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The Dramatic Observer.
that he possesses powers of a more nervous character, and we were altogether delighted with his personification of the Duke. There is a mingled sensibility and parental austerity in this part which are difficult to be softened down to a natural and pleasing picture. As we had not seen Mr. M'Cready in this character, we cannot offer a comparison; but we are disposed to think that, however his genius might give additional interest to the character, there were some passages in which Mr. Young could not have been excelled. There is a rise and fall in Mr. Young's tones which he sometimes throws into recitation for which it is quite unfit-we do not remember that it has been used by any performer but himself. In his first scene with Isadora he introduced it frequently, and of course often where it was quite unsuitable. Of Mr. Warde's acting in this piece we cannot speak too highly: his broken-hearted appearance on meeting Isadora-his unreproaching wretchedness in the first scene with the Duke were excellent; and his first exit was given with great dignity and effect. Mr. Cobham and Mrs. Vaughan were thrown into shade by the poverty of the characters allotted to them. The former cannot divest himself of that mannerism which distorts his boldest attempts, and gives a sameness to the best acting of which he is capable. But even with this fault he is a favorite. Miss Kelly's Isadora, although not so conspicuous a character as it ought to be, was successful-her best scene was that in which she meets Guido. As we have mentioned Mr. M'Cready's name, it may not be out of place to observe that his efforts to re-establish the ancient school of dramatic composition, are deserving of mnch praise. He has lately revived Shakespeare's Play of "Richard III." adopting nothing of Garrick's or Colman's emendations but one or two striking points. "Virginius," and "Mirandola," both produced under his auspices, are of this character.
"The Warlock of the Glen," a Melo Drama, and "Therese, or the Orphan of Geneva," have been lately produced. The former is puerile and common place-the latter well written and interesting. The plot of the Warlock is as follows:
Clanronald, (Laird of Glencairn) (Mr. Armstrong,) attempted the murder of his brother, the late Laird, which, however, did not prove successful, the ruffian employed to commit the act having granted life to his victim on condition of his secreting himself, and never appearing at the Castle. Clanronald understanding from his accomplice that his brother is dead, takes possession of the Castle :-the only impediment to his ambition now remaining is Adelbert, (Miss Downes.) the infant heir, who with his mother, Adela, (Mrs. Vaughan,) are still at Glencairn. Clanronald endeavours to force Adela into a marriage in order to secure his own safety, and attempts to murder Adelbert. We have a variety of escapes, and pursuits, and rescues, &c,-amongst others, Adela and her child are preserved while flying from the cruel Clanronald, by the kindness of a fisherman-she is next saved by Matthew, the Warlock of the Glen, Mr. Hamerton.) who it would appear is omnipresent, for wherever danger is, there is Matthew. To be brief, this Warlock is her husband, who has lived several years in a cave near the Castle
The Dramatic Observer.
the person, to whom he had pledged himself to remain concealed, has just died, and he is exonerated from his promise-he takes the earliest advantage of this-appears in the Castle at the moment Clanronald is forcing Adela into marriage, and rescues his wife and child. Of course, the piece ends in the total downfall of Clanronald.
The plot of "Therese" is simple and interesting. The Baroness Deligne having been privately married, educates her daughter as an orphan-she dies and leaves her whole estate to Therese, (Miss S. Booth)
this excites suspicions, and Therese is accused of having forged the will-Carwin, an advocate, (Mr. Warde,) undertakes her defence-he proves unsuccessful, and she is condemned. Therese is ignorant of her real parentage, and considers herself an orphan-she flies-and finds shelter in the Castle of the Countess De Morville, (Mrs. Vaughan) under a feigned name; the young Count, (Mr. Hamerton,) becomes her admirer. In the mean time, Carwin follows and discovers her-he has the proofs of her innocence in his possession, which he refuses to produce unless she consents to marry him-this she firmly refuses— his object is to obtain the estates, which he would secure by a marrriage with Therese. She flies from the Castle to evade him, and is received in the cottage of Lavigne, a farmer, (Mr. W. Farren;) Carwin pursues her even here, and determines to murder her in order to obtain the property. The Countess occupies the room where Therese was to have slept-Carwin enters the Pavillion with a drawn dagger, and mistaking the Countess for his victim, perpetrates the murder-at that moment the chateau is fired by lightening-Carwin escapes-Therese rushes into the flames to save her benefactress, and finds the dagger; she is discovered and accused of the murder-Carwin however, is taken, and after undergoing a trial is led to acknowledge his guilt by an ingenious deception-he is desired to look at the dead body-the folding doors are thrown open, and Therese appears with the bloody daggerthe murderer is overcome, and confesses. Therese is declared innocent and restored to her lover.
We regret that our want of space prevents us from noticing fully Mr. W. Farren and Miss Brunton. Lord Ogleby, Sir Peter Teazle and a few more have no representative but this gentleman, and Miss Brunton is extremely interesting, and in many characters equals our most sanguine expectations.
"Conscience"-a new Tragedy; "The Agent and the Absentee," a Comedy, by a gentleman of this city; "The Vampyre," a Melo Drama (in consequence of the preparations for which "Aladdin" has at length been withdrawn, having had a run of nineteen nights,) and "The Miller and his men" are all in rehearsal. They shall be noticed next month.
