« PreviousContinue »
« Ignatius" as a capital play in 1781, and the only one
worth the attention of his congregation, makes it un" avoidable, without meaning the least offence to so “ undoubtedly an inestimable good character, accom“ panied with talents that would adorn any situation ;
consequently he commands every respect from me, “ unaided by compliment or insincerity.”
“ Now this truly respectable character, Mr. Milner, " of whom I speak with great esteem, as really a pious
man, though at that time hurried into extremes, (and “ I beg I may be seriously so understood) yet that gen« tleman did aver in an anxious moment, that not one
play was fit to be seen or heard by a Christian, except that divine piece of writing, a tragedy in five
acts, called Saint Ignatius. The particulars of the ! said sermon being mentioned to me, and to prove my “ duty to the public, as manager, also of my ad“ herence to good rules from the pulpit, I sent for the
play, but feared on the perusal, I could not by any means prune
it fit for the stage representation, as it startled me in many places, as bordering on bad, not good example; but as I yielded the matter to the superior judgment of the divine, I pruned it as well as my weak abilities would permit, in order to make it
a stage entertainment, and fit to obtain the Lord 66 Chamberlain's license.
“ Mr. Stephen Kemble was at that time exceedingly “ill, and did penance very severely, by undergoing the “ study of so long a part as St. Ignatius. It was acted " on Saturday, December 29, 1781, to a very good “ house, and persons at the theatre, whom I believe 5 had never seen a play before, and though so uncom“ mon a production, it not only was attentively and 6 well received, but on the whole rather approved than 66 the contrary.” p. 124, 125.
My private account states that “ as Mr. M. did not “ attend the performance, it was not repeated."
In this transaction it appears to me, that, if Wilkinson was really in earnest in endeavouring to conciliate the
opponents of the stage, he did not set about it in a judicious manner. But, from the advertisement, the Play-bill, and his own account of the business, I cannot but think, that he was at least half in jest ; and, there. fore, it is no wonder if neither party were satisfied. Had he intended to have rendered the evening's entertainment acceptable to Mr. Milner and his congregation, he should have added more grave and respectable entertainments to the play, that, whether they staid them or not, the whole performancc might have borne a more uniform and decorous aspect.
But, had Wilkinson been ever so much in earnest, it does not appear to me, that 'the piece is calculated for stage representation, or to interest a mixed audience. Were the piece well-performed, I could see it represented with great pleasure on account of the subject, and the tendency of much of the sentiment; but it is by no means well written. Yet I can conceive that Cowper, or Mrs. H. More, could have written a Drama upon the same subject, which should have interested persons in general. According to my own sentiments, even this piece is not altogether unexceptionable. The character of Ignatius is drawn as coveting and provoking martyrdom; not with that calm and resigned fortitude, willing either to live or to suffer according to the will of God, which was so conspicuous in the death of our Saviour, and which I conceive to be the true Christian Spirit.
There are at least eleven prayers in this play. At p. 88 of my Discourses, I have applied the answer of John the Baptist to the Soldiers, (Luke iii. 14.) who came to him, when he preached repentance, to know what they were to do, to the case of Players. A similar incident occurs in the first scene of the IVth Act of Ignatius, where the converted Soldier, Claudius, says to Philo the disciple of Ignatius:
“ I'm wholly Christ's ! But how can I he his,
“. You mean, must not you love them?
Here the present state of the world is urged in plea for even the best men doing many things which they may not altogether approve.
A most difficult and important subject!
Were I to be called upon to alter this play, to render it conformable to what I conceive to be true Christianity, I have little doubt that I should have as much to do to it as I have done in some of the plays in this collection.
Wilkinson, in the same Volume of The Wandering Patentee, (ii. p. 121.) says, Every piece that ho
nours the Lord is proper for the Stage, as Miss Han“ nah More's 5 Daniel in the Lion's Den,” 66 Moses “ in the Bull Rushes,” with corrections and alterations,
where the cxpressions are too solemn and sublime-I “ do not mean the sacred parts of Holy Writ.”
And in the IVth Volume (p. 78.) it appears that these two pieces were altered, by a gentleman who resided near Doncaster, for Stage-representation, and performed there, Saturday, October 12, 1793, to a genteel audience, “ with credit and applause. It was the intention of the Manager to have performed them at IIall in the following month; but the design met with determined opposition from the adversaries of the Stage in that place; two of whom he mentions by name, and with much more of asperity than he speaks of Mr. Milner. At this opposition one cannot wonder, after what had taken place with respect to Ignatius. These circumstances, however, I think, clearly evince, that, had Wilkinson been treated in a milder manner, and had a better mode of reforming the stage been pointed out to him, he was by no means unwilling to attempt it.
The kind of plays with which this reformation should be begun, must not be very dissimilar to those, in form and character, to which audiences have been hitherto accostomed; but should be founded on interesting stories, with a considerable share of incident and bustle, and lively dialogue, but freed from all profaneness and immorality, and having a good moral or general tendency. Of this kind I conceive to be the Play of Deaf and Dumb, translated from the French of J. N. Bouilly,
als het de IE I had never either E ei sil is veral bere last October ERRIERRI Vara Campaay; and I can Ein rei *_ Meetun asnach interested FRESHEN E u emis I ris with that. The lide a duas na š Exceptionable, AR The suizi « sed with great
The loving nie je maken with a view * is een het is been gradually training is a s orm a jen á upwards of dar nie ver mani saring several plays, ** RAL na m me I commonly read time pari a ment and ether expunged var blevet mua Sama be objectionable. She has thes a La RN like to friends, some Hei het them at me wed by that exWhat the media than at ladas; when they heval et par zorral, and wishes that he ha de ser de priated.
a mi do grinding one or two plays W YERE & SHARE men ef the thing inHadiah wangue pars might soon sink into Whet water that they should make their hittative site which might carry respeet \ the HORN HOW yet the work inghe