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Jane Shore. A TRAGEDY professedly written in the style of Shakspeare, itray well claim a inore than ordinary share of attention; and its author must have been aware of the claim, for he was a learned and ingenious commentator of that immortal poet. To the memory of Rowe literary honour is justly due; and, if it becomes our duty as critics to point out how entirely he lost sight of the original he would fain bave copied, let us do justice to that genius, which, while it aspired to no higher honour than an imitator, insensibly became an original.
It has been said that Spenser wrote no language at all-that his phraseology belongs neither to his own nor to the preceding age ; that it is too modern to be ancient, and too ancient to be modern. Shakspeare, who followed hard upon him, has no barbarons terms, and few uncouth ones; bis obscurity consists not in words or con. struction, but in temporary allusions and forgotten customs; and our language must undergo a total revolution, ere his style can be pronounced rude and antiquated. Spenser has been succesfully imitated, and has become partially obsolete, while Shakspeare has alike defied the hand of time and imitation. Time has only served to swell the loud trump of universal praise; and imitation has never reached beyond, " By holy Paul !” “ Beshrew my heart !" and “Good morrow ty'e, Master Lieutenant !"
The story of Jane Shore is well calculated for the display of tragie interest. It is interwoven with a well known portion of English history, and embraces characters and events highly important and pathetic. In selecting history for the groundwork of his drama, Rowe has certainly imitated Shakspeare; wlio rightly judged that that which could charm in the rude form of an ancient traditionary story or ballad, would prove lastingly attractive, when inspired by the genius of poetry. The incidents of this drama are conducted and developed with considerable skill, and the few capital characters are drawn with energy and power. Glo'ster is preserved with historical truth: he is wily, ferocious, and revengeful; daring in his designs, and prompt in their execution. The unshaken loyalty and ill-starred passion of Hastings—the jealousy, despair, and madness of Alicia, call forth the strongest emotions of pity and terror; while the sufferings, the contrition, the deep humiliation of Jane Shore, are depicted in such true colours, that Rowe had only to consult his own genius, to satisfy the judgment and subdue the heart. The language of this tragedy exhibits all the characteristics of the author's styleharmony, sweetness, and florid elegance. It has much pathos, but little strength, except in the parting interview between Jane Shore and Alicia, and in the council-scene, where Glo'ster accuses Jane Shore of sorcery. How forcibly is the effect of this pretended witchcraft conceived and expressed :
“ Behold my arm, thus blasted, dry, and withered,
Like some untimely product of the season,
To torture and despoil me of And the following abrupt reply to Lord Hastings is admirably characteristic of this cunning and implacable tyrant:
“ Lord Hastings, I arrest thee of high treason,
Seize him, and bear him instantly away,
The rest that love me, rise, and follow me." The rhyming couplets that conclude each act, however musically they fall upon the ear, are out of place in tragedy
“ Grief unaffected suits but ill with art,
Or flowing numbers with a bleeding heart." Kemble's Glo'ster was wonderfully fine. His start, when he bared his withered arm, his rapid utterance half choaked with rage, and his far-beaming eye glaring beneath a profusion of raven-black hair, fully realized the terror of the scene. The noble burst of Mrs. Siddons, when, as Jane Shore, she invokes the blessings of Providence on Hastings for bis fidelity to King Edward's children, was such as none but berself could reach ; and her dying exclamation to her husband
“ Forgive me! forgive me!" was the last effort of a penitent and broken heart.
DUKE OF GLO'STER.-Round black hat, black plumes, purple and gold mantle, crimson velvet doublet and trunks, garter, white hose, white shoes, sword and gauntlets.
LORD HASTINGS.-Black hat, white plumes, white and gold doublet and trunks, white hose, garter, white shoes, sword and gauntlets.
RATCLIFFE.-Black hat, white plumes, crimson and gold doublet and trunks, a cloak of scarlet and silver, buff hose, russet boots, sword and gauntlets.
CATESBY.-Light blue doublet and trunks, buff hose, russet boots, sword and gauntlets.
BELMOUR.-Fawn coloured doublet and trunks trimmed with black, buff hose, russet boots, sword.
SHORE, or DUMONT, -Slate coloured dress and white wig, sword. Second dress—Black velvet.
JANE SHORE.-Light blue satin trimmed with white lace. Second dress-White muslin.
ALICIA.-White satin trimmed with white lace and silver. Second dress_Black_velvet, and black crape veil.
Cast of the Characters in the Tragedy of JANE
Mr. C. Kemble.
The Conductors of this Work print no Plays but those which they Have seen acted. The Stag e Directions are given from their own personal observations, during the most recent performances.
The instant a Character appears upon the Stage, the point of Entrance, as well as every subsequent change of Position, till its Exit, is noted, with a fidelity which may in all cases be relied on; the object being, to establish this work as a Standard Guide to the Stage business, as now conducted on the London boards.
EXITS and ENTRANCES. R. means Right; L. Left; R. D. Right Door; L. D. Left Door; S. E. Second Entrance; U. E. Upper Entrance ; M.D. Middle Door.
RELATIVE POSITIONS. R. means Right; L. Left; C. Centre: R. C. Right of Centre; L. C. Left of Centre. The following view of the Stage with Five Performers in front, wil, it is presumed, fully demonstrate the Relative Positions.
The Readeris supposed to be on the Stage facing the Audience.