Written by the
Thrice Noble, Illustrious
Printed by A. Warren, for John Martyn, James
Alleſtry, and Tho.Thomas Dicas, at the Bell in
Saint Pauls Church Yard, 16621662.
To thoſe that do delight in Scenes and wit,
I dedicate my Book, for thoſe I writ;
Next to my own Delight, for I did take
Much pleaſure and delight theſe Playes to make;
For all the time my Playes a making were,
My brain the Stage, my thoughts were acting there.
The Epistle Dedicatory
My reſolution was, that when I had done writing, to have dedicated all my works in groſs to your Lordſhip; and I did verily believe that this would have been my laſt work: but I find it will not, unleſs I dye before I have writ my other intended piece. And as for this Book of Playes, I believe I ſhould never have writ them, nor have had the Capacity nor Ingenuity to have writ Playes, had not you read to me ſome Playes which your Lordſhip had writ, and lye by for a good time to be Acted, wherein your Wit did Create a deſire in my Mind to write Playes alſo, although my Playes are very unlike thoſe you have writ, for your Lordſhips Playes have as it were a natural life, and a quick ſpirit in them, whereas mine are like dull dead ſtatues, which is the reaſon I ſend them forth to be printed, rather than keep them concealed in hopes to have them firſt Acted; and this advantage I have, that is, I am out of the fear of having them hiſſed off from the Stage, for they are not like to come thereon; but were they ſuch as might deſerve applauſe, yet if Envy did make a faction againſt them, they would have had a publick Condemnation; and though I am not ſuch a Coward, as to be affraid of the hiſſing Serpents, or A3 ſtinged vi A3v ſtinged Tongues of Envy, yet it would have made me a little Melancholy to have my harmleſs and innocent Playes go weeping from the Stage, and whipt by malicious and hard-hearted censurers; but the truth is, I am careleſs, for ſo I have your applauſe I deſire no more, for your Lordſhips approvement is a ſufficient ſatisfaction to me
My Lord, Your Lordſhips honeſt Wife, and faithfull Servant,
To The Readers.
I Must ask pardon, for that I ſaid I ſhould not trouble you with more of my works than this Book of Playes; but ſince I have conſidered with my ſelf, there is one work more, which is very fit for me to do, although I ſhall not be able to do it ſo well as the ſubject will deſerve, being the Life of my Noble Lord; but that work will require ſome time in the gathering together ſome ſeveral paſſages; for although I mean not to write of all the particulars of theſe times, yet foraſmuch as is concerning that ſubject I ſhall write of, it will be requirable; but it is a work that will move ſo ſlowly, as perchance I ſhall not live to finiſh it; but howſoever, I will imploy my time about it, and it will be a ſatisfaction to my life that I indeavour it.
To the Readers.
The reaſon why I put out my Playes in print, before they are Acted, is, firſt, that I know not when they will be Acted, by reaſon they are in Engliſh, and England doth not permit I will not ſay of Wit, yet not of Playes; and if they ſhould, yet by reaſon all thoſe that have been bred and brought up to Act, are dead, or diſperſed, and it would be an Act of ſome time, not only to breed and teach ſome Youths to Act, but it will require ſome time to prove whether they be good Actors or no; for if they are not bred to it whilſt they be young, they will never be good Actors when they are grown up to be men; for although ſome one by chance may have naturally, a facility to Action, and a Volubility of Speech, and a good memory to learn, and get the Parts by heart, or wrote yet it is very unlikely, or indeed impoſſible, to get a whole Company of good Asctors without being taught and brought up thereto; the other reaſon is, that moſt of my Playes would ſeem tedious upon the Stage, by reaſon they are ſomewhat long, although moſt are divided into firſt and ſecond Parts; for having much variety in them, I could not poſſibly make them ſhorter, and being long, it might tire the Spectators, who are forced, or bound by the rules of Civility to ſit out a Play, if they be not ſick; for to go away before a Play is ended, is a kind of an affront, both to the Poet and the Players; yet, I believe none of my Playes are ſo long as Ben.Benjamin Johnſon’s Fox, or Alchymiſt, which in truth, are ſomewhat too long; but for the Readers, the length of the Playes can be no trouble, nor inconveniency, becauſe they may read as ſhort or as long a time as they pleaſe, without any diſreſpect to the Writer; but ſome of my Playes are ſhort enough; but the printing of my Playes ſpoils them for ever to be Acted; for what men are acquainted with, is deſpiſed, at leſt neglected; for the newneſs of Playes, moſt commonly, takes the Spectators, more than the Wit, Scenes, or Plot, ſo that my Playes would ſeem lame or tired in action, and dull to hearing on the Stage, for which reaſon, I ſhall never deſire they ſhould be Acted; but if they delight or pleaſe the Readers, I ſhall have as much ſatisfaction as if I had the hands of applauſe from the Spectators.
To The Readers.
