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1736, and received most favourably-it then was with drawn from the stage till about the year 1782, when Colman the elder revived it at his theatre during the
Mr. Colman was a warm admirer of Lillo's works, and of this play in particular. He caused it to rehearsed with infinite care; and, from the reception of the two first acts, and part of the third, he had the hope that it would become extremely popular—but, on the performance of a scene which followed soon after, a certain horror seized the audience, and was manifested by a kind of stifled scream.
After having shuddered at this tragedy, even as a fiction, it is dreadful to be told,--that the most horrid event which here takes place, is merely the representation of a fact which occurred at a village on the western coast of England.
That the direful circumstance thus brought upon the stage 'might probably occur, is the great hold which it has upon the heart ;-had probability been violated, that powerful force would have failed—but Lillo is an author whose characters are such as inhabit the world, and do not reside merely in romances.
Fielding, another copyist of nature, says of the play, in his prologue :
“ No fustian hero rages here to-night; - No armies fall to fix a tyrant's right : " From lower life we draw our scene's distress : " Let not your equals move your pity less."
DRURY-LANE. HAYMARKET. OLD WILMOT Mr. Kemble. Mr. Bensley. YOUNG WILMOT Mr.Barrymore. Mr. Palmer. EUSTACE
Mr. Trueman. Mr. R. Palmer. RANDAL
Mr. C. Kemble. Mr. Bannister jun.
Miss Sherry. Mrs. Bulkeley. Miss Hooke.
SCENE-Penryn, in Cornwall.
ACT THE FIRST.
Old WILMOT alone. 0. Wilm. The day is far advanc'd. The cheerful
Pursues with vigour his repeated course :
his influence sustains
brightness. Yet man, of jarring elements compos'd, Who posts from change to change, from the first hour Of his frail being to his dissolution, Enjoys the sad prerogative above him, To think, and to be wretched! What is life To him that's born to die! Or, what the wisdom, whose perfection ends In knowing, we know nothing? Mere contradiction all! A tragic farce,
Tedious, though short, elab'rate without art,
Rand. Not out of Penryn, sir; but to the strand, To hear what news from Falmouth, since the storm Of wind last night.
0. Wilm. It was a dreadful one.
Rand. Some found it so. A noble ship from India
0. Wilm. What came of those on board her ?
0. Wilm. They are past the fear
Who, that had reason, soul, or sense, would bear it
Rand. Fifteen years.
me, To wait upon your son, my
young master, I oft have wish'd I'd gone to India with him, Though you, desponding, give him o'er for lost.
[OLD Wilmot wipes his Eyes, I am to blame: this talk revives your sorrow For his long absence.
0. Wilm. That cannot be reviv'd Which never died.
Rand. The whole of my intent Was to confess your bounty, that supplied The loss of both my parents : I was long The object of your charitable care. 0. Wilm. No more of that: Thou'st serv'd me
longer since Without reward ; so that account is balanced, Or, rather, I'm the debtor. I remember, When Poverty began to show her face Within these walls, and all my other servants, Like pamper'd vermin from a falling house, Retreated with the plunder they had gain'd, And left me, too indulgent and remiss For such ungrateful wretches, to be crush'd Beneath the ruin they had help'd to make, That you, more good than wise, refus’d to leave me.
Rand. May, I beseech you, sir !
0. Wilm. With my distress,