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Though peppered with small shot, and tempeit tofs'd,
Who trust their all to candour and to you. . Art. XIII. A Political Index to ihe Histories of Great Britain and · Ireland ; or, A Complete Register of the Hereditary Honours,
Public Offices, and Persons in Office, 'from the earliest Periods to
the present Time.. By Robert Beatfon, Esq. 8vo. '9 s. boards. • Edinb. Creech; Robinsons, &c. London. * 1786. TIHE industrious compiler of this useful work informs us,
in his preface, that it is the result of many years inquiry ; that he prosecuted it, at first, without any view to publication, but merely for his own private satisfaction, being naturally curious and inquisitive on subjects of this kind : and deeming it likewise interefting to society.
In the course of his researches, he tells us (and the respectable character of the Author entitle's him to an unlimited credit for whatever he afferts), that he was enabled to detect a variety of mistakes, and to correct many errors that have been published, respecting the peerage, the great officers of ftate, the law, naval and military officers, &c. And these mistakes and errors have ing, unfortunately, happened in works of the first merit; which stand high in the estimation of the world, and which are often consulted and referred to, they have been, consequently, fixed and established, in too many instances. In most of the Hifto. ries of Great Bricain, says Mr. Beatson, and in particular the parliamentary histories, when a nobleman may be the subject either of 'panegyric or censure, he is only mentioned by his title, and the reader is left in doubt; where titles have so frequently Auctuated from one family to another, to know the in. dividual meant to be the objed of condemnation or applause. In like manner, the officers of state, of the houshold, of the law, &c. are seldom mentioned in history, but by the name of the office they hold; by which means, in such a rapid fuc. ceflion of different persons to the fame office, the individual is lost among the multitudes who have held the appointment.
We are further informed, that the satisfaction which his inquiries afforded him in one branch, induced him to extend them to others; that as he daily experienced their utility himself, he was enabled to rectify the information of his friends, on such subjects as he had examined ; and that (encouraged by them to proceed) he was led to hope, that his labours might in time produce a very useful publication., ..
Accordingly he has, at length, been induced to offer to the Public a work, the objects of which are, in the first place, to form a sort of political index to the histories of Great Britain and Ireland, where the individuals may be found, and their * : 7
wildbjects as he was led to lication
by been inducene for fi pl Britain
rank and political connections traced, whose measures may be the subject of historical information : secondly, to supply a correct register of the great and respectable body of the peerage of each of the kingdoms, from their original creation; ascertaining and explaining their rise to higher dignities,-when their cities were transferred into other families, when forfeited,- or when extinct : lastly, to arrange the other nuniercus official lifts, which the Author has been at great pains to render correct, from the earliest to the latest periods, in such a manner as, by reference from one to another, to elucidate to the reader of modern hiftory, the æra of every succesive administration, and to prefent to his view, the whole group of persons acling in conjunction with the oftenfible minister.'. . • With respect to his materials, the Author profefles his obligations to Sir W. Dugdale's Summonses to Parliament, to the Historical Register, and to a variety of Chronicles and Peerages; and he concludes his preface with an handsome acknowlege-ment of a the very large and respectable subscription with which he has been honoured.'-By way of dedication, his work is inscribed to the learned and ingenious Dr. Adam Smith, whose approbation of his labours was, it appears, one of his işcouragements to offer the fruit of them to the Public..
To those who only read for amusement, a publication of this kind will, perhaps, appear to be a dry, uninviting compile ment, It is, indeed, not a work for continued reading, but for reference, and occasional consultation ; in which light it will, we doubt not, be found a uleful library book. But having said this, we may, however, observe, and it will be no more than bare justice to the Author, that many of his pages are calculated to afford confiderable entertainment, as well as valuable informacion. We here have an eye to his details and descriptions of the nature, importance, duties, and utility of the great departments of govern. ment, the law offices, &c. his explanations of the different degrees of nobility, baronets, ecclefiaftical dignitaries, &c. and his view of the archbishoprics, bifhoprics, &c. &c. In bis account of the admirals and captains of the navy, mention is made of all the confiderable engagements at sea; in which every English reader will find himself more or less interested. In the division comprehending the military department, the fate of every general officer killed in any action, or who otherwise fell * in the service of his country, is duly recorded. The history of the orders of the Garter, Thistle, Bath, and St. Patrick, is another entertaining part of the work; and though not very
* Under this head accidents are noticed : for instance, “ Lieuteinant General STANWIX drowned in 1766, in his pasage from Ireland to England.” Rev. July 1786,
new, as to matter of information, would naturally have been expected in such a compilation.
In brief, the Public are certainly obliged to the Author, for the compilement and publication of so useful a work : a work produced at the expence of much time and great labour, and (we believe) executed with strict fidelity. With respect to its accuracy, indeed, we can only speak on presumption, from appearances : for it cannot be expected that we should take upon us to examine this very large volume, with minuteness, and particular attention to dates, successions, and the vast variety of other particulars contained in a production of this multifarious kind.
For JULY, 1786.
DRAMATIC.. Art. 14. The Fool; a Farce. In two A&ts. As performed at
the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden. By Edward Topham, Elg.
8vo. is. Strahan, in the Strand. 1786. KT HIS farce is dedicated by the Author. to Mrs. Wells, from
I whose invention the happiest parts of the piece are said to have Sprung. That the publication of it will give that prolonged life which the Author promises himself, we cannot venture to pronounce. It seems to be a trifle written to oblige a favourite actress, who, we may conjecture, thinks that she plays the fool with a becoming grace. A Fool, therefore, was to be introduced at all events; and Laura, lately married to Beaufort, in Portugal, is made to pass herself upon her husband for an ideot, and for this notable reason, because in the hours of courtship Beaufort told her, that on excess of fondness was preferable even to better sense in the character of a wife. An Abbé comes over in the fame ship, and wants to seduce her affections; but no humour arises from his character. Pepper, her godfather, happens to be at Brighton, and is astonished to find that she is a fool. Pepper goes into a bathing machine with a servant niaid; but this incident has the luck of being indecent, without producing, or even tending to, any thing like the vis comica. The dialogue is in a few places lively, but the whole is of little value. The prologue, by M. P. Andrews, Esq. is not void of merit. Art. 15. The Bum-brufer; a Farce. Intended to be translated
into Latin, and performed before the Masters and Fellows of Col. leges in Cambridge. 8vo. 1s. Bell. 1686.
An attempt, as it should seem, under the name of Dr. Rhombus, a mathematician, to ridicule fome private character at Cambridge, But the Author is not a matter of ridicule. The whole pleasantry consists in the marriage of the Doctor (whoever he be) with Mrs. Loveman, who thinks and talks in the true spirit of a widow. Upon a subject of delicacy her language is coarse, and her meaning too plain. The piece is dedicated to Mr. Golman; but that gentleman,
with his usual judgment, leaves it to be acted before the University of Cambridge. Art. 16. The Peruvian; a Comic Opera ; in three A&s. As
performed at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden. By a Lady. The Music chiefly composed by Mr. Hook. 8vo. 15. 6d. Bell.
As this piece is founded on Marmontel's tale of Coralie, ou L'Amis tié a L'Epreuve, it were needless to present the fable in detail. It will be sufficient to observe that Coraly (which by the way is an ill. chosen name for the English style) is in love with Belville : for the fake of his peace and the tranquillity of his family, she is going to embark for Peru, her native country, when BLANDFORD, just reo turned from a voyage, lands on the beach. In the course of the dialogue it appears that Blandford had left Coraly in the care of his friend Belville, with intent, on his return from sea, to make her 'his wife. Belville has beheld her charms with fenfibility, but love it. self could not prevail upon him to do what might be deemed a vio. lation of friendship. He resigns his trust, and with an aching heart consents to see the person, whom he loves to an excess of tenderness, wedded to Blandford. The distress of Coraly, upon this occasion, is interesting, and even pathetic. Her sentiments are elegant, and expressed with delicacy. She acknowledges her obligations to Bland. ford; he was her deliverer, the guardian of her innocence ; but the adds, “ I reverence him as a parent: I respect Blandford--but I love Belville.” She tells the latter, “I am resolved not to deceive : were I to give my hand to Blandford, my heart would still be your's." Bel. ville argues against himself, and the thought of having robbed his friend of her affe&tions fills him with horror. Her answer is the language of the heart :-“ What (says fhe) have you robbed him of i My heart was free, and I had a right to dispose of it. Blandford ne. ver won it by such delicate attention as your's. His generous kind. ness to me was ever STRIKING, but your's was iNTERESTING. He is all GOODNESS, you all GRACIOUSNESS." Notwithstanding this avowal of her affections, the yields to the persuasive reasoning of the man she loves, and is at length upon the point of giving her hand to Blandford. Here the fable takes an unexpected turn. Blandford finds that her heart is fixed upon Belville. In this situation, with a generosity that graces his character, he renounces his pretenfions in favour of his friend. The comic characters of Sir Gregory Craveall and Sir Harry Cripplegait give no additional beauty to the piece. The truth is, buffoonery ill suits with that vein of delicacy which runs through every part of the fable that relates to the amiable Co. saly.