Although I expect my Playes will be found fault with, by reaſon I have not drawn the ſeveral perſons preſented in a Circular line, or to a Trianglar point, making all the Actors to meet at the latter end upon the Stage in a flock together; likewiſe, that I have not made my Comedies of one dayes actions or paſſages; yet I have adventured to publiſh them to the World: But to plead in my Playes behalf, firſt, I do not perceive any reaſon why that the ſeveral perſons preſented ſhould be all of an acquaintance, or that there is a neceſſity to have them of one Fraternity, or to have a relation to each other, or linck’d in alliance as one Family; when as Playes are to present the general Follies, Vanities, Vices, Humours, Diſpoſitions, Paſſions, Affections, Faſhions, Cuſtoms, Manners, and practices of the whole World of Mankind, as in ſeveral perſons; alſo particular Follies, Vanities, Vices, Humours, Paſſions, Affections, Faſhions, Cuſtoms, Fortunes, and the like, in particular perſons; alſo the Sympathy and Antipathy of Diſpoſitions, Humours, Paſſions, Cuſtoms, and Faſhions of ſeveral perſons; alſo the particular Virtues and Graces in ſeveral perſons, and ſeveral Virtues and Graces in particular perſons, and all theſe Varieties to be drawn at the latter end into one piece, as into one Company, which in my opinion ſhews neither Uſual, Probable, nor Natural. For ſince the World is wide and populated, and their various actions diſperſed, and ſpread about by each particular, and Playes are to preſent them ſeverally, I perceive no reaſon they ſhould force them together in the laſt Act, as in one Community, bringing them in as I may ſay by Head and Shoulders, making the perſons of each Humour, good Fortunes, Misfortunes, Nations and Ages, to have relations to each other; but in this I have not followed the ſteps of precedent Poets, for in my opinion, I think it as well, if not better, if a Play ends but with two perſons, or one perſon upon the Stage; beſides, I would have my Playes to be like the Natural courſe of all things in the World, as ſome dye ſooner, ſome live longer, and ſome are newly born, when ſome are newly dead, and not all to continue to the laſt day of Judgment; ſo my Scenes, ſome laſt longer than other ſome, and ſome are ended when others are begun; likewiſe ſome of my Scenes have no acquaintance or relation to the reſt of the Scenes, although in one and the ſame Play, which is the reaſon many of my Playes will not end as other Playes do, eſpecially Comedies, for in Tragi-Comedies I think Poets do not alwayes make all lye bleeding together; but I think for the moſt part they do but the want of this ſwarm in the last Act and Scene, may make my Playes ſeem dull and vacant, but I love eaſe ſo well, as I hate conſtraint even in my works; for I had rather have a dull eaſy life, than be forced to active gayeties, ſo I had rather my Playes ſhould end dully than unneceſſarily be forced into one Company, but ſome of my Playes are gathered into one ſheaf or bundel in the latter end. Likewiſe my Playes A4 may viiiA4v may be Condemned, becauſe they follow not the Antient Cuſtome, as the learned ſayes, which is, that all Comedies ſhould be ſo ordered and compoſed, as nothing ſhould be preſented therein, but what may be naturally, or uſually practiced or Acted in the World in the compaſs of one day; truly in my opinion thoſe Comedies would be very flat and dull, and neither profitable nor pleaſant, that ſhould only preſent the actions of one day; for though Ben.Benjamin Johnſon as I have heard was of that opinion, that a Comedy cannot be good, nor is a natural or true Comedy, if it ſhould preſent more than one dayes action, yet his Comedies that he hath publiſhed, could never be the actions of one day; for could any rational perſon think that the whole Play of the Fox could be the action of one day? or can any rational perſon think that the Alchymiſt could be the action of one day? as that ſo many ſeveral Cozenings could be Acted in one day, by Captain Face and Doll Common; and could the Alchymiſt make any believe they could make gold in one day? could they burn ſo many Coals, and draw the purſes of ſo many, or ſo often from one perſon, in one day? and the like is in all his Playes, not any of them presents the actions of one day, although it were a day at the Poles, but of many days, nay I may ſay ſome years. But to my reaſon, I do not perceive a neceſſity that Comedies ſhould be ſo cloſely packt or thruſt up together; for if Comedies are either to delight, or to profit, or to both, they muſt follow no other rule or example, but to put them into Scenes and Acts, and to order their ſeveral diſcources in a Comedy, ſo as Phyſicians do their Cordials, wherein they mix many ſeveral Ingrediences together into one Electuary, as ſharp, bitter, ſalt, and ſweet, and mix them ſo, as they are both pleaſing to the Taſt, and comfortable to the Stomach; ſo Poets ſhould order the ſeveral Humours, Paſſions, Cuſtoms, Manners, Faſhions, and practice of Mankind, as to intermix them ſo, as to be both delightfull to the Mind and Senſes, and profitable to the Life; alſo Poets ſhould do as Phyſicians or Apothecaries, which put not only ſeveral ſorts, but ſeveral kinds of Drugs into one Medicine, as Minerals and Vegetables together, which are very different; alſo they will mix ſeveral Druggs and Simples out of ſeveral Climates and Countries, gathered out from all the parts of the World, and upon occaſion they will mix new and old Simples together, although of one and the ſame ſort and kind; ſo Poets both in their Comedies and Tragedies, muſt, or at leaſtwiſe may, repreſent ſeveral Nations, Governments, People, Cuſtoms, Faſhions, Manners, Natures, Fortunes, Accidents, Actions, in one Play; as alſo ſeveral times of Ages to one perſon if occaſion requires, as from Childhood to Manhood in one Play; for Poets are to deſcribe in Playes the ſeveral Ages, Times, Actions, Fortunes, Accidents, and Humours in Nature, and the ſeveral Cuſtoms, Manners, Faſhions, and Speeches of men: thus Playes are to preſent the natural diſpoſitions and practices of Mankind; alſo they are to point at Vanity, laugh at Follies, diſgrace Baſeneſs, and perſecute Vice; likewiſe they are to extol Virtue, and to honour Merit, and to praiſe the Graces, all which makes a Poet Divine, their works edifying to the Mind or Soul, profitable to the Life, delightfull to the Senſes, and recreative to Time; but Poets are like Preachers, ſome are more learned than others, and ſome are better Orators than others, yet from the worſt there may be ſome good gained by them, and I do not deſpair, although but a Poetreſs, but that my works may be ſome wayes or other ſerviceable to my Readers, which if they be, my time in writing them is not loſt, nor my Muſe unprofitable.
