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BY T: NON
TO WHICH ARE ADDED
“ I left no calling for this idle trade,
No duty broke."-Pope.
EDWARD MOXON, DOVER STRÆET.
TO THE PRESENT EDITION.
In publishing the following Dramas in a cheap and compact form, I have little to express except my thanks for the indulgence which has been extended towards them. If I had felt at liberty to alter them, I should have been tempted to do more than correct some verbal errors, and curtail a few palpable redundancies of language ; but I feel that when a work has been once fairly presented to the public, and, to the full extent of the author's hopes, accepted, he is no longer at liberty to treat it as exclusively his own; and, therefore, I have confined my own corrections within the narrow limit I have suggested. In addition to the few sonnets which accompanied the former editions, I have collected a few more which have appeared in periodical works, and added some verses which have not been before printed.
Here I might close this preface—as the slender matters which have reference to each Drama have been noticed in the Advertisement prefixed to each—if I did not think that I ought not to allow the present occasion to pass without noticing a misconception of the author of “ The Hungarian Daughter," which, although not perhaps calling for a separate protest, and certainly not justifying any
hostile remark, should not pass unnoticed in a collected edition which includes the passage on which it is founded.
Mr. Stephens-an author endowed with real tragic power, though not perhaps always adapting it to the purposes of theatrical representation-sharing with other Dramatic Poets the strong and natural desire of seeing works designed for the stage presented upon it-seems to have divided the plays of the present day into two classes, “the acted” and the “ unacted,” as if the distinction implied some essential difference in merit or kind, and not a mere difference of fortune ; and to have sought for the latter a great pre-eminence in critical opinion over the former. To the enunciation of this opinion, or to its maintenance by a comparison of my own dramas with tragedies which have not been acted, however much to my disadvantage, I have no right to object;—but I do object to being elevated into a position of authority to which I have no claim, and then regarded as expressing an opinion on the works of others which it would have been impertinent in me to offer. The passage is as follows :-“Were I to affirm that, in my opinion, the unacted drama of this country at the present day is of a higher order than that which finds its way unto the stage, such a declaration would be very likely ascribed to prejudice, but Mr. Serjeant Talfourd has most handsomely proclaimed the same truth; and from his competence, in every point of view, to set the question at rest, I should presume there can be no appeal.”
199* The reference intended is, I presume, to the
* Preface to the “Hungarian Daughter," p. 19.
advertisement prefixed to the second edition of “Glen
;"* which had been published shortly before the appearance of “ The Hungarian Daughter," as I am unconscious of having written anything else which bears on the subject. Having seen the production and the success of “Ion” and “The Athenian Captive” attributed to personal circumstances, I was desirous of stating that “Glencoe” had been accepted as the work of a stranger by the manager and actors, and had passed the ordeal of its first representation before the disclosure of the author's name; and in making this statement I expressed the reason for intruding personal matters on the public as follows :
“ As I am conscious that this Play has been produced at a time when dramatic productions, superior to it in many of the essentials of the species of composition, have recently issued from the press, I think it due to the management of the Haymarket Theatre and to Mr. Macready to state the exact truth respecting it.” It is true that I intended to express my conviction that this particular workwhile I might depreciate without offence—was inferior in many respects to Plays not then acted, as (among others) to Mr. Horne's “ Cosmo de Medici”-to Mr. Stephens' own dramas - and to "
“ Nina Sforza," and “ The Blot on the 'Scutcheon,” which have since been represented, but I did not presume to apply the same comparison to other authors of acted Plays—as Knowles, Bulwer, Jerrold, or the author of “ The Provost of Bruges.” It may be permitted to writers who, like
* Post, p. 156.