The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy,
history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral,
tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene
individable, or poem unlimited: Seneca cannot be too heavy nor
Plautus too light. For the law of writ and the liberty, these are
the only men.
O Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a treasure hadst thou!
What treasure had he, my lord?
'One fair daughter, and no more,
The which he loved passing well.'
[Aside.] Still on my daughter.
Am I not i' the right, old Jephthah?
If you call me Jephthah, my lord, I have a daughter that I
love passing well.
Nay, that follows not.
What follows, then, my lord?
'As by lot, God wot,'
and then, you know,
'It came to pass, as most like it was — '
The first row of the pious chanson will show you more; for look
where my abridgment comes.
[Enter four or five Players.]
You are welcome, masters; welcome, all: — I am glad to see thee
well. — welcome, good friends. — O, my old friend! Thy face is
valanc'd since I saw thee last; comest thou to beard me in
Denmark? — What, my young lady and mistress! By'r lady, your
ladyship is nearer to heaven than when I saw you last, by the
altitude of a chopine. Pray God, your voice, like a piece of
uncurrent gold, be not cracked within the ring. — Masters, you are
all welcome. We'll e'en to't like French falconers, fly at
anything we see: we'll have a speech straight: come, give us a
taste of your quality: come, a passionate speech.
What speech, my lord?
I heard thee speak me a speech once, — but it was never acted;
or if it was, not above once; for the play, I remember, pleased
not the million, 'twas caviare to the general; but it was, — as I
received it, and others, whose judgments in such matters cried in
the top of mine, — an excellent play, well digested in the scenes,
set down with as much modesty as cunning. I remember, one said
there were no sallets in the lines to make the matter savoury,
nor no matter in the phrase that might indite the author of
affectation; but called it an honest method, as wholesome as
sweet, and by very much more handsome than fine. One speech in it
I chiefly loved: 'twas AEneas' tale to Dido, and thereabout of it
especially where he speaks of Priam's slaughter: if it live in
your memory, begin at this line; — let me see, let me see: —
The rugged Pyrrhus, like th' Hyrcanian beast, —
it is not so: — it begins with Pyrrhus: —
'The rugged Pyrrhus, — he whose sable arms,
Black as his purpose,did the night resemble
When he lay couched in the ominous horse, —
Hath now this dread and black complexion smear'd
With heraldry more dismal; head to foot
Now is be total gules; horridly trick'd
With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons,
Bak'd and impasted with the parching streets,
That lend a tyrannous and a damned light
To their vile murders: roasted in wrath and fire,
And thus o'ersized with coagulate gore,
With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus
Old grandsire Priam seeks.'
So, proceed you.
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