To the Readers.
I Cannot chuſe but mention an erronious opinion got into this our Modern time and men, which is, that it ſhould be thought a crime or debaſement for the nobler ſort to Act Playes, eſpecially on publick Theatres, although the Romans were of another opinion, for not only the noble youth did Act in publick, but ſome of the Emperours themſelves; though I do not commend it in the Emperours, who ſhould ſpend their times in realities, and not in feigning; yet certainly it was commendable in the nobleſt youths, who did practice what ought to be followed or ſhunn’d: for certainly there is no place, wayes or means, ſo edifying to Youth as publick Theatres, not only to be Spectators but Actors; for it learns them gracefull behaviours and demeanors; it puts Spirit and Life into them, it teaches them Wit, and makes their Speech both voluble and tunable, beſides, it gives them Confidence, all which ought every man to have, that is of quality. But ſome will ſay if it would work ſuch effects, why are not mercenary Players benefited ſo thereby? I anſwer, that they only Act for the lucre of Gain, and not for the grace of Behaviour, the ſweetneſs of Speech, nor the increaſing of Wit, ſo as they only Act as Parrots ſpeak, by wrote, and not as Learning gives to Education; for they making not a benefit of the wit, but only by the wit receive it; not neither into their conſideration, underſtanding, nor delight, for they make it a work of labour, and not of delight, or pleaſure, or honour; for they receive it into the memory, and no farther than for to deliver it out, as Servants or Factors to ſell, and not keep it as purchaſors to their own uſe; that is the reaſon that as soon as the Play is done, their wit and becoming graces are at an end, whereas the nobler ſort, that Act not for mercenary Profit, but for Honour, and becoming, would not only ſtrive to Act well upon the Stage, but to practiſe their actions when off from the Stage; beſisdes, it would keep the youths from miſimploying time with their fooliſh extravagancies, deboiſt luxuries, and baſe Vices, all which Idleneſs and vacant time produceth; and in my opinion, a publick Theatre were a ſhorter way of education than their tedious and expenſive Travels, or their dull and ſolitary Studies; for Poets teach them more in one Play, both of the Nature of the World and Mankind, by which they learn not only to know other men, but their own ſelves, than they can learn in any School, or in any Country or Kingdome in a year; but to conclude, a Poet is the beſt Tutor, and a Theatre is the beſt School that is for Youth to be educated by or in.
To The Readers.
I know there are many Scholaſtical and Pedantical perſons that will condemn my writings, becauſe I do not keep ſtrictly to the Maſculine and Feminine Genders, as they call them: as for example, a Lock and a Key, the one is the Maſculine Gender, the other the Feminine Gender, ſo Love is the Maſculine Gender, Hate the Feminine Gender, and the Furies are ſhees, and the Graces are ſhees, the Virtues are ſhees, and the seven deadly Sins are ſhees, which I am ſorry for; but I know no reaſon but that I may as well make them Hees for my uſe, as others did Shees, or Shees as others did Hees. But ſome will ſay, if I did do ſo, there would be no forms or rules of Speech to be underſtood by; I anſwer, that we may as well underſtand the meaning or ſenſe of a Speaker or Writer by the names of Love or Hate, as by the names of he or ſhe, and better: for the diviſion of Maſculine and Feminine Genders doth confound a Scholar more and takes up more time to learn them, than they have time to ſpend; beſides, where one doth rightly underſtand the difference, a hundred, nay a thouſand do not, and yet they are underſtood, and to be underſtood, is the end of all Speakers and Writers; ſo that if my writings be underſtood, I deſire no more; and as for the nicities of Rules, Forms, and Terms, I renounce, and profeſs, that if I did underſtand and know them ſtrictly, as I do not, I would not follow them: and if any diſlike my writings for want of thoſe Rules, Forms, and Terms, let them not read them; for I had rather my writings ſhould be unread than be read by ſuch Pedantical Scholaſtical perſons.
To The Readers.
