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TO THE THIRD EDITION.
An impersea hint towards the Fable of the following Tragedy, was taken from the Legend of St. Genevieve written originally in French, and tran lated into English about an hundred years ago by Sir William Lower. The first sketch of it, consisting then of Three Aéts only, was shewn to Mr. Pope two or three years before his death, who inform'd me that in his very early youth, he had attempted a Tragedy on the same subječt, which he afterwards destroy'd ; and he advised me to extend my plan to Five Aéts.
It lay by me, however, for some years, before I pursu'd it; discourag’d by the appreheasion of failing in the attempt : but happening at last to discover a method of altering and extending it, I resum'd my design; and as leisure from my other avocations permitted, have brought it to its present state.
I cannot omit this opportunity of repeating my acknowledgments to the Public for the continuance of their candid reception to these imperfect scenes. The Performers also are entitled to my thanks, for their diligent application to their respective parts, and for their just and forcible manner of representing them.
I have endeavoured in this thirdt edition to avail myself of tvery material objection that hath come to my knowledge, as far
† Printed in 1759.
as I could do so without totally altering the fable; not indeed with the vain hope of producing at last a faultless piece, but in order to render it in some degree less unworthy of that indulgence with which it has been honour’d. I have only to add, that if it should be acted another season, I could wish it might be studied from the present copy, as I hope it is not only more correct, but somewhat improved.
This Play, the produćtion of one of the greatest protectors of letters in others, and a man of no mean powers himself, is built in part upon the old French legend of St. GENevieve.
Dodsley offered it to GARRick, but the manager declined it for a cause to him sufficient—it contained no character expressly suited to his own great powers.
To the other house, therefore, it was taken, and in 1758 acted with universal applause. Miss BelLAMY sustained the trying character of the principal, and in the conclusive scenes of maternal agony over her murdered child harrowed the hearts of the audience with powers then at their height, and by many conceived of the highest excellence.
The whole of this Drama is chastely written; with no aim after decorative pomp, or figurative anguish. NATURE presides over the whole, and dićtates through a tender mind every sentiment of CleoNE.
The distress is perhaps too horrible for female minds to bear; – the maternal feelings are those which vibrate with the greatest keenness of sensation.
Spoken by Mr. Ross.
"TWAS once the mode in glorious war to wage
Deny’d by Fate through classic fields to stray,