upon Mr Macready the difficult task of proving a negative, but having named “one Foster” and him alone, it is only necessary to show the falsehood of Mr Forrest’s charge in the instance. This is the only affirmative issue that is presented.

Perhaps your readers are not aware who this “one Foster” is, of whom Mr Forrest speaks in such “very choice” English. He means John Forster, (not Foster) one of the most distinguished men of letters in England at the present time, a barrister at law, the author of the “Life of Goldsmith” and of the “Statesmen of the Commonwealth,” a prominent contributor to the Edinburgh and Foreign Quarterly Reviews, and the editor of the Examiner, a liberal paper of great influence, and wide circulation—a man not more remarkable for abilities and accomplishments than for the manly independence of his character, who never swerved to the right hand or to the left for the fear or the favor of man—a man graced with all that should become a gentleman and as incapable of lending himself to such a plot as Mr Forrest has charged against him, as Mr Macready is of asking such a service at his hands.

Mr Forrest may esteem it a delicate piece of wit to speak of such a man as “one Foster.” If so, his education in the matter of taste has been sadly neglected. Whitelocke, in his Memorials, speaks of “one Mr Milton.” This has afforded some amusement to after generations, but not at Milton’s expense. Nor is this parallel a forced one. There was not a greater intellectual space between Milton and Whitelocke, than there is between John Forster and Mr Forrest. Let your readers imagine Mr Macready writing a communication for the London Times, and speaking of the author of “Thanatopsis” as “one Bryent,” and they will have some notion of Mr Forrest’s good taste and good manners in speaking of Mr Forrest as he has done.

The absurdity of the main position in Mr Forrest’s letter is quite as conspicuous as its want of taste and want of decorum. To one who knows anything about London—of its immense size—of the vast and multitudinous life which is there congregated—the notion of writing down any candidate for public favor implies an ignorance equal to that of the shepherd in Virgil who thought rome was no more than another Mantua. To carve Mount Athos into the shape of a man is quite as reasonable a proposition as for any one person to attempt to mould the public opinion of London. By way of illustrating the wildness of any such scheme let any one who has ever been in London for a single week conceive of Mr Macready’s (we ask his pardon for using his name even hypothetically in such a connexion) exerting his influence with his literary friends to write down Rachel or Jenny Lind. Such an attempt would be deemed little better than lunacy. It may comfort Mr Forrest to know that it would have been as much out of the power of all the writers in London, to write him down as to write him up. No man is written down but by himself; and since the publication of Mr Forrest’s letter, it will be admitted that his powers in that respect are without precedent or parallel.

It is quite evident that the fierceness of Mr Forrest’s attack upon Mr Macready has its source in wounded self-esteem. There seems to be a dim consciousness in the mind of the former gentleman that, while in London, he was down and not up, and from his high sense of his professional claims, he can only account for it on the supposition that he was written down by somebody. But in point of fact, Mr Forrest did not make any impression or at least any favorable impression upon the London public. This may have been the result of prejudice or bad taste on their part, but the fact is unquestionable. The criticisms in the Examiner, which were ascribed to Mr Forrest, expressed the sense of the theatrical public as to Mr Forrest’s merits. I remember those criticisms distinctly. They were vigorous, searching and discriminating. They were not vague or general, but minute and specific, and afforded, in themselves, the means of forming an estimate as to the correctness of their strictures. And here let me say that when we shall substitute such a tone of criticism for the indiscriminate praise with which every popular favorite is bedaubed, we may hope to see some progress in art, and not till then.

Mr Forrest admits that he hissed Mr Macready in Edinburgh, and justifies his conduct in so doing, on the ground that he had a right thus to express his disapprobation of a public performer. He has yet to learn, it seems, that all things that are lawful are not becoming, and that taste and decorum have a code of their own, and written in a language which all men understand. Mr Forrest’s pertinacity in vindicating himself on this point argues an innate want of perception of delicacy and propriety which perhaps furnishes the best apology for the tone of his letter. It would be unreasonable to expect the coloring of Titian in a man who cannot distinguish green from red. Mr Forrest’s conduct has found defenders among his countrymen. We have only to ask such persons what they would have said or done if Mr Macready had had the bad taste to hiss Mr Forrest? Does any one doubt that his professional career in the United States would have been closed forever?

But one word more on this head. Mr Forrest should be consistent with himself. He hissed Mr Macready because he had a right to do so. That is the condition on which an actor appears before the public. If he does well, he is to be applauded; if ill, he is to be hissed. So far, so good. Then with what face does Mr Forrest complain of the criticisms in the Examiner? If an actor may be hissed, surely he ay be criticised. If the strictures are unjust they will do him no harm; if they are sound, they will do him good.

I cannot close this long communication without one word as to Mr Macready. His merits as an actor are too well known and too well appreciated to need my imperfect eulogium. The world too, knows that he is a cultivated and accomplished gentleman, a model of excellence in all the relations of life, universally beloved and esteemed for his worth and his virtues, ennobling his profession by dignity of character and purity of taste, whose efforts have ever been directed to the elevation of the stage; a man whose daily life has the sterling stamp of manliness, sincerity and independence. But perhaps it is not generally known that he has peculiar claims upon the candor of our people. Of all conspicuous men in England, Mr Macready most deserves the name of friend of America. He never speaks of our country without honor. He never hears it assailed without interposing in its defence. he is familiar with our history and respects our institutions. The genial and graceful hospitalities of his home—a home hallowed by the best affections and refined by the best tastes—are ever freely tendered to every American who approaches him with the slightest claim upon his courtesy. Such a man has a right to appeal to our gratitude as well as our justice.

Since writing the above, I have read the whole of Mr Forrest’s letter, in which I perceive that other charges, besides those which I have noticed, have been brought against Mr Macready, but as the latter gentleman in a card which I have just read, intimates his purpose of submitting the matter to a legal tribunal, I deem further comment unnecessary. The public will suspend their judgment, until the truth is proved by the best evidence, and then let the “great axe” of their censure fall on the offending head. It will also be noticed that Mr Macready states that during Mr Forrest’s engagement at the Princess’s theatre, no criticism upon him appeared in the Examiner.

“Mr. Macready &c.” The Bee [Boston, Massachusetts] 28 Nov 1848; p. 2.

This gentleman has published a card in the Philadelphia papers, which is in striking contrast to that of Mr. Forrest.—Mr. Macready was cool and dignified, and indulged in none of those personal allusions which were so grossly offensive in the communication of Mr. Forrest. When reading the card of this actor one cannot help arriving at the con[c]lusion, that there is still a grain of the blackguard in his composition. It is most strange when men have controversies with one another, that they cannot be severe without being personal.

Forrest appears to have got a wild notion in his head that Macready did all he could to injure him in England. He was not very successful, and he attributes his failure to the machinations of Mr. Macready; now this charge not only Mr. M. but his friends deny. Perhaps it can be shown that Mr. Forrest is altogether wrong in the matter.

In one thing he made himself supremely ridiculous, in the article, which he published in the Pennsylvania. He spoke of “one Foster,” as a “toady” of the eminent tragedian. Now this “one Foster” is an eminent English author, one of whom any nation might be proud. It hardly does for a man of Forrest’s literary attainments, to speak of such a man as a toady,—as “one Foster.” Whatever Forrest may be in physique, he is no match in intellect for the man whom he attempts to malign.

The great American tragedian would also have us believe that, because he did not realize all his aspirations in England, all American actors are as a matter of principle, unfairly treated there.—How palpably, however, are the facts against this postulate. Miss Charlotte Cushman and her sister, Mr. John Scott, Mr. T. D. Rice, Mrs. Mowatt, Mr. Hackett, Mrs. George Barrett, (that was,) Mr. Davenport, Mr. Gilbert,—ay, and many more, can bear ample testimony to the contrary. Every thing from America, in the shape of a public exhibitor, including Van Amburgh and Carter, and the Ethiopian Singers, and Tom Thumb, even,—to say nothing of our Burretts and Emersons, who go to England to lecture,—or of the Henry Russells and George Joneses, who being Englishmen, assume the name of Americans, in order the better to succeed in their own land,—may be cited as additional proof in the premises.

Satiric allusion. The Bee [Boston, Massachusetts] 28 Nov 1848; p. 2.

picture of hand pointing right They are now playing “Tom and Jerry in America,” at Burton’s Theatre in New York.—In the course of the ad libitum portion of this funny piece, Tom proposes to go to Burton’s Theatre and see him act in tragedy. Green (Burton) says B. is not going to make such a fool of himself as to act tragedy.

“Ah?” says Tom.

“No!” rejoins Green—“but, if he were to do it I hope he would know enough to keep his temper, better than some tragedians I know of!”

The house took the allusion, and showed their sense of its cleverness by long, protracted applause[.]

“War among the Actors—Acting off the Stage!” State Gazette [Trenton, New Jersey] 28 Nov 1848; p. 2.

The truculent if not tragical personal paper warfare between Forrest and Macready, seems likely to have the comic effect of filling their pockets. The papers seem to regard it as a very serious affair, but we are inclined to think it not more so than any of their ordinary stage business—not so much so as Forrest’s murder of Hamlet, or Macready’s of Richelieu and Shylock. We fancy that after filling the newspapers with the din of the battle and exciting party spirit to a tornado, to blow dollars into their treasuries, they will crack a bottle together over it and laugh their sleeves off at the simplicity of the public.

Why cannot some other very meritorious actors, who are now living poorly enough, get up a newspaper quarrel to fill each other’s purses? it is a capital trick, worth a hundred of the most ingenious direct puffs.

The quarrel, which is a very beautiful one, stands thus: Forrest’s friends in this country understand that Macready, through a mean jealousy, endeavored to injure the American actor in England, and they resolve to hiss him here. Macready comes before the public in Philadelphia with a speech to the effect that he has no “feeling of unkindness” towards Mr. Forrest and never had. Mr. Forrest replies in print that Macready employed Foster (of the Examiner) in England to abuse him before he had heard him. he confesses to having publicly hissed Macready in England, calls his pretence of not feeling any unkindness, a wilful and unblushing falsehood, advises that the “superannuated driveller” should be let alone, and talks of “charity to the poor old man.” this is very hard language, but they frequently use such on the stage. In reply, Mr. Macready comes out with the following card, which looks very auspicious for the legal profession:—

To the Public of Philadelphia.—In a Card published in the Public Ledger and other morning papers of this day, Mr. Forrest having avowed himself the author of the statements, which Mr. Macready has solemnly pledged his honor to be without the least foundation!

Mr. Macready cannot be wanting in self-respect so far as to bandy words upon the subject, but as the circulation of such statements is manifestly calculated to prejudice Mr. Macready in the opinion of the American Public, and affect both his professional interests and his estimation in society, Mr. Macready respectfully requests the public to suspend their judgment upon the question, until the decision of a Legal Tribunal, before which he will immediately take measures to bring it, and before which he will prove his veracity, hitherto unquestioned, shall place the truth beyond doubt.

Reluctant as he is to notice further Mr. Forrest’s card, Mr. Macready has to observe, that when Mr. Forrest appeared at the Princess’ Theatre in London, he himself was absent some hundred miles from that city, and was ignorant of his engagement until after it had begun, that not one single notice on Mr. Forrest’s acting appeared in the Examiner during that engagement, (as its files will prove) Mr. Foster, [sic] the distinguished Editor, whom Mr. Macready has the honor to call his friend, having been confined to his bed with a rheumatic fever during the whole period, and some weeks both before and after.

For other aspersions upon Mr. Macready, published in the Boston Mail, and now, as it is understood, avowed by Mr. Forrest, Mr. Macready will without delay apply for legal redress.

Jones Hotel, Nov. 25th, 1848.

Such a card as this is much more sensible than the Macready, take aim, fire! procedure which one would naturally look for after the blistering card of Mr. Forrest. Forrest is rather ferocious, Macready is rather prepared and cool. Both have money. We hope they will select lawyers who are poor.

“The High Tragedy Fight.” National Police Gazette [New York, New York] 2 Dec 1848; p. 2.

The minds of all the world except those of our serene and peaceful readers, have lately been kept in a state of high commotion by the incidents of a feud which has broken out a-fresh between two very high tragedians, and which, from present appearances, threatens to leave the pretensions of one of them, so far as gentlemanly conduct is concerned, at a very low mark. The parties we allude to are Forrest and Macready, of course. It seems that the former of these high buskins, in revenge for the condemnation which he received when in England, for a very gratuitous insult offered to Macready, has long been cherishing a determination to “lay for” Mr. Macready should he come to this country and mislead the public into a condemnation of his talents, by impugning him with illiberality to Americans when at home; and to help give head to the fomentation of such a sentiment, by presenting himself simultaneously in the arena, and attempting to play him down.

In pursuance of this high-minded resolution (and circumstances entitle us to assume it) Mr. Forrest recently brought his engagement at the Broadway Theatre to a speedy conclusion, and hurrying on to Philadelphia, pitted himself against Mr. Macready, by appearing on the same nights at a rival Theatre.

Contemporaneously with the commencement of this histrionic duel in the legitimate way, there was attempted in the pit of the Theatre at which Mr. Macready did his doleful business, a very blackguard demonstration in the way of hisses and other expressions of dislike, and as these were coupled with recriminations in the name of Mr. Forrest, they were very naturally and very properly set down to his special credit. Mr. Macready was sustained, however, and on being called to appear before the audience, briefly explained that the assault was attributable to the persevering hostility of an American actor, who, regardless of the decencies of professional position, had, when in London, chosen to publicly hiss him while engaged in a delineation of the character of Hamlet, at the Drury Lane. Mr. Macready further stated that he was unconscious of having given cause for such hostility, but if the audience and the American People thought he had offended, he would willingly withdraw.

To this proper statement, Mr. Forrest on the following morning made a furious reply; he called Mr. Macready a liar, charged him with having instigated the attacks of a reviewer named Foster upon his style of acting, and imputed the opposition which he met with from the moment of his (Forrest’s) arrival in that country, to the machinations of Macready through a “selfish fear” of his talents.—He addmitted that he had recently been present at consultations “to put Mr. Macready down,” but said that, on those occasions, he had cast his advice, “to let the superannuated driveller alone,” &c.

This dirty fulmination and its indecent terms, excited the disgust of all intelligent and well regulated minds, and with the exception of one or two of the Press, Mr. Forrest was generally condemned.—The Pennsylvanian, however, made a venture at a faint defence. It was a very sorry one. It insisted that Mr. Forrest had been very badly treated in England, and it inferred that Mr. Macready was implicated in the business in the following manner. It said that Mr. Forrest, shortly after his arrival in England, addressed a note of some ten lines to Edward Lytton Bulwer, [sic] the great novelist, stating that he wished to perform in [T]he Lady of Lyons and Richelieu, and desired to know how much he must pay to him, Bulwer, as the author’s fee—taking it for granted that Mr. Bulwer would have no scruples in entrusting the development of his ideas to his hands. Mr. Bulwer was, however, actuated by scruples of some kind, for he did not reply to the note in ten days. He then answered, in the same number of lines used by Mr. Forrest, that the fee would be fifty guineas, and the privilege would be limited to ten nights. The Pennsylvanian considers that this delay and the “exhorbitancy” of the author’s fee, are very tolerable indications that Bulwer was secretly instigated by Macready, because Bulwer and Macready were of the same clique; but whether it was a clique for eating oysters or undermining the American Constitution, the Pennsylvanian does not say. Now for our own part, we think that Mr. Bulwer condescended very much, to furnish an answer to such a note at all; and so far from considering the fifty guineas an exhorbitant fee to the fine genius who conceived the bright creations, we esteem it as very insufficient, in comparison with what the mere murderer of etheriel [sic] fancy, in whose name this complaint is made, would make by tearing it to pieces on the stage. Indeed, we wonder that Bulwer could so far overcome the natural sensitiveness which an author has for the proper presentation of his productions, as to let Forrest perform in them at all. In this view, the fifty guineas were as nothing.

In reply to this point, which, however, is scarcely worth a reply; but in reply to Mr. Forrest’s entire assumptions against Macready, the Sunday Mercury presents the following sufficient extract from one of the letters which Mr. Forrest directed to Mr. Leggett, for publication in the Plaindealer, some time after his arrival in London.

“I suppose you saw in the newspapers that a dinner was given to me by the Garrick Club.—Charles Kemble and Mr. Macready were there. The latter gentleman has behaved in the handsomest manner to me. Before I arrived in England he had spoken of me in the most flattering terms, and on my arrival he embraced the earliest opportunity to call upon me, since which time he has extended to me many delicate courtesies and attentions, all showing the native kindness of his heart, and great refinement, and good breeding.”

This then is the case, and Mr. Forrest even left to his own evidence, thoroughly concludes himself.

We are glad it has occurred. It will open the eyes of the Public to the manner in which they are sometimes bamboozled into the waging of a private quarrel between very ordinary personages, through fraudulent excitements and clap-trap appeals to their prejudices. We do not care a chesnut for Mr. Macready, but we do care something about having the character of the American People liable to an accusation of dirty prejudice against unfriended foreigners, and a very dirty species of oppression. It seems to us like catching a single man and beating him with a crowd; or like shaking a club at poor Whitney of Nassau street, which would be the extremity of brutality and terrorism. As to their acting, we care as little about it as about their nationality. Macready could not be a worse actor than Forrest, if he were twenty Englishmen in one, and Forrest could not be worse than he is, if he were a Hottentot, or the greenest of the Jim Jams. The quarrel will soon be settled. The Press are settling it very fast, but while they are condemning the disgraceful card of Mr. Forrest with almost one accord, they should tell Mr. Macready, that the only foolish thing that he has done in the matter, has been the commencement of a suit of damages against Mr. Forrest for putting him in the way of making a fortune.

“Mr Forrest.” Daily Evening Transcript [Boston, Massachusetts] 4 Dec 1848; p. 2.

We publish on our last page a communication in relation to Mr Forrest. We do not concur in all its view any more than we did in those of our correspondent, who wrote in defence of Mr Macready. We do not doubt that Mr Forrest is fully persuaded of the truth of his asseverations relative to the latter gentleman. But they should not have been made, unsubstantiated by the most explicit testimony; and until that is afforded we cannot believe that Mr Macready was guilty of the charges laid at his door. Nor do we concur in the sentiments of those, who speak slightingly of Mr Forrest’s histrionic claims to a far different reception from that, which he encountered in London. To our judgment his Lear, Richelieu and Othello are performances far superior to those of Mr Macready in the same parts. Mr Forrest was debarred from appearing in the character of Richelieu while in London by the extravagant terms demanded by Bulwer, the especial friend of Macready. This circumstance added to many others were “confirmations strong” to Mr Forrest’s mind of the sinister agency of Mr Macready in opposition to his career in London. He may have formed this belief on insufficient grounds; it is our own persuasion that he did so; but that he is sincere in it, we do not entertain a doubt. Still the letter, in which he gave vent to his animosity, was under any circumstances, unjustifiable; for it was penned in a vindictive spirit. We doubt not that Mr Forrest will in his calmer moments himself regret it. But the spirit, bad as it was, was better than a polished duplicity, which would have wounded clandestinely. If revenge is to be exercised, let it be open and above-board.

“English Arrogance.” Daily Evening Transcript [Boston, Massachusetts] 4 Dec 1848; p. 4.

[From the Pennsylvanian of Nov 29th] The rivalry which circumstances have enkindled between the great American and English tragedians, has imparted peculiar interest to theatrical affairs for some days past. The audiences of Mr Forrest have been crowded and enthusiastic. This was to be expected, as the massive genius, the burning and intense energy of his style, place him at the head of his profession, while his private virtues, his accomplishments and grace, as a man, secure him the admiration of all who have the privilege of his acquaintance. These professional contests are somewhat like the wrestling of the Athletæ of old and give the stage the interest with which the spirit of a generous rivalry invested the Olympic games. But the present struggle has assumed a less pleasing aspect—it has enlisted, to a large extent, national prejudices. Genius, we may be told, knows no country; but prejudice does. The course of certain Englishmen, and prominently among them is Mr Macready, proves this. Our country has never been guilty of an unkindness to English artists; all the past manifests that her actors, good, bad and indifferent, have been received with open arms; and after starving at home, have found America their El Dorado. They have too often returned with heavy purses, and hearts embittered into falsehood and invective against those who had enriched them. Among those thus generously received and rendered affluent, let us remember the names of Cooke, Kean, Conway, Hodgkinson, Booth, Hallam, Mr and Mrs Bartley, Vandenhoff, Sr and Jr, Power, Sr and Jr, and, most of all, Macready.

Now this kindly spirit, one might suppose, would be potent, if not to partonize, at least to protect, American talent in England. It has not been so. Her people have repelled every eminent actor, while they have endorsed those of a secondary character—negro singers and others not likely to disturb the supremacy of the very actors whom we had for years been feeding. Cooper, an Americanized Englishman, visited England, and was driven, with disgraceful and heartless contumely, from the stage. Booth, under the same circumstances, made the same experiment, with the same success. Other cases of a similar character might be given. In most of these there was evidence of conspiracy against the American actor, which, by organized clubs, under the direction of English actors, drove our people from the arena. They dared not meet the genius of the American stage.

The case of Mr Forrest seems to us a very peculiar one; and we are not astonished that his friends (for until driven into it by Mr Macready’s nightly references to him, he has not noticed the subject, neither in public nor in private,) have been somewhat excited. It was known that, on Mr Macready’s arrival in this country, Mr Forrest met him with a heartful welcome. He was greeted with a splendid banquet at his house where all the literary elite of New York were gathered. He made it a duty to attend each of Mr Macready’s performances; and omitted nothing that could make his visit to America pleasant and prosperous. So generous and liberal were the attentions paid by Mr Forrest to Mr Macready, that we have understood, and upon such authority that warrants us in stating it, that Mrs Macready (then in England,) wrote to Mr Forrest, expressing the warmest gratitude for his kindness, aid, and attentions to her “absent wanderer.”

All this seems to establish a claim to common justice from the English stage and the English public, in favor of an American actor. Such justice has not been rendered.

If Mr Forrest were inferior to the highest tragedian that England has produced—for we will not wrong him by comparing him with Mr Macready; if his social and literary character, his moral excellence, his benevolence and native nobility of character, were not established—we might doubt his claim, notwithstanding his generosity to Mr Macready, to any especial kindness, such as had been extended here to all Englishmen. Let us examine the facts. Mr Forster, the accredited friend of Mr Macready, in the London press, attacked him on the Saturday previous to his appearance, citing the New York Courier & Enquirer, a journal known to be, from a former personal quarrel, bitterly opposed to Mr Forrest. From that time, and throughout both the visits of Mr Forrest in England, the war was carried on against him. Macready had played an engagement in Paris. But the English influence was again manifest. Forrest went thither; but he was denied even an interview with the manager; and the same causes which precluded him from playing English plays upon the English stage shut him out from the privilege of acting even at an English theatre in Paris. The French Manager, under the supposed influence of Macready, refused to enter into an engagement. This is the manner in which an American actor is treated abroad, and yet there are those who will applaud the persecution at home, of a genius that transcends the brightest in their dramatic history.

In London, Forrest was treated with equal, or greater harshness. Our people will rely upon the veracity of N. P. Willis. He gave, in a letter to one of our journals, a full account of the conspiracy against Forrest, and facts that proved it, communicated by strangers in the theatre. Certain it is, that after all the kindness of the American public to Mr Macready—after all the warm hearted generosity and support of Mr Forrest—those who were under Mr Macready’s control, rewarded American patronage with English insult. The greatest actor living, the Roscius of his day, accomplished in every branch of literature, but more accomplished in every noble and generous trait of our moral nature, was driven from the metropolitan stage, by conspiracies, under the influence of the epileptic monarch of the English theatre. It is unnecessary to say that Mr Forrest’s provincial tour through England and Ireland, was one of brightening and unbroken triumph. The people are ever true to the right.

We confess to a sense of shame in finding that a few of our citizens, the scented and oily of the land, believe that all this prejudice and persecution against American talent—a persecution ruffian like and most ungrateful—is very proper; and that it is ungenteel to object to it. Be it so. The question may be safely left to the people. Mr Macready has obviously brought unchanged opinions with him into the country. Cœlum non animum mutant, qui trans mare currunt. [Transcriber’s note: “They change their skies but not their minds who run across the seas.”] The same spirit of persecution that oppressed Mr Forrest in London, has, under British influence, been renewed here—but fortunately, for the honor of the country, in vain.

“Macready’s First Appearance.” The Sun [Baltimore, Maryland] 12 Dec 1848; p. 2.

Front Street Theatre was crowded last night in every part to witness Macready’s personation of Macbeth, and he was greeted with great enthusiasm, not the slightest attempt at disturbance having been made. He was well sustained by Mrs. Wallack as Lady Macbeth, and by Mr. Ryder as Macduff.

When the curtain dropped, there was an unanimous cry for Macready, and when he appeared before the curtain the cheers were almost deafening. He bowed his thanks repeatedly, and was about retiring, when numerous voices called on him to speak. After hesitating a moment, he stepped forward and said:

“Ladies and gentlemen—You ask me to say something to you. What can I say but that I feel proud of this reception. You must, however, permit me, without the charge of egotism and vanity, to add that the character of the country has been vindicated—yes! nobly vindicated from the attempt made by a few characters to tarnish her fair fame, by outrage and insult heaped on me. For the reception you have given me, a stranger in your midst, I thank you—yes thank you sincerely, deeply—proudly thank you.”

“Mr. Forrest, as Macbeth.” The Sun [Baltimore, Maryland] 12 Dec 1848; p. 2.

The great American tragedian, Mr. Forrest, commenced an engagement at the Holliday street theatre, last evening, personating the character of Macbeth, to an overflowing audience, the lobbies being crowded with persons who were unable to obtain seats or even standing room within sight of the stage. Miss Alexina Fisher sustained the part of Lady Macbeth with great effect, and Mr. Fenno, that of Macduff.

On the close of the tragedy, Mr. Forrest was loudly called for, and three cheers were given for him over and over again, when he appeared before the curtain. As soon as quiet was restored, he addressed the audience very briefly, returning his heartfelt thanks for the manner of his reception, as well as the high honor conferred on him by the enthusiasm which pervaded the audience. On retiring, three times three cheers were again given, and the audience retired, highly gratified with the entertainments of the evening.

“Mr. Forrest’s Second Appearance.” The Sun [Baltimore, Maryland] 13 Dec 1848; p. 2.

Last evening the interior of the Holliday street Theatre presented a great array of the fashion and beauty of the city, upon which occasion, Mr. Forrest personated the character of Richelieu. The pit was densely crowded, and the other parts of the house well filled with spectators who were loud and boisterous in their acclamations whenever the great tragedian appeared upon the stage. After the curtain fell, Mr. Forrest was loudly called for by the audience, when he appeared, and, bowing several times, retired.

“Mr. Macready’s Second Appearance.” The Sun [Baltimore, Maryland] 13 Dec 1848; p. 2.

The Front street theatre last evening was well attended, to witness the play of Richelieu, in which Mr. Macready personated the character of the powerful cardinal minister of France. The house was exceedingly well filled, notwithstanding the inclemency of the evening, and though not so crowded as on the previous night, many more ladies made their appearance, rendering the dress circle decidedly more attractive. Mr. Macready was admirably sustained throughout by Mrs. Wallack, Mr. Ryder, and the subordinate characters, who added in a great degree to the beautiful and masterly representation of the piece. Mr. M. was warmly received and applauded throughout, and at the close was called before the curtain. He simply bowed, crossed the stage, and retired. The very best order was preserved.

“Mr. Macready’s last appearance and Farewell Benefit.” The Sun [Baltimore, Maryland] 16 Dec 1848; p. 1.

The Front street Theatre was last evening crowded from pit to gallery—literally crammed with an audience such as we have scarcely ever seen in that theatre, to witness Mr. Macready’s performance of Hamlet. There were no seats to spare and those who were fortunate enough to obtain them took good card not to leave them during the entire play. The dress circle presented an array of fashion and beauty rarely to be witnessed, and a great number of ladies were compelled to take places in the second tier. Of the play itself, we need only say that it was surpassingly beautiful and classically elegant throughout, and Mr. Macready was supported in a most admirable and effective manner by the very excellent stock company. The beneficiare was applauded throughout; and at the conclusion of the play he was vociferously called form. he made his appearance before the curtain, and evinced an intention of passing off without saying anything, but a speech was called for from all parts of the house, by the audience. He then said, as nearly as we could gather in the cro[w]ding and confusion, “that though required [to] speak, the practice was not customary with him, and, to say the truth, nor in much favor. The actor’s duty is confined to a delineation of character, and lend expression to thoughts that breathe and words that burn. He had, however, and excuse for departing from customary rule, on this occasion, in the desire to thank, heartily thank, the audience, and the people of the country. They had proved that they were willing to recognise the claims of art, without respect to the clime from which an artist came, or without respect to faction. For this feeling he tha[n]ked them—a truly national feeling—a feeling to maintain the country’s character—he thanked them for the ready welcome extended to him. It was this feeling of national courtesy which, in England, made Benjamin West, President of the Royal Society, Washington Alston and others, academicians, and is now giving to Remington the highest honors. The claims of art had thus been recognized in the land he came from, a kindred blood of our own. He again thanked the audience and retired, with a round of cheers, three times three. We pretend not to give his exact words, but the above was the purport and spirit of them.

“Mr. Forrest as Hamlet.” The Sun [Baltimore, Maryland] 16 Dec 1848; p. 1.

The Holliday street Theatre was crowded to overflow in every part last night by an intelligent and fashionable audience, to witness Mr. Forrest’s personation of Hamlet. He was loudly applauded throughout the evening, and on the fall of the curtain was loudly called form. He came forward, and made a brief address, returning his sincere thanks for the evidence of esteem and favor which had been so lavishly bestowed upon him, and concluded by announcing that he had renewed his engagement, and would have the pleasure of appearing before them a few nights longer.

“Macready and Forrest.” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 20 Jan 1849; p. 20.

We see that an attempt is being made by some indiscreet friend of Mr. Forrest, in one of our local prints, to revive the dispute that took place recently between him and Mr. Macready. Such a movement is exceedingly foolish, and much to be deprecated. The matter has now been disposed of on both sides of the Atlantic, and any further revival of it would, we are sure, be as disagreeable to the two great actors themselves, as it would be unpalateable to the public at large. Mr. Forrest and Mr. Macready have, each of them, a number of admirers of their respective styles of acting in both countries, and every one capable of judging is aware that each of them has faults and excellencies, both as a tragedian and a man. No one, we are quite sure, would be more ready to admit this than the actors themselves. Instead, therefore, of fanning the flame of strife, and perpetuating the unpleasant feelings that have arisen between them, from professional rivalry, and probably from mutually misconstrued motives, it should be the object of the admirers of both to put an end to such an unseemly contention, and to unite again in the bonds of friendship the two greatest delineators of tragic character of the present day. They should themselves set their faces against these intermeddling busybodies, and pretended friends, who would keep up the quarrel and widen the breach between them.

“Letter from Edwin Forrest.” Evening Post [New York, New York] 23 March 1849; p. 2. With missing text supplied by “The Theatrical Difficulty.” The Sun [Baltimore, Maryland] 22 March 1849; p. 1.

Pittsburgh, Dec. 1, 1848.

Dear Sir: It is impossible for us, near as we are to Philadelphia, to obtain a concise and connected account of your dispute with Mr. Macready. Occasionally we see a “card,” sometimes newspaper comment, and now and then a dramatic criticism, intended to influence the public mind in regard to the matter; but I am, for my own part, still without anything like a history of the facts as they occurred.

Arduously engaged, as I know you must be, I shall esteem it a favor if you can find time to furnish me with a brief statement of the affair, in writing, or any general account of it, if you have printed such a document. As the difficulty is the topic of much talk just now, I should like to know the merits of it.

Truly yours,
WM. H. Smith.

To Edwin Forrest, Esq.

New York, March 12th, 1849.

My Dear Sir: I have purposely delayed a reply to your letter requesting an account of the dispute between Mr. Macready and myself—a delay suggested by the hope that he might perhaps keep his word, and bring the matter “immediately,” as he pledged himself to do, before a legal tribunal for adjustment. I regret that, on this occasion at least, he has not departed from his usual habit, and spoken the truth. Had he pursued his promised course, I should have been saved some trouble in verbal, as well as written explanations, and the public, before this, would have been in possession of all the material necessary in the case, to form a just conclusion. I never believed he meant to apply “for legal redress”—and I said so at the time. Redress, for what? Because I spoke the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

But before I go into the argument, there is a question of veracity to be settled between Mr. Macready and myself. I affirm, and he denies, and in addition to his denial, he makes several allegations. That I may do no injustice to Mr. Macready I republish his card:


“In a card published in the Public Ledger and other morning papers of this day, Mr. Forrest having avowed himself the author of the statements, which Mr. Macready has solemnly pledged his honor to be without the least foundation.

“Mr. Macready cannot be wanting in self respect so far as to bandy words upon this subject, but as the circulation of such statements is manifestly calculated to prejudice Mr. Macready in the opinion of the American public, and affect both his professional interests and his estimation in society. Mr. Macready respectfully request[s] the public to suspend their judgment upon the question, until the decision of a legal tribunal, before which he will immediately take measures to bring it, and before which he will prove his veracity, hitherto unquestioned, shall place the truth beyond doubt.

“Reluctant as he is to notice further Mr. Forrest’s card, Mr. Macready has to observe that when Mr. Forrest appeared at the Princess’s Theatre in London, he himself was absent some hundred miles from that city, and was ignorant of an engagement until after it had begun; that not one single notice on Mr. Forrest’s acting appeared in the Examiner during that engagement, (as its files will prove,) Mr. Forster, the distinguished editor, whom Mr. Macready has the honor to call his friend, having been confined to his bed with a rheumatic fever during the whole period, and some weeks both before and after.

“For the other aspersions upon Mr. Macready, published in the Boston Mail, and now, as it is understood, avowed by Mr. Forrest, Mr. Macready will, without delay, apply for legal redress.

Jones’s Hotel, Nov. 21, 1848.”

The London Times has eulogized this production as “dignified” and “gentlemanly.” Gentlemanly, forsooth! Why it has not the merit of being grammatical: but I will not pause to consider the stye though something better might have been expected from a graduate of Eton.

In this card we have some sweeping denials from Mr. Macready, and three allegations, at least. Let us examine the allegations and answer them.

First Allegation: He promises to take immediate measures to bring the question before a legal tribunal, and before which he will prove his veracity hitherto unquestioned.

Answer: More than three months have elapsed since this pledge was made to the public of Philadelphia, and thus far I have heard no syllable of the suit.

Is Mr. Macready’s veracity unquestioned now?

Second Allegation: That not ONE SINGLE NOTICE on Mr. Forrest’s acting appeared in the Examiner during that engagement, (as its files will prove).

Answer: My engagement at the Princess’s Theatre began the 17th of February, 1845, and closed on the 9th of April following. By referring to the files of the Examiner you will find in that print of the 22d of February, 1845, the following article:

“Our old acquaintance, Mr. Forrest, the American tragedian, has played Othello at the Princess’s Theatre during the past week, and it would seem from the accounts, (we did not see the tragedy) with entire abatement of that ‘sound and fury’ which distinguished his performance nine years ago. ‘An you should do it, too terribly,’ says that excellent dramatic critic, Peter Quince, ‘you would fright the Duchess and the ladies.’ According to the Times, the too terrible has subsided into the too tame. But we must venture to think the change a clear improvement, and great gain to the audience.”

Here is a single notice in the Examiner, and during my engagement “as its files will prove,” and written too, by Mr. Forster, whom Mr. Macready will not deny is the “Theatrical Examiner” of that paper. Who but Mr. Forster, the servile creature of Mr. Macready, could display such venom and vulgarity?—“We did not see the tragedy,” says Mr. Forster, and we have Mr. Macready’s word that his friend was “confined to his bed by rheumatic fever,” and thus from a bed of sickness he sped his shafts steeped in the fevered malignity of his heart, at a performance which he did not see. Is Mr. Macready’s veracity unquestioned now?

Third Allegation: Mr. Forster, the distinguished editor whom Mr. Macready has the honor to call his friend, had been confined to this bed with a rheumatic fever during the whole period (of Mr. Forrest’s engagement) some weeks before and after.

Answer: Turn to the Examiner of March 1st, 1845 and you will see the following article as “its files will prove,” and pubished during my engagement also:—

“Our old friend, Mr. Forrest, afforded great amusement to the public, by his performance of Macbeth, on Friday week, at the Princess’s. Indeed our best comic actors do not often excite so great a quantity of mirth. The change from an inaudible murmur, to a thunder of sound, was enormous; but the grand feature was the combat, in which he stood scraping his sword against that of Macduff. We were at a loss to know what this gesture meant, till an enlightened critic in the gallery shouted out, ‘that’s right, sharpen it!’ Miss Cushman, if she has not the appearance of Lady Macbeth, steered admirably against the injurious influences of such a consort.”

Is Mr. Macready’s veracity unquestioned now?—Here his friend Mr. Forster is in the Princess’ Theatre, in spite of his rheumatic fever, which still confined him to his bed—excited to mirth, too, by the performance, in spite of the rheumatic fever which still confined him to his bed—enjoying, and with the exception of a single point on which his brother “critic” in the gallery “enlightens” him—comprehending the whole exhibition, in spite of his “rheumatic fever which still confined him to his bed.”

And now what becomes of Mr. Macready’s veracity? And yet this “eminent” individual has SOLEMNLY PLEDGED HIS HONOR that the statements contained in my card, are WITHOUT THE LEAST FOUNDATION.

Junius once remarked, “I will not call you a villain, my Lord, but I will prove you to be one.” I will not call you a LIAR, Mr. Macready, but I have PROVED you to be one by the very witnesses you summoned in your defence.

And yet Mr. Macready’s card has been called “gentlemanly” and “dignified.” Let me instruct the writer in The Times, for he seems to be ignorant of the fact, that the first and most indispensable quality of a gentleman, is an undeviating regard for truth, and that without it the MAN is “scarce half made up.”

Many have confounded John Forster of the Examiner with John Foster the celebrated Essayist. There is not only a difference in the orthography of the names, but there is an immeasurable difference in the characters of the men.

John Foster, the Essayist, and eloquent Baptist clergyman, was a man of the purest heart, and of the most exalted intellect. He cultivated letters, for that they enlarged the sphere of his usefulness, and taught him (to use his own phrase) “to live along the progression of sublime attainment.” Theology and philosophy with him went hand in hand; with a delicate regard for the feelings of others, he practised charity and forbearance to all men. Malice and envy found no harbor in his heart, for it was the instinctive dwelling place of love and honest kindness. His daily conduct was but the embodiment of the divine truths he taught—

“His life was gentle, and the elements

So mixed in him, that nature might stand up

And say to all the world—This was a man!”

John Forster, whom Mr. Macready “has the honor to call his friend,” was cast in a different mould. A mercenary in literature, a cavlier in criticism, and a parasite in his friendship, he brings to his critic’s craft pedantry and insolence, in lieu of justice and judgment. Of his dignity, candor, and taste—qualities inseparable from the true critic, you may judge yourself, by the extracts from his pen quoted in this letter from the Examiner. He is one of a tribe so admirably described by Leigh Hunt. “Journalists, who will abuse one performer, merely to please another; who, after getting drunk at an actor’s table, will come and tell us what power he possesses over their senses, and what a want of solidity there is in that man who never invites them to eat his roast beef!”

This Forster is ambitious to be considered an actor too, and not unfrequently shows himself upon the stage in his favorite character of “Kitely,” a part in which he successfully imitates the nature—for he knows no other nature—of his “eminent” friend, even to the absurd peculiarities of speech, attitude, and angularity. Forster’s imperturbable self-conceit, blinds him to the quiet mockings of his cockney beholders, as he struts his brief hour with the utmost complacency; and afterwards with most unblushing effrontery he puffs his histrionic efforts in the very newspaper of which he is known to be the Theatrical critic. Vide London Examiner, Nov 22d, 1845.

“A would be Satirist, a hired Buffoon,

A monthly scribbler of some low lampoon

Condemned to drudge, the meanest of the mean,

And fur[n]ish falsehoods for a magazine;

Devotes to scandal his congenial mind,

Himself a living libel on mankind!”

