An Authentic Account of an Embassy from the King of Great Britain. 3

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An Authentic Account of an Embassy from the King of Great Britain. 3
An authentic account of an Embassy from the King of Great Britain to the Emperor of China: including cursory observations made, and information obtained, in travelling through that ancient empire, and a small part of Chinese Tartary
George Staunton (1737-1801.0)
3:Plate 30
London: W. Bulmer and Co.
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XXX. A dramatic scene on the Chinese stage. The principal story of the
piece, of which this scene represents a part, is taken from the ancient
history of the country. It opens with the account of an emperor of China
and his empress, who, in the midst of perfect felicity and apparent
security, are surprised by a sudden revolt among their subjects. A war
ensues; many battles are fought upon the stage; and at length the
arch-rebel, a general of cavalry, characterized on the stage by a whip
in his hand, overcomes his sovereign, whom he slays with his own hand.
The captive empress appears in all the agonies of despair naturally
resulting from the loss of her husband, as well as of her state and
dignity, and indeed danger of her honour. Whilst she is uttering
lamentations, and rending the skies with her complaints, the conqueror
enters. Of this scene the plate is a representation. He approaches her
with respect, addresses her in a gentle tone, attempts to soothe her
sorrows, talks of love and adoration; and, like Richard the Third and
Lady Anne in Shakspeare, in less than half an hour prevails on her to
dry up her tears, to forget a dead husband, and to console herself with
a living one. The persuasions of her own officers and attendants in
favour of the general, have more weight with the lady than the
supplicating priest, who, prostate on the ground, intreats her not to
marry the murderer of her husband. The piece concludes as usual with the
nuptials, and a grand procession.

The dresses worn by the ancient Chinese are still preserved in the
drama. The band of music has its situation on the back part of the
stage; there is no change of scene; and, in general, the front of the
theatre is exposed to the open air.