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Continued from page 32. 1. To give the reader an account of the writer of this farce. 2. The motives which induced him to compose it.
I can stay no longer now, said he; but if you desire any furthor direction in this matter, meet me here to-morrow night, and I will discourse more particularly on those two heads, and then take my leave of you ; wishing you good success with your preface, and that your Key may prove a GOLDEN ONE.
Now, kind reader, having received all the instructions I could gain from my resolute spark at our several meetings, I must stand on my own legs, and turn Prefacer, tho' against my will. And thus I set out,
1. To tell thee what all persons, who are anything acquainted with the stage, know already: viz. That this farce was wrote by the most noble GEORGE VILLIERS, late Duke of BUCKINGHAM, &c. a person of a great deal of natural wit and ingenuity, and of excellent judgement, particularly in matters of this nature ; his forward genius was improved by a liberal education, and the conversation of the greatest persons in his time; and all these cultivated and improved by study and travel.
By the former, he became well acquainted with the writings of the most celebrated Poets of the late age; viz. Shakespear, Beaumont, and Johnson, (the lastof whom he knew personally, being thirteen years old when he died)* as also with the famous company of actors at Black-Fryars, whom he always admired.
He was likewise very intimate with the poets of his time ; as Sir John Denham, Sir John Suckling, the Lord Falkland, Mr. Sidney Godolphin, (a near relation to the Lord High Treasurer of England that now is, the glory of that ancient family) Mr. Waller, and Mr. Cowley; on the last of whom he bestowed a genteel Annuity during his life, and a noble monument in Westminster-Abbey after his decease.
By travel he had the opportunity of observing the decorum of foreign theatres ; especially the French, under the regulation of Monsieur Corneille, before it was so far Italianated, and over-run with opera and farce, as now it is; and before the venom thereof had crossed the narrow seas, and poisoned the English stage ; We being naturally prone to imitate the French in their fashions, manners, and customs, let them be never so vicious, fantastick, or ridiculous.
By what has been said on this head, I hope thou art fully satisfied who was the author of this piece, which the learned and judicicus Dr. Burnet (Now Bishop of Sarum) calls 'a correction,' and 'an unmerciful exposing ;' and I believe thou hast as little cause to doubt of his being able to perform it.
Had this great person been endued with constancy and steadiness of mind, equal to his other abilities both natural and acquired, he had been the most complete gentleman in his time.
I shall proceed to shew,
The civil war silenced the stage for almost twenty years, tho' pot near so lewd then, as it is since grown; and it had been happy for England, if this had been the worst effect of that war. The many changes of government, that succeeded the dissolution of the ancient constitution, made the people very uneasy, and unanimously desirous of its restitution ; which was effected by a free Parliament, in the year 1660.
This sudden revolution, which is best known by the name of THE RESTORATION, brought with it many ill customs, from the several countries, to which the King and the cavaliers were retired, during their exile, which proved very pernicious to our English constitution, by corrupting our morals; and to which the reviving the stage, and bringing women on't,
and encouraging and applauding the many lewd, senseless, and unnatural plays, that ensued upon this great change, did very much contribute.
* This is a mistake. The Duke of Buckingham was born Jan. 30, 1629. ben Johnson died Aug. 6, 1637. Bp. Percy.
Continued at page 46.
JOHNS. I did not observe you, Sir: pray fay that again.
BAYES. Why, look you, Sir, (nay, I beseech you, be a little curious in taking notice of this, or else you'l never understand my notion of the thing) the people being embarrast by their equal tyes to both, and the Soveraigns concern'd in a reciprocal regard, as well to their own interest, as the good of the people; may make a certain kind of a -you understand me
-upon which, there does arise several disputes, turmoils, heart-burnings, and all that --In fine, you'í apprehend it better when you see it.
[Exit, to call the Players. SMI. I find the Author will be very much oblig'd to the Players, if they can make any sence of this.
BAYES. Now, Gentlemen, I would fain ask your opinion of one thing. I have made a Prologue and an Epilogue, which may both serve for either : (do you mark?) nay, they may both serve too, I gad, for any other Play as well as this.
Smi. Very well. That's, indeed, Artificial.
BAYES. And I would fain ask your judgements, now, which of them would do best for the Prologue ? For, you must know, there is, in nature, but two ways of making very good Prologues. The one is by civility, by insinuation, good language, and all that, to a
-in a manner, steal your plaudit from the courtesie of the Auditors: the other, by making use of some certain personal things, which may keep a hank upon luch censuring persons, as cannot otherways, A gad, in nature, be hindred from being too free with their tongues. To which end, my first Prologue is, that I come out in a long black Veil, and a great huge Hang-man behind me, with a Furr'd-cap, and his Sword drawn; and there tell 'em plainly, That if, out of good nature, they will not like my Play, why I gad,
* There were printed Papers given the Audience before the Acting of the Indian Emperor, telling them, that it was the sequel of the Indian Queen, Part of which Play was written by Mr. Bayes, &c.
