A Select Collection of Old English Plays, Volume 9 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 508 pages of information about A Select Collection of Old English Plays, Volume 9.
appearing as physicians, actors, and musicians:  but the Man of Genius is disregarded, and at last prosecuted for his productions; the benefice is sold to an illiterate clown; and in the end three of the scholars are compelled to submit to a voluntary exile; another returns to Cambridge as poor as when he left it; and the other two, finding that neither their medicines nor their music would support them, resolve to turn shepherds, and to spend the rest of their days on the Kentish downs.  There is a great variety of characters in this play, which are excellently distinguished and supported; and some of the scenes have as much wit as can be desired in a perfect comedy.  The simplicity of its plan must naturally bring to our mind the old species of comedy described by Horace, in which, before it was restrained by a public edict, living characters were exposed by name upon the stage, and the audience made merry at their expense without any intricacy of plot or diversity of action:  thus in the piece before us Burbage and Kempe, two famous actors, appear in their proper persons; and a number of acute observations are made on the poets of that age, of whom the editor has given an account in the notes, and has added some chosen specimens of their poetry.

[The late Mr Bolton Corney thought that this play was from the pen of John Day.  We learn from the Prologue that a drama, of which nothing is now known, preceded it, under the title of “The Pilgrimage to Parnassus.”  The loss is perhaps to be regretted.]



Spectators, we will act a comedy:  non plus.

STAGEKEEPER.  A pox on’t, this book hath it not in it:  you would be whipped, thou rascal; thou must be sitting up all night at cards, when thou should be conning thy part.

BOY.  It’s all along on you; I could not get my part a night or two before, that I might sleep on it.

[STAGEKEEPER carrieth the BOY away under his arm.

It’s even well done; here is such a stir about a scurvy English show!

DEFENSOR.  Scurvy in thy face, thou scurvy Jack:  if this company were not,—­you paltry critic gentleman, you that know what it is to play at primero or passage—­you that have been student at post and pair, saint and loadam —­you that have spent all your quarter’s revenues in riding post one night in Christmas, bear with the weak memory of a gamester.

MOMUS.  Gentlemen, you that can play at noddy, or rather play upon noddies—­you that can set up a jest at primero instead of a rest, laugh at the prologue, that was taken away in a voider.

DEFENSOR.  What we present, I must needs confess, is but slubber’d invention:  if your wisdom obscure the circumstance, your kindness will pardon the substance.

MOMUS.  What is presented here is an old musty show, that hath lain this twelvemonth in the bottom of a coal-house amongst brooms and old shoes; an invention that we are ashamed of, and therefore we have promised the copies to the chandler to wrap his candles in.

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A Select Collection of Old English Plays, Volume 9 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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