Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

a

[ocr errors]

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 send 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 thare the money when you meetė at supper : notwithstanding, to gul the raggamuffins that stand a loofe gaping at you, throw the cards (having first torne four or five of them) round about the stage , just upon the third sound, as though you had loft: it ikils not if the four knaves ly on their backs, and outface the audience, there's none such fooles ás 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 háthi 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 stage, you shall disgrace him worse then by toffing him in a blanket, or giving him the bastinado in a taverne , if in the middle of his play (bee it pastorall or comedy, morall or tragedie) you rise with a skreud and discontented face from your stoole to be gone: no matter whether the scenes be good or no; the better they are, the worse doe you distast them : and beeing on your feete, sneake not away like a coward, but falute all your gentle acquaintance that are {pred either on the rushes or on flooles Yol. I,

Bb

[ocr errors]

>

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

about you, and draw what troope you can from the slage 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 indisposition 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 earneit eares of your fellow gallants, to make other fooles fall a laughing : mewe at the passionate speeches, blare at merrie , finde fault with the musicke, whewe at the children's action , whistle at the songs; and above all, curse the sharers, that whereas the same day you had bestowed forty shillings on an embroidered felt and feather (Scotch fashion) for your mistres in the court, or your punck in the cittie, within two houres after,

you encounter with the very same block on the flage, when the haberdasher swore to you the impression was extant but that morning.

“ To conclude, hoord up the finest play-scraps you can get, upon which your leane w't may most favourly feede, for want of other stuffe, when the Arcadian and Eupkuis'd gentlewomen have their tongues sharpened to set upon you, that qualitie (next to your shitt'ecocke) is the only furniture to a courtier that's but a new beginner , and is but in his ABC of complement. The next places that are fild after the play-houses bee emptied, are (or onght to be) tavernes : into a taverne then let us next march, where the braines of one hogshead mua be beaten out to make up another."

I fheuld have attempted on the present occasion to enuncrate all other pamphlets, &c. from whence particulars relative to the conduct of our carly theatres might be collected, but that Dr. Percy, in his first volume of the Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, (third edit. p. 128 , &c.) has extracted such passages from them as tend to the illustration of this subject ; to which he has added more accurate remarks than my experience in these matters would have enabled me to supply. STEEVENS,

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

MR. M. MASON'S COMMENTS, &c.

1785.

[ocr errors]

9

Not thoroughly fatisfied with any of the former editions of Shakspeare, even that of Johnson, I had resolved to venture upon one of my own, and had actually collected materials for the purpose, when that,' which is the subject of the following Observations, made its appearance; in which I found that a considerable part of the amendments and explanations I had intended to propose were anticipated by the labours and eccentrick reading of Steevens, the ingenious researches

9 Edit. 1778.

[ocr errors]

of Malone, and the fagacity of Tyrwhitt. - I will fairly confess that I was somewhat mortified at this discovery, which compellid me to relinquish a favourite pursuit, from whence I 'had vainly expected to derive fome degree of credit in the literary world. This, however, was a secondary consideration; and my principal purpose will be answered to my wish , if the Comments, which I now submit to the publick thall, in any other hands, contribute materially to a more complete edition of our inimitable poet.

If we may judge from the advertisement prefixed to his Supplement, Malone seems to think that no other edition can hereafter be wanted; as in fpeaking of the last, he says, “The text of the author seems now to be finally settled, the great abilities and unwearied researches of the editor having left little obscure or unexplained."*

Though I cannot subscribe to this opinion of Malone, with respect to the final adjustment of the text, I shall willingly join in his encomium on the editor, who deserves the applause and gratitude of the publick,'not only for his industry and abilities, but also for the zeal with which he has profecuted the object he had in view, which prompted him, not only to the wearisome task of collation, but alfo to engage in a peculiar course of reading, neither pleasing nor profitable for any, other purpose.

But I will' 'venture to assert, that his merit is

[ocr errors]

* As I was never vain enough to suppose the edit. 1778 was entitled to this encomium, I can find no difficulty in allowing that it has been properly recalled by the gentleman who bestowed it. See his Preface; and his Letter to the Reverend Dr. Farmer, p. 7 and 8. STEEVENS.

.

more conspicuous in the comments than the text; in the regulation of which he seems to have acted rather from caprice , than any settled principle; admitting alterations, in some passages, on very insufficient authority, indeed, whilst in others he has retained the antient readings, though evidently corrupt, in preference to amendments as evidently just : and it frequently happens, that after pointing out to us the true reading, he adheres to that which he himself has proved to be false. Had he regulated the text in every place according to his own judgement, Malone's observation would have been nearer to the truth ; but as it now stands, the last edition has no signal advantage, that I can perceive, over that of Johnson, in point of correctness.

But the object that Steevens had most at heart, was the illustration of Shakspeare, in which it inust be owned he has clearly surpassed all the former editors. If without his abilities, application, or reading, I have happened to succeed in explaining fome passages, which he misapprehended, or in suggesting amendments that escaped his fagacity, it is owing merely to the minute attention with which I have studied every line of these plays , whilst the other commentators, I will not except even Steevens, himself, have too generally confined their observation and ingenuity to those litigated passages, which have been handed down to them by former editors, as requiring cither amendment or explanation, and have suffered many others to pass unheeded, that, in truth, were equally crroneous or obscure. It. may poslibly be thought that I have gone too far in the other extreme, in pointing out trilling mistakes in the printing, which every reader perceives to be

[ocr errors]
« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »