Cartoon portraits and biographical sketches of men of the day/Dion Boucicault


Mr. Dion Boucicault is a native of Dublin, where he was born on December 26th, 1822. He is the youngest son of Samuel Boucicault, a well-known merchant. His elder brothers have earned in Australia both fame and fortune on the colonial press as newspaper proprietors and editors: one, George D. Boucicault, having been for many years editor of the 'Melbourne Daily News;' the other, Arthur Boucicault, is now the editor and proprietor of the 'Northern Argus.' The late George Darley, the dramatic poet and essayist, was the uncle of these men— so literature may be said to be hereditary in their family.

In 1841, at the age of nineteen, Mr. Dion Boucicault produced his first dramatic work, 'London Assurance.' His later works, 'The Colleen Bawn' and 'Arrah-na-Pogue,' have somewhat eclipsed his earlier productions, and the public are inclined to regard him as a writer of melodrama only. But of all the dramatists who are now living and writing, he is the only one who has produced a series of plays of the highest class, amongst which the following five-act comedies and tragic plays may be recorded: 'Old Heads and Young Hearts,' 'The School for Scheming,' 'The Irish Heiress,' 'Woman,' 'Love in a Maze,' 'Louis the Eleventh.' His comedy, 'London Assurance,' was played for one hundred and sixty-five nights in 1872 at one of the West-end theatres.

Amongst the dramas which have flowed unceasingly for the last thirty years from his prolific pen, we remember 'The Willow Copse,' 'The Corsican Brothers,' 'Faust and Margaret,' 'The Vampire,' 'Janet Pride,' 'Used Up,' 'The Octoroon,' 'The Colleen Bawn,' 'The Streets of London,' 'Rip Van Winkle,' 'Formosa,' 'After Dark,' 'Hunted Down,' 'Arrah-na-Pogue,' 'Jezebel,' 'The Long Strike,' 'Flying Scud,' 'Babil and Bijou,' and recently a little piece entitled 'Night and Morning.'

In 1853, Mr. Boucicault married Miss Agnes Robertson, an actress, and

Author and actor


went to the United States, where they resided for seven years. During this period he adopted the stage as a profession; but as his performance of Irish character proved to be his most perfect delineation, he has of late confined himself to that specialty. In 1860 he returned to England, and appeared in September in the memorable 'Colleen Bawn,' as Myles-na-Coppaleen. In 1864 he joined Mr. Vining at the Princess's, and produced 'The Streets of London' and 'Arrah-na-Pogue.' Very few authors have been so uniformly successful, but very few possess the assemblage of powers and qualifications which unite in him to render success almost a certainty. He is not only an experienced dramatist and actor, but his knowledge of all departments of the theatre and their resources is complete. He models and sketches his own scenery, and contrives his mechanical effects. He selects the appropriate music, fashions the action of his piece, drills the supernumeraries and ballet. We shall not forget the effect produced by the crowd of Irish peasantry in 'Arrah-na-Pogue.' He exercises and teaches each performer; and, indeed, instils into all parts of his works a vigour and a life that we rarely find elsewhere. Where capacity and experience are thus found allied with untiring labour, it would be strange if the result were doubtful.

Those who regard a theatrical life as one of idleness and ease may find some difficulty in reconciling their prejudice with such a programme. No life ought to be more methodical.

In 1868, after an engagement in Dublin, Mr. Boucicault declared his intention of retiring from the stage, and devoting himself exclusively to literary pursuits. But his reappearance a few months ago seemed to be the result of a conviction that his 'second thoughts are the best;' the more so that his retirement withdrew from the stage his wife, the most elegant and purest of our soubrettes, whose performances cannot be called delineations: they are personifications of the characters in which she appears, so perfect of their kind, that no actress possibly, in her own line of characters, could be acceptable to the public in her stead.