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speaks of the original as of an obscure piece, recommended to his notice by a friend; and the author of the Tatler having occasion to quote a few lines out of Macbeth, was content to receive them from D'Avenant's alteration of that celebrated drama, in which almost every original beauty is either aukwardly disguised, or arbitrarily omitted. So little were the defects or peculiarities of the old writers known, even at the beginning of our century, that though the custom of alliteration had prevailed to that degree in the time of Shakspeare, that it became contemptible and ridiculous, yet it is made one of Waller's praises by a writer of his life, that he first introduced this practice into English versification.
It will be expected that some notice should be taken of the last editor of Shakspeare, and that his merits should be estimated with those of his predecessors. Little, however, can be said of a work, to the completion of which, both a large proportion of the commentary and various readings is as yet wanting. The Second Part of King Henry VI, is the only play from that edition, which has been consulted in the course of this work; for as several passages there are arbitrarily omitted, and as no notice is given when other deviations are made from the old copies, it was of little consequence to examine any further. This circumstance is mentioned, lest such accidental coincidences of opinion, as may be discovered hereafter, should be interpreted into plagiarism.
It may occasionally happen, that some of the remarks long ago produced by others, are offered again as recent discoveries. It is likewise absolutely impossible to pronounce with any degree of certainty, whence all the hints, which furnish matter for a commentary, have been collected, as they lay scattered in many books and papers, which were probably never read but once, or the particulars which they contain received only in the course of common conversation; nay, what is called plagiarism, is often no more than the result of having thought alike with others on the same subject.
"I'll count the stars, and bless 'em as they shine,
"The reader will pardon us on this and some other occasions, that where we quote passages from plays, we give them as the author gives them, not as the butcherly hand of a blockhead prompter may have lopped them, or as the unequal genius of some bungling \ critic may have attempted to mend them. Whoever remembers the merit of the player's speaking the things we celebrate them for, we are pretty confident will wish he spoke them absolutely as we give them, that is, as the author gives them."
Perhaps it is unnecessary to inform the reader that not one of the lines above quoted, is to be found in the Romeo and Juliet of Shakspeare. They are copied from the Caius Marius of Otway.
The dispute about the learning of Shakspeare being now fi nally settled, a catalogue is added of those translated authors, whom Mr. Pope has thought proper to call
"The classicks of an age that heard of none."
The reader may not be displeased to have the Greek and Roman poets, orators, &c. who had been rendered accessible to our author, exposed at one view; especially as the list has received the advantage of being corrected and amplified by the Reverend Dr. Farmer, the substance of whose very decisive pamphlet is interspersed through the notes which are added in this revisal of Dr. Johnson's Shakspeare.
To those who have advanced the reputation of our poet, it has been endeavoured, by Dr. Johnson, in a foregoing preface, impartially to allot their dividend of fame; and it is with great regret that we now add to the catalogue, another, the consequence of whose death will perhaps affect not only the works of Shakspeare, but of many other writers. Soon after the first appearance of this edition, a disease, rapid in its progress, deprived the world of Mr. Jacob Tonson; a man, whose zeal for the improvement of English literature, and whose liberality to men of learning, gave him a just title to all the honours which men of learning can bestow. To suppose that a person employed in an extensive trade, lived in a state of indifference to loss and gain, would be to conceive a character incredible and romantick; but it may be justly said of Mr. Tonson, that he had enlarged his mind beyond solicitude about petty losses, and refined it from the desire of unreasonable profit. He was willing to admit those with whom he contracted, to the just advantage of their own labours; and had never learned to consider the author as an under-agent to the bookseller. The wealth which he inherited or acquired, he enjoyed like a man conscious of the dignity of a profession subservient to learning. His domestick life was elegant, and his charity was liberal. His manners were soft, and his conversation delicate: nor is, perhaps, any quality in him more to be censured, than that reserve which confined his acquaintance to a small number, and made his example less useful, as it was less extensive. He was the last commercial name of a family which will be long remembered; and if Horace thought it not improper to convey the Sos11 to posterity; if rhetorick suffered no dishonour from Quintilian's dedication to TRYPHO; let it not be thought that we disgrace Shakspeare, by appending to his works the name of TONSON.
To this prefatory advertisement I have now subjoined a chapter extracted from the Guls Hornbook, (a satirical pamphlet written by Decker in the year 1609) as it affords the reader a more complete idea of the customs peculiar to our ancient theatres, than any other publication which has hitherto fallen in my way. See this performance, page 27.
*This addition to Mr. Steevens's Advertisement was made in 1778. Malone.
"How a Gallant should behave himself in a Playhouse.
"The theatre is your poet's Royal Exchange, upon which, their muses (that are now turn'd to merchants) meeting, barter away that light commodity of words for a lighter ware than words, plaudities and the breath of the great beast, which (like the threatnings of two cowards) vanish all into aire. Plaiers and their factors, who put away the stuffe and make the best of it they possibly can (as indeed 'tis their parts so to doe) your gallant, your courtier, and your capten, had wont to be the soundest pay-masters, and I thinke are still the surest chapmen: and these by meanes that their heades are well stockt, deale upon this comical freight by the grosse; when your groundling, and gallery commoner buyes his sport by the penny, and, like a hagler, is glad to utter it againe by retailing.
