I was mistaken in thinking the end of the first act deficient. The leaves stuck together, and, there intervening two or three blank pages between the first and second acts, I examined no farther, but concluded the former imperfect, which on the second reading I found it was not.
I imagine, Sir, that the theatres of Dublin cannot have fewer good Performers than those of London; may I ask why you prefer ours? Your own directions and instructions would be of great advantage to your play; especially if you suspect antitragic prejudices in the managers. You, too, would be the best judge of the rehearsal of what might be improvements. Managers will take liberties, and often curtail necessary speeches, so as to produce nonsense. Methinks it is unkind to send a child, of which you have so much reason to be proud, to a Foundling Hospital.
(374) Now first printed.
(375) Bishop Warburton’s panegyric on the Castle of Otranto appears in a note to the following lines in Pope’s imitation of one of Horace’s epistles:—
“Then peers grew proud in horsemanship t’excel,
Newmarket’s glory rose as Britain’s fell’
The soldier breathed the gallantries of France,
And ev’ry flow’ry courtier Writ Romance.”
“Amidst all this nonsense,” says the Bishop, “when things were at the worst, we have been lately entertained with what I will venture to call, a masterpiece in the Fable; and of a new species likewise. The piece I mean is, The Castle of Otranto. The scene is laid in Gothic chivalry; where a beautiful imagination, supported by strength of judgment, has enabled the author to go beyond his Subject, and effect the full purpose of the ancient tragedy; that is, to purge the passions by Pity and terror, in colouring as great and harmonious as in any of the best dramatic writers."-E.
I have been turning over the new second volume of the Biographia, and find the additions very poor and lean performances. The lives entirely new are partial and flattering, being contributions of the friends of those whose lives are recorded. This publication made at a time when I have lived to see several of my contemporaries deposited in this national temple of fame has made me smile, and reflect that many preceding authors, who have been installed there with much respect, may have been as trifling personages as those we have l(nown and now behold consecrated to memory. Three or four have struck me particularly, as Dr. Birch,(376) who was a worthy, good-natured soul, full of industry and activity, and running about like a young setting-dog in quest of any thing, new or old, and with no parts, taste, or judgment. Then there is Dr. Blackwell,(377) the most impertinent literary coxcomb upon earth—but the editor has been so just as to insert a very merited satire on his Court of Augustus.