|Charles Booth Parsons as Caius Silius |
via University of Illinois Library Digital Collections
Parsons, a preacher and former traveling stage actor, compared and contrasted his "two itinerancies" in The Pulpit and the Stage (1860). His dismissive use there of the expression "etherealized intellectuality" recalls the contempt for "etherealized madness" expressed in the notice of Pierre in the Christian Advocate on September 2, 1852. Parson's authorship is clinched by the fact that the review of Pierre appears on page 3 in the Louisville section of The Christian Advocate, Parson's domain until he formally took his leave as Associate Editor on June 29, 1854.
|Nashville and Louisville Christian Advocate - September 2, 1852|
PIERRE, OR THE AMBIGUITIES. By MELLVILLE.--A biographical sketch of Charles Booth Parsons signed "Colley Cibber" was published in three parts in the The Dramatic Mirror and Literary Companion. Below are links to each installment in the digitized Volume 1:
Harper & Bros. N. Y. 8 vo., pp. 495.
This is a work which, we should suppose, might have come from some literary "Alembic," set in a cell of lunacy. It is evidently made up of the wild vagaries of a diseased imagination, in which unnaturalness of character and improbable events greet the reader, though a style as cumbersome and o'erwrought as the tale is unlikely and barren of truth. Such as love to wander 'midst the mazes of etherealized madness, will find, we presume, a congenial companion in the "Ambiguities," which is a proper and very significant title to the book.-- What good end can possibly be promised by the publication of such trash, we are at a loss to discover. And yet "their name is legion."
- The Dramatic Mirror - January 15, 1842
- The Dramatic Mirror - January 22, 1842
- The Dramatic Mirror - January 29, 1842
Parsons also excelled as Roaring Ralph Stackpole in Nick of the Woods.
Charley Parsons played at the South Pearl Street Theatre, after Burrough's time....
Parsons was an inferior actor, especially in tragedy — he was of Herculean frame, round shouldered, and had a voice like artificial stage thunder! He was a great favorite, however, in the southwest. He played Roaring Ralph Stackpole to perfection. Had Dr. Bird seen Ralph and Parsons he would have been puzzled to distinguish one from the other. It was actually worth the price of admission to see Parsons as Ralph, without his uttering a word. Parsons being a speculative genius, left the stage and went to preaching in the Methodist church at Louisville, but he soon slid backwards, and finally slid on the stage again — but the spec wouldn't pay; he made a failure, and so Roaring Ralph abandoned the devil's frying pan (the stage), and was once more received to the arms of his deserted flock. I heard him preach the next Sunday after he left the stage, but it was Roaring Ralph all through the sermon, the prayer, the benediction.In Players of a Century: A Record of the Albany Stage, Henry Pitt Phelps calls Parsons "a very bad actor" and colorfully describes his conversion in Louisville.
--Henry Dickinson Stone, Personal Recollections of the Drama
Charles Booth Parsons performed in Albany when Herman Melville lived there. Melville was fourteen when Parsons appeared as Macbeth at the Albany Theatre on November 4, 1833.
|Albany Argus - November 4, 1833|
Parsons returned as Macbeth on September 18, 1834. His advertised "last appearance" came the next night, September 19, 1834, when Parsons starred in, hey hey,
"the highly successful Indian tragedy of ORANASKA." --Albany Evening Journal, September 19, 1834