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HARVARD UNIVERSITY

LIBRARY 42*223

EDITORIAL INTRODUCTION.

THE “Critic” was obviously suggested by the Duke of Buckingham's “ Rehearsal,” of which, indeed, it is a very palpable imitation. But in its adaptation to the stage, it is a great improvement on its clever prototype. Although many attempts have since been made in the same vein, it holds its place as the best “ dramatization” of the humors of the green-room and the coulisses. In his double capacity of Manager and Author, Sheridan had abundant opportunities for detecting many of those characteristic absurdities and unrehearsed stage-effects, which he has ingeniously introduced in this piece.

The character of Sir Fretful Plagiary is generally believed to have been intended for Cumberland, author of “ The West Indian,” and one or two more successful, and some dozen unsuccessful plays. The surmise is probably not unfounded. A day or two after the production of one of Sheridan's Comedies, it is said, a friend met the author, and told him he had seen Cumberland at the theatre on its representation. • Ah, well,” replied Sheridan, " what did he say to it ?" • He wasn't seen to smile from the beginning to the end of the Comedy," said the friend. “Come, now, that's very ungrateful of him," retorted Sheridan; “ for I went to see his tragedy the other evening, and laughed through the whole of it."

“Mr. Puff's history of the art and mystery of puffing," says a London theatrical critic, "v like Touchstone's several degrees of the lie, is humorous and legitimate satire. Sheridan, from his promiscuous and unrestrained intercourse with society, high and low, literary and illiterate, had a perfect knowledge of life in all its singular varieties, from the six-bottle bon vivant to the mere newspaper hack, who dives for a dinner. Our author took the hint of the auctioneers from Foote's farce of The Minor,' Foote having the original before him in the celebrated Lang

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ford,) which Morton, considering as fair game, has made excellent use of in Sir Abel Handy's scene with Farmer Ashfield, in the comedy of Speed the Plough.' Dangle and Sneer are introduced chiefly for the purpose of shewing up Sir Fretful and Puff. Dangle, who is said to have been intended for a Mr. Thomas Vaughan, author of The Hotel,' is one of those theatrical amateurs, who besiege a manager with impertinent flattery and gratuitous advice-one of those green-room loungers,

• Who for a play-house freedom sell their own ;' while Mr. Sneer is one of those carping characters, who inherit wit in the same degree with the ape,-he has just sufficient to make him mischievous. It would seem that The Critic' was intended as a good-humored advertisement to the tragedy-writers of that day, not to offer any more of their productions to the manager of Drury Lane. We have for some time past been wanting just such another seasonable hint to stop the importation of certain tragedies, the authors of which are gentlemen of very violent words with very timorous meanings ; who load their language with fustian and finery, to hide the poverty and nakedness of their sentiment.

“ It is impossible to conceive any thing in comedy finer than the original cast of The Critic.' Dodd, Parsons, Palmer, King, Bannister, and Miss Pope! Acting never went beyond Parsons in Sir Fretful. Farren is good---Matthews is better---but Parsons was supreme.

Tom King, as Puff, had an unceasing vivacity, a true comic spirit, a neat and rapid delivery---every word told. This attention to a clear and distinct enunciation made him one of the best prologue-speakers on the stage. King, to an unblushing effrontery, added considerable smartness and whim. In impudent, pragmatical varlets, he was unrivalled. Liston hardly came up to Bannister in Don Ferolo Whiskerandos. His acting was certainly inferior. But then Liston's countenancethe antipodes of tragedy-became a thousand times more comical from its outré association with daggers and blank verse. The very idea that Liston was going to be pathetic was enough to convulse an audience. We have seen him die in a very droll manner,—but his queer expostulation with Mr. Puff, that he couldn't stay dying all night,' was, perhaps, his most ludicrous effect. It was when Liston felt his dignity offended, and he endeavored to appear hurt, that he was most irresistible. Miss Pope, in Tilburina, never had an equal. Her ample hoop--her costume-(stark mad, in white satin !)--her love-lorn ravings were the tip-top of burlesque tragedy. Often have we been delighted with the humor of this exquisite actress, of whom Churchill so truly prophecied. Hers was a style, of which modern play-goers can have not the least idea. It was of the old school, the result of genius, study and observation. Mr. Fawcett's performance of Puff savors too much of his Caleb Quotem -he repeats the good things, as it were, by rote ; Mr. Jones is more of the author, who feels some anxiety for the success of his tragedy. He has a fidgety impatience about him, to which the peculiarity of his face and figure gives great effect. He looks like a gentleman who lives by his wits, and who seldom dines, but at other people's expense.

