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Another EPILOGUE there was, made for the play, in the poet's defence, but the play liv'd not in opinion, to have it spoken.
"We think it would have serv'd our scene
"If, as it is, at first we'd call'd her Pru, "For any mystery we there have found, "Or magick in the letters, or the sound. "She only meant was for a girl of wit,
"To whom her lady did a province fit: "Which she would have discharg'd, and done as well,
"Had she been christen'd Joyce, Grace, Doll, or Nell."
1 If, as it is, at first we'd call'd her PRU.] In the first draught of the play, the chambermaid's name was Cicely, which, it seems, was not approv'd of by the audience, and therefore altered by the poet to Prudence. In the edition of 1631, she is sometimes called Cis, and sometimes Pru, by mistake of the printer.
This Comedy, as it was never acted, but most negligently play'd by some, the KING's SERVANTS; and more squeamishly beheld and censur'd by others, the KING'S SUBJECTS, 1629; is now, at last, set at liberty to the Readers, his MAJESTY's Servants and Subjects, to be judg'd of, 1631.
THE INDUCTION, or CHORUS.
The two gentlemen entering upon the stage.
A boy of the house meets them.
Pro. A pretty prompt boy for the poetic shop.
Dam. And a bold! where's one o' your masters, sirrah, the poet?
Boy. Which of 'em, sir? we have divers that drive that trade, now: poets, poetaccio's, poetasters, poetito's
1 Dam. And all haberdashers of small wit, I presume; we would speak with the poet o' the day, boy.
Boy. Sir, he is not here. But I have the dominion of the shop, for this time, under him, and can shew you all the variety the stage will afford for the present.
Pro. Therein you will express your own good parts, boy.
Dam. And tie us two to you for the gentle office.
Pro. We are a pair of public persons (this gentleman and myself) that are sent thus coupled unto you, upon state-business.
Boy. It concerns but the state of the stage, I hope.
Dam. O, you shall know that by degrees, boy. No man leaps into a business of state, without fording first the state of the business. Pro. We are sent unto you, indeed, from the people.
Boy. The people! which side of the peo
Dam. The venison side, if you know it,
Boy. That's the left side. I hat rather they had been the right.
Pro. So they are. Not the fæces, or grounds of your people, that sit in the oblique caves and wedges of your house, your sinful six-penny mechanicks-
Dam. But the better and braver sort of your people! plush and velvet outsides! that stick your house round like so many eminences
Boy. Of clothes, not understandings? they are at pawn. Well, I take these as a part of your people though; what bring you to me from these people?
1 Dam. And all haberdashers of small wit.] Shakspeare has an expression of the like kind, in King Henry the Eighth, act 5. scene 1.
"Porter's Man. There was a haberdasher's wife of small wit, that railed upon me, till "her pink'd porrenger fell off her head.”
Dam. You have heard, boy, the antient poets had it in their purpose, still to please this people.
Pro. I, their chief aim was
Dam. Populo ut placerent: (if he understands so much.)
Boy. (Quas fecissent fabulas.) I understand that sin' I learn'd Terence, i' the third form at Westminster: go on, sir.
Pro. Now, these people have employed us to you, in all their names, to entreat an excellent play from you.
Dam. For they have had very mean ones from this shop of late, the stage as you call it.
Boy. Troth, gentlemen, I have no wares which I dare thrust upon the people with praise. But this, such as it is, I will venture with your people, your gay gallant people; so as you, again, will undertake for them, that they shall know a good play when they hear it; and will have the conscience and ingenuity beside to confess it.
Pro. We'll pass our words for that; you shall have a brace of us to engage ourselves. Boy. You'll tender your names, gentlemen, to our book then
Dam. Yes, here's Mr. Probee; a man of most powerful speech, and parts to persuade Pro. And Mr. Damplay will make good all he undertakes.
Boy. Good Mr. Probee, and Mr. Damplay! I like your securities; whence do you write yourselves?
Pro. Of London, gentlemen; but knights brothers, and knights friends, I assure you. Dam. And knights fellows too. Every poet writes squire now.
Boy. You are good names! very good men, both of you! I accept you.
Dam. And what is the title of your play here? The Magnetick Lady?
Boy. Yes, sir, an attractive title the author has given it.
Pro. A magnete, I warrant you.
Dam. O no, from magnus, magna, mag
Boy. This gentleman hath found the true magnitude
Dam. Of his portal or entry to the work, according to Vitruvius.
Boy. Sir, all our work is done without a portal- -or Vitruvius. In foro, as a true comedy should be. And what is conceal'd within, is brought out, and made present by report.
Dum. We see not that always observ'd by your authors of these times; or scarce any other.
Boy. Where it is not at all known, how should it be observ'd? The most of those
your people call authors, never dreamt of any decorum, or what was proper in the scene; but grope at it i' the dark, and feel or fumble for it. I speak it, both with their leave, and the leave o' your people.
Dan. But, why Humours Reconcil'd, I would fain know?
Boy. I can satisfy you there too, if you will. But, perhaps you desire not to be sa tisfied.
Dam. No? why should you conceive so, boy?