’Tis likely you will condemn my Playes as being dull and flat, by reaſon they have not the high ſeaſoning of Poetical Salt; but Suger is more commonly uſed amongſt our Sex than Salt. But I fear my Wit is taſtleſs, which I am ſorry for; for though a Satyrical Speaker is diſcommendable, being for the moſt part abuſive; for Bitter reproofs only are fit for rigid Pedants, Cenſuring and backbiting fit for pot Companions, and ſharp replies is a wit for mean perſons, being in a degree of ſcolding; A Ralery Wit, for Buffons and Jeſters which abuſe under the Veil of Mirth, Familiarity, and Freedome; whereas a generous diſcourſitive Wit, although it be free, yet it is ſweet and pleaſing: thus as I ſaid Satyrical Speakers are diſcommendable, yet Satyrical Writers are highly to be praiſed, as moſt profitable, becauſe thoſe reprove only the generality, as the general Vices, Follies, and errors of Mankind, pointing at no particular; and the ſharpeſt Writers are moſt commonly the ſweetest Speakers. But I have obſerved one general Folly amongſt many which is, that it is expected by moſt Readers that the Writers ſhould ſpeak as they write, which would be very ridiculous; as for example, a Lyrick Poet ſhould ſpeak nothing but Sonnets, a Comedian or Tragedian Poet ſhould ſpeak nothing but ſet Speeches, or blanck Verſe, or ſuch Speeches which are only proper to preſent ſuch and ſuch humours, which in ordinary diſcourſe would be improper; and though Virgil whoſe greateſt praiſe is Language, yet I do verily believe he did not ſpeak in his ordinary Converſation in ſuch a ſtile, forms and Speeches, nor in ſuch high, fine, and choice Latin nor in ſuch high and lofty expreſſions, nor apt ſimilitudes, nor the ſence of his diſcourſe wrapt in ſuch Metaphors, as in his writings, nay Eloquent Speakers or Orators do not alwayes ſpeak Orations, but upon an occaſion, and at ſet times, but their ordinary Converſation is with ordinary diſcourſes; for I do verily believe, the greateſt and moſt Eloquents Orators that ever were in the World, in their ordinary Converſation, converſt and ſpoke but as other men. Beſides, in Common and ordinary Converſations, the moſt Wittieſt, Learnedſt, and Eloquenteſt Men, are forced to ſpeak according to the Wit, Learning, Language, and Capacities of thoſe they are in Company and Converſation with, unleſs they will ſpeak all themſelves, which will be no Converſation: for in Converſation every particular perſon muſt have his turn and time of ſpeaking as well as hearing; yet ſuch is the folly of the World, as to deſpise the Authors of Witty, Learned and Eloquent Writings, if their Converſations be as other mens, and yet would laugh at them, or account them mad, if they ſhould ſpeak otherwiſe, as out of this ordinary way; but the greatest talkers are not the beſt writers, which is the cauſe women cannot be good Writers; for we for fear of being thought Fools, make our ſelves Fools, in ſtriving to expreſ ſome Wit, whereas if we had but that power over our ſelves as to keep A5 ſilenne x A5v ſilence, we perchance might be thought Wits, although we were Fools, but to keep ſilence is impoſſible for us to do, ſo long as we have Speech, we will talk, although to no purpoſe, for nothing but Death can force us to ſilence, for we often talk in our Sleep; but to ſpeak without partiality, I do not perceive that men are free from this imperfection, nor from condemning us, although they are guilty of the ſame fault; but we have this advantage of men, which is, that we know this imperfection in our selves, although we do not indeavour to mend it; but men are ſo Partial to themselves, as not to perceive this imperfection in themſelves, and ſo they cannot mend it; but in this, will not or cannot is as one; but this diſcourſe hath brought me to this, that if I have ſpoke at any time to any perſon or perſons impertinently, improperly, untimely, or tediouſly, I ask their pardon: but leſt I ſhould be impertinently tedious in this Epiſtle, and ſo commit a fault in asking pardon, I leave my Readers to what may be more pleaſing to them.
To The Readers.
I Make no queſtion but my Playes will be cenſured, and thoſe Cenſurors ſevere, but I hope not malicious; but they will perchance ſay that my Playes are too ſerious, by reaſon there is no ridiculous Jeſt in them, nor wanton Love, nor Impoſſibilities; alſo ’tis likely they will ſay that there are no plots, nor deſigns, nor ſubtil Contrivances, and the like; I anſwer, that the chief Plots of my Playes were to imploy my idle time, the deſigns to pleaſe and entertain my Readers, and the contrivance was to join edifying Profit and Delight together, that my Readers may neither loſe their time, nor grow weary in the reading; but if they find my Playes neither Edifying, nor Delightfull, I ſhall be ſorry; but if they find either, I ſhall be pleaſed, and if they find both, I ſhall much rejoyce, that my time hath been imployed to ſome good uſe.
To The Readers.
I Have heard that ſuch Poets that write Playes, ſeldome or never join or ſow the ſeveral Scenes together; they are two ſeveral Profeſſions, at leaſt not uſual for rare Poets to take that pains; like as great Taylors, the Maſter only cuts out and ſhapes, and his Journy men and Apprentices join and ſow them together; but I like as a poor Taylor was forced to do all my ſelf, as to cut out, ſhape, join, and ſow each ſeveral Scene together, without any help or direction; wherefore I fear they are not ſo well done but that there will be many faults found; but howſoever, I did my beſt indeavour, and took great pains in the ordering and joining thereof, for which I hope my Learned Readers will pardon the errors therein, and excuſe me the worker thereof.
To The Readers.
My Lord was pleaſed to illuſtrate my Playes with ſome Scenes of his own Wit, to which I have ſet his name, that my Readers may know which are his, as not to couzen them, in thinking they are mine; alſo Songs, to which my Lords name is ſet; for I being no Lyrick Poet, my Lord ſupplied that defect of my Brain with the ſuperfluity of his own Brain; thus our Wits join as in Matrimony, my Lords the Maſculine, mine the Feminine Wit, which is no ſmall glory to me, that we are Married, Souls, Bodies, and Brains, which is a treble marriage, united in one Love, which I hope is not in the power of Death to diſſolve; for Souls may love, and Wit may live, though Bodies dye.
