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rehearsal at Drury Lane. That circumstance made the Author's cou. rage fail ; he did not dare to come forward in opposition to Mr. Cumberland. Yet we remember two tragedies, on the story of Ap; pius and Virginia, acted in the fame season at Covent Garden and Drury Lane, and the theatrical history informs us that Shakespeare's King Joho and Colly Cibber's, were played on the fame night against each other. We do not disapprove of that kind of emula. tion : it awakens criticism, and the Public enjoy the pleasure of comparison. It is to be regretted that the Manager of Covent Gar. den theatre did not know of this piece, for we think he might have grasped at it, and The Battle of Hastings, in our opinion, would not have had very great reason to triumph. If our memory does not fail us, there was in the last-mentioned drama a very uninteresting love plot, in which one of the lovers, whining amid the horrors of war, says, the hours, which he passes with his mistress, are so full of balmy bliss, that they ought to be wafted back to heaven on downy wings of love. What that means we do not know, but sure we are that such pompous nothings ought not to have superseded the tragedy of HAROLD; the style of which is generally simple, yet dignified; manly, with elegance, and nervous, with harmony. The two following lines may serve as a short specimen of the Author's manner :
• And as the knee-worn stone grew wet with tears,
Still have I dried it with this wretched hair.' As our limits will not allow us to swell this article by quotations, let us observe, in brief, that this author has the power of versification; but for dialogue, he uses it with a degree of uniformity that becomes monotonous. His fable is pleasing, but, confidering the importance of the battle that was to be fought, the incidents do not sufficiently tend to alarm the mind with terror, and make us, even at this hour, tremble for the event. Terror and pity, Doctor Young well says, are the two pulses of tragedy; and we hope Mr. Boyce will remember that maxim, when next he pays his court to the Tragic Muse. Art. 30. Ways and Means ; or a Trip to Dover. A Comedy, in
Three Aets, as it is performed at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. Written by George Colman, Junior. 8vo. 1s.6d. Robinsons. 1788.
The Author of this piece seems more angry with newspaper critics, than his own superiority ought to have allowed him to be: but we cannot avoid giving him due applause for his spirit on the occasion. His Epilogue presents to our view his portrait of the doer of a newspaper ;-- a man who fancies himself hired to stand at the door of the Temple of Fame, with a goose-quill in his hand, and there to cry “ Walk in,” or “Go about your busines,” to whom he pleases. Mr. Colman, junior, perhaps, knew the defigns of the tribe that write paragraphs, before his play was acted : if so, he judged well in beginning the attack. He has,' in this publication, brought up the rear with equal spirit. He says, and with good reason, . The calumny heaped on individuals, in daily prints, generally conveyed with art suficient to elude the letter of the law, is notorious, and calls aloud for reform. The liberty of the press is prophaned by the licentiousness of newspapers. It becomes a sanctuary for the worst of all asfaflins, the affaflins of private character; the manglers of reputation, and the dark murderers of the peace of families.' He, who talks in this style, ferves the best interests of society. What he says of himself is modest, and perhaps too much so : he treats his play with indifference; content with declaring,' that laugh and whim were his objects, and the mirth and good humour of his audience, whatever malice and misrepresentation may affirm to the contrary, have convinced him that his design is accomplished.'
. We are willing to believe this; for his piece is one of the few modern productions that divert in the closet. The plot is fimple, but clear, lively, and free from violations of probability. The humours of an inn at Dover are given in lively yet natural colours: it is the painting of the Flemish school, without the excess of caricature. Sir David Dunder is well imagined, and as well executed. The scene that opens the second Act, between Roundfee the attorney, and Quirk his clerk, is, to use Dryden's phrase, the theft of a poet from human life. Add to all this, the Author seems to possess a very happy turn for dialogue ; no quaint sentences in the style of Romance; no feeble attempts to glitter, and be better than natural. Each person has his own peculiar language, fuited to his habits of thinking:-In a word, this play abounds with wit, sometimes genuine, and always diverting. It seems to grow out of the occasion, yet has the effect of surprise.
Whenever this young gentleman feels the ambition to rise above himself, and to fix serious attention by his story, we have no doubt that the Public will find in him the talents of a good comic writer. Art. 31. The Prisoner at Large: a Comedy, in Two Acts. As
performed at the Theatre Royal in the Haymarket, with universal Applause. Written by John O'Keeffe. 8vo. Robinsons. 1788.
This piece ought not to have assumed the title of Comedy. It is a Farce, in the truest sense of the word ; a mere cisiue of improbabilities, or rather impoffibilities. It places the scene in the west of Ireland, but exhibits no Īrish manners, and no course of action that ever did, or could happen in any part of the world. We have often said, and we repeat it, that Comedy is an imitation of human life. The Author who gives any thing else, may divert the upper gallery with inexplicable noise, with bustle, business, and turns and counterturns of adventure ; but he departs from his art, and is no poet. The fable before us is not worth the pains of analysing it. plexity, and succeeds; but it has neither moral, nor truth of representation; and what is worse for the writer, it is altogether uninteresting It is dedicated to Mr. Edwin, to whose comic abilities, the Author says, he is much indebted. We believe this to be true, and in his line we think that Actor admirable ; but we are sorry to see the Drama so reduced, as to be under the necessity of paying court to a performer, whose excellence seems to confift in a very extraordinary knack of giving to nonsense a whimsical air of common sense. Mr. Edwin, when dealing in absurdity, seems gravely in earnest, and who can refrain from laughing? The late Mr. Garrick had an expreslion that may serve to convey our meaning: he would have called an Actor of that class, the horse-raddish round the dish, not the roast beef in B b 2
It aims at per
the middle. On the whole, we wonder that Mr. O'Keeffe did not
Applause at the English Readings. By Lieutenant Harrison, Ma-
is. 6 d.
