Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

"Mary, let this obfervation go hand in hand with the reft or rather, like a country-ferving man, fome five yards before them. Prefent not your felfe on the ftage (efpecially at a new play) untill the quaking prologue hath (by rubbing) got cullor into his cheekes, and is ready to give the trumpets their cue that hees upon point to enter: for then it is time, as though you were one of the properties, or that you dropt of the hangings, to creep behind the arras, with your tripos or threelegged ftoole in one hand, and a tefion mounted betweene a fore-finger and a thumbe, in the other: for if you fhould beftow your perfon upon the vulgar, when the belly of the houfe is but halfe full, your apparell is quite eaten up, the fashion loft, and the proportion of your body in more danger to be devoured, then if it were ferved up in the Counter amongst the Poultry: avoid that as you would the baftome. It fhall crowne you with rich commendation, to laugh alowd in the middeft of the most ferious and faddeft fcene of the terribleft tragedy and to let that clapper (your tongue) be toft fo high that all the house may ring of it your lords ufe it; your knights are apes to the lords, and do fo too: your inne-a-court-man is zany to the knights, and (many very scurvily) comes likewife limping after it: bee thou a beagle to them all, and never lin fnuffing till you have fcented them for by talking and laughing (like a ploughman in a morris) you heape Pelion upon Ofa, glory upon glory as firft all the eyes in the galleries will leave walking after the players, and onely follow you: the fimpleft dolt in the house fnatches up your name, and when he meetes you in the fireetes, or that vou fall into his hands in the middle of a watch, his word fhall be taken for

:

:

you: heele cry, Hees fuch Hees fuch a gallant, and gallant, and you paffe. Secondly you publish your temperance to the world, in that you feeme not to refort thither to taste vaine pleasures with a hungrie appetite; but onely as a gentleman, to fpend a foolish houre or two, because you can doe nothing elfe. Thirdly you mightily difrelifh the audience, and difgrace the author: marry, you take up (though it be at the worst hand) a ftrong opinion of your owne judgement, and inforce the poet to take pity of your weakeneffe, and by fome dedicated fonnet to bring you into a better paradice, onely to stop your mouth.

"If you can (either for love or money) provide your felfe a lodging by the water fide: for above the conveniencie it brings to fhun fhoulder-clapping, and to fhip away your cockatrice betimes in the morning, it addes a kind of state unto you, to be carried from thence to the ftaires of your playhouse hate a fculler (remember that) worse then to be acquainted with one ath' fcullery. No, your oares are your onely fea-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 waterfnaks 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 filver comes in, remember to pay trebble their fare, and it will make your floundercatchers to fend 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 loofe (as fencers doe in a prize) and beate

one another by confederacie, yet fhare the money when you meete at fupper: notwithstanding, to gul the raggamuffins that ftand a loofe gaping at you, throw the cards (having first torne four or five of them) round about the ftage, juft upon the third found, as though you had loft: it fkils not if the four knaves ly on their backs, and outface the audience, there's none fuch fooles as dare take exceptions at them, because ere the play go off, better knaves than they, will fall into the company.

66

Now, Sir, if the writer be a fellow that hath either epigram'd you, or hath had a flirt at your miftris, or hath brought either your feather, or your red beard, or your little legs, &c. on the ftage, you fhall difgrace him worse then by toffing him in a blanket, or giving him the baftinado in a taverne, if in the middle of his play (bee it paftorall or comedy, morall or tragedie) you rife with a fkreud and difcontented face from your ftoole to be gone no matter whether the fcenes be good or no; the better they are, the worse doe you diftaft them and beeing on your feete, fneake not away like a coward, but falute all your gentle acquaintance that are fpred either on the rushes or on ftooles 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 mufick without frets.

"Mary, if either the company, or indifpofition of the weather binde you to fit it out, my counsell is then that you turne plaine ape: take up a ruth and tickle the earneft eares of your fellow gallants, to make other fooles fall a laughing: mewe at the paffionate speeches, blare at merrie, finde fault with

the muficke, whewe at the children's action, whistle at the fongs; and above all, curfe the fharers, that whereas the fame day you had beftowed forty fhillings on an embroidered felt and feather (Scotch fashion) for your miftres in the court, or your punck in the cittie, within two houres after, you encounter with the very fame block on the stage, when the haberdafher fwore to you the impreffion was extant but that morning.

"To conclude, hoord up the finest play-scraps you can get, upon which your leane wit may most favourly feede, for want of other ftuffe, when the Arcadian and Euphuis'd gentlewomen have their tongues fharpened to fet upon you that qualitie (next to your shittlecocke) is the only furniture to a 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-houfes bee emptied, are (or ought to be) tavernes: into a taverne then let us next march, where the braines of one hogfhead must be beaten out to make up another."4

The following pretty picture of THE STAGE is given in Gayton's Notes on Don Quixote, 1654, p. 271:

"Men come not to ftudy at a play-houfe, but love fuch expreffions and paffages, which with eafe infinuate themselves into their capacities. Lingua, that learned comedy of the contention betwixt the five fenfes for fuperiority, is not to be proftituted to the common ftage, 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 faylers, water-men, fhoo-makers, butchers, and apprentices, are at leifare, then it is good policy to amaze thofe violent fpirits with fome tearing Tragedy full of fights and skirmishes : as the Guelphs and Guillins, Greeks and Trojans, or the three London Apprentices; which commonly ends in fix acts, the spectators frequently mounting the stage, and making a more bloody cataftrophe amongst themfelves, than the players did. I have known upon one of these festivals, but especially at Shrove-tide, where

I should have attempted on the prefent occafion 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 fuch paffages from them as tend to the illustration of this fubject; to which he has added more accurate remarks than my experience in these matters would have enabled me to fupply. STEEVENS.

the players have been appointed, notwithstanding their bils to the contrary, to act what the major part of the company had a mind to; fometimes Tamerlane, fometimes Jugurth, fometimes The Jew of Malta; and fometimes 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 unleffe this were done, and the popular humour satisfied, as fometimes it fo fortun'd, that the players were refractory; the benches, the tiles, the laths, the ftones, oranges, apples, nuts, flew about moft liberally; and, as there were mechanicks of all profeffions, who fell every one to his owne trade, and diffolved 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 noife and tumult fils the `house, untill a cogg take 'um, and then to the bawdy houfes and reforme them; and inftantly to the Bank's Side, where the poor bears must conclude the riot, and fight twenty dogs at a time befide the butchers, which fometimes fell into the fervice; this perform'd, and the horfe and jack-un-apes for a jigge, they had fport enough that day for nothing." TonD.

« AnteriorContinuar »