I Muſt trouble my Noble Readers to write of one thing more, which is concerning the Reading of Playes; for Playes muſt be read to the nature of thoſse ſeveral humours, or paſſions, as are expreſt by Writing: for they muſt not read a Scene as they would read a Chapter; for Scenes muſt be read as if they were ſpoke or Acted. Indeed Comedies ſhould be read a Mimick way, and the ſound of their Voice muſt be according to the ſenſe of the Scene; and as for Tragedies, or Tragick Scenes, they must not be read in a pueling whining Voice, but a ſad ſerious Voice, as deploring or complaining: but the truth is there are as few good Readers as good Writers; indeed an ill Reader is, as great a diſadvantage to wit as wit can have, unleſs it be ill Acted, for then it ’tis doubly diſgraced, both in the Voice and Action, whereas in Reading only the voice is imployed; but when a Play is well and skillfully read, the very ſound of the Voice that enters through the Ears, doth preſent the Actions to the Eyes of the Fancy as lively as if it were really Acted; but howſoever Writings muſt take their Chance, and I leave my Playes to Chance and Fortune, as well as to Cenſure and Reading.
To the Lady Marchioneſs of Newcaſtle upon her Playes.
Terence and Plautus Wits we now do ſcorn,
Their Comick Socks worn out, in pieces torn,
Only their rags of Wit remain as toyes
For Pedants to admire, to teach School Boyes;
It is not time hath waſted all their Fame,
But your high Phancies, and your nobler flame,
Which burnt theirs up, in their own aſhes lies,
Nor Phœnix like e’r out of thoſe will riſe;
Old Tragick Buskins now are thrown away,
When we read your each Paſſion in each Play,
No ſtupid block or ſtony heart forbears
To drown their Cheeks in Seas of ſalter Tears;
Such power you have in Tragick, Comick ſtile,
When for to fetch a tear or make a ſmile,
Still at your pleaſure all our paſſions ly
Obedient to your pen, to laugh or cry;
So even with the thread of Natures faſhion,
As you play on her heart-ſtrings ſtill of paſſion;
So we are all your Subjects in each Play,
Unwilling willingly ſtill to obey;
Or have a thought but what you make or draw
Us by the power of your wits great law;
Thus Empereſs in Soveraign power yours ſits
Over the wiſe, and tames Poetick wits.
A General Prologue to all my Playes.
Noble Spectators, do not think to ſee
Such Playes, that’s like Ben.Benjamin Johnſons Alchymie,
Nor Fox, nor Silent Woman: for those Playes
Did crown the Author with exceeding praiſe;
They were his Master-pieces, and were wrought
By Wits Invention, and his labouring thought,
And his Experience brought Materials store,
His reading ſeveral Authors brought much more:
What length of time he took thoſe Plays to write,
I cannot gueſs, not knowing his Wits flight;
But I have heard, Ben.Benjamin Johnſons Playes came forth,
To the Worlds view, as things of a great worth;
Like Forein Emperors, which do appear
Unto their Subjects, not ’bove once a year;
So did Ben.Benjamin Johnſons Playes ſo rarely paſs,
As one might think they long a writing was.
But my poor Playes, like to a common rout,
Gathers in throngs, and heedleſly runs out,
Like witleſs Fools, or like to Girls and Boyes,
Goe out to ſhew new Clothes, or ſuch like toyes:
This ſhews my Playes have not ſuch store of wit,
Nor ſubtil plots, they were ſo quickly writ,
So quickly writ, that I did almost cry
For want of work, my time for to imploy:
Sometime for want of work, I’m forc’d to play,
And idlely to caſt my time away:
Like as poor Labourers, all they deſire,
Is, to have ſo much work, it might them tire:
Such difference betwixt each ſeveral brain,
Some labour hard, and offer life to gain;
Some lazie lye, and pampred are with eaſe,
And ſome induſtrious are, the World to pleaſe:
Some are ſo quick, their thoughts do move ſo faſt,
They never ſtay to mold, or to forecaſt:
Some take great pains to get, and yet are poor,
And ſome will ſteal, for to increaſe their ſtore:
Some brains know not what Subjects for to chuſe,
And with conſidering, they their wit do loſe:
Some only in deſigns do ſpend their time,
And some without deſigns do only rhime;A7 And xiv A7v
And ſome do take more pains a Plot to lay,
Than other ſome to plot, and write a Play.
As for Ben.Benjamin Johnsons brain, it was ſo ſtrong,
He could conceive, or judge, what’s right, what’s wrong:
His language plain, ſignificant and free,
And in the English Tongue, the Maſterie:
Yet Gentle Shakeſpear had a fluent Wit,
Although leſs Learning, yet full well he writ;
For all his Playes were writ by Natures light,
Which gives his Readers, and Spectators ſight.
But Noble Readers, do not think my Playes,
Are ſuch as have been writ in former daies;
As Johnſon, Shakeſpear, Beamont, Fletcher writ;
Mine want their Learning, Reading, Language, Wit:
The Latin phrases I could never tell,
But Johnſon could, which made him write ſo well.
