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NOTE ON THE FORGERY.
THIS play should be received by our readers with in
dulgence. In the conception of the characters there is great force and originality; and the defects of the execution are really so trivial, that no candid mind will for a moment allow them to weigh against the true dramatic beauty which is impressed on the delineation of the characters. But what we would chiefly direct their attention to in this piece, is the old-fashioned, but true English, tone of the sentiment and language, which give to the composition more of the ancient flavor than many dramas of a more ambitious kind, written professedly on the models of our great masters of the stage.
We conceive that the grand object of the "Rejected Theatre" is to be principally attained by bringing the attention of our readers, as often as possible, to the consideration of the genuine characteristics of the English drama. On the Continent there are two classes of dramatic compositions-the German, and the French and Italian. We place the two latter in one class, because the regular drama of Italy exactly resembles that of France. In the German theatre there is a constant endeavour to elevate sensibility above reason: and the consequence is, that although the German tragedies display astonishing powers of fancy and feeling, they have a great deal of absurdity about them. The reverse of this is to be found in the tragedies of France and Italy. They exhibit powers of ratiocination quite as wonderful as the excessive sensibility of the Germans; but they are in due proportion inferior in point of feeling. The great French authors per
suade us to pity, and to become terrified; and the Italians, with only one exception besides Alfieri, do the same thing; while the Germans attempt to excite our sympathies at the expense of our understanding. In neither the one country or the other do we think the true principles of the tragic art are yet understood. The two theatres are founded on hypothetical notions; and while they profess to imitate the actions of men, they only perform the conceptions of philosophers.
The English stage is radically different from that of the two continental classes; and though none can admire Shakespeare more than we do, nor re-peruse his wonderful works with more increasing delight, it is not, we trust, saying too bold a thing, to assert that although the English have happened to strike into the proper path, they have not yet any right to arrogate to themselves the claim of decided superiority. During the whole of the last century they were truants from their own school, and imitators of the southern continental; they afterwards made a sudden and short transition to the northern; but it was less calculated to interest a reasoning and practical people, than that in which logic was more considered; and they have lately turned from it with disgust. Whether they will immediately resume their own proper path, time must determine; but the appearance of Mr. Kean on the stage of Drury-Lane is, we think, an auspicious event.
The characteristic of the true English stage is the imitation of the natural actions of men, and of the feeling and reasoning suggested by the circumstances in which they are placed. But our great dramas, those master-pieces of metaphysical discrimination, which are never seen but with renewed pleasure, nor read without augmenting our knowledge of the human heart, are often deficient in good taste, Imitation in them has been carried too far; and many impertinences are introduced, which, though perfectly natural,
are great blemishes, for they are not essential to the business of the piece; or, where they are so, might have been changed for others more consistent with the tone of the subject. Our great plays are like noble statues painted, they have received that which makes them offensive without improving the merits of their execution. The desideratum of the modern English drama (we are speaking of Tragedy) is that natural ease, force, and dignity of execution, which characterizes the works of the old masters, without the occasional buffoonery, and extraneous disquisitions, which are foreign to the business of the play, such as often disfigure the admirable com positions of Shakespeare.