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THE

PROVOKED WIFE;

A COMEDY,

IN FIVE ACTS;

BY SIR JOHN VANBRUGH.

AS PERFORMED AT THE

THEATRE ROYAL, COVENT GARDEN.

PRINTED UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THE MANAGER

FROM THE PRONPT BOOK,

WITH REMARKS

BY MRS, INCHBALD.

LONDON:

PRINTED FOR LONGMAN, HURST, REES, AND ORME,

PATERNOSTER ROW,

WILLIAM SAVAGE, PRINTER,

LONDON,

2

REMARKS.

PR

1243 I4 9

It is considered, by a most respectable critic, as a transgression against literature, that any of our best dramatic authors should be published with certain sentences or scenes omitted, though, in the original editions, they have degraded the moral purposes of the stage, and given to its enemies the only charge they could ever prefer against it.

Such a critic might as well quarrel with the modest actor, who refuses to utter indecorous sentiments, as with the conscientious editor, who will not print and publish them.

Such a critic might as well endeavour to recall every exploded licentiousness to the boards of an English theatre, and reproach a polished audience for not suffering his vicious taste to govern theirs.

Stripped, as in representation, of its rankest of fences—the best of its wit and humour only retained the present comedy had yet, perhaps, better-never be either seen or read. With its worst pages curtailed, too much that is bad still lingers behind.

There would be one instructive lesson contained in this work, from the contempt which every person in it has for the odious Sir John Brute, but that his wife is included amongst that rational number; and in a manner which holds out a dangerous example to her sex, by showing, that infidelity to a worthless husband, is but just revenge for the neglect, on his part, of nuptial vows, and conjugal endearments.

In a scene in the third act, where Constant uses some plausible arguments with Lady Brute, if there should be a female reader so deluded as to incline towards his opinion, that chastity is no virtue ; let her at least recollect, that it is most certainly--a grace. Desire of admiration will keep some women in the paths of rectitude, till mature understanding shall preserve them from ever going astray.

To praise the wit of this drama, is to recommend its most pernicious parts. But it is satisfactory to hope, that the author had consideration for the morals of the inferior classes of his audience, when he resolved to conceal some of his most exceptionable repartees in a foreign language.

The mistress of this detestable French woman has one trait of character, which elevates her above utter detestation-she appears to have a passion for Heartfree. This proves her to possess a mind superior to most persons, who are addicted to affectation-forthey generally love none but themselves. The extreme trouble of being affected, is the cheerful labour whichi they undergo for selfish remuneration ; and yet the only return they procure is ridicule and contempt.

Among the obsolete customs which here take placem-such as a gentleman smoking tobacco, and a lady insisting upon seeing her visitor down stairs-it is to be lamented, that the picture which Sir John gives of the life of a woman of fashion, should have so near a resemblance to the habits of the very same order of persons of the present age. It is some honour to the former period, that this frightful description was heard by the knight's auditors with infinite surprise! Perhaps, in these times, it would be difficult to raise wonder in the hearer, by a still more extravagant, though less unrefined, delineation of character from the same subject.

The admirers of Garrick speak with delight of his excellence in Sir John Brute--but surely, after having heard bim deliver, before a mixed audience of both sexes, some of the coarse wit in this play; and after having seen him disfigured and degraded in woman's clothes ; though still he might be admired as a performer, no gentleman could feel much respect for him as a friend or acquaintance.

Presbyterians, and other rigid sectaries, preached and wrote much against the evil tendency of dramatic amusements, at the time this drama was in fashion. They did right. When plays such as “ 'The Provoked Wife” are exhibited—it is charity to revile theatres.

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