If This Be Not a Good Play – Dramatis Personæ

ALPHONSO, King of Naples.
OCTAVIO,        Uncles to
ASTOLFO         Alphonso.
JOVINELLI ,       Counts of
BRISCO,               Naples.
BARTERVILE, a Merchant.
SUB-PRIOR,        Friars.
SCUMBROTH, a cook.
RUFFMAN, disguised as BOHOR,
LURCHALL,                                                             Devils.
GLITTERBACK, a spirit.
Two Gentlemen.
FARNEZE, a Gentleman.

ERMINHILD, Princess of Calabria.

RHADAMANTH,                  Tormentors in Hell.
A Prodigal.
A Puritan .

A Soldier, Scholar, Mariner, Bravo, Italian Zany, Courtesans, Friars, Pilgrims, Servants, Devils, Furies.


To my Loving, and Loved Friends, and Fellows,
the Queen’s Majesty’s Servants.
Knowledge and reward dwell far asunder.  Greatness lay once between them.  But, in his stead, covetousness now.  An ill neighbour, a bad benefactor, no paymaster to poets.  By this hard housekeeping, or rather shutting up of liberality’s doors, merit goes a-begging, and learning starves.  Books had wont to have patrons, and now patrons have books.  The snuff that is lighted consumes that which feeds it.  A sign the world hath an ill ear when no music is food, unless it strikes up for nothing.  I have sung so, but will no more.  A hue and cry follow his wit that sleeps tunes are sounding.  But ‘tis now the fashion, lords, look well.  Gulls, swear well, but none, give well.  I leave, therefore all for you, and all that this can be to you.  Not in hope to have, but in recognition of what I have, as I think already, your loves.

Acknowledgement is part of payment sometimes, but it neither is, nor shall be, between you and me, a cancelling.  I have cast mine eye upon many, but find none more fit, none more worthy, to patronize this, than you, who have protected it.  Your cost, counsel, and labour, had been ill spent if a second should by my hand snatch from you this glory.  No, when Fortune, in her blind pride, set her foot upon this imperfect building, as scorning the foundation and workmanship, you,gently razed it up, on the same columns, the frontispiece only a little more garnished.  To you, therefore, deservedly is the whore frame consecrated.  For I durst swear, if wishes and curses could have become witches, the neck of this harmless devil had long ago been broken.

But I am glad that ignorance, so insolent for being flattered, is not stripped naked, and her deformities discovered; and more glad, that envy sits maddingly gnawing her own snakes, whose stings she had armed to strike others.  Feed let her so still.  So, still let the other be laughed at.  Whilst I, pitying the one and not dreading the other, send these my wishes flying into your bosoms.  That the god of poets may never pester your stage with a Cherilus nor a Suffenus, males eminent in nothing but in long ears, in kicking and in bragging out calumnies, upon whore cruppers may be aptly pined, that moral of poor Ocnus making ropes in hell, whilst an ass stands by, and, as he twists, bites them in sunder.  But if his versifying deity sends you any, I wish they may be such as are worthy to sit at the Table of the Sun.  None else.

I wish a fair and fortunate day to your next new play, for the maker’s sake and your own, because such brave triumphs of poesy and elaborate industry, which my worthy friends muse hath there set forth, deserve a theatre full of very muses themselves to be spectators.  To that fair day I wish a full, free, and knowing auditor.  And to that full audience, one honest door-keeper.  So, fare-well.

Yours.  Tho: Dekker.

Proceed to the Prologue


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