"Sithence then the place is so free in entertainment, allowing a stoole as well to the farmer's sonne as to your Templer: that your stinkard has the self same libertie to be there in his tobacco fumes, which your sweet courtier hath: and that your carman and tinker claime as strong a voice in their suffrage, and sit to give judgment on the plaies' life and death, as well as the proudest Momus among the tribe of critick; it is fit that hee, whom the most tailors' bils do make room for, when he comes, should not be basely (like a vyoll) cas'd up in a corner.
"Whether therefore the gatherers of the publique or private play-house stand to receive the afternoone's rent, let our gallant (having paid it) presently advance himself up to the throne of the stage. I meane not in the lords' roome (which is now but the stage's suburbs). No, those boxes by the iniquity of custome, conspiracy of waiting-women, and gentlemen-ushers, that there sweat together, and the covetous sharers, are contemptibly thrust into the reare, and much new satten is there dambd by being smothered to death in darknesse. But on the very rushes where the comedy is to daunce, yea and under the state of Cambises himselfe must our feather'd estridge, like a piece of ordnance be planted valiantly (because impudently) beating downe the mewes and hisses of the opposed rascality.
"For do but cast up a reckoning, what large cummings in are purs'd up by sitting on the stage. First a conspicuous eminence is gotten, by which meanes the best and most essential parts of a gallant (good cloathes, a proportionable legge, white hand, the Persian locke, and a tollerable beard,) are perfectly revealed.
"By sitting on the stage you have a sign'd pattent to engrosse the whole commodity of censure; may lawfully presume to be a girder; and stand at the helme to steere the passage of scenes, yet no man shall once offer to hinder you from obtaining the title of an insolent over-weening coxcombe.
By sitting on the stage, you may (without trauelling for it) at the very next doore, aske whose play it is: and by that quest of inquiry, the law warrants you to avoid much mistaking: if
you know not the author, you may raile against him; and peradventure so behave yourselfe, that you may enforce the author to know you.
By sitting on the stage, if you be a knight, you may happily get you a mistresse: if a mere Fleet-street gentleman, a wife: but assure yourselfe by continuall residence, you are the first and principall man in election to begin the number of We three.
"By spreading your body on the stage, and by being a justice in examining of plaies, you shall put yourselfe into such a true scænical authority, that some poet shall not dare to present his muse rudely before your eyes, without having first unmaskt her, rifled her, and discovered all her bare and most mystical parts before you at a taverne, when you most knightly, shal for his paines, pay for both their suppers.
"By sitting on the stage, you may (with small cost) purchase the deere acquaintance of the boyes: have a good stoole for sixpence: at any time know what particular part any of the infants present: get your match lighted, examine the play-suits' lace, perhaps win wagers upon laying 'tis copper, &c. And to conclude, whether you be a foole or a justice of peace, a cuckold or a capten, a lord maior's sonne or a dawcocke, a knave or an under shriefe, of what stamp soever you be, currant or counterfet, the stagelike time will bring you to most perfect light, and lay you open: neither are you to be hunted from thence though the scar-crowes in the yard hoot you, hisse at you, spit at you, yea throw dirt even in your teeth: 'tis most gentlemanlike patience to endure all this, and to laugh at the silly 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 sit on the stage together.
"Mary, let this observation go hand in hand with the rest: or rather, like a country-serving man, some five yards before them. Present not your selfe on the stage (especially 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 three-legged stoole in one hand, and a teston mounted betweene a fore-finger and a thumbe, in the other: for if you should bestow your person upon the vulgar, when the belly of the house is but halfe full, your apparell is quite eaten up, the fashion lost, and the proportion of your body in more danger to be devoured, then if it were served up in the Counter amongst the Poultry: avoid that as you would the bastome. It shall crowne you with rich commendation, to laugh alowd in the middest of the most serious and saddest scene of the terriblest tragedy: and to let that clapper (your tongue) be tost so high that all the house may ring of it: your lords use it; your knights are apes to the lords, and do so too: your inne-a-court-man is zany to the knights, and (many very scurvily) comes likewise limping after it: bee thou
a beagle to them all, and never lin snuffing till you have scented them: for by talking and laughing (like a ploughman in a morris) you heape Pelion upon Ossa, glory upon glory: as first all the eyes in the galleries will leave walking after the players, and onely follow you: the simplest dolt in the house snatches up your name, and when he meetes you in the streetes, or that you fall into his hands in the middle of a watch, his word shall be taken for you: heele cry, Hees such a gallant, and you passe. Secondly you publish your temperance to the world, in that you seeme not to resort 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 disrelish the audience, and disgrace the author: marry, you take up (though it be at the worst hand) a strong opinion of your owne judgement, and inforce the poet to take pity of your weaknesse, and by some dedicated sonnet to bring you into a better paradice, onely to stop your mouth.
"If you can (either for lo e or money) provide your selfe a lodging by the water side: for above the conveniencie it brings to shun shoulder-clapping, and to ship away your cockatrice betimes in the morning, it addes a kind of state unto you, to be carried from thence to the staires of your play-house: hate a sculler (remember that) worse then to be acquainted with one ath' scullery. No, your oares are your onely sea-crabs, boord them, and take heed you never go twice together with one paire: often shifting is a great credit to gentlemen: and that dividing of your fare wil make the poore watersnaks 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 silver 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 d e in a prize) and beate one another by confedera cie, yet share the money when you meete 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 lost: it skils not if the four knaves ly on their backs, and outface the audience, there's none such 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 mistris, 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 tossing 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