Anne Letitia Barbauld, 1743-1825: the hymns and poems of Mrs. Barbauld are marked by an adherence to the artificial school in form and manner; but something of feminine tenderness redeems them from the charge of being purely mechanical. Her Hymns in Prose for Children have been of value in an educational point of view; and the tales comprised in Evenings at Home are entertaining and instructive. Her Ode to Spring, which is an imitation of Collins’s Ode to Evening, in the same measure and comprising the same number of stanzas, is her best poetic effort, and compares with Collins’s piece as an excellent copy compares with the picture of a great master.
THE LATER DRAMA.
The Progress of the Drama.
Garrick. Foote. Cumberland. Sheridan.
Colman. George Colman, the Younger. Other Dramatists and Humorists.
Other Writers on Various Subjects.
THE PROGRESS OF THE DRAMA.
The latter half of the eighteenth century, so marked, as we have seen, for manifold literary activity, is, in one phase of its history, distinctly represented by the drama. It was a very peculiar epoch in English annals. The accession of George III., in 1760, gave promise, from the character of the king and of his consort, of an exemplary reign. George III. was the first monarch of the house of Hanover who may be justly called an English king in interest and taste. He and his queen were virtuous and honest; and their influence was at once felt by a people in whom virtue and honesty are inherent, and whose consciences and tastes had been violated by the evil examples of the former reigns.
In 1762 George Augustus Frederick, Prince of Wales, was born; and as soon as he approached manhood, he displayed the worst features of his ancestral house: he was extravagant and debauched; he threw himself into a violent opposition to his father: with this view he was at first a Whig, but afterwards became a Tory. He had also peculiar opportunities for exerting authority during the temporary fits of insanity which attacked the king in 1764, in 1788, and in 1804. At last, in 1810, the king was so disabled from attending to his duties that the prince became regent, and assumed the reins of government, not to resign them again during his life.
In speaking of the drama of this period, we should hardly, therefore, be wrong in calling it the Drama of the Regency. It held, however, by historic links, following the order of historic events, to the earlier drama. Shakspeare and his contemporaries had established the dramatic art on a firm basis. The frown of puritanism, in the polemic period, had checked its progress: with the restoration of Charles II, it had returned to rival the French stage in wicked plots and prurient scenes. With the