Philip R. Wikelund
University of Michigan
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As it is Acted at the
[Illustration: MRS SIDDONS
and MR KEMBLE as
Mr. & Mrs. Beverley Act 5. Sc. 4.
Bev. O! for a few short Moments to tell you
how my Heart bleeds for you.]
It having been objected to this tragedy, that its language is prose, and its catastrophe too horrible, I shall entreat the reader’s patience for a minute, that I may say a word or two to these objections.
The play of the GAMESTER was intended to be a natural picture of that kind of life, of which all men are judges; and as it struck at a vice so universally prevailing, it was thought proper to adapt its language to the capacities and feelings of every part of the audience: that as some of its characters were of no higher rank than Sharpers, it was imagined that (whatever good company they may find admittance to in the world) their speaking blank verse upon the stage would be unnatural, if not ridiculous. But though the more elevated characters also speak prose, the judicious reader will observe, that it is a species of prose which differs very little from verse: in many of the most animated scenes, I can truly say, that I often found it a much greater difficulty to avoid, than to write, measure. I shall only add, in answer to this objection, that I hoped to be more interesting, by being more natural; and the event, as far as I have been a witness of it, has more than answered my expectations.
As to the other objection, the horror of its catastrophe, if it be considered simply what that catastrophe is, and compared with those of other tragedies, I should humbly presume that the working it up to any uncommon degree of horror, is the merit of the play, and not its reproach. Nor should so prevailing and destructive a vice as GAMING be attacked upon the theatre, without impressing upon the imagination all the horrors that may attend it.
I shall detain the reader no longer than to inform him, that I am indebted for many of the most popular passages in this play to the inimitable performer, who, in the character of the_ Gamester, exceeded every idea I had conceived of it in the writing.
Written and spoken by Mr. GARRICK.
Like fam’d La Mancha’s knight,
who launce in hand,
Mounted his steed to free th’ enchanted land,
Our Quixote bard sets forth a monster-taming,
Arm’d at all points, to fight that hydra—GAMING.
Aloft on Pegasus he waves his pen,
And hurls defiance at the caitiff’s den.
The First on fancy’d giants