Imatges de pÓgina


Jane Shore.

A TRAGEDY professedly written in the style of Shakspeare, may 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 barbarous terms, and few uncouth ones; his obscurity consists not in words or construction, 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 tragic 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; who 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,
Shrunk like a foul abortion, and decay'd,

Like some untimely product of the season,
Robb'd of its properties of strength and office.
This is the sorcery of Edward's wife,

Who, in conjunction with that harlot, Shore,
And other like confed'rate midnight hags,
By force of potent spells, of bloody characters,
And conjurations horrible to hear,

Call fiends and spectres from the yawning deep,
And set the ministers of hell at work,

To torture and despoil me of my life."

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,-
He sha'nt live an hour. By holy Paul,

I will not dine before his head be brought me :
Ratcliff, stay you, and see that it be done.-
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 his fidelity to King Edward's children, was such as none but herself could reach; and her dying exclamation to her husband

"Forgive me!--but 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 SHORE, at the Theatre-Royal, Covent Garden,

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The Conductors of this Work print no Plays but those which they have seen acted. The Stage 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.


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 Fire Performers in front, will, it is presumed, fully demonstrate the Relative Positions.

The Reader is supposed to be on the Stage, facing the Audience.

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SCENE I.-An Apartment in the Tower.

Glos. (c.) Thus far success attends upon our councils,
And each event has answered to my wish;
The queen and all her upstart race are quell'd;
Dorset is banish'd, and her brother Rivers,
Ere this, lies shorter by the head at Pomfret.
The nobles have with joint concurrence, nam'd me
Protector of the realm; my brother's children,
Young Edward and the little York, are lodg'd
Here, safe within the Tower. How say you, sirs,
Does not this business wear a lucky face?
The sceptre and the golden wreath of royalty
Seem hung within my reach.

Sir R. (R. C.) Then take 'em to you,

And wear them long and worthily: you are
The last remaining male of princely York;

(For Edward's boys, the state esteems not of 'em,)
And therefore on your sov'reignty and rule

The commonweal does her dependence make,

And leans upon your highness' able hand.

Cates. (L. c.) And yet to-morrow does the council


To fix a day for Edward's coronation.

Who can expound this riddle?

Glos. That can I.

Those lords are each one my approv'd good friends,

Of special trust and nearness to my bosom:

And howsoever busy they may seem,

And diligent to bustle in the state,

Their zeal goes on no further than we lead,
And at our bidding stays.

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