I will resume this subject again, in a few days, and meanwhile remain

Very truly yours,

To W. H. Smith, Esq.

“Forrest and Macready.” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 24 March 1849; p. 92.

We understand that Mr. Forrest has written a long letter, in reply to the last card of Mr. Macready, relative to the conduct of the latter towards the former in London. Mr. Forrest, in his letter, we hear, brings forward a number of proofs, and much evidence, showing the accuracy of his former statements against Mr. Macready, and covering the whole controversy on a broader and more extended scale than has yet been presented to the world. The letter is of some length, and will probably appear in a few days at the West. As soon as it comes to hand we shall publish it, and endeavor to do justice between the two great artists; for we consider the question a very important one in a national point of view, as well as personal, and that it is absolutely necessary it should be determined, and set at rest, before the day of judgment. There will be great impatience on both continents, and probably the progress of revolutions in Europe, and the rush towards California, will stand still for some time until all the evidence in this important matter between Mr. Macready and Mr. Forrest shall be brought forward, adjudicated and determined upon. We hope the community will suspend judgment on this question until the whole of the testimony is produced on both sides. Whether the sun and moon will stand still, or not, as the former did in the time of Joshua, we cannot determine; but we would not be surprised if both of those luminaries were to take it into their heads to not shine at all, until it is decided who is right and who wrong in this highly important matter.

“Forrest and Macready Again.” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 24 March 1849; p. 92.

The letter written by Mr. Forrest, in reply to the last card of Mr. Macready, and which first appeared in a Pittsburgh paper, has been before our readers, and probably perused with much curiosity and surprise by many of them. Of the character of the last card or letter, emanating from the great American tragedian, every independent thinker will form his own opinion. To our mind, while this statement seems to prove satisfactorily that Mr. Macready must have resorted to special pleading to a degree almost amounting to prevarication, in his reply to Mr. Forrest, we cannot perceive that the tone and temper infused by Mr. Forrest into this letter, varies much in its censurable character from those of his first. All of the allegations made against Mr. Forrest seem to be made out by the quotations furnished by Mr. Forrest; yet Mr. Forrest might have written that letter without exhibiting the bad temper, or using those hard and ungentlemanly words, which every now and then break out, when he speaks of his rival and competitor in the theatrical line. There seems to be little doubt but that Mr. Macready exercised, in some degree, his influence in London against Mr. Forrest; but there appears to be as little difficulty in thinking that Mr. Forrest is too sensitive, and allows himself to be worked up into a tempest of a passion at those rivalries which prevail among all men trying to reach the same eminent height. We doubt whether Mr. Forrest’s ease, or his position before the public, can be benefitted by his last production. The wisest policy for him to have pursued in all his relations with Mr. Macready, would have been not to pay any attention to those theatrical critics in London, never alluded to the matter at all, and not allowed himself to be worked into a passion, but to pursue his own career in the development of his own talent, caring nothing for what critics, or rivals, or foreigners, or natives, or any other class of men, or even women, said, thought, wrote, or talked about him. By pursuing such a high-minded course from the beginning, Mr. Forrest would have had the public, on both sides of the Atlantic, in his favor, and would occupy at this time a much higher position as an artist of great talent, and a man of noble mind. His passionate card and special pleading letter, can only place him on the same level with Mr. Macready before the public, and that is—a literary prizefighter in the columns of suffering newspapers. Some persons like Mr. Macready as an actor better than they do Mr. Forrest, and some prefer Forrest to Macready; but who cares for the personal quarrels or squabbles of either? By bringing such controversies before the public, they reduce themselves to the same level as that of the lamp lighters and scene shifters of the drama, instead of occupying the dignified position of heroes and lofty minded artists.

“Mr. Macready’s Speech at New Orleans.” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 7 April 1849; p. 105.

Although rather long, we publish the remarks made by Mr. Macready at a public dinner given him by the citizens of New Orleans on the 20th ult.

Mr. President and Gentlemen—I rise to acknowledge the honor you have done me, with a painful consciousness of my inability to do justice to my feelings. Few can be less fitted than myself to answer at any time the need of an occasion such as this, and now I am more than ever embarrassed and at fault; but I have only friends around me and my deficiencies will not be hardly judged. Let me then request you to accept the assurance, however feebly it may be expressed, of my fervent gratitude. I stand amongst you, your debtor in so large an amount of kindness, that I am at a loss where to begin the summing up of my obligations to you. But, indeed, it would be needless to recount them even if I had the power of doing so. I neither wish them cancelled nor reduced, for I am proud and happy in acknowledging myself so largely bound to you, and shall preserve the recollection of my visits here, and of my intercourse with the citizens of this community, among the few happy memories that cheer and brighten the review of a laborious life, devoted to an unrequiting art. My claims, if any, on your favor, have been indeed but small, but even had they been greater, in the nightly assemblages that have crowded and shed brilliancy through your theatre, I have received most flattering and substantial testimonies of your approval, that call forth and command my earnest thankfulness. But as if this were not enough, you persevere in conferring on me attentions and distinctions that impress me sensibly with the conviction of my own disproportionate deserts. Like the priest in the Eastern temple, I fancy I intercept the oblations due the divinity I serve. It is upon the altar of our divine Shakspeare that the offerings of enthusiasm, the incense of praise should be heaped which you so profusely lavish on his officiating minister.—I would not however, be thought to disguise in the least degree the gratification that this parting tribute of your regard affords me. The genuine honors paid to our declining art are of rar[e] occurence, and empiricism becomes daily more intimately connected with its practice. But there are reasons beyond and above tho[se] merely personal and professional, why I rejoice at receiving this generous demonstration at your hands—this demonstration so closely indicative of the utter absence of any narrow and exclusive nationality among you—so declaratory of [your love of] art, for art alone—the highest evidence of true refinement. The exclusiveness of nationality differs little from sectarian bigotry, whilst true patriotism like true religion, the more faithful is its devotion to the great object of its love and worship, the more largely and freely does it extend the spirit of charity and good will to all mankind. This is, I apprehend, a questionable doctrine with some of your countrymen, and among my own there are mole eyed men, who “of the earth, earthy” can descry nothing of interest or grandeur out of the soil they move in. But the true lover of his country, grateful for and rejoicing in her elevation, can frankly and cordially admire and delight in the progress and advancement achieved by other nations and institutions differing from his own—can see the race of honor run by her competitors without grudge or envy of the winner: and whether a Powers or a Gibson model a form to challenge the wondrous perfection of antiquity, can feel the thrill and glow of admiration at his heart, whether it beat in an English or American bosom. Humble individual as I am, I rejoice, I am happy as an Englishman, loving with an enthusiastic love my Fatherland. “England, with all thy faults, I love thee still, my country”—I say that, for myself, and on the part of the intelligent of my countrymen, we rejoice in bearing honest testimony and doing honor to the greatness of your kindred race. I remember well, when I last had the honor of being your guest, one of my hosts, a Senator, I think, of this State, expressed his belief that if “Englishmen of liberal sentiments more frequently visited this country, any lingering prejudice existing between us would soon be eradicated.” Permit me to regret that such prejudice, fraught with so little wisdom and still less charity, should be kept alive. In either country, we may say of it, as of the rank nettle on the green turf of the good man’s grave, “it has no business to grow there.” It is a truth, that with no other nation in the world do Englishmen desire to live in the closest bonds of amity as with this; with none would they so reluctantly see any disturbance of their friendly relations; with none would they so shrink from the thought of adverse collision; which at any sacrifice short of the national honor they would determindedly avoid. Ask at st. James’s whether, among the highly salaried diplomatists, there is one treated with more flattering consideration and genuine respect than the wisely economised Minister of the United States? By none—I speak from actual knowledge—is the gallantry and prowess of the American, by sea and land, more readily attested and honored, than by British officers. In literature and arts, the name of Channing, Irving, Prescott, Leslie, Powers, and others, can testify the popularity of American genius in England—and should it not be so? I would ask even the most contracted mind of my own country, what out of all her history will remain to posterity as one of the chief evidence of England’s real greatness? Where out of our own island are we to look for the most unequivocal proof of the character and genius of her race? Why, even in her pride of place, even while she still sits, Cybele-like, turret crowned upon the subject deep—as queen among the nations—she can trace on the proud long list of her illustrious records no glory beyond that of giving birth to such a people. And, when, with the revolutions f time her day of decline may come—and far distant be that day! and she lies “ ’reft of her sons amid her foes forlorn,”—even then the widowed queen may still “in faded splendor wan” stretch out her shrunken arm, and point over the broad Atlantic to the giant nation here—her offspring, and the still existing proof of her benefit to mankind—and as a memorial of her title to everlasting honor. Nor are the reflective of your country unmindful of the birthright you enjoy, of your heritage in those master minds that untitled nobility of God’s own creation, a Shakspeare, Milton, Newton, Locke, in the laws, in the institutions, and the language common to us both, that educate a nation to pre-eminence. No vestige of national prejudice ought to remain between people with such motives to mutual reverence and esteem. The destinies of this country are too manifest to be denied or doubted, and the world looks to it with anxiety and hope. Its geographical limits will no doubt be stretched farther over this vast continent, but let us hope the power of opinion, and not of the sword, will secure your advance—establishing the dominion of your institutions over barbarism and imbecility by the pacific agency so profoundly suggested of “masterly inactivity.” So extensive with the spread of the Anglo Saxon race will be the humanizing influence of our literature and our arts; and from the remote Columbia river to the distant peak of Darien, the words of Shakspeare may be instruments of civilization, inculcating one large and binding charity among all, whoa re made wiser in his precepts, who learn humanity from his living pictures of human passion, and glow with raptures unfelt before at the thrilling music of his matching verse. and who is the low-minded, the narrow-hearted Englishman, that would grudge you the fulfilment of this noble mission? who bounteously favored himself with the blessings of a constitution, would descend to the cavils of envious disparagement against you, because you seek to expand to the widest limits the first great principle of good government, the “greatest possible happiness of the greatest possible number?” because you advocate the unfettered independence of individual opinion, and assert above all other earthly claims to honor those qualities which

He who walked in story and in joy,

Following his plough along the mountain side,

so triumphantly champions as the “pith of sense and pride of worth,” in his burning words:

Let us pray, that come it may,

As come it will, for a’ that,

That sense and worth o’er all the earth,

May bear the gree, and a’ that

For a’ that and a’ that

It’s coming yet for a’ that,

When man to man the wide warld o’er,

Shall brithers be, and a’ that.

I can add nothing to such a wish and such a prayer that can strengthen the expression of my sentiments and feelings. For myself, a guest in your houses and families at your hearths, my feelings cannot change; and drinking to you, and thanking you with a heart fuller than the glass I hold, I say to you, in the words of Holy Writ, when I forget you “may this right hand forget its cunning.”

“Forrest and Macready.” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 7 April 1849; p. 108.

A few days since, we published Mr. Forrest’s last letter, in which he sought to establish the charge which he previously made against Mr. Macready, his rival in the tragic art. It attracted some attention, and was commented upon in various ways by the press throughout the country, as well as by the public at large.

Mr. Macready has recently concluded a farewell engagement at new Orleans, and, besides making a brief farewell speech on the stage, he delivered a long one, at a complimentary dinner which was given to him by his friends and admirers in that city. We publish the speech in to-day’s paper, for the purpose of showing fair play to both of the great rivals; and here it might be supposed this highly important and interesting controversy would cease. But the curtain has not yet fallen on the last scene of the last act of this flare-up in theatrical life. Mr. Macready is en route to New York, and will be here in a short time, for the purpose, probably, of performing an engagement at one of our principal theatres. What success he will meet with, we cannot say; but we are informed that the friends of Mr. Forrest have determined to crowd the theatre on the first night, and hiss him off the stage, if they can accomplish it. This is what Mr. Forrest’s friends have determined to do; but Mr. Macready’s are not idle. They are determined, on the other hand, to support him to the utmost of their ability, and, in their turn, to drive Mr. Forrest off the stage, when he next makes his appearance in the city.

Thus we go. A dispute between two rival actors—one born in England and the other in America—is made a national question, and made to turn on national grounds. To be sure, Mr. Macready could not well avoid being born where he first drew breath; nor had, we believe, Mr. Forrest any control over the circumstances of his nativity; but notwithstanding that, the friends and backers of the respective rivals have enlisted themselves in their cause, and are determined to fight it out on that issue. Well, so be it. We hope, however, that this struggle will be the finale of the ridiculous business, and that, hereafter, sensible people will allow rival play-actors to fight out their quarrels by themselves, and not interfere with what really should not concern them. Let us have a fair fight and fair play. Go ahead, spring chickens! Never say “die,” old boys! and “damned be he who first cries ‘hold enough!’ ” The longest day has a sunset.

“Forrest and Macready—Another Letter from Mr. Forrest.” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 14 April 1849; p. 119.

[From the Pittsburgh Morning Post, April 5.]

New York, March.

My Dear Sir:—Having in my last letter disposed for the present of Mr. Macready’s card, I shall now proceed to the examination of my own. In that card, I said “that I solemnly believed Mr. Macready had suborned several writers of the English press to write me down; and that among them was one Forster, who, even before I had appeared upon the London stage, attacked me, and continued his abuse at every opportunity afterwards.” The truth of this declaration I shall endeavor to prove by circumstantial and other evidence; premising that when a clique attempts, for selfish ends, to write down one who never offended, they naturally set to work in a way to escape detection, and circumstantil rather than direct proof is to be relied on.

My first appearance at Drury Lane Theatre was on the 17th of October, 1836. In the Examiner of the previous day (Sunday,) appeared the following notice, written by John Forster, whom Mr. Macready “has the honor to call his friend.”

“An American actor of some celebrity, Mr. Forrest, makes his first appearance at Drury Lane theatre, on Monday night, in what the bills call “a new tragedy.” The tragedy is not new, but we will forgive the intended deception if it turns out to be good. It was written many years ago, by Dr. Bird, of Philadelphia, and has been played by Mr. Forrest in all parts of the Union. The subject is the revolt of Spartacus, the Roman gladiator, and it is said to be specially adapted both in subject and treatment, to the singular physical strength and great energy which are the characteristics of Mr. Forrest’s acting. It implies little for its literary merit to have been written on this principle.”

Here you will perceive the animus of the writer, and that this article was designed as the text for all his subsequent comments. He (dipping his pen in malice) went to work with a fixed determination to do all in his power to serve his patron, and to defeat, if possible, the triumph which afterwards attended me. He does not, to be sure, openly condemn both author and actor before he had heard them, yet by disingenuous implication he does condemn both. He will “forgive the intended deception,” he says, “if the play turns out to be good.” A prejudiced Englishman will never admit that anything “good” can come from America; and this is particularly true of Mr. Forster, as I shall take occasion hereafter to prove. But why should he italicise the six words, as marked by him in his preliminary notice, if he had not received his cue (doubtless from his “eminent friend,”) to make this the ground work of his attacks, which he afterwards assumed with so much violence? Is there any indication in this that he will hear with patience and decide with impartiality?

In the Examiner of October 30, 1836, Mr. Forster no longer seeks to hide his malignity; and in a critique on my Othello, by false premises, and by deductions not founded in truth, he endeavors to draw conclusions adverse to my claims as an actor. After remarking that “national politeness, so to speak, has nothing to do with a question of this sort,”—which, being interpreted, means—“Mr. Forrest is an American; and although his country-men treat our actors with kindness and courtesy, that is no reason why I should imitate their example.” Mr. Forster then adds: “There is a vicious style in art, which the public taste should be carefully guarded against, and Mr. Forrest is one of its professors.”

* * * * * *

“The beauty of Othello’s moral attitude in this scene (the council chamber), consists in its assured quiet, and as it were, picturesque, dignity. Now, Mr. Forrest began the speech with an affected appeal to the excellence of his judges. It was just as Sir James Scarlett used to address his twelve friends of the jury box—

My very noble—and approved—good masters.”

Comment upon this is unnecessary, for all those who know me, know well that this is but a “weak invention of the enemy.”

Farther on, in the same criticism, Mr. Forster says: “The actor who supposes Othello to be simply a jealous man, has not read S[h]akspeare; jealousy is not the grand feature of his passion.” What exquisite wisdom in these sentences! Who ever supposed that any man could be simply a jealous man? The sentiment of love must of necessity precede that of jealousy. But if jealousy be not the grand feature of Othello’s passion, pray what is? Mr. Forster, like his “eminent friend,” has a convenient knack of saying one thing and meaning another. In this very article you find this sapient critic eating his own proposition. Hear him:—

“Immediately before the grand passion of the play opens, Shakspeare has seized an opportunity, in his infinite art and wisdom, to show the weak point through which he means to strike Othello. The scene of his interference in the night brawl of Cyprus betrays a slight bubbling up of his African blood.”

Where is the grand passion of the play first exhibited? Why, in the third act. And what is the scene immediately before it? Why, the scene of Othello’s interference in the night brawl. The grand passion of the play then is jealousy. Whose jealousy? Why, Othello’s of course. But it were a great waste of time, and your patience to follow this soi-disant critic through all his “quirks and quiddities.” Suffice it to say, that in my performance of Othello, he found no good whatever. I had the “rigid and compressed style of Edmund Kean.” I had “no intellectual comprehension of what I was about”—“I had closely watched the performance of Mr. Kean, and had brought from it only the most vulgar and obvious points, certain physical requisites—sound was substituted for sense—when a tender word occurred, it was spoken tenderly—where a fierce word, fiercely. Mr. Forrest seemed beyond control. All he said and did, was said and done mechanically.” Now this last sentence would apply justly to but one man that ever walked the stage, and that man is Macready. In closing this violent and absurd attack—absurd because its purpose was defeated by its apparent malignity—Mr. Forster Jesuitically remarks, “We have spoken thus of Mr. Forrest with much regret, because we had been led to expect better things of him, and it is always a more grateful task to praise than to blame. But it is a duty we owe to truth, (to Macready he means,) to write what we have written, and the rather as we see the ‘exaggerated tone of praise’ (ay! there’s the rub!) ‘assumed by our daily contemporaries.’ ”

Mr. Forster would have added to this, had he uttered his thoughts; “and we have spoken thus of Mr. Forrest, for that he has had the temerity to place himself singly and alone against the combined talent of our English stage—Mr. Macready, Mr. Charles Kemble, and Mr. Vandenhoff, who are now acting at Covent Garden Theatre at reduced prices from those charged at Drury Lane, where Mr. Forrest is playing, and yet the people throng the avenues to see this Yankee, whilst my Magnus Apollo is acting to comparatively empty benches.”

My success at Drury Lane Theatre worked Mr. Forster into such a fury that his ravings were at last noticed by several of his contemporaries. The following is cut from the London Constitutional of Wednesday, November 9th, 1836; who its author is I never knew; but it is curious to observe how fully and completely some of my charges against Mr. Macready are corroborated, and by an English witness too.

[From the London Constitutional, November 9, 1836.]

An evening journal has placed in a just and perspicuous light some of the obliquities of criticism with which Mr. Forrest has been assailed. In selecting the Examiner, our contemporary has fixed on an assailant who is but one remove from the most virulent of those who have joined in the discreditable warfare. The writer in the Examiner is not a critic, but a caviller—the very antipodes of Leigh Hunt, who found “good in every thing.” He is of the genus iritable—the horse-fly of the drama. The once theatrical writer in the Examiner—(wherefore no longer so!)—took with him, to his task, philosophy and sentiment, the present, misanthropy and distrust. One sought out and gathered sweets, and rendered them still more sweet; the other hunts after blemishes, and strives to make them repulsive. The critic would have appreciated and sympathised with the high dramatic genius of Mr. Forrest; the caviller, unable to grasp and comprehend a beautiful whole, incapable of measuring but by seconds and syllables, seizes on a single defect, real or assumed, and swells it out by prejudice and acerbity, until it becomes as monstrous as his own conceit. Each after his nature. But we are keeping our readers from the enjoyment we have experienced in a perusal of the comments of our contemporary:—

“Mr. Forrest repeated his performance of Lear last night, but, as we noticed his first appearance in this character at some length, on Saturday, we recur to the subject only for the purpose of answering some objections urged against Mr. Forrest by a Sunday contemporary who boldly asserts, that his Lear is little, if at all, removed above the level of common place. Our contemporary is often just in his theatrical notices, giving reason “for the faith that is in him,” but, in the present instance, he appears to write in a head-strong spirit of partizanship—just as if he was annoyed that an American actor should claim a first-rate rank in his profession and bear away the palm from Macready. And, as if also, he were desirous to show how completely he is in the right, and the rest of the play going world in the wrong in their estimate of Mr. Forrest. Now, we dislike this perverse, crochetty spirit in criticism, and have yet to learn that eccentricity is discrimination, or prejudice profoundness. Our contemporary begins his objecting to Mr. Forrest, that he played Lear as a “foolish, fond old man.” Well, and this general conception of the character is the right one, for in what other way would he personate the royal dotard, who gave away kingdoms in return for foolish speeches, and banished an old and tried friend for merely daring to show his disinterestedness? Elevation of mind and sentiment are not the natural characteristics of Lear; misery, it is true, takes him out of himself and for a time lifts him into the world of imagination; but we find him, in the pauses of the mental tempest, constantly falling back on his original self. The royal dotard: the creature of conventional habit all aver; and no more to be considered a lofty or intellectual personage, ‘for the sublime analogy of his sorrows,’ as our contemporary sublimely phrases it, than the Duke of Wellington is to be considered an orator, because he once delivered an eloquent and impassioned speech on the horrors of civil war, that took the lords and the country equally by surprise. Again, our contemporary insists that Mr. Forrest’s sorrows do not issue “out of a great breach in nature,” and “assume a privilege of preternatural grandeur”—in other words, that they are not unnatural enough; not sufficiently stilted or unintelligible, like the objection itself, which recommends the issuing of a “breach” out of a “privilege,” a very original objection, truly, and one, happily calculated to disturb what Philosopher Square delighted to call the “fitness of things.”

The critic goes on to observe that Mr. Forrest’s question to Goneril, “Are you my daughter?”—which, by the way, was one of the finest points in his performance—should have had a “hideous and dream-like sound.” What quaint, captious hypercriticism is this?: How ws the actor to convey the notion of a dream by a sound? Was he to do it through the medium of a snore, or show that he could make his voice “hideous” by roaring like a Westphalia bullock? A tragedian who should adopt the critic’s suggestion in this passage, instead of delivering the interrogatory in a tone of distrust and heart-felt bitterness, would very soon have leave to absent himself from the boards of an English theatre. But the thing is impossible, and we have George Coleman’s word for it, that

“What’s impossible, can[’]t be,

And never, never comes to pass.”

“Mr. Forrest,” adds our contemporary, “threw himself on his knees for the delivery of the curse with fine effect. But he should have thrown his head completely back, instead of thrusting it forward.” Now this is sheer undiluted drivel. Lear was not taking a gargle for a sore throat, but imprecating a curse. He was in the attitude of deep, impassioned prayer, asking from the Deity that which he felt assured would be granted to his invocation. Had he “thrown his head completely back”—we say nothing of the burlesque figure he would have cut in such an attitude—he would most unquestionably at his age and with his physical weakness have cracked his occiput against the mother earth. “The terrible imprecation,” pursues our contemporary, “was afterwards given to an explosion of rapid and convulsive passion.” Of course it was, and if the critic dismissing his crotchets, and his strenuous desire to be thought to see farther into a mill-stone than other folks, will but condescend to weigh well the thoughts and images of which the curse is made up, he will see that it could not with propriety have been given otherwise. Is there no “phrenzy of rage”—no “convulsive passion” in Lear’s supplication to “nature” that she will “suspend her purpose” and “convey sterility” into the “womb” of his own child?

If this be not passion exasperated to phrenzy, we know not what it is. The critic, however, insists that the curse “wrought its passage from a heart that was absolutely breaking in the effort,” whereas the heart was all energy—not “breaking,” but strung, for the time, to the extreme point of tension. Our contemporary proceeds to say, “Mr. Forrest’s aye, every inch a king, was good, though mistaken in its spirit, for these words, we think, do not imply a clinging to the notion of rank, but rather a little satire the other way.” Every trait in Lear’s character, disproves this perverse assertion. He is, throughout, the creature of conventional habits. Royalty is his second nature—ever uppermost in his mind, even where disowned and unhoused a beggar in the storm. His very first causes of complaint against his daughter are that she had shorn him of his appendages of state, by dismissing five and twenty of his train—put his “fellow” in the stocks, even in the royal pre[s]ence, and kept the royal father awaiting the arrival of his child and subject. In fact, allusions to this monarchical dignity are constant throughout the play, and in laying due emphasis on these, Mr. Forrest has proved that he rightly apprehends the text of Shakspeare. Our contemporary further objects that the actor gave these lines—

“I tax not you, ye elements, with unkindness—

I never gave you kingdoms, called you daughters,

You owe me no obedience—here I stand your slave;

A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man.”

in “very tender terms.” Our critic will, we suspect, stand “gloriously alone” in this objection. The lines in question breathe the very soul of pathos. The allusion to the daughters here, is not longer in a frenzied or vindictive spirit, but in one of sad regret—of heart-felt tenderness, of deep, hopeless despair, in which, however, there is not one particle—not the most distant approach, to any thing like fierceness or active energy. We have dwelt perhaps on our contemporary’s objections at more length than they deserve, but our sole motive for doing so, has been from a principle of fair play.

We dislike to see an able man attempted to be sacrificed to a crotchet, depreciated in order to suit the purposes of a clique. There are many pedantic critics now living, of the words-catching genius,

“Who view

In Shakspeare more than Shakspeare knew,”

and who though apt to be sadly perplexed by an obvious beauty in the great dramatist, are in raptures with a recondite or a doubtful one, which ahs escaped all eyes but their own; and our Sunday contemporary—at least as regards his present criticism—is evidently one of these. He is great on all small points of criticism, we protest, therefore, against his competency to sit in judgment on Mr. Forrest’s Lear.”

Expect to hear from me again, on this subject, in a few days.

[V]ery sincerely yours,

To William H. Smith, Esq., Pittsburgh.

“Another Letter from Edwin Forrest.” Evening Post [New York, New York] 24 April 1849; p. 1.

[From the Pittsburgh Morning Post.]

New York, April 10, 1849.

My Dear Sir:—I intended, some days since, to indite this letter, but my time has been much more agreeably employed looking after the affairs of my farm, which, at this season of the years, presents to me the most delightful attractions.

In my preceding letter, I gave you some conclusive English authority, that a certain clique existed in London to write me down, and that the writer in the Examiner was the bell-weather of the flock. I am now happy to furnish you with the testimony of one of our own countrymen, who, from his intercourse with Albany Fonblauque Esq.,* and other gentlemen intimately connected with him, had opportunities to know the feelings under which Mr. Forster wrote, and how his feelings were regarded by those who best understood the relation in which Mr. Forster stood to Mr. Macready. You will perceive that Mr. Forster is not the editor of the Examiner, but is, as I said in a former letter, than “hireling scribbler” of its theatrical and literary articles.

New York, February 9th, 1849.

To Edwin Forrest, Esq.:

Dear Sir—In reply to your inquiries, I beg to state that, during the winter of 1836-’37, whilst you were performing at Drury Lane theatre in London, I had frequently the pleasure of meeting, at his own house and elsewhere, Mr. Albany Fonblauque, the accomplished editor and proprietor of the Examiner newspaper; as well as various members of his family. Knowing my intimacy with you, both he and they were in the habit of explaining and apologizing for the course, the bitter invectives and spiteful scurrility against your acting and person, that weekly appeared under the theatrical head of the Examiner. From frequent conversations with these parties, I gathered the following facts: that the theatrical department of said journal had been confided to the exclusive direction of a person by the name of Forster, who had, in the main acquitted himself, previously, with ability, discretion and taste. But that, on your appearance at Drury Lane, his course and temper had completely changed, and that instead of treating your performances with the impartiality which had always before characterized the Examiner, he had, to their sincere regret, abandoned himself to a wholesale system of unsparing detraction and undeserved censure, exceeding the utmost limits of dramatic criticism. Both Mr. Fonblauque and his family testified, over and over again, their undivided approval of your acting, which they evinced by their almost constant presence at the theatre during the whole period of your performances.

In seeking this solution of this strange contradi[c]tion between the opinions and the tastes of the distinguished editor of the Examiner and one of his employee, whom he found it inconvenient to displace, I discovered that the said Forster was on terms of the closest intimacy with Mr. Macready, the English actor. From this I was allowed to infer two things: First, That it was to win the favor of his friend and patron, Mr. Macready, that Forster did his best not only to write down his American rival, but to stir up such opposition as would militate against his (your) success in England; Secondly, That it was at any time in the power of Macready, by a look or a word, to arrest the foul steam of unmanly abuse that was weekly poured out upon you; for though it was not stated that Mr. Macready would commit himself, by issuing instruction in so many words, to his friends, to assail you, yet it is clear to me, from all that was said, as it will be to any one from the circumstances cited, that if it had pleased Mr. Macready to relieve you from the pertinacious and brutal attacks of the most servile of his friends, that it was entirely within the scope of his known influence to do so. I merely desire to add, that I do not take it upon myself to repeat the words of Mr. Fonblauque and his family at this distant time; but the impression left on my mind by repeated conversations with them on this subject, are still fresh and indelible, and for the authenticity of which, as related, I pledge my word and honor.

Very truly, yours
***** ******

I do not deem it necessary to give the name of the writer of this letter, but he is ready at any moment, should the occasion require it, to make the most solemn attestation to the truth of what he has written.

Let me now call your attention to another paragraph of my Philadelphia card, in which I stated that Mr. Macready has no feeling of kindness for any actor who is likely, by his talents, to stand in his way. In support of this declaration, I give you the following facts, as related to me by Mr. Gustavus V. Brooke, the young and talented Irish tragedian, who, about a year since, made so favorable an impression on a London audience.† When Mr. Macready assumed the management of Covent Garden theatre, he engaged several of the most promising young actors in England, with the ostensible purpose of patronizing native talent. Among these was Mr. Brooke, who, by way of a bait, was promised Othello for his debut, and with all the hopeful aspirations of a young and ardent mind, he was on the point of abandoning the provinces, where he was a leading actor and a deserved favorite, to win in London, as he thought, both fame and fortune.

At this moment Mr. Brooke received word from a friendly actor attached to the Covent Garden company, that although the wiley manager would give him “Othello” for his opening character, yet at the same time, his name was in the cast of the “Merchant of Venice” [to be acted the night following that of his appearance] for “Salerino,” or “Salario,” a part which might with safety be entrusted to the meanest capacity in the theatre. Mr. Brooke saw at once the deep laid plans to ruin him;—for the eminent can “brook no rival near the throne,”—and he determined to defeat the machinations of his arch enemy, and so broke his engagement. Had Mr. Brooke gone to London at this time, he would have shared the fate of others who were “lured to the toils,” and who were either “put upon the shelf” or placed in such a position that they could not display their talents, excepting through the medium of a servile imitation of the manager’s peculiar style.

It is no less strange than true, so general and baneful an influence has Mr. Macready’s acting exercised upon the members of his profession in England, that, with but a very few exceptions, all the actors in that country are merely the transcripts of his artificial manner. I will not impute to them the bad taste that they adopt it from choice, as I am well aware that all who act with him must of necessity move and speak according to his teachings, and by such the pernicious habit is confined among them. Besides, it is much easier to imitate absurd mannerisms and peculiaritie[s], than to spy out the great truths in nature, or “snatch a grace beyond the reach of art.”

The non-fulfilment of his engagement at Covent Garden theatre, rendered Mr. Brooke liable to an action at law; and the manager, although he did not prosecute the young tragedian for his breach of faith, was most active in his persecution of him. He was constantly threatened with a suit, and hunted through three kingdoms by an obedient well-trained hound, calling himself J. T. Serle, whose sycophancy to the will and pleasure of the “eminent” is so well known in England, that it has won for him the enviable soubriquet of “Macready’s door-mat.” an amusing incident occurred in one of these hunting excursions. Serle was despatched by his master to seek Mr. Brooke, whom he found fulfilling an engagement at Aberdeen. Serle demanded that the young tragedian should at once accompany him to London, or abide the consequences of an immediate arrest. Brooke, having a dread of the law, expressed his willingness to go to London by the steamer, which was to leave Aberdeen that very day. In the meantime, however, he took pains to ply Serle with bountiful potations of choicest mountain dew, to which he was nothing loth, and by the time the steamer was ready to depart, Serle was in such a delicate state of unconsciousness, that Brooke found no difficulty in quietly walking ashore, while the boat bore the inebriate back to his master in London alone.

Mr. Macready maintains a position on the London stage, not by his merits as an actor only, but chiefly by the miserable aid of cliques, ever ready to disparage the rising stars, whose brilliancy might eclipse his borrowed light. For this purpose was Charles Kean attacked by Forster and id genus omne. the editor of the Edinburgh Pilot and Chronicle, under date of March, 1846, makes the following comments on the subject:

“The Examiner two years ago when Charles Kean happened one night to play to a more moderately filled house than usual, triumphantly took advantage of it, and announced that ‘on Friday evening last, Mr. Charles Kean performed Hamlet, when the house was, as it deserved to be, empty.’—To any candid mind, to comment on this must be superfluous. The truth is, that Charles Kean’s talents having enabled him to maintain the position of a formidable rival to Mr. Macready, and having hitherto in London, Macready’s strong hold drawn better houses, he is therefore visited with the direst indignation. He has never been forgiven because some years ago, he played at the Hay-market to crowded houses, while Macready, who played on the alternate nights, was only able to draw houses two-thirds full.

“We are no ‘out and out’ admirers of Charles Kean, being by no means blind to his faults, but we want to see fair play. There is room enough on the British stage for both of these actors, and we would like to see a more impartial tone adopted. The bad effects of the present system are obvious: criticism is degraded from this high office; Macready’s faults not being fairly pointed out to him he is not induced to mend them, if he could,—while Kean can hardly be expected to take advice from those who treat him so unjustly. * * * * As an instance of how far every thing is made subservient to Macready in London, we may mention that when he went to America it was said Miss Faucit would have nothing to do till his return. We in Scotland however know this great actress has not been idle; the pupil has far outstripped the tutor, and she has in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dublin earned for herself the reputation of being the most thoroughly finished actress, in the higher walks of the drama, now on the stage. We suspect that the hardest task she had to undergo was the unlearning somewhat of Macready’s mannerisms, which being tutored by him and having for six years constantly played to him, it was almost impossible for her to avoid.”

In giving you these extracts from newspapers published on the other side of the water, I seek rather to “define my position” by the concurrent testimony of Mr. Macready’s own countrymen than by what i could offer from myself. One more extract, and I have done for the present.—The following is from the London Sunday Times of March 12th 1845, and most decidedly does it corroborate my assertion, that: “Mr. Macready has no feeling of kindness for any actor who is likely by his talents to stand in his way.”

Mr. Macready and the Drama.—“In our article of last week we were in error in saying that “Mr. Anderson owed his introduction to the public to Madame Vestris.” His first appearance before a London audience being at Drury Lane under Mr. Macready’s management in the character of Florizel in the winter’s Tale. But the fact that we sought to establish, namely, that during the time Mr. Macready held the management of Covent Garden and Drury Lane theatres “THERE IS NOT AN INSTANCE OF HIS HAVING BROUGHT FORWARD A TRAGIC ACTOR WITH GENEROUS DISREGARD TO HIS OWN POPULARITY” is still more strongly confirmed by the characters which the manager gave to Mr. Anderson during his engagement. Besides Florizel he was put into Cassio in Othello;—Michael in William Tell;—and Gower in Henry 4th.

This was the manner in which the young tragedian was brought forward by the old one. In fact Mr. Anderson was hardly known to the London public, until he afterwards appeared at Covent Garden Theatre, then under the management of Madame Vestris and Mr. Charles Matthews, in the character of Huon, in Sheridan Knowles’s play of “Love.” It was from his performance in this principal part that Mr. Anderson first established his reputation as an actor, and not in any character in which he was permitted to appear at Drury Lane.”

When I have settled some matters about the farm, I shall send you a fourth letter.

Very truly yours,

W. H. Smith, Esq., Pittsburgh.

* The author of “England under Seven Administrations,” a gentleman of liberal political sentiments, and one of the most polished writers of the age.

† Where is Mr. Brooke now? Has he too been sacrificed by the Macready clique, because he was a better actor than the “eminent?”

“Edwin Forrest.” The Sun [Baltimore, Maryland] 24 April 1849; p. 2.

Edwin Forrest has written a third letter, which appears in the Pittsburg Post, of the 17th instant, of which the Philadelphia Pennsylvanian says: “He is producing a host of proofs in confirmation of his original charges against Macready, and is not at all daunted by the censures of partial newspapers. Forrest is not the man to be put down by a clamor.”

“Mr. Macready.” Richmond Whig [Richmond, Virginia] 24 April 1849; p. 4.

This distinguished player is at this time fulfilling an engagement at the National Theatre in Cincinna[t]i. Before leaving New Orleans, a dinner was tendered him by a number of the citizens of that place. The dinner was accepted by Mr. Macready, a speech was made by him and others, and any quantity of good feeling between England and America, and the glory of the Anglo-Saxon, was talked about. Since that time, the papers of the country have been teeming with approbatory notices of what was done and said on the occasion.

We submit whether all these things are in good taste.—That great dramatic talent should be properly complimented, and a suitable appreciation shown of it, no matter whether the possessor happens to have been born on this side of the Atlantic, or the other, we trust, is the sentiment of every American. That every person, who has witnessed the treatment indulged in by Mr. Forrest towards Mr. Macready, since he landed in this country, must look upon it as most inhospitable and reprehensible, is equally certain. But, then, our people should recollect that Mr. Macready came to this country for dollars, and not dinners; and they should remember that the best way of showing their consideration for his splendid histrionic acquirements, is to give him crowded houses, whenever he presents himself for their patronage. There is nothing so grateful to the heart of a great actor as giving him distinction in the immediate line of his profession; whilst it effects the double purpose of replenishing his pocket.

But it is time that this fulsome and sickening adulation of foreigners should be stopped. Such a course must tend to lower us even in their eyes. Have these gentlemen of New Orleans ever read a book, published some years ago by a certain Captain of the British Navy, entitled “Marryatt’s Diary on America”? or have they any aspiration for figuring in another “American Notes for General Circulation”?—which was written by a man who discussed the champagne of the people of this country, and then went home and discussed their “toadyism” afterwards.

“Mr. Forrest.” Public Ledger [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] 25 April 1849; p. 1.

Mr. Forrest has written a third letter in the work of demolishing Macready. It is dated New York, April 10th. This histrionic battle promises, from present indications, to be waged as long as the Punic wars, and the letters written upon it more numerous than the chapters that record them. He promises still another as soon as he gets time to withdraw from his more agreeable occupation, farming, which has for him, he says, the most delightful attractions. Since the Macready subject is so disagreeable, we wonder that Mr. F. pursues it so pertinaciously. He is now engaged in proving the third declaration—we believe it is—that “Mr. Macready has no feeling of kindness for any actor who is likely, by his talents, to stand in his way.”

“Forrest vs. Macready.” The Flag of Our Union [Boston, Massachusetts] 28 April 1849; p. 3.

Forrest is out with still another letter against Macready, and promises a third. Hold, enough!

Advertisements. New York Evening Post [New York, New York] 3 May 1849; p. 3.

Doors open at 7 o’clk—Performance to commence at 7½
Dress Circle and Parquette, 75 cents; Family Circle and Upper Tiers, 25 cents.

THIS (Thursday) EVENING, May, 3d, will be presented, this tragedy

OTHELLO, Moor of Venice
Othello … Forrest | Senona … Mr Shaw
Iago … Dyott | Desdemonia … Miss Wallack
Cassio … Lester | Emelia … Mrs Abbott
To conclude with the new petite comedy entitled
Captain Charles … Lester | Mrs Militent … Mrs Wallack
Earnest Militent … Warden | Smart … Mrs Watts


THE PUBLIC ARE RESPECTFULLY informed that this splendid establishment will be opened for the performance of the ENGLISH DRAMA commencing on


with the farewell engagement of MR. MACREADY, being his last performances in the United States.

