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The Stage our only school of elocution-Demosthenes schooled by an actor—Higher ends
still which the stage serves—The play of Hamlet deficient in action-Kean's Hamlet in the scene
with Ophelia—In dramatic composition, poetry to be subservient to character, and character to
situation and incident-Observance of this principle in “Hamlet”—Character of Hamlet-
Illustration from the first scene—The poet must forget himself to succeed in individualization-
Barrenness of the works of dramatic writers who fail to do this—In “Hamlet,” every one "his
own man"—Hamlet's extreme sensibility and friendship illustrated-His devotion to revenge his
father's death-Monstrous error of many actors in playing the scene with Ophelia-Failure of
some writers of dramas through a desire to write finely-Critics greatly to blame for this error-
Shakespeare colloquial in most impassioned passages—Examples of this from Julius Cæsar,
Henry IV., Lear, and from Byron-Impertinences of critics—Importance of fitness in the

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The play in which unity of action is respected the best, cæteris paribus—Evidence of our

own feelings—“Rule a Wife and Have a Wife,” “Much Ado about Nothing," favourable

exceptions—The criterion of eligibility not success, but a comparison of the respective

effectiveness of two different plots—The “Merchant of Venice” instanced. Here the simple

plot would seem preferable-Climax of action more important—Play should have climax of

action in its greater divisions—Interest of "Julius Cæsar" flags for want of it-Unity of

character most important of all—Constitutes the paramount charm of Shakespeare-Boling-

broke, Richard, Macbeth, all ambitious characters, yet of totally different natures—Jealousy of

Othello compared with that of Leontes and Posthumus—Theory of unity of time and place

contested–The mind regardless of it in novel, play or picture—“Hamlet” instanced, and

Hogarth's picture of “The Good and Idle Apprentices ”—Johnson right in asserting that the

drama never yet produced a complete illusion—The Coriolanus of John Kemble-Theory

should bow to experience in passing judgment on the excellence of acting dramatic poems

Short stature of Garrick and Kean no impediment to their acting-Picture of “Buonaparte's

Return to Versailles "-Anecdote of Kean's first appearance in London in “The Merchant of

Venice”-Natural and "theatrical” elocution-Kean's delivery of soliloquy from “Hamlet”-

A schoolboy reciting Milton-A mannered M. P. reciting “Logan's Address ”—The stage

indebted to Kean for a more natural elocution-Poetry founded on Nature-Shakespeare

modelled from life-Witness Romeo, Juliet, Gravedigger in “Hamlet,” Hamlet himself-Passion

the grand ingredient of the drama—Exemplified in the characters of Lady Macbeth, Juliet,

and Shylock-Riches and fitness the characteristics of Shakespeare's poetry—Illustration in

Henry IV.'s Soliloquy on Sleep


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“Macbeth” the most felicitous of Shakespeare's plays in plot and execution-Shakespeare
little indebted to history for this play—The great aim of the dramatist should be to excite
expectation-In Macbeth interest strongly excited as soon as the play begins. Impression
improved in second scene-Witches not grotesque compared with the Furies of Æschylus-
Acting manager should be a scholar-Kemble's management-Macready's alteration in
the business of the incantation scene-Imitation of Kean's reading of this scene-Analysis
continued-Character of Lady Macbeth—Such an accomplice necessary to Macbeth-Mrs.

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HETHER from the peculiar nature of the rites in which it

originated, and the comparatively unsophisticated state of the times in which it appeared, or from an extraordinary

purity of mind in the authors themselves, the Greek drama is distinguished by a chasteness of moral which, it must be admitted, puts that of the Christian dramatist to the blush. Our stage may thank itself for the disrepute into which it has fallen. In an assembly in which women are present, it is an act of the grossest impropriety to exhibit scenes of vice, the mention of which would sully the purity of the domestic hearth. I would even go so far as to say that the dramatist who writes for the mere amusement of an audience compromises his dignity. Genius has a higher duty to discharge. If the reason of ordinary men is given them in order that they may recognize and honour the attributes of their Creator, how much more incumbent it is upon the peculiarly well gifted to make their talents subservient to utility, while exercising them in the cause of wisdom and virtue. I do not say that an audience should not be made to smile. The playful thought, the arch conceit, the droll peculiarity, are things I love, but I admire them most when they are made the seasonable and salutary relief to matter of weightier moment.

To the imaginative and imitative faculties of man-faculties which


are the most active that enter into the composition of his mind-may be attributed the origin of the drama. The child scarcely begins to lisp when it

appears as a dramatist in the dialogue which it frames for itself and its toy. The imaginative principle is rapidly developed. The doll, or the handkerchief pinned up to represent one, is at once endowed with thought and passion; and the urchin, scarcely released from his leading strings, already anticipates maturity, and delineates the parent in all the sternness of reproof or tenderness of endearment. As maturity is approached, the above-mentioned faculties begin to manifest themselves in more elaborate results. Few parents there are whose daughters have not done the honours of the drawing-room before they ever made their blushing entry into one, or whose sons have not been tradesmen, merchants, captains by sea and captains by land, knights, earls, dukes, princes, nay, who have not aspired to royalty itself, even while yet they were subject to the jurisdiction of the ferule. Nor does the dramatist disappear when the dignities of manhood are assumed. He is still at work in the dreams of love, of ambition-of whatsoever constitutes a spring of human desire. What is castle-building but the constructing of a drama in which we ourselves are the heroes, which has its plot, its scenes, its acts, its incidents, its situations, its opening, and its dénouement? There is no man, howsoever sober and matter-of-fact, who, in this way, has not played the dramatist; who, in this way, has not tried his hand at tragedy, comedy, or farce, inventing scenes in comparison with which the occurrences of real life are weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable.

No wonder if, in a crude and simple state of society, we find the earliest traces of the dramatic art the germs of which are universally distributed among the human race. No wonder if we find traces of that art, I do not say only in the school or the study, but in the valley and on the mountain side, where the shepherd tended his flock, and the husbandman tilled the ground. This noble art which for ages has lorded it over the most powerful passions of mankind; to which all kinds and

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