Greek, Latin Poets, I could never read,
Nor their Hiſtorians, but our Engliſh Speed;
I could not ſteal their Wit, nor Plots out take;
All my Playes Plots, my own poor brain did make:
From Plutarchs ſtory I ne’r took a Plot,
Nor from Romances, nor from Don Quixot,
As others have, for to aſſiſt their Wit,
But I upon my own Foundation writ;
Like thoſe that have a little patch of Land,
Even ſo much whereon a houſe may ſtand:
The Owner builds a houſe, though of no ſhew,
A Cottage warm and clean, though thatch’d and low;
Vitruvius Art and Skill he doth not take,
For to deſign, and ſo his houſe to make;
Nor Carpenters, nor Maſons doth not hire,
But builds a houſe himſelf, whole and intire:
Materials none from forein parts are brought;
Nor hath he Stone and Timber with art wrought;
But ſome ſound Tree, which on his ground did grow,
Which he cuts down with many a labouring blow;
And with his hatchet, and his ſaw, he cuts
His Tree in many parts, thoſe parts he puts
In ſeveral places, beams, poſts, planchers layes,
And thus a houſe with his own ſtock doth raiſe
He ſteals nor borrows not of any Neighbour,
But lives contentedly of his own labour;
And by his labour, he may thrive, and live
To be an old rich man, and then may leave
His Wealth, to build a Monument of Fame,
Which may for ever keep alive his name.
Juſt ſo, I hope, the works that I have writ,
Which are the buildings of my natural wit;
My own Inheritance, as Natures child,
But the Worlds Vanities would me beguild:
But I have thriftly been, houſwiv’d my time,
And built both Cottages of Proſe and Rhime;All xv A8r
All the materials in my head did grow,
All is my own, and nothing do I owe:
But all that I deſire when as I dye,
My memory in my own Works may lye:
And when as others build them Marble Tombs,
To inurn their duſt, and fretted vaulted Rooms,
I care not where my duſt, or bones remain,
So my Works live, the labour of my brain.
I covet not a ſtately, cut, carv’d Tomb,
But that my Works, in Fames houſe may have room:
Thus I my poor built Cottage am content,
When that I dye, may be my Monument.
An Introduction.Enter 3. Gentlemen.
Come Tom will you goe to a play?
Becauſe there is ſo many words, and ſo little wit, as the words tire me more than the wit delights me; and moſt commonly there is but one good part or humour, and all the reſt are forced in for to enterline that part, or humour; Likewiſe not above one or two good Actors, the reſt are as ill Actors as the parts they Act, beſides their beſt and principle part or humour is ſo tedious, that I hate at laſt what I liked at firſt, for many times a part is very good to the third Act, but continued to the fifth is ſtark naught.
The truth is, that in ſome Playes the Poets runs ſo long in one humour, as he runs himſelf out of breath.
Not only the Poet but the humour he writes of ſeems to be as broken-winded.
I have heard of a broken-winded Horſe, but never heard of a broken-winded Poet, nor of a broken-winded Play before.
I wonder why Poets will bind themſelves, ſo as to make every humour they write or preſent, to run quite through their Play.
Bind ſay you? they rather give themſelves line and liberty, nay they are ſo far from binding, as for the moſt part they ſtretch the Line of a humour into pieces.
Let me tell you, that if any man ſhould write a Play wherein he ſhould preſent an humour in one Act, and ſhould not continue it to the end: although it muſt be ſtretched, as you ſay, to make it hold out, he would be conemned, and not only accounted an ill Poet, but no Poet, for it would be accounted as ill as wanting a Rhime in a Copie of Verſes, or a word too ſhort, or too much in a number, for which a Poet is condemned, and for a word that is not ſpell’d right, he is damned for ever.
Nay, he is only damned if he doth not write ſtrictly to the Orthographie.
Scholars only damne Writers and Poets for Orthographie, but for the others, they are damned by the generality: that is, not only all readers, but all that are but hearers of the works.
The generality for the moſt part is not fooliſhly ſtrict, or rigid as particulars are.
Yes faith, they are led by one Bell-weather like a company of ſilly Sheep.
Well, if I were to write a Play, I would write the length of a humour according to the ſtrength of the humour and breadth of my wit. Let them judge me and condemn as they would; for though ſome of the paſt, and preſent ages be erroniouſly or malitiouſly fooliſh in ſuch caſes; yet the future Ages may be more wiſe, and better natur’d as to applaud what the others have condemned.
But prithy Tom let us goe.
No, I will not goe for the reaſons before mentioned, which is, they tire me with their empty words, dull ſpeeches, long parts, tedious Acts, ill Actors; and the truth is, theres not enough variety in an old play to pleaſe me.
There is variety of that which is bad, as you have divided it, But it ſeemes you love youth and variety in playes, as you doe in Miſtreſſes.
Playes delights Amorous men as much as a Miſtris doth.
Nay, faith more, for a man and his Miſtris is ſoon out of breath in their diſcourſe, and then they know not what to ſay, and when they are at a Non-pluſs, they would be glad to be quit of each other, yet are aſhamed to part ſo ſoon, and are weary to ſtay with each other long, when a Play entertaines them with Love, and requires not their anſwers, nor forceth their braines, nor pumps their wits, for a Play doth rather fill them than empty them.
Faith moſt Playes doth rather fill the ſpectators with wind, than with ſubſtance, with noiſe, than with newes;
This Play that I would have you go to, is a new Play.
But is there newes in the Play, that is (is there new wit, fancyes, or new Scenes) and not taken out of old ſtoryes, or old Playes newly tranſlated.
I know not that, but this Play was writ by a Lady, who on my Conſcience hath neither Language, nor Learning, but what is native and naturall.