Key 1704. The text of these papers is prefixed to the Play It runs thus. Connexion of the Indian Emperour, to the Indian Queen. "HE Conclusion of the Indian Queen, (part of which Poem
was writ by me) left little matter for another Story to be built on, there remaining but two of the considerable Characters alive, (viz.) Montezuma and Orazia ; thereupon the Author of this, thought it necessary to produce new persons from the old ones ; and considering the late Indian Queen, before she lov'd Montezuma, liv'd in clandestine Marriage with her General Traxalla ; from those two, he has rais'd a Son and two Daughr ters, supposed to be left young Orphans at their Death : On the other side, he has given to Montezuma and Orazia, two Sons and a Daughter ; all now supposed to be grown up to Mens and Womens Estate ; and their Mother Orazia (for whom there was no further use in the story) lately dead.
So that you are to imagine about Twenty years elapsed since the Coronation of Montezuma ; who, in the Truth of the History, was a great and glorious Prince; and in whose time happened the Discovery and Invasion of Mexico by the Spaniards ; under the conduct of Hernando Cortez, who, joyning with the Taxallan-Indians, the invetrate Enemies of Montezuma, wholly Subverted that flourishing Empire ; the Conquest of which, is the Subject of this Dramatique Poem.
I have neither wholly followed the story nor varied from it; and, as near as I could, have traced the Native simplicity and ignorance of the Indians, in relation to European Customes : The Shipping, Armour, Horses, Swords, and Guns of the Spaniards, being as new to them as their Habits, and their Language.
The difference of their Religion from ours, I have taken from the Story it self; and that which you find of it in the first and fifth Acts, touching the sufferings and constancy of Montezuma in his Opinions, I have only illustrated, not alter'd from those who have written of it,
3 “Persons, egad, I vow to gad, and all that” is the constant style of Failer, in the Wild Gallant ; for which take this short speech, instead of many.
Key 1704. Failer. Really Madam, I look upon you as a person of such worth and all that, that I Vow to gad I honour you of all persons in the World; and though I am a person that am inconsiderable in the World, and all that Madam, yet for a person of your worth and excellency, I would J. DRYDEN. Wild Gallant. Act ii., Scene ii. p. 23. Ed. 1669.
I'l e'en kneel down, and he shall cut my head off. Whereupon they all clapping
SMI. But, suppose they do not.
BAYES. Suppose! Sir, you may suppose what you please, I have nothing to do with your suppose, Sir, nor am not at all mortifi'd at it; not at all, Sir; I gad, not one jot. Suppose quoth a [Walks away.]
JOHNS. Phoo ! prythee, Bayes, don't mind what he says: he's a fellow newly come out of the Country, he knows nothing of what's the relish, here, of the Town.
BAYES. If I writ, Sir, to please the Country, I should have follow'd the old plain way; but I write for some persons of Quality, and peculiar friends of mine, that understand what Flame and Power in writing is : and they do me the right, Sir, to approve of what I do.
JOHNS. I, I, they will clap, I warrant you; never fear it.
Bayes. I'm sure the design's good, that cannot be deny'd. And then, for language, I gad, I defie 'em all, in nature, to mend it. Besides, Sir, I have printed above a hundred sheets of papyr, to insinuate the Plot into the Boxes :' and withal, have appointed two or three dozen of my friends, to be readie in the Pit, who, I'm sure, will clap, and so the rest, you know, must follow; and then pray, Sir, what becomes of your suppose ? ha, ha, ha.
JOHNS. Nay, if the business be so well laid, it cannot miss.
BAYES. I think so, Sir: and therefore would chuse this for the Prologue. For if I could engage 'em to clap, before they see the Play, you know 'twould be so much the better ; because then they were engag'd : for, let a man write never so well, there are, now-adays, a sort of persons, they call Critiques, that, I gad, have no more wit in 'em than so many Hobby-horses ; but they'l laugh you, Sir, and find fault, and censure things that, A gad, I'm sure they are not able to do themselves. A sort of envious persons, that emulate the glories of persons of parts, and think to build their
(a) He contracted with the King's Company of Actors, in the Year 1668, for a whole Share, to write them four Plays a Year.
Key 1704. (6) E. Malone, Life of Dryden, p. 72-74, Ed. 1800, adduces evidence to show that the number of plays was three a year, for which Dryden received it share in the King's Company, equal to about 6 300 or E400 a year.