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WITH THE STAGE BUSINESS, CAST OF CHARACTERS, COS.

TUMES, RELATIVE POSITIONS, &c.

NEW YORK:

BERFORD & CO., No. 2 ASTOR HOUSE.

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EDITORIAL INTRODUCTION.

This play was quite unsuccessful on its first representation, which took place at Covent Garden in 1796. The author attributed its failure to the apathy and inattention of John Philip Kemble, who is said to have walked through the part of Sir Edward Mortimer without an effort to impart to it that tragic effect, of which it is undoubtedly capable. By way of revenging himself upon the actor, Mr. Colman wrote a vituperativo and sarcastic preface, in which he gave full expression to his discontent; but he lived to repent this hasty ebullition of bad temper, and tried to suppress the edition of his play, which contained it—an effort which he found rather difficult to accomplish.

It seems to be admitted that Kemble did not come up to his usual standard of excellence in his performance of Sir Edward. He was indisposed at the time, and perhaps did not enter into the spirit of the character with sufficient promptitude of appreciation. But what probably contributed more than his inefficiency to the bad reception of the play, was the immoderate length of the part of the garrulous old man, Adam Winterton, which even the congenial talents of Dodd could not save from becoming wearisome. This fault has since been rectified.

The play was originally produced, with appropriate music, by Stephen Storace, a composer, who had been educated in the reformed Italian school at the close of the last century, and whose models of style were the works of Pacini, Sacchini, and Paesiello. He possessed a strong and capacious mind, was well versed in literature, aud, like Mozart, was, when a boy, distinguished for his powers of calculation. Sheridan is said to have once remarked of Storace, that had he been bred to the law be must have become Lord Chancellor. His health was

always delicate, and he died in consequence of his exertions in bringing out this play of “ The Iron Chest,” in the success of which he had become much interested. 6. On the first rehearsal,” says Kelly, “though labouring under a severe attack of gout and fever, after having been confined to his bed for many days, he insisted on being wrapped up in blankets, and carried in a sedan chair to the cold stage of the play-house. The entreaties, and prayers of his family were of no avail-go he would; he went, and remained to the end of the rehearsal. He returned to his bed, whence he never rose again." He died on the 19th of March, 1795, in the thirty-third year of his age.

Undaunted by a first failure, Colman reproduced The Iron Chest'' at his own theatre, in the Haymarket. Mr. Elliston,

then a young

and aspiring actor, was the hero; and on this occasion the tables were turned in favour of the author and the play. The audience were vehement in their applause. Mr. Rae afterwards became a favourite in the character of Sir Ed. ward ; and at length Edmund Kean achieved a joint triumph for himself and Colman. A true interpreter of the author's conception was found in him; and the play was revived often with marked success. Mr. Charles Kean's personation of the same part is spirited and bold ; and with Mrs. Kean as Wilford, he has frequently performed it to the satisfaction and pleasure of American audiences. The plot of the “ Iron Chest” is partially founded upon

the well-known novel of “Caleb Williams,” by Godwin ; the character of Sir Edward corresponding to that of Falkland in the latter. Mr. Colman has, we think, made the most of his materials, and produced a play, which, if it does not rank among the first of a similar class, has that dramatic merit, which will keep it long from sinking into abandonment.

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