A woman write a Play! Out upon it, out upon it, for it cannot be good, beſides you ſay ſhe is a Lady, which is the likelyer to make the Play worſe, a woman and a Lady to write a Play; fye, fye.
Why may not a Lady write a good Play?
No, for a womans wit is too weak and too conceited to write a Play.
But if a woman hath wit, or can write a good Play, what will you ſay then.
Why, I will ſay no body will believe it, for if it be good, they will think ſhe did not write it, or at leaſt ſay ſhe did not, beſides the very being a woman condemnes it, were it never ſo excellent and rare, for men will not allow women to have wit, or we men to have reaſon, for it we allow them wit, we ſhall loſe our prehemency.
If you will not goe Tom, farewell; for I will go ſee this Play, let it be good, or bad.
Nay, ſtay, I will go with thee, for I am contented to caſt away ſo much time for the ſake of the ſex. Although I have no faith of the Authreſſes wit.
Many a reprobate hath been converted and brought to repentance by hearing a good Sermon, and who knowes but that you may be converted from your erroneous opinion; by ſeeing this Play, and brought to confeſſe that a Lady may have wit.
The Several Wits
Youths Glory, and Deaths Banquet
The Lady Contemplation, Parts 1 and 2
Wit’s Cabal, Parts 1 and 2
The Unnatural Tragedie
The Publick Wooing
The Matrimonial Trouble, Parts 1 and 2
Nature’s Three Daughters, Beauty, Love and Wit, Parts 1 and 2
The Comical Hash
Bell in Campo, Parts 1 and 2
The Apocriphal Ladies
The Female Academy
To The Readers.
Isaid in the beginning of this Book of Playes, in one of my Epiſtles, that I ſhould not trouble you with any more of my Works, unleſs one, which was a Hiſtory of the Life of my Noble Lord; but ſince this Book of Playes was not only writ, but pack’d up, ready to ſend into England to be Printed, I by chance have entred into another Work, like thoſe that travel and know not where to go, wander about, and at laſt light upon a path-way that leads them to ſome Village; ſo I wanting ſome Informations from thoſe that could truly, and would faithfully inform me of ſuch actions and paſſages as were to be inſcribed in my Hiſtory, ſo as I could not go ſo readily on with that work, I was forced to ſit idle, as having no work to do, which troubled me much, not knowing what to write of: for though I am lazie, and unactive to any other Imployments, and had rather ſit ſtill, and do nothing, than have my thoughts obſtructed, or diſturbed from their uſual Contemplations, with noiſe, or company, or any other Action or Imployment, but writing; for writing is as pencilling thoughts, and I take as much delight as Painters, which draw men, and other creatures; So I, to draw my fancies opinions and conceptions upon white Paper, with Pen and Ink, words being the figures of thoughts, and letters of words; but writing is but the figuring of the figure, and Writers are but Copyers: But after ſome idle time, at laſt I fell upon a vein of writing Letters, and ſo faſt did the vein run at firſt, as in one Fortnight I writ above threeſcore Letters, but I find it begins to flag, like one that hath been let much bloud formerly, it may guſh, or ſtream full out at the opening of a vein, but cannot bleed long, they will faint for want of bloud, or ſpirit, having let out much bloud formerly; ſo is it in my writing; for though I deſire to make them up a hundred, yet I believe I ſhall not go much further, finding my ſpirits of Fancy grow weak, and dull, and the vein of Wit empty, having lately writ 21 Playes, with 12 Epiſtles; and one Introduction, beſides Prologues, and Epilogues. My Readers may ſay this is an Inventory, or a bill of Fare; no, it is to let them understand my Wit is drawn dry: for though Hiſtories of Truth need not the flouriſh of Wit, and no fancy ought to be inſcrib’d therein; yet all ſuch Writers, which are rather to get Fame by Feigning, than to divulge Truth by Explaining, ſhould be attended with Wit, and dreſt with Fancy. But theſe Letters I mention, I thought to joyn them to this Book of Playes, believing there would not be ſo many of them, as to be in Folio by themſelves; but fearing I ſhould ſurfeit my Readers with too great a Volume, I have altered that intention, and will rather chuſe to preſent them one Book at a time, like thoſe that entertain with one diſh of meat, to whet their Appetites, than to preſent more to cloy their Guſto. But it may be ſome will ſay there is enough of my Playes, to ſurfeit, as being not delicious, and choyce food for the mind, as pleaſant and profitable reading: My advice is, that they may taſte, and 682Iiiiiiii3v and feed of one Play, and if they find it unpleaſant, or hard of digeſtion, let them feed of no more, but let them feed of other Poetical Diſhes, dreſt by other Poetical Cooks, that may better pleaſe them; for as French Cooks are accounted the beſt for corporal meats, ſo the Greeks and Latins for poetical Meats; but I am neither a Greek nor a Latin Cook; I cannot dreſs, or cook after the Faſhions or Phancies; I never was bound Apprentice to Learning, I am as ignorant of their Arts and Meats, as of their Perſons and Nations; I am like a plain, cleanly Engliſh Cook-maid, that dreſſes Meat rather wholſomely than luxuriouſly, a roaſt Capon without lard, a ſhoulder of Mutton with a ſawce of Capers and Olives, a piece of boyld Beef and Turnips, and for deſert, a plain Apple-tart, or a Pear-pye; ’Tis true, on Feaſtival daies I have dreſſed Olioes, and Bisks, but neither after the French, Italian, nor Spaniſh way, but a compound of my own dreſſing, that might pleaſe home-bred Perſons, although not Great, or Forein Travellers, as great Scholars, or learned Men; neither have I Cookery to pleaſe queaſie Appetites: I have only this to ſay for my ſelf, I am more induſtrious than expenſive, more cleanly than curious; and if you do not like, nor approve of my ſervice, I will not expect much praiſe for my Wages: You may turn me away, which is, to put my Works out of your Studies. I only deſire I may not depart with your diſpleaſures, but as an honeſt, poor Servant, that rather wanted Art and Skill in my Works, than Will, or Indeavour to make, or dreſſe them to every Palate.
