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language, and had thereby an advantage, which perhaps no former compiler ever had, in having all his materials ready collected to his hands. He had nothing to do, but sit down and examine: he accordingly read over every play, which the Duke eculd be supposed to have in his eye; chiefly all such as were either published or revived from the time of the Restoration till the publication of the Rchearsal: for tho' the Duke's view was chiefly to satirize what was then called “the new way of writing,” yet he often exposes absurdities of longer standing, chiefly when the plays, which contained them, had been revived afresh, or still continued to captivate the publick.
How far the research upon the whole has been successful the Reader will judge from the following pages. He will find many obscurities removed and numerous references recovered: far more of both than could reasonably be expected, considering that no assistance could be had but what is fetched from books, and that all personal information has been long since swallowed up in the gulph of time. It must however be acknowledged that our inquiries have not always been successful: Some passages still remain, that evidently allude to absurdities then current upon the stage, yet of which we could find no traces in any play then published. But this is no more than might be expectd: We have that one play,* which the Duke has professedly ridiculed, was damned in the representation and therefore never printed ; and the same might also be the case with others. Again the authors might remove the offensive passages from such plays as they published, so that no appearance of them is now remaining. After all, we are not to suppose that so masterly a pencil, as the Duke's, when finishing such a character as that of Bayes, would be confined to a mere dead likeness : he would not fail to heighten the caricature with a thousand touches supplied from his own fancy, and bring in whatever served to render the piece compleat, whether it resembled the original or not.
Altho' the former key was faulty, it contained some particulars too valuable to be suppressed; we have therefore inserted the several articles everywhere in our own, taking care to correct the mistakes, and distinguishing every such article by an asterisk (*). We have also retained the former preface; as it preserved the memory of certain facts necessary to the illustration of the Rehearsal, and not found anywhere else. We next give Briscoe's address.
a. The Publisher to the Reader. HOU canst not be ignorant, that the town has had an eager expectation none has more earnestly desired it than myself, tho' in vain : Till lately a gentleman of my acquaintance recommended me to a person, who he believed could give me a further light into this matter, than I had hitherto met with from any hand.
In a short time I traced him out; and when I had found him, he appeared such a positive dogmatical spark, that I began to repent of my trouble in searching after him.
It was my misfortune over a pot of beer to begin a short discourse of the modern poets and actors : and immediately he fell into a great passion, and swore, that there were very few persons now living, who deserved the name of a good dramatick poet, or a natural actor; and declaimed against the present practice of the English stage with much violence ; saying, he believed the two companies were joined in a confederacy against Smithfield, and resolved to ruin their fair, by out-doing them in their bombastick bills, and ridiculous representing their plays; adding, that he hoped ere long M. COLLIER and others would write them down to the devil. At the same time, he could not forbear to extol the excellent decorum and action of former years; and magnified the poets of the last age, especially Johnson, Shakespear, and Beaumont.
I bore all this with tolerable patience, knowing it to be too common with old men to commend the past age, and rail at the present ; and so took my * The United Kingdoms, by Col. Henry Howard. See pp. 46 and 90.)
Continued at p. 33.
SMI. Indeed, I have ever observed, that your grave lookers are the dullest of men.
JOHNS. I, and of Birds, and Beasts too: your gravest Bird is an Owl, and your gravest Beast is an Ass.
Smi. Well; but how dost thou pass thy time ?
JOHNS. Why, as I use to do; eat and drink as well as I can, have a She-friend to be private with in the afternoon, and sometimes see a Play: where there are such things (Frank) such hideous, monstrous things, that it has almost made me forswear the Stage, and resolve to apply my self to the solid nonsence of your pretenders to Business, as the more ingenious pastime.
Smi. I have heard, indeed, you have had lately many new Plays, and our Country-wits commend 'em.
JOHNS. I, so do some of our City-wits too; but they are of the new kind of Wits.
SMI. New kind? what kind is that?
JOHNS. Why, your Blade, your frank Persons, your Drolls : fellows that scorn to imitate Nature ; but are given altogether to elevate and surprise.
