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the true relish and folid improvement derivable from them is loft, and often changes the theatre from what it literally may be, a profitable school of moral inftruction, to the fphere of useless or prejudicial diffipation.

This confideration has given rife to the following work, in which the various opinions are diffidently fubmitted to, not dogmatically obtruded upon our feveral readers; where we ftrike out new and useful lights, we doubt not being allowed fome credit for them; where we appear fallible, indulgence is hoped for; fince however we may err in the extenfive fcene before us, our warmest wishes are to be

right.

The hallowed fhrine of Shakespeare every friend of intrinfic merit muft approach with reverence; yet why, amidst the meridian blaze of his brightness, fhould we decline discovering and pointing out those dark spots which his genius fhares in common with the fun; Implicit admiration, as well as implicit faith, argues a narrowness or fycophancy of mind, which we hope ourselves free from; and fhall as much as poffible follow that excellent maxim, to extenuate nothing, nor to fet down aught in malice.

To purfue all the nice and intricate diftinctions of claffical criticifm, would occafion prolixity; appeal only to the judments of learned readers, and therefore be totally incompatible with our defign; which is merely to try each drama as

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a picture of nature at the bar of nature; and the manners of thofe nations where the scene of each is laid.

Well knowing how infipid prefatory matter generally is, thus much only is offered by way of Introduction; and we hope the candid reader will from hence fuggeft whatever else may seem effential,

Of all thofe various fubjects which have engaged the Tragic Mufe, none are of equal force and dignity to hiftorical ones; from a multiplicity of great and interesting events, they rouse and command more paffions than any other; of this Shakespeare was a moft competent judge, and happily availed himself; I fay happily, because he not only thereby gained

a wide fruitful field for the exertion of his amazing talents; but in a political fense did honour to his country, by delivering faithfully many memorable events, in a much more ftriking manner than any hiftorian could poffibly do; he has also thereby indulged that commendable national vanity which makes Britons fond of feeing Britons diftinguished on the theatre of life.

RICHARD THE THIRD, as acted, tho' effentially Shakespeare's, is much indebted for its variety, compactness and fpirit, to the late Colley Cibber, whofe thorough acquaintance with the Stage, well qualified him for regulating a plot, and arranging of scenes, which is

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indeed

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indeed no more than a kind of dramatic mechanifm, yet indifpenfibly requifite.

The laureat has been blamed for mutilating other plays of beautiful paffages to enrich this; but, tho' I admit it to be literary depradation, I muft rather vindicate than cenfure him; there is

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little, if any dishonesty in ftealing jewels merely to ornament the juft owner; befides it fhews what Cibber was never accused of, modefty, - by avoiding ftudiously the infertion of his own inadequate stuff.

This play opens with well-imagined propriety, as a plain, fimple introduction is the best preparative to a fucceffion and climax of interefting events; expectation ftrained at the beginning most commonly produces a faint unaffecting catastrophe; the previous character of Henry, and the mode of his introduction, prejudice us in his favour; his philofophical reflections are fuitable to his depreffed fituation, as well as his turn of mind; and Treffel's pathetic narration not only ferves to raise our tendereft concern for an unhappy king and father, but prepares us with great judgment for what we must expect to find in Glofter, which description naturally arifing out of the circumftance, has far greater merit than thofe lugged in headlong merely for fake of explanation.

Notwithstanding fome good critics have condemned foliloquies in general as unnatural; yet

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we must venture to contend for their propriety; fince nothing is commoner than for people in private life, warmly poffeffed of any subject, to talk as if in converfation, tho' alone: in this light, Glofter is very justly brought to view, and I doubt if by any other means fo ftriking and copious a picture could have been given of his whole heart in a first appearance; nor could any other character have given so happy a delineation of him as he does of himself.

The first act concludes properly with putting a period to Henry's life, which indeed could not have been preserved any longer with fuitable importance; and Richard gives an extended idea of his ambitious remorfeless principles in a very characteristic foliloquy.

The fhort scene with which the fecond act begins is a juft preparation for the funeral of Henry; and thofe obfequies being partly fhewn, keep the unfortunate monarch in our remembrance till more bustling events fupersede him ; Lady Ann's introduction is affecting, but her yielding to him whofe hands are still red with the blood of her hufband and father; renders her future misfortunes rather just punishment than motives for pity; however, the scene is wrought up in a very masterly manner; and in the performance gives fcope for capital acting; the concluding part of this act introduces the duke of Buckingham, the Queen-dowager, and acquaints us with king Edward's death; Richard

chard also unveils part of his design relative to prince Edward, whofe approach and deftination to the tower he announces.

The young King and his brother, the duke of York, make a most pleasing appearance in the firft fcene of the third act; that folid good fenfe difcoverable in one, and the fhrewd, pregnant fimplicity of the other, are admirably struck off; after their departure for the tower, Richard's earneft disclosure of his views to Buckingham opens a wider field for expectation; and his method of fecuring his coufin to his intereft fhews Glofter an able politician, fit to avail himself of Buckkingham's weak, venal difpofition.

Lady Ann's treatment in the fucceeding scene manifefts her husband's brutality more strongly; yet, as I have alreedy hinted, feems no more than a juft confequence of that unpardonable vanity which led her into fuch an unnatural connection.

Buckingham's illuftration of the method ufed by him to work on the citizens, and his treatment of them when they enter, show him verfed in court chicanery; particularly throwing in a remark, 'tis hard-The mayor should lose his title with his office. Richard's hypocrify is here painted in a capital manner; and is most admirably affifted by the affumed paffion of his coufin on one fide, with the fycophantic credulity of the citizens on the other; his reluctance and their perfuafions, like well-adapted lights and fhades, engage and please the attention; which

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