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This is the dramatic history of the Earl of Warwick; whose exploits as a soldier, and intrigues as a politician, obtained him a second title from the populace-a title, at this time, recognised by all Christendom, in the person of another warrior. Warwick was called—“ 'The Setter-up and Puller-down of Kings."
By some, this appellation' was meant as an honour; by others, as a reproach-to Warwick: but as, in the distribution of thrones, he never showed a wish to secure one for himself, it may fairly be supposed that he conscientiously gave the royal sceptre into that hand, which he hoped and believed best could wield it; his latent self love pointing out to him, alternately, that candidate as most worthy of the crown, who most revered his power and dignity.
In this tragedy, the youthful, gay, and gallant Edward the Fourth, is, for the first and the last time, brought upon the stage in person; though a wellknown character, by description, in some of our best English dramas.
Edward is excellently described in the play of " Jane Shore," as her betrayer, and doting lover. In
“ Richard the Third,” he is depicted as a dying king, and the beloved husband of this very
Elizabeth, for whom, in this tragedy, he sighs; and whose power over his heart, caused the resentment of his friend, the Earl of Warwick; and, of conscquence, the loss of his throne, till that great man chose to be appeased.
The reader will probably have a much higher respect for the charms of the Lady Elizabeth Grey, here celebrated, and of her whole character, by keeping in his recollection, that she was afterwards the afflicted mother of the two young princes, murdered in the Tower; and the mother-in-law of Richmond, afterwards Henry the Seventh.
The famed Margaret of Anjou, wife of Henry the Sixth, here portrayed, was the daughter of René of Anjou, King of Sicily: and, all heroine as she was, in heading whole armies to fight her captive husband's battles, her prowess in the field was far less eminent than that of the female general, her iminediate precursor:-Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans, acted her military feats in the early part of the reign of Henry the Sixth; and Joan's and Margaret's achievements in arms, might have taught the Earl of Warwick less vain glory in his martial deeds.
The character of Margaret is so well drawn in this play, that, by the dignified exertions of Mrs. Yates, who first appeared in the part, the play had a very favourable reception.
A mistake occurred during the rehearsal of this drama, which proves the deception to which dramatic writers, managers of theatres, and the actors, are frequently liable.—Every one of the before named experienced persons, who were concerned in the tragedy of the “ Earl of Warwick," condoled with Mrs. Yates, before the piece was brought forth, on her having to represent a part in it of such ferocious mind and manners, as would infallibly be hateful to every auditor. The event proved otherwise; and Margaret of Anjou was the favourite character of the public, the sole upholder of the play in its long attraction, and obscured, with her brilliancy, both Warwick and the King, although the iwo most admired actors of the theatre, Holland and Powell, represented those parts.
This tragedy is a translation from the French play of the same name, by the famous De La Harpe, who died since the French revolution. It was first acted in Paris in the year 1764; and was brought on the stage in this country in 1767, by Dr. Thomas Franklin, called the Grecian, from his learning.
The original writer did wrong by inventing, but the translator, as an Englishman, has done worse in adopting, an historical falsehood introduced at the catastrophe of this play. The famed Earl of Warwick was slain at the battle of Barnet; which being a circumstance more likely to be forgotten, than that Richard the Third was killed in Bosworth field; it ought to have been held peculiarly sacred by the poet, as a recorded truth, which, by fictitious colouring, might easily be effaced from the memory of the young.
To those who love that long disputed subject of kingly prerogative, and the privileges of the people, some scenes between Edward and the Earl of Warwick, may give high amusement: and may possibly fix their wavering opinions—upon which ever side they chance to be inclining.