Applications for engagements to be sent in writing to Mr JOHN SEFTON, box office, from 10 to 2 daily.

“Forrest and Macready.” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 5 May 1849; p. 141.

Forrest is now playing at the Broadway; and Macready is to make his last appearance at the Astor Place theatre, on Monday evening next. Both of these gentlemen will thus be playing at the same time in this city. Some intimations have been given that the indiscreet friends of Mr. Forrest intend to make a rumpus on the appearance of Mr. Macready, and thus avenge upon him the criticisms of the London press, made upon the American artist, some years ago. We have given all the different steps of the dispute between these two artists, and particularly the last singular and remarkable letter which was written by Mr. Forrest, sent to Pittsburgh, and published there. For ourselves, we believe that the last letter reveals the whole secret of all the dispute. It had the certificate of Henry Wikoff, who has retailed to Mr. Forrest all the tittle tattle he had picked up in London in relation to Mr. Fonglanque, Forster, and others. It seems that this is all the foundation Mr. Forrest has had for the impressions produced upon his mind in relation to the share of Mr. Macready in the attacks of the press upon him. Now, we are perfectly satisfied, and many of our cotemporaries have expressed the same belief, that the tattling reminiscences of Wikoff are altogether unworthy of credit, and that Mr. Macready, on that occasion, could never have taken the trouble to get a man to write an article against Forrest. We are perfectly satisfied, from the character of the certifier and the former passages of his history, that there is not a word of truth in the whole story; and that as soon as Mr. Fonblanque (or his friends) see it, he will give the whole an emphatic and decided contradiction.

The whole dispute between these two great men has been fomented by a malicious little Iago, who has been offended with Macready, and has attempted to work up and excite Forrest, in order to gratify his own petty, venomous, little malice. Now, in such a position of things, we venture to throw out the suggestion, that the mutual friends of these two great men should, in some way or other, have a meeting, and confer together upon this controversy, hear both sides, receive mutual explanations, and, should a reconciliation of these unhappy disputes between them be the result, it would certainly be beter for both of them, than to remain in the position in which we have seen them for some time past—writing the hardest and bitterest things against each other. Let us see if we cannot produce some sort of pacification, by some such negotiation.

“Theatrical and Musical.” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 5 May 1849; p. 141.

Broadway Theatre—Mr Forrest, during the past week, has been playing in some of his finest parts, and the immense audiences which have been gathered together on each evening, is proof enough of the high estimation he is held in by our most intellectual and prominent citizens. As Othello, Spartacus, Jack Cade, Baptista Ferrero, he has successively delighted hundreds—nay, we may say thousands, at the Broadway, as every evening the house has been filled to its utmost capacity, and whether as the noble Moore, driven to desperation by the wiles of the villain Iago, the gallant Spartacus, ever mindful of his native Thrace and eager for liberty, or in any other parts, his acting has been applauded to the echo. Mr Forrest may well be proud of the distinguished position he holds as the great American actor of the age, and we are glad to see that the manager of the Broadway theatre announces that the engagement with him will be continued for a further period after this week. To-night he will appear as “Richard the Third,” a part he is eminently great in. Mrs. Abbott and Miss F. Wallack are to play Queen Elizabeth and Lady Anne, Mr Dyott as Richmond. Mr Forrest as Richard is most splendid and we doubt not the house will be as full to-night as it has been all along during his engagement. The farce of “Who Speaks First?” will conclude the entertainments.

Niblo’s Theatre, Astor Place—Arrangements, on the most extensive scale, are being made, by Messrs. Niblo and Hackett, in order to the production of the English drama, on Monday evening next, under the leadership of Mr Macready, the great tragedian. As this will be the last engagement of this eminent actor previous to his leaving for Europe, his best pieces will be selected, and the most talented artists are secured to sustain Macready in his rôle of characters. Among those already mentioned as forming part of the stock company, are the names of Ryder, C. W. Clarke, Arnold Wemyss and Andrews. The stage management will be under the direction of two favorite and distinguished comedians, Messrs. Chippendale and Sefton. the rest we know nothing of, but the play-going folks may take it for granted, that Niblo will, as he has always done, suit, by not only the pieces selected, but also by the actors chosen to represent the characters of each drama, the taste and refinement of the generation in which we live.

“Macready and Forrest.” Commercial Advertiser [New York, New York] 8 May 1849; p. 2.

The city was disgraced last evening—so we learn from the morning papers—to the extent in which a city can be disgraced on such an occasion, by an outbreak of the most rampant mobbism at the Astor Palace Opera House, at present engaged by Messrs. Niblo and Hackett, for the presentation of English drama, Mr. Macready being the chief performer. It is known that a quarrel has for some time existed between this gentleman and Mr. Forrest; actively on the part of the latter, passively on that of Mr. Macready. The play announced for last night, being the first of the engagement, was Macbeth; and the same was announced in another theatre, where Mr. Forrest is playing.

The Opera House was mainly taken possession of, at an early hour last evening, by a host of persons whose evident object was, not to see Mr. Macready play but to prevent him from playing, which object they effectually accomplished by some two hours assiduous exercise in violence, uproar, unseemly noises and riotous demonstration. After a struggle for so long with the mob, the actors and actresses withdrew and the visitors to the house retired.

All this is very shameful; and we cannot well believe that it was directly instigated by Mr. Forrest, as is alleged in the Courier of this morning. That he has been for some time trying to excite a public feeling against Mr. Macready is known to all; but we have a better opinion of him than to think it possible that he would stoop so low as to hire people to mob his rival.

“The Emute Last Monday Evening—Mr. Macready Driven from the Stage.” From “Dreadful Riot and Bloodshed at the Astor Place Theatre!” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 12 May 1849; p. 145.

The announcement that Mr. Macready would appear at this theatre, in the character of Macbeth, attracted a very crowded house on Monday evening last. As soon as the doors were opened, a very large number of persons, altogether of the male sex, entered the theatre, and took their seats in different parts of the house. They were followed by many others, among whom were probably fifty or sixty ladies. Long before the curtain rose, the house was well filled, the gallery and parquette being quite crowded. It now began to be whispered about that the reception of Mr. Macready would not be favorable on the part of a portion of the auditory; and the appearance of Mr. Matsell, the chief of police, and a very strong body of the force under his orders, seemed to strengthen the rumors which were circulated throughout the theatre. The house was, however, perfectly quiet until the curtain rose upon the first scene, when the appearance of Mr. Clark, who personated the character of Malcolm, elicited three loud and enthusiastic cheers from the parquette and gallery. From this moment, the cheering, hissing, whistling, and other expressions of feeling, began, and not a syllable was heard, the remainder of the scene, and the succeeding, till the entrance of Macbeth, passing in dumb show. When Macbeth and Banquo entered in the third scene, the uproar was deafening. A perfect torrent of groans and hisses assailed Mr. Macready, and a deluge of assafœtida was discharged upon him from the gallery, filling the whole house with its pungent and not particularly fragrant odor. A rotten egg, a la Montreal, was projected against him, but missing the face of the eminent tragedian, bespattered the stage at his feet. The friends of Mr. Macready, who appeared rather to outnumber those opposed to him, now manifested their feelings by cries of “shame!” “shame!”, cheers, and w[a]ving of handkerchiefs, provoking a response in the form of renewed groans, hisses, and half a dozen rotten potatoes on the part of the others. “Three cheers for Edwin Forrest!” were called for by some one in the pit, and were given with great enthusiasm by those unfriendly to Mr. Macready. Ten came the cry of “three cheers for Macready!” responded to with equal enthusiasm by the opposite side of the house. The scene which followed beggars description. Hisses, groans, cheers, yells, screams, all sort of noises, in the midst of which Mr. Macready still maintained his position in the centre of the stage. “Off!” “off!” shouted one party. “Go on!” “go on!” screamed the other. Mr. Macready approached the lights. He was greeted by roars of ironical laughter, and reiterated hisses and groans. A banner was at this moment exhibited in front of the amphitheatre, bearing on its side, “No apologies—it is too late!” and on the other, “You have ever proved yourself a liar!” The appearance of this banner was the signal for a perfect tornado of uproarious applause, laughter, cheers, and groans, in the midst of which an old shoe and a cent piece were hurled at Mr. Macready, who picked up the copper coin, and, with a kingly air, put it in his bosom, bowing, at the same time, with mock humility, to the quarter of the gallery from which the visitation had descended. Lady Macbeth, who was represented on this occasion by Mrs. Coleman Pope—a very beautiful and queenly-looking woman,—fared little better than her lord. Not a syllable of her part was audible. With great calmness, and without the least wavering, however, this lady made a show of going through her part. All on the stage fared alike. It was evident that there was a fixed and settled determination on the part of that portion of the auditory which occupied nearly one third of the parquette, and the greater portion of the gallery, between whom a com[m]unication was kept up throughout the evening, by means of signals and exclamations, not to permit the performance to proceed. Several of Mr. Macready’s friends now became much excited, and shouted to him to “go on,” and “not give up the ship,” which elicited tremendous groans, hisses, and cries of “Three groans for the codfish aristocracy!” which were responded to with marked enthusiasm. Cries of “Down with the English hog!”—“take off the Devonshire bull!”—“remember how Edwin Forrest was used in London!” and similar exclamations, were loud and frequent. Thus passed the whole of the first and second acts, the uproar not ceasing for a moment. When the curtain fell, in the second act, the tumult was fiercer than ever, and it was quite apparent that something still more serious was approaching. Yet the greater portion of the auditory opposed to Mr. Macready seemed in excellent humor. They chaunted snatches of the witches’ chorusses, and amused themselves by asking repeatedly—“Where’s Macready?”—“Where’s Eliza Brown?” and other interrogations of that character. One gentleman in the parquette, amongst those who were hostile to Mr. Macready, ogled the house through a stupendous eye glass, large enough for a horse collar; and others threw themselves into a variety of attitudes, more picturesque than becoming. “Three cheers for Macready, Nigger Douglass, and Pete Williams!” were called for, and given with marked enthusiasm. At length the curtain rose on the third act; and, in dumb show, Banquo, advancing to the lights, commenced the soliloquy—

“Thou hast it, now, King, Cawdor, Glamis, all,

As the weird women promised.”

but not a syllable was audible. Then Macbeth reappeared, and the uproar was greater than ever. Smash came a chair from the gallery, nearly grazing the head of one of the members of the orchestra, and strewing the stage with its fragments, within a few feet of Mr. Macready. Mr. Macready bowed and smiled. Another chair falls at his feet, with a crash, which resounds all over the house. Some of the ladies start from their seats, and grow quite pale. The shouts, and groans, and hisses are redoubled. Mr. Macready stands quite unmoved—not the slightest tremor visible—not the least bravado either, in his manner. Another chair is hurled on the stage, and the curtain suddenly falls. the ladies hurry from the boxes; all but a few, who betray not the slightest alarm. Still the uproar continues. There is loud talking in the lobbies. A great crowd outside thunders at the doors, and threaten to break into the theatre. Mr. Matsell and a strong party of his policemen barricade the entrances. The ladies are hurried out by one of the doors that open in Eighth street, and in a few minutes afterwards. Mr. Macready, in a close carriage, was driven rapidly and safely away. No person on the stage was injured by any of the missiles thrown during the evening, but almost all of the actors received a copious allowance of the fœtid liquid which was discharged from the gallery. During the pantomime upon the stage, the American actors playing with Macready were frequently warned by the people in the gallery to “go off the stage,” or expect similar treatment hereafter. In consequence of these warnings, after the play was suspended, Mr. C. W. Clarke appeared in front of the curtain as an apologist; he remarked that his family was dependant upon his exertions for a maintenance, and he pleaded his fact in justification of himself, for having consented to play with Mr. Macready. Mr. Clarke’s explanation was cordially received. When it was found that the performance had been effectually interrupted, and that Mr. Macready had abandoned the effort to proceed with the play, the crowd, within and without, began to disperse, and about twenty minutes past ten o’clock, the whole scene was perfectly quiet. It was said that a bottle, filled with gun cotton, having matches attached, was thrown on the stage, but we saw nothing of the kind; and we were within a few feet of the stage throughout the whole evening. We may also add, that the missiles thrown came from the gallery, and that none of them appeared to be aimed directly at the person of Mr. Macready. The object seemed to be to drive him from the stage by every species of contumely, without personal violence, and there could be no doubt that the effort, which was quite successful in its object, was the result of an organized and pre-concerted movement. It is also proper to state that the ladies, who came to the theatre, remained to the last; a few expressing their feelings in favor of Mr. Macready by waving their handkerchiefs; and we ought to add that very many of those who were most conspicuous and enthusiastic in favor of Mr. Macready, were American citizens.

“Disgraceful Row at the Opera House.” The Boston Daily Atlas [Boston, Massachusetts] 9 May 1849; p. 2.

picture of hand pointing right We copy from the Tribune, the following

Disgraceful Row at the Opera House.

The Astor Place Opera House was the scene of a most disgraceful row last evening, on the occasion of Mr Macready’s appearance. The play was Macbeth. The house was crowded, with a large number of ladies among the audience. As soon as Macduff (Mr C. W. Clarke) made his appearance, there were “three cheers for Clark!”—and when Mr Macready presented himself, he was received with cheers, waving of handkerchiefs, groans, hisses, and all sorts of menagerie noises, which continued for a few minutes—during which time, rotten eggs, potatoes and pennies were thrown on the stage, and cheers for Forrest, and cheers for Macready given. The plaudits and hisses still continuing, and no opportunity being allowed for the play to be heard, the performers went on with their parts in the best manner they could. Mrs Coleman Pope, as Lady Macbeth, was listened to after a sort of a fashion, but the whole performance was Macbeth as a pantomime.

The second scene was received in the same manner, with the exception that the tumult was greater, and no respect shown to Lady Macbeth. The row continued during the third scene, still not a word of the play being hearc28the performers on the stage being pelted with rotten eggs, potatoes and pennies. Mr. Macready picked up one of the pennies and very coolly placed it in his bosom. At last a couple of pieces of wood, having the appearance of shingles, were sent from the second tier and landed at the feet of Mrs Pope; this was followed by a chair thrown from the same source, which landed in the orchestra, and caused a prestissimo movement among the musicians, not set down in the original music for Macbeth. After this, three chairs were thrown from the second tier to the stage, but fortunately injured no one. Mr Macready, pointing to the fragments strewn around him, bowed to the audience and made his exit. The curtain dropped, and Mr Chippendale presented himself, but could not be heard, and was obliged to retire. After some 15 or 20 minutes, Mr. Chippendale and another person came before the curtain with a piece of canvas, on which was written in chalk, “Mr Macready has left the Theatre,” but the audience calling for Mr Clarke, this gentleman presented himself, and made a remark to the effect that Mr Macready had left the Theatre. In the course of half an hour, the crowd dispersed.

The Courier and Enquirer has a very severe article on Forrest, in connection with this disgraceful affair, and directly accuses him of having hired the ruffians to drive Macready from the stage.

Advertisements. Evening Post [New York, New York] 8 May 1849; p. 3.

Doors open at 7 o’clk—Performance to commence at 7½
Dress Circle and Parquette, 75 cents; Family Circle and Upper Tiers, 25 cents

THIS (Tuesday) EVENING, May, 8th, will be presented, Bulwer’s play in five acts called

RICHELEU—Or, the Conspiracy
Richelieu … Forrest | Chevalier Mauprat … Dyott
Louis XIII … Shaw | Sieur de Beringen … Lester
Baradas … Fredericks | Julie Mortimer … Miss Wallack
to conclude with the new Farce called
John Strong … Hadaway | Schpoonenburg … Vache
Lonsdorf … Mrs. Abbott | Jenny … Mrs. Watts

Acting Manager, Mr. Chippendale—Stage Manager, Mr. John Sefton
Boxes and Parquette, $1; Amphitheatre, 50 cents.
Doors open at 7, curtain will rise at 8 o’clock.

The public is respectfully informed that this splendid establishment will be opened for the performance of the English Drama under the direction of Messrs. William Niblo and James H. Hackett, commencing with the Farewell Engagement of MR. MACREADY, being his last performances in the United States.

THIS (TUESDAY) EVENING, May 8th, will be presented Bulwer’s historical play of

Richelieu … Mr. Macready | De Beringen … Mr. andrews
Baradas … Mr. Bradshaw | Huguet … Mr. Wemyss
De Mauprat … Mr. C. Clarke | Julle … Mr. C. Pope
Joseph … Mr. Bridges | Marion de Lormie … Flynn
To conclude with the laughable farce, in one act, called
Sir Matthew … Mr. Chippendale | Lady Scraggs … Miss Henry
Tom Tape … Mr. J. Sefton | Poplin … Miss Phillips
Count Clorieux … Mr. Andrews | Sally … Mrs. Macder
Wednesday—MR. HACKETT will appear in the comedy of the Merry Wives of Windsor, with a strong cast.

Thursday—Mr. Macready will appear as HAMLET.

Lord Byron’s play called WERNER, is in active preparation.

Response from Theodore Sedgwick. Evening Post [New York, New York] 9 May 1849; p. 2.

A scandalous charge having been preferred against Mr. Forrest yesterday in a morning paper, to the effect, that the persons who were concerned in interrupting the performance of Mr. Macready on Monday evening, at the Astor Place Opera House, by the commission of various outrages and acts of violence, were instigated and paid by Mr. Forrest, we are glad to see that the party calumniated has taken the proper notice of the slander. No man who is in the least acquainted with the character of Mr. Forrest, and he has been long enough before the public to have given them some knowledge of his personal qualities, could possibly have brought himself to believe him guilty of a course, to say nothing of it in other respects, so unmanly and cowardly towards a professional rival. The libel in question occasioned the following letter from Mr. Forrest’s legal adviser:

No. 56 Wall Street, May 8, 1849.

To the Proprietor of the Courier and Enquirer:

I am directed by Mr. Forrest, to call your attention to the article in your paper of this day’s date, in which you have seen fit to charge him with participation in the disturbances that took place last evening, at the Astor Place Opera House.

I am instructed to say, that every charge against Mr. Forrest, contained in the article in question, is absolutely and grossly false, and as the attack is coupled with reflections of a most improper and offensive character, I hope that you will see the propriety of retracting and withdrawing the accusation, in the most immediate, direct, and ample manner.

The charges which you have made, are of the most serious description, and you will, I am satisfied, see the propriety and justice of this demand.

I am respectfully,

Your obd’t serv’t,


This morning the following paragraphs appear in the journal named in Mr. Sedgwick’s letter:

“The writer of this paragraph, who is one of the editors of this paper, witnessed the outrages at the Astor Place Opera House on Monday night, which he mentioned yesterday morning. In connecting the name of Mr. Forrest with their perpetration, he spoke from no knowledge of facts which would establish any such connection. His statements upon this point were entirely inferential. He had no doubt whatever that the circumstances of Mr. Forrest’s controversy with Mr. Macready, and the fact that Mr. Forrest had declared in public that Mr. Macready should never be permitted to appear again upon the stage in this city, warranted the inference which he drew, that the disturbance on Monday night was of Mr. Forrest’s procurement. He makes this explanation, because the paragraph was published without the knowledge of the responsible editor, who does not deem the facts sufficient to warrant the assertion that Mr. Forrest had any thing to do with the outrage in question.—Had the writer anticipated any such different of opinion, the paragraph of course would not have been published.


“P. S.—Since the foregoing was written, we have received the following letter from Mr. Sedgwick, to which we very cheerfully give place; and only regret that any charge against, or allusion to Mr. Forrest, in connexion with this disgraceful riot, should have been made. It is quite certain that there is no evidence of Mr. Forrest’s being a party to the proceeding; and we are bound to assume that he was not; and it is also evident that such was our conviction previous to the receipt of Mr. Sedgwick’s note, from the fact that the foregoing had been already prepared for publication by our associate, and we so apprised Mr. Sedgwick’s messenger.

J. W. W.”

The charge was made, therefore, without the knowledge of any facts to sustain it, and probably without considering that to pelt a man’s good name with groundless slanders is a fouler outrage and a grosser offence against morals, than to shout in a theatre and pelt a performer with rotten eggs. There are some who, while professing a great horror of personal violence, think themselves privileged to indulge in any extreme of violent and malignant language.

In the meantime the following letter has been address to Mr. Macready by several gentlemen of this city:

To W. C. Macready, Esq.:

Dear Sir—The undersigned, having heard that the outrage at the Astor Place Opera House, on Monday evening, is likely to have the effect of preventing you from continuing your performances, and from concluding your intended farewell engagement on the American stage, take this public method of requesting you to reconsider your decision, and of assuring you that the good sense and respect for order prevailing in this community, will sustain you on the subsequent nights of your performances.

Ambrose L. Jordan, Washington Irving,
Edward Sandford, Francis B. Cutting,
Willis Hall, Joseph L. White,
James Foster, Jr., Matthew Morgan,
Duncan C. Poll, David C. Colden,
Ogden Hoffman, Ogden P. Edwards,
Howard Henderson, John R. Bartlett,
Saml B. Ruggles, Rich’d Grant White,
James Collis, Evert A. Duyckinck,
Edward S. Gould, J. Prescott Hall,
William Kent, Robert J. Dillon,
John W. Francis, Ralph Lockwood,
Wessell S. Smith, Wm. C. Barrett,
W. M. Pritchard, David Graham,
Benj. D. Silliman, Edward Curtis,
David Austen, James Brooks,
M. M. Noah, J. E. Dekay,
F. R. Tiltou, Jacob Little,
Henry J. Raymond, H. W. Field,
Charles A. Davis, J. Beekman Finlay,
Pierre M. Irving, Denning Duer,
Moses H. Grinnell, Simeon Draper,
Henry A. Stone[,] Herman Melville,
George Bruce, Cornelius Mathews.

Those who desire to witness the performances of Mr. Macready, have the right to do so without interruption from any class of men whatever, and we hope to see this right insisted upon and enforced. It is due we think to the cause of good order, that those who are concerned should not allow Mr. Macready’s engagement to be broken up by what has happened, and that if any attempts are made to repeat the violence complained of, arrangements should be made to take care of the disturbers.

“Mr. Macready’s Reply.” From the New York Courier & Enquirer. Richmond Whig [Richmond, Virginia] 15 May 1849; p. 1.

To Washington Irving, William Kent, &c. &c. &c. Esqs.

Dear Sirs.—I have the honor of acknowleging [sic] your obliging letter delivered to me this day.

It is one I find some difficulty in answering.

Under the unproved indignities offered me in the Astor Place Theatre, it was certainly my desire and my fixed purpose, to avail myself of the legal right thus offered me, and withdraw at once from my engagement contracted there.

In leaving this country which has been endeared to my recollection by long and strong attachments, I should not have done you the injustice of associating the American character with the ill deeds of persons, unhappily too frequently to be found in every large community: and in the same spirit which would preserve me from a hasty and inconsiderate judgment upon the late occurrences, I assent to your request, honoring and feeling grateful for the sentiment that has dictated it.

I remain, dear sirs,

Most faithfully yours,

New York Hotel, May 9, 1849.

Advertisements. Evening Post [New York, New York] 9 May 1849; p. 3.

Doors open at 7 o’clk—Performance to commence at 7½
Dress Circle and Parquette, 75 cents; Family Circle and Upper Tiers, 25 cents

THIS (Wednesday) EVENING, May, 9th, will be presented, the tragic play in five acts called

METAMORA—Or, the last of the Wampanoags
Metamora, Chief of the Wampanoags … Forrest
Walter … Dyott | Oceana … Mrs Abbott
Nahmeokee, wife of Metamora … Miss Wallack
To conclude with the new Farce called
John Strong … Hadaway | Schpoonenberg … Vache
Lousdorf … Mrs Abbott | Jenny … Mrs. Watts

Acting Manager, Mr. Chippendale—Stage Manager, Mr. John Sefton
Boxes and Parquette, $1; Amphitheatre, 50 cents.
Doors open at 7, curtain will rise at 8 o’clock.

The public is respectfully informed that this splendid establishment will be opened for the performance of the English Drama under the direction of Messrs. William Niblo and James H. Hackett.

THIS (WEDNESDAY) EVENING, May 9th, will be presented Shakspeare’s comedy in five acts, entitled

Sir John Falstaff, the Amorous Knight … Mr. Hackett
Master Ford … Mr. C. Clarke | Mrs. Forc … Mrs. C. Pope
Dr. Caius … Mr. Sefton | Mrs. Page … Miss Phillips
Slender … Mr. Chippendale | Anne Page … Mrs. Macder
To conclude with the laughable farce, in one act, called
Sir Matthew … Mr. Chippendale | Lady Scraggs … Miss Henry
Tom Tape … Mr. J. Sefton | Poplin … Miss Phillips
Count Clorieux … Mr. Andrews | Sally … Mrs. Macder

“Macready and For[r]est.” Albany Evening Journal [Albany, New York] 10 May 1849; p. 2.

Forest [sic] denies that he hired men to insult Macready in New York, and Macready has received a card of condolence from a number of the first citizens of that city. As the case now stands, Macready is decidedly ahead.

Mr. Macready consents to proceed. Evening Post [New York, New York] 10 May 1849; p. 2.

Mr. Macready consents to proceed with his engagement, and appears at the Astor Place Opera House this evening. We are glad that he has done so, inasmuch as it would have been disgraceful to the city had the rioters, who interrupted and hindered the performance on Monday evening, been allowed to have their own way. The fullest and most effectual arrangements we hope will be made for the preservation of order this evening, and the ruffians who offer to disturb it, immediately arrested and conducted to the Tombs.

Notwithstanding that in the newspaper reports of the disturbances on Monday evening, some of the disturbers were said to have been arrested on their way from the theatre, we learn to our great surprise that no such thing as an arrest was attempted. If this be so, the Chief of the Police has been guilty of a culpable remissness. There were men engaged in these disturbances of sufficient notoriety to allow them to be marked and taken into custody as soon as the police officers could get at them.

It is now said that their impunity on that occasion has emboldened them to make arrangements for repeating the same acts of violence to-night, in expectation of the same forbearance. If matters are not so ordered as to undeceive them most thoroughly in this respect, it will be time to call for a reform of our police. Whatever may be the differences of opinion in regard to the controversy between Mr. Forrest and Mr. Macready, there can be no difference as to the necessity of preserving order and protecting individuals from outrage. If there were but one man who desired to see the performance through this evening, his right should be recognized and secured to him. Those who do not like Mr. Macready should not go to the theatre on the evenings when he is announced. If they come let them be compelled to choose between behaving themselves peaceably and being sent to a house of detention.

Advertisements. Evening Post [New York, New York] 10 May 1849; p. 3.

Doors open at 7 o’clk—Performance to commence at 7½
Dress Circle and Parquette, 75 cents; Family Circle and Upper Tiers, 25 cents

THIS (Thursday) EVENING, May, 10th, will be presented, the tragedy in five acts entitled

Spartacus … Forrest | Enomaus … Mathews
Phasarius … Dyott | Julia … Miss Wallack
Crasus … Fredericks | Senora … Mrs Dyott
To conclude with the new Farce called
John Strong … Hadaway | Schpoonenberg … Vache
Lousdorf … Mrs Abbott | Jenny … Mrs. Watts

Acting Manager, Mr. Chippendale—Stage Manager, Mr. John Sefton
Boxes and Parquette, $1; Amphitheatre, 50 cents.
Doors open at 7, curtain will rise at 8 o’clock.

The public is respectfully informed that this splendid establishment will be opened for the performance of the English Drama under the direction of Messrs. William Niblo and James H. Hackett.

THIS (THURSDAY) EVENING, May 10th, will be presented Shakspeare’s historical play of

Macbeth … Mr. Macready | First Witch … Chippendale
Duncan … Mr. Weymoss | Second Witch … Mr. Sefton
Macduff … Mr. C. Clarke | Lady Macbeth … Mrs. C. Pope
Banquo … Mr. Bradshaw | 1st Sin’g Witch … Mrs. Maeder
Hecate … Mr. Andrews | 2d Sin’g Witch … Miss Phillips
To conclude with the musical piece, named
Thibeaut … Mr. J. Sefton | Emily … Miss Phillips
Md’me Thibeaut … Mrs. Macder | Baroness … Miss Henry

NOTICE—Mr. Macready’s night of performance will be Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

FRIDAY—Mr. Macready will appear as RICHELIE[U].

“Riot and Loss of Life.” Commercial Advertiser [New York, New York] 11 May 1849; p. 2.

A very serious affair occupies public attention almost exclusively this morning; a course of events equally remarkable for rarity of occurrence and for gravity of consequences. In brief, the criminal violence of some reckless men and boys, the outbreak of which disturbed and disgraced the city on Monday night, was last night repeated, with such additions of fury and destructiveness as to make necessary the exercise of the utmost repressive power on the part of the authorities, which exercise has been attended by a deplorable expenditure of suffering and life.

Before we proceed to narrate the startling occurrences of the past night, we think it a duty, stern but imperative, to commend the firmness exhibited by the civil authorities in preparation for the last resort, should it become indispensable, and the resolute obedience of the military when their deadly agency was called in requisition. Frightful and lamentable as is the loss of life on such occasions, there is no middle course between vigorous repressive action and the abandonment of the city to mob rule. Authority must be sustained—its power must be enforced; when riot presents itself in arms and hostile array, to conflict with the conservators of the public peace and welfare, there is no wisdom, no mercy, in putting shackles on the limbs of lawful force; the true course is to strike, strike hard and promptly; for the longer the blow is delayed and the more timidly it is given the more disastrous in the end are its effects. Brutal violence must sooner or later be repressed; and it cannot be repressed too soon.

We have briefly described the shameful affair of Monday evening; but there are essential facts connected with it which have come to our knowledge since our article of Tuesday was written. One of these facts is that the attack upon the stage of the Astor Place Opera House was much more furious and criminal than any of the published accounts have represented it; not only were comparatively harmless missiles thrown at the performers, but large pieces of brick, sewed up in canvass, and heavy pieces of wood, all evidently prepared beforehand, were dashed upon the stage.

It is generally known that the riot of Monday evening was successful; that the performance was broken up, and that the intention of Mr. Macready was to abandon his engagement. This intention, however, he was induced to change by the written request of many gentlemen, standing highest in our social circles, and by their assurance, as well as that of the civil authorities, that order would be maintained. Consequently his name was in the bills for a re-appearance on Thursday evening.

It appears that difficulty, serious difficulty, was anticipated; and that preparations were made to encounter it vigorously and effectually. We know little or nothing personally on the subject, for the only direct information we have was received in an omnibus, yesterday, as we were going home to dinner, and that was simply that the military had been summoned and were in readiness. Even from this, however, we gathered no suspicion that the night would bring on events so startling. What followed we gather from the morning papers.

The fullest account is that given in the Herald, and we therefore copy it, supplying such omissions as present themselves from the other journals:—

As early as half-past six o’clock persons began to assemble around the theatre; and, at about seven, crowds were seen wending their way to it from all parts of the city. By half-past seven there were several hundreds in the street, in front of the Opera House, and the rush to get admittance was tremendous. Tickets for a sufficient number to fill the house were soon sold, and the announcement was made on a placard that no more would be sold. Meantime the crowd outside was increasing every minute.

Every avenue to the theatre soon became densely crowded. Astor Place was occupied by an immense assemblage, almost all of whom had been attracted by curiosity. The portion of the Bowery adjoining the theatre was also crowded, and in Broadway, which had at that point been opened for the purpose of constructing a sewer, hundreds of persons were seen crowded together on the top of the mound of earth thrown up from the centre of the street.

The house itself was filled to the dome. A great portion of the assemblage in the theatre consisted of policemen, who had been distributed all over the house in detached parties. there was not any appearance of an organized party of rioters in the house. When the curtain rose there was an outburst of hisses, groans, cheers, and miscellaneous sounds, similar to those which interrupted the performance on Monday. The opening scenes, however, were got through after a fashion, several persons who hissed and hooted having been seized by the police and immediately conveyed to an apartment beneath the boxes, where they were placed in confinement, under the charge of police officers. Macready’s appearance was the signal for a great explosion. Hisses, groans, shouts of derision assailed him, mingled with loud cries of “Out with him.” “Out with him.” Large numbers of the auditory started to their feet, and called on the police to eject the individuals who had expressed their disapprobation, and several arrests were made in the manner described, each arrest being followed by loud cheers and applause all over the house. It was speedily apparent that those unfriendly to Mr. Macready were in the minority.

Thus the play proceeded through the first two acts. There had been a great deal of trepidation behind the scenes, but the heroism with which the actors and actresses sustained themselves on the stage is worthy of all praise. Mr. Macready repeatedly expressed to Mr. Hackett his wish to desist, and his desire to avoid any farther collision with those who were opposed to his appearance; but amid the shouts, groans, hisses and arrests by the police, the play, as we have said, went on, much of it in dumb show, but portions without much interruption. It was supposed, at this moment, that the tumult would be effectually quelled, for the disturbance in the house became less and less, and even some passages of Mr. Macready’s part were heard with a tolerable degree of order.

The first persons arrested in the parquette were four young men, who were locked up in the temporary prison under the boxes which we have already described. In this apartment was a gas-light burning, and the prisoners, pulling up some shavings and pieces of wood, set fire to them. When the policemen opened the door the place was full of smoke, but the officers speedily extinguished the fire. The prisoners who had attempted this atrocious crime were immediately put in irons. At this moment a shower of stones assailed the windows of the theatre. News then came in from the street that a man, known to be Edward Z. C. Judson, was heading the mob outside, and calling upon them to stone the building. The chief of police ordered his arrest, which was promptly effected. In the meantime the assault upon the doors and windows continued. Volley after volley of large paving stones was discharged against the windows. The glass was, of course, smashed to atoms; but having been barricaded, the windows resisted the attack for some minutes; at last yielding, however, the fragments of glass and blinds and barricades being driven with violence into the body of the house, great alarm began to pervade the audience. Rumors of all kinds—that the house was to be fired—that it was to be blown up, and so on, were circulated. The ladies, seven in number, who were present, and who had till this moment preserved their equanimity, now became alarmed, as well they might, and shifted their seats to the part of the house not in range with any of the windows, through which the stones and fragments of glass and wood were flying.

As the mob increased in magnitude and in the ferocity with which they assailed the building, the cry arose inside, and also outside, among the peaceable citizens attracted by a curiosity which in such a case was most culpable—“Where are the military?”—“Can nothing be done to disperse the rioters?”—“Where’s the Mayor?” Several despatches were sent to the City Hall, where the military were stationed. At length, about nine o’clock, the sound of a troop of cavalry coming up Broadway was heard; and in a few minutes two troops of cavalry, of the first division of the state militia, and a battalion of the National Guards, were seen approaching the scene of the riot.


A troop of horse then turned from Broadway into Astor Place, and rode through the crowd to the Bowery, receiving showers of stones and other missiles, on their way. The horses became unmanageable, and the troop did not again make its appearance on the ground. In a few minutes the National Guard made their appearance on the ground, and attempted to force a passage through the crowd to the theatre.—The mob hissed and hooted at them, and finally attacked them with stones. The company were thrown into disorder by the attack made upon them, and retired to Broadway, where they rallied, and made another attempt to reach the theatre. They were hissed and pelted as before with stones, but they succeeded in reaching the desired point. They then endeavored to form in line on the sidewalk, and while doing so, five or six of them were felled to the ground by paving stones and taken into the theatre in a state of insensibility. Captain Pond, the captain of the company, was one of those thus injured.

The next officer in command then said to the sheriff, who was on the ground, that if he did not get orders to fire he and his men would abandon the street. Accordingly that officer directed the company to fire a round over the heads of the people, which was done, but without effect. The people continued to pelt them with paving stones as before. An order was then given to the company to fire at the crowd, and it was done, two men falling, one shot in the arm and the other through the right cheek. The first was sent to the hospital, but the other was found to be dead. After the volley, the mob retreated a short distance, but rallied and renewed the attack with greater vigor than before. Paving stones and other missiles were discharged at them in great quantities, and another volley was fired by the military, killing and wounding several more, some of whom were taken by their friends to the drug store on the corner of Ninth street and Broadway.

After this volley the crowd retreated again, and the military and police took advantage of it to form a line across the street at both ends of Astor Place, so as to prevent any connection between Broadway and the Bowery. Major General Sandford then issued an order for more troops and two brass pieces loaded with grape to be brought to the scene immediately, as it was rumored that the crowd intended to arm themselves and renew the attack. It was at this time half-past eleven o’clock, and the additional troops, consisting of several companies and the artillery, reached the scene of disorder. The cannon loaded with grape were placed in front of the theatre, ready in case of a renewal of the attack.

While the scenes which we have described were proceeding outside the building, the play went on with more or less interruption, arising from the shouts and groans of those inside, the volleys of stones, and the yells of the mob outside. At length the play came to an end, and Mr. Macready made his exit from the house, reaching his hotel in safety. The performance of the afterpiece commenced, and had proceeded but a short way, when the first discharge of musketry startled the whole house—some one called out that the “house was to be blown up.” All started to their feet, when Mr. Ex-Justice Merritt addressed the house, and requested the audience to keep their seats, as there was no danger. This somewhat restored order till a few minutes afterward, when it was announced that a man had been shot outside. All was now confusion—the performance was instantly stopped and the auditory rushed out of the building.

At one o’clock A. M. quiet prevailed at the scene of tumult. In the vicinity, however—on the corner of the Bowery and Tenth street, and in other adjacent places, there were knots of people, numbering twenty, thirty, and forty respectively, speaking aloud in reference to the catastrophe. Some of these meetings were organised, and speeches were made, the tenor of which, from the lateness of the hour, we had not time to ascertain. The military were drawn up in the same position as before, a cordon being maintained across Astor Place, at its junction with Broadway, and at the other end at its junction with the Bowery. The two pieces of ordnance were directly in front of the theatre.

The Express says that tickets were freely distributed among the crowd about the doors of the theatre.—Of the number of rioters in the house that paper says,

We should set it down as no higher than a dozen, in the parquette, and perhaps some forty to fifty in the amphitheatre. About this time Mr. Matsell appeared in front of the boxes, and ordered the police, (who had been marking their men,) to take them out from below; and his order was obeyed to the letter.

The rancorous feeling that prevailed among the assailants is thus exhibited by one of the Express reporters:—

Soon after ten o’clock the doors of the theatre were opened, and the audience began to come out. In Astor Place, a file of infantry, with fixed bayonets, were stationed, it may be for securing egress, or it may be to protect the building, which was in imminent danger, there being furious cries of “Tear it down!” “Fire it! Burn the d—d den of the aristocracy,” &c. “Groans for Macready!” “Cheers for Edwin Forrest,” &c. &c. An orator near us cried—“You can’t go in there without kid gloves on. I paid for a ticket, and they would not let me in because I hadn’t kid gloves and a white vest, d— em!” Another—“I luxuriate in the scene. Hurrah! I will have nothing to do with breaking windows but I luxuriate in the scene.”

The Courier says:—

Those who took an active part in storming the building were only fifty or sixty in number, and were in good part boys. They took up stones from the street, and men among them took large flag stones and broke them in pieces, distributing them among the mob, who hurled them at the windows in regular succession, beginning with the Bowery end and going toward Broadway. The blinds were all closed, but being slight, were of course easily smashed in.*

This continued without interruption for some fifteen minutes, during which time about one third of the windows on that side had been broken in. Just then, some one on the inside of the building thrust through a lower window a hose pipe and began to throw water upon the mob. This was received with shouts of derision, and a shower of stones was forthwith directed against the window from which it came. The assault was also renewed upon the upper windows, which were nearly all broken in. An attack was then made upon the main door on the same side. Heavy stones were taken up from the pavement, and half a dozen or more persons would go together and hurl them simultaneously against the door. Three or four discharges of this sort burst the door in, and a call was made for a rush. Ten or fifteen persons approached the door, and just as they hurled their missiles against it, battering it almost completely down, a side door opened, and a large police force rushed out, seizing some of the rioters and dragging them inside, and then rushing out again in good order and forcing back the whole crowd on either side.

