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By Foster Hirsch

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Speaks eloquent of happy years', vineyards and woods lead to a river lit by the setting sun. Soon the 'vesper bell' tolls from the tower 36 The grandeur of Nature of a distant Carmelite convent reminding Louise, who loves her childhood's Eden, to lift that love to God. A 'spotless... dove', a 'soft plant' whose delicate leaves 'shrink / From vice by instinct', she is 'kind / To the poor cotters in the wood' and, each winter, feeds the forest birds from her hand. Her mother has a Wordsworthian faith in the power of thought to protect her daughter across the miles that will separate them, and Louise assures her that 'amidst the court / My childhood's images shall rise'.

Even The Octoroon (1859) steered a middle course between North and South at a time of heated passions over the Slave Question. What really stirred audiences was the spectacle of a burning Mississippi river boat and the novelty of a murderer's 'exposure' by a camera: 'A photographic plate. What's this, eh? two forms! the child - 'tis he! dead - and above him - Ah! ah! '75 Excruciating as that snatch of dialogue now sounds, these sensation dramas cannot be dismissed out of hand. Boucicault knew precisely what the public wanted and professed himself happy to oblige: 'I can 25 The making of Victorian drama spin out these rough-and-tumble dramas as a hen lays eggs.

Refusing payment for The Lady of Lyons, he told Macready that 'our compact was not of an ordinary nature, and on consideration, you will see that it is impossible to lower it into a pecuniary arrangement. It was a compact based upon feelings worthy of the Art, which in our several lines we desired to serve - let me add that it was worthy of ourselves . . Neither money nor any other kind of remuneration which money purchases, can I accept - or you propose. My guerdon is the boast to have served, not as a Mercenary but a volunteer, in an enterprise that will long be memorable in the Literary History of my time.

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