C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


The drama is the book of the people.


  • The drama’s laws the drama’s patrons give,
  • For we that live to please, must please to live.
  • Dr. Johnson.

    A passion for the dramatic art is inherent in the nature of man.

    Edwin Forrest.

    All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.


    It is remarkable how virtuous and generously disposed every one is at a play.


    The seat of wit, when one speaks as a man of the town and the world, is the playhouse.


    The real object of the drama is the exhibition of the human character.


    Men of wit, learning and virtue might strike out every offensive or unbecoming passage from plays.


    The drama is the looking-glass in which we see the hideousness of vice and the beauties of virtue.

    Frances Anne Kemble.

    Dramatical or representative poesy is, as it were, a visible history; for it sets out the image of things as if they were present.


    The propriety of thoughts and words, which are the hidden beauties of a play, are but confusedly judged in the vehemence of action.


    I maintain, against the enemies of the stage, that patterns of piety, decently represented, may second the precepts.


    There is so much of the glare and grief of life connected with the stage that it fills me with most solemn thoughts.

    Henry Giles.

    The business of the dramatist is to keep himself out of sight, and to let nothing appear but his characters. As soon as he attracts notice to his personal feelings, the illusion is broken.


    On the Greek stage a drama, or acted story, consisted in reality of three dramas, called together a trilogy, and performed consecutively in the course of one day.


    Every movement of the theater by a skilful poet is communicated, as it were, by magic, to the spectators; who weep, tremble, resent, rejoice, and are inflamed with all the variety of passions which actuate the several personages of the drama.


    The drama embraces and applies all the beauties and decorations of poetry. The sister arts attend and adorn it. Painting, architecture, and music are her handmaids. The costliest lights of a people’s intellect burn at her show. All ages welcome her.


    The tragedy of “Hamlet” is critically considered to be the masterpiece of dramatic poetry; and the tragedy of “Hamlet” is also, according to the testimony of every sort of manager, the play of all others which can invariably be depended on to fill a theater.

    G. A. Sala.

    The dramatist, like the poet, is born, not made.***There must be inspiration back of all true and permanent art, dramatic or otherwise, and art is universal: there is nothing national about it. Its field is humanity, and it takes in all the world; nor does anything else afford the refuge that is provided by it from all troubles and all the vicissitudes of life.

    William Winter.

    The drama is not a mere copy of nature, not a facsimile. It is the free running hand of genius, under the impression of its liveliest wit or most passionate impulses, a thousand times adorning or feeling all as it goes; and you must read it, as the healthy instinct of audiences almost always does, if the critics will let them alone, with a grain of allowance, and a tendency to go away with as much of it for use as is necessary, and the rest for the luxury of laughter, pity, or poetical admiration.

    Leigh Hunt.