Smi. Elevate, and surprise ? pr’ythee make me understand the meaning of that.
JOHNS. Nay, by my troth, that's a hard matter : I don't understand that my self. 'Tis a phrase they have got among them, to express their no-meaning by. I'l tell you, as well as I can, what it is. Let me see ; 'tis Fighting, Loving, Sleeping, Rhyming, Dying, Dancing, Singing, Crying ; and every thing, but Thinking and Sence.
Mr. BAYES paffes o'er the Stage. BAYES. Your most obsequious, and most observant, very servant, Sir.
JOHNS. Godso, this is an Author: I'l fetch him to you.
Smi. Nay, pr’ythee let him alone.
JOHNS. Nay, by the Lord, I'I have him. [Goes after him.] Here he is. I have caught him. Pray, Sir, for my fake, will you do a favour to this friend of mine?
'In fine, it shall read, and write, and act, and plot, and shew, ay, and pit, box, and gallery, I gad, with any Play in Europe.
The usual language of the Honourable Edward Howard, Ffq.; at the Rehearsal of his Playa
BAYES. Sir, it is not within my small capacity to do favours, but receive 'em ; especially from a person that does wear the honourable Title you are pleas'd to impose, Sir, upon this. -Sweet Sir, your servant.
Smi. Your humble servant, Sir. Johns. But wilt thou do me a favour, now? BAYES. I, Sir : What is't? Johns. Why, to tell him the meaning of thy last Play.
BAYES. How, Sir, the meaning ? do you mean the Plot.
JOHNs. I, I; any thing.
BAYES. Faith, Sir, the Intrigo's now quite out of my head; but I have a new one, in my pocket, that I may say is a Virgin ; 't has never yet been blown upon. I must tell you one thing, 'Tis all new Wit; and, though I say it, a better than my last : and you know well enough how that took. 'In fine, it shall read, and write, and act, and plot, and shew, ay, and pit, box and gallery, I gad, with any Play in Europe. This morning is its last Rehearsal, in their habits, and all that, as it is to be acted; and if you, and your friend will do it but the honour to see it in its Virgin attire; though, perhaps, it may blush, I shall not be asham'd to discover its nakedness unto you. -I think it is o' this side.
[Puts his hand in his pocket. JOHNS. Sir, I confess I am not able to answer you in this new way; but if you please to lead, I shall be glad to follow you; and I hope my friend will do so too.
Smi. I, Sir, I have no business so considerable, as should keep me from your company.
BAYES. Yes, here it is. No, cry you mercy : this is my book of Drama Common places; the Mother of many other Plays.
JOHNs. Drama Common places / pray what's that? BAYES. Why, Sir, some certain helps, that we men of Art have found it convenient to make use of.
SMI. How, Sir, help for Wit?
"He who writ this, not without pains and thought From French and English Theaters has brought Th' exactest Rules by which a Play is wrought.
The Unities of Action, Place, and Time;
Of Johnsons humour, with Corneilles rhyme.
'In Dryden's lifetime, GERARD LANGBAINE, in his Account of Eng. Dram. Poets, Ed. 1691, p. 169, noticing Dryden's Secret Love or The Maiden Queen, says:-I cannot pass by his making use of Bayes's Art of Transversing, as any one may observe by comparing the Fourth Stanza of his First Prologue, with the last Paragraph of the Preface of Ibrahim.
The title of this work, is as follows: “Ibrahim. Or the Illustrious Basa. An excellent new Romance. The whole Work, in foure Parts. Written in French by Monsieur de Scudery. And now Englished by HENRY COGAN, gent. London 1652.” The paragraph referred to, runs thus :
Behold, Reader, that which I had to say to you, but what defence soever I have imployed, I know that it is of works of this nature, as of a place of war, where notwithstanding all the care the Engineer hath brought to fortifie it, there is alwayes some weak part found, which he hath not dream'd of, and whereby it is assaulted; but this shall not surprize me; for as
I have not forgot that I am a man, no more
have I forgot that I am subject to erre This is thus versified in the fourth stanza of the same Prologue.
Plays are like Towns, which how e're fortify't