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Virginius. I've seen this face! Tut! tut! I know it
As well as I do my own, yet can't bethink me
Whose face it is ! Virginia. You mean Achilles' face !
Act 1. Scene 2.
PRINTED FROM THE ACTING COPY, WITH REMARKS,
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL, BY D-G.
To which are added,
A DESCRIPTION OF THE COSTUME, -CAST OF THE CHARACTERS, ENTRANCES AND EXITS,-RELATIVE POSITIONS OF THE PERFORMERS ON THE STAGE, AND THE WHOLE OF THE STAGE
As now performed at the
THEATRES ROYAL, LONDON.
EMBELLISHED WITH A FINE ENGRAVING,
By Mr. WuITE, from a Drawing taken in the Theatre, by
MR. R. CRUIKSHANK,
LONDON : JOHN CUMBERLAND, 6, BRECKNOCK PLACE,
To WILLIAM MACREADY, Esq.
MY DEAR SIR,
What can I do less than dedicate this Tragedy to you? This is a question which you cannot answer ; but I can-I cannot do less; and if I could do more, I ought, and would.
I was a perfect stranger to you. You read my play, and at once committed yourself respecting its merits. This, perhaps, is not saying much for your head—but it says a great deal for your heart; and that is the consideration which, above all others, makes me feel happy, and proud, in subscribing myself,
Your grateful Friend and Servant,
JAMES SHERIDAN KNOWLES.
London, May 20, 1820.
Virginius. TABRE is not in history, ancient or modern, a story of deeper woe. one that exhibits a more exalted picture of true greatness, than the sacrifice of Virginia by her father, to save her from the last of the Decemvir Appius. The tale is simple and grand, and full of dramatic interest, which should centre in one catastrophe, the death of Virginja. All beyond that is extraneous. It is harder for the poet to pourtray than the imagination to conceive the agony of a fond father after having been reduced to so sad an extremity. Nor is it necessary to show by what means the tyrant fell, whether by his own ignoble hand, or by the fury of the tribunes. When he falls by that of Virginius, he falls too nobly. And, though the introduction of the urn containing the ashes of Virginia, may produce an involuntary shudder-though it cause the heart to throb and the eyes to o'erflow-the plot had been more integral and complete, bad it concluded with the terrible denunciation of Virginius, when he draws forth the weapon reeking with his daughter's blood :
“Lo !, Apping ! with this innocent blood,
I do devote thee to the infernal gods !" An author, however, who writes for the stage, must often violate his own judgment to fall in with the public taste. Addison complained of this dire necessity, when he introduced the loves of Juba and Marcia in Cato. The audience had been so long accustomed to love scenes, that a tragedy without an amour would have stood no chance of success. We are therefore ready to admit, that though such a con. clusion would have been more in accordance with true taste, it is a question if the play had been equally popular had the distraction of Virginius, the death of Appius, and the exhibition of the urn, been omitted. It is singular, conversant as Shakspeare was with ancient history, that two such interesting stories of Imperial Rome, the death of Virginia, and the judgment of Brutus, should have escaped his vigilance. Yet, great as was the sacrifice that Brutus made by