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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 fpend 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 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 ftop your
"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 fwim 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 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, 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.
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 discontented face from your ftoole to be gone: no matter whether the fcenes be good or no; the better they are, the worfe 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 rush 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 ftage, when the haberdasher swore 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 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 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-houses bee emptied, are (or ought to be) tavernes into a taverne then let us next march, where the braines of one hogfhead muft be beaten out to make up another."4
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 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 leifure, then it is good policy to amaze thofe violent fpirits with fome tearing Tragedy full of fights and fkirmishes : as the Guelphs and Guillins, Greeks and Trojans, or the three London Apprentices; which commonly ends in fix acts, the spectators 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
MR. M. MASON'S COMMENTS, &c.
NOT thoroughly fatisfied with any of the for
mer editions of Shakspeare, even that of Johnson, I had refolved to venture upon one of my own, and had actually collected materials for the purpose, when that, which is the fubject of the following Obfervations, made its appearance; in which I found that a confiderable 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 fagacity of Tyrwhitt.-I will fairly confefs that I was fomewhat mortified at this discovery, which compell'd me to relinquish a favourite purfuit, from whence I had vainly expected to derive fome degree of credit in the literary world. This, however, was a fecondary confideration; and my principal purpofe will be answered to my wifh, if the Comments, which I now fubmit to the publick fhall, 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.