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This opera is the production of the author of “ Love in a Village,” and many other popular works.
In his dedication of “ The Maid of the Mill” to his Royal Highness, William, the late Duke of Gloucester, the writer has endeavoured to vindicate the just claim of comic operas to be acknowledged for a junior offspring of the drama; and founds his argument upon the entertainment they give, the relief they afford to tragedies and comedies, and the example of the theatres in France, where, he boldly asserts, that “ the stage has been cultivated with more care and success than in any other country.”
The reader of this opera will observe, before he has proceeded far in the book, that the fable is taken from Richardson's famous novel of “ Pamela." Characters and incidents are likewise borrowed from that well-known story, with the mere addition of a little dramatic art.
Ralph, and his vagrant companions, seem, indeed, exempt from this imitation, and to be creatures of the author's own imagination : but their origin is also from Richardson; forin the novel, Goodman Andrews is said to have once had an idle son; and there is a
trifling event in the latter part of that work, which, no doubt, gave birth to the introduction of the gipsies in this.
The love of Parson Williams for Pamela is here transferred to that of Farmer Giles for Patty: which causes the same degree of jealousy in Lord Aimworth, as it had before done in Mr B- ; and the young lady of quality, to whom that gentleman was going to be married, through the persuasion of his sister, is ingeniously transformed into Theodosia—whose father and mother, somewhat irregularly, seem to derivė their existence from her, yet to form a very natural and entertaining, though not a very elegant, part of the Drama.
Whether the catastrophe of the romance of “ Pamela,” and that of “ The Maid of the Mill," considered as a moral, be likely to produce good or ill consequences, may possibly admit of some dispute; for, though it, most laudably, teaches man' to marry where his heart is fixed, it unfortunately encourages woman to fix hers where ambition alone may direct her choice; or where, sometimes, her hopes ought never to aspire.
The original equalizing occurrence, which takes place at the conclusion of Richardson's novel, was the delight of every reader at the time that book was first published, and for some years after ; but when admiration began to abate, ridicule was substituted in its stead; and a marriage for love, contracted by 'a man of quality, with his inferior in birth and fortune, was, with poor Pamela's preferment, held in the highest contempt.
Of late years, the English nation has again changed its sentiments; and the vast number of women elevated to high rank in this kingdom, since the French revolution took place, might almost draw upon their husbands the vulgar charge of jacobinism.-But love was among the passions let loose on that tremendous event, and perhaps the only one which has yet made its way, and triumphs, here.
This opera was first acted in 1765, and was most favourably received. · Richardson, though no dramatist, has furnished materials for favourite dramas, in his Pamela, to almost every nation in Europe. In Italy and France particularly, several writers, of the first eminence, have chosen this novel for the subject of various theatrical exhibitions.
Mr. Trueman. FAIRFIELD
Mr. Aickin. FARMER GILES Mr. Sedgwick. GIPSY
Mrs. Martyr. Miss Leak. Mrs. Clendining Miss Stephens. Mrs. Mountain. Mrs. Walcot.
Mrs. Davenport. Mrs. Chippendale.