« PreviousContinue »
who have seen it moderately performed by a country company.
The author of this play professes in his Prologue and also in the title page to the first edition, that it is 66 Written in imitation of Shakespear's style.” On this Dr. Johnson observes, “ In what he thought himself an 5 imitator of Shakspeare, it is not easy to conceive. The “ numbers, the diction, the sentiments, and the conduct,
every thing in which imitation can consist, are remote s in the utmost degree from the manner of Shakspeare; 66 whose dramas it resembles only as it is an English
story, and as some of the persons have their names in “history." p. 64.
The author of the Biographia Dramatica says, “ Pope “ in his Art of sinking in Poetry, which was published " after the death of Rowe, has the following observation. “ I have seen a play professedly writ in the style of “ Shakspeare, wherein the resemblance lay in one single
“ The satirist, however, was mistaken. The line is “ not in Jane Shore, hut in Jane Gray, which professes
no imitation of Shakspeare; nor is the quotation a “ fair one, being interpolated to render it ridiculous.
“ And so good morning, good master lieutenant," “ is the verse as printed by Rowe." Vol. II. p. 162.
On this I think it may be said, that, before Rowe produced this play, he had been much conversant with Shakspeare, in editing his works, and had, no doubt, imbibed a good deal of his phraseology, which he occasionally introduced into his play. Conscious of this, he might be fearful of being charged with plagiarism; and, therefore, to anticipate the objection, produced it as an avowed imitation. That he has imitated and adopted several things in this way
I have shewn in my notes; other passages I could have added, but that I was fearful of being thought fanciful, and there are yet other passages which strike me generally as being similar to something of which I have a remote recollection in Shakspeare, but not sufficient to enable me to turn to the passages.
On the whole, putting History aside from the subject, I consider The Tragedy of Jane Shore as a play of great merit and of great interest; as exhibiting some strength and great beauty of language, as affording many passages of piety and instruction, and as conveying a general useful lesson of the evils of adultery, but at the same time an interesting example of penitence, and also of the baneful consequences of unlawful passion and unseasonable jealousy and revenge.
The forgiveness of the husband and the fidelity of the servant are pleasing and useful exhibitions.
The copy from which this play is printed is one Printed for W. Lowndes, &c. in 1791. I have compared it with the quarto which bears no date in the title-page, but there is an advertisement at the end bearing date Jan. 28, 1713-14. From this I have been enabled to make several corrections. The alterations I have made are not such
in mation, at all to affect the spirit and interest of the play, but merely to correct some improprieties and false sentie ments.
The Notes are rather numerous, yet not such as will, I trust, be thought needless or uninteresting. The illustrations from the Bible and from Shakspeare will shew at what sources our author drank.
Clare Hall, August 3, 1811.
THE AUTHOR'S DEDICATION.
TO HIS GRACE THE
MARQUIS of BEVERLEY, 8c.
I have long lain under the greatest obligations to your Grace's family, and nothing has been more in my wishes, than that I might be able to discharge some part, at least, of so large a debt. But your
noble birth and fortune, 'the power, number, and goodness of those friends you have already, have placed you in such an independency on the rest of the world, that the scrvices I am able to render to your Grace, can never be advantageous, I am sure not necessary, to you in any part of your life. However, the next piece of gratitude, and the only one I am capable of, is the acknowledg inent of what I owe: and as this is the most public, and indeed the only way I have of doing it, your Grace will pardon me, if I take this opportunity, to let the world know the duty and honour I had for your illustrious father. It is, I must confess, a very tender point to touch upon; and at the first sight, may seem an ill-chosen compliment, to renew the memory of such a loss, especially to a disposition so sweet and gentle, and to a heart so sensible of filial piety, as your Grace's has been, even from your earliest childhood. But perhaps, this is one of those griefs, by which the heart may be made better; and if the remembrance of his death bring heaviness along with it, the honour that is paid to his memory by all good men, shall wipe away those tears, and the example of his life, set before your eyes, shall be of the greatest advantage to your Grace, in the conduct and future disposition of your own.
In a character so amiable as that of the duke of Queensberry was, there can be no part so proper to begin with, as that which was in him, and is in all good men, the foundation of all other virtues, either religious or civil, I mean good nature: Good-nature, which is friendship between man and man, good breeding in courts, charity in religion, and the true spring of all beneficence in general. This was a quality he possessed in as great a measure as any gentleman I ever had the honour to know. It was this natural sweetness of temper which made him the best mun in the world to live with, in any kind of relation. It was this made him a good master to his servants, a good friend to his friends, and the tenderest father to his children. For the last, I can have no- better voucher than your Grace; and for the rest, I may appeal to all that have had the honour to know him. There wus a spirit and pleasure in his conversation, which always enlivened the company he was in; which, together with a certain easiness and frankness in his disposition, that did not at all derogate from the dignity of his birth and character, rendered him infinitely agreeable. And as no man had a more delicate taste of natural wit, his conversation always abounded in good-humour.
For those parts of his character which related to the public, us he was a nobleman of the first rank, and a minister of stute, they will be best known by the great employments he passed through; all which he discharged worthily as to himself, justly to the princes who employed him, and advantageously for his country. There is no occasion to enumerate his several employments, as secretary of state for Scotland in particular, for Britain in general, or lord high commissioner of Scotland; which last office he bore more than once; but at no time more honourably, and (as I hope) more happily, both for the present age, and for posterity, than when he laid the foundation for the British Union. The constancy and address which he manifested on that occasion, are still fresh in every body's memory; and perhaps when our children shall reap those benefits from that work, which some people do not foresee and hope for now, they may remember the duke of Queensberry with that gratitude, which such a piece of service done to his country deserves.
He shewed, upon all occasions, a strict and immediate attachment to the crown, in the legal service of which, no man could exert himself more dutifully nor more strenuously: and, at the same time, no man gave more bold and more generous evidences of ore he bore to his country. Of the latter, there can be no better proof thun the share he had in the late happy Revolution; nor of the former, thun that dutiful respect, and unshaken fidelity, which he preserved for her present majesty, even to his last moments.
With so many good and great qualities, it is not at all strange that he possessed so large a shari, as he was known to have, in the esteem of the queen, and her immediate predecessor; nor that those great princes should repose the highest confidence in him: and, at the same time, what a pattern has he left behind him for the nobility in general, and for yourGrace in particular, to copy after!
Your Grace will forgive me, if my zeal for your welfare and honour (which nobody has more at heart than myself) shall press you with some more than ordinary warmth to the imitation of your noble father's virtues. You have, my Lord, many great advantages, which may encourage you to go on in pursuit of this reputation: It has pleased God to give you naturally that sweetness of temper, which, as I have before hinted, is the foundution of all good inclinations. You hure the honour to be born, not only of the greatest, but of the best parents; of a gentleman generally beloved, and generally lamented; and of a lady adorned with all the virtues ihat enter into the character of a good wife, an admirable friend, and a most indulgent mother. The natural advantages of your mind have been cultivated by the most proper arts and manners of education. You have the care of many noble friends, and especially of un excellent uncle, to watch over you in the tenderness of your youth. You set out amongst the first of mankind, and I doubt not but your virtues will be equal to the dignity of your rank.