NEVER was there leſs difficulty in deſcribing the neceſſity, the advantage, and the utility of a work than of this. To faſcinate the mind into the exerciſe of morality, to ridicule folly into a love of ſocial duty, to inculcate virtue through the medium of pleaſure, and to beget an abhorrence of vice by rendering it hideous, was originally intended by the inſtitution, and has, to the infinite benefit of the mind, the gratification of the ſenſes, and the improvement of the underſtanding, continued to be, but with little abatement, the province and operation of the ſtage.
WITH the pulpit, and the bar, the ſtage has ever been properly claſſed; and it will readily be granted that if the regulation and care of our religious principles, and the protection and ſecurity of our worldly property, are objects of national importance, the poliſh and refinement of our ſocial manners cannot make up an inconſiderable part of our character as rational beings; ſince, without the inoffenſive pleaſures of life, the more ſerious conſiderations of ſpiritual and temporal concerns could no more render the enjoyments of the mind complete, than, without health, could the comforts of piety, and the advantages of fortune, thoſe of the body.
THIS publication, if it ſhould be executed with full effect, will certainly operate to a moſt eligible extent. To thoſe who chuſe to conſider it ſuperficially, it will yet be an important object, for, perhaps, more novelty and information will grow out of it than is contained in any work extant. As the anecdotes and the obſervations relate to all countries, and the Stage, in conſequence of conveying inſtruction through its influence on the ſenſes, has at all times boaſted admirers, from its higheſt patrons down to the loweſt orders of ſociety; it cannot fail of being intereſting to every ſort of reader; to facilitate which, care will be taken to keep the ſtyle of the narrative nervous, perſpicuous, and ſimple. To thoſe who have been deſirous, but not accuſtomed to read hiſtory, much information will be gathered from thoſe circumſtances in which ſome particular periods of the Stage will naturally lead to an elucidation of national events.
AGAIN. The Hiſtory of the Theatre neceſſarily connects itſelf with the Hiſtory of the Opera. Muſic, therefore, as far as it relates to nature, and its effects on the paſſions, and which has been beſt felt through the medium of the Drama, will at different opportunities be treated on at conſiderable length; which will, of courſe, branch out the ſubject into Dance, Pantomime, and all thoſe extraneous objects which, according as their modes of introduction have varried, have ſometimes corrupted, and ſometimes ornamented the Theatre; nor will Painting eſcape obſervation, that ſo the Hiſtory of the Stage, as far as it goes, may comprehend a Hiſtory of the Arts.
[Page 3] IN ſhort, there cannot be a ſubject ſo full of intereſt, amuſem [...]nt, and inſtruction as the Stage. There is no object it does not embrace, no c [...]rioſity it does not excite, no mental pleaſure it does not convey, no manners it doe [...] not repreſent. An attempt, therefore, to review this extenſive theme, and by compariſon to place the Engliſh Stage in a light ſuperior to any other, is ſubmitted to the Engliſh reader in a more digeſted form than has hitherto been attempted, an [...] as a claſſical work, in which the taſte, the judgment, and the manners of the countr [...] are materially intereſted.
SUBSCRIBERS' Names are received at Mr. DIBDIN's WAREHOUS [...]S, LEICESTER PLACE, LEICESTER SQUARE, and in the STRAND; at both which Places may be had his popular Novel of HANNAH HEWIT; Or, the FEMALE CRUSOE; The YOUNGER BROTHER; his various SONGS; and every other Article ſpecified in his Catalogue.