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goods to the Play-house, when Roscius, a Player, enters, and, on their inveighing against plays, requests them to stop to see a representation. These form a sort of Chorus. Comedy, Tragedy, Mime and Satire enter, and assert their respective claims; and, after some contention, it is agreed that they shall co-operate. This constitutes the first act. The second, third and fourth acts, are made out by the extremes of each virtue entering and displaying their characters, as Colas, Flattery, and Dyscolus, Peevishness, or Impertinent-Distaste, the extremes of Comitas, or Courtesy.
These characters are in general very well drawn, and afford very useful instructions. Flattery remains on the stage, and becomes as it were one of the Chorus with Roscius and the others, and plays off the different Vices, or extremes of virtues, and persuades them all in their turns to go to see The Looking-glass which is within. In the fifth act the Golden Mediocrity appears; and, after stating her own excellencies, introduces the Virtues, with which Bird and Flowerdew are captivated. They also go to look in the Glass, and return saying : « Flower'der. This ignoran
rance even diakes religion sin, “ Sets zeal upon the rack, and stretches her “ Beyond her length-most blessed looking-glass, “ That didst instruct my blinded eyes to-day, " I might have gone to hell the narrow way!
“ Bird. Hereafter I will visit coinedies, “ And see them oft, they are good exercises !. " I'll teach devotion now a milder temper, " Not that it shall lose any of her heat “ Or purity, but henceforth shall be such " Asshall burn bright, although not blaze so much.
[Exeunt." An Epilogue is spoken by Roscius.
From this slight sketch of the piece the reader will perceive that there is a mixture of the heathen mythology in it, to which I, of course, object; and that the piece is not a representation of real, or probable, life. Yet it is a pleasing performance on the whole, and might I think be rendered fit for representation. Bishop Hurd, in his Dissertation on the Provinces of the Drama, in the second volume of his Horace (5th Edn. p. 189.) ceusures this Comedy for representing characters of abstract ideas: " if the reader would see the extravagance of « building dramatic manners on abstract ideas, in its “ full light, he needs only turn to B. Jonson's Every
man out of his humour ; which, under the name of a
play of character, is in fact an unnatural, and, as the “ painters call it, hard delineation of a group of simply “ existing passions, wholly chimerical, and unlike to
any thing we observe in the commerce of real life. “ Yet this comedy has always had its admirers. And
Randolph, in particular, was so taken with the design, that he seems to have formed his muses' lookingglass in express imitation of it.”
In these sentiments I agree; but I apprehend it is not on this account that the play is admired, but for the excellent writing and the instruction contained in it; and I think it might be altered so, as very much to do away this fault. Roscius, the manager of the play-house, might concert his plan with the performers, and when the puritanical trades-people come to the house, might prevail upon them to remain to see a rehearsal, and the characters of a Flatterer, A Peedish Person, &c. &c. might be represented before them. This piece has been altered in three Acts, by llenry Dell, 8vo. 1757. But I have not seen it. It was also republished in 12mo, in 1706 with a prefatory epistle addressed to Jeremy Collier, with a second title, The Stage Reviv'd, I suppose to shew Collier that the stage could be moral and instructive. But this edition, also, I have not seen. Collier might certainly, even in this play, have found passages which deserve reprehension, or at least require now to be expunged.
I find, from Egerton, that a Dramatic Entertainment, called 6 The Muses Looking-Glass," taken from Ran-dolph, was acted at Covent Garden, in 1748, but was not printed.
I have lately had a work lent me called The Wundering Patentee; or, a History of the Yorkshire Theatres,
from 1770 to the present time, (1795,) written by Tate Wilkinson, the manager of the York company. It is in 4 vols. 12mo. I have not had leisure to read much of it, though it seems, as I have occasionally looked into it, to contain some curious matter. The purpose for which I wanted to see it will be seen in my General Preface. In the second volume of this work (p. 105, 127.) Mr. W. says, that, in the year 1781, he produced two Theatrical Fétes, consisting of selections from different plays. In the second of these he introduced (in two Acts) THE Muses' LOOKING-GLASS. (Written in 1615, * and now altered and adapted to the present age.) lle gives the speech of Mediocrity, and then adds,“ Let me suggest, is that were Mrs. Siddons to recite (and act) the speech
of”_" Mediocrity, she would rouse the faculties of eyes and ears, and (if I may be allowed the expression)
would infuse a mind where there was none before; and “ by her matchless powers, would”—“ make the sense« less sensible. Mr. Kemble to play Roscius, would “ certainly make that piece (well decorated, &c.) a « feast of reason for the eye and the ear of every suscep
tible, unbiassed auditor.”
Butto quit Randolph's Muses' Looking-glass in the theatre at Black Friars, and return to Dodsley's ToyShop.
The Author himself at the beginning of his Essay on Fable, has stated his idea of what ought to be the object of every one in writing : “ Whoever undertakes to com« moral or prudential maxim. To this point the com6 position in all its parts must be directed; and this will: " lead him to describe some action proper to enforce the " maxim he has chosen. In several respects therefore the
pose a fable, whether of the sublimer and more com6 plex kind, as the epick and the dramatick; or of the “ lower and more simple, as what has been called the “ Esopean; must first endeavour to illustrate some one
* This appears to be a mistake. It was first published in 4to at Oxford in 1638. It certainly might have been written before, but in 3615, he was not above ten or perhaps eight years of age. Eger
“ He died in March, 1634 ; aged not quite 30 years.". But in the frontispiece to the edition of his Poems printed at London in 1664, which is called the 5th Edn. it is said « Obiit Anno 1634. Ætatis suæ 27.”
greater fable and the less agree. It is the business of « both to teach some particular moral, exemplify'd by
an action, and this enlivened by natural incidents. 56 Both alike must be supported by apposite and proper 66 characters, and both be furnished with sentiments and " language suitable to the characters thus employed.”
It is not always that a teacher acts up to the precepts he inculcates, but it was truly so with Dodsley in this respect. Of five afterpieces which he brought upon the stage, four of them I consider as worthy of preservation, on account of their moral tendency and beautiful simplicity. Three of them I have all along intended for this publication, The Toy-Shop, The King and The Miller of Mansfield, and Sir John Cockle at Court, which, though not announced in my Proposals, I intended to include under the former head. I have added The Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green, as the volume I perceive will well admit it, and in order to give Dodsley's pieces together. His “ Triumph of Peace” I have not been able
The Toy-Shop is, to my judgment, one of the most pleasing afterpieces with which I am acquainted. The plot (if such it may be called) is extremely simple, yet sufficiently interesting, and the satire is in general just and chaste. The piece has required but little alteration. Some of the satire seemed to be too sweeping or general, and some few passages, according to the strictness of decency, and a serious regard for sacred things, required to be omitted. This done, a great deal of moral instruction may be gained from it, delivered in a very lively strain, and with much point. I remember to have seen the piece performed many years ago at Drury Lane Theatre, when Mr. Bannister, Junior, performed the Master of the Toy-Shop; young as I was, I thought it a very high dramatic treat. It is a part which requires very first-rate abilities to give it its full effect, but with them, it will return to the performer all that he does for it with interest.
The Copy used in printing is one Printed for J. Dodsley, Pall Mall, 1787, which I have collated with the original edition in octavo. The later editions vary very little from the first. I am surprized at not seeing this in Mrs. Inchbald's Selection of Farces and other AfterPieces.
Clare-Hall, Jan. 23, 1812.