Robinsons. 1788. The schemes of sharpers, and fortune-hunters, against young ladies of property, will always, we suppose, have their place in the transactions of life, and will, for that reason, continue to be represented on the stage. The subje&t, however, seems too much hackneyed of late; we see it in the comedy of Ways and Means, and many others. The play before us, we are told, was not intended for the 'public eye, and yet the Public has seen many of perhaps less merit. The rigour of criticism is deprecated in the preface, but even that rigour, which we are not inclined to exert, must allow that there are, in this piece, fome happy touches of wit ard humour: but our limits will not allow us to give a specimen of the Author's manner. The character of Foflil, the antiquarian, is highly but coarsely coloured, and the objects of ridicule are, some of them, tolerably well selected. The rigour of criticism may add, as a hint to Mr. Harrifor, and not with spleen, that Sir Dogberry Diddle, the Irish traveller, has little of his own country manners, and has imported as little from foreign parts. He talks the language of an Irish chairman. The only novelty in the character, is his cowardice,-and that disgufts by its improbability. Quick and Sharply, the two fortune-hunters, neither forward their own business, nor retard that of others. The life of plays, founded on schemes to carry off
young ladies, consists in variety of adventure, with great embarrassment, and rapidity in the action. We mention these circumstances, not to deter a young author, but to point out the improvements that may be made in order to fit this piece for the public eye, or to thew the errors that may be avoided in future. Since General Burgoyne has set the example, we are glad to fee that young officers know how to fill up the languid hours of peace; and, as we think the Author by no means deltitute of comic abilities, we hope for the improvements of his Mufe, in some future production.--but the idle swearing expletives the damn its and the dammee-s, may as well be omitted : a polite audience would scarcely endure them.
Provinces, Austrian Netherlands, and France. Interspersed with
5 s. sewed. Lowndes. 1788.
To say that this Shandyan performance is deftitute of merit, were to forfeit our pretensions to candour; to that impartiality, which the Public, by their continued favour, have consequently supposed us to possess; and yet to bettow on it an hearty and unconditional commendation, is wholly impossible. The writer is a man of abilities, and lively in an uncommon degree :--but of his liveliness we have
reason to complain. Throughout the whole of his production there is too great an affectation of appearing witty. He delivers, or at least attempts to deliver, almost every sentence with a point: and almost every character is dismissed with a joke. This, by being too frequently indulged, degenerates into pertness and infipidity. Levity is only warrantable where the object is trifling and insignificant. In such a case, nothing can be happier than to employ it; but in any other, it will indubitably awaken disgust. But we will allow this writer to speak for himself on the subject of ridicule.
ORIDICULE "Is in France a serious matter, in England a man may thrive under it; but to want esprit to retort, is there to be contemptible. In the common routine of conversation you would in vain oppose the authority of Locke or Newton to-a good thing-have the smile on your fide, and you have every thing. What abilities will not ridicale depreciate *? It snatches the truncheon from the hand of the General, disrobes the subtle advocate, and renders the lover despised: it is in vain to shelter yourself under a dignified reserve; not to resist is to confess the triumph of your adversary. One circumstance alone blunts the edge of their wit. In a country where swords are in common use, a pointed antithesis might be parried in tierce, and a hit palpable in wit- tell out feebly against a fegcon through the lungs !!
The Author has here confounded the pleasant with the ridiculous; hue there is a material difference in their characters.
It muft, in conclusion, be remarked of the present volumes, that they contain, amid a multiplicity of erroneous opinions, arising from inconsideration and halte, --some just and pertinent observations on men and things.
Directors of the East India Company, and of other Documents re-
The Directors of the East India Company muft, on the present occasion, become Reviewers. In Mr. Cartwright's dedication to them, are the following words—You have been pleased to report so favourably of the following sheets, as to state " that they are very meritorious, and may be highly useful to the persons for whole information they are compiled."- A sufficient recommendation of the work. This publicatien will, indeed, be very useful to all young adven
* A vulgar error.
Real abilities can never be depreciated by the power of ridicule. “ It is urged (says the judicious author of the Elements of Criticism) that the gravest and most serious matters may be set in a ridiculous light. Hardly so; for where an object is neither risible nor improper, it lies not open in any quarter to an attack from ridicule."
B b 3
turers in this commercial line, as it gives the full particulars of the
logical Table of the learned and ingenious Men, Events, Inven-
25. 6d. Marsh. 1788. Mr. Montriou himself speaks so handsomely of his work, that he leaves but little room for the applauses of others. Beside the minute detail which is presented in the title-page, and which it was not necessary for us to insert, he farther expresies, in the preface, a flattering expectation that from the extensiveness of the plan, facility, correct. ness and utility of the present performance, it may stimulate youth to the love of history, promote its ftudy, facilitate its attainment, and diffuse a more universal knowledge of mankind, so as to enlarge the mind, destroy narrow prejudices, and create a liberal indulgence and tolerance for the faults and errors of other nations. We cannot say that the book has captivated us in so great a degree as it has the Author : however, since almoft every work of this kind may have its vse, we think this publication may prove beneficial to those who need, or with for, this sort of information.
POLITICAL. Art. 36. An Hiflorical Sketch of Prerogative and influence ; in a Letter to a Friend.
searches on the Licitness of the Slave Trade. By Henry Dannet,
Mr. Dannet has given a very full answer to the elaborate performance of Mr. Harris: a performance which this Examiner says, in his preface, naturally calls to mind the atheistical writings of Spinosa, of notorious memory ; who lays down his lemmas, propo. fitions, &c. and perfectly observes all the geometrical forms ;