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a proceeding too comformable to the general run of characters in the world; but, in following which, the author has shewn his want of address in conducting his play as a moral lesson, and to remedy which has been a part of the care of the present editor.
Mr. Styles, however, observes farther of this play, that “the self-denying virtues of Christianity; that 66 benevolence which embraces the whole human race as
one family; that control over our own spirit; that “ disposition to forgive injuries, and to do good to those “ who despitefully use us; that fervent zeal to live to “ the glory of God; that acquiescence in his will, in
every situation of trial and affliction, all of which are the distinguishing features of Christian morality,
they will never learn from Douglas, nor from any S other theatrical performance that was ever received “ with approbation on the Stage." p. 97.
Mr. S. has read this play with sufficient attention to say
of it, that “ As a Dramatic composition, this tra“ gedy is entitled to high praise; it is well conducted ; “ the style is elegant, and it is interesting in the highest “ degree :” he adds, too, 66 but in a moral point of “ view, and in respect to its aspect on Christianity, it " is exceedingly dangerous.” (p. 91.) and he points out several passages which are undoubtedly highly exceptionable. But, I think, that Mr. S. has not done justice to Mr. Home, in not stating that there are passages of a good tendency. Of this description is what Lady Randolph says respecting war, in her conversation with Lord R. in the first act, in her lamentation for the “ dames of Denmark", in the scene with Glenalvon, in the third, and again with Ld. R. at the beginning of the fourth. Benevolence is inculcated in the speech of Lady R. when she goes off in the third act:
“ Beljeve me, Sir,
The crime of implacable resentment is shewn and condemned by Lady R. in the scene in the first act with
Lord R. Forgiveness of injuries is taught by Old
" Such love from thee
Old Norval, after offering what excuse he could for the neglect of Sir Malcolm towards his tenants, says,
“ May Heav'n so judge me, as I judg'd my master!
" Avd God so love me as I love his race." And, again, in the scene in the fourth act, where Y. Norval is telling the story of the Hermit of whom he learnt the art of war, and his killing his unknown brother in the encounter, and then recognizing each other; he says, “they exchang'd forgiveness".
Nor is acquiescence in the will of Providence never inculcated; Douglas, in the scene with his mother, in the fifth act, says,
“ The God of battles of my life dispose
As may be best for you!" And Lady Randolph says,
as bigh Heav'n bath will'd it, alt must be."
In Mr. CUMBERLAND we meet an objector of a different description. Seemingly with a view to exculpate Garrick from the accusation of a want of taste and of judgment in refusing to bring out this play at DruryLane, in his CRITIQUE upon it prefixed to Cooke's Edition, he has endeavoured to point out, in rather & flippant manner, what are the faults of the tragedy; but which I conceive to be in general hypercritical, and sometimes unfounded. Some of these will be answered in the Notes. One of his principal is the difficulty there would be to Lady Randolph to conceal her situation from her father. The difficulty, undoubtedly, would be great; but there is no impossibility nor improbability in representing it as being done; as instances sometimes occur, in which the birth of the child is the first information upon the subject to persons in the same house; and, if the child was sent off
as soon as born, her indisposition might pass with her father as an illness of a different kind. The question does not admit of more minute discussion.
