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When the Editor first thought of compiling this “Treasury of Plays for Children,” he asked a number of authors to gather around his Table of Contents. It is, therefore, with gratefulness that he acknowledges the presence of Mrs. Frances Hodgson Burnett, through the courtesy of her own consent and that of her publisher, Samuel French; Mr. Tony Sarg and Mrs. Hamilton Williamson, who know so much about puppets and the strings that make them dance; W. Graham Robertson, Esq., who sent Pinkie all the way from England; Mr. Stuart Walker who, with the permission of Messrs. Stewart & Kidd, gave us from his Portmanteau Theater a lovable hero; Lady Gregory, through the consent of her publishers, Messrs. G. P. Putnam's Sons; Messrs. E. P. Dutton & Company, and Samuel French, who have issued editions of the world-famous Punch and Judy; Miss Marguerite Merington (thanks to Messrs. Duffield & Company), who writes in an English style worthy of King Arthur's Court; Miss Constance D'Arcy Mackay (through Messrs. Henry Holt & Company), a pioneer writer of dramas før amateur players; Mr. John Bennett (by permission of The Century Company), whose Master Skylark, in the dramatization by Anna M. Lütkenhaus, is an excellent Elizabethan hero; Mr. William C. DeMille, who has made many worthy efforts to establish a Children's Theater in New York; Miss Alice Gerstenberg, a lover of Lewis Carroll, to whom she dedicates her dramatization; Mr. Austin Strong, whose Toymaker de serves to be loved as broadcast as dolls and Teddy Bears; and The Seven Old Ladies of Lavender Town (by consent of Harper & Brothers).
With such a rare Company, the Editor feels that his book has caught the joyous, imaginative mood of his guests — a
mood ably sustained by the quaint pen and brush of Mr. Tony Sarg. All that is needed, now, is to find a goodly company of readers: the Table of Contents is spread for them; the authors will wait upon them — while the Editor, as head caterer, can vouch that the fare is of the best the market affords.
MONTROSE J. MOSES.
"Warranted Harmless — That is one good point to be assured of before we put plays into the hands of our children," says a mother, looking at this book in the bookseller's shop.
“But, mamma," says her little girl, "are they entertaining?”
'Aye, mamma, are they entertaining?” repeats her brother: "I never will read them, unless they are warranted entertaining as well as harmless. Of all things, I would never read plays, unless they divert me: what else are they good for?”
"Nothing, certainly. I want to see whether they look entertaining," says the little girl,"but I cannot, yet, for mamma is reading the preface; and you know, brother, you never like prefaces."
“Never. They always are stupid, and tell us that every book is entertaining - - there's no believing them. Besides, they are always so long.'
“This is short, at any rate,” — says the little girl, peeping at the pages over her mother's shoulder.
"Well! — what does it tell us?”
"It tells us, in the first place, that these plays were written at
"No matter where, my dear.”
They were originally written,” continues the little girl, “for the amusement of a private family.'
"I don't care for whose amusement they were originally written. I do not know why authors always tell us that."
“But listen, my dear: they were read to the young people they were written for on their birthdays! – Oh, brother! oh, mamma! I should like to have a play read to me on my birthday.”
“If it was entertaining, I suppose you mean,” persists the sturdy boy: “for plays being read on all the birthdays in the world would not make them entertaining if they were tiresome.”
* Certainly, brother. But listen, my dear, not one of the audience fell asleep, the author says ---
"The author says! - Ah! but perhaps, without the author's seeing it, some did sleep. I know I have gone to sleep when people were reading very grand things.
“But not plays, brother.” “Yes, even plays, when read, - I do not mean acted. Acting plays I always like." "Some plays, they say, are good only for reading." Those, I say, are good for little or nothing to my mind,” says
“and if these are of that sort, I will have none of them.” *Listen, brother some of them have been acted.”
“With unbounded applause, does not the author say? that always comes next."
"No; here is nothing about unbounded applause: but it says, that one little play, which was acted, made people laugh.”
“Laugh! really laugh! -- then it might do for us, my dear. Which of them was acted? - what's the name of it?”
“I do not know; the preface does not tell that.” “Prefaces never tell the thing one wants to know,” says the boy.
“But mamma will look over the plays for us, girl, "and see which will do for our acting.”
“I should like to look them over for myself,” said the boy.
“Do so then, my dear,” says the kind mother, putting the book into his hands.
“But we cannot judge without reading them all.” “Read them all, my dear, then,” says the mother; "that is just what the author desires, that young persons should read, judge, and decide on these plays for themselves.”
"I like that! — that is what I like!” cried both the little critics, drawing up their heads, while their mother read to them the last words,
“It is for young readers to determine whether these little plays are amusing or not. They — and they only — can pronounce the sentence which the author most wishes to add, WARRANTED ENTERTAINING.” -With slight changes, this conversation forms the preface to Maria Edgeworth's “Little Plays for Children," published in London, in 1827.
says the little
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A NOTE OF ACKNOWLEDGMENT