At about half past nine o’clock, the tumult increasing, the doors and windows giving way, and the shouting and stoning being at their height, a diversion was created by the approach of the military from Broadway. First appeared a company of hussars, mounted on white horses, and riding two abreast with drawn swords, on a walk directly through the centre of the crowd,—and these were followed by two divisions of infantry—composed of the National Guards, a whole regiment under Col. Duyea, and the Governor’s Guard, part of the regiment, under Col. Peers—with fixed bayonets gleaming above the heads of the surrounding crowd.

They marched directly through the street, being greeted from their first appearance with groans, and hisses, and hootings, until they reached the corner of the Bowery and were turning into Eighth street, when some stones were thrown at them and other demonstrations of hostility evinced. As they passed through however the tumult ceased. The crowd closed in behind them, but neither the shouting nor stoning the windows was at once renewed. Their appearance had made an impression—marked and salutary. They passed into Eighth street and were posed to keep the space clear in front of the house, for the exit of the audience. They were drawn up in double line across the street at the other end, behind a file of policemen.

The door was opened and the audience came out.

A demonstration made on the Astor Place side caused the door to be closed, and the infantry marched in order from Eighth street to Broadway, (leaving the police alone in charge of Eighth street,)—down Broadway and through the crowd to the Astor Place front of the house. Here they were halted. The rioters began to pelt them with stones. Several of the National Guard were severely wounded. The active participants in the mob were gathered in two squads, one in the street between the troops and the Bowery, and the other a little aside, between the troops and the house of Mr. Langdon. Two or three times in success the troops were ordered to charge. They did so,—drove back the mob, but on falling back, were instantly again hemmed in and pelted with stones.

We are told on good authority that several pistols were fired by the rioters at this time. Seeing that the men under his command were falling around him and carried away wounded, Gen. Hall reported to the Mayor the condition of things, and that unless the riot act were read, he would withdraw his troops.

Upon this the recorder, Mr. Tallmadge, came forward, read the RIOT ACT, and ordered the mob instantly to disperse. They did not do so,—but continued their assault upon the troops,—who were thereupon ordered to fire. They fired first upon the squad between them and the Bowery,—and immediately after upon the other crowd near Mr. Langdon’s house. Most of the muskets, we were told, contained only blank cartridges—some, however, were loaded with ball.

After the firing had ceased and the military had firmly occupied the ground, the rioters were scattered in squads through the streets,—arming themselves with stones and striving to arouse the indignation of the thousands who assembled as spectators. They met, however, with but slight success. We passed, at different times, through every part of the crowd—which could not have numbered less than 25,000 persons; and yet among them all, we do not believe there are more than five hundred, if there were so many, who took an active part in the riot; and of these nearly or quite half were boys.

A paper was circulated among the rioters, calling a meeting for this afternoon in the Park,—but we believe the design was abandoned. A large number of them, however, assembled at Vauxhall Garden, and listened to the most intemperate and inflammatory harangues from their leaders. comparative quiet had been restored at 2 o’clock, the latest hour to which we can bring down our report.

* The windows had all been barricaded inside.—Com. Adv.

From the Tribune.

Early yesterday morning placards were posted up through the city, alleging that the crew of the British steamer had threatened violence to all who “dared express their opinions at the English aristocratic Opera House,” and calling on all working men to “stand by their lawful rights.” In consequence of this and similar threats, a large body of police was ordered to attend at the opera House, and in case this should no[t] be sufficient to preserve order, the seventh regiment Col. Duryea, and two troops of horse, (Capts. Varnum and Patterson,) of the eighth regiment, under command of Gen. Hall, and the huzzars attached to Gen. Morris’s brigade, were held in readiness. they formed in two bodies, one of which was stationed in the Park and one at Centre Market. * * *

The entrance of Mr. Macready, in the third act, was the signal for a perfect storm of cheers, groans and hisses. The whole audience rose, and the nine tenths of it who were friend to Macready cheered, waving their hats and handkerchiefs. A large body in the parquette, with others in the second tier and amphitheatre, hissed and groaned with equal zeal. The tumult lasted for ten or fifteen minutes, when an attempt was made to restore order by a board being brought upon the stage, upon which was written “The friends of order will remain quiet.” This silenced all but the rioters, who continued to drown all sound of what was said upon the stage.

* * * * * *

Sometimes heavy stones would dash in the boards which had been nailed up as protection, and a number of policemen were constantly occupied in nailing up and securing the defences. The attack was sometimes on one side and sometimes on the other, but seemed to be most violent on Eighth-st, where there was a continual volley of stones and other missiles. The retiring-rooms were closed, and the lobbies so “raked” by the mob outside, that the only safe places were in boxes and parquette. A stone thrown through an upper window knocked off some of the ornaments of the splendid chandelier.

After the play was over, the noise being apparently diminished somewhat, the audience were allowed to go out quietly by the door nearest Broadway. The crowd was not dense in the middle of the street, a body of troops having just passed along, but the sidewalks, fences and all other available positions were thronged, and a shower of stones was kept up against the windows.

We have this morning visited the scene of the riot, the city hospital and the station houses where the dead bodies lie, awaiting the coroner’s inquest. At the city hospital we found eleven men, all severely wounded, one of them at the point of death, and two others who probably will not survive many hours. We give their names and such other particulars as we could obtain.

Edward McCormick, residing at No. 135 First Avenue, aged about 19, and employed in the press room of the Methodist Book Concern, 200 Mulberry street. He is severely wounded in the groin.

John Dalzel, a native of Edinburgh, aged 22, residing nearly opposite Washington Market. Wounded in the upper part of thigh, the ball passing into the groin. The ball also passed through his hand, which at the time was in his pocket. He was a hand on board the steamboat Empire.

Thomas Ayleward, aged 19, clerk, residing at the corner of East Broadway and Clinton street. He was wounded in the thigh, the ball breaking the bone.

Conrad Becker, residing at 27 Hudson street, employed by Mahoney and Thompson, upholsterers. he has a flesh wound in the thigh, the ball having passed through.

James Boulton, residence and employment not known, shot in the left eye, the ball lodging behind the ear. Left eye entirely destroyed.

James McDonald, aged 28, residing at No. 189 Walker street. Wounded in the left side, the ball passing through.

George McKay, aged 28, boarding at No. 107 Chambers street, described as a merchant. Wounded in the right lung, the ball passing through his body.

Harry Bluff, gave his name as Burghest, residing at No. 510 Pearl street; received a singular wound.—The ball first struck him on the neck, on or near the carotid artery, then passed through the flesh of the right shoulder, and through the lower part of the arm. The wounds are by no means dangerous. He was rallying and in fair spirits when we saw him.

George A. Curtis, printer, shot through the right lung. Wound no doubt mortal; the man probably dead by this time.

George Lincoln, aged 30, residing at No. 189 Walker street. The ball entered the groin and passed out at the back. The man was dying when we saw him. He was a shoemaker.

Bridget Fagan, aged thirty, residing in Eleventh street, between Avenues 1 and 2. She and her husband were returning home and were nearly two blocks from the scene. The ball entered just below the knee. The limb will be amputated during the day.

We were much pleased with the deep interest taken by the medical gentlemen of the hospital in the well-doing of their patients. They have been unremitting, through the night, in their attentions to the sufferers; and although the call to duty came upon them suddenly and unexpectedly, they were at their posts in a few minutes, and would have commenced operations sooner, but for the crowd who impeded them, and whom they were at length obliged to expel from the wards by force.

From the hospital we passed to the Fifteenth Ward station house, in Mercer street, where the appalling spectacle of eight dead bodies presented itself. We give their names.

George W. Gedney, formerly a dry goods merchant, a son-in-law of Mr. Wm. B. Shipman, and brother of a broker in Wall street. Owen Burns, of 472 Pearl street, shot through the head; Asa F. Collins, of Essex street; Matthew Kehan; Matthew Carhart; Henry Otten, grocer, residing at the corner of Hester and Orchard streets, shot through the stomach; and Thomas Kiernan.

At the Seventeenth Ward station house were three dead bodies, those of Neale Grey Millis, residing at 119 Grand street; Wm. McGuire, 107 East 13th street, and Wm. Butler, 23 Thompson street.

At Jones’s, at the corner of Ninth street and Broadway, we found a young man, aged 25, a printer, named John McKinley, residing near Fifteenth street, in the Third Avenue, who was shot through the lungs, the ball entering the chest and coming out at the back.—We judged that he could not live more than two or three hours. He was about to be removed to the hospital.

So far our own observation has supplied the particulars of the dead and wounded. We have since heard that another wounded man has been received at the city hospital. He may have been the young man spoken of as about to be removed from Jones’s. We have also authentic information of the death of a young man named Brown, residing at No. 42 Crosby street, who died in two hours after he was wounded. Also that a young man, name not given, shot in the lower part of the abdomen, was taken to Bellevue hospital this morning, where his wounds were immediately dressed. The ball could not be found. His life is considered in imminent danger. He was a spectator only.

It is reported also that an aged gentleman, while stepping from the railway cars, was struck by a ball and instantly killed. We subjoin such additional accounts of the wounded as we find in the morning papers, but have not had opportunity to verify.

Frederick Gillespie, aged 16, residing in 2d Avenue between 25th and 26th streets, shot in the foot. John Smith, 96 Perry street, shot in the thigh, not dangerously. Mr. Romaine, butcher, a young man residing in First street, severely wounded. A son of Mr. J. Irwin, of 213 Tenth street, shot in the leg. B. M. Seixas, Jun., wounded; James Riley, a cartman, living in Attorney street, shot in the hand.

[Our reporter adds the following to the list of the dead.—Geo. W. Taylor, residing No. 115 Varick st. and — Kelly, residing at 104 East Thirteenth street; and to the wounded, Stephen Cahoe, aged 24, wounded in the eye.]

In Astor Place, as was to be expected, a considerable crowd was assembled this morning. the extent to which the rioters had carried their proceedings may be inferred from the appearance of the Opera House and neighborhood. The attack upon the house is described in the foregoing narratives, but a glance down the area, where those bricks which failed of their mark, and struck the walls instead of the windows, still remain, gives a better idea of the ferocity of the attack and of the dangerous weapons employed. The rioters had also wrenched, from their fastenings in the wall, the heavy iron railings around the North wall of Mr. Langdon’s residence in Astor Place, to use them as weapons for the attack upon the military and police. The marks of bullets are plainly to be seen on the North side of the house, the bricks being fractured by them.

Large quantities of blood remained on the sidewalks after five o’clock this morning; and some hours afterward the track of the wounded man, who was conveyed to Jones’s, could be plainly followed by the blood from his wound.

The windows of the store of Dr. Chilton, chemist, at the corner of Ninth street and Broadway, were broken; and we observed that a bullet had passed through the door casing of a house on the corner of Eighth street and the Bowery, and another through one of the panes of a second story window.

Numerous arrests were made last night and this morning. At twelve o’clock between seventy and eighty were in custody. Among them is Edward Z. C. Judson, who, we learned at the Mayor’s office, was seized by Capt. Miller, of the police, while heading the mob and directing them how to proceed in their attack.—Many of the prisoners are mere boys.

So far the account of our observation and inquiries has reference to the rioters and sufferers. The narratives from the morning papers give some account of the general operations of the authorities, civil and military. In conversation with several gentlemen, some of whom were present during the whole time and others from their official station are competent informants, we learn that not until the military had been severely and frequently assailed and some of them seriously injured, and the crisis was plainly come when the mob or the law was to be master, was resort had to powder and ball.

The sheriff, Recorder, Gen. Sandford and others then held a consultation, and it being evident that the police and military must give way before the mob, or the military must be empowered to act, the sheriff reluctantly gave the order to fire. But the first volley was generally directed over the heads of the people, and it was the second volley, provoked by farther attacks, that wrought such fatal effects.

The riot act was read twenty minutes before the firing of the first volley. When read, the chief of police and others were instructed to make the fact known, and they did so to the full extent of their power and in every approachable direction.

The companies on duty were the seventh regiment, National Guard; the fourth, Governor’s Guards; a detachment of the flying artillery; the German Hussars; and the Washington Grey troop, third regiment.

We understand that, before the riot act was read, one of the military had been wounded in the leg by a pistol shot. Capt. Pond, of the seventh regiment, was disabled by a severe wound in the face from a large brick. Lieuts. T. W. Todd and W. H. Harrison, and several privates, were very severely injured by stones and bricks. Orderly-sergeant Weller is said to be dangerously hurt. General Hall, of the National Guard, was severely wounded in the forehead, and received several bruises. Between five and six o’clock this morning we saw several of the National Guard taken from the Opera house in carriages, being bruised and wounded.

It is announced that the Opera House is closed.

It is also announced officially that Mr. Macready left the city this morning, never to revisit it. He left the New York Hotel yesterday afternoon

A meeting in the Park is called for this evening, by the friends of the wounded and dead.

the bill is a large poster headed “to the public,” and calling upon the citizens of New York “opposed to the destruction of human life,” to meet in the Park at six o’clock this evening, to express their sentiments relative to the dreadful tragedy of last night.

Every gentleman we have conversed with, who was at the theatre last evening, speaks in terms of highest commendation of the organization and behavior of the police.

The coroner’s inquest will be held upon the bodies to-morrow, in the Court room of the General Sessions.

Captain Samuel C. Reid, attached to the United States naval rendezvous, is reported dangerously wounded.

The gentleman shot when getting out of the railway cars was Mr. James Stewart, a retired merchant. Though in danger, he was alive and doing as well, this morning, as could be hoped.

[It will be observed that frequent mention is made of “reading the riot act”. As there is no such act known to our law, we presume that what is meant is a distinct and repeated notice that the troops would fire unless the rioters dispersed.]


P. S. We have just received the following proclamation from the Mayor:—


The Mayor of the city, while deeply deploring the loss of life which has resulted from the maintenance of the law, during the past night, reminds all the citizens that the peace of the city must be maintained.

He calls on all good citizens to sustain the magistracy. The efforts of the authorities will be considerate—will be humane, but they ought to be and must be firm.

He recommends all citizens for some days to remain as quiet as possible within their own dwellings, and to abstain from swelling public assemblages and from all acts that tend to encourage the riotously disposed.

The effect of crowds is to expose the innocent to the injury arising from the measures which must be taken. THE PEACE OF THE CITY MUST AND SHALL BE MAINTAINED BY THE WHOLE CIVIL AND MILITARY POWER OF THE COUNTY.

It must always be remembered that the military is but a portion of the police of our city, composed of our own fellow citizens, who have volunteered to maintain the supremacy of their own laws.

C. S. WOODHULL, Mayor.

Mayor’s Office, May 11, 1849.

“Terrible Riot.” Albany Evening Journal [Albany, New York] 11 May 1849; p. 2.

NEW YORK, MAY 11—9 A. M.


The Military called out!—10 or 15 Persons Killed!!—25 or 30 Wounded, among whom are several Citizens, spectators, and one or two Women!!!—20,000 persons assembled!!!

Last Monday Evening, as you are already advised, Mr. Macr[e]ady was driven from the stage of the Astor Place Opera House, by a band of ruffians. Since which time the excitement has been increasing. Last night, it being understood that he was to play Macbeth, preparations were made by his enemies and friends, the one to assail and the other to protect him.

Inflamitary [sic] hand bills were posted yesterday. Among them the following—

The Crew of the British steamer have
Threatened all Americans who shall dare to
express their opinions this night, at the
English ARISTOCRATIC Opera House!
We advocate no violence, but a free expression of opinion to all public men.

American Committee.

A strong police party was organized; some special constables, and some companies of military, (two companies of the National Guard) were held in readiness at the Park and Centre Market. Crowds of persons assembled around the Opera House at half past six o’clock.

At half past 7 o’clock, no tickets could be obtained, the House being filled to the dome. An immense number were outside, and wished to force admittance. The House was filled to its utmost capacity.

Large numbers of the police were detailed to preserve order inside. There was no appearance of an organization of rioters. The opening scenes were got through tolerably quietly, but Macready’s appearance was the signal of a general explosion. Soon, however, it became known that the Macready party was in the majority, when the house demanded the expulsion of the rioters.

Mr. Matsell, Chief of the Police, arrested four rioters, and confined them in a small room in the building. While there, they attempted to set the Theatre on fire, and they were put in irons immediately.

At this moment, vollies of stones from without, assailed the windows. Ned Bunthn was said to lead the rioters. He was promptly arrested.

The barricaded windows were now broken in, and the ladies were obliged to retreat to the centre of the house to escape the missiles. Orders were given by the Chief of the Police, and cries raised for the military.

A company of cavalry came up to the scene of the riot at this time, and were driven off by the mob. a few minutes afterwards a company of the National Guards came up, when the mob attacked them with paving-stones, &c.

After two attempts the guards forced their way to the Theatre. The Captain was struck down by a stone. The second officer then demanded permission to fire. The first fire was over the heads of the mob.

The mob continued the attack. The military then fired three vollies of ball cartridge, at each time dispersing the crowd. The military then formed a line across the street at the Opera House, cutting off all connection with the Bowery and Broadway.

Maj. Gen. Sanford, who was several times struck ordered more troops.

Two pieces of artillery loaded with grape were placed in front of the Opera House.

After half past 11 o’clock, the dispersed crowd occupied the streets in detachments, listening to inflammatory speeches or carrying off the dead and wounded.

The DEAD NUMBER about FIFTEEN, the wounded about TWENTY-FIVE, they were carried to the Hospital, and various drug stores. The excitement is still great.

Mr. Macready is announced to play to-night.

Entrenchments are thrown up around the Opera House, and more military have been ordered out.

List of the Killed.
Bridget Fagan, E. McCormick,
John Delzel, George A. Curtiss,
Conrad Becker, George McKay,
S. F. Cornell, Henry Otten,
Owen Burr.

And three others, names unknown, and a Mr. Brown, of Mercer st.

Mortally Wounded.
George Lincoln, Thomas Aylewood,
John Smith, Mr. Romaine.

Frederick Gillespie, Stephen Elwood,
James McDonald, Henry Burguist.
J. O. Irwin, B. M. Seixas,
Capt. Pond, Capt. Peck,
Mr. Ruckle, John Mortimer,
Sergeant Norton, Capt. Underhill,
Isaac Devoe Bogart, John Curran.
Several others, whose names are unknown.

By this afternoon’s Telegraph.

NEW YORK, May 11—3 P. M.

Further Particulars of the Riot.

The excitement in the city is most intense, and business is almost entirely suspended.

The general opinion is that the authorities acted perfectly right.

Gen. Hall (one of the State Senators, who is connected with the military) it is said is badly wounded.

The Mayor’s house and Gen. Sanford’s residence, it is reported, will be sacked to-night, also, that the Opera House will be blown up!

The military have been ordered out, including the 12th Regiment.

Mr. Macready has left the city.

The deaths up to 2 o’clock are reported as being 27.

“Alarming Riot at the Astor Place Theatre.” Evening Post [New York, New York] 11 May 1849; p. 2. With missing text supplied by “The Late Riots at New York.” Daily National Intelligencer [Washington, DC] 14 May 1849; p. 3.

Those of our readers who from time to time have taken note of the feud which has been gradually growing up between two rival actors in this city and country, will scarcely have been prepared for the horrible intelligence which it is our duty to-day to communicate to them.

In compliance with an invitation from a large number of our most respectable citizens, in the exercise of an undoubted right, and in the fulfilment of an engagement by which he became bound to the managers of the Astor Place Theatre, Mr. Macready undertook last evening to perform the play of Macbeth. From the demonstrations made on Monday evening at this place, and from an inflammatory notice published in the Herald of yesterday morning, it was expected that the evening would not pass without an effort to disturb the peace, and such measures were accordingly taken by the authorities, as the exigency seemed to demand. Generals Sandford and Hall were ordered to detail a sufficient force of Artillery, Cavalry and Infantry to protect and support the municipal police in the discharge of their expected duties. In compliance with which order the following corps were mustered for service viz:

The National Guard, 7th regiment, commanded by Colonel Duyea—numbering 8 companies.

Two companies of the Governer’s Guard.

Two companies of the Hussars, 5th regiment.

One troop of the Washington Greys, 7th regiment.

The infantry assembled at the armory in Centre Market, where they received several rounds of ball cartridge, the Cavalry in front of the City Hall, and the Artillery at the Arsenal; two pieces of cannon—six pounders—were given to the Artillery, with a supply of grape and canister shot.

At dusk, the paving stones which had been raised for the purpose of constructing a sewer in the vicinity of the theatre, were carted away by order of the Mayor; the windows which fronted the streets, and which communicated with the audience and with the persons attached to the theatre, were all carefully barricaded with inch and a half boards, and nearly the entire police force of the city was stationed in and about the house.

Long before the performance commenced, every ticket had been sold, and the streets surrounding the theatre were crowded with the riotous, curious and the anxious, the former making desperate and almost irresistable [sic] efforts to enter. The doors were closed and barricaded on all sides, and at half-past seven the curtain rose.

Though there was no deliberate interruption of the first scene, the noise and movements of the audience and the people outside made it sufficiently apparent that the play was to be merely a formality. When, in the second scene, Mr. Macready appeared, overwhelming and protracted applause, which demonstrated the clear majority of the friends of order in the house, was followed by groans and hisses from some fifty persons stationed in different parts of the building, the most disorderly of whom were located in the centre of the parquet, near the stage.—Their noise and insulting remarks, directed both at Mr. Macready and at his assistants on the stage, and particularly at Mr. Pope, who supported the character of Lady Macbeth with surprising fortitude, became more and more intolerable, as the evening wore, until the last scene of the first act. It then was apparent that further forbearance on the part of the police would peril the safety of Mr. Macready, and perhaps of the audience. After using every art of persuasion and intimidation with the rioters, Mr. Matsell gave the signal, which brought a sufficient force into the parquet to take out those who were supposed to be the chief promoters of the disturbance.

As the play proceeded it was apparent that the house was not yet peaceful. By the activity of the police, however, and the masterly management of Mr. Matsell, whose energy and tact received repeated and fervent expressions of admiration from the audience, the rioters were all either removed from the body of the theatre or awed into silence. The first of those who were arrested, were placed in the boxes under the theatre. Meantime the windows and doors of the building, on both streets, were assailed by an active shower of paving stones, bricks and other mob enginery.

The whole police force, which had been stationed outside the theatre, were obliged to take refuge within, to protect themselves from the missiles with which they were assailed by the rioters, who had discovered that these were the only obstacles to the gratification [of their frightful purposes, which seemed to have] been the razing of the theatre to the ground, and the perpetration of extreme violence upon the person of Mr. Macready.

At this time a strong smell of something burning, spread alarm through the house, and was the first event which brought from the half dozen ladies present any expression of terror. Upon inquiry, it was discovered that the persons who had been first arrested had collected a bundle of shavings in the room they occupied, and with the gas lamp, which had been improperly left burning in the room, had fired them, with the horrible intention of destroying the building and its occupants. The fire was promptly extinguished and the alarm also, save what was felt from the position of the audience in a building which they could neither leave nor occupy without peril to their lives, from the desperation of the mob, now amounting to some 10,000 people, including those who had been brought to the scene from motives of curiosity.

By nine o’clock, and at or near the commencement of the third act, the disturbances within then ceased, but without, the excitement was growing more and more uncontrollable, and the position of those within more and more critical. Large stones came rattling into the windows, knocking in the barracades [sic] and projecting them with violence in upon the audience. A large stone was sent with unaccountable force into one of the windows, which took effect upon the magnificent chandelier hanging in the centre of the theatre and ruined it.

Mr. Macready bore himself through the whole of this unhappy scene with commanding dignity and firmness. We are told that it was his wish, repeatedly expressed, that the play might cease, that nothing might be left undone to preserve peace. If this be true, as we presume it is, we hope he may have the benefit of it, with those who have esteemed his notions and opinions, of consequence enough, to threaten his life and the lives of hundreds of people because of them.

When it became apparent that the lives of the persons within the theatre were in danger, which was momentarily increasing, and that there was no escape from the theatre without still greater risk, it was obvious that no other resource remained but to employ the military to clear the avenues to and from the theatre, in order that the audience or such as pleased, might leave. An order was accordingly sent down for them, and about nine-o’clock they arrived upon the ground, shortly after the police had been driven into the theatre. They marched up on the sidewalk on the north side of Astor Place, and when about opposite, defiled across the street [for the] purpose of clear[ing] it, opening the entrance to the theatre, and dispersing those who were throwing missiles into the building.

The soldiers, however, were soon made to perceive that they could not hold their position unless permitted to use some weapons besides threats. General Sanford was felled to the earth; Lieut. W. R. Harrison was badly wounded; and eleven out of nineteen men in the first company were so severely injured as to be incapacitated for duty. Captain Shumway, Lieut. Clark, and Captain Pond, were badly hurt, and many others, whose injuries or names are not yet known.

The autorities were finally told that the military would not stand any longer to their duty, unless permitted to defend themselves. And it then became a question whether the theatre should be closed, surrendered to the mob, or the soldiery ordered to fire upon them. The latter alternative was determined upon. Proclamation was made in two different places, once by Mr. Matsell, and in another place, we understand, by some other city officer, and the crowd were ordered to disperse at the peril of being shot.

Capt. Pond, in command of the company who had taken possession of the sidewalk next the theatre, with extreme difficulty and danger, was hit with a stone and taken off the ground. The next officer in command, then said to the Sheriff, who was at hand, that if he did not get orders to fire, he and his men would abandon the streets. That officer then directed the company to fire a round over the heads of the people, which was accordingly done, but without effect. The people continued to pelt them with paving stones as before. An order was then given to the company to fire at the crowd, and it was obeyed, two men falling, one shot in the arm, and the other through the right cheek. The first was sent to the hospital, but the other was found to be dead.

After the volley, the mob retreated a short distance, but rallied and renewed the attack with greater vigor than before. Paving stones and other missiles were thrown at them in great quantities; and while the mob was raging, another volley was fired by the military, killing and wounding several more, some of whom were taken by their friends to the drug store on the corner of Ninth street and Broadway. One young man, named John McKinley, of No. 147 Third avenue, was shot through the body, and taken to a public house in the neighborhood.

After this volley the crowd retreated again, and the military and the police took advantage of the pause to form a line across the street at both ends of Astor Place, so as to prevent any connection between Broadway and the Bowery. Major General Sandford then issued an order for more troops and two brass pieces, loaded with grape, were brought to the scene immediately, as it was rumored that the crowd intended to arm and renew the attack. It was half-past eleven o’clock, when the additional troops, consisting of several companies, and the artillery, reached the scene of disorder. The cannon loaded with grape were placed in front of the theatre, ready in case of a renewal of the attack.

The discharges of the military, were, for a time, numerous and rapid, and were repeated at various times until near midnight.

The numbers of killed and wounded cannot be accurately estimated as yet, but the worst may be anticipated.

The following—partial—list of the killed and wounded, we extract from the New York Tribune:—

George Lincoln, 30 years old, 189 Walker street. Ball in groin and out the back. No hopes of recovery.

James McDonald, 27 years old, 134 Walker street. Ball through left side.

Bridget Fagan, Irish, 30 years old, shot in the left leg, just below the knee. Lives in Eleventh-street, between avenues 1 and 2. She was two blocks off, walking with her husband on their way home, and fell into his arms.

Edward McCormick, 135 First-avenue, 19 years old; worked at 200 Mulberry. Shot through the side.

John Delzell, 22 years old, of Edinburgh. Lived at Widow Harrison’s, opposite Washington Market.—Shot through the thigh, making a serious compound fracture. The same ball went through his hand.

George A. Curtis, printer, resides in New York, age 22, shot through the right lung.

Conrad Becker, 27 Hudson street, worked for Mahoney & Thompson, Upholsterers, Chatham street. Ball went through the right thigh.

Thomas Aylwood, aged 19, clerk, resides corner of East Broadway and Clinton street. Ball through the thigh, fracturing the bone.

Stephen Ellwood, (insensible when our reporter was in the hospital.) Ball entered the left eye, and lodged near the ear.

George N. Kay, 28 years of age, merchant, boarded at 107 Chambers street. Ball in the right breast, going entirely through.

Henry Burguist, known as “Harry Bluff,” lived at 510 Pearl street. Ball grazed the neck, went into the right shoulder, coming out behind the right arm. He had been deputized as special policeman for the evening.

S. F. Cornell, shot through the neck, severing the jugular vein; died in the drug store corner of Fourth street and Broadway.

Henry Otten, grocer, corner of Hester and Orchard street, was shot through the stomach, and died in the 15th Ward Station House while we were there. His aged mother was present, and her lamentations were truly heart-rending.

At the same Station House we saw a fireman (name not known) who had just died from a short through the brain.

Frederick Gillespie, a boy, shot through the foot, was taken home.

There was another man lying dead from a ball through the head.

Another deadman was brought into the Station House by order of the Coroner. He had three wounds in the neck and breast.

At Dr. Chilton’s drug store, corner of Broadway and Eighth street, we learned of good authority, that seven men, one boy and one lady had been treated, several of whom are mentioned above in the hospital report.

In the Opera House one man lay dead. At Jones’s, corner of Ninth street and Broadway, we saw a Mr. McKinley, about 26 years old, a bookbinder in Third avenue, near Fifteenth street, who, while passing down the Bowery, was struck on the left breast just below the collar bone, the ball going out through the left shoulder blade. His wound was dangerous, but not hopeless.

At No. 19 Third avenue, corner of St. Mark’s Place, eight of the military were brought, injured by missiles thrown by the mob. None of these were seriously hurt. Eleven other persons were brought to this store, four of whom we were assured by the doctor were dead. We saw two corpses ourselves. A man with a shot in his leg was taken from here to the hospital. Several balls were said to have struck the walls of this store.

At the Seventeenth Ward station House, we saw two dead persons—Owen Burns, shot through the head, and William Butler, apparently a sailor, shot in the right breast.

We were assured that one wounded man died in or was taken dead to Vauxhall Garden.

John Smith, of 96 Perry street, was shot in the thigh. His wound is very severe, but not dangerous.

Mr. Romaine, a young man, butcher, of 55 First [st. lay mortally wounded at the druggist’s, corner of Third] avenue and Eighth street. Another dead body had been removed. Three had died there. They knew of 11 persons shot—eight mortally.

We heard of a colored woman shot at the corner of Lafayette place.

J. Irwin, of 243 Tenth street, said his son had just been brought in with a ball through his leg.

B. M. Seixas, jr., a private citizen, was wounded.

Capt. Pond, 7th regiment, had a severe flesh wound on his cheek.

Capt. Peck, a militia officer, had been hit in the stomach with a large paving stone, before there was any firing. He seemed quite sick.

Mr. Ruckle, Fourth Company, was hit hard with a brickbat.

The first soldier struck was Theodore W. Todd, 2d Lieutenant, and Lieutenant W. H. Harrison was injured.

Private John Mortimer, Orderly Sergeant Morton, Captain Underhill, Private Isaac Devoe, 1st company, and — Bogart, 4th Company, were wounded—none dangerously.

To these must be added among the killed, George W. Gedney, brother to a broker of that name in Wall street, who was shot through the brain, and a number, probably not less than twenty, whose names are not known.

Among the wounded, we have received the following additional names, mostly of persons who were accidentally within range of the musketry, and not designing to be even spectators of the riot.

William C. Russell, Esq., well known as a member of the New York bar, who was casually in Lafayette place, near the corner of Astor [P]lace, received a ball in his left arm, breaking the bone and causing other serious injury. He was conveyed to his own house. Hopes are indulged that he may not permanently lose the use of the injured limb.

Mrs. Brennan, housekeeper for Mr. Kernochan, corner of 2d avenue and 9th street, whilst passing up the Bowery, on her way home, leaning upon the arm of a man, was struck by a ball in her left thigh, which passed through the fleshy part of this and the right thigh without injuring the large vessels or the bones; wounds not mortal.

Timothy Maguire, aged 19, residing at 107 13th street, the only support of a widowed mother, was standing immediately opposite the main entrance to the theatre, and at the first discharge of musketry received a ball which entered the abdomen on the left side, under the arm, between the pelvis and the ribs, passed through the body, and escaped about two inches to the right of the spine—died a few hours after receiving the wound.

The last two cases were attended by Dr. Wm. R. Waggstaff, Second avenue and 14th street.

John Lecompt, a mechanic, residing at 258 Twenty-fifth street, was shot through the leg by a ball discharged very near him. It passed through the fleshy part of the leg, but did no fatal damage. He was taken into the office of Dr. Johnson, No. 752 Broadway, where his wound was kindly bandaged, and he was taken in a carriage to his boarding house. He was doing well this morning.

There were several hair-breadth escapes. A musket ball went through the hat of one man, tearing it to pieces, but without injuring him. A policeman, of the Seventh Ward, received a flesh wound in the back, and had a narrow escape from being killed.

A young man, apparently thirty years of age, was brought into Dr. Trudeau’s house, at a quarter before 10 P. M., having been shot through the heart by the military. A pocket book containing one dollar, a brass night key, and a note addressed to Mr. Willis, were found in his pockets.

It is impossible for us to-day to discuss the propriety of the proceedings which have resulted so disastrously, which have hurried so many of our fellow-citizens into eternity, and plunged so many more into the deepest affliction. It is easy to perceive, or to imagine that one perceives, after the conclusion of scenes like those above described, and which, or most of which, the writer witnessed, how many of their worst incidents might have been avoided.

We have no time to-day to consider what have been esteemed the mistakes which the municipal authorities have been supposed by some to have committed. We have a firm conviction, however, that they acted from the best of motives, with a desire to prevent and to avoid bloodshed, and that they employed the means which they supposed best adapted to that end.

The following further particulars have been communicated to us since writing the above.

The following is a list of some of the persons who were arrested and confined under the theatre, charged with participating in the riot:

Edward Z. C. Judson, editor of “Ned Buntline’s Own,” who, it is said, acted as leader of the mob outside.

George E. Harrison, Wm. Bearns, James O’Neil, Wm. Sparks, George Mason, R. E. Dugan, John Hawkins, Robert Tenure, A. Hasack, Ed. Haggerty, John McAuley, John Falls, James O’Neil, Thomas Seaman, John Stevenson, Walter Lawrence, Daniel Adriance, William Aikin, Jacob Day, Jas. Matthews, David Jordan, Thomas Green, John Lions, E. Heath, H. A. Rausford, George Parker, Thomas Dorian, C. Tappan, Thomas Bennett, Harry Heffer, John Norris, Hugh McLaughlin, Robert Miller, John Dean, James Cook, Wm. Jones, Robert Howard, John Ayres, Wm. Wallace, Alfred holden, Andrew Murry, John Roach, Charles Thomas, George Douglass, John McLean, William Holden, Augustus Gore, Dickinson Reed, Thomas Kelly, Chas. Foisner, Robert Charles.

—Among those arrested was Mr. David S. Holley, clerk in the office of the Democratic Review, who was charged with having been one of the leaders of the mob inside. This, we are assured by Mr. Holley, is a mistake. He says he was not in the Opera House during the evening.

—The prisoners were transferred from the theatre to Jefferson Market, where they are now confined.

—Mr. Monnot, the proprietor of the New York Hotel, was badly injured in the face, in attempting to barricade the doors of his house, to prevent the entrance of a crowd in quest of Mr. Macready, who had occupied rooms at his house.

Mr. Macready left the house yesterday, and the city this morning at three o’clock, in company with a few friends. His baggage was sent at five.

—The lessees of the Opera House called upon the city authorities yesterday morning, and wished to know whether they had better proceed or desist from playing last evening. They were instructed to proceed, and promised protection.

—It is rumored that there will be two hundred of the Killers from Philadelphia here to-night.

—The Opera House is now closed by order of the lessee.

—We understand a woman standing in the basement window of Mr. Langdon’s house, opposite the theatre, was shot. The house is marked and battered in several places by balls.

—E. Z. C. Judson, editor of Ned Buntline’s Own, has been discharged, we hear, on bail of $1000.

2 P. M.

A crowd of two or three hundred is assembled before the steps of the City Hall, and a placard has been posted calling for all persons opposed to the attack of the military, last evening, to meet at the City Hall this afternoon.

—Five persons have been arrested and identified as having been engaged in the arson.

—Six persons have escaped, and fifty-three were arrested. They were mostly young, between the ages of 16 and 26.

The following proclamation has just been issued by the Mayor:


The Mayor of the city, while deeply deploring the loss of life which has resulted from the maintainance of the law during the past night, reminds all the citizens that the peace of the city must be maintained.

He calls on all good citizens to sustain the magistracy. The efforts of the authorities will be considerate, will be humane, but they ought and must be firm.

He recommends all citizens, for some days, to remain as much as possible within their own dwellings, and abstain from swelling public ass[e]mblages, and from all acts that tend to encourage the riotously disposed.

The effect of crowds is to expose the innocent to the injury arising from the measures which must be taken.

THE PEACE OF THE CITY MUST AND SHALL BE MAINTAINED, by the whole civil and military power of the county.

It should always be remembered that the military is but a portion of the police of our city, composed of our own fellow citizens, who are under special obligation to maintain the supremacy of their own laws.

C. S. WOODHULL, Mayor.

Mayor’s office, May 11.

A friend who has been concerned in the suppression of more than one public disturbance, suggests that it would be well for those citizens who desire to aid in the prevention of disorder this evening, to enter their names at the several police stations, of which the[re] are eighteen in the city, and that the Mayor should make arrangements for commissioning them as special constables.

“The Awful Events of Thursday.” From “Dreadful Riot and Bloodshed at the Astor Place Theatre!” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 12 May 1849; p. 145-146.


At the corner of Br[oa]dway and Fourth street, a large concourse of people were seen upholding a comrade who was evidently severely wounded. He was taken to the door of a physician in Broadway, near Bleecker street, but admittance was refused for him, and his friends bore him onward bleeding, but not profusely. A physician seeing that he could not gain admittance to the place above mentioned, came foward and proffered his services, which were thankfully accepted. The young man was taken into the drug store at the corner of Broadway and Bleecker street, where the volunteer surgeon examined his wound and found that he had received a musket ball in the left leg just under the knee joint. The ball had entered on the inside, gone through the fleshy part of the leg, and its position was discoverable on the outward side of the limb, near the surface. The surgeon called for instruments to extract the ball and probe the wound, but could not obtain them; the sufferer was therefore, removed to the house of his employed, 131 Greene street. He was an apprentice, about 20 years of age, and his name, as we understand, was Stephen Morris. The surgeon helped to convey him to his employer’s house, where his wound was temporarily attended to, and the family physician sent for.

Passing on up Broadway, we met a solemn procession coming down, preceding, accompanying, and following a covered wagon which contained the bodies of five persons, some of whom were senseless, (whether dead or not we could not learn,) and others seriously wounded, but retaining their self-possession. The wagon was drawn along upon the walk by a number of men. This whole scene was solemn in the extreme; but few words were spoken by the persons who accompanied the vehicle, and what was said, was uttered in low tones. A little farther up Broadway, we met a crowd of men and boys bearing a dead body on a bier. This had hardly passed, when another crowd came through Fourth street from the Bowery, bearing on a rude litter a woman, who had been wounded by a shot while she was passing through one of the streets near the scene of the disturbance. Close upon the tracks of those who were carrying the unfortunate woman, came a man without coat or vest, jumping along through the crowd, half frantic, tossing his hands, and swearing vengeance.

Large assemblages were held at the corners of the streets, and, as one after another of the bodies passed, various exclamations of regret and reproach were used in expression of their feelings. “Oh, horrible! horrible!” “shame! shame!” “great responsibility resting somewhere,” “where will it all end?” and other like expressions were heard throughout Broadway and the adjacent streets. Every public house, segar shop, and oyster saloon was soon filled with curious persons, who sought these various places to obtain information concerning the fearful tragedy which was then being enacted in Astor Place.

Passing down Broadway, the excitement seemed to increase rather than subside. Around the Hospital gate was congregated a large multitude, and at the corner of Barclay street and Park Place were distinct assemblages, listening to harangues from volunteer orators.

In the midst of the firing, one of the Harlem Railroad cars stopped in the vicinity, for the purpose of allowing an elderly gentleman to get out. As soon as he had put his foot on the step, in the act of descending, he was pierced by a musket ball, and fell dead. It was found that he was shot through the heart. He was removed to the drug store at the corner of Eighth street.

