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THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE, K. G.,
LORD CHAMBERLAIN OF HIS MAJESTY'S HOUSEHOLD,
TO THE COMPLETION OF WHICH HIS GRACE'S MATCHLESS DRAMATIC LIBRARY HAS SO IMPORTANTLY CONTRIBUTED, IS, WITH
PERMISSION, INSCRIBED BY
ENGLISH Dramatic Poetry stands alone in the history of letters *; but while in Germany it has been enthusiastically admired and diligently studied, in this country, as if satisfied with our acknowledged preeminence, it has attracted comparatively little attention. Excepting only as far as was necessary for the illustration of the text of Shakespeare, the origin and progress of that art, in which he had many precursors and rivals, seem to have been thought scarcely worth inquiry.
We are therefore without any history of English dramatic poetry; for although Warton, in his progress through other departments, has touched upon
* If there be any just exception to this remark, it can apply only to the dramatic poetry of Spain. Even France might have possessed a' romantic drama,' had the unaided and popular exertions of Hardie been followed up by other poets. That author, who for so many years, and while our Shakespeare and Spain's Lope de Vega were yet living, was the sole support of the French stage, could never have been so prolific had he checked the luxuriance of his fancy by the observance of the unities. He is said to have produced not less than eight hundred pieces of different descriptions.