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"By fitting on the ftage, if you be a knight, you may happily get you a miftreffe: if a mere FleetStreet gentleman, a wife: but affure yourfeife by continuall refidence, you are the firft and principall man in election to begin the number of We three.
By fpreading your body on the ftage, and by being a juftice in examining of plaies, you fhall put yourfelfe into fuch a true fcænical authority, that fome poet fhall not dare to present his mufe rudely before your eyes, without having firft unmafkt her, rifled her, and difcovered all her bare and moft myftical parts before you at a taverne, when you most knightly, fhal for his paines, pay for both their fuppers.
By fitting on the stage, you may (with small coft) purchase the deere acquaintance of the boyes: have a good ftoole for fixpence: at any time know what particular part any of the infants prefent: get your match lighted, examine the play-fuits' lace, perhaps win wagers upon laying 'tis copper, &c. And to conclude, whether you be a foole or a juftice of peace, a cuckold or a capten, à lord maior's fonne or a dawcocke, a knave or an under fhriefe, of what ftamp foever you be, currant or counterfet, the ftagelike time will bring you to moft perfect light, and lay you open: neither are you to be hunted from thence though the fearcrowes in the yard hoot you, hiffe at you, fpit at you, yea throw dirt even in your teeth: 'tis moft gentleman-like patience to endure all this, and to laugh at the filly animals. But if the rabble, with a full throat, crie away with the foole, you were worse than a mad-man to tarry by it: for the gentleman and the foole fhould never fit on the ftage together.
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 tefton 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 moft ferious and faddeft fcene of the terribleft tragedy: and to let that clapper (your tongue) be toft fo high that all the houfe 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 Offa, 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 inatches up your name, and when he meetes you in the fireetes, or that you fall into his hands in the middle of a watch, his word fhall be taken for
you: heele cry, Hees fuch a gallant, and you paffe. Secondly you publish your temperance to the world, in that you feeme not to refort thither to tafte vaine pleasures with a hungrie appetite; but onely as a gentleman, to spend a foolish houre or two, because you can doe nothing elfe. Thirdly you mightily difrelish the audience, and difgrace 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 weakeneffe, and by fome dedicated fonnet to bring you into a better paradice, onely to ftop 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 ftate unto you, to be carried from thence to the ftaires of your playhoufe: 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 fhifting 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 doe not draw, then when you doe : for they know, it will be their owne another daie.
you, when you
"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 fhare the money when you meete at fupper: notwithstanding, to gul the raggamuffins that ftand a loofe gaping at you, throw the cards (having firft torne four or five of them) round about the stage, just 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.
"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 worfe 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 scenes 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 counfell is then that you turne plaine ape: take up a rufh 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 bestowed 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 ftage, when the haberdasher fwore to you the impreffion was extant but that morning.
"To conclude, hoord up the finest play-fcraps you can get, upon which your leane wit may moft favourly feede, for want of other stuffe, when the Arcadian and Euphuis'd gentlewomen have their tongues fharpened to fet upon you: that qualitie (next to your fhittlecocke) 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-house, but love fuch expreffions and paffages, which with ease 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 leifure, then it is good policy to amaze thofe violent fpirits with fome tearing Tragedy full of fights and ikirmishes : as the Guelphs and Guillins, Greeks and Trojans, or the three London Apprentices; which commonly ends in fix acts, the fpectators frequently mounting the ftage, and making a more bloody cataftrophe amongst themselves, than the players did. I have known upon one of these feftivals, but especially at Shrove-tide, where