At one o’clock, A. M., quiet prevailed at the scene of tumult. In the vicinity, however—on the corner of the Bowery and Tenth street, and in other adjacent places, there were knots of people, numbering twenty, thirty, and forty respectively, speaking aloud in reference to the catastrophe. Some of those meetings were organized, and speeches were being made, the tenor of which, from the lateness of the hour, we had not time to ascertain. The military were drawn up in the same position as they were previously, a cordon being maintained across Astor Place, at its junction with Broadway, and, at the other end, at its junction with Broadway, and, at the other end, at its junction with the Bowery. The two pieces of ordnance which had been ordered on the ground were directly in front of the theatre.

From this point we proceeded to the drug store, on the corner of Broadway and Eighth street, and there ascertained that two of the unfortunate wounded, who were carried there, had died in the course of the night. Learning that several bodies had been removed to the Fifteenth ward station house, we went thither, and there we beheld a frightful and ghastly spectacle. Six fine looking young men laid there in death—one with his brains protruding from a wound in the skull, another shot through the hip, another through the heart, and the remainder pierced in different parts by musket balls.


This scene was tragical in the extreme. On a bench at the end of the room lay the dead body of a tall, gnteel looking man, whose name we ascertained to be George W. Gedney, brother to a broker in Wall street. He had been shot through the brain, in the manner we have already described. Next to him was a man of middle stature, apparently an Irish laborer. He had been shot in the throat. Beside those victims on the floor lay the bodies of a young man, named Henry Otten, whose parents reside at the corner of Orchard and Hester streets; a large sized man, with dark whiskers name unknown, shot in the right breast, a thin faced man, apparently a mechanic shot in the neck; a man of somewhat similar appearance, shot in the abdomen; and an elderly man, name unknown, shot in the right cheek, who had been conveyed from the street to the theatre, and thence to the station house.

Besides these, two unknown men are lying dead at the seventeeth ward station house. A butcher residing in Front street, in the agonies of death was taken to the drug store at the corner of Eighth street and Third avenue. The ball had passed through his head. At the same store eight of the military were brought in, badly wounded from missiles hurled at them by the mob. A boy named Brown, residing at No. 42 Crosby street, was conveyed home badly wounded in the knee. Another boy, mortally wounded, was taken to his home in Tenth street. At twelve o’clock the Coroner was overwhelmed with orders to attend to cases.

Probably there are other cases of wounded, dying and dead, which we have not been yet able to ascertain.


The scene at the City Hospital was heart-rending. Body after body of the wounded and dying was conveyed into the building, followed by their sorrowing friends and crowds of spectators. There were eleven in all. The first man brought in was Stephen Kehoe, a young man of 24 years of age, who had received a ghastly wound in the left eye, the bullet passing through the cheek, and lodging behind the ear. The wound is not without great danger. The eye, of course, is lost. The second was a youth of about 18 years of age, who was shot in the thigh, the bullet passing right through and fracturing the bone. The third was Edward McCormack, shot through the groin, the bullet fracturing the bone of the pelvis, and passing out at the hip. Conrad Baker was also shot through the thigh, and John Dalzell, between the thigh and groin. This is a dangerous wound. George V. Kay, aged 28, (a native of New Brunswick,) merchant, is wounded in the right lung—supposed to be fatal. George Lincoln, aged 30 years, a native of Massachusetts, and a shoemaker, is wounded in the abdomen—serious. George A. Curtis, printer, 22 years of age, shot through the lungs. James McDonald a native of Ireland, aged 17, an oysterman, shot through the leg. Mr. Burgett, aged 30, keeper of a refectory in Pearl street, wounded through shoulder and neck—two distinct wounds.

The next victim was a poor Irish woman, named Bridget Fagan. We found her lying on a mattress, on the floor of one of the female wards, with a frightful gun-shot wound in the right knee. Her husband was on his knees beside her. They had gone out together, after he had returned from his daily labor, to purchase a few shirts, and were returning to their humble home, when, unfortunately, they passed directly in range of the fire of the military. Never can we forget the heartfelt pathos with which the poor man remarked that his wife fell out of his arms [sic] like a child, when the military fired. We hope her wound is not serious. All the other wounded stated that they had not participated in the disturbance, but were present only from curiosity or accident. This was confirmed to us by several spectators. It is worthy of remark that the majority of the wounds were low.

We cannot avoid expressing our surprise at the evident inefficiency of the arrangements at the City Hospital. Several of the victims lay for a considerable time after they were conveyed within the building without being visited by any officer of the hospital. We ourselves saw two of the wounded men brought in, and deposited in one of the wards, and, to our utter astonishment, no medical attendant appeared for at least fifteen minutes, when a pale young man in a dressing gown, who seemed to belong to the house, entered the ward, and on our expressing our regret and astonishment at the want of proper system in the house, so apparent, he actually ventured to order us out of the house. In another quarter of an hour one of the surgeons made his appearance. We must add, in justice, that despatches were issued to the surgeons of the hospital, Drs. Rogers, Buck, &c., who hurried to the scene, and were sedulous in their attention to the sufferers. But unquestionably there did seem to us to be a want of proper system in the arrangements of the hospital, else there would not have been such unaccountable neglect of the poor sufferers in this frightful tragedy. So important an institution should be prepared for all emergencies. Had either of the men whom we saw thus neglected, been wounded in an important artery, they might have bled to death in consequence of the delay in attending to them. We impute no blame to the excellent house surgeon. He wants additional assistants—that is all.


While the scenes which we have described were proceeding outside the building, the play went on with more or less interruption, arising from the shouts and groans of those inside, the volleys of stones, and the yells of the mob outside. At length the play came to an end, and Mr. Macready made his exit from the house in disguise, reaching his hotel in safety. The performance of the afterpiece commenced, and had proceeded but a short way, when the first discharge of musketry startled the whole house—some one called out that “the house was to be blown up.” All started to their feet, when Mr. Ex-Justice Merritt addressed the house, and requested the audience to keep their seats, as there was no danger. This somewhat restored order, till a few minutes afterwards, when it was announced that a man had been shot outside. All was now confusion—the performance was instantly stopped, and the auditory rushed out of the building.

There were a great many persons wounded in addition to those whom we have referred to, seriously or slightly, who either went away or were taken away by their friends. There were several hair-breadth escapes. A musket ball went through the hat of one man, tearing it to pieces, but without injuring him. A policeman, of the seventh ward, received a flesh wound in the back, and had a narrow escape from being killed.

A young man, apparently thirty years of age, was brought into Dr. Trudeau’s house, at a quarter before 10 P. M., having been shot through the heart by the military. A pocket-book containing one dollar, a brass night key, and a note addressed to Mr. Willis, were found in his pocket.

Immediately after the first volley, several medical men rushed to the scene, for the purpose of attending the wounded. In the drug store, where some of the wounded were brought, a medical man proceeded to examine the condition of a man who was very seriously injured. While performing this duty, the sufferer exclaimed, “Come, Doctor, look around, before you attend me. See, if there is not somebody else worse off than I am.”

Generals Sandford and Hall were, as we are informed, repeatedly struck by paving-stones.

Additional Particul[a]rs.

As will be readily imagined, the excitement throughout the city, growing out of the deplorable occurrences of the previous night, was most intense throughout the whole of yesterday. Everywhere little groups of persons, of all classes, were observed discussing the affair, and expressing their opinions with more or less vehemence. As an illustration of the absorbing interest felt in the matter, we may state that no fewer than thirty-three thousand five hundred copies of the Herald, containing our full and graphic account of the whole melancholy affair, were disposed of, and circulated all over the city. Our telegraphic accounts from other cities, brought intelligence that an equally intense excitement prevailed wherever the heart-rending news had been despatched. Of course, considerable diversity of opinion on all the principal features of the case prevailed amongst those who were engaged, in the streets and elsewhere, in conversation on the subject. It was manifest, however, that the business had assumed a new aspect in the minds of many, and that it was looked upon by them as involving nothing short of a controversy and collision between those who have been styled the “exclusives,” or “upper ten,” and the great popular masses. Some blamed the authorities with no little acrimony—others applauded them. It was generally considered, however, among the more intelligent and dispassionate classes, that a proclamation should have been issued by the Mayor, warning the citizens against participating, even in the most passive manner, in any tumultuous assemblage at the Astor Place Theatre or elsewhere, and that an overwhelming military force should have taken possession of the ground at an early hour, and prevented the gathering of a crowd in the vicinity of the building.

Throughout the day rumors were abundant that a riotous organization of the most formidable character was in progress, and that a still more bloody scene than that of the preceding night might be anticipated. It was said that fire-arms had been purchased and obtained in large quantities by persons riotously disposed. Almost all over the city the following placard had been posted in the most conspicuous places, attracting crowds of readers:—

Decide now whether English
shall triumph in this
or whether her own
whose fathers once compelled the base-born miscreants to succumb, shall meanly lick the hand that strikes, and allow themselves to be deprived of the liberty of opinion—so dear to every true American heart.

come out! and dare to own yourselves son of the iron hearts of ’76!!


A still larger placard, of which we give a copy, was also posted, calling for a meeting in the Park—

Friday, May 11, to express public opinion upon the lamentable occurrence of last night.

It was then apparent that an attempt was in progress, of some kind or another, to give an expression of feeling which might lead to unpleasant consequences. The authorities were not inactive. A long consultation was held by them in the morning. the lessee of the Astor Place theatre announced his design to close the house for the present. Orders were issued to the military to be in readiness at any moment, and the following proclamation was issued by the Mayor, and dispers’d all over the city:—


The Mayor of the city, while deeply deploring the loss of life which has resulted from the maintenance of the law, dduring the past night, reminds all the citizens that the peace of the city must be maintained.

He calls on all good citizens to sustain the magistracy. The efforts of the authorities will be considerate—will be humane, but they ought to be, and must be firm.

He recommends all citizens for some days to remain as quiet as possible within their own dwellings, and to abstain from swelling public assemblages, and from all acts that tend to encourage the riotously disposed.

The effect of crowds is to expose the innocent to the injury arising from the measures which must be taken.

The peace of the city must and shall be maintained, by the whole civil and military power of the county.

It must always be remembered that the military is but a portion of the police of our city, composed of our own fellow citizens, who have volunteered to maintain the supremacy of their own laws.

C. S. WOODHULL, Mayor.

Mayor’s Office, May 11, 1849.


The Grand Jury of the Court of Sessions, deeming conciliatory measures called for, yesterday made the following presentment:—

To the Hon. the Court of Sessions of the city and county of New York.

The Grand Inquest, taking into consideration the highly excited state of the public feeling, growing out of the riot of the last twenty-four hours, would present the necessity of adopting such conciliatory measures as may tend to allay the excitement and recommend that the performance at the Opera house be suspended for the present.


New York, May 11th, 1849.

Mr. Campbell, the foreman of the Grand Jury, said to the court:—The Grand Jury will cheerfully co-operate in any measures thought necessary for the preservation of the peace of the city.

The Recorder stated to the Grand Jury, that he would lay their communication before the mayor. He thanked the Inquest for their proferred aid, and so dismissed them.


Mr. Macready left the New York Hotel, where he was living, and departed from the city, at three o’clock yesterday morning, accompanied by several of his friends. He expressed his determination to return no more for ever. His baggage was taken away yesterday morning, at five o’clock, in charge of a friend. After the firing of the first round from the military, a friend of Mr. Macready told him that there had been bloodshed, which seemed to affect him very much. he threw up his hands and exclaimed, “My God, has my appearance led to the sacrifice of human life! I wish I had adhered to my first resolution, and not yielded to the solicitation of my friends. They assured me there would be no difficulty.” He then retired to his dressing room, and prepared to leave the theatre. After having got safely to the New York Hotel, it was deemed prudent by himself and friends that he should leave the city as soon as possible, lest an attack should be made upon that house. The uniform of a soldier was procured, and in that disguise he left the hotel, on horseback, for New Rochelle, where he could wait for the first morning train for Boston. It is said that he passed through a portion of the crowd, on his way out of the city, but did not excite their suspicion. he was accompanied by several military officers, who acted as an escort and body guard, until he was clear of the city.


We were informed last evening, that on Thursday night the policemen who were wounded by the missiles sent from among the crowd, sought remedy for their injuries at the drug store of Messrs. Burtnett & Powell, corner of Eighth street and Third avenue, and that they were obliged to leave the store disguised, in order to escape the fury of the mob which were around the doors of the establishment.

There were two boys killed in Lafayette Place, who were going home at the time. The persons attending the Evangelical Alliance Meeting in the Dutch Church would have been in great danger had they separated a moment or two sooner.

In the greatest portion of the excitement at the theatre, a number of the mob repaired to the New York Hotel, where they supposed Mr. Macready had sought shelter, and commenced an attack. Mr. Monnat, the proprietor, summoned his waiters, and defended the entrance with success, having received a wound on the arm, which was of a trifling character. The police were all at the theatre and had he not defended himself and house as he did, the probability is that he would have suffered considerable loss of property.

The Oyster Theatre, kept by a colored man at the corner of Lafayette and Astor Places, was pierced by two bullets, one of them going through, at the upper part of the frame, and, being turned down, wounded in the face an old woman in the house, but did not do her any serious injury.

The individual shot as he was stepping from one of the cars, was Mr. James Stewart, who was on his way to his residence, in Fifth avenue, near Eighth street. Though the ball entered his neck, he is yet alive, though little hope of his recovery is entertained.

[From the other papers of yesterday.]

Soon after ten o’clock the doors of the theatre were opened, and the audience began to come out. In Astor place, a file of infantry, with fixed bayonets, were stationed, it may be for securing egress, or it may be to protect the building, which was in imminent danger, there being furious cries of “Tear it down!” “I’ve it!” “Burn the damned den of the aristocracy,” &c. “Groans for Macready!” “Cheers for Edwin Forrest,” &c., &c. An orator near us cried—“You can’t go in there without kid gloves on. I paid for a ticket, and they would not let me in, because I hadn’t kid gloves and a white vest, damn ’em!” Another—“I luxuriate in the scene. Hurrah! I will have nothing to do with breaking windows, but AI luxuriate in the scenes.” Brickbats and stones began to be fired freely at the soldiers, some with so much violence as to strike fire from their bayonets. The soldiers endured it with commendable patience.—Express.

The excitement of the crowd became intense—but there was no more mob. The orators that had got up this work of mischief and death, slunk away to safe places, and preached upon the atrocity of killing American citizens for English actors. The window-breaking boys saw it was not longer “fun.” There were cries of “Let us have a public meeting.” that was a true American Yankee idea, and sounded so like home—but nobody knew anybody to make a chairman of, that anybody knew. There were cries of “Let us burn down the damned building”—but there were sneering responses of “Go ahead with the torch, yourself.” The sight of blood had restored peace, and re-enthroned reflection. All sorts of stories were afloat—“A hundred men were killed,” in one place—“A poor innocent boy, twelve years old,” was rported wounded in another. Cries of “Who did it?” “Let us murder the soldiers.” Counter cries, “Go ahead and do it.” “Three cheers for Forrest,” “These soldiers are our brothers,” “Why, then, did they fire on us?” About this time, a soldier in uniform, with his musket, left the ranks, and walked through the mob, on his way home. The mob beset him, laughing and yelling, “Lick him”—“Take his gun.” “Serve him as he served others.” We thought one time they would tear him to pieces—but he was protected by others, who said, “he has but done his duty—what all of us may be compelled as citizen soldiers to do.” It was said he had been badly hurt by stones, and was going home. It was said again, he left the ranks rather than fire on the people. This was partially a ruse, to get him through the crowd.—Express.

As to the performances in the theatre, the first and second acts were gone through with in dumb show, the police and deputy sheriffs being engaged in making arrests, &c. Part of the third, and the fourth, and the fifth acts, were then heard distinctly. At the conclusion, Mr. Macready and Mr. Clarke were called out and greeted, the former with a mixture of cheers and hisses about equally divided, and the latter with cheers predominating. Cheers were then called and given for Forrest, the American people, Tom Hyer, some French barber, and everybody and everything that could be thought of. The spectators all this time were going out, so that when the firing commenced, the theatre was nearly empty.—True Sun.

In one corner of the street a small dark, middle aged gentleman, with spectacles, was most earnestly addressing three or four friends, who seemed amused at his energetic action. “We can’t live, sir,” said he, “under such a state of things, the mob must be put down.” “You to —,” roared a tall, stalwart man, who overheard the former speaker, “America rules England to-night, by J—s.” Conversations of this nature were carried on, the whole length of Astor Place, in knots and groups, in tones of great excitement. ’Twas evident something serious was brewing. The crowd at this time, (half-past seven o’clock) might have numbered five or six hundred. At eight o’clock, it could not have been under as many thousands. The appearance of a military man in the body of the people was the signal for the first outbreak of groaning, shouting and cheering. The door of the amphitheatre was closed, and a printed placard was pasted upon it, announcing that “all tickets for that part of the house were sold.”—Express.


We visited yesterday the scene of the bloody tragedy, and found a considerable crowd collected, or rather groups of men discussing the events of the previous night. there was evidently a strong feeling excited, but it was not so much against the military whom all parties exonerate from blame, as against the committee of the Opera House, and those who sgned the requisition to Mr. Macready to appear again, in the face of the organised opposition against him. It would seem as if Macready and Forrest were now lost sight of, and “the d—d aristocracy,” as the crowd call them, are the obnoxious party. We also heard much responsibility attributed to the authorities for not pre-occupying the ground with the military, instead of coming at the critical moment, when the passions of the multitude were roused to the highest pitch, and then forcing their way through them.

The Opera house presented a most shattered appearance. There was scarcely a whole pane in the windows in front, and one of the doors was completely smashed. In the rear, in Eighth street, the windows presented the same appearance, and on that side, too, there was a door broken. The area all round the building was strewed with bricks and stones. The house of Mrs. Langdon, opposite the theatre, shews about twenty bullet marks, some of them of very large size. In two or three instances, entire bricks were actually dislodged, so great was the force of the shots, owing to the close proximity of the military. Most of these indentations, exhibiting the red brick in contrast with the dark coat of paint with which the wall was covered, were so high that they were manifestly the result of the first volley, fired over the heads of the people. There was one bullet mark rather low down, which did not break the wall, but left the mark of the lead, and appears to have glanced off at an angle.—Another bullet penetrated the sash of one of the windows, and entered the house. There were ladies standing in those windows at the time, or immediately before. An oyster shantee, kept by a colored man, at the corner of Lafayette and Astor Place, was pierced by two bullets, one of them just entering at the upper corner of the door frame, and, being turned downwards, grazed an old woman, named Sarah Sewell, in the face. It did her no injury, and she was going about during the day. The public house, No. 23 Eighth street, opposite Lafayette place, [sic] has ten bullet marks, three of which entered the dwelling, one of them through the door, and the remaining two through the drawing-room windows, and into a closet, almost hitting children who were in bed. Mr. John Byrne, of the Nation, while standing near the door of this house, received a bullet through his overcoat, passing out under his arm-pit, without doing him the slightest injury. A bullet entered the door-post of Mr. Hill’s house, 23 Third avenue, and two or three balls passed through a tent erected for exhibitions in the piece of waste ground adjoining. It is clear, therefore, that the shots were fired in every possible direction, as indeed they were heard to whistle. In La Fayette [sic] place, some way up, two boys were killed when going home. One of them resided in Third street, and the other in Thirteenth. We have ascertained that several have received slight wounds, and some are mortally wounded who have not been as yet reported, having been taken away by their friends. The scene was visited during the evening by fashionable parties, both in carriages and on foot, and the crowds increased towards nightfall, when the police proceeded to occupy the theatre. Carts were employed during the day in removing from the opposite yard the paving stones which had been used so effectively on the preceding night. The gate of this yard was completely demolished, and the fragments used as weapons. The yard was occupied by the mob as a kind of battery, protecting them from the fire of the military, while they discharged their own missiles under cover. The lamps about the place are injured, and many of them had been extinguished during the riot. On several occasions, the military were repulsed, and their muskets taken from them and broken in pieces, while a troop of cavalry was put hors du combat. It has been ascertained that a large number of the troops refused to obey the order to fire, and walked away—some of them going to doff their uniform, and come back in their ordinary clothes.

During the morning, several ladies made their appearance at the scene of action, and inquired for friends whom they were fearful had fallen among the victims. One aged woman, with tears streaming down her palid face, sought her son; but he was among the fallen. His body had been conveyed to the Seventeenth ward station house, where were congregated about a thousand persons, in the greatest possible state of excitement. The aged mother forced her way through the crowd, and discovering the lifeless body of her son, fell upon him and wept in agony. He had not been a participator in the fearful work, but stood a spectator when the fatal bullet deprived him of life. About half-past two o’clock, a hearse was procured, and the body removed, followed by a large crowd, many of whom swore to avenge his death, even at the cost of their own lives.

Up to a late hour in the afternoon, the assemblage in the vicinity of the Astor Place Opera House was very large, but just at night the military took possession of the ground, and driving the people back, placed a guard round the theatre. A police force was also stationed in Broadway, at the corner, of Bleecker and Ninth streets, to prevent the omnibusses and other vehicles from passing through that part of Broadway. Thus every precaution was taken by the authorities to preserve order and prevent the destruction of property. But notwithstanding the impressive lessons of the night previous, thousands and thousands of persons congregated in the vicinity, and stood gaping in the direction of the Opera House. Occasionally a trooper would gallop through the street, and whenever this occurred a terrific groan was raised, by way of intimating that the military were unpopular just at that particular time. Two mounted men were unhorsed, one of them, it was said, lost his seat from bad horsemanship, and the other was knocked off by some missile thrown at him by some persons in the crowd. The military force seemed to be quite adequate to the performance of the duty assigned to them.

Up to 11 o’clock last night, no disturbance had been created by the mob at the theatre. The soldiers were in quiet possession of the ground, and would probably retain it for the night. The boys were creating some confusion in the streets. They amused themselves by lighting bonfires, and groaning at the military whenever they saw a person in uniform.

Two O’clock, A. M.—At this hour, the soldiery were the only persons in the streets in the neighborhood of Astor Place, and were all wishing for daylight, at which time they were to be dismissed from their unpleasant duty. An accident occurred about half-past one o’clock, inside the Opera House. A member of the Union Rifle corps, named James P. Wright, had his hand badly shattered by the explosion of his powder flask, occasioned by indiscreet conduct on the part of one of his comrades. We left him in the hands of two surgeons. Two officers belonging to the Seventh ward police, two members of the Montgomery Guards, and a member of the City Guards, were in the house, seriously injured, from missiles which had been hurled at their heads during the night.

p. 146


The arrest below were made by the police on Thursday night, and stand charged with being rioters at the Astor Place Theatre. The number of arrests amounted to 53. They were all committed to prison for a further examination.


18, Robert Howard, 141 Broome street, machinist.

15, Thomas Seaman, 21st street, butcher.

16, John Ayres, 83 Wooster street, organ builder.

20, John Stevenson, 256 Houston street, baker.

17, Walter Lawrence, Varick & Charlton streets, huckster.

18, Alfred Holden, 54th street, butcher.

22, Daniel S. Adriance, 25 Thomas street, machinist.

20, Wm. Aikin, 13 Mott street, cooper.

18, John Roach, 6 Catharine slip, brass finisher.

16, James Matthew, 64 Forsyth street, butcher.

19, George Douglass, 31 Chrystie street, gilder.

24, James McLean, 142 Fulton street, printer.

16, Augustus Gore, Orange street, printer.

26, Thomas Green, 150 Hester street, with Dr. Ogden.

31, John Louis Lyons, 22d street, porter.

17, Dickinson Reed, 19th street, butcher.

17, Edward Heath, 169 Reed street, sailmaker.

15, Thomas Kelly, 207 Mercer street, chair maker.

30, Wm. Holden, 9th avenue, gardener.

29, Elias Combs, 268 Grand street, dry goods.

18, George E. Harrison, 28th 6th street, marble cutter.

18, Henry A. Ransford, 44 Division street, clerk.

16, William Parker, 44 Gouveneur street, no business.

21, William Beams, 83 11th street, pianoforte maker.

23, William Sparks, 60 Mott street, mason.

22, Charles Tappen, 60 Mott street, plumber.

33, George Mason, 554 Pearl street, baker.

21, Thomas Bennett, 10th Mulberry street, printer.

21, R. F. Dugan, corner Varick and Broome streets, cork merchant.

18, Henry Hiffer, 333 Bowery, grocer’s clerk.

20, John Hawkins, 257 3d street, cooper.

19, John Norris, Prospect street, Brooklyn, shoemaker.

31, Robert Tennie, corner Bayard and Christie streets, cooper.

18, Hugh McLaughlin, 476 Pearl street, paper folder.

30, Alex Hosack, 253 Canal street, shipping office.

30, Robert Miller, 23 Pell street, speculator.

23, Edward Haggerty, 132 Bleecker street, sailmaker.

21, John McAuley, 27th street, butcher.

30, John Dean, 122 Varick, no business.

17, James Cook, Essex street, huckster.

20, John Falls, 81 Hammersley street, carpenter.

19, Wm. Jones, 26 Essex street, sailmaker.

20, Jacob Day, 6th avenue, butcher.

14, George Parker, 44 Gouveneur street, no business.

19, Charles Forstnell, 22 10th street, bookbiner.

19, Robert Charles, 58 Grove street, gunsmith.

27, Edward Z. C. Judson, 16 Abingdon place, editor.

Mr. Judson was examined, and held to bail in the sum of $1,900, to answer the charge in court. This he gave and was liberated from custody.

Samuel O. Niel, William Wallace, Andrew Murray, Charles Thomas, David Jordon, and Thomas Dorian. These six prisoners made their escape from the station house during the night.

“Further Particulars of the Riot.” Albany Evening Journal [Albany, New York] 12 May 1849; p. 2.

From the Tribune of Friday morning.

Early yesterday morning placards were posted up through the City, stating that the crew of the British steamer had threatened violence to all who “dared express their opinions at the English Aristocratic Opera House,” and calling on all working men to “stand by their lawful rights.” In consequence of this and similar threats a large body of Police was ordered to attend at the Opera House, and in case this should not be sufficient to preserve order, the Seventh Regiment, Col. Dureah, and two troops of horse, (Capts. Varnum and Patterson) the Eighth Regiment, under command of Gen. Hall, and the Huzzars attached to Gen. Morris’s brigade, were held in readiness. They formed in two bodies, one of which was stationed in the Park and one at Centre Market.

In anticipation of a riot, the rush for tickets was very great, and before night one were to be had. For some time before the doors were opened, people began to collect in Astor place, and the police took their stations at the doors and in the buildings. The crowd increased with every moment, and when we came upon the ground, at halfpast seven, the square and street from Broadway to the Bowery were nearly full. There was such a tremendous crush about the doors, in spite of a notice pasted up stating that the tickets were all sold, that several of the entrances were obliged to be closed. The Police used every e[x]ertion to maintain order, and succeeded in preventing all attempts to force an entrance. Inside the house was filled but not crowded, and the amphitheatre was not more than half full.

The general appearance of the audience was respectable, and it was hoped at first that there would be no serious attempt at disturbance. We noticed however, that the windows had been carefully boarded up and the doors barricaded—the object of which was afterwards made manifest.

The first two scenes passed over with a vociferous welcome to Mr. Clarke as Malcolm. The entrance of Mr. Macready, in the third act, was the signal for a perfect storm of cheers, groans and hisses. The whole audience rose, and the nine tenths of it who were friendly to Macready cheered, waving their hats and handkerchiefs. A large body in the parquette, with others in the second tier and amphitheater hissed and groaned with equal zeal.

The tumult lasted for ten or fifteen minutes, when an attempt was made to restore order by a board being brought upon the stage, upon which was written “The friends of Order will remain quiet.” This silenced all but the rioters, who continued to drown all sound of what was said upon the stage. Not a word of the first act could be heard by any one in the house. The Policemen present did little or nothing, evidently waiting orders. Finally, in the last scene of the act, Mr. Matsell, Chief of Police, made his appearance in the parquette, and followed by a number of his aids, marched directly down the aisle to the leader of the disturbance, whom he secured after a short but violent struggle. One by one the rioters were taken and carried out, the greater part of the audience applauding as they disappeared.

Before the second act was over, something of the play could be heard, and in the pauses of the shouts and yells the orders of the Chief and his men in different parts of the house could be heard as well as the wild uproar of the mob without Mr. Coleman Pope, as Lady Macbeth, first procured a little silence, which ended however, immediately on Mr. Macready’s reappearance. The obnoxious actor went through his part with perfect self possession, and paid no regard to the tumultuous scene before him. As the parquette and gallery were cleared of the noisiest rioters, the crowds without grew more vilent and stones were hurled against the windows on the Astor place side. As one window cracked after another, and pieces of bricks and paving stones rattled against the terrace and lobbies, the confusion increased, till the Opera House resembled a fortress besieged by an invading army rather than a place meant for the peaceful amusement of a civilized community. The policemen were constantly engaged in nailing up the boards dashed from the windows by stones cast by the mob. The attack was sometimes on one side and sometimes on the other, but seemed most violent on Eighth-st. where there was a continual volly of stones and other missiles.

The retiring rooms were closed, and the lobbies so “raked” by the mob outside, that the only safe places were the boxes and parquette. A stone, thrown through an upper window, knocked off some of the ornaments of the splendid chandalier. [sic]

The fourth and fifth acts were given in comparative quiet, so far as the audience were concerned, a large number of whom assembled in the lobby, no egress from the building being possible. At these words of Macbeth,

“I will not be afraid of death and bane,

Till Birnam forest come to Dunsinane.”

An attempt was made to get up a tumult, but failed. The phrase,

“Our castle’s strength

Will laugh a siege to scorn,”

was also loudly applauded. But in spite of the constant crashing and thumping of stones and the terrible yells of the crowd in the street, the tragedy [truly a tragedy to many] was played to an end and the curtain fell. Macready was called out and cheered, as was Mr. Clark.

Towards the close, a violent attack was made by the mob on one of the doors, which was partly forced. A body of Policemen, armed with their short clubs, sallied from it and secured a number of the leaders, who were brought in and placed in a large room under the parquette with those who had been previously arrested. These rioters, to the number of thirty or forty, battered down the partition of the room with their feet, and attempted to crawl out at the bottom by the holes so made. A strong guard was therefore placed to watch them, and no one, we believe, succeeded in making his escape.

After the play was over, the noise being apparently diminished somewhat, the audience were allowed to go out quietly by the door nearest Broadway. The crowd was not dense in the middle of the street, a body of troops having just passed along, but the sidewalks, fences, and all other available positions, were thronged, and a shower of stones was kept up against the windows. As we reached Broadway, a company of the Greys came round from Eighth st. and took their position in front of the Opera House.

Two cordons of Police in Eighth st. kept the street vacant before the building, but the shattered doors and windows showed how furious had been the attack on that side. We learned from those in the crowd that troops of foot and one of horse had arrived about half an hour previous and passed entirely around the building, partially dispersing the mob. They had been assailed with stones as was stated, one of the dragoons knocked from his horse and another carried off with a broken leg from the fall of his horse.

Up to this time we did not learn that any proclamation had been made to the rioters. After passing the Greys at the corner of Broadway we went into Eighth st. and were on the return, in not more than three minutes afterward, when a volley was fired by the troops, the quick, scattering flashes throwing a sudden gleam over the crowd, the gas lights in the streets having all been extinguished. Hastening into Astor-place, we found the troops drawn up before the house, [and] the crowd beginning to disperse in front of them.

It was generally believed that they fired blank cartridges, and a large number of persons, who were mere lookers-on did not pay much attention to it. We passed into Lafayette place, and there saw the bodies of two or three persons dead or wounded borne away.

The crowd seemed taken by surprise, as on account of the incessant noises very few could have heard the reading of the Riot Act. Many assert that it was not read, but we have positive testimony to the contrary.

We were returning, and had nearly reached Astor place again, when a second volley was fired, followed almost without pause by three or four others. A part of the crowd came rushing down Lafayette Place, but there was no shout nor noise except the deadly report of the muskets.

After this horrid sound had ceased, groups of people came along, bearing away the bodies of the dead and dying. The excitement of the crowd was terrible. We heard nothing but one universal expression of vengeance and abhorrence. What adds to this tragic occurrence is that most of those who were killed were innocent of all participation in the riot.

An old man, waiting for the cars in the Bowery, was instantly shot dead. A little boy eight years old was killed by a ball at the corner of Lafayette place, and a woman sitting in her own room at the corner of the Bowery was shot in the side.

Some of the bodies were carried into Vauxhall, others into Jones’s Hotel, and others to the City Hospital and the Ward Station House. In the former place we saw a dead man stretched on the billiard table, and another with a ball in his hip, writhing in great agony.

Group[s] of people collected in the streets and in front of Vauxhall, some of which were addressed by a speaker calling them to revenge the death of the slain. The troops for a time anticipated another attack, in consequence of this, but up to the hour of going to press, all has been quiet. …

Escape of Macready.

After the performance of Macbeth was furnished, Mr. Macready passed through the crowd with the audience who were leaving, on foot and unrecognized, and made his escape. He left the city during the night, and was seen at New Rochelle this morning at 5 o’clock, where he breakfasted and took the early train to Boston.

The Opera-House During the Day.—Since an early hour this morning the opera-House has been surrounded by crowds of people, attracted by curiosity or a sympathy with sufferers in the scenes of last evening. Within and without a strong police keeps diligent watch, but, although there is a murmured discontent or subdued rage, there is little danger of any farther disturbance. The interior of the house received no injuries, and only the broken windows gave signs of the late riot.

The Continued Excitement
From the Evening Express of Friday.

The excitement to-day is intense, and fearfully increasing. Nothing else but the “Tragedy of Macbeth” is talked of, or thought of. Knots of men, on every corner, are discussing the affair and we find the liveliest apprehensions are entertained that the terrible scenes of last night will be attempted to be renewed, this evening at night fall. We trust not. We hope better.

An excited multitude is yet hanging around the Opera House, which to-day, bears, on every side, evidence enough of the terrible siege it endured last night. The two cannons are in the middle of the street, both loaded with heavy charges of grape and canister, while a regular guard is stationed around the building. The rowdy spirit is yet rampant, and of course all sorts of threats are uttered now, not only against Mr. Macready, his friends, and the friends of the law and common decency generally, but even the devoted military, the police, and the Mayor come in for a tolerably large share of invective.

The city is full of confused rumors. One that there is to be an attack on the Arsenal and an armed demonstration at sun down, and that a meeting will be held in the Park for further deliberation, and another that the funeral of the unfortunate victims is agreed upon for a general gathering of the mob—the Coroner will hold an inquest on the bodies in the course of the day.

These are a specimen of the reports and rumors afloat as we go to press. We indulge no anxiety, however, as to a further violation of the public peace. Rowdyism and mobocracy have been taught a bloody lesson they will not be very apt soon to forget.

Advertisements. Evening Post [New York, New York] 11 May 1849; p. 3.

Doors open at 7 o’clk—Performance to commence at 7½
Dress Circle and Parquette, 75 cents; Family Circle and Upper Tiers, 25 cents

THIS (Friday) EVENING, May, 11th, will be presented, Shakspeare’s tragedy in five acts of

King Lear … Forrest | Oswald … Lester
Edgar … Dyott | Cordelia … Miss Wallack
Edmund … Fredericks | Goneril … Mrs. Dyott
To conclude with the popular Farce called
Slasher … Hadaway | Crasher … Shaw


IN CONSEQUENCE of the injuries sustained by this establishment during the riot in the streets last evening it will be unavoidably closed until the necessary repairs can be made.

Friday, May 11, 1849.

“The Night After a Riot.” Spectator [New York, New York] 14 May 1849; p. 2.

It was not mere curiosity alone that induced us, last evening, to make a tour of observation through, or rather about the “infected district”; as to passing through it that was impossible, all the approaches to Astor Place being guarded by strong cordons of troops, both infantry and cavalry, the former with fixed bayonets. We thought it very desirable to note the condition of public feeling; how it was affected by the terrible events of the preceding night, and what probability existed of ulterior attempts, after the sharp evidence which it became the painful duty of the authorities to give, both of their determination and their power to repress any outbreak of unlawful violence. Such an opportunity of feeling the public pulse, as it were, has not been afforded since the abolition riots of fourteen or fifteen years ago; and we could not but entertain the opinion that in the present case was manifested a sort of crisis in the history of our city, the determination of which must needs exercise a potential influence on its future well-being.

Going toward the scene of action from up-town, we perceived little or no token of any thing unusual until wee reached Grace Church. At that point the greater number of persons in the street, and their gathering about the corners, indicated that something of interest was in progress below. Passing on to Ninth street, we found that progress beyond was difficult, owing to the density of the crowd, and at Eighth street it was prevented altogether by a strong detachment of military, which extended across Broadway and forbade all approach to the Opera House. Turning back, therefore, we passed down Ninth street and so by University Place again to Broadway.

The number of persons going up Broadway was great and we were curious to note their appearance, as well as the light, or rather want of light, would permit. Generally it was what may be called respectable, and the tenor of the conversation, heard in passing, indicated that the prevalent feeling was curiosity, or perhaps more correctly expectation of something unusual, with no disposition to take part in it. We must say, however, that considerable numbers of young men—not to say boy—were evidently actuated by an evil spirit, and needed only favorable opportunity, leadership, and courage, to engage in any thing, however violent and criminal. In fact as we again passed up Broadway and reached the immediate vicinity of Astor Place, where the crowd assembled was by this time very large, it was apparent that there was a deal of loose mischief afloat, which would have ripened to something serious if it had not wanted head and concentration and had not been repressed by fear—the manifest result of the fearful lesson given on the night preceding. The existence and potency of this fear were made manifest by a sudden panic which seized some hundred with no apparent cause, putting them to instant and rapid flight.

Finding that there was no progress to be made up Broadway, we turned Eastward at Fourth street and proceeded up Lafayette Place, which was comparatively deserted. When we had advanced about half way to Astor Place the report of a gun or pistol was heard—probably an accidental discharge—and in a few moments the street was alive with fugitives, scampering at the top of their speed from the upper end. Foremost of all was a big fellow in a jacket, who shouted as he ran, “Now for vengeance, vengeance, vengeance,” in a huge, portentous voice, that was ludicrously in contrast with the marvellous haste he exhibited to place himself as far as possible from the point where vengeance and danger were to be found, if any where. Judging from the specimen of his abilities then given, we should say that he would cut no mean figure in a race with Gildersleeve, Steeprock, or any of the swiftest runners on record.

Quickly losing sight of this valiant runaway, and the general commotion being followed by no farther symptom of danger, we passed on toward Astor Place, but were stopped by a policeman just at the rear gate of Vauxhall Garden. He civilly informed us that progress beyond was not allowed, it being necessary to keep a space clear for the military; and peering through the darkness we perceived that a line of cavalry was drawn across the head of Lafayette Place.—Inquiring of the policeman about the shot we had heard, he answered that the rioters were stoning the military in the Fourth Avenue (the Bowery); whereupon we returned to the nearest corner below and passed up to the Bowery, to see what was going on there.

We found considerable numbers assembled at the various corners, and quite a host of boys, of from 10 to 15 years, “ki-hying” and racing about, but no sign of violent purpose. At the corner where is a marble yard, directly opposite Astor Place, was the largest collection, but even here we found only spectators, tolerably quiet and apparently not at all disposed for mischief. Farther up, at another corner, a laughing crowd, assembled on the side-walk, were listening to a half tipsy man who was trying to ake a speech, but his incoherences seemed to be heard with right good humor, and to be accepted rather as provocatives to fun than to destructiveness.

It was now ten o’clock, and we thought it wise to make for home. To this account of what we saw we add such reports of the night’s doings as are published by the morning papers; only saying that, in our judgment, the arrangements for preserving the peace were admirable in every respect save one; the scene of action ought to have been well lighted, whereas it was almost ass dark as one of the streets in which only oil lamps are kept up. The localities actually occupied by the troops and police should of course be in comparative obscurity, but some distance beyond—the space where the multitude assemble—should be in a blaze of light, so that every movement may be seen, and persons identified.

