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« English language in them arrived to its highest « perfection; what words have fince been taken « in, being rather superfluous, than necessary."

Philaster has always been esteemed one of the best productions of Beaumont and Fletcher; and; we are told by Dryden, was the first play that brought them into great reputation. The beauties of it are indeed so striking and fo various, that our autbors might in this play almost be said to rival Shakespeare, were it not for the many evident marks of imitation of his manner. The late editors of Beaumont and Fletcher conceive, that the poets meant to delineate, in the character of Philaster, a Hamlet racked with the jealousy of Othello; and there are several passages, in this play, where the authors have manifestly taken fire from similar circumstances and expressions in Shakespeare, par ticularly fome, that will readily occur to the reader as he goes along, from Othello, Hamlet, Cymbea line, and Lear.

To remove the objections to the performance of this excellent play on the modern stage, has been the chief labour, and fole ambition, of the present editor. It may be remembered, that the Spanish Curate, the Little French Lawyer, and Scornful Lady of our authors, as well as the Silent Woman

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of Jonson, all favourite entertainments of our predeceffors, have, within these few years, encountered the severity of the pit, and received sentence of condemnation. That the uncommon merit of such a play as Philaster might be universally acknowledged and received, it appeared necessary to clear it of ribaldry and obscenity, and to amend a gross indecency in the original constitution of the fable, which must have checked the fuccefs due to the rest of the piece, nay, indeed, was an ins fuperable obstacle to its representation.

But though the inaccuracies and licentiousness of the piece were inducements (according to the incudi reddere of Horace) to put it on the anvil again, yet nothing has been added more than was absolutely necessary, to make it move easily on the new hinge, whereon it now turns : Nor has

any thing been omitted, except what was supposed to have been likely to obfcure its merit, or injure its su ess. The pen was drawn, without the least hesitation, over every scene now expunged, except the first scene of the third act, as it stands in the original; in regard to which, the part, that Philafter fuftains in it, occafioned fome pause: But, on examination, it seemed that Dion's falsification of facts in that fcene was inconsistent with the rest


of his character, though very natural in such a person as Megra : And though we have in our times seen the sudden and instantaneous transitions from one passion to another remarkably well represented on the stage, yet Philaster's emotions appeared impossible to be exhibited with any coulformity to truth or nature. It was therefore thought advisable to omit the whole scene : and it is hoped, that this omission will not be disapproved; and that it will not appear to have left any void or chasm in the action ; since the imputed fallhood of Arethusa, after being so industriously made publick to the whole court, miglit very naturally be imagined to come to the knowledge of Philater, in a much shorter interval than is often supposed to elapse between the acts, or even between the fcenes of fome of our old plays.

The scenes in the fourth act, wherein Philaster, according to the original play, wounds Arethusa and Bellario, and from which the piece took its second title of Love Lies A-bleeding, have always been censured by the criticks. They breathe too much of that spirit of blood, and cruelty, and horror, of which the English Tragedy hath often been accused. The hero's wounding his mistress hurt the delicacy of most; and his maiming Bellario

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fleeping, in order to save himself from his pursuers, offended the generosity of all. This part of the fable, therefore, so injurious to the character of Philaster, it was judged absolutely requisite to alter ; and a new turn has been given to all those circumstances: But the change has been effected by such simple means, and with so much reverence to the original, that there are hardly ten lines added 'on account of the alteration.

The rest of the additions or alterations may be seen at once by comparing the prefent play with the original; if the reader does not, on such occafions, of himself too easily discover the patchwork of a modern hand.

There is extant in the works of the duke of Buckingham, who wrote the Rehearsal, and altered the Chances, an alteration of this play, under the title of the Restoration, or Right will take Place. .The duke feems to have been very ftudious to disguise the piece, the names of the dramatis perfone, as well as the title, being entirely changed; and the whole piece, together with the prologue and epilogue, seeming intended to carry the air of an oblique political satire on his own times. However that may be, the duke's play is as little (if not less) calculated for the present stage, as the origi


hal of our authors. The character of Thrasomond (for fo the duke calls the Spanish Prince) is much more ludicrous than the Pharamond of Beaumont and Fletcher. Few of the indecencies or obscenities in the original are removed; and with what delicacy the adventure of Megra is managed, may be determined from the following specimen of his grace's alteration of that circumstance, scarce a word of the following extract being to be found in Beaumont and Fletcher.

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Enter the guard, bringing in Thrasomond, in drawers,

muffied up in a cloak. Guard. Sir, in obedience to your commands, We stopt this fellow stealing out of doors.

::..! iy... [They pull off bis cloak. Agremont. Who's this ? the prince, Cleon. Yes; he is incognito.

King. Sir; I must chide you for this loofeness : You've wrong?d a worthy lady; but no more..."

Thraf. Sir, I came hither but to take the air.
Cleon. A witty rogue, I warrant him.

. : Agremont. Ay, he's a devil at his answers. King. Conduct him to his lodgings.

If to move the passions of pity and terror are the two chief ends of Tragedy, there needs no apology



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