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May 27, 1865

A Voice for Setchell

MY voice is for Setchell. What with a long season of sensational, snuffling dramatic bosh, and tragedy bosh, and electioneering bosh, and a painful depression in stocks that was anything but bosh, the people were settling down into a fatal melancholy, and growing prematurely old - succumbing to imaginary miseries and learning to wear the habit of unhappiness like a garment - when Captain Cuttle Setchell appeared in the midst of the gloom, and broke the deadly charm with a wave of his enchanted hook and the spell of his talismanic words, "Awahst! awahst! awahst!" And since that night all the powers of dreariness combined have not been able to expel the spirit of cheerfulness he invoked. Therefore, my voice is still for Setchell. I have experienced more real pleasure, and more physical benefit, from laughing naturally and unconfinedly at his funny personations and extempore speeches than I have from all the operas and tragedies I have endured, and all the blue mass pills I have swallowed in six months. As a comedian, this man is the best the coast has seen, and is above criticism; and therefore one feels at liberty to laugh at any effort of his which seems funny, without stopping to undergo that demoralizing process of first considering whether some other great comedian, somewhere else, hasn't done the same thing a shade funnier, some time or other, years ago.

Mr. Setchell has established his reputation here, and a powerful verdict has been rendered in his favor. All who have seen good acting, and know what they are doing, endorse this verdict. True, I have heard one man say he was not as good as Burton in "Captain Cuttle," and another that he had seen better actors in A Regular Fix, but then I attached no great importance to the opinions of these critics, because the first named (judging by the date of Burton's death) could not have been above thirteen years of age when that renowned actor appeared for the last time upon any earthly stage, and the other was reared and educated in Little Rock, Arkansas, and therefore has not had as good an opportunity of forming a correct dramatic taste as if he had resided in London all his life. At least, such is my opinion, though I do not insist upon it.

One reason why I do not weaken before these two critics, is because every time Mr. Setchell plays, crowds flock to hear him, and no matter what he plays those crowds invariably laugh and applaud extravagantly. That kind of criticism can always be relied upon as sound, and not only sound but honest.

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