Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Early notices that Edwin Booth was to appear in Houston on
February 23, 1887, put the playgoing fraternity of the city into a
great frenzy. Houston had waited long to see Booth, and the
tragedian, then fifty-six, was no longer a young man. Manager
Ed Bergman received so many requests for tickets that he could
scarcely satisfy half of them. When the day of the noted actor's
appearance arrived, disappointed ticket-seekers were offering $1o,
$12, and as high as $15 for tickets that had sold for $2 and $3.
One man gave $50 for three reservations in the parquet circle; late
in the afternoon some seats went for $18 and $20 each, and just
before the performance there were a few sales for $25.
Booth arrived from Galveston in his private railroad car, the
"David Garrick," and appeared as Hamlet in the evening.' As the
Post saw the player, he could be charged with no excess of motion
or exaggeration of facial aspect. He was not stately, as Kemble had
been; rather he was stocky and of medium height. Nor was he
youthful in looks. To use his own words, he was of "antique ap-
pearance."s A portion of the newspaper review of the tragedy
assessed his performance in the following words:
His portrayal of Hamlet comes nearer to the popular conception
than that of any other actor who has essayed the part. ... The audi-
ence was in perfect sympathy with Mr. Booth throughout and accepted
approvingly his rendition. The important scenes-the appearance of
the Ghost, the interview with his mother, the Queen, the mouse-trap
play-were marvelously well-presented and revealed the greatness of
the actor, while in his several spats with Polonius and Ophelia he was
easy, graceful and self-contained. Mr. Booth's enunciation is distinct,
every syllable being heard with ease in every part of the house.
He is supported by a good all around company. Emma Vaders, the
Ophelia of last night, is a favorite of the South--she supported Thomas
Keene a few years ago. Mrs. [Augusta] Foster makes only a fair
Queen-acts the part tamely-although she has a queenly appearance.
Mr. [John T.] Sullivan as Laertes, Mr. [John T.] Malone as the King,
7Katherine Goodale gave a delightful account of the journey Booth and his
company made in the "David Garrick" from New Orleans to San Francisco in Behind
the Scenes with Edwin Booth (Boston, 1931), Chapters XIV-XXIV.
SMy tour through Texas, in the private car, "David Garrick," was, on the whole,
very pleasant. The towns are well worth a visit as embryo cities of wealth and
beauty; the theatres are excellent, hotels ditto, and the audiences very cultured and
in full dress.
Edwin Booth to Horace Howard Furness, March 13, 1887, in Edwina Booth
Grossman, Edwin Booth (New York, 1894), 271.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101196/. Accessed July 12, 2014.