The songs, in general, grow out of the occasion, and many of them are written with taite and delicacy of sentiment. . Art. 17. An Efay on the Pre-eminence of Comic Genius. With
Observations on the several Characters Mrs. Jordan has appeared in. Small 8vo. 19. Becket. 1786.
The Public' never suffers eminent merit to be without a rival. The maxim is of antient date, and the experience of ages has proved ic to be founded in truth. We do not, therefore, wonder at an at... tempt to place Mrs. Jordan in competition with Mrs. Siddons. The
Author of the piece before us endeavours to establish his position in favour of the comic muse. To the gorgeous fictions of tragedy, with all its tumid graces of imagery and diction, he prefers the more humble portraits of comedy, and the delineation of manners. Comedy, he observes, is founded in nature ; tragedy is supported by art. The performer who represents terrific phrenzy, or excels in studied declamation, may be entitled to praise ; but the actor who gives a picture of contemporary manners is more valuable to the interests of society : by the former we are astonished; by the latter we are taught.
Having thus taken his ground, the Essayist thinks he may safely allow to Mrs. Siddons the highest excellence in tragedy-secure of his point in favour of Mrs. Jordan. He describes the latter in a variety of characters, such as the Country Girl, the Romp, the Virgin Unmasked, Miss Hoyden, and many others. The conclusion of this fyllogism is obvious.
The pre-eminence of the comic genius once established, and Mrs. Jordan being displayed in the brightest colours, it follows that Mrs. Siddons must descend from her throne.
Of this little tract it is but'justice to say, that it is written with art and elegance. To decide upon the merit of actors or actresses is not within our province, as Reviewers.
Should the ingenious writer of this pamphlet have a number of followers, we shall not think it a matter of wonder. Dryden says, were Virgil and Martial to stand for parliament men, we all know who would carry the election. Art. 18. The Country Wife; an Entertainment. In two Acts.
Altered from Wycherly. As performed at the Theatre Royal, : Covent Garden. 8vo. Is. Lowndes, &c. 1786. Art. 19. The Virgin Unmasked; a musical Entertainment. In
one Act. By Henry Fielding, Esq. With Alterations. As performed at the Theatres Royal in Drury Lane and Covent Garden. 8vo. Is. Payne, &c. 1786.
Of the two preceding articles it may be sufficient to observe, that the former has been cut down to an after-piece, and the latter has undergone some trilling alterations, evidently for the purpose of in
troducing Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Jordan (rival actresses) to a London - audience. Art. 20. The Children of Thespis; a Poem. Part I. 4to. 35.
Bew, &c. 1786. The Rofciad of Churchill seems to have usurped all dominion over the performers of both our theatres. Since his time many attempts have been made. The late Mr. Hugh Kelly wrote Thespis *, or, a Critical Examination, &c. in which were found many good lines, and some brilliant passages; but the vigour of Churchill still remained unrivalled. Of the poem now before us, the fate will probably be the same as that of Thespis: it will divert for a time, and be forgotten. Churchill will long be remembered, and the reason is, he has given the distinctive features, the specific qualities of the
* See Review, Vol. XXXV. p. 388.