Of the history of his mendacious arts, we believe every word; we are certain, in this instance, that he is not telling us a lie ! We may here remark, that an actor of Moody's genius did not disdain the character of Lord Burleigh, in which

• More is meant than meets the ear :' but Moody could do more by a single shake of the head, than many who, in the present day, are accounted good comedians, can do by chattering and grinning for an hour

upon

the stretch." From this description will be seen of what consequence the smallest characters in this admirable farce were considered in the palmy days of the theatre. The starring system has broken up the old schools of acting; and now, in order to see a prominent part well played, we must be content to have all the others of a play indifferently represented. The Critic was first acted at Drury Lane in the year 1779; and it is always a favorite piece upon the American stage.

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Drury Lane, 1779. Arch, Phil., 1847. Park, 1847. Dangle Mr. Dodd.

Mr. C. Smith. Mr. Chanfrau. Palmer.

" J. C. Dunn. Sneer

Stark.
Parsons.
Sir Fretful Plagiary

Thayer.

Bass.
Phillimore.

Jervis.
Prompter....

Jones.
King:

G. Barrett.
Puf

G. Barrett. Mrs. Dangle Mrs. Hopkins.

Mrs. Rogers.

Miss Gordon.
Characters of the Tragedy.
Mr. Jervis.

Mr. Gallot.
Lord Burleigh....... Mr. Moody.

Greene. “ Wrighten.

Anderson.
Gov. of Tilbury Fort
Earl of Leicester....

Farren.
Wright.

A. Andrews.
Burton.

Eberle, Sir Walter Raleigh..

McDouall. Waldron.

Rae.
Sir Christ'r Hatton.

Matthews.
Kenny.
Warden.

Milot.
Master of the Horse

Wright.

Burke. Beefeater

“ Sprague. Whiskerandos..

Bannister.
Burton.

Fisher. Sentinel....

Heath.
Stewart.

Heath.
First Niece...
Miss Collet.
Mrs. Dunn.

Miss Flynn. Second Niece. “ Kerby:

Ribas.

Mrs. Burrows. Confidant.. Mrs. Bradshaw. “ Hughes.

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" Dyott. Tilburina. Miss Pope.

Greene.

Vernon.

COSTUMES. DANGLE.-Blue coat, white waistcoat, black pantaloons, black silk stockings, and

pumps. SNEER.-Blue coat, waistcoat, and breeches, ditto silk stockings, pumps and

latchets, and cocked hat. SIR FRETFUL PLAGIARY.-Brown coat, with steel buttons, embroidered satin waistcoat, brown breeches, white silk stockings, shoes, huckles, powdered wig and

tail, three-cornered hat, lace frill, ruffles, and gloves. PUFF.-Blue coat, white waistcoat, black pantaloons, black silk stockings, pumps, gloves, and cocked hat.

Characters of the Tragedy. LORD BURLEIGH.-Dark velvet old English dress, with trunks, cloak, and hat

with feathers, red stockings, and russet shoes. GOVERNOR OF TILBURY FORT.-Crimson velvet robe, body, and trunks, rich

ly spangled, crimson stockings, russet boots, hat and feathers, sword, belt, and

gauntlets. EARL OF LEICESTER.--Blue or purple velvet body, trunks, and cloak, blue

stockings, russet shoes, sword, hat and feathers, and gauntlets. SIR WALTER RALEIGH.-Brown velvet shape, with cloak, red stockings, rus

set shoes, hat and feathers, sword, belt, gauntlets, ruff, &c. SIR CHRISTOPHER HATTON.--Light blue shape, cloak and belt, hat and fea

thers, blue stockings, shoes, ruff, and gauntlets. MASTER OF THE HORSE.-Grey shape, blue stockings, cloak, hat and fea

thers, sword, belt, gauntlets, and russet shoes. BEEFEATER.-Dark velvet shape, yeoman-of-the-guard's coat over, red stock

ings, russet shoes, round, flat, black velvet hat and ribbons, and large ruff. WHISKERANDOS.-Black velvet body and trunks, with white silk puffs, and sil

ver buttons, large ruff, white shoes with red ribbons, cross-belt and sword, sugarloaf hat, and large plume of various culoured feathers, and ruffles. MRS. DANGLE. -Neat white muslin morning dress. TILBURINA.-Brocade silk dress, with hoops, elbow sleeves, with lace ruffles, dress

open in front, showing white satin richly embroidered petticoat, jewelled stomacher, gloves, and large fan, Queen Elizabeth's frill, crimson satin high-heeled shoes, embroidered, full-powdered head-dress ornamented with lace, lappets, and jewels.

Second dress: White satin, white shoee, &c. CONFIDANT-Old satin hooped dress of silk, powdered head-dress, with lappets,

high-heeled sboes, &c. NIECES.-Crimson and green satin robes, white satin dresses, richly spangled, and

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