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A HISTORICAL PLAY,
IN FIVE ACTS;
BY WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE.
AS PERFORMED AT THE
THEATRE ROYAL, COVENT GARDEN.
PRINTED UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THE MANAGERS
FROM THE PROMPT BOOK.
BY MRS. INCHBALD.
PRINTED FOR LONGMAN, HURST, REES, AND ORME,
This tragedy is one amongst Shakspeare's dramas, which requires, in representation, such eminent powers of acting, that it is scarcely ever brought upon the stage, but when a theatre has to boast of performers highly gifted in their art.
The part of King John is held most difficult to perform. John is no hero, and yet he is a murdererhis best actions are debased by meanness, deceit, or cowardice, and yet he is a king. Here is then to be pourtrayed, thirst of blood, without thirst of fame; and dignity of person, with a groveling mind.
Garrick was so little satisfied with his own performance of this character, that, after playing it with cold approbation from the audience, he changed it for the illegitimate Faulconbridge; where nature forced him to oppose the author's meaning by a diminutive person, though art did all its wonders in his favour.
The genius of Kemble gleams terrific through the gloomy John. No auditor can hear him call for his
Kingdom's rivers to take their course
“ Through his burn'd bosom," and not feel for that moment parched with a scorching fever.