« PreviousContinue »
SIR JOHN COCKLE
BEING THE SEQUEL TO
THE KING AND THE MILLER OF MANSFIELD.
A DRAMATIC TALE.
TIRST ACTED AT THE
THEATRE-ROYAL in DRURY-LANE,
IN THE YEAR 1738.
THE EDITOR'S PREFACE.
I HE Old Ballad of The King and Miller of Mansfield has a Second Part, in which The Miller, who had been knighted in the former part, is sent for to London by the King. On this our Author has built his Sequel to The King and The Miller of Mansfield, which he has intitled Sir John Cockle at Court. The idea is a good one, but the Author has not written it in the same happy manner as the first part. As far as relates to The King and The Miller is very well executed. " The circum. 6 stance,” (says Mr. Dibdin,) 6 of making a man of • plain integrity resist the corruption of a court is cer6 tainly a fair object for a dramatic pen.” (Hist. of the Stage. Vol. V. p. 167.) The piece, however, required some humour, or more incident, and that of a pleasing kind, to enliven it; and here the author has failed. In the Ballad, Margery and Richard accompany Sir John, and contribute to the humour, though it is of a very low nature. This might have been elevated and somewhat polished, as the author has done in the first part: but such characters seemed to promise the fairest field for humour. Instead of them, he has introduced the daughter, Miss Kitty, and Sir Timothy Flash, who has a design upon her virtue, which is frustrated. The Author, aware, perhaps, of the deficiency, had introduced four Songs, one of wbich he had given to Sir Timothy, the other three to Miss Kitty; but two of these were decidedly objectionable, and the other two not worth preserving ; the Editor has therefore rejected them altogether.
But, though the piece is thus acknowledged to be inferior to the First Part, yet the Editor thinks it well TOL. III.
worthy of being preserved, and even of being restored to the Stage. It might be performed on the same night with the First Part, after a very short piece, the green curtain being let down between the two parts, or on two following nights. It is superior to many afterpieces which are favourites. The effect would, of course, depend much upon the acting ; but the characters of the King and Sir John are such as performers of great excel. lence need not scruple to undertake.
The alterations made in this piece are not very great. The copy used is one printed together with the former, and has been compared with the original, printed in 1738.
Clare Hall, Feb. 4, 1812.
As some poor Orphan, at the friendly Gate
* These two lines were added after the first night's performance, occasioned by some things wbich the audience very justly found fault with ; and which, the second time, were left out, or altered as much as possible; and the Author takes this opportunity of thanking the towo for so judiciously and favourably correcting him.