The Critic - Giles Corey, Yeoman

From The Critic Vol. 16 No. 398 (Aug 15, 1891)

Boston Letter

Mrs. Erving Winslow's reading of Miss Mary E. Wilkins's unpublished play, this past week, has led many to suppose that this is the initial introduction of the drama to the public. I am strongly under the impression, however, that it was read a year ago before the summer school of literary enthusiasts which meets in quiet, rustic Deerfield. Salem witchcraft is the theme of ‘Giles Corey, Yeoman,’ the play in question. The trial of the sturdy yeoman and his honest wife by the judges is made an effective scene by the climax of resolve in which Corey, rather than open his lips to plead, receives his condemnation — death between two crushing stones. Into this tragic story Miss Wilkins has woven a love romance, by giving to the daughter of Corey a lover whom Ann Hutchins jealously admires and who receives, immediately after the sentence upon the father, the hand of his sweetheart in marriage, as that father had commanded.

Miss Wilkins informs me that she always had a desire to write a play, and that when first she composed this work she had an idea that eventually it might be arranged for the stage, but that she has now decided it is not an acting play. It is, however, an excellent reading play, if one may judge by the cordial reception it has received. During the past week Miss Wilkins has rewritten the entire drama, and is still at work upon it. The plot, with the exception of Olive and Paul and the love episode, is wholly historical; Giles Corey, as a matter of fact, stood mute at his trial and was put to death in the manner described. Miss Wilkins is to write a Christmas story for Harper's Bazar, while Harper's Monthly before long will publish a story of early New England life, in which this admirable delineator of modern country life treats of Salem witchcraft and its consequences.