We have to apologize to our dramatic readers for the abruptness and brevity of our theatrical register this month-the number of other articles to which we were obliged to give insertion must be our apology.
PROPOSED NEW READINGS IN HAMLET, OTHELLO AND DOUGLAS.
To the Editor of the Dublin Inquisitor.
THE want of perspicuity, the attainment of which should be the main object in all literary composition, is no where so much to be lamented as in the old writers. The beauties of sentiment, and the correctness of expression, are overwhelmed in verbose, and sometimes unmeaning bombast; and when we would investigate this, we are led imperceptibly into a variety of tropes and metaphors, that lose themselves in the singularity and diversity of their application. Had these errors remained unnoticed in the confusion of their original punctuation and position, we should, perhaps, have been unacquainted with many of the ancient poets; or have pondered over their labors with the dull, prosing attention of school-boys, who hum a lesson to get rid of it; but men of critical discernment and extensive erudition, perceiving the danger of suffering so much brilliancy to lie hidden under the unnatural garb that was thrown round it, undertook the task of cleansing the stable, and finally succeeded in discarding all that they disapproved, and purifying all that seemed worthy of preservation.
Among those whose critical awards have been eminently useful to the world, may be justly ranked the commentators and annotators of Shakspeare and other English dramatic writers. Mr. Garrick adapted many of Shakespeare's plays to the stage, by altering and lopping off every inconsistency 2 U
VOL. I.-NO. V.
Proposed New Readings in Hamlet, Othello and Douglas.
or redundancy; he went farther, for he formed dramas by tacking passages of different plays into a regular series of five acts. The present Richard III. is a melange from Henry VI. the original Richard, and other of Shakespeare's historical dramas; Macbeth has been bandied from the poet to the musician; the Comedy of Errors has been changed into an Opera; and the Tempest, as it is acted, is any thing but the Tempest, as it was written. I must own I have always admired, I might say envied, the genius that could thus improve beauties, and detect errors in what was so excellent; and while I have indulged in meditation over the researches of Johnson and Malone, who, in the fervor of their study, have devoted whole pages to the significance and etymology of single words, and the indirect allusions of abstract passages, I have almost fired my own imagination into an effort to imitate their successful strides towards the attainment of intelligence, and the extermination of misconception. But that for which I principally praise those ingenious censors, is their talent for altering the original punctuation of the author, and consequently moulding his meaning into whatever form they choose it to assume-bringing forward proofs which never would have occurred to the reader, to shew that they have but reduced it to what was intended by the writer. This particularly fastened upon my attention, and it may perhaps surprise you when I affirm that I have actually devoted some years of my life to Massinger, Ben Jonson, Shakespeare, and some of the more modern dramatists, with no other object in view than that of fixing their punctuation. When I differ from the text I assign my reasons in the margin, always taking care to avoid the use of obsolete phrases in my explanations, and rarely indulging in many words, except where I have proposed something so very new as to require a defence.
As you, Mr. Editor, must be a person of taste and acquirements, I will send you now and then, as leisure permits, a few of my annotations. But I would wish to warn you against the admission of prejudice: for if you come to the perusal with a mind full of enthusiasm in favor of the old style, you will not relish one single observation I shall send you. If you have been accustomed to consider "Othello” as the most perfect drama in the language, and I shall so change the passages as to make them surrender what you looked on as their perfections, I beg you will attend with patience to my reasons, and forbear to condemn me until
Proposed New Readings in Hamlet, Othello and Douglas.
you obtain the opinion of the public, whom you must allow to be the best judges. Having opened my intentions to you, I will now give you a specimen or two of what I have done. In the tragedy of Hamlet," I have discovered anachronisms and absurdities, independently of beauties, which had escaped the critical acumen of former commentators. The first line of the celebrated soliloquy
"To be or not to be-that is the question- "
contains an allusion which has been hitherto unnoticed; it at once elucidates that period of Danish history, and throws out Hamlet's attainments to considerable advantage. I have prefixed an asterisk to the word question in the text, to which I have subjoined the following note: "In the age in which Hamlet lived, polite education was making so rapid a progress, that public seminaries were become general and almost indispensable for the instruction of youth. Here the masters retained the method pursued by the old druids, and started themes, of which the discussion expanded the minds of their pupils, by leading them into thought and reflection, and gave them a method of analyzing every subject that afterwards came under their consideration. This habit is so impressed on Hamlet's mind, that when he begins to meditate, he throws his ideas into the regular form to which he was accustomed and having commenced
"To be or not to be
that is the question
otherwise, that is the theme which I am to consider and revolve. This trifle throws a light upon their history which our commentators have overlooked, and which every man of discernment will view as I do.
Again Hamlet coming in to meet the ghost of his father, says, as he enters,
"The air bites shrewdly-it is nipping cold."
now, no common understanding could sanction this reading; shrewdly imports slily or cunningly, and to suppose that the air bites slily or cunningly is so absurd that it is useless to comment upon it-Shakespeare never committed so gross a violation of sense, and I would reseue his memory from the imputation, or, as he says himself, I would "reform it alto