- In the Epiſtle Dedicatory l. 1. blot out that.
- In the 2 Epiſtle to the Reader l. 3. for permit read admit.
- Pag.Page 5. Scene 1. l. ult.ultimatus for ſent read ſend.
- S. 2. l. 1. to ſervant prefix your.
- p. 8. l. 26. for ſolus r.read ſola.
- p. 9. l. 1. for as r.readat.
- l. 19. For offers to go fotrth r.readoffers not to go forth.
- p. 12. l. 17. for for virtue r.read virtuous.
- p. 19. l. 16. for corn r.readſcorn.
- p. 22. l. 26. add divorce.
- p. 23. l. 9. for not r.readthat.
- p. 30. l. 4. for deſire r.read diſſwade.
- p. 31. S.scene 22. l. 1. add at the end of the line ever I.
- p. 32. S.scene 25. ult.ultimatus add maturity of time; yet what it doth afford, although but bracks or moſſe; if you command, I ſhall preſent them to you.
- p. 38. S.scene 32. l. 10. for her r.read he.
- p. 51. S.scene 13. l. 16. to ſhot add fire.
- p. 58. S.scene 18. l. 5. blot out noth.
- p. 60. S.scene 20. l. 13. for kinds r.read kindneſs.
- p. 62. l. 22. for ſhames r.read ſhun:
- p. 73. l. 4. for verifie r.readrarifie.
- p. 82. l. 9. for the which r.readwhence there.
- p. 83. l. 38. for undiſſoulable r.read indiſſoluble.
- p. 74. l. 9. for can r.readcon.
- p. 86. S.scene 11. l. 9. prefix Importunate.
- p. 89. l. 5. for fixt, r:.readfit.
- S. 14. l. 12. for you. r.read them
- p. 101. l. 9. for ſeemly, r.read ſeemingly.
- l. 21. for diſpleaſe, r.read pleaſe.
- p. 105. l. 6. for nundenyable, r.readundecayable.
- p. 125. l. 20. for Jeerals, r.readGirls.
- p. 128. S.scene 4. l. 10. for keep, r.read peep.
- p. 144. l. 12. for laſt r.read loſt.
- p. 154. l. 25. for evil r.readrule.
- p. 157. l. 32. for ſo r.read I wiſh.
- p. 160. l. 3. for right r.readfright.
- l. 45. for glances r.read glancer.
- p. 162. S.scene 7. l. 16. for noble r.read unnoble.
- p. 185. S. 3. l. 12. for virtue r.readbeauty.
- p. 186. S.scene 4. l. 13. for corporal r.read corpulent.
- p. 205. l. 29. add is.
- p. 208. l. 5. for ap’d r.readlapp’d.
- p. 220. l. 8. for back holders r.readBatchelors.
- p. 224. l. 21. for my r.readone.
- p. 225. S. 14. l. 15. for looſe r.read too looſe.
- p. 266. l. 8. for your r.readthat.
- p. 279. S.scene 32. l. 15. for they r.read have.
- p. 296. l. 3. for weakens the r.readweakneſs then.
- p. 329. S.scene 6. l. 21. prefix Bonit.
- p. 333. S.scene 12. ult.ultimus for virtues r.read virtuoſa.
- p. 337. l. 23. for courage r.readcivil.
- p. 355. S.scene 31. l. 9. for your r.read my.
- p. 383. S.scene 14. l. 16. for inthrown r.read inthroned.
- p. 529. l. 26. for Country, r.readCourtly.
- p. 531. l. 16. for ring. r.readwring.
- p. 539. l. 23. for courteous, r.readcovetous; for ſhe, r.read peeviſh.
- p. 547. S.scene 27. l. 6. for peace, r.read pious.
- p. 554. l. 3. for fixt, r.readfit.
- p. 368. S.scene 13. l. 7. for lifferous r.read Zephyrus.
- p. 573. S.scene 19. l. 19. for guts r.read gates.
- p. 587.l. 6. for ingenious r.readEngine.
- p. 592. l. 8. for tripping r.readpitching.
- p. 633. S.scene 21. l. 5. blot out Nell Careleſs.
- p. 644. l. 22. For them r.readthemſelves.
- p. 664. S.scene 14. l. 27. For devering r.read delivering.
- p. 666. S.scene 16. l. 22. blot out or notches.
Theſe be the moſt conſiderable errors of the Preſs, which make any alteration in the ſenſe, or may occaſion a miſtake in the Readers; many other of leſſe note are obvious to the eye; as misſpellings, omiſſions, misplacing of Letters, ſyllables, and ſometimes words: but all theſe are too numerous to be here ſet down, and ſo inconſiderable, that they may be by every common Reader at once obſerved and corrected.