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TO STAGE PROFESSORS.
I will first address the Stage Professors themselves, upon their candour, good sense and good nature. I throw myself for pardon, trusting they will forgive my temerity in presuming to instruct the instructors. I would entreat you, as you value the honor and dignity of the stage, to combine seriously in removing the very few obstructions and impediments remaining, to make it what it ought to be—the vehicle of pleasure and profit. In many of the old dramas, there are expressions, sentences and scenes, which chastity itself did not shrink from, at the period when they were written. “ Those who intend no wrong, fear none." Let us hope that it is not the appearance of delicacy, but the refinement of it, which makes the present generation, shrink from that which gave their ancestors delight.
Your professional studies have compelled you to become intimately acquainted with these old comedies; hence you have become gradually familiar with phrases and equivocal language, very offensive to the ears of those, who, from want of leisure, inclination, or opportunity, have not been in the habit of perusing the humour of our forefathers. Those passages should always be omitted, and every expression repugnant to delicacy, carefully expunged.
Swearing is another impropriety, that should be banished from the stage-these senseless expletives, obnoxious to the ears of a gentleman, and particularly brutal in the presence of a female.
Avoid all such vulgar substitutes for wit and humour; you do not want them; your stock of entertainment is inexhaustible, and you are not driven to have recourse to such miserable subterfuges. Do not spare the pruning knife on such occasions ; you will soon sensibly feel your account in it.'
Purify the old drama, do not fear weakening it: the very rinsings will be strong enough for this dull, polemical age.
The Dramatist, the Actor, and the Painter, are all bound by the just rules of their profession, to give a true picture of nature; but they are not bound to give her in her worst dress, or her most inelegant attitude. To portray a beggar, it is not requisite to retain all his filth. Therefore a Bond-street lounger, a hearty farmer, or even a sailor, can be very well represented without the usual accompaniment of an oath,
But it is from the propriety of your private conduct, after all, that the greatest revolution in your favour must be accomplished.-I am well aware that you are as
untainted with vices, or as uncontaminated with wilful error, as any of your neighbours, be they whom they may: still there are too many of you,
inattentive and negligent to the choice of society; the lowest and the most vicious, are too often your companions; you know not the injury you do yourselves, by becoming so easy of access. Had you but the resolution to live a little more to yourselves, instead of seeking, you would be sought for. But this is by no means a general charge; there are many of you, who live the most retired and domesticated lives, and, if it should ever occur, (which is seldom the case,) that the public do not appreciate it, the individual bas, at least, the conscious pride of knowing that he has done his duty.”.
“These are the suggestions of a sincere friend to the profession; an ardent admirer of the drama, and a real well wisher to all its retainers."
The late extensive destruction of Theatres by fire in this country, is a very fertile subject with those who presume to lay open the inscrutible ways of providence. It is true they followed each other with a rapidity unparalleled in the annals of scenic representation ; but, is there any thing in these events, that common sense cannot comprehend. The hand of the incendiary has been accused in some of these instances, and probably not without a just cause. “We cannot be guilty of a greater act of uncharitableness, than to interpret the afflictions which befall our neighbours as punishments and judgments : it aggravates the evil to him who suffers, when he looks upon himself as the particular object of divine vengeance, and abates the compassion
, of those towards him who regard him in