The following account of the night is given by the Courier and Enquirer:—

Throughout the day the scene of the melancholy occurrences of Thursday evening was visited by crowds of people, among whom were many ladies. The troops had been withdrawn at day-break, and though a large detachment of the police were on the spot, it was kept out of sight within the house, the doors and windows of which seemed hermetically sealed.

Early in the afternoon a handbill was posted on the doors and throughout the city, announcing that the hosue would be closed by order of the lessee. The knots of people assembled by curiosity only, and the events of the past twenty-four hours were discussed as quietly as could be expected.

As evening approached, however, the character of the crowd changed; the ladies disappeared entirely and boys and idlers were displaced by noisy or grumbling malcontents. At about six o’clock large bodies of police approached from different quarters and entered the building, and in half an hour the troops began to come upon the ground. By a quarter past seven dense and noisy crowds occupied Broadway from Eighth street to far below the New York Hotel, and the wide space at the corners of the Bowery, Eighth street, Astor Place and Fourth Avenue.

Then the forces, civil and military, began to take possession of the ground and to assume their assigned positions. This was done by troops of dragoons, of which arm there was a large force upon the ground. They walked their horses slowly down upon the mob, being preceded by strong detachments of the police, who with some difficulty dislodged the rowdies. This was done until the following positions were occupied: The corner of Broadway and Waverly Place, both streets; the corner of Broadway and Eighth st., both streets; Lafayette Place near Vauxhall Garden; and the wide open space on the Bowery formed by the junction of htat street with Eight street and Astor Place.

At each of these points so strong a force was posted as to make it impregnable in itself, save by regular military attack, by a body of equal numbers and greater bravery than that which held it. The disposition was as follows:—

First a double row of policemen across the street, next two bodies of infantry, stretching each also in double lines across the street, and supported by a detachment of cavalry facing inward, and behind all a twelve pound howitzer, loaded with grape and canister. a piece raked each of the streets named, Broadway, Eighth street, both ways, Waverly place and Lafayette place. At the Eastern end of the Opera House two howitzers were placed, commanding the wide space before mentioned. We would here remark that in no instance was any other than the civil force brought in direct contact with the mob.

Owing to this admirable disposition of the forces and their overwhelming numbers, no disturbance of any consequence took place. At one time the mob assumed a threatening attitude in Broadway, near Waverly Place, and during the greater part of the evening the Bowery was in an uproar and the forces there were stoned; but no very serious injury was received save by one dragoon, and both troops and policemen displayed a praiseworthy courage and forbearance.

At half past 8 an onset was made here by the mob, but it soon proved futile, and five arrests were made. Some of these men had large paving stones slung in their handkerchiefs, with which they endeavored to knock the dragoons from their horses. About 9 o’clock a soldier in Broadway accidentally dropped his musket which went off. The effect was remarkable. he was in the second line, which was standing at ease.—Instantly every officer and man sprang to his post, and the mob fled down Broadway and Waverly Place with the greatest precipitation. At this time there were but from two to five hundred people at any of the stations except the Bowery. At about a quarter to 10 a barricade was erected in Ninth street, near Fourth Avenue, the forces having been pushed thus far. From this time some fight was shown, and two dragoons were brought in wounded with stones—one in the eye and the other severely in the head. They received immediate care from Doctor Sayre, General Sandford’s staff surgeon, and his assistants, who all showed the greatest attention to the few placed under their care, and were prepared for the most serious operations, if they should be necessary. One of the crush rooms of the Opera House was used as a surgery—the other as a ward for the wounded.

About 10 o’clock, the barricade was carried by detachments of the 13th and 15th divisions of police.—A marble yard on the corner of the Bowery and Astor Place, which was filled with rioters, whom it furnished with missiles, was also carried by the 17th division of police; and last the flat roofs of some houses on the corner of the Bowery and Eighth street, from which the rioters hurled stones at the troops, were taken.—All these movements were handsomely done by the police, who conducted themselves admirably during the whole evening.

Soon after this many arrests were made in the Bowery, a dragoon was brought in severely hit by a stone in the abdomen, and two policemen of the 7th division were wounded—Thomas Colters in the head, and Walter Jarboe in the foot.

At half past 10 Col. Wetmore, by request of Gen. Sandford, amid a shower of stones, ordered the mob in the Bowery to retire, or the troops should charge. The mob instantly retired. They, however, solaced themselves by building a large bonfire, probably with the hope of raising an alarm.

But one more policeman was wounded, J. D. Clark, of 4th division, by a stone in the pit of the stomach. The police then charged upon the mob, drove them down the Bowery, and made many arrests; and about twelve o’clock, no mob of any consequence being in sight at either of the positions, and all being quiet, we left, heartily rejoicing that apprehended bloodshed had been averted by such thoughtful and irresistible measures.

Sixty arrests were made. All of mature men, save in one instance; that of a boy of nineteen or twenty.

“Meeting in the Park.” From “Dreadful Riot and Bloodshed at the Astor Place Theatre!” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 12 May 1849; p. 146.


At six o’clock, the meeting which had been called, was held in the Park. An immense number of citizens of the greatest respectability in demeanor, deportment and appearance, was assembled together long before the house of the meeting. Great feeling prevailed, but it was tempered with a calm, orderly patience and quietude. the people seemed desirous to know and understand things, and in doubt as to any determinate conclusions.

The meeting being called to order; the chair was taken by W. W. Manierstock, Esq. who was voted in by acclamation. As soon as the chairman had taken his seat, and while he was rising to address the meeting, a sudden crash and noise was heard, then the high platform, which was loaded with people, suddenly gave way, and fell to pieces. We, ourselves, with the chairman and all upon it, fell with the fragments, and happily were safely deposited amid a load of broken timber, upon the ground, prostrate and supine. On recovering our stupor from the sudden surprise and alarm, we found ourselves alive and unhurt, for which we felt grateful, but we were sorry to learn that a little boy who was in the crowd with us, was crushed to death. We heard a cry that the boy was killed, but such was the lively interest which everybody felt in himself and the meeting that no notice was taken of the matter, and the interrupted business was immediately resumed.

The Chairman then got up upon the table, which had descended in position with us all, and stated the object of the meeting.

George A. Halsey, Esq. and Albert H. Waggoner, Esq., were then unanimously appointed Secretaries of the meeting.

Mr. Strahan then arose to address the multitude, which could not have been less than 20 or 25 thousand souls.

Mr. Strahan then offered the following resolutions:—

Fellow-Citizens—In view of the deep disgrace that has fallen upon our city, in consequence of the conduct of some of our city rulers, last evening, the following resolutions are submitted for you consideration:—

Resolved, That we love the peace, are law abiding citizens, and devoted to the welfare of this, the first city of the Union, but, above all, we cannot sanction the murder of innocent men by those whose sworn duty it is to protect them in all the rights of American citizens.

Resolved, That we believe it to be the duty of our city authorities, if a riot takes place, or if they have good reason to believe that a riot, involving the destruction of life or property will take place, to exhaust the civil power of the county before resorting to the military, which is, in fact the right arm of despotism, and ought to be the last resort of Americans. And here we must condemn the Mayor of our city, for not causing the Astor Place Opera House to be closed, when he knew (as he says) that a riot would ensue if it were opened.

Resolved, That we look upon the sacrifice of human lives in the vicinity of the Astor Place Opera House, last night, as the most wanton, unprovoked, and murderous outrage ever perpetrated in the civilized world, and that the aiders, abettors, and instigators of that unparalleled crime deserve, and shall receive the lasting censure and condemnation of this community.

Resolved, That, in our opinion, it is the imperative duty of the Grand Jury of this county to indict the Mayor, Recorder and the Sheriff of this city, for ordering the military to fire on the citizens during the disastrous and bloody tragedy of last night.

Resolved, That we mingle our tears and lamentations with the mourning friends and relatives of the men, women, and children who have fallen victims to the pride, tyranny and inhumanity of those who, “dressed in a little brief authority,” have shown a higher regard for the applause of those who courted a fatal issue than for the lives of their fellow citizens.

Resolved, That we will attend the funerals of our murdered fellow citizens.

Resolved, That a committee be appointed by the Chairman, to take testimony in relation to the lamentable affair of last night, for the purpose of presenting it to the proper authorities and our fellow citizens.

Resolved, That we owe it to ourselves to the high character of our city to the genius of our institutions, to the vindication of a large body of our fellow citizens from the opprobious and unfounded charges made against them, to prove to our and their revilers that we respect the rights of others, are neither destructives nor law breakers and therefore will not counsel or countenance the destruction of life or property.

Resolved, That while we are opposed to all violence, in theatres, or elsewhere, we still insist that citizens have a perfect and indisputable right to express their approbation or disapprobation in all places of public amusement, and we regard the arrest and imprisonment of persons last night for merely expressing their opinion in the Opera House, as only surpassed in atrocity by the ourtrage perpetrated outside among the people.

The reading of these ably drawn up and powerful resolutions produced a great and decided impression upon the immense mass which listened to the reading of them in profound silence. At some of the most striking expressions, such as “murder of innocent people,” “indiscreet Mayor,” &c., there was a loud, spontaneous burst of warm and indignant feeling.

Mr. Strahan having concluded the reading of these resolutions, in a full, clear and audible voice, proceeded to address a few remarks upon the subject to his fellow-citizens, and in his speech, while he deeply vehemently and eloquently deprecated and censured the conduct which had been pursued earnestly advised a resort to the legal tribunals and the absence of all violence. He recommended the people to go home, and calmly review and consider what they heard, and in the course of time, to act according to the dictates of a sound and temperate judgment. We have the speech of Mr. S. in full, but owing to the length of the others written out first, we are obliged to postpone that of Mr. S. for the present.

When Mr. Strahan had concluded, loud cries were raised of “Rynders,” “Rynders.”

Captain Rynders of the famous Empire Club, then mounted the table and addressed the immense assembly before him.

Fellow Citizens.—It strikes me that the first thing now in order, is to put the resolutions to the vote which you have heard read.

The resolutions given above were then put to the vote by the Chairman and adopted by acclamation.

Captain Rynders then proceeded as follows:—

Fellow Citizens.—When I look upon this vast concourse of citizens assembled here I am overwhelmed by any feelings at reflecting upon the dreadful calamity which ahs befallen our city. (Shouts of “Murder murder.”) Yes, fellow citizens, you may well call it murder. I do not say that it has been perpetrated from the mere motive and intention of killing men: I do not say that when they first ordered out the troops they had the intention of murder, but when they gave the word, and said, “fire,” then it was a murderous act, and murder was committed upon inoffensive citizens by the chief magistrate of the proud city of New York—a city where such a thing as a riot has scarcely ever been known before. Fellow citizens, for what—for whom was this murder committed? (I hope you will keep order. I hope you will prove by your conduct this evening, that the working men of our city are as orderly as the aristocracy.) Why was this murder perpetrated? Was it done for the sake of justice and for the object of preserving order? (Loud cries of “No, no.”) I think not. For what, then, was it done? To please the aristocracy of the city, at the expense of the lives of inoffending citizens—to please an aristocratic Englishman, backed by a few sycophantic Americans. It was more important to these aristocrats that Mr. Macready, an Irish-Englishman, should play before them, and that they should be amused by him for a short hour, than that they should prevent a riot. They preferred to run the risk of a disturbance to gratify themselves with hearing him. They would shoot down their brethren and fellow-citizens rather than be deprived of the pleasure of seeing him perform. Think you the sun would have risen less brilliantly the next morning if Mr. Macready had not played that evening? I think not. Well, Macready did play, in dumb show, and the stars were there to see him, and protect him—I mean our police, who have so distinguished themselves on this occasion. Now, I want to say something in relation to the agency which I am reported to have had in this matter. [Here an interruption to the reporter took place, a crowd of men trying to get the resolutions from him.] I will not deny the fact that I wanted to see Macready put down, but not by violence. There were hundreds who heard me express my opinion; and I defy any one to say that I advised any attack or assault to be made. I tried to put him down; I wanted to put him down; but I wanted to do it peaceably. I was not hostile to Mr. Macready because he was an Englishman, but because he was full of his country’s prejudices, from the top of his head to his feet, if he has any. On this account, I was ready to take a number of tickets, and manifest my dissatisfaction of his conduct. It has been said that money was paid to me in order to put him down. Fellow-citizens, it is a base lie. (Loud cheers.) I paid my own money for the tickets, and a few others paid for other tickets to be given away. If I did wrong, tht was all I did, and I do not shrink from the responsibility of it. Now, fellow-citizens, as regards the Mayor. I do not wish to speak unkindly of him, I will merely state the truth; but even the truth in regard to him is too bad to dwell upon. If I were to do so, I should be afraid of exciting your feelings too much, and I do not wish to stimulate you to any acts of violence, to tear down houses, or to wage war against bricks and mortar. Yesterday, after reading the pronunciamento published in his behalf, I felt more inclined than ever to hire him and put him down. They promised me that they would support him. Did they do it? Could they do it? Not a man of them was there who came up like a man, after agreeing to sustain him. No, but they threw the responsibility upon the “stars”—not the stars of the stripes and banners—far from it—but the police. Yesterday I waited upon the Mayor; Mr. Matsell, Mr. Wiley, and others can vouch for the truth of what I say. I told him there was a danger of a fearful riot; I said to him, “For God’s sake, stop the proceedings; you are bound to protect the lives of the citizens.” I gave him my advice, and I believe the Mayor is a man of truth, and he will not deny it. A consultation was held last night again; I spoke to Alderman Kelly, of the 2d ward, and asked him if he would not go to the Mayor, and prevail upon him to put a stop to the proceedings. No, it was all in vain; they were determined to be gratified by having Mr. Macready to play for them at the expense of the lives of their fellow citizens— (Three groans were here called for, and gave by the immense mass with profound solemnity.) And now, fellow-citizens, I have one remark to make in relation to the public press. (The Globe.) (Mr. R. here read a short article from the above paper.) I called upon the responsible editor of that paper, who said he did not write it. That article was written by that pink of propriety, the well known and notorious Major Bangs. (Loud laughter.) Mr. R. here commented upon the article, and proceeded with some cutting remarks, which, owing to the confusion around us, we were unable to catch. Mr. R. then spoke upon the conduct of the military in firing upon the people. They were, he said, the slaves of her majesty of England. They obeyed orders, and gallantly fired, and killed two old ladies and thirty or forty citizens. That same evening, one of our public functionaries boasted, while he was regaling himself in a tavern with his usual beverage, of the murders which had been committed. (Cries of “Three groans for Recorder Tallmadge,” to whom it was understood that reference was made.) So I have heard, fellow-citizens. I do not affirm it to be so; but I have heard it was so. A number of our fellow-citizens, who yesterday at this time were alive and hearty, as we are here, were murdered last night, and are now stark and stiff in death. (Loud groans.) Our National Guards did this, with General Sandford at their head. They have not particularly distinguished themselves upon the field of Mexico—they never drew a sword or shouldered a musket to fight for their country; but last night they shot down a couple of elderly ladies, and a number of peaceable inoffensive citizens. General Sandford would make a field marshal before whom the glory of Ney would be eclipsed. But, if he was to be made one of Napoleon’s marshals, it would not be because he could fight, but because of the murders he could boast of having committed. I say it, fellow citizens, and I mean it—he is a coward!—for none but a coward would fire upon unarmed citizens and then boast of it. I do not want to urge you on to violence against him. The finger of scorn will for ever point at him hereafter for this exploit, which will be punishment enough for him. That will put him down; yes, a child might put him down, whose only bravery consists in firing upon a number of unarmed citizens, and killing two old ladies. As to the civil force of New York I do not wish to be so severe upon the Star Police as the gentleman who has preceded me, though, as a class, altogether, they deserve what he has said of them. But I should like to know if the object of their being called out was to preserve the peace, why were they not in the street instead of being shut up in the theatre? It is the first time one ever heard of police being shut up in a house in order to quell a riot in a street and put a mob down. There they were, drawn up inside the house, in order to revenge the aristocrats of this city against the working classes. (Loud cries of indignation.) Another thing I would remark, and I can prove it by good witnesses, by selling their tickets and pocketing the money they have robbed the people, the working men of the city. Now, remember, that pulling down horses is an expense to the city therefore. I hope you will keep order and not injure the building. They would be glad if their house was torn down, because the city would have to pay for it, and it would relieve them of a losing speculation. Another thing I will mention, it has been said that Mr. Forrest—Edwin Forrest—(loud cheering, three cheers for Mr. Forrest)—it has been said that he gave money to pay for putting Macready down. Fellow citizens, it is a lie. (Cries of “It is a lie.”) I would give two hundred and fifty dollars to any one who would prove, by good witnesses, that I ever received one cent from Mr. Forrest, or any one, for such a purpose. As I said before, I bought twenty or thirty tickets, but as I had not the money at the time I applied to a gentleman in this city for the money. he gave it me, and I gave him my note for it. On the first night I bought fifty tickets with my own money. I paid it myself but I was sorry to see an assault made upon Mr. Macready. It has been said Mr. Forrest gave the money. Fellow-citizens, it is a foul calumny against a most noble and honorable citizen. A reporter of one of the papers met me and asked, “Do you know Mr. Forrest?” I said, “Accidently only. I got acquainted with him in a steamboat on the North River, going up and down occasionally.” Then he said to me, “Will you go to him and ask a favor for me?” I went, and Mr. Forrest said, “Send him to me.” Then I spoke to Mr. Forrest about Macready. I said to see what he would say, “He ought to be put down.” To this Mr. Forrest replied and said, “Two wrongs do not make a right.” So help me God that was his answer. (Shouts of approbation.) Then he said, “let the people do as they please.” But on the other hand, Mr. Macready sent one hundred and twelve tickets to the b’hoys to support him: but one of them, Billy Sparks said, “I will take your ticket, but I will hiss you.” He did so and he is now in prison for it. (Cries of “Shame! shame!”) Mr. Macready also sent sixty dollars to be distributed among the police. This Macready is the man who has paid money no doubt. Matsell is the man who never lost a trick in his life. Then there was Bowyer too, active among them with his sling-shot, quite brave last night in attacking the people. Now, when this meeting breaks up I hope you will go home like peaceable citizens and not tear down any houses. Mr. Macready as you all know, left the city last night though the men who claim to be exclusives pretended they would sustain him, yet the little man had to run for his life in spite of their promises. (Shouts “He went upon the telegraph wires.”) His baggage followed him this evening. There were some who were for plunging it into the river; but no—God forbid such things should be done. It is not necessary we should have a burning city though last night I should have been glad to have hung up a dozen of them like rats, but we have had time to reflect, and the feelings of American citizens have had time to recover their ascendancy—feelings always in favor of justice, order and humanity. Now then I hope you will disperse quietly and go home peaceably to your habitations, in proper time.

Captain Rynders having concluded, loud cries were raised in the dense crowd for Mike Walsh. After some delay Mr. Walsh came forward, ascended the table and addressed the meeting. He said—

Friends and Fellow-citizens—This is the first time in the history of this city that we have been called upon to deplore a cowardly, base, and murderous attack upon the citizens. So long as the dispute between Forrest and Macready[,] two persons[,] was passive I took no part in the matter. I did not think it becoming the dignity of an American citizen to make a dispute between two play-actors a national question. But now it has ceased to be a personal matter and has resolved itself into a war on the part of the public authorities of this city against the lives of the people whom they ought to protect. Not in the whole history of the civilized world has there ever ben committed an atrocity equal to that which was perpetrated last night. Even the Emperor of Russia, who holds the lives of the people in little better estimation than that of dogs, has always required three rounds of blank cartridges to be fired by the troops before they fire with ball upon the people. We have seen in London the spectacle of nearly two millions of people threatening to march upon London with the undisguished purpose of overthrowing the government, and what happened? Were the English troops commanded to fire upon the people? Not so! Not a solitary man was killed. The soldiers were not drawn out on the occasion, but the shopkeepers of the city alone were called out, as special constables, to put down the tumult. My friends, so you think that if this assault had been committed at the Chatham or Bowery theatres, our citizens would have been shot down and murdered for breaking a few panes of glass? Thirty or forty persons have been shot down in cold blood, who were not guilty of violating the laws! (Loud cries of “Shame!” “Shame!”) The very fact of the commission of this outrage proves that we are the most forbearing people upon the earth. If such a thing had occurred in Paris, the streets would have been soon filled with barricades, raised against the cut-throats with the Mayor at their head. it is easy to preach peace when we do not mean it, but law and order become a curse when they bring death and desolation into families, and cause the tears of mourning relatives to be shed, calling loud for vengeance. I, myself, was not near the Astor Place theatre last night, but I say that F. A. Tallmadge, Mr. Westervelt, and Mr. Matsell deserve hanging a thousand times. (Cries of “Hang them up!”—“hang them up.”) We have had a proclamation from a man, who, by a mere accident of circumstances, has arrived to be Mayor, and, no doubt there are thousands like him who are drinking the blood of the operatives, who long for the power of an army by which they may oppress and trample the poor man under foot. Where were these National Guards during the late war with Mexico? Where were these gingerbread soldiers? They were drinking punch at their firesides, while it was the poor man who fought the battles of the country. I do not wish to curse them, but they have been valiant enough to pour lead upon the unarmed multitude. (Cries of “Vengeance,” “Vengeance.”) When the Opera House was opened, it was restricted to those only who wore white kid gloves, such was the spirit of pride and presumption of the nabobs of the Fifteenth ward, who, led by the Mayor, have brought troops to fire upon the people. Who will take care of the families they have made desolate? Will Macready, will Forrest, will Woodhull? No! Let us be dignified, but let us speak strongly and firmly. I say, so help me God, if another shot is fired by these scoundrels, I will, with musket and bayonet in my hand— (The conclusion was lost owing to the confusion.) My heart is quite sickened at the sights I have seen—the brains of the people who have been murdered oozing out, their limbs torn and lacerated, the blood covering them as it flowed from ghastly wounds. I call upon the coroner of this city to cause the Jury of Inquest to find a verdict of “Guilty of Murder” against the Mayor and Matsell, and all who have acted in this crime. May eternal oblivion rest upon them—may eternal infamy fall upon the guilty. Cursed be their names now—and may they forever be a byeword [sic] and a reproach. Now, my boys, one word more. We owe it to ourselves, to our fellow-citizens, and to society, if ever there is a repetition of this shooting, to arm ourselves, and to call upon every man to arm himself. [Here the tumult became great, and the excitement intense. Loud cries for vengeance rose from the crowd. Mr. Walsh descended from th table, whereupon an adjournment was moved, upon which we came away and left the ground.]

While the multitude was gathering in the park, a number of women were observed making their way through the crowd, some leading small children, some bearing infants in their arms, and some having two or three youngsters in their tram. In one instance, a lady, was seen conducting two fine looking little boys, of about four and five years of age, through the crowd. A benevolent gentleman, knowing the danger of their position, kindly suggested to the mother to leave the ground, as that was no place for children. She barely hear[d] him through, and then administered a sarcastic rebuke to him for interfering. The urchins all over town were as earnest in their debates about the popular topic of the day, as were the children of a larger growth. In fact, from the nursery to the work shop, and from the parlor to the counting room, everybody [t]alked about the riot at the Opera house.


While the proceedings were going on in the Park, we were informed that two other meetings were being held at the same time, one in Washington Square, and the other in Tompkins. To both of these places we preoceeded with as much expedition as possible, so as to lay their proceedings before the public. On reaching there it was found that quiet prevailed, and that there was neither a meeting nor the least excitement. Tompkins Square was perfectly quiet, and the same may be said of Washington Square, although there were several companies of military stationed there, which, we were informed, would take position in the immediate vicinity of the Astor Place theatre. We observed there the Union Rifles, three companies of the Washington Guards, the City Guard, and the Montgomery Guard, all looking very well, and ready at a moment’s notice, to do the bidding of their commanders. The exercises of these companies were witnessed by two or three hundred people who were engaged in discussing the deplorable tragedy of Thursday evening, some taking one view and some another of it, but all agreeing that the peace of the city must be maintained. In the neighborhood of Washington Square, as well as in the vinity of the Astor Place theatre, at seven o’clock, there was no excitement, nor any apprehension of a recurrence of trouble entertained by the inhabitants. Ladies promenaded Broadway as usual, and those who were not out of doors sat in their parlor windows looking at the passers by, and observing the military, children trundled their hoops in the square, as on other evenings—in fine, he would be a dull observer, indeed, who could not perceive that there was no thought of a riot like that which occurred on Thursday evening, and confidence in the ability of the municipal authorities to preserve the peace was depicted in every countenance.

Leaving Washington Square, we saw a powerful force of hussars and dragoons together with a piece of artillery wending their way up Eighth street towards Broadway. This force, of itself, it would be supposed, was sufficient for almost any emergency growing out of a riot. They looked extremely well—both horses and men, and as they proceeded towards Broadway they attracted a good deal of attention. At a quarter past seven o’clock they turned into Broadway and from thence they went to the theatre in Astor Place in front of which they took position, occupying completely the whole street including the sidewalk. At this time there were about fifteen hundred persons in the vicinity of the theatre, composed in a great measure of boys and half grown men, with a sprinkling on the sidewalks, near the Bowery, of women. There was some little groaning when they first made their appearance, but they experienced no difficulty in taking their position. One of their horses becoming restive, the dragoon who was on his back determined upon pacing him up and down—while doing which, one of the boys in the crowd threw a missile in the shape of a stick at him. This act was loudly applauded, but nothing serious resulted from it. To twenty minutes past seven o’clock, this was the only thing worth noting that occurred.


Dr. Walters our very efficient Coroner will hold inquests this day on the bodies of those unfortunate persons who lost their li[ve]s during the disturbance at the Astor Place Opera House on Thursday evening. It appears that the Coroner will hold the inquests in the court room of the General Sessions, at the Tombs. The following card has been issued.—

Coroner’s Office May 11, 1849.

Persons who witnessed the wounding or death of individuals during the riot at the Opera House Theatre, in Astor Place, on Thursday evening last, will please to meet at the Coroner’s Office, Halls of Justice, Centre street, on Saturday, May 12th, at 11 o’clock, A.M.

WM. A. WALTERS, Coroner.

Very great anxiety is manifested by the public to know the result of the Coroner’s jury in these cases and a tremendous crowd is expected and in order to accommodate them the Coroner has chosen the Court of Sessions Room for that purpose. We understand that a jury will be sworn and carriages provided for them, and then with the Coroner and Dr. Whittaker, the[y] will hold the examination on the bodies, one after the other, as they have been all conveyed to the residences of their friends. They will then return after visiting the bodies, and the inquisition will then be gone into in order to ascertain the cause of death. Subpœnas have been served on his Honor Mayor Woodhull the sheriff Recorder Tallmadge, Mr. Matsell Chief of Police, Major General Sanford, General G. P. morris, and a large number of others who are to be put on the stand and testify as to the cause of death and by whom it was sanctioned. We expect to see a large number of persons, as much excitement prevails on the part of the friends of the deceased parties.

“The Tragedy at Astor Place.” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York], Second Edition. 12 May 1849; p. 148.

Mr. Macready’s farewell engagement has at length terminated. He and his baggage left the New York Hotel early yesterday morning. Suddenly was closed one of the most extraordinary tragedies that ever distinguished theatrical annals on either side of the Atlantic. We hope that it will be a final, everlasting farewell engagement to all such exhibitions in this community, in this country, or in the civilized world. Springing from a contemptibly and paltry quarrel between two impudent, conceited poay actors, two riots have taken place, on separate evenings; and, in order to put down the latter émeute, some fifteen quiet and peaceable citizens of New York have been shot down in the streets, and twenty or thirty wounded, who are now stretched on the bed of suffering or of death.

The awful result is before the world. That result has exhibited an enormous exhibition of civil and military power, called forth for a most paltry and inadequate cause. The original error sprung from the silly committee who called upon Macready to brave a discontented audience, after he had closed his engagement. By a series of blunders, beginning with that committee, the military and the mob were placed in hostile array to each other—the result is the death of more than a dozen of innocent people, and the wounding of fifty more. What now is to be done? What is the next act in the drama? The military only obeyed legal orders. No blame can attach to them. Let the rioters—those scoundrels who provoked the military—those rascals taken in the act of violence—be punished to the utmost extremity of the law; and let all parties reflect seriously on their conduct, and avoid hereafter all such awful errors as have led to such terrible results. Let the peace and good order of the city be maintained at all hazards.

We have much to say on this awful catastrophe, but we wait till the public mind can become calmer than it is at present.

“Forrest and Macready.” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York], Second Edition. 12 May 1849; p. 148.

Forrest and Macready—The Great Theatrical Excitement—Its Origin, Progress, and Denouement.

Our contemporaries deprecate and denounce, with more or less sseverity, the occurrences at the Astor Place theatre, on Monday evening last, of which we give a detailed account in our paper of this morning. Undoubtedly, these occurrences ought to be deprecated. They were much more heavy than agreeable—much more disreputable than dignified. But human nature is a singular commodity, and is pretty much the same in all great cities. Philosophy must not go off in hysterics at every little outburst of human emotion—particularly of theatrical human emotion. New York, in the present jocund month of May, is not alone distinguished for theatrical explosions of feeling. London has, in times not yet wholly forgotten, earned a very respectable reputation in the same way; and we ourselves have had, before Monday last, a few extremely lively melo-dramas, “got up expressly for the occasion.” Indeed, we think that the theatrical riots in London—the famous O. P. riots, for instance—for the ferocious assault on the French singers, some twelve or fourteen years ago—were more formidable than anything we have ever been able to get up here, even with the best “native talent.” We generally content ourselves with pantomime and farce. Our amiable brethren, on the other side of the water, like to sprinkle their performances in this way with a dash of tragedy, broken skulls and bloody noses. In fact, since the days when the “b’hoys” of Athens attempted to settle the business of Mr. McAristophanes for his attack on their favorite Celon, theatrical audiences in all countries have assumed the right of expressing their sovereign wrath and displeasure. In this respect, John Bull and Brother Jonathan have both, at times, been very naughty, and generally look silly enough when they wake up next morning.

But, not content with denouncing this unpleasant scene at the Astor Place theatre, one of our contemporaries, the Courier and Enquirer, directly accuses Mr. Forrest as the author of the disturbance. The Courier alleges in explicit terms, that Mr. Forrest organized and paid a band of men to go to the theatre and hiss Mr. Macready off the stage. We regard this accusation as gratuitous and unjustifiable. Whatever may be our notions about the propriety of the letters written by Mr. Forrest relative to Mr. Macready, (and these notions have not been hidden,) or however decidedly we may condemn any manifestations of ill-temper which he may have displayed in this controversy, yet we must not allow such a charge against him as that preferred by the Courier to pass without notice. Where is the evidence that Mr. Forrest had any personal agency in the disturbance? Perhaps he does not regret it very much; and his cards and letters may have waked up the “b’hoys” to work, but that is all.

Here, we think, it may not be amiss to give the public a little insight into the origin of all these difficulties. The public have been, heretofore, a good deal in the dark on this subject. A brief statement of the facts will be at once instructive and edifying. It is a discreditable business all round—and the saddle should be put on the right horse.

We must go back to the first visit of Mr. Forrest to London. Young, and comparatively unfriended and unknown, he sought fame and fortune on the English stage. Mr. Hackett was in the British metropolis at the time, and urged upon Mr. Price, then manager of Drury Lane theatre, the propriety and justice of giving their youthful countrymen an engagement. “He has no talent!” exclaimed Price, in his own gruff way. “Not so”—returned Hackett—“he is a young man of high promise; you must give him an engagement!” Price, although a coarse sort of man in his manner and way of expressing himself, was not without generous feeling. He did give Mr. Forrest an engagement, and the result is known. The young American actor was kindly received. Mr. Macready himself treated him in a very friendly manner, and his attentions were gratefully acknowledged by Mr. Forrest himself, in a letter which was subsequently published in the Plaindealer, of this ccity, conducted by Mr. Forrest’s early, fretful and faithful friend, Leggett. On his return from Europe, with an increased reputation and additional professional experience, Mr. Forrest played, for the first time, at the Park, and speedily attained that position which he has since held among his friends and admirers.

The next chapter in this astounding history, which beats “Plutarch’s Lives” all to pieces, opens with the visit of “Boz,” alias Dickens, to the United States. Some aged inhabitants probably yet recollect the excruciating fuss which was made about the talented little Cockney in this metropolis. The ball at the Park theatre capped the climax, and the popular enthusiasm then reached its culminating point. Poor Dickens was bamboozled, bewildered, stunned, deafened, and quite overwhelmed by this foretaste of the apotheosis of the “universal nation,” and he almost nodded his well perfumed head off his shoulders, in reply to the salutations of the New York aristocracy, of all shades, castes, shapes, and dimensions from codfish up to salt pork, “Boz” was, like the prophet’s ass, elevated to the seventeenth heaven. Next day, he awoke. He found out that it was all a capital hoax—a farce—a flam. The ball had been gotten up to put a few thousand dollars into the dilapidated treasure of the Park theatre! Horror and agony! The dinner to Lord Morpeth happening at the very time of this mournful awakening, presented so remarkable a contrast to the fussy, farcical attentions paid to Dickens, that the poor man was almost frantic. In one case, there was the dignified, gentlemanly, substantial compliment, which New York knew well how to pay to an eminent statesman and scholar, from another land. In the other case, there was the funny, quizzical, extravagant, rollicking, whimsical, riotous “jollification,” which New York just as well knew how to get up for its own amusement, the benefit of the Park theatre, and the utter and desolating bewilderment of the illustrious, miraculous, and never-to-be-forgotten “Boz.”

“Boz” raved, and wrote his book. The iron had entered into his soul. On his return to London, he was affectionately embraced by his literary associates, Forster, Fonblanque, Leman, and others that of ilk, and with them, over innumerable pots of “heavy wet,” he whined forth the agony of his wounded spirit. Grief is contagious, and the little coterie whined in sympathy. Then they waxed fierce, and out came Forster with a tremendous broadside against the United States, in the shape of a review of Dickens’s book, and in which he abused the New York Herald and Courier with awful and deadly severity. These journals had incurred the wrath of “Boz” about the famous “ball”—one by laughing at and humoring the joke, the other by opposing it as uncalled for and undignified. Just at this moment, while Forster, “Boz,” and their associates of the London press were red-hot against everything American, Mr. Forrest made his second visit to the English metropolis. Then appeared the unfriendly notices, and then were made the attempts to hiss him off the stage. The whole opposition to him originated with this little knot of literateurs, inflamed against the United States, on account of the sad treatment of their “pal” and brother, Master “Boz.” We have never believed that Mr. Macready originated or stimulated the attacks on Mr. Forrest at that time. The whole difficulty arose as we have now stated, and Mr. Macready, a few days since, published letters from Forster, Fonglanque, Bulwer, and others, giving testimony to that effect. In fact, Macready tried to stop these criticisms against Forrest, but could not effect it. Macready is perfectly innocent on that score, notwithstanding Forrest’s belief and interminable letters in bad taste to the contrary.

Now comes another chapter, and the last. When Mr. Macready came to this country, Wikoff—the Chevalier Wikoff—the Wikoff—who had in vain attempted to fawn on Macready in London, one of the Dickens’ clique—and obtain a gracious smile, or even a patronizing kick from that awful personage, instilled into Mr. Forrest’s ear the poisonous insinuations which we have exposed not long since. Wikoff’s story, every word of which was pure invention, as it will be proved to be, was the principal foundation on which Forrest has felt and acted. Other influences also went to work. Macready made some pompous speeches; and, at last, irritated, stung and exasperated into a course of conduct not in keeping with his character or with good taste, Mr. Forrest came out with his “card.” Macready replied. More speeches were made—more cards were written, and thus the quarrel proceeded, growing, of course, more angry and more unpleasant every day, and the result was the unfortunate occurrence at the Astor Place Theatre.

“Inquest on the Bodies of Those Killed in the Late Riot.” Commercial Advertiser [New York, New York] 14 May 1849; p. 1.

Pursuant to the notice given on Saturday, the Coroner held an inquest on the bodies of those who were slain at the riot on Thursday night. A very large assemblage had gathered at the Tombs early in the day, and the Sessions room, in which the examination was held, was densely crowded. The affairs of the past few days were freely but not intemperately discussed, and the most prevalent feeling seemed to be one of very deep regret for the untimely death of so many persons innocent of any participation in the outrage which terminated so disastrously. The inquest was announced to take place at 11, A. M., but as the Jury accompanied by the Coroner had to visit all the places where the corpses were lying, it was near two o’clock before proceedings were actually commenced.

The following persons having been sworn in as Jurors, proceeded in carriages to the places designated below, for the purpose of viewing the bodies of the slain:—

James H. Perkins, corner Grand and Centre streets, eating house.

L. W. Sammis, shoe dealer, 188 Grand street.

Joseph B. Brewster, Hatter, 120 Bowery.

William Banta, [hatter], 106 Canal street.

James Cropsey, dry goods, 142 [Canal street].

Wm. S. Smith, jeweller, 116 Bowery.

E. Rengar, clothier, 98 Bowery.

E. C. Robinson, hardware, 149 Bowery.

Elisha Brooks, clother, 116 Cherry street.

Samuel Raynor, bookseller, 76 Bowery.

Thomas S. Miller, dry goods, 15 Greenwich avenue.

Wm. Ballagh, grocer, 1 Chambers street.

J. C. Baldwin, furniture, 183 Chatham street.

G. W. Dawson, [furniture], 167 [Chatham street].

O. H. Wilson, clothier, 120 [Chatham street].

At the City Hospital they found the bodies of four, instead of one as had been expected, three having died since Friday night—

George A Curtis, aged 22 years, born in Chatauque county; printer by trade; shot through the lungs.

John McDonald, aged 17 years, born in Ireland; shot through the breast.

George Lincoln, aged 35 years, appeared to be a sailor; shot in the abdomen.

Thomas Aylwood, aged 19, born in Halifax, a clerk. This young man received a musekt ball in the thigh near the knee. So severe was the fracture, that amputation was deemed necessary and on the completion of the operation, the patient died.

Timothy Burns, 16 years, a printer, was lying at No. 172 Pearl street, the ball having passed through the right lung.

Henry Otten, 22 years, born in New York, grocer, residing with his father, corner of Hester and Orchard streets. The ball had passed through his breast.

George W. Brown, 20 years, born in Boston, clerk. Musket ball passed through his left lung. The body was at 12 Crosby street.

William Butler, 21 years, born in New York, ship joiner, 97 Sullivan street; shot through the left side of his head.

George W. Taylor, 21 years, born in New York, house carpenter; shot through the breast; single man; boarded at 215 Varick street.

Owen Burns, 21 years, born in Ireland, a cartman; shot through the head; body lay at 31 Charles street, (in the rear); single man.

Thomas Bulman, 17 years, born in Ireland, laborer; shot through the neck.

Neil Gray Mellis, 27 years. The musket ball passed directly through the heart; left a wife and one child. The deceased was a nephew to ex-Alderman Neil Gray of the 10th ward.

The Coroner then drove to No. 147 3d avenue, where it was said John McKinley was lying dead; however, McKinley was not dead, but he was not expected to live, as the wound was considered fatal, the ball having passed through his abdomen. It was expected he would not survive until this morning.

Asa F. Collins, 45 years, born in this State; business a house agent. The deceased received a ball in the neck, as he was descending from the railroad car.

William Harman, 15 years, a butcher, was brought to the Bellevue Hospital early on Friday morning, having received a ball in the abdomen; he lingered until four o’clock in the afternoon. He was a native of St. Johns, New Brunswick.

Thomas Kearnin, 21 years; born in Ireland; a waiter, shot in the right cheek, the ball passing into the brain. He was residing with his brother, 196 East 13th street. This man was supposed to have been the first person killed, as he was picked up immediately after the first discharge of musketry, and taken into the Opera House dead.

Mathew Cahill, 26 years; born in Ireland; laborer; a widower; shot through the right breast; one child. The body was at the house where the deceased boarded, situated in 12th street, near the 1st avenue.

