The Fatal Dowry

The Fatal Dowry has been cobbled, I see, by some purblind ultra-crepidarian -McCready’s friend, Walker, very likely; but nevertheless, I maintain ’tis a good play, and might have been rendered very effective by docking it of the whole fifth act, which is an excrescence, – re-creating Novall, and making Beaumelle a great deal more ghost-gaping and moonlightish. The cur-tailor has taken out the most purple piece in the whole web – the end of the fourth Act – and shouldered himself into toleration through the prejudices of the pit, when he should have built his admiration on their necks. Say what you will, I am convinced the man who is to awaken the drama must be a bold trampling fellow, no creeper into worm-holes, no reviver even, however good. These reanimations are vampire-cold. Such ghosts as Marloe, Webster &c. are better dramatists, better poets, I dare say, than any contemporary of ours, but they are ghosts; the worm is in their pages; and we want to see something that our great-grandsires did not know. With the greatest reverence for all the antiquities of the drama, I still think that we had better beget than revive; attempt to give the literature of this age an idiosyncrasy and spirit of its own, and only raise a ghost to gaze on, not to live with – just now the drama is a haunted ruin.”

Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803-1849), letter to Thomas Forbes Kelsall, 11 January 1825

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