Hawkins, who included this piece in his collection, observes: “Wily Beguiled is a regular and very pleasing Comedy; and if it were judiciously adapted to the manners of the times, would make no contemptible appearance on the modern stage.”]
SPECTRUM, THE PROLOGUE.
What, ho! where are these paltry players? still poring in their papers, and never perfect? For shame, come forth; your audience stay so long, their eyes wax dim with expectation.
Enter one of the PLAYERS.
How now, my honest rogue? What play shall we have here to-night?
Sir, you may look upon the title.
PROLOGUE. What, Spectrum once again? Why, noble Cerberus, nothing but patch-panel stuff, old gallymawfries, and cotton-candle eloquence? Out, you bawling bandog! fox-furred slave! you dried stock-fish, you, out of my sight!
[Exit the PLAYER.
Well, ’tis no matter! I’ll sit me down and see it; and, for fault of a better, I’ll supply the place of a scurvy prologue.
Spectrum is a looking-glass, indeed,
Wherein a man a history may read
Of base conceits and damned roguery:
The very sink of hell-bred villany.
Enter a JUGGLER.
JUGGLER. Why, how now, humorous George? What, as melancholy as a mantle-tree? Will you see any tricks of legerdemain, sleight of hand, cleanly conveyance, or deceptio visus? What will you see, gentleman, to drive you out of these dumps.
PROLOGUE. Out, you soused gurnet, you woolfist! Begone, I say, and bid the players despatch, and come away quickly; and tell their fiery poet that, before I have done with him I’ll make him do penance upon a stage in a calf’s skin.
JUGGLER. O Lord, sir, ye are deceived in me, I am no tale-carrier; I am a juggler. I have the superficial skill of all the seven liberal sciences at my fingers’ end. I’ll show you a trick of the twelves, and turn him over the thumbs with a trice; I’ll make him fly swifter than meditation. I’ll show you as many toys as there be minutes in a month, and as many tricks as there be motes in the sun.
Prythee, what tricks canst thou do?
JUGGLER. Marry, sir, I will show you a trick of cleanly conveyance—Hei, fortuna furim nunquam credo—with a cast of clean conveyance. Come aloft, Jack, for thy master’s advantage. He’s gone, I warrant ye.
[SPECTRUM is conveyed
away, and WILY BEGUILED
stands in the place of it.
Mass, and ’tis well done! Now I see thou canst do something. Hold thee; there is twelvepence for thy labour.
Go to that barm-froth poet, and to him say,
He quite hath lost the title of his play;
His calf-skin jests from hence are clean exil’d.
Thus once you see, that Wily is beguil’d.