Timothy McGuin, 19 years, laborer. This young man was the support of his aged mother, and received a ball in the left side. The deceased was residing with his mother, in the rear of No. 167 West 13th street, and died soon after being brought home. On the Coroner calling to view the body, he was informed that it had been taken to Williamsburgh and interred, on a certificate given by Dr. Wagstaff. This will cause much trouble, as the body must be disinterred by the Coroner at Williamsburgh.

George W. Gedney, 31 years, born in New York, a broker, resided at No. 82 Seventh street. The deceased received a musket ball directly through the brain.

This examination having been concluded, the jurors returned to the Tombs, when, after a short recess to procure some refreshments, they proceeded to the Sessions Court Room to commence the examination.

The Mayor, accompanied by Gens. Sandford and Hall, the Recorder and Sheriff, then entered the room, and the Mayor was first sworn. The crowd, as we have said, was very dense, but so solemn was the stillness, the falling of a pin might have been heard, so eager were the auditors to catch every word that fell from the lips of the witnesses.

We give below the testimony in full:—

At length the testimony was commenced.

The Mayor.

Caleb S. Woodhull, Mayor of the city and county of new York, sworn:—

I was informed on Thursday last, there was likely to be a disturbance at the theatre, in Astor place, and in consequence of which I sent for the Recorder to come to my office at 11 o’clock; I sent for several gentlemen to be at my office at 11 o’clock; the Recorder, Sheriff, Chief of Police; General Sandford, the Police Justices, and Mr. Niblo; these attended about 11 o’clock; Mr. Hackett came with Mr. Niblo; I inquired of Mr. Niblo, the proprietor of the theatre, whether they intended to play at the theatre on Thursday night; he stated to me they had put out their bills and proposed to do so; I then inquired of the gentlemen present what probability there was of a disturbance; the Chief of Police, in particular said he thought it might be a serious one; a conversation then passed between those present as to the best method of suppressing it; I inquired of the Chief if the civil force would be sufficient; he said he thought it would not; I then asked him if the aid of the military would be required; he said he thoughtit would; I then put the question to the gentlemen present, whether under the circumstances, an order should be issued; they all answered in the affirmative, except General Sandford; General Sandford remarked that it was not for him to say whether they should be ordered out or not; it was his business to obey the orders; the order was then afterwards given, and handed to General Sandford’s son; the order was a general order, as to the number to be called out; myself, Mr. Niblo, and Mr. Hackett had some conversation respecting the closing the theatre; I stated to Mr. Niblo, as a magistrate that I thought I had no right to interfere with his establishment, but my private wishes were that he should close his theatre on that night; they seemed to think they ought not to close, and that the magistracy ought to protect them, and we came to the conclusion, as an alternative, to do so; instructions were given to the Chief of Police and General Sandford to take such measures, and act as occasion required; I went to the opera house about 9 o’clock in the evening; I went in and inquired for the Recorder and Chief of Police; I saw outside immense multitudes of people; I made myself known at the door, and went into the house; I inquired of the Recorder, Chief of Police, and Sheriff, what they were doing; the general answer was, there was a large force outside; they stated that the windows and panels of the doors were broken in; the military were outside; it was stated by the Chief of Police that great difficulty was to be entertained as to keeping them from breaking into the house, with the force he had, and he was fearful they would succeed, as his men were doing all they could do; after I had been there about 15 minutes, General Hall stated to me that unless I gave orders for his men to fire, his men would leave the ground; my answer was, not yet General, let us see; he said he had been struck with stones on his head and body, and the blood at this time was running down the left side of his face; he repeated twice or three times that his men would not stand to be stoned to death with arms in their hands; finally he stated to me, Mayor, you must give the order to fire, or my men will all be killed; my answer was again, “wait a little;” nothing passed again between the General and myself; he left me without the order; I did not give the order to fire; there was no proclamation read to the people by me; I was inside; there was no proclamation issued by me that day; I issued none, because I was not sufficiently informed of the state of facts to deem it necessary; the means taken through the day was precautionary; about 20 minutes after General Hall left me, I notified Justice Mountfort that I was going to the New York Hotel, and should remain there to receive any communication they had to make; I then left, in company with my brother, and went to the New York Hotel; this was previous to the firing of the military; I remained at the hotel with Governor Fish until after 11 o’clock, and then went to my house; the disturbance then appeared to be over.

General Sandford.

The next witness was Gen. Sandford, who, on being sworn in the usual form, testified as follows:

My name is Charles W. Sandford, and I am major General commanding the military forces of this county.

Please state what you know of the subject matter of this inquiry.

Between eleven and twelve o’clock, on Thursday last, I received a message from the Mayor, requesting me to attend him in his office. I proceeded there, and found all the magistrates mentioned by the Mayor assembled. The mayor informed me of the object of my being sent for, and he has stated correctly my reply, when my opinion was asked. After it was decided to issue the order for the military to turn out, it was understood by the magistrates present, that the effort should be made by the civil authority to preserve the peace; and that the military should not be called out until that effort failed. I received, in consequence, the following order, after I left the mayor’s office:—

Mayor’s Office, City Hall, May 10, 1849.

Having reason to apprehend a serious riot, this evening, which will require more force to preserve the peace than is possessed by the police, Major General Sandford is requested to hold a sufficient military force in readiness to meet the apprehended emergency.

C. W. WOODHULL, Mayor.

After receiving the above order, I ordered one regiment to assemble at their drill rooms, and one troop of light artillery, with two six-pounders, to assemble at the Arsenal, with a small detachment of infantry to protect the pieces.

Coroner—What were the names of the companies ordered?

I ordered one regiment, consisting of eight companies, numbering three or four hundred men, on parade; but as the notice was short and late in the day, they numbered only a little over two hundred at mustering. I ordered out, also, the seventh regiment, or National Guards, as they are known to the public. I went myself in the evening to the artillery drill rooms, and informed the magistrates that I would be there to await their orders. I understood there was to be a large police force at the theatre, which many of the magistrates thought would be sufficient to preserve order without the military. the infantry was commanded by Colonel Duryea, who was present when I entered the drill rooms.

In answer to the Coroner, he said—There were eight captains to that regiment; but whether they were all present or not, he could not tell—Capt Shumway, Capt Underhill, Capt Pond, Capt Price, and I do not at present recollect what others, were there. We remained there until I received a verbal message from the Sheriff, who was at the theatre, the purport of which was, that the mob had attacked the theatre, had driven in the police, and were assailing the building.—He requested me to come up as soon as possible. This was, as well as I can recollect, between eight and nine o’clock in the evening. After receiving the message, I immediately ordered the regiments to get ready to march—to distribute their ammunition, and move. The ammunition consisted of one thousand rounds of ball-cartridge. I at the same time sent orders to the Arsenal Yard for the horse belonging to this regiment, and a small number of horse of another regiment assembled there, to come in front of the drill rooms and march with us to the ground. There was no ammunition given to the horse; they had nothing but their sabres. The troops were put under march and moved rapidly up Broadway to Astor Place. I was not aware, until I got on the ground, of the amount of the mob, and supposed that a small military force added to the police would be sufficient to maintain order. Before arriving on the ground, I mounted and took charge of the cavalry, which were in advance, consisting of about forty horsemen, directing the infantry to follow close after us. I ordered the horse to form a front of from five to ten men on entering Astor Place. They advanced in that order till they got nearly opposite the centre of the Opera House. We were assailed at this point by a shower of stones and brick-bats, by which almost every man was more or less hurt, and the horses rendered almost unmanageable. The men pushed rapidly through Astor Place, and were recevied throughout the whole distance with a shower of stones. The infantry followed them. There was a dense mob extending the whole distance to the Bowery, and as far as I could see to the Third Avenue. The mounted men, being conspicuous marks, received most of the stones, and were driven off the ground. I dismounted, returned through the mob, and took charge of the infantry, who were halted in line across the open space beyond the theatre, with a dense mob on both sides of them, who were assailing them with all sorts of opprobrious epithets, and frequent volleys of stones. I ordered Colonel Duryea to form a column of divisions for the purpose of first clearing the ground in the rear of the theatre, intending afterwards to go to the front. The column was formed promptly, and moved forward through the mob until stopped by an excavation in the ground, which was not seen, owing to the darkness of the night. We then moved, and filed around this broken ground, and cleared the rear of the theatre, by sweeping the mob before us, without a charge—they retreated before us. I stationed, at this time, two bodies of troops at each end of the theatre, extending across the street, and sent into the theatre for Mr. Matsell and the Sheriff, who came out to me. Mr. Matsell furnished sufficient police to replace those two lines of the military, and the whole were then put in march round 8th street and down Broadway by the flank; the Sheriff, at my request, accompanying us. We moved down Astor Place, through the mob, and as close to the theatre as we could get. The mob partially retreated towards the middle and opposite part of the street, and commenced an attack on the troops with paving stones. The pavement had been broken up in that neighborhood, for the purpose of laying water-pipes, and building a sewer, as I was informed; I then ordered the regiment to be divided, and form in two lines across the street, the right wing advancing towards the Bowery and the left toward Broadway, with the view of driving the mob each way from the front of the theatre. During this period, the men constantly assailed the troops with showers of stones and brickbats, and many of them were seriously hurt. A number of the men near me, and General Hall, were struck at the time and some of them very dangerously injured.

After giving this order, I advanced myself towards the middle of the street, by the side of Capt. Shuway, who led the first company, and Col. Duryea, who was by his side, until we got nearly two-thirds of the way across the street. The Sheriff was just behind. At this time we were assailed by a volley of stones, by which more than two-thirds in the front rank were more or less injured—the captain, the colonel and myself being struck too; eight out of the eleven men constituting the front rank were more or less injured. At this time a pistol was fired by some man in the mob, within a very short distance of the troops, by which Capt. Shuway was wounded in the leg, and, as I believed, Gen. Hall in the face, although I did not hear it till afterwards; previous to this, the crowd had been repeatedly notified by Gen. Hall and myself, and by other persons, whose voices I did not recognize, that they must disperse or they would be fired upon; I was partly knocked down at this time, and when I rose, found three or four of the front rank down likewise, and the head of the column forced back towards the Opera House; the shoer of stones being at this time incessant, orders were then given by myself and repeated by Col. Duryea, to charge bayonets; the attempt was made, but the mob was so close upon the troops, pressing upon them, that there was no room for the troops to charge, and some of the men had their muskets seized by the crowd. The troops by this time were forced back to the side-walk; I stated to the Sheriff that it was impossible for us to maintain our position without firing. I several times called out to the crowd, that they must hold back, or we w[o]uld fire. Afterwards the Sheriff gave the order to fire. Gen. Hall who was a short distance from me, exclaimed, “Fire over their heads.” The order to fire was repeated by myself and Col. Duryea, and the men fired over the heads of the mob, against the walls of Mr. Langdon’s house. A shout was then made by the mob, “they have only blank cartridges—give it to them again!” and another volley of stones came instantly. The troops were then ordered by the Colonel and myself to fire again, Gen. Hall saying “Fire low,” and then, for the first time, the mob began to give way. The troops then moved forward and crossed the street driving the crowd before them until the troops got near the corner of Lafayette Place. The mob here rallied, at the corner of Lafayette Place on one side, and at the corner of the theatre and on the broken ground, at the opposite side, and advanced again with fresh showers of stones on the troops. Several of the military were severely hurt at this second attack, and orders were given to the troops to fire, one-half obliquely to the right, and one-half obliquely to the left, on those two bodies. This was done and the crowd fell back into Lafayette Place, and beyond the broken ground behind the theatre. There was no firing after this by the troops, but the mob yet kept up constant attacks with stones and brick-bats. The whole number of military engaged in the conflict was about 210, one half on the line towards Broadway, and the other in the line towards the Bowery. The mob has been variously estimated at from 10 to 20,000; it was exceedingly dark, the lamps having been put out, as I was informed, and all I could see was a dense mass of people before me; previous to leaving Eighth street to go to the front of the theatre with the troops, I sent to the Arsenal to order up the light artillery, and a detachment of the 6th regiment to support it; they arrived on the ground after the firing had ceased; one gun was stationed facing the Bowery, and the other facing Broadway; the infantry disposed at each end, and some at the rear of the theatre, and notice given to the mob that if they did not disperse they would be fired upon again, and the artillery used if necessary; after this, the mob gradually dispersed, and the stoning ceased; upwards of fifty men, of this small military detachment of 210 men, were disabled, and chiefly before any firing by the troops; I do not believe that the troops could be withdrawn with safety without the order to fire; it was entirely impossible for them to maintain their position without firing. I have been upwards of thirty-five years engaged in military duties, have been out on several occasions of mobs, but I never saw one so bad as that of Thursday, and never before had occasion to give an order to fire; in conclusion he desired to state that no one could deplore the event more than he does.

At the conclusion of Gen. San[d]ford’s evidence, the examination was postponed until yesterday at 10 A. M., when it was resumed as follows:—

The inquest was resumed this morning, the first witness being


The Sheriff.

John J. V. Westervelt, Sheriff, testified to the consultation at the mayor’s office, similar to the Mayor; to his being requested to swear in the parties, which he did, but he could not say how many. In reference to the riot he testified that the first disturbances he witnessed were inside the Theatre hallooing, &c., in the parquette. About an hour after, it commenced outside, by pelting the house with stones, breaking the windows and bursting in the doors. The civil force not being found sufficient, he directed the military being then in 8th street. Gen. Hall told him unless the military were allowed to fire to defend themselves they could not be kept together, as they were being pelted with stones, and several had been badly injured. He was requested to visit the wounded, which he did, and saw several hurt on the head and in other places. After this the company were ordered to march around in Astor Place, and witness accompanied Gen. Sandford, and was with him until the firing ceased. On arriving in Astor Place the mob were throwing stones at the military and at the Opera House. The General told him unless the military were allowed to fire their mus[k]ets would be taken from them. It was decided to give the people notice that if they did not disperse the military would fire. Notice was given by requesting them to fall back, which they did not do, and witness gave the order to fire, and the order requested them to fire over the heads of the people. He did not suppose the mob heard the order to fall back, as there was much confusion. Gen. Hall gave the order to fire over their heads, distinctly along the line. After the first firing the people fell back a little, and immediately rushed forward with paving stones, saying that they were blank cartridges. Previous to the second fire, the Recorder and Gen. Sandford again informed the mob distinctly that unless they dispersed they would be fired upon. They were answered by a shower of paving stones, and all sorts of opprobrious language. The word was again given to fire, and to fire low. After this firing the people fell back a little further. Stones were thrown again. Then the military fired again.—After this there was no more firing, and Astor Place was cleared. Some remained about the building all night. it was impossible to give the people time to retire between the firing. It was not prudent to give much time, because they were rushing at the military and taking their muskets from them.

Chief of Police.

George W. Mattsell, Chief of Police, sworn, testified as to the Council at the Mayor’s office. About 4 o’clock, went to the Opera House with the officers of his force to make the necessary arrangements. At 6 o’clock, occupied the house with two hundred policemen, and stationed them in different parts of the house to preserve order; also, placed about 75 policemen in a stable and house opposite, (Langdon’s house,) and covered the rear of the house with two platoons of police; an immense crowd had collected; the platoons consisted of 25 men each; he directed the commandment of the police in the house to arrest the first person who should commit the first palpable breach of the peace, and placed himself where he could be seen so as to give the word; also gave orders to talk to the people at every opportunity and persuade them to be quiet. The play commenced, the audience applauded and some hissed, all sorts of noises were made; at this time nothing had been done that he considered an overt act; the violence continued to increase and he requested the Recorder to be sent for; a number of persons came to him and censured him for not suppressing the tumult; the Recorder came and he asked him if a sufficient overt act had been committed to justify arrests; he decided there was, and that by making two or three arrests the tumult would be quelled; the arrests were made and the lower part of the house was quieted; the disturbance still continued in the upper part of the house; witness ordered the amphitheatre to be cleared of all persons who disturbed the peace, which was done; the attack by throwing stones, &c. outside the house commenced about the time the first arrests were made inside the house; many stones and brickbats came through the windows into the house—into the body of the building. The ladies that were in the building had been removed to safe positions; witness then repaired to the front of the house; the police were hard pressed by the mob; the 8th street side was attacked by throwing large round stones; the police were driven from the ground; witness rall[i]ed a body of policemen; threw open the large door of the building, rushed upon the crowd and drove them from the rear of the house; the police in the front of the building were driven in, and a number were brought into the building wounded and badly hurt, almost all of them were more or less injured; many persons asked why the military were not sent for; he was informed that the military were sent for; then told the police they must rally and hold possession of the building until the military arrived; there was from time to time a severe fight between the police and the people; this continued until the military arrived; Recorder Tallmadge was out in the street talking to the mob; the Sheriff was also out engaged in the same way; the mob were getting the better of them very fast, and they would have been compelled to give up the front of the house altogether; the troop of horse at this time came through Astor Place very slowly; they were badly used and some of them hurt; after the horsemen had passed about 20 minutes the infantry arrived. The military were received with vollies of paving stones; the mob closing in upon them and giving them very little space to manouvre, a charge was ordered, which was partilly executed. the military were falling in their ranks wounded, and being constantly carried into the Opera House. Thought that in ten minutes there would not have been a man left who was in the front rank, had not the order been given to fire. After firing, the people cried out that they were firing cartridges, and became more infuriated than before, and commenced wresting the muskets from the soldiers’ hands. The Recorder attempted to address the mob, telling them at unless they fell back the military would fire upon them. He did this repeatedly. The last time he was met with an immense volley of stones, and was driven into the rear of the military. After the firing, the mob dispersed, and the military and police retained possession of the ground until morning. After the house was quieted he saw the Mayor in the house, who gave him directions. This was some time before the military arrived. During the time of the disturbances inside the theatre it was set fire to, but was soon put out. It was set fire to under the parquette.

The Recorder.

Frederick A. Tallmadge, Recorder, testified to the council at the Mayor’s Office, at which he remarked to Messrs. Niblo and Hackett that he feared if there was a performance they would sustain serious injury to their house, and if they insisted upon a performance the county should not be responsible for the injury they might sustain. They said their handbills were out, and as citizens they had a right to be protected. The Mayor said that the did not believe he had the power to close the house, and that they were entitled to protection. The Mayor requested him to be present at the Opera House in the evening. About 7½ o’clock he went to the theatre. A multitude had collected. The police were stationed in front of the building, and as it became dark the people crowded upon them, and it was with difficulty they could retain their position. There was disorder, but no violence at this time. The crowd increased rapidly, and about eight o’clock the doors were closed and every person prohibited going into the theatre. There was a call for witness; he went into the house and saw the Chief of Police, who pointed out to him several persons who were disorderly and threatening Macready, and he ordered their arrest, which was immediately done; and with the exception of a few irregularities, the upper part of the house, after a few arrests, all became quiet and the performance went on. In a few moments, the house was assailed and the windows broken by throwing stones into the building from both sides of the house. He rushed out of the house immediately, and ordered the police to arrest every man that threw a stone that they could detect. Many arrests were made by the police, and attempts made to rescue those who had been arrested. A good deal of violence was then used towards the police by stones and other means. He passed on the line to the Eastern part of the Opera House, where there was a severe pressure on the police, which became so severe on the Bowery side that the police were driven in. It was utterly impossible to resist. They were, as well as the building, assailed with stones; three of them fell by his side. He was struck himself several times, but not severely. He found it was impossible for the civil force to resist. The mob had approached so near the main entrance of the Theatre that they commenced breaking in the door with large stones. He rushed into the House, finding that the police had been overcome and could not resist, for the purpose of seeing the Sheriff, to have the military ordered. I met the Sheriff and requested they should be sent for, and he sent the order. He tried to raise a force of policemen inside, to go out and rescue those that were outside, and found the Chief of Police had all the disposable force operating on the north side of the Theatre. He several times rushed out, and was met with vollies of stones. He was satisfied the police could not resist, and directed them to come inside the building. Many of them were injured. These assaults continued until he was informed the military had arrived. At this instant a cry was made that the building was on fire. This caused great alarm and consternation. He rushed to the place. The fire was soon extinguished. After this he went in the street. The military was said to be coming. The military came from towards Broadway, on the sidewalk. He called for the commanding officer, Gen. Sandford, and desired that he would form lines across the street, to sweep the street. The head of the column was thrown out into the street. From the darkness of the night it appeared that the lines were assailed with stones. He went among the mob, expostulated with them, and assured them they would be fired upon. Gen Sandford did the same. He passed to the east of the building and heard the discharge of firearms by the infantry. On looking round he saw that they were firing in the air. He rushed back again to this line of infantry.—He renewed the order to the mob to disperse—that they would be fired upon. He returned to rear of the line and told the officer in command, Gen. Hall, he believed, to form a line across the street. While the line was forming, he thought it was Gen. hall said “you must order us to fire; the men will not stand the attack any longer.” he replied, “No, let me address the people.” At this time they had in a measure separated. He rushed out between, and invoked them to disperse, as the military would fire upon them. The sheriff and Mr. Charles Duane (who, he must say, did his duty most nobly) accompanied him to the curbstone. At this time, when urging the mob to disperse, he was assailed by a volley of stones, and was injured on his ancle and other parts of his body. The military were also assailed with stones. The military fired. This was the last firing, and the mob dispersed. He remained at the Opera House until peace and quiet were restored, and then left.

General Hall.

Wm. Hall sworn. Is a Brigadier General, and was with the troops when the order came to Gen. Sandford to proceed to the Opera House as it had been assailed by a mob. Gen. Sandford took the right of the cavalry, I took the right of the infantry. On arriving at the corner of Broadway and Astor Place we found a great crowd of citizens. The cavalry wheeled into Astor Place; we followed. The crowd was very great, and we were detailed a little behind them. At this time the noise and confusion was so great it was almost impossible to give a word of command that could be heard at any distance. The mob called us all sorts of names and I gave an order to the men not to show any resentment. We then marched up Astor Place until we passed the Opera House. After we had passed the crowd assailed us with stones. At this time we had regained the left of the house. About half way between the Opera House and Bowery we formed a line across. This was by order of Col. Duryea. I then enquired for Gen. Sandford. Some few minutes elapsed before I saw him, and during this time we were continually assaulted with stones. The horsemen particularly were injured; I was myself struck several times with stones.—About this time some of the officers felt uneasy that the men were injured and that we were not loaded. They requested that I should give an order to prime and load. I hesitated some time, knowing that every cartridge we had was a ball cartridge. Not finding Gen. Sandford at the time I gave an order for them to form a hollow square, so that the troops of horse should be able to flank the square. We were then facing the Opera House, the troops of horse in our rear—Gen. Sandford at this time came up. The order was given to have the right flank face to the right and forward march. When we arrived at the sidewalk, the head of the column, which was on 8th street, was directed to face to the left. We continued our march towards Broadway until we arrived at the centre of the Opera House. previous to this one of our men fell and made a groaning noise. I asked him what was the matter, he groaned again two or three times, I had to repeat the question. He put his hand to the back of his head and said he was struck with a stone. He had to be taken out of the line into a house. the infantry were formed in lines to press the people back both ways towards the Bowery and Broadway. After getting possession of the street the length of the Opera house, Gen. Sandford told me he intended to have the police keep possession and take the military to Astor Place. The police took possession.—During this time we were continually assailed by showers of stones, and many were severely hurt. One of them as I was informed last night, so severely, that it is impossible for him to recover. I went into the theatre to see the Mayor and told him it was impossible for us to maintain our position without the assistance of a magistrate, as many of our men were knocked down and seriously hurt. The Sheriff and Chief of Police came out with me and a body of policemen to take charge of the ground. The battallions were placed in position then faced to the left; this caused us to face towards Broadway; Gen. Sandford gave the order to march; we passed into Astor Place, the Sheriff with us; in marching towards the theatre we took the sidewalk; about the centre of the theatre they ordered us to cross the street, and the head of the column was ordered to face to the right and cross Astor Place; we intended to take the position that we had done in Eighth street; we were not able to get across the street in consequence of the immense concourse of people; the noise was tremendous; a portion of the military on my right were able to cross the street; efforts were made to press the people back, and orders were given to them to disperse, that we were loaded, and if they did not disperse we should fire upon them; at this time they were throwing stones; several of our men were disabled so that they had to be carried from the ground—at this time I should think that about one one-half of the front rank of the first battallion were so injured that they had to leave the ground; some person gave an order to charge; I found that this was impossible, and ordered them to fall back to the curbstone; about this time some of the mob attempted to wrest the pieces from the hands of the military, but could not succeed; I tried to form a line but was only able to succeed partially; some person said to me “why don’t you fire?” I cannot say who it was; I think it was the Chief of Police; I made the remark that we had no right to fire on an occasion like this unless we had an order from the magistrates; several of my men on both sides were knocked down; at this time Gen. Sandford was some 12 feet from me partially down; I saw that he had been knocked down in some way; at this time I was on the right of the column; the Recorder was near by; the Colonel on my left; one of the men who had been knocked down and badly hurt said it was too bad to be hurt and not be able to prevent it; Col. Duryea made the remark, “Never mind, boys, stick to your guns[”]; some person, I think the Recorder, ordered the mob to disperse, or if they did not the military would fire; the noise and confusion was so great that I don’t think it was heard 10 feet from where I stood; one of the men had his bayonet knocked from his gun, and the rattling of stones against the guns tended to increase the noise; one of the men had his gun rendered useless by a stone striking it with so much force as to bend the pan across the barrel. At this time more than thirty of our men were injured; the Sheriff I think now gave the order to fire; I was struck on the elbow with a stone which for a time disabled that arm; I hesitated about repeating the order to fire, in the hope that the mob would disperse, hearing the order to fire and knowing we were loaded with ball; the order was given again with a request that we should fire over their heads; I gave the order “ready,” which was repeated by the Colonel and, I think, by Gen. Sandford, but do not recollect, as the noise and confusion was very great; I stepped immediately in front of the line and directed them to fire at the wall of Mr. Langdon’s house, between the first and second stories. This, I wish to be understood, was done by direction of the Sheriff, that we should fire high; while standing there a stone struck me in the small of the back and knocked the breath out of me, and made me stagger, the effects of which I have felt ever since; I looked immediately on the right of the column, and about this time, at any rate before we had fired, some of the men told me that Capt. Shumway was badly hurt in the leg, though we were not at the time aware that it was by a shot; he remained with me until he found the blood running into his boot so as to make his foot very wet; after we had fired he went into the Opera house, and his wound being examined, it was found he had been shot near the shin bone, the ball lodging in the calf; I was also told that Capt. Pond had been injured; he had been hurt very badly in the face with a stone and was carried into the house; I was also told that my face was bleeding; I had not felt any stone or pain more than like the prick of a pin; at home, however, a small hole was found in my cheek, a little larger than the head of a pin; my cheek bled for more than two hours; after returning to the head of the column I gave the word “fire,” which was repeated by the Colonel, and the men fired; the next morning we picked up several balls as flat as pancakes from hitting against the walls; as soon as we had fired the mob became worse than ever; the stones as large as your double fist came in upon us like showers of hail; they attempted to rush in upon us; the Recorder was then upon my right; the order was given to fire again; I gave the order to fire low, so as not to hit above the legs. If blood was to be spilt, we were in hopes that life would not be taken; the hollooing, screaming and hooting was so great that it was impossible for the third file from me to hear what was said; several of the military had fallen and been taken off the ground in consequence of hurts from stones, &c., the mob crying out they have leather flints and blank cartridges; come on boys. We were then about 70 strong only the other battalion being about 100. After the second fire we regained the width of the street across Astor Place, and faced to the Bowery. The order to fire, before the second fire, was given three times before we did fire. The suspense was such that every man felt horror-struck. If we had not fired, I do not think there would have been a man of the military standing in five minutes, from the numerous showers of stones, with no place to retreat to. In facing the Bowery, we were still pelted with stones; and the Recorder, I think, told us we must fire. I requested him to go to the populace and try to persuade them to leave. The Recorder and some others whom I do not recollect went—the Recorder requesting we would not fire until they should return; to which I replied, there was no danger, we should not fire if we could help it, at all events, not until they returned.—they returned in a very few moments, being assailed with stones, the Recorder ordering them to disperse, that the military could not retain their position without firing if they did not do so. When he returned, the crowd not leaving, and three or four of our men being carried off, the order was given to fire and executed. The mob immediately dispersed between us and the Bowery, so that in two minutes there was not a person to be seen, though before there had been a dense crowd. There was still a large crowd in lafayette Place and to the left, and stones were still thrown, and some of our men knocked down and carried off, and the Recorder said we should be under the necessity of firing again. Some few moments after the order was given to fire, the right wing to oblique to the right, and the left wing to the left, which was done—there being four distinct firings—and the crowd dispersed, and there was no difficulty after this. In looking up our line we found that we had lost about 50 men, who had been wounded, and had left the line. The second battalion, however, I would remark, which was facing Broadway, had no occasion to fire a single gun, the people that way being very peaceable. The rioters generally appeared to be boys from 16 years or so, and if citizens had kept away there was not enough of them to make a riot, but their presence encouraged the others. I was not aware until afterwards that any body was dead—perhaps an hour afterwards—hoping the fire was too low.

in answer to questions from jurors, he said they never fired without orders from the Sheriff or Recorder. They had no right to give orders themselves. From 20 to 30 minutes before any firing, we went into the Theatre and saw the Mayor and told him that it was impossible for our men to remain and maintain their position without being able to defend themselves. He told them he should be obliged to withdraw the troops unless they had a magistrate with them that they might be able to defend themselves. The Sheriff then came out to them. The Mayor did not give any orders to fire at all.

At this point, the Coroner said they would take a recess for one hour, and meanwhile, he would be glad to see any witnesses, relatives of those wounded, or otherwise at his office. On re-assembling a few minutes after 4 o’clock,

Silvester L. Wiley.

Sylvester L. Wiley, residing 342 Third avenue, was sworn. I was at the Astor Place Opera House on Thursday evening last, I went there at half past six o’clock. There were not more than 25 persons present when I arrived, I went up 8th street, and so raround through Broadway to Astor Place. there was no crowd in 8th street except some 15 or 20 policemen, I crossed opposite the Opera House and took a seat on the railing of Mr. Langdon’s house, where I remained until after the first discharge by the infantry. Mr. Gedney was in front of me when he was shot. He was standing on the inside of the railing looking on at the disturbance. He had his right hand in his pocket and a cane in the other, looking on and having nothing to say except to make remarks on what was passing. He was killed at the first discharge of the muskets. As soon as I saw him fall, I got off the rai[l]ing inside. A gentleman then had hold of him, I took hold of his head and found it bloody and let it go again. I went to the corner of Lafayette Place about 25 feet distant, and called some one to come help and carry out a dead man. I came back and two men had raised him up; I laid his back upon my back with his head and shoulders in front of me, and they carried the rest of his body. We tried to get into Mrs. Langdon’s house, as we did not know how much he was hurt. We knocked at the door, which was opened by a gentleman, who repulsed us as soon as he saw what we wanted; he closed the door as far as he could, but the crowd pressed so he could not get it quite closed, he sang out for assistance, when three or four men came from the back door, one of whom (I am positive it was a policeman) struck me over the head and knocked my hat off, so that it fell in the hall. I called on the crowd to give way, that we could not get in there; as soon as we could get off we took him to the 15th ward station house, where he lay until past 12 o’clock before he was recognized. The persons who were engaged throwing stones, were mostly boys as far as I could see. There were very few men engaged; there was no one throwing stones where I stood; the crowd was so dense a man could not have thrown one if he had it in his hand. Before the shots were fired, I did not hear any order given to disperse, but there was so much noise it could not have been heard unless spoken in a very loud voice; I saw several others who were wounded by the same discharge. The following was in answer to questions from jurors—I stated to the man at the door of Mrs. Langdon’s house that we had a wounded man and no one else should come in but those who were carrying him. The man who struck me had a policeman’s star; I saw one other wounded who was carried off to Broadway; another man was wounded through the hand; he raised his hand and said you cannot call that a blank discharge; before this I thought it was a blank discharge; after the firing the crowd gave way to the right and left. The soldiers were so near to me that I could feel the heat of the discharges; I saw one man fire after the rest; he lowered his piece, and looked at or did something to the lock and then raised it, took deliberate aim about the height of a man’s breast and fired; between the time of levelling the pieces and firing there was perhaps a half minute elapsed, and during this pause the crowd parted to the right and left so that there were very few between me and the soldiers; I went there because a disturbance was expected; I think it quite likely that I shouted and hooted; I was very much excited and have no doubt I did so; after taking Mr. Gedney to the station house, I did not return until about an hour after. I went to look for a hack for another man who had been brought into the station house wounded.

Stephen W. Gaines.

Stephen W. Gaines sworn:—I reside at 380 Broadway; a Counsellor at Law; I was at the corner of Lafayette and Astor place on Thursday night; I arrived there about a quarter past eight o’clock; I was within a picket enclosure and stood upon a pile of boards that were within a foot of the top of the fence; I remained there until after the last discharge of musketry. From the place where I stood i had a fair view of the Opera House, which was on the opposite side of the street towards Broadway; when I got there, the space between where I stood and the Theatre was filled with people but not densely crowded at that time; I saw persons throwing stones at the windows and principal entrance of the Opera House; the persons were in front or nearly in front of the Opera House; sometimes a single stone and at other times volleys were thrown principally at the windows above the principal entrance. About 50 feet of the front of the house was where they were generally thrown, with occasional pauses; within a short time after my arrival, the space from where I stood to the Bowery became filled with people; there were no stones thrown from the quarter w[h]ere I stood, and there were so few engaged in actually storming the house, that surprise was several times expressed by the spectators about me that it was permitted, and that the police did not stop it. About 9 o’clock or in that neighborhood, I saw the military; first the horse, followed by the infantry, came down the street from Broadway by the Opera House and taking post on the square towards the 4th avenue; in the neighborhood of where I stood the crowd gave way for them; I saw no opposition made to their passage; I subsequently, perhaps in about half an hour, saw the infantry making their way towards the opera house in the same street towards Broadway; during this time the crowd seemed to have been uninterrupted in the front of the house. At the time the military first made their appearance, I attempted to leave but found the sidewalks so crowded that I could not get away; when the military in front of the Opera House fired, I could see the discharges distinctly, as all the lamps were out; some of them fired nearly perpendicular, some in a slanting direction towards Mrs. Langdon’s house, and some horizontally, this was the first discharge; we had no intimation of their intention to fire where I stood until we saw the flash. Several other volleys were fired subsequently; we all supposed the first discharge was of blank cartridges. Immediately previous to firing the last volley which has been testified to to-day, 8th street was nearly cleared in front of where I stood; most of the people had left the enclosure where I was, and there were perhaps half a dozen on the walk in front of where I stood; I was still standing on the pile of boards when the last fire was fired up Astor Place towards the Bowery; when they were discharged I could distinctly see the line from whence they were fired; the middle of 8th street was clear; there was a small collection of people on the corner of Lafayette Place, and another small collection on the opposite side, in the positions testified to when the oblique firing took place; this firing was nearly direct upon the spot where I stood, which was the same I occupied at first; I still supposed they were firing blank cartridges; I stepped back a pace or two to get out of the line of the fire, another volley or part of the last and a man on the walk immediately in front of where I was standing before I moved my position, fell; there were not above half a dozen persons near him on the side walk at the time, and I at first supposed, as did others about him, that he had fallen intentionally; he laid upon the ground perhaps half a minute before any person went to his assistance, and the remark was made that he was shamming shot; I went with some three or four others to his assistance, but we did not discover whether he was really wounded or not until one who had his hands under his back felt the blood running through his fingers; we stopped at a doctor’s in 4th street, but could not obtain admittance, and took on the body to the corner of 4th and Wooster, to a drug store; on carrying him in, and opening his breast, we discovered he was wounded in his stomach, a little lower perhaps than the middle of his stomach; his shirt was saturated with blood, and some clotted blood or a portion of the contents of his stomach, I did not know which, but thought it was the contents of his stomach. His name was ascertained to be Henry Otten, residing at the corner of Hester and Orchard; I understand he died soon afterwards at the Station House; he was not taking part in the disturbances, nor were any of those in that neighborhood; after leaving him at the druggist’s, as he was preparing to sponge the wound, I first learned that others had been shot.

Jesse G. Haviland.

Jesse G. Haviland, 14 Wooster street, sworn: Is a contractor. Was standing on the corner of Astor Place and Lafayette Place, on a pile of lumber. There was a crowd of boys, some 200 or 300 throwing stones. About 9 or half past 9, some one sung out “the military are coming.” The testimony of the last witness in reference to the firing was correct. I should think one quarter of the first volley was fired horizontally. I thought it was blank cartridges. I thought I would get down and walk along the sidewalk in front of the Theatre towards Broadway. Soon after I got down I heard some one say, “here’s a dead man.” I had not gone twenty feet from where I had been standing. They turned the corner with the body, and went into a vacant place in front of Mrs. Langdon’s. I then turned to the left and came in contact with a couple of young gentlemen who boarded opposite where I boarded. We thought the military were coming, as a rush was made, and got into a doorway. We then went down to 4th street, and saw there Mr. Cornell, who had been shot in the neck and was dead.—there were but few persons in the middle of the street when the military fired the first time, compared to what there was before. They had passed away to the fifth avenue. The man I have spoken of was killed the first discharge. I should think there were 200 or 300 boys throwing stones, from 8 or 9 up to 20 years old. I did not see a man throw a stone.

Thomas J. Veldern.

Thomas J. Veldern sworn—Resides 133 King street; is a boatman; I stood on the corner of Mrs. Langdon’s house; I first got there about half-past — o’clock; a few began to throw stones, but carts and omnibusses had no hesitation in passing through; those throwing stones were half-grown boys; stood on the southeast corner of Lafayette Place and Astor Place talking to two Philadelphians about the riots there, until the military came, when there was quite a rush by the boys, to which we gave way, but afterwards returned; I crossed over again to Mrs. Langdon’s corner, being anxious to see what was going on; the crowd was then greater and more noisy, and when the military passed through they rushed back and the stoning went on again; I stood at that corner until the first volley was fired, and that was the first thing I heard because of the noise. I saw a man fall out among the people towards the corner. The people near me and I laughed. We thought it was a blank cartridge to scar[e] them. I reached over to see what was going on, but could not see, but heard a man say my God, look at this. By what I heard said I think he was shot through the breast. They carried him towards the lamp. This was the first discharge. I then started and ran to the corner of the church down Lafayette Place. I there heard some more shots, then I started for home. I saw them carrying bodies after the last report. Was not engaged in the riot. Went to look on. Would not have been there if I had thought they had been going to use lead.

The inquest was then adjourned to 11 o’clock to-day.

“The Inquest—Continued.” Commercial Advertiser [New York, New York] 14 May 1849; p. 2.

Monday, May 14, 1849.


I am clerk of the police at the Halls of Justice; I was present at the disturbances on Thursday night; I went from this place with Justice McGrath and others of the police, and arrived at the opera house not far from seven o’clock; it was soon after the doors were opened, and while the audience were assembling,—The house was then in the possession of the police under the chief. Most of the police magistrates were there.

The understanding between the magistrates and the chief of police, judge Edmonds, the Recorder and some other persons in authority, of whom quite a number were present, was that no arrests should be made in the house unless there were some actual overt act tending directly to a breach of the peace. That every reasonable indulgence should be allowed, that they might hiss or applaud, consist with the maintenance of order. That rule was strictly observed, and during the early part of the evening, no arrests nor attempts at arrests were made for merely hissing or applauding.

In the course of the evening several occurrences in the parquette took place, such as were in the opinion of many present overt acts tending to a breach of the peace; such as rising on their feet, shaking their fists, and using profane and threatening language toward Mr. Macready. This was confined to some twelve or fifteen, or at most twenty persons. Application at this time was made to the chief of police for an order to arrest them and remove them from the house. he delayed giving the order for some time, and finally sent me to the Recorder, to consult as to the propriety of arresting them at that time. I saw the Recorder, and after stating to him the character of their conduct and he seeing it himself, he considered it expedient that they should be arrested and removed from that part of the house.

