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you: heele Hees such a gallant, and you passe. Secondly you publish your temperance to the world, in that you seeme not to resort thither to taste vaine pleasures with a hungrie appetite; but onely as a gentleman, to spend a foolish houre or two, because you can doe nothing else. Thirdly you mightily disrelish the audience, and disgrace the author: marry, you take up (though it be at the worst hand) a strong opinion of your owne judgement, and inforce the poet to take pity of your weakenesse, and by some dedicated sonnet to bring you into a better paradise, onely to stop your mouth.
"If you can (either for love or money) provide your selfe a lodging by the water side: for above the conveniencie it brings to shun shoulder-clapping, and to ship away your cockatrice betimes in the morning, it addes a kind of state unto you, to be carried from thence to the staires of your playhouse: hate a sculler (remember that) worse then to be acquainted with one ath' scullery. No, your oares are your onely sea-crabs, boord them, and take heed you never go twice together with one paire: often shifting is a great credit to gentlemen and that dividing of your fare wil make the poore watersnaks be ready to pul you in peeces to enjoy your custome. No matter whether upon landing you have money or no; you may swim in twentie of their boates over the river upon ticket; mary, when silver comes in, remember to pay trebble their fare, and it will make your floundercatchers to send more thankes after you, when you doe not draw, then when you doe : for they know, it will be their owne another daie.
"Before the play begins, fall to cardes; you may win or loose (as fencers doe in a prize) and beate
one another by confederacie, yet share the money when you meete at supper: notwithstanding, to gul the raggamuffins that stand a loofe gaping at you, throw the cards (having first torne four or five of them) round about the stage, just upon the third sound, as though you had lost: it skils not if the four knaves ly on their backs, and outface the audience, there's none such fooles as dare take exceptions at them, because ere the play go off, better knaves than they, will fall into the company.
Now, Sir, if the writer be a fellow that hath either epigram'd you, or hath had a flirt at your mistris, or bath brought either your feather, or your red beard, or your little legs, &c. on the stage, you shall disgrace him worse then by tossing him in a blanket, or giving him the bastinado in a taverne, if in the middle of his play (bee it pastorall or comedy, morall or tragedie) you rise with a skreud and discontented face from your stoole to be gone: no matter whether the scenes be good or no; the better they are, the worse doe you distast them and beeing on your feete, sneake not away like a coward, but salute all your gentle acquaintance that are spred either on the rushes or on stooles about you, and draw what troope you can from the stage after you: the mimicks are beholden to you, for allowing them elbow roome: their poet cries perhaps, a pox go with you, but care not you for that; there's no musick without frets.
"Mary, if either the company, or indisposition of the weather binde you to sit it out, my counsell is then that you turne plaine ape: take up a rush and tickle the earnest eares of your fellow gallants, to make other fooles fall a laughing: mewe at the passionate speeches, blare at merrie, finde fault with
the musicke, whewe at the children's action, whistle at the songs; and above all, curse the sharers, that whereas the same day you had bestowed forty shillings on an embroidered felt and feather (Scotch fashion) for your mistres in the court, or your punck in the cittie, within two houres after, you encounter with the very same block on the stage, when the haberdasher swore to you the impression was extant but that morning.
"To conclude, hoord up the finest play-scraps you can get, upon which your leane wit may most savourly feede, for want of other stuffe, when the Arcadian and Euphuis'd gentlewomen have their tongues sharpened to set upon you: that qualitie (next to your shittlecocke) is the only furniture to à courtier that's but a new beginner, and is but in his A B C of complement. The next places that are fil'd after the play-houses bee emptied, are (or ought to be) tavernes into a taverne then let us next march, where the braines of one hogshead must be beaten out to make up another."
The following pretty picture of THE STAGE is given in Gayton's Notes on Don Quixote, 1654, p. 271:
"Men come not to study at a play-house, but love such expressions and passages, which with ease insinuate themselves into their capacities. Lingua, that learned comedy of the contention betwixt the five senses for superiority, is not to be prostituted to the common stage, but is only proper for an Academy; to them bring Jack Drum's Entertainment, Green's Tu Quoque, the Devil of Edmonton, and the like; or, if it be on holy dayes, when saylers, water-men, shoo-makers, butchers, and apprentices, are at leisure, then it is good policy to amaze those violent spirits with some tearing Tragedy full of fights and skirmishes: as the Guelphs and Guiblins, Greeks and Trojans, or the three London Apprentices; which commonly ends in six acts, the spectators frequently mounting the stage, and making a more bloody catastrophe amongst themselves, than the players did. I have known upon one of these festivals, but especially at Shrove
I should have attempted on the present occasion to enumerate all other pamphlets, &c. from whence particulars relative to the conduct of our early theatres might be collected, but that Dr. Percy, in his first volume of the Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, (third edit. p. 128, &c.) has extracted such passages from them as tend to the illustration of this subject; to which he has added more accurate remarks than my experience in these matters would have enabled me to supply. STEEVENS.
tide, where the players have been appointed, notwithstanding their bils to the contrary, to act what the major part of the company had a mind to; sometimes Tamerlane, sometimes Jugurth, sometimes The Jew of Malta; and sometimes parts of all these, and at last none of the three taking, they were forc'd to undresse and put off their tragick habits, and conclude the day with the Merry Milk-maides. And unlesse this were done, and the popular humour satisfied, as sometimes it so fortun'd, that the players were refractory; the benches, the tiles, the laths, the stones, oranges, apples, nuts, flew about most liberally; and, as there were mechanicks of all professions, who fell every one to his owne trade, and dissolved a house in an instant, and made a ruine of a stately fabrick. It was not then the most mimicall nor fighting man, Fowler, nor Andrew Cane, could pacifie: Prologues nor Epilogues would prevaile; the devill and the fool were quite out of favour. Nothing but noise and tumult fils the house, untill a cogg take 'um, and then to the bawdy houses and reforme them; and instantly to the Bank's Side, where the poor bears must conclude the riot, and fight twenty dogs at a time beside the butchers, which sometimes fell into the service; this perform'd, and the horse and jack-anapes for a jigge, they had sport enough that day for nothing." Todd.
MR. M. MASON'S COMMENTS, &c.
NOT thoroughly satisfied with any of the former editions of Shakspeare, even that of Johnson, I had resolved to venture upon one of my own, and had actually collected materials for the purpose, when that, which is the subject of the following Observations, made its appearance; in which I found that a considerable part of the amendments and explanations I had intended to propose were anticipated by the labours and eccentrick reading of Steevens, the ingenious researches of Malone, and the sagacity of Tyrwhitt.-I will fairly confess that I was somewhat mortified at this discovery, which compelled me to relinquish a favourite pursuit, from whence I had vainly expected to derive some degree of credit in the literary world. This, however, was a secondary consideration; and my principal purpose will be answered to my wish, if the Comments, which I now submit to the publick shall, in any other hands, contribute materially to a more complete edition of our inimitable poet.
If we may judge from the advertisement prefixed
• Edit. 1778.