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COMPANION TO THE PLAYHOUSE:
Historical and critical Memoirs, and original Anecdotes,
BRITISH AND IRISH
THE COMMENCEMENT OF OUR THEATRICAL EXHIBITIONS ;
AMONG WHOM ARE
SOME OF THE MOST CELEBRATED ACTORS:
AN ALPHABETICAL ACCOUNT, AND CHRONOLOGICAL LISTS, OF THEIR WORKS,
THE DATES WHEN PRINTED, AND OBSERVATIONS ON THEIR MERITS :
AN INTRODUCTORY VIEW OF THE RISE AND PROGRESS
ARIGINALLY COMPILED, TO THE YEAR 1764, BY
DAVID ERSKINE BAKER.
ISAAC REED, F. A. S.
Additions and Improvements throughoui, by
IN THREE VOLUMES.
murder, are masterpieces of un2. The MACARONI. Farce. matchable writing ; while his reaWe are told that such a piece exists diness of being deluded at first by in MS. which was written some the witches, and his desperation time between 1770 and 1780, but on the discovery of the fatal ambi, was, probably, never performed; guity, and loss of all hope from though the copy which our inform- supernatural predictions, produce ant had seen had several passages a catastrophe truly just, and forma marked for omission, in the same ed with the utmost judgment. In manner as plays belonging to thea- a word, notwithstanding all its ir, tres usually have. Might it not be regularities, it is certainly one of an abridgment of the foregoing the best pieces of the very best article ?
master in this kind of writing that 3. MACBETH. Trag. by W. the world ever produced. The Shakspeare. Fol. 1623. This play plot is founded on the Scottish is extremely irregular, every one history, and may be traced in the of the rules of the drama being writings of Hector Boethius, Bu. entirely and repeatedly broken in chanan, Holingshed, &c. in Heyupon : yet, notwithstanding, it wood's Hierarchy of Angels, and in contains an infinity of beauties, the first book of Heylin's Cosmoboth with respect to language, graphy. The entire story at large, character, passion, and incident. however, collected from them all, The incantations of the witches is to be seen in a work, in three are equal, if not superior, to the volumes 12mo. entitled Shakspeare Canidia of Horace. The use this Illustrated, vol. i. The scene in author has made of Banquo's ghost, the end of the fourth act lies in towards heightening the already England. Through all the rest of heated imagination of Macbeth, is the play it is in Scotland, and inimitably fine. Lady Macbeth, chiefly at Macbeth's castle at In, discovering her own crimes in her verness.
M A C “ This play (says Dr. Johnson) " that of many others, has always “ is deservedly celebrated for the “ been lessened by a circumstance,
propriety of its fictions, and on which I would fain submit to “ solemnity, grandeur, and variety " the consideration of managers, "s of its action; but it has no nice "the introduction of a chorus « discriminations of character: the “ of witches much more numerous “events are too great to admit the “ than was intended by Shak“ influence of particular disposi- " speare. According to the ut« tions, and the course of the ac- most latitude allowed by any “tion necessarily determines the “construction of his play, the “ conduct of the agents.
“ number of these should not ex“ The danger of ambition is « ceed six ; and there is indeed « well described; and I know not “ much reason to believe, with " whether it may not be said, in “ Mr. Ritson, that Hecate should « defence of some parts which now « not have more than three visible “seem improbable, that in Shak- « attendants. The direction "En. “ speare's time it was necessary to " ter Hecate and the three other
warn credulity against vain and witches,' when there are already « illusive predictions.
“three upon the stage, is probably “The passions are directed to “ erroneous, no other three having " their true end. Lady Macbeth before been mentioned. As far “ is merely detested ; and though as relates to the witches, it ap“ the courage of Macbeth pre- pears to mean Manent; in the " serves some esteem, yet every “ way that in the printed copies “ reader rejoices at his fall.” ss of many plays, all the characters,
Mr. Harris, in his Philosophical “ who are to remain upon the Arrangements, observes of this
stage, areenumerated after every tragedy:
However this may “ It is not only admirable as a - be, the score, or more, of vo
poem; but is, perhaps, at the “ cal performers who are brought " same time one of the most moral “ on in russet cloaks, and drawn “pieces existing. It teaches us
in rank for full ten minutes “ the danger of venturing, though “ in front of the stage, are inve but for once, upon a capital « truders upon the scene of Shak• offence, by showing us that it speare, who well knew how his " is impossible to be wicked by “ illusions must be broken by a “ halves; and that we cannot • near and distinct view of many
stop; that we are in a manner “ real, substantial persons, in the “ compelled to proceed ; and yet or business of his incantations. is that, be the success as it may, • Their presence would be inju" we are sure in the event to be. o rious in such a scene, supposing “ come wretched and unhappy." “ it possible that a crowd of mere
An anonymous critic objects, hags could be collected to sing and we think justly, to the stage • as we wish them. As it is, they practice of a numerous chorus of 66 are fatal to the whole course of witches. After paying a tribute «ideas that should attend us in of praise to the chief characters, “ this part of the play. The men as performed by Mr. Kemble and “ are mostly comedians, as well Mrs. Siddons, he adds, “but my • as singers ; and, whatever they “ pleasure, and, I am persuaded, “may intend, their countenances, ,