I communicated this to the chief and he ordered their arrest. They were arrested, every one of them, within five minutes and ejected from that part of the house, and comparative order was restored. About this time considerable hissing was manifested in the amphitheatre, which was counteracted by a very great deal of applause, causing a perfect tumult. The play was proceeding at this time, but only a word here and there could be heard. After a time orders were given to arrest the disturbers in the amphitheatre, and in pursuance of orders from the chief and Recorder several arrests were made. About this time the house was first assailed from the outside, a stone being thrown against one of the upper windows which was broken. From that time the house continued to be assailed with stones from the outside during the evening. About this time an alarm was given that the theatre was on fire below; the fire was, however, soon extinguished. Stones were then thrown at the doors, both on Astor place and 8th street. The door on 8th street was broken through and a large stone thrown in.

There was a large crowd in Astor place. the whole street in front of the theatre, for more than its length, was full of people—not very dense, however, for I could pass in and out among the crowd with ease, though not without danger of being hit with bricks and stones. This crowd was not very turbulent. There appeared to be a very large number of them. I should think a very large majority of them were there as spectators. The actors in the disturbances, of whom there did not appear to be many at that time, appeared to be mere lands, perhaps from fifteen to twenty years of age.

Up to this time several policemen had been struck, and some of them complained of being seriously injured, so that they had to go in the building. Some few arrests were made at this time. I cannot say how many. There might have been 20 in half an hour, or there might have been more. this state of things continued for about half an hour, the mob becoming more dense, and appearing more desirous that something or other should be done, and yet no particular act was committed except throwing the stones. I cannot say how many police were at this time outside of the house in Astor Place. I should suppose from 125 to 150 men, but that is a mere estimate from my knowledge of how the men were distributed. This force was immediately in front and about the entrance.

The crowd continued to increase and grew more fearful in aspect, though no particular act was done until the military came. Stones were thrown against the house—sometimes one and then a pause, then perhaps half a dozen or a shower. The military arrived and went through toward the Bowery, where they remained a considerable time. I went into the house at this time, came out again and through 8th street to the Bowery; I remained some time and returned to the theatre through Astor Place. I passed into the theatre, and after some 5 or 8 minutes I heard the reports, but thought, as did others around me, that they were reports of a lot of fire crackers set off by the crowd, like which they sounded.

I went down into the dress circle of the theatre and in about two or three minutes after a man was brought in wounded in the arm or shoulder, and this was the first intimation I had had that musketry had been fire. Shortly after this another man was brought in shot dead. I thought the first man had been shot dead, but was told afterward that he was only wounded in the arm. Immediately after the first round there were several of the military brought in by the police—some half dozen to a dozen—some of them quite senseless and others fainted after they were carried in.

About this time some of the police were brought in injured. Also several of the rioters—mostly young men. I did not hear any declarations to the crowd at any time during the evening that if they did not disperse they would be fired upon. I think I was not out in company with the sheriff at all. I went out with the Recorder but did not remain with him—There might have been a hundred proclamations made and I not have heard them.

Question by Coroner—From what you saw of the riot during the evening, what is your opinion as to the necessity for the employment of the military, and could the riot have been suppressed without their aid or not?

Answer—In answer to that I wish to say that after the military were first brought in injured, I was directed by Judge Edmonds to take down the names of such as were brought in.

By Juror—How many names did you take?

Answer—Between 30 and 40.

By Juror—After the firing?

Answer—Yes, all after the firing.

By Juror—Were there one before the firing?

Answer—I did not see any previous to the firing.

By Coroner—Now I will ask you the same question. From what you saw previous to the firing, what is you[r] opinion as to the competency of the civil force to have suppressed the riot?

Answer—I’m willing to say this, that the firing of the military was caused—

Coroner, interrupting—No, Mr. Stewart, I want to know your opinion.

Answer—I am unwilling to have my position with the authorities—

Coroner, interrupting—Mr. Stewart, we only want your opinion.

Mr. Stewart was unwilling to answer the question and the coroner wrote it down.

One of the jurors asked witness, meanwhile, where he was about five minutes before the firing; to which Mr. Stewart replied that about five minutes before the firing he went into the house.

The coroner again repeated the question as to the opinion of the witness of the capacity of the civil force to suppress the riot without calling in the aid of the military.

Witness. I think the military were justified in firing on the ground of self-preservation.

Coroner.—But previous to the firing?

Witness.—I think there are others more competent to give an opinion.

Coroner.—Is that the answer?

Witness.—No, you may take that as a remark.

After a pause of a minute or two witness said—

I think the police could have controlled the mob.

The witness asked that the question might be read again. He then said,

“I think the police could not have dispersed the mob.”

Coroner—Now with regard to quelling the riot.

Witness—I could hardly answer that without saying how I think it might have been done and that would reflect upon the authorities, which I do not wish to be supposed to do. I might say that if a different course of policy had been adopted earlier in the evening, different results might have followed.

The coroner and some of the jury insisted that he had not answered the question and demanded an answer.

Witness said. At the time of the firing the police could not have quelled the riot, for the assault was directed entirely against the military and not against the house. That is all I wish to say upon that subject.

Juror—I should like to ask Mr. Stewart whether he refers to before or after the firing.

Mr. Stewart—Immediately before, for their presence appeared to excite the mob—that is, the presence of the military. I regard the great error in the whole matter to have been suffering the house to be opened at all.

By Juror—Were many of the police brought in injured?

Witness—I did not see any brought in. Some went in. They complained of being hurt in their knees and other parts of their bodies.

Dennis Ryer.

I reside at 365 Sixth Avenue; I was at the Astor Place opera house on Thursday evening during the disturbances; I was formerly assistant captain of the 16th Ward police. On Thursday evening I was standing on the sidewalk in Astor Place by Mrs. Langdon’s house; I went there at ½ past 9 o’clock, and the mob increasing. I saw some boys and a few men throwing stones. At first they began to throw at the street lamps near the theatre door, and afterwards at the windows of the theatre. When the military first arrived there was a company of horse went through; after they got by the theatre some stones were thrown at them. In a few minutes afterwards the infantry came through. The mob gave way and let them pass, and there were also brickbats thrown at them. Afterwards there were stones thrown at the theatre, and cheers and groans were given for different persons—cheers for Forrest and groans for Macready. About half an hour after they had passed the first time, the horsemen passed through again, and a company of infantry after them. The infantry formed on either side. Some of them directed their fire I should think, as far as I could see, in the air, and some directly across the street. There were pauses in their firing, and the mob fell back toward Lafayette Place.

I retreated about ten feet backwards toward the railing, and a ball passed me very close and shot a person by the name of Gedney right behind me. I went behind the railing and took hold of him to raise him up. This was the first discharge. There were two other persons got over the railing, and one of them put his hand on his head and appeared to be a little excited and ran toward the corner crying out, that there was a man shot. I hollowed [sic] to these persons to come back and help to pick the man up. They came back and we took him to Langdon’s house; they would not admit us and we took him to the 15th Ward station house. At the time he was shot there were very few persons on the sidewalk or in the street. While I was in the station house there was a boy brought in shot through the foot, and another persons shot through the stomach.

After I went out I saw a number of others who were carried on boards. I did not hear any word given to disperse or that they would be fired upon.—There was a lamp post there and I got up it to see if there was any person throwing stones, as that would give me a good chance so that I could identify them, but I could not see any. I heard a number of persons say, who stood alongside me, and I have said so myself, and say so now, that if the chief of police had ordered his force to do their duty at the time the stones commenced to be thrown they could have dispersed that mob in a few moments. that is I mean the body of police he had in the opera house, not his whole force. After the military arrived it would have been impossible for the police to have dispersed the mob.

In answer to a juror.—I was a policeman up to February a year ago. I then resigned, and kept a public house up to the 1st May. I had been a policeman nine months when I resigned.

John Clarke, sworn—I reside at 17 Watts street; I am a book-binder; I was at the opera house on the night of the riot; I was there about 7 o’clock alone.—The first part of the evening I stationed myself on the sidewalk on the South side, near Mr. Langdon’s house; I stood there till half past 8, and then passed to the East of the theatre, where I stood until the military came upon the ground; I was then near the broken ground; the horse came up, and the crowd made way for them, and threw some stones at them, some of which rattled against the muskets and others went over their heads. I saw some boys pick up stones and throw them, and one man, whom I told he ought to be ashamed of himself, for he ought to know better.

I stopped near the military until the order was given to them to load, and then I passed through 8th st. round the theatre to Broadway, and there I stopped. The military afterward drove the people back and I passed through Broadway into Astor Place on the South side near Broadway. Shortly afterward the military came round, and then formed in front of the theatre. I stood there talking to some gentlemen until the firing commenced. Shortly after the firing commenced there was a rash of people through the street and a man fell nearly in front of me, and the people all exclaimed that he had a fit or had been struck with a stone. I went across the street and helped to pick him up and carry him to the corner of Broadway and 8th street, into the drug store.

We did not know or think that he was wounded with a musket ball, until after we saw the wound ourselves. No persons thought so. A great many sword vengeance on that. He was shot through the left lung. I have heard since that his name was Brown. I do not know whether he was engaged in the disturbance. I did not see him before I went to pick him up. I did not recognize him as having been throwing stones. I was told afterwards that a great many persons who saw him wounded, took stones out of Broadway and rushed upon the military. I did not see this. I saw three other persons wounded in the drug store. One was brought in before and one after this man. We could not find a doctor, and got a carriage to take the wounded to the hospital. I did not go in the crowd again. I heard a great many say if the military had not been there no lives would have been lost.

In reply to a juror—I did not hear any word given to disperse any more than the police ordering them to fall back. I think I was near enough to have heard it if it had been given in a loud voice.


I am a policeman of the 13th Ward. I arrived at the opera house I should think about 6 o’clock, in company with Capt. Tilley and a platoon. I had been in the theatre but a very few minutes before we were put on duty in front. Previous to the arrival of the military, for about two hours I should think, stones were thrown. We were beaten from the door, not into the theatre, but from it, so that the crowd was between us and the door. We were at the curb stone. Before we were driven to the curb the stones hit us; whether they were thrown at us or the door I cannot say. Afterwards they went over our heads.

I was knocked down myself. I endeavored to arrest one of the men who was killed, previous to the arrival of the military, but he was taken away from me, and I was dragged across the street to the curb-stone. This man, after he was killed, was taken inside into the opera house. He was shot. I saw him inside. He was throwing a stone when I arrested him.

The man referred to in the testimony of the last witness was Thomas Kearnin, 21 years, born in Ireland, a waiter; shot in the right cheek, the ball passing into the brain. He was residing with his brother, 196 East 13th street. This man was supposed to be the first person killed, as he was picked up immediately after the first discharge of musketry, and taken into the opera house dead.


I reside at the corner of 13th street and 1st Avenue. I was not at the opera house that evening, and know nothing about the disturbance. It appears that this man lives where the man above mentioned was brought dead, and wished to testify that he had known him for three years, as an honest, sober, steady man.

The inquest here took a recess for one hour to get dinner.

“The Coroner’s Inquest.” Commercial Advertiser [New York, New York] 14 May 1849; p. 2.

We publish, to-day, so much of the testimony that has been taken by the coroner, at the inquest on the bodies of the slain on Thursday night, as is yet available. it will be eagerly and earnestly read, of course, by the citizens of New York generally; but we are extremely desirous that it be read also out of the city, for we regret to perceive that erroneous views are entertained, innocently no doubt, in some of the neighboring cities, while assiduous endeavors, anything but innocent, are made by some of the journals in those cities to convey impressions and ideas that are absolutely false and infamously unjust.

For instance, in one of our own city morning journals, on Saturday, it was repeatedly alleged, and great stress was earnestly and intentionally laid upon the assertion, that the whole aim of the authorities, and of those who sought to co-operate with them, was “to sustain Macready.” Every other conceivable motive or purpose was adroitly thrown into the back-ground, and, “to sustain Macready” was repeated again and again, so as to convey the idea that a mere question of personal favoritism—of exaggerated devotion to the interests or the fame of a theatrical performer, was the principal if not the sole moving cause on the part of those who perilled life and limb, and assumed such terrible responsibility, in seeking to maintain the supremacy of law and the rescue of the city from a temporary reign of anarchy. Nothing can be more false than this; and the conductors of the paper to which we refer must know it. We can only suppose that they seek to palm off the falsehood as a sort of offset against the notorious fact, that the riots had their ostensible origin in exaggerated devotion to the real or fancied interests or wishes of another theatrical performer.

Again, in the Philadelphia Pennsylvanian of last Saturday we find a letter from the editor, written at New York, in which appears the following atrocious misrepresentation, with many others:

I learned, with grief and amazement, that the military, which had been quietly ordered out, “to sustain Mr. Macready,” had fired several volleys into the crowd, killing and wounding a number of inoffensive citizens.

This horrid act must have been the work of a frenzied leader; it could not have been done deliberately. I boldly allege that there was no provocation calling for such a fatal interposition. For the most part, the crowd was orderly and good humored, and the volleys of musketry were fired before two hundred of the ten thousand present could hear that they were threatened, or could get away from the firing, when they saw it resolved upon.

No public notice was given that the troops had been’ordered out: to many the first notice of their presence was the fatal firing upon the crowd, and to others the sign of an armed force being on the ground was the bullet that hurried them into eternity! In order to gratify the offended pride of a British actor, and to appease the ruffled temper of some of the porcelain or better classes, the people were taunted, ridiculed, vilified and abused; and the result has been that, to gratify this feeling, the hearthstones of many families have been made desolate, and the prop of many a household torn away.

How atrociously, how infamously false all this is any one may discover for himself by reading the testimony of the Mayor, the Recorder, the chief of police an others. The execrable spirit by which the writer was actuated is apparent in every line of his most censurable letter.

Again, in the Albany Atlas of Saturday we find an article, almost equalling the letter of the Pennsylvanian in perversion of the truth and wickedness of sentiment, from which we make one brief extract:—

“There was everything in the ostentatious preparations of the magistracy and in the paraphernalia of cannon, grape shot and musketry, which looked like a challenge to combat and a predetermined purpose to reach the extremity of force. That purpose was fulfilled. thirty dead bodies remain as monuments of the ‘vigor and efficiency’ of the magistrates of New York; and ‘two thirds of the windows of the Opera House broken’ are the evidences of the violence of the mob. Is there not an infinite disproportion between the retaliation and the provocation, even if all who were offered up to public vengeance were guilty?”

We will not stop to point out the broad discrepancy between this writer and the editor of the Pennsylvanian, as to the want of publicity given to the military preparations; we only point to the shameless falsehood in the line which we have quoted in italics, where the broken windows are put forward as the only evidence of mob violence, to the exclusion of soldiers struck down with severe and dangerous wounds, of bludgeons fiercely wielded and of stones flying like hail amid the ranks of the soldiery. On this point, too, the testimony relates the truth.

We entertain no doubt that all these attempts to mislead and pervert, whatever their motive, will in time meet their due fate. The whole subject requires a thorough investigation, and we mean to do our part in going through it.

By the following “order,” which we have received for publication, it will be seen that immediate occasion for the services of the military is believed to exist no longer:—

Divison Order.

New York, May 14, 1849.

The major general announces that the services of the division (excepting the corps ordered on special duty) are no longer deemed necessary by the magistrates, upon the present occasion, but in case of necessity the whole division will assemble in their respective regimental stations, upon the signal of seven strokes of the fire bell, and report forthwith to the major general.

By order of

R. C. WETMORE, Div’n Insp’r.

“The Inquest—Concluded.” Commercial Advertiser [New York, New York] 15 May 1849; p. 1.


Shortly after two o’clock the jury re-assembled.—John Lalor sworn.—I am clerk of the 3d District Police, and was at the Astor Place Opera House on the night of the riot. I was in the house, and part of the time outside. I was there when the house was stoned. I went out at three different times with the Recorder, the Chief of Police, and a posse of police, to quell the riot. We were driven in at three different times, by the mob throwing stones at us. I was struck in the breast with a stone, and knocked down, after the military came on the ground. Many of the policemen were injured—I saw some 15 or 20; I saw also 20 or 30 of the military who had been injured by stones. At the second firing I was in the street. I heard the Recorder giving the crowd notice that if they did not disperse the military would fire on them. Gen. Sandford said to the Recorder, that he had received one order from the sheriff to fire, and before he fired again he must have another order from a magistrate, or words to that effect. After this I was knocked down. I was a little behind the military.


I am captain of the 13th Ward police, and was stationed in Astor Place with a posse of policemen, opposite the theatre entrance doors. There was a dense crowd present, and stones and bricks were thrown at the building. Many of the policemen were hurt. I cannot tell how many. Some under my immediate command were hurt. When we were out in a body, we could sometimes drive the crowd back a little—at other times they had the advantage of us, when the men were scattered. I was in the street when the military came. The throwing of stones continued, and some of the military were hurt. I took a prisoner from the crowd for throwing a stone. As I returned to the street the firing had commenced. I did not hear any order given to the crowd to disperse or they would be fired upon. After the first firing, I went to the Eighth street side of the building; on my return to the Astor Place side, the street was nearly cleared; but the throwing of stones continued for some time.—the policemen were injured before the military came. I was asked by the Recorder if I thought I could retain my position till the military came. I told him I could not tell. I think the police could not have retained their position if the military had not come on the ground.


I am captain of the 8th Ward police. I was at the Astor Place theatre, on the night of the riot. I was sometimes inside the building and sometimes outside. I was selected by the chief as one of his aids, to attend to the police force outside and to report to him from time to time the necessity, if any existed, to alter our arrangements. I think there were about 180 men outside. I was present when the building was stoned.—I was directed by the Chief to report to him if at any time I thought it was necessary to send for the military to sustain our position, but not to do so if there was a possibility to get along without them. About 8 o’clock I reported to the Chief that I thought it would be impossible to retain our position much longer, as the lines had been broken. I was directed to rally the men [a]nd make another effort. There was a space cleared in front of the theatre, the people having left to avoid the stones. After this I went on the 8th street side and found 100 or 200 young men and boys stoning the building. I attempted to make an arrest of one, and was beaten back by the mob and had to run for my life. After finding that the line been [sic] broken up I went to the Astor Place side. I got inside with difficulty. I found the Chief, the Recorder, Gen. Sandford and the sheriff. I reported to them that I thought it was impossible for the police to keep the crowd back—that they would demolish the building unless we were reinforced. They immediately gave orders to a young man to have the military brought there.

I then received orders from the Chief to go out and endeavor to maintain our positions until the military came. I went out and told the men to maintain their positions for about half an hour, they would then be relieved by the military as they had been sent for; two men belonging to my district were injured. One was struck several times. We were in line when the military came. I made five arrests before the military came in. Several were arrested by others. When the military arrived they were received by a volley of stones. Some of them were injured. Two were carried in and others were led in. I think as I was taking some prisoners in I heard the Recorder and sheriff say they had better give the order to fire. I did not hear any notice given to the crowd to disperse or they would be fired upon. I was standing nearly in line with the military when they were ordered to fire. They were standing right along in line with the building. I did not see how far the line extended. Immediately after the first firing one man was brought into the Opera House, who had been shot through the cheek bone; another that had been shot through the shoulder. I then went into the Opera House and went through to 8th st[.] side; I am not positive that Gen. Sanford was present when it was decided to send for the military. One of the men that was shot was engaged in the riot. I saw him several times before he was shot. I knew him. His name was mellis.


I am captain of the eighth company National Guards; was at the Opera House on the night of the riot; I had command of the company to which I am attached. On passing through Astor Place we were assailed by the mob as we were forming or had formed a line across the street. They threw stones at us; some eight or ten, or perhaps a dozen of us were badly injured; I was shot in the leg about the same time the military fired; I was not aware of it at the time until my attention was directed to it by limping; the ball was not a musket ball; it was about the size of a buckshot; the ball remains in the calf of my leg yet; I was advised by the surgeon to allow it to remain; I continued in active duty about two hours afterward. Before the military fired I cannot say whether the order was given to disperse or that they would be fired upon; as soon as we came on the ground the noise was so great that it was impossible to hear; I heard the order to fire; the order was not in any particular manner; I heard the command, fire, given very distinctly; after this firing the crowd did not disperse entirely; I was mostly engaged in keeping the men in line, as they were thrown into great confusion by the showers of stones; they commenced firing before they were in a straight line; other officers were injured, among them my lieutenant; I think it must have been three quarters of an hour after the military first passed through Astor Place before the crowd were fired upon; I was shot after the military fired or during the time. the word fire was given by Gen. Hall and General Sandford; the company that I commanded had the right of the division and fired first; military was attacked after the first firing. I think the mob could not have been dispersed without firing upon them; I think they would have annihilated the military if we had not fired as we did; the lieutenant was wounded before the firing.


I reside at 79 East 13th street; I am a varnisher and polisher; I was present at the riot; I stood nearly opposite the entrance to the theatre in Astor Place; I was not in company with any person; I went to look for a friend whom I had left a little time before; when I arrived the military were close to the door; the mob were throwing stones; most of the stones that struck the military first struck the wall and then fell on the soldiers; I did not hear any notice given to the crowd to disperse; all that I could see who were throwing stones were boys from 12 to 19 years of age; I did not see a man throw one; I moved a little, but not over teen feet, when the military fired; one man that was leaning on my shoulder with his left hand and his cap in his right was shot in the groin at the first fire; this man, after they fired, said that they were firing blank cartridges. In a minute or a minute and a half after saying this he sat down. It was the only way he could get down, the crowd was so great. I thought he had stooped to pick up a stone. I stooped to pick him up, when another man was shot in the head, who fell against me and covered my face with blood. As soon as I turned round I saw the military forming in line across the street and I started to run. After going a few steps I turned back and assisted in picking the men up. I assisted in carrying them as far as Langdon’s corner, then so many crowded around that I let go. I did not know either of the persons shot, but I saw a man that I thought was one of them lying on a billiard table at Vauxhall garden. One man was lying on the table dead. After leaving these men I went on the northwest corner of 8th street and Bowery and found a man named Stuart who was lying on the sidewalk, who had been shot. Several persons were standing around him. I sat down on the curb for it made me sick; I heard more firing, and after a little while I went down 8th street toward the opera House; I saw some persons carrying a man who was shot in the leg; they called to me to assist them; I endeavored to do so; we went down 8th street toward Broadway, but the policemen objected to our passing; after a little while, however, they consented that a few of us should go with the man, and sent the rest of us back; I do not know who this man was.


I am assistant captain of the first ward police. I was detailed for duty on the night of the riot, and stationed first in the yard opposite the theatre, and afterward at the entrance of the Opera House in Astor Place. While I was there, the crowd made several attempts to break into the house, by pressing against it, and throwing stones. I saw several of the police who had been hit with stones on different parts of the body. I was present when the military came.

Before the firing I heard a great many persons halloo to the crowd to leave the street, or they would be fired down. I did so myself. The stones were then coming with a perfect rush. The stones came so hard against the military that some of them seemed to fall back. Some that were injured were taken into the Opera House. I heard some of the military officers tell the crowd to disperse or they would be fired upon. Within a short time after this the guns were fired.—After this I went into the house, but soon came out again. The Chief called for Recorder Tallmadge. I passed the word into the house. The Recorder came, and the Chief asked him to address the mob. The Recorder passed through the military, and I heard him say something, but could not distinguish what words he used. The answer from a great many voices—principally boys I should say, but some men, and it seemed like a great shout—was to this purport, ‘Fire you sons of bitches, fire—you durst not fire.’ From the sound of the boys’ voices, I should suppose they were about 16 years old. The Recorder returned, and soon after this they received the order to fire, and they did fire. The mob after this firing seemed to be divided off and scattered, but kept throwing stones.—In about a quarter of an hour the firing ceased.

Dr. John H. Whittaker, of 510 Broadway, being affirmed, testified to the wound which the several persons on whom the inquest was held had received, and that said wounds had been the cause of death. It is unnecessary to repeat this, as the wounds the parties had received have been repeatedly published, and the doctor’s testimony was merely formal to put the facts on record.

The coroner then announced to the jury that the testimony was closed and it was their duty to review the transactions of Thursday and the evidence, and to express their opinion, whether it were in censure or justification of the authorities. The jury were then left alone.

The jury after being in consultation about two hours and a quarter returned the following verdict:—

“We believe that George A. Curtis, John McDonald, Thomas Aylward, George Lincoln, Timothy Burns, Henry Otten, George Washington Browne, William Butler, George W. Taylor, Owen Burns, Thomas Bulman, Neil G. Mellis, Asa F. Collins, William Armer, Thomas Tierman, Matthew Cahill, and George W. Gedney, came to their deaths by gun shot wounds, fired by the military during the riot before the Opera House on Thursday evening 10th May inst., by order of the civil authorities of the city of New York, and that the circumstances existing at the time JUSTIFIED the authorities in giving the order to fire upon the mob. We farther believe that if a larger number of the police had been ordered out the necessity of a resort to the use of the military might have been avoided.”

New York, May 14, 1849.

Jas. H. Perkins, Foreman.

O. H. Wilson,

Leonard H. Regur,

James Cropsey,

Samuel Raynor,

Joseph B. Brewster,

George W. Dawson,

William Banta,

J. C. Baldwin,

Leander M. Sammis,

Edward C. Robinson,

William S. Smith,

Thomas S. Miller,

Wm. Ballagh, Jurors.

“Mr. Macready.” Commercial Advertiser [New York, New York] 16 May 1849; p. 2.

We do not know this gentleman, have never had any personal intercourse with him; never saw him but once, and that more than twenty years ago. We may readily be believed, therefore, when we disclaim even the slightest personal interest in his fortunes, his feelings, or any thing else pertaining to him; and aver that with regard to him our condition of mind is one of as complete indifference as can well exist toward any human being. If we are asked, then, why we copy the following paper from the Boston morning journals of yesterday, our answer is that we do it in a proper sense of courtesy and duty to a gentleman who shows so much anxiety to place himself rightly before the citizens of New York. He shows his respect for us by desiring that we may have the means of correctly judging him and his conduct; respect for ourselves demands that he be heard:—


It is due to the feelings of Mr. Macready, who cannot in his own person address the public, after the mournful occurrences at New York, that an authentic statement should be made, from which every right-minded man will be able to judge how far he is responsible for what has been done. It would have been preferable that such a statement should emanate from persons in New York, well acquainted with most of the facts, and who, we doubt not, at the proper time, would have been ready to make a just representation of them to the public; but Mr. Macready has been compelled to leave that city, and as he is necessarily here for a short time, before leaving the country, the undersigned have thought that justice to him, as well as the duty of hospitality, and a due regard to public opinion, require that some citizens of Boston should obtain from Mr. Macready some particulars, with a view to their publication. The undersigned have accordingly done so, and submit the following statement of what they believe to be the facts:

Mr. Macready arrived at New York on Friday, the 27th of April, with a view of taking there his farewell of the American stage. On the evening of the same day he concluded an engagement with Messrs. Hackett & Niblo, to act at the Astor Place Opera House for four weeks, commencing on Monday evening, the 7th of May; and the fact of his having made this engagement was immediately announced in the newspapers, and afterward placarded through the city.—The space of ten days, therefore, intervened between the public announcement of his proposed appearance and the evening of his first performance. In this interval, from no quarter whatever, and by no channel, public or private, did Mr. Macready, living at one of the most public hotels in the city of New York, receive any intimation that his reception was likely to be unfriendly, or that any disturbance would be created at the theatre, until he went upon the stage in the character of Macbeth, on Monday evening, the 7th of May.

Mr. George T. Curtis, of this city, a friend of Mr. Macready, was at New York from the morning of Thursday, the third of May, until the afternoon of Saturday, the fifth, and states to us that he neither heard from Mr. Macready, with whom he had much conversation respecting his professional reception in the country, nor from any other person, the slightest information that any disturbance was apprehended.—As the applause, however, which greeted Mr. Macready’s first appearance on that occasion subsided, his ear was struck by sounds of another character, which gave him the first warning he had received that his reception was likely to bein any respect different from what it had been at New Orleans, or Richmond, or Baltimore, or at New York in the month of October last. What followed is well known, and requires no repetition.

On the morning of Tuesday Mr. Macready informed Mr. Hackett that he considered himself absolved from any engagement, and should not appear again at the opera house, and immediately sent to the steamship America to have a passage taken for England; but he also took immediate measures to print the documents which he has since published, in the hope that all excitement in the city might be allayed.

On the evening of Tuesday, the eighth, the letter of Mr. Washington Irving and others, most respectable persons, as deeply interested in preserving the peace of the city as any person can be, was presented to Mr. Macready, requesting him to go on with his engagement. He found on Wednesday morning the state of public opinion to be entirely on the side of order, and strong, in every form of expression, in its condemnation of his assailants; he was told by persons of the highest respectability, in an out of official station, that there would be no disturbance on a second appearance, which he ought to regard or which could not be checked by the police in its ordinary action; and the press of the city, almost without exception, spoke so severely of the conduct of his assailants that he, reasoning from his own experience of the manifestation and power of public opinion in similar cases, felt at last convinced that he ought to consent to reappear.

It was his own opinion, however, that the second performance ought to be postponed to Friday evening, to give time for all excitement to subside, and to allow the circulation of documents, which the press, with great unanimity, has declared disproved every charge that has been brought against him.

In this he was overruled by the judgment of those who represented to him that the state or public opinion was so entirely on the side of order that a delay so long as Friday might cause a relaxation, and give opportunity to turbulent spirits again to attempt breaches of the peace. Under these views Mr. Macready prepared his answer to Mr. Irving and his associates.

At the rehearsal on Thursday morning no apprehension was expressed by any one as to the success of the night’s performance, and Mr. Macready went to the theatre at twenty minutes before six o’clockin the evening, believing that a repetition of the scenes of Monday night was impossible. He had previously received offers from this city, of engagements here, of which he could have immediately availed himself, had he not under the representations made to him felt it to be an indispensable duty to the citizens of New York to remain.

Mr. Macready did not, either directly or indirectly, take any steps whatever to cause his friends to be present at the theatre, or to encounter in any way the opposition of those hostile to him, except by causing the documents already referred to to be published. He simply submitted himself to the wishes of his friends, as expressed in their letter, and to his own sense of the duty he owed to the citizens of New York; and in doing so, the public will judge whether he ought to carry away with him from this country any other feeling than that which every humane man must have, when he finds his name in any way connected with so dreadful an occurrence, however innocent he may have been.


Boston, May 14, 1849.

“The Late Tragedy—Opinions of the Press—Verdict of the Coroner’s Jury—Socialism in New York.” The Weekly Herald [New York, New York] 19 May 1849; p. 156.

The occurrences which cast so much gloom over our city during the last week, have, of course, attracted the attention of the press throughout the country. We give in our journal of to-day a number of extracts from the columns of our contemporaries at a distance, and have no doubt that they will be read and studied here with intense interest. Our endeavor has been, to present, as fully and impartially as possible, the general tone and character of the opinions elicited by these melancholy events.

It will be perceived that, with few exceptions, the press sustains the action of the authorities. A natural and proper solicitude is expressed by all, for the preservation of the public peace; and the evident anxiety experienced in all directions that the mob should be effectually crushed, shows the magnitude and importance of that influence which this great metropolis exercises throughout the whole country. Unquestionably, until this outbreak, New York had for many years exhibited a most reputable example of peace and order, in this respect contrasting favorably with certain other cities of the Union. Some of the newspapers at a distance severely blame our authorities for not taking preventive measures, and our readers have seen that the Coroner’s jury entertained the same opinion. The source from whence all the sad occur[r]ences originated, seems to be the subject of universal and pointed reprehension. Both the play actors, whose names must ever be unpleasantly associated with this awful tragedy, are the subject of denunciation on account of our quarrelsome behaviour and inflammatory publications, while each has his defenders, who insist that he was entirely faultless. On this feature of the case, the public judgment, however, has pronounced a sound and irreversible verdict. The injudicious remarks of Mr. Macready, in his speeches, and the ill-tempered letters of Mr. Forrest, were undoubtedly the remote inciting causes of the irritated state of feeling incertain portions of the community, which was finally exasperated into ungovernable fury by the card calling upon Mr. Macready to proceed with his engagement. That was the proximate cause of the tragedy.

While thus adverting to the sentiments of the public press in relation to this lamentable affair, we must not omit notice of the cool impudence with which one of the journals of this city—the organ of French socialism and kindred abominations—ascribes the riot to the efforts of other presses to create a feeling of hostility between the rich and the poor. Who needs to be reminded that for years that very print, the Tribune, has been assiduously engaged in disseminating the most anarchical and destructive doctrines? Year after year, and week after week, it has been endeavoring to array the poorer classes against those who possess opulence and live in luxury. The anti-renters found in that print, at all times, not only an unscrupulous defender, but a persevering aider and abettor. its whole career has been characterized by a rabid and frenzied zeal in behalf of the monstrous creed of those anarchists who have produced so much demoralization among their deluded followers in the French capital. Who can tell how widely or how deeply those seeds of disorder, discontent, and rebellion against the established order of society, which the Tribune has been so industriously engaged in disseminating, may not have sunk into the minds of certain classes of our own community? We have seen some of the fruits which have resulted in Paris, from the teaching of such men as Pierre Leroux, Greppo, Considérant, Thoré, Lammenais, proudhon, and others. How are we to estimate the mischief which may have been wrought amongst ourselves, by this continual harping upon the tyranny and oppression of the rich—this perpetual prating about the overshadowing iniquity of capital—this artful contrasting the ill-requited toil of one class with the voluptuous ease of another—those devilish insinuations that the working-man, and the poor man, and the idle man, have all been robbed by the rich, who are represented as living in luxury purchased by the sweat, and toil, and agony of their fellow men?

To ridicule and expose the follies and weaknesses of certain portions of the opulent classes of society, is one thing; to denounce them as robbers and tyrants, is another. To teach those who have obtained a large share of this world’s goods, the duties of humility and charity, and to flagellate fashionable vice, pretension and ostentatious display, is a legitimate province of the public journalist. But to inflame the passions and blind the judgment of the poorer classes, by continual artful, irritating declamation directed against those who possess property, is a crime of the most atrocious character. Of all species of demagogueism, this is one of the most abominable and dangerous. The rioters who attacked the Astor Place Theatre, and stoned the police and military, committed a most heinous offence; but the journalist who, like the Tribune, day after day, assails the very foundations of social order, incurs the guilt of a wholesale incendiary and assassin. The poison of this false and specious doctrines circulates unseen, and insidiously, working its fatal purpose in many quarters unsuspected, till, in the end, its destructive influence astounds the whole community.

We have much more to say on this subject. Heretofore, we have generally treated the Tribune and its socialisMacready82its assaults upon the opulent, and its satanic appeals to the poor—with the weapons of ridicule and sarcasm. But the matter has now assumed a graver aspect. The late fearful riot has opened up a new and alarming subject of investigation, and that is, how far the anarchical socialism of the Tribune and its French associates has operated in this community in unsettling the foundations of law and order, and arraying the poor against the rich? Who can tell to what extent the inflammatory declamation of the Tribune has operated in exciting the worst passions of the mob, at the late awful riot? For years that journal has been stimulating the hostility of the poor and idle against the rich and industrious. Do we now really see the beginning of socialism in America?

M. Y. Reaction in Paris. Commercial Advertiser [New York, New York] 16 June 1849; p. 2.

Paris, May 31st.

Wednesday morning’s papers were filled with the accounts of the mob in New York. The news had been received the day before. What a glow of shame mounted to the cheek of every American as he read of the loss of life in a mob excited by the dispute of two actors! It is a wound inflicted on the cause of free government throughout Europe. The monarchist papers will ring the charges on it for months to come, as they did on the fist fights between honorable Congressmen at the close of the last session of our Congress. The comments in the Paris papers are not at all complimentary to the Forrest party. The pretensions of that gentleman to rival Macready are set down as ridiculous, and sustained only by the pride of his countrymen; and Macready is exonerated from all blame for the mean attacks on Mr. Forrest in England. Such are the opinions of the French papers as to the merits of the controversy; with their correctness I have nothing to do. …

“The Astor Place Riot.” The Flag of Our Union [Boston, Massachusetts] 9 June 1849; p. 3.

A Boston editor speaking of this affair, lays its true cause at the right door. He says:

‘The spark which has burst into a flame, was diligently fanned from time to time by Dickens, Marryatt, Hall, Mrs. Trollope, Mrs. Butler, and others of their ilk.’

“Social Exclusiveness.” From the Kalida Venture [Kalida, Ohio]. Daily Ohio Statesman [Columbus, Ohio] 13 June 1849; p. 3.

N. P. Willis, of the Home Journal, in writing of the cause of the last Astor Place Riot, says that it had its rise in “no less a matter than a step taken in the progress of luxury, to the peculiar shape and exclusiveness of which there was, in the respectable and economical class a general unwillingness to submit,” and from which he deduces the lesson, that “wealth in a Republic should be mindful where its luxuries offend” and calls the excitement, resulting in violence, “the protest of the middle class at the degree too much of ostentation, by the wealthier.” In the Astor Place Opera, custom had made certain modes of dress and attendance in the highest degree expensive, while those whose means were limited so that they could only attend occasionally, had to pay extravagantly and then could only secure inferior places. Also in the Theatres generally, the Pit has been aritocratized into an exclusive expensiveness.

This in the West will scarcely be appreciated. Here political and social equality go very nearly hand in hand, but in large cities it is different. There the wealthy class endeavor, by an exclusiveness, unknown even to monarchical countries, to compensate for the political equality they are often practically compelled to acknowledge. A portion of this wealth is the fair product of superior intellect, industry and energy—very much of it is, however, the necessary consequence of the land and corporate monopolies which furnish to a few the means of a liberal education denied to the many, and which much more than nature, creates that political and social inequality, so antagonistical to the spirit of our institutions. In the Astor Place riot may be seen the violence of that discontent at the ostentation of wealth, which, if it refuses to be reduced to republican propriety, by public opinion, may beget in our older States those questions of social right, so difficult to solve or manage, propounded by the masses to the monarchs and aristocrats of Europe.

Reactions in London. From the Lowell Courier [Lowell, Massachusetts]. Daily Evening Transcript [Boston, Massachusetts] 21 June 1849; p. 2.

The Forrest Riot in New York forms the subject of various articles in the London journals. The comments are, of course, unfavorable to the American actor. The London News concludes a long article on the subject by stating, that it is due to Mr Macready, that some expression of public respect for the integrity and uprightness of his character, as a man and a gentleman, should take place immediately upon his landing in England. It thinks the Americans in England will be proud to attend such a meeting and testify, by their experience, that no class of Englishmen reciprocates the ill feeling of the mob in New York. It adds, that if the Oregon or Maine boundary question were in dispute between the two nations, a riot like this and the feeling engendered by it, would be in the highest degree prejudicial and dangerous. The News has a large engraving of the Astor Place Opera House, and of various scenes connected with the riot. Of course, Punch would not let so good an opportunity pass for indulging its satiric vein. He represents Mr Forrest as an Indian chief, of the Cur-rib tribe, known in its dialect as “Edw Inf Or Rest,” or Whitefeather, who believes in an old Indian superstition, that to kill a man of genius, is to become the possessor of his departed power. He represents the chief in Indian costume, with a tall white feather in his cap, a tomahawk before him, labelled “Readings of Shakspeare,” a knife in his hand, and a basket of rotten eggs by his side. This affair will probably keep Punch’s engravers at work for some time. We suppose we shall shortly have an account of toasts and speeches at a Macready dinner.

“The English Press.” From The Sun [New York, New York]. Daily Evening Transcript [Boston, Massachusets] 23 June 1849; p. 2.

The English Press is profuse in its comments upon the Astor Place Riot, of course defending Mr Macready from being properly a party to any portion of it. The London papers seem somewhat confounded that an Englishman should have been protected by the authorities of a country which they suppose hates everything English intensely. They are surprised, too, that law and order should triumph in what they have always called the “land of mobs.” They see in this event signs of permanence, power, and integrity in the republic—that republicans are not necessarily defiers of law, highway robbers and cutthroats, and that, in fact, a better state of society could scarcely be expected in London itself. It sometimes requires severe lessons to teach Europeans that we are not savages and cannibals, and though God grant there may never again be cause for such a lesson, we are glad to perceive the effect it has had in enlightening English public opinion. Apropos to this matter, we understand that a competent friend of Mr Forrest’s is preparing a pamphlet for the press, in which Mr Forrest’s case and defence will be fully set forth. And here we trust the controversy will end.

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