September 11, 1849 (Tuesday)

Fine day—

Went to the Walnut St. Theatre this evening to see and hear Collins.  He is a capital singer and very amusing.  Quite a full house.

John Collins (1811–1874), Irish tenor and comedian, began his career in London in 1829 as an opera singer but was persuaded by friends to try Irish comedy.  After success in this capacity in England, he came to America where he enjoyed equal if not greater acclaim. On August 14, 1846, at New York’s Park Theatre, he made his American debut in the role of McShane in William Bayle Bernard’s (1807–1875) farce The Nervous Man and Man of Nerve. Two weeks later he made his Philadelphia debut in the same role as well as in the role of Teddy Maloney in Teddy the Tiler (a one act farce by George Herbert Rodwell (1800–1852)).  Now, just over three years later, the Walnut Street Theatre had both The Nervous Man and Man of Nerve and Teddy the Tiler on its bill, as well as, Charles Selby’s (ca. 1802–1863) The Witch of Windermere. The Inquirer called Collins “the unrivaled Irish comedian” and they expected “a warm greeting and a crowded house, such as his brilliant talents and correct and gentlemanly deportment deserves.”

In its extensive collection of 19th century plays, the American Antiquarian Society has several by Bayle Bernard and fifteen by Charles Selby.


“Amusements.” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 10, 1849.

“Death of John Collins, the Irish Comedian.” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 15, 1874.

Brown, T. Allston. A History of the New York Stage: From its First Performance in 1732 to 1901. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1903.

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