It is with great pleasure that I turn to the encomium of Mr. Ensor upon this play, he says, (Independent Man, Vol. 11. p. 171.) “ Douglas by Home is a finished pro“ duction; the opening of the piece is very solemn, and " the characters, particularly Lady Randolph, Gle« nalvon and Douglas, well drawn. The persons are « also sufficiently numerous. The play is moral: it « shews the bad effects of family feuds; the misfortunes 6 incident to surreptitious marriages: the folly of a rage “for arms; the misery attending marriages formed 66 without attachment.* The sentiments are also moral: *6 old Norval says,
« Let never man,
“ I, guiltless bow, must former guilt reveal:” 166 and Lady Randolph to that miscreant Glenalvon, who falls a victim to his crimes,
-Believe me, Sir,
" And he who loves not others lives unblest." « In the moral application of sentiments it approaches « the Greek drama as near as our stage will permit, and « in some instances it has exceeded that liberty.+
“ This drama contains an episode, which is related “ by Douglas: it neither forwards the catastrophe nor • involves the events, but it is introduced when the “ audience wish to behold those persons together whom " they suspect* to be unknowingly allied by the strong“ est ties. The discovery is one of the happiest in poetry. “ Poets have employed different means for this effect: " the tears of Telemachust at the court of Menelaus “ discover the son of Ulysses. That by moles and scars
* A farther moral is to be learnt from the cbaracter of Glenalvon, how the villain's deepest machinations are tarn'd against himself:
" Th' imperfect rape to Randolph gave a spouse ;
“ A favourite to hide the sun from me.” End of Act 11. His plot, too, against the life of Douglas, terminates in his own destruction. See Psalm vii. 15, 16. quoted before, p. 147.-Note +
+ It is curious to observe two respectable writers speaking in such directly opposite terms of the morality of the same play. The case is, that the author himself is in some measure inconsistent, and that one critic dwells solely on his faults, and the other solely on his ex. cellencies in this respect,
has been repeated from Homer's to our days ten “ thousand times; as also by mistakes, ģ by intercepted
letters, &c. I do not praise this discovery because it " is made by jewels, but because the discovery is made " incidentally; which gives it the ease of a natural occur.
The artful management of the poet is remark“ able through the whole performance. The style is
praised excessively by Gray. He says that the author 6 of Douglas has retrieved the true language of tragedy, 56 which had been lost these two thousand years. This “ is too panegyrical, though the diction is classically “ polite."
* The audience have been certified of this by the scene between Lady Randolph and Old Norval in the former act. The episode is not altogether useless, as it seems necessary to account to the audience for the proficiency in military science which Douglas displays.
+“ Odyssey, lib.4. ver. 113.”
† “ Ibid. lib. 19. ver 467.”.
Mourning Bride, Act. 4. S. 8." Mr. Ensor I suppose quotes from memory, and is not therefore accurate. The passage in Gray is, “ I am greatly struck with the
Tragedy of Douglas, though it has infinite faults: The Author
seems to me to have retrieved the true Language of the stage, " which had been lost for these hundred years; and there is one scene “ (between Matilda and the Old Peasant) so masterly, that it strikes
me blind to all the defects in the world." See Mason's Fdn. of Gray's Works in 2 Vols. 8vo. 3d Edo. Vol. II. p. 122. Note to Lelier xxv.
I am surprized that Mr. E. in his enumeration of the ably drawn characters does not notice that of Old Norval, of which the author of the Dramatic Censor observes, “ Old Norval's simplicity, sensibility, " and tender fidelity of heart, engage us deeply in his favour; be is " extremely well iinagined, and finished in a masterly manner. As " it is hard for a performer to render Lord Randolph respectable, so
we think it would be difficult to find one of even decent capacity, “ who could be flat and unaffecting in the Old Shepherd".-Vol. II.
After what has been said already, it will be supposed that the alterations made in this play are both numerous and important. They are so. Those passages in the speeches of Lady Randolph which savour of murmuring at the dispensations of Providence, the too-heroic ardour of Douglas, the speeches respecting Fate, as the ruler of the affairs of men, the invocations of created beings, the adoption of popular superstitions, and the suicide of Lady Randolph, it was absolutely necessary to remove; but it is hoped that this has been done without materially affecting the poetic beauties or the spirit of the piece.
The copy made use of in printing has been the 8vo. edition, printed in London in the year 1757, which I have compared with an edition in 12mo. printed for Lowndes, &c. in 1784, in which I have found some additions and variations, which have been occasionally adopted and pointed out. I have also had recourse to the copy in Bell's edition of the British Theatre, in 1791, and to that in Cooke's edition of The British Drama.
Clare Hall, Sept. 21, 1811.