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The close of another Volume renders it again necessary to address our numerous friends in a Preface; a task, which if it is become more difficult by having been often repeated, is also, for the same reason, become more pleasing ; because our success, the longer it is continued, is more indubitably the proof of approbation, and approbation is the pledge of success. The favour of the dramatic world, which we have thus obtained, together with the valuable assistance of many histrionic geniuses, will ever be considered by us as an incitement, not only to perseverance, but improvement; that we may still justify the zeal of our patrons, and not be disgraced by the praises we hourly receive.
The critical portion of our work has hitherto been regulated by the strictest attention to private interest, as well as public duty; and we shall ever rely with confidence upon the support of those who love the language of truth, and scorn the praise of venality. We shall, in this department, always endeavour to obtain the Actor's confidence, and promote his advantage and success; nor till the Stage can be more effectually served than by zealous devotion and impartial remark, will we relinquish the fair hope of justifying that support with which our unremitting efforts have been, and we trust ever will be, honoured.
The miscellaneous collections, we are happy to say, still maintain the same high character which
has gained for “ THE DRAMA" so distinguished a fame, and to which we have ever directed our strictest attention; and we feel a gratifying sensation in looking over the volume just concluded, which contains some of the brightest gems in the mine of dramatic literature. Our chief aim has been to present, in a convenient form, the subject matter of every work relating to the Stage now in existence. But we have not only availed ourselves of the labours of others; our own stock of histrionic knowledge we have continually added thereto; and we pride ourselves on having produced a mass of information to the dramatic reader and collector, not to be found in any publication now in existence; a mass of materials, to which reference may be had hereafter, with a full dependance on its truth and correctness.
Of those kind contributors who have, in a considerable degree, enabled us to uphold the character of our work, we need say but little; we can only tender them our sincere thanks; as our insertion of their communications is the highest compliment we could possibly pay them, and although delays so unavoidable in periodical works of this description, may have sometimes caused them disappointment and impatience, yet we trust the promptitude with which we have always endeavoured to atone for our seeming neglect, will be our passport to a firmer cemented friendship. Until our next meeting, we “ most respectfully bid them farewell.”
“ To the great idol of the tragic fane, The muse, admiring, now renews her strain ; To thee, who clothed in beauty ev'ry thought, And won each heart, with truths by SHAKSPEARE taught; Who burst at once on the astonish'd gaze, To charm all eyes, and ev'ry ear amaze, By sounds, with lofty, full expression fraught, Richly express’d, nor indistinctly caught. Hail! pride and grace of histrionic page, Hail! mighty master of the British Stage ! An age has seen thee undisputed reign, And on thy form the regal robe retain : My heart with rapture dwells upon the lay, And treads the path where genius leads the way. Thou did'st recall to grace the living Stage, lo splendid state immortal SHAKSPEARE's page, To him did'st pay a long assiduous court, His favourite votary, and his sole support: The mighty shadows by the sweet swan' trac'd, Thou hast enliven'd by thy kindred taste. Oh! if perfection human powers may claim, The glowing wreath must circle Kemble's name."
Those arts with which the morals and progress of a nation are connected must always possess a most exalted
NO. 25.-VOL. IV.
claim upon taste and admiration, as well in relation to the intellect displayed in the arts themselves, as to the utility of their designPoetry and painting are generally allowed to have a closer connexion with refinement and civilization than any other species of art or science; and, however the vulgar and sanctimonious of mankind may undervalue them, history proves that to whatever degree of perfection these arts have attained in any country, there also, in proportion, have the results been advantageous. The DRAMA, however, may be considered as, in a great measure, blending these two arts into one, and thereby, with the superadded advantages of life and motion, advancing a strong plea to superiority over either. For, if the stage be a
mirror,” and poetry and action are essential to dramatic exhibitions, representations of this nature may, with strict propriety, be characterised as animated paintings. In witnessing a fine play well acted, the spectator feels that interest and gratification doubled, which would naturally arise in his bosom on perusing an excellent poem, or contemplating a beautiful picture. For though a fine imagination and a masterly hand may perform much, yet we are all aware that no representation of either the poet or the painter affects us so sensibly as the events of real life to which the mimic incidents of the drama bear a close relationship. The greatest and most varied talents are necessary to constitute a good performer; and the character of the stage, as above given, resting upon incontestible proof, it it impossible to discern any rational foundation for denying to the histrionic profession as high honours and applause as are bestowed on any other class of the liberal arts. Many and noble characters society and their country have had to boast selected from this profession; but, amidst its living ornaments, no one stands more conspicuously eminent than the subject of this memoir.
Mr, Roger KEMBLE, the father of the present celebrated family of that name, was a Roman Catholic, and originally a barber ; he followed his trade for some time at Barnet, and afterwards at Rochester; from thence he went to Deal, and married the daughter of one Ward, manager of a strolling company, and commenced actor. He was, bowever, thought so meanly of in his new profession, that