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grace of God, of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, King, and (futra for their slanderous imputations) Defender of the true, ancient, catho. licke, and Apostolike Faith, &c."
Langbaine says that this address, or dedication as he calls it, is made to Charles the 2d -Gildon and both the Editors of the B. D. repeat the assertionthis is one of those mistakes for which no excuse can be pleaded—this little piece was printed in 1647, whereas Charles the 1st was not beheaded till Jan. 30 1648-9 besides Pragmaticus concludes with saying
“ Our dearest Lord, great Charles, doth live
“ Us comfort yet to bring,
“MUST reigne Great Britain's King.
“ Let heaven showre upon his head
The blessings of the day,
“ Grant that his sonne may sway.”
Virgin Widow--the 1st Edition of this play is said to be printed in 1649 --the 2d Edition is in 1656
- Quarles does not tell us in what country he means his scene to lie—Augusta is Queen in her own right-Evaldus, to whom she is married, shows some attachment to Kettreena-her old husband, Pertenax, becomes extremely jealous-the Queen is also jealous and determines to poison Kettreena—she forges a letter as from the King, and sends it to Kettreena with a pretended cordial for a present — Pertenax
drinks the cordial and is poisoned-Kettreena becomes a Virgin Widow-in the last act, the Oracle of Apollo is consulted—Apollo is offended, and the Queen, with three other persons, is struck dead—a nurse confesses that she had exchanged Augusta and Kettreena when children, and that the latter was the rightful Queen-she gives her hand to Evaldus—the serious scenes of this play are far from bad—the comic scenes are very good-but they do not coalesce as they should do—the serious characters must be supposed to be heathens, whereas the characters of low humour act and talk as English people—notwithstanding that five persons die on the stage, this play is called in the title-page a Comedie—the Stationer in his address to the reader calls it an Enterlude the Editors of the B. D., who had evidently read no farther, observe that it is rather an Interlude than a regular play—they might have said with equal propriety that Hamlet was rather an Interlude than a regular play-in modern times we call those little pieces, acted between the play and farce, Interludes -Dr. Johnson defines an Interlude as something “played at the intervals of festivity; a farce”but our early dramatic writers seem to have applied the word to any piece which might be played between a certain number of persons—thus God's Promises, which is a sacred Drama, is called a Tragedye or Enterlude — in Mad World my Masters certain players desire leave to interlude.
Stroller's Pacquet Opened—a small vol. under this title was published in 1742—it consists of 7 Drolls or Farces--the 4th of them is called the Feigued Shipwreck, or the Imaginary Heir-it is taken from
the Scornful Lady—the Editors of the B. D. say that it is taken from the Elder Brother of Beaumont and Fletcher-a more gross and unpardonable mistake never issued from the
press. Muses in Mourning 1760 — the Editors of the B. D. say—“ this piece is a burlesque on Operas « and Pantomimes, under the idea of a lamentation “ made by the Tragic and Comic Muse” the Muses in Mourning is a short Opera—there is no burlesque on Operas or Pantomimes—nor does the Tragic or Comic Muse speak a syllable-the Genii of Italy—Spain France - Holland and England contend for superiority of wit-Apollo decides in favour of the Genius of England.
The B. D., after all that can be said against it, is so useful a work, that it ought never to be off the table of a person who is fond of theatrical information—but in order to make the B. D. correct and complete, it would be necessary for the next Editor, to read numberless plays, of which the former Editors have only read the titlepage, or servilely copied a prior account—there seems good reason to suspect, that some of the best articles in the B. D. were not written either by Baker or Jones, but borrowed from some other persons.
MISS JOANNA BAILLIE.
Miss Baillie published, at different times, 4 vols. of plays-her object was to delineate the stronger passions of the mind in a series of Dramas.
Two things are requisite to make a good dramatic poet-genius and a knowledge of the stage.
“ Alterius sic “ Altera poscit opem res et conjurat amice." Hor.
Miss Baillie possessed in a very high degree the first and more essential of these qualificationsshe was very deficient in the second—the consequence has been, that she has presented to the public much fine poetry in a dramatic shape, without having written one single play which is well calculated for representation—as she wished her plays to have been acted, she should have frequented the theatre herself, or have consulted some person who was conversant with the stage-Shakspeare's profession was of great service to him as a dramatic writer
-still less will a perfect knowledge of stage effect, and the artifices by which applause may be gained, do without genius—some persons of this last description have written successful pieces, but they have seldom written pieces which deserved to succeed.
The 5th edition of this volume was published in 1806-according to the B. D. the first edition came out in 1798.
1. Basil—the passion depicted in this play is Love -Basil is a General in the service of the Emperour Charles the 5th - he arrives at Mantua with his troops--at the opening of the play, his sole object seems to be, to distinguish himself in his profession
- he sees Victoria, the Duke's daughter, in a procession_and falls in love with her she falls in love with him, but does not exactly avow her passionshe prevails on him to defer his march for a day or two--the battle of Pavia takes place-Basil, in con. sequence of this delay, is not present at it-the Commander in chief of the Imperial forces sends him word, that he may march his tardy troops into distant quarters-Basil kills himself-Victoria throws herself on the dead body in despair—this is an interesting T., but there is too much said and too little done-some of the scenes might be omitted, or shortened to advantage--Geoffry, an old soldier, who has been very much maimed in the wars, is a good character-but he does not in the slightest degree contribute to the conduct of the plot-Basil, in the last scene of the 4th act, reminds one of Penius in Bonduca.
2. The Tryal— Love is the subject of this C.Agnes and Mariane are the nieces of Withringtonthe former is an heiress, the latter is dependent on her uncle--the Ladies change characters, and are