Boy. My conceit is not ripe yet; I'll tell you that anon. The author beginning his studies of this kind, with Every Man in his Humour; and after, Every Man out of his Humour; and since, continuing in all his plays, especially those of the comic taread, whereof the New-Inn was the last, some re cent humours still, or manners of men, that went along with the times; finding himself now near the close, or shutting up of his circle, hath fancied to himself, in idea, this Magnetick Mistress: a lady, a brave bountiful house-keeper, and a virtuous widow; who having a young niece, ripe for a man and marriageable, he makes that his centre attractive, to draw thither a diversity of guests, all persons of different humours to make up his perimeter. And this he hath call'd Humours Reconcil'd.
Pro. A bold undertaking, and far greater than the reconciliation of both churches; the quarrel between humours having been much the ancienter; and, in my poor opi nion, the root of all schism and faction both in church and common-wealth.
Boy. Such is the opinion of many wise men, that meet at this shop still; but how he will speed in it, we cannot tell, and he himself (it seems) less cares. For he will not be entreated by us, to give it a prologue. He has lost too much that way already, he says. He will not woo the gentile ignorance so much. But careless of all vulgar censure, as not depending on common approbation, he is confident it shall super-please judicious spectators, and to them he leaves it to work with the rest, by example or otherwise.
Dam. He may be deceiv'd in that, boy: few follow examples now, especially if they be good.
Boy. The play is ready to begin, gentlemen, I tell you, lest you might defraud the expectation of the people, for whom you are delegates: please you take a couple of seats and plant yourselves, here, as near my standing as you can: fly every thing you see to the mark, and censure it freely; so you interrupt not the series or thread of the argument, to break or pucker it, with unneces
2 The author beginning his studies of this kind, with Every Man in his Humour.] We must except those pieces which were offered to the stage before that play, and which did not succeed so well. The Case is altered has, I think, plain marks of being one of his earlier compositions.
sary questions. For, I must tell you, (not out of mine own dictamen, but the author's) a good play is like a skain of silk; which, if you take by the right end, you may wind off at pleasure, on the bottom or card of your discourse, in a tale or so; how you will: but if you light on the wrong end, you will pull all into a knot or elfe-lock; which nothing but the sheers, or a candle, will undo or separate.
Dam. Stay! who be these, I pray you?
Boy. Because it is your first question, (and these be the prime persons,) it would in civility require an answer: but I have heard the poet affirm, that to be the most unlucky scene in a play, which needs an interpreter; especially, when the auditory are awake: and such are you, he presumes; ergo~~~~
SCENE I. Compass, Ironside,
TELCOME, good captain Ironside, and brother; You shall along with me. I'm lodg'd hard by Here, at a noble lady's house i' the street, The lady Loadstone's (one will bid us welcome), [guests, Where there are gentlewomen and male Of several humours, carriage, constitution, Profession too; but so diametral One to another, and so much oppos'd, As if I can but hold them all together, And draw 'ein to a sufferance of themselves, But till the dissolution of the dinner, I shall have just occasion to believe My wit is magisterial; and ourselves Take infinite delight i' the success.
Iron. Troth, brother Compass, you shall pardon me;
I love not so to multiply acquaintance At a meal's cost; 'twill take off o' my free[vance.
dom So much; or bind me to the least obserCom. Why, Ironside, you know I am a scholar,
And part a soldier; I have been employ'd
These many years; and in my time con-
Iron. Sir, I confess you to be one well
In men, and manners; and that usually, The most ungovern'd persons, you being present,
Rather subject themselves unto your censure,
My humour being as stubborn as the rest,
Com. You do mistake
My caract of your friendship all this while!
Iron. But, brother, I ha' seen
A coward meeting with a man as valiant As our St. George (not knowing him to be such,
Or having least opinion that he was so)
And i' the virtue of that error, having
Com. I think that too:
But, brother, (could I over entreat you)
To hear yourself or your profession glanc'd
In a few slighting terms; it would beget Me such a main authority, o' the bye,
And do yourself no disrepute at all!
In nature produce nothing, but as meeting
Unless by some smart stroke upon myself
Com. Here comes our parson, parson
Comforts the widow, and the fatherless,
Iron. Who made this epigram, you?
As any's of his bulk (Ben Jonson) made it.
Com. The same man made 'em both: but his is shorter,
And not in rhime, but blanks. I'll tell you
Rut is a young physician to the family:
And in his life a profest voluptuary;
And well-experienc'd men, words do BUT SIGNIFY;
They have no power, save with dull grammarians.] The meaning of this sentence is not very clear; if we adhere to the present pointing, the word but in the first line, I apprehend, should be changed to not and the sense will then be, that general words can make little or no impression upon wise and well-experienc'd persons.
And well-experienc'd men, words do not signify:
If we retain the present reading, it seems necessary to remove the stop after the word signify, and the whole will run thus ;
And well-experienc'd men, words do but signify i. e. shew
The sentiment is much the same, if we prefer this reading, though possibly the former may render it easier and more exact.
That, letting God alone, ascribes to nature
More than her share.] The poet in this, and the preceding character of the parson, imitates the manner and the sentiments of Chaucer: but we must not think that our author's description was intended to comprehend the faculty in general. As to the remark above, something of the same kind is observed by lord Bacon; and our old bard too tells us of his physician, that
"His study was but lytel on the Byble."