« AnteriorContinuar »
lique or private play-houfe ftand to receive the afternoone's rent, let our gallant (having paid it) presently advance himself up to the throne of the ftage. I meane not in the lords' roome (which is now but the stage's fuburbs). No, thofe boxes by the iniquity of cuftome, confpiracy of waitingwomen, and gentlemen-ufhers, that there fweat together, and the covetous fharers, are contemptibly thrust into the reare, and much new fatten is there dambd by being fmothered to death in darkneffe. But on the very rufhes where the comedy is to daunce, yea and under the state of Cambifes himfelfe muft our feather'd eftridge, like a piece of ordnance be planted valiantly (because impudently) beating downe the mewes and hiffes of the oppofed rafcality.
"For do but caft up a reckoning, what large cummings in are purs'd up by fitting on the fiage. Firft a confpicuous eminence is gotten, by which meanes the best and most essential parts of a gallant (good cloathes, a proportionable legge, white hand, the Perfian locke, and a tollerable beard,) are perfectly revealed.
"By fitting on the ftage you have a fign'd pattent to engroffe the whole commodity of cenfure; may lawfully prefume to be a girder; and ftand at the helme to fteere the paffage of scenes, yet no man fhall once offer to hinder you from obtaining the title of an infolent over-weening coxcombe.
By fitting on the ftage, you may (without trauelling for it) at the very next doore, afke whofe play it is and by that queft of inquiry, the law warrants you to avoid much mistaking: if you know not the author, you may raile against him; and peradventure fo behave yourselfe, that you may enforce the author to know you.
"By fitting on the stage, if you be a knight, you may happily get you a miftreffe: if a mere FleetStreet gentleman, a wife: but affure yourselfe by continuall refidence, you are the first and principall man in election to begin the number of We three.
"By spreading your body on the ftage, and by being a juftice in examining of plaies, you fhall put yourselfe into fuch a true fcænical authority, that fome poet fhall not dare to present his mufe rudely before your eyes, without having firft unmaskt her, rifled her, and discovered all her bare and most mystical parts before you at a taverne, when you moft knightly, fhal for his paines, pay for both their fuppers.
"By fitting on the ftage, 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, a 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 most 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, spit 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 should never fit on the flage together.
"Mary, let this obfervation go hand in hand with the reft or rather, like a country-ferving man, some five yards before them. Present 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 house 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 middest of the moft ferious and faddeft fcene of the terribleft tragedy: and to let that clapper (your tongue) be toft so 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 fcurvily) 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 fnatches 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 publifh 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 spend a foolish houre or two, because you can doe nothing else. 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 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 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 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 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 ftage, juft upon the third found, as though you had loft: it skils 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 com
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 shall 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 scenes be good or no; the better they are, the worfe doe you distast them and beeing on your feete, sneake not away like a coward, but falute all your gentle acquaintance that are fpred either on the rufhes or on ftooles about you, and draw what troope you can from the ftage 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