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COMPANION TO THE PLAYHOUSE:
Historical and critical Memoirs, and original Anecdotes,
BRITISH AND IRISH
THE COMMENCEMENT OF OUR THEATRICAL EXHIBITIONS;
AMONG WHOM ARE
SOME OF THE MOST Celebrated ACTORS:
AN ALPHABETICAL ACCOUNT, AND CHRONOLOGICAL LISTS, OF THEIR WORKS,
AN INTRODUCTORY VIEW Of the rise and progress
ORIGINALLY COMPILED, TO THE YEAR 1764, BY
DAVID ERSKINE BAKER.
CONTINUED THENCE TO 1782, BY
ISAAC REED, F. A. S.
And brought down to the End of November 1811, with very considerable
IN THREE VOLUMES.
PRINTED FOR LONGMAN, HURST, REES, ORME, AND BROWN,
T. PAYNE, G. AND W. NICOL, NICHOLS AND SON, SCATCHERD
J. HARDING, J. FAULDER, AND GALE AND CURTIS.
THE MACARONI. Com. by Robert Hitchcock. Performed at York. 8vo. 1773. It was once acted at the Haymarket.
2. THE MACARONI. We are told that such a piece exists in MS. which was written some time between 1770 and 1780, but was, probably, never performed; though the copy which our informant had seen had several passages marked for omission, in the same manner as plays belonging to theatres usually have. Might it not be an abridgment of the foregoing article?
3. MACBETH. Trag. by W. Shakspeare. Fol. 1623. This play is extremely irregular, every one of the rules of the drama being entirely and repeatedly broken in upon yet, notwithstanding, it contains an infinity of beauties, both with respect to language, character, passion, and incident. The incantations of the witches are equal, if not superior, to the Canidia of Horace. The use this author has made of Banquo's ghost, towards heightening the already heated imagination of Macbeth, is inimitably fine. Lady Macbeth, discovering her own crimes in her VOL. III.
sleep, is perfectly original, and admirably conducted. Macbeth's soliloquies, both before and after the murder, are masterpieces of unmatchable writing; while his readiness of being deluded at first by the witches, and his desperation on the discovery of the fatal ambiguity, and loss of all hope from supernatural predictions, produce a catastrophe truly just, and formed with the utmost judgment. In a word, notwithstanding all its ir regularities, it is certainly one of the best pieces of the very best master in this kind of writing that the world ever produced. The plot is founded on the Scottish history, and may be traced in the writings of Hector Boethius, Buchanan, Holingshed, &c. in Heywood's Hierarchy of Angels, and in the first book of Heylin's Cosmography. The entire story at large, however, collected from them all, is to be seen in a work, in three volumes 12mo. entitled Shakspeare Illustrated, vol. i. The scene in the end of the fourth act lies in England. Through all the rest of the play it is in Scotland, and chiefly at Macbeth's castle at In
"This play (says Dr. Johnson) "is deservedly celebrated for the propriety of its fictions, and "solemnity, grandeur, and variety "of its action; but it has no nice "discriminations of character: the 66 events are too great to admit the "influence of particular disposi"tions, and the course of the ac"tion necessarily determines the "conduct of the agents.
"The danger of ambition is "well described; and I know not "whether it may not be said, in "defence of some parts which now "seem improbable, that in Shak"speare's time it was necessary to
warn credulity against vain and "illusive predictions.
"The passions are directed to "their true end. Lady Macbeth "is merely detested; and though "the courage of Macbeth pre"serves some esteem, yet every "reader rejoices at his fall."
Mr. Harris, in his Philosophical Arrangements, observes of this tragedy:
"It is not only admirable as a "poem; but is, perhaps, at the "same time one of the most moral
pieces existing. It teaches us "the danger of venturing, though "but for once, upon a capital "offence, by showing us that it "is impossible to be wicked by "halves; and that we cannot "stop; that we are in a manner compelled to proceed; and yet that, be the success as it may, "we are sure in the event to become wretched and unhappy."
An anonymous critic objects, and we think justly, to the stage practice of a numerous chorus of witches. After paying a tribute of praise to the chief characters, as performed by Mr. Kemble and Mrs. Siddons, he adds, "but my "pleasure, and, I am persuaded,