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IF thou beest more, thou art an understander, and then I trust thee. If thou art one that tak'st up, and but a pretender, beware at what hands thou receiv'st thy commodity; for thou wert never more fair in the way to be coz'ned than in this age in poetry, especially in plays: wherein now the concupiscence of jigs and dances 2 so reigneth, as to run away from nature and be afraid of her is the only point of art that tickles the spectators. But how out of purpose and place do I name art, when the professors are grown so obstinate contemners of it, and presumers on their own naturals,3 as they are deriders of all diligence that way, and, by simple mocking at the terms when they understand not the things, think to get off wittily with their ignorance! Nay, they are esteem'd the more learned and sufficient for this by the multitude, through their excellent vice of judgment. For they commend writers as they do fencers or wrastlers; who, if they come in robustiously and put for it with a great deal of violence, are receiv'd for the braver fellows; when many times their own rudeness is the cause of their disgrace, and a little touch of their adversary gives all that boisterous force the foil. I deny not but that these men who always seek to do more than enough may some time happen on some thing that is good and great; but very seldom : and when it comes, it doth not recompence the rest of their ill. It sticks out, perhaps, and is more eminent, because all is sordid and vile about it; as lights are more discern'd in a thick darkness than a faint shadow. I speak not this out of a hope to do good on any man against his will; for I know, if it were put to the question of theirs and mine, the worse would find more suffrages, because the most favour common errors. But I give thee this warning, that there is a great difference between those that (to gain the opinion of copie 7) utter all they can, however unfitly, and those that use election and a mean. For it is only the disease of the unskillful to think rude things greater than polish'd, or scatter'd more numerous than compos'd.]

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ARGUMENT

THE sickness hot,9 a master quit, for fear,
His house in town, and left one servant there.
E ase him corrupted, and gave means to know
A Cheater and his punk; 10 who now brought low,
Leaving their narrow practice, were become
C oz'ners 11 at large; and only wanting some
House to set up, and with him they here contract,
E ach for a share, and all begin to act.
Much company they draw, and much abuse, 12
In casting figures, 13 telling fortunes, news,
Selling of flies, 14 flat bawdry, with the stone,15
Till it, and they, and all in fume 16 are gone.

2 Hoe's copy of the Q. reads Dounces, and Antikes for jigs and dances.

a Natural gifts.

• Defeat.

4 Hoe's Q. Many.

7 Copia, copiousness.

Surpassing defect.

8 Publish.

The plague raging.

10 Mistress.

11 Swindlers.

12 Deceive.

13 Calculating the future. 14 Familiar spirits.

15 Philosophers' stone. 16 Smoke.

PROLOGUE

FORTUNE, that favours fools, these two short hours
We wish away, both for your sakes and ours,
Judging spectators; and desire in place,

To th' author justice, to ourselves but grace.
Our scene is London, 'cause we would make known,
No country's mirth is better than our own.
No clime breeds better matter for your whore,
Bawd, squire, impostor, many persons more,
Whose manners, now call'd humours, feed the stage;
And which have still been subject for the rage
Or spleen of comic writers. Though this pen
Did never aim to grieve, but better men;
Howe'er the age he lives in doth endure

The vices that she breeds, above their cure.
But when the wholesome remedies are sweet,
And, in their working gain and profit meet,
He hopes to find no spirit so much diseas'd,
But will with such fair correctives be pleas'd.
For here he doth not fear who can apply.
If there be any that will sit so nigh

Unto the stream, to look what it doth run,

They shall find things, they 'd think, or wish, were done;
They are so natural follies, but so shown,

As even the doers may see, and yet not own.

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10

18

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Taking your meal of steam in, from cooks' stalls,
Where, like the father of hunger, you did walk
Piteously costive, with your pinch'd-horn-nose,
And your complexion of the Roman wash,
Stuck full of black and melancholic worms,
Like powder-corns shot at the artillery-yard.
Sub. I wish you could advance your voice a
little.

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Face. When you went pinn'd up in the several rags

You had rak'd and pick'd from dunghills, be-
fore day;

Your feet in mouldy slippers, for your kibes;
A felt of rug, and a thin threaden cloak,
That scarce would cover your no-buttocks

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36

A hat of coarse material.

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it up.

220

Sdeath, you abominable pair of stinkards,
Leave off your barking, and grow one again,
Or, by the light that shines. I'll cut your throats.
I'll not be made a prey unto the marshal
For ne'er a snarling dog-bolt o' you both.
Ha'
you together cozen'd all this while,
And all the world, and shall it now be said,
You've made most courteous shift to cozen
yourselves?

[To FACE. You will accuse him! You will bring him in

Within the statute!" Who shall take your word?

A whoreson, upstart, apocryphal captain, Whom not a Puritan in Blackfriars will trust So much as for a feather: and you, too,

126

131

134

[to SUBTLE Will give the cause, forsooth! You will insult, And claim a primacy in the divisions! You must be chief! As if you, only, had The powder to project with, and the work Were not begun out of equality! The venture tripartite! All things in common! Without priority! 'Sdeath! you perpetual curs, Fall to your couples again, and cozen kindly, And heartily, and lovingly, as you should, And lose not the beginning of a term,

Or, by this hand, I shall grow factious too, 140 And take my part, and quit you.

Face. 'Tis his fault; He ever murmurs, and objects his pains, And says, the weight of all lies upon him. Sub. Why, so it does, Dol. Sustain our parts? Sub. Yes, but they are not equal. 145 Dol. Why, if your part exceed to-day, I hope Ours may to-morrow match it.

How does it? Do not we

Ay, they may.

Sub.
Dol. May, murmuring mastiff! Ay, and do.
Death on me!

Help me to throttle him.

[Seizes SUB. by the throat.] Sub. Dorothy! Mistress Dorothy! 'Ods precious, I'll do anything. What do you

mean?

130

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Sub. Let me not breathe if I meant aught be side.

I only us'd those speeches as a spur
To him.

Do. I hope we need no spurs, sir. Do we?
Face. Slid, prove to-day who shall shark

best.

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A sort of sober, scurvy, precise neighbours. That scarce have smil'd twice sin' the king came in,

A feast of laughter at our follies? Rascals, Would run themselves from breath, to see me ride,

Or you t' have but a hole to thrust your heads in."
For which you should pay ear-rent ? No, agree.
And may Don Provost ride a feasting long,
In his old velvet jerkin and stain'd scarfs,
My noble sovereign, and worthy general,
Ere we contribute a new crewell garter
To his most worsted worship.

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Sub. Royal Dol! Spoken like Claridiana,12 and thyself. Face. For which at supper, thou shalt sit in triumph,

And not be styl'd Dol Common, but Dol Pre

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My lawyer's clerk, I lighted on last night, 18 In Holborn, at the Dagger. He would have (I told you of him) a familiar,

To rifle with at horses, and win cups.

Dol. O, let him in.

Sub.

Face.

Stay. Who shall do 't?
Get yon t

Your robes on; I will meet him, as going out.

In the pillory.

11 Familiar puns.

7 Group.

156

A liquid which dissolves solids.

Quarreling.

3 A contemptible fellow. ♪ Alchemical terms.

4 Transmute metals.

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12 The heroine of the " Mirror of Knighthood." 13 Green apple, a youth.

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