Unappreciated Shakespeare: 1875

Children Acting the Play Scene from Hamlet, Charles Hunt, 1863, Yale Center for British Art

Children Acting the Play Scene from Hamlet, Charles Hunt, 1863, Yale Center for British Art

Since this is the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s baptism, [The Bard’s exact birth date is unknown] let us have an encore of this story about a stage-struck youth who struggled to share Shakespeare’s genius with an unappreciative world.


A few days ago, young Gurley, whose father lives on Crogan street, organized a theatrical company, and purchased the dime novel play of ” Hamlet.” The company consisted of three boys and a hostler, and Mr. Gurley’s hired girl was to be the “Ghost” if the troupe could guarantee her fifty cents per night.

Young Gurley suddenly bloomed out as a Professional, and when his mother asked him to bring in some wood, he replied: “Though I am penniless thou canst not degrade me!”

“You trot out after that wood or I’ll have your father trounce you!” she exclaimed.

“The tyrant who lays his hand upon me shall die!” replied the boy, but he got the wood.

He was out on the step when a man came along and asked him where Lafayette street was.

“Doomed for a certain time to roam the earth!” replied Gurley, in a hoarse voice, and holding his right arm out straight.

“I say, you—where is Lafayette street?” called the man.

“Ah! could the dead but speak—ah!” continued the boy.

The man drove him into the house, and his mother sent him to the grocery after potatoes.

“I go, most noble Duchess,” he said, as he took up the basket; “but my good sword shall someday avenge these insults!”

He knew that the grocer favored theatricals, and when he got there, he said:

“Art thou provided with a store of that vegetable known as the ‘tater, most excellent Duke?”

“What in thunder do you want?” growled the grocer, as he cleaned the cheese knife on a piece of paper.

“The plebian mind is dull of comprehension!” answered Gurley.

“Don’t try to get off any of your nonsense on me, or I’ll crack your empty pate in a minute!” roared the grocer, and “Hamlet” had to come down off his high horse and ask for a peck of potatoes.

“What made you so long?” asked his mother, as he returned.

“Thy grave shall be dug in the cypress glade!” he haughtily answered.

When his father came home at noon Mrs. Gurley told him she believed the boy was going crazy, and related what had occurred.

“I see what ails him,” mused the father, “this explains why he hangs around Johnson’s barn so much.”

At the dinner table young Gurley spoke of his father as the “illustrious Count,” and when his mother asked him if he would have some butter gravy, he answered:

“The appetite of a warrior cannot be satisfied with such nonsense.”

When the meal was over the father went out to his favorite shade-tree, cut a sprout, and the boy was asked to step out into the woodshed and see if the pen stock was frozen up. He found the old man there, and he said:

“Why, most noble Lord. I had supposed thee far away.”

“I’m not so far away but what I’m going to make you skip!” growled the father. “I’ll teach you to fool around with ten-cent tragedies!  Come up here!”

For about five minutes the woodshed was full of dancing feet, flying arms and moving bodies, and then the old man took a rest and inquired:

“There, your Highness, dost thou want more?”

“Oh! no, dad—not a bit more!” wailed the young ” manager,” and while the father started for down town he went in and sorrowfully informed the hired girl that he must cancel her engagement till the fall season.—Detroit Free Press.  

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineer’s Monthly Journal, Volumes 9-10, 1875

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


One thought on “Unappreciated Shakespeare: 1875

  1. Pingback: The Every-day Juliets: 1883 | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s