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BRITISH

THEATRE.

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BRITISH THEATRE

COMPRISING

Tragedies, Comedies, Operas,

and Farces,

FROM THE MOST CLASSIC WRITERS;

WITH

BIOGRAPHY, CRITICAL ACCOUNT

AND

EXPLANATORY NOTES

BY

an Englishman.

COMPLETE IN ONE VOLUME.

LEIPSIC,

PRINTED FOR FREDERICK FLEISCHER

BY FREDERICK VIEWE G AND SON

BRUNSWICK.

1828.

LOAN STACK

GIFT

919
W 715

bri

PREFACE.

In presenting this volume to the German nation, we will not claim their approbation from the partiality they have shown to British Literature ; — we will not point out to them the great utility of having the most elegant tone of English conversation for their instruction in the language; wherefore should we paint the delighting image of their identifying themselves with a sphere of individuals, whose manners and customs are so deeply linged with originality and peculiarity of character; and invite them to consider John Bull entering their society in his own dress, touched off with his own high humour, and even with all his faults, calling upon the good-natured smile of all around him? The shades of Addison, Garrick, Steele would arise in offended pride, to hear their names once more invoked to serve the office of commendation to works which have already stood the test of nations, and out-lived the hand of time: no, their worth needs no interpreter, it speaks itself too plainly.

Yet with all the riches of the British Drama before us, we have found ourselves embarrassed to prescut our readers with a full specimen of its treasures; and, how plentiful soever this harvest may be, there still remains a great store behind; we wait only the fiat of the public to recommence our labours.

We refrain from entering into a detail of the many inglorious causes of the decline of the stage these last two centuries, and will content ourselves with merely pointing it out, as a reason for our work’s containing very few pieces written since that time.

It is but natural for us to have a desire to become more familia y acquainted with the man whose writings have tended to amuse or instruct us; and hence our wish, not only to have free admission to his study, but also to follow him into the circle of his acquaintance, and sit with him at his fire-side surrounded by his family. It is here we can judge the human heart, and observe, if the precepts, inculcated on his readers, bave been the guide of his own actions; and whatever be the result of our examination, it must interest our feelings and be a good exercise for ourselves. We have, therefore, endeavoured to give a faithful account of the public and private life of the authors whosc writings are to be found in this volume.

The opinions of the English with respect to their own authors, how much soever they may differ from those of another nation; will answer as a point of opposition, and may

assist the reader in bis own critique. Each piece is, therefore, prcceded by reasons, more or less cogent, to add to or diminish its lustre; and these have been carefully selected from the writings of the greaiest British critics, who may have noticed them, tempered by a few observations of our own.

The English nation has, of late years, become an object of curiosity to foreigners; and numerous has been the intelligent class of inquiring travellers, who have published their more or less true accounts of this people. How favourablc socver may have been their opportunities for cxamining into the true spirit of the people,

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