hearsal, in their habits, and all that, as it is to be acted; and if you and your friend will do it but 85 the honor to see it in its virgin attire, though, perhaps, it may blush, I shall not be ashamed to discover its nakedness unto you. (Puts his hand in his pocket.) I think it is in this pocket.
JOHNSON. Sir, I confess I am not able to 90 answer you in this new way; but if you please to lead, I shall be glad to follow you; and I hope my friend will do so too.
SMITH. Sir, I have no business so considerable as should keep me from your company. 95
BAYES. Yes, here it is. -- No, cry you mercy! this is my book of Drama Commonplaces, the mother of many other plays.
JOHNSON. Drama Commonplaces! pray, what's that? 100
BAYES. Why, sir, some certain helps that we men of art have found it convenient to make use of.
SMITH. How, sir, helps for wit?
BAYES. Aye, sir, that's my position. And I do here aver that no man yet the sun e'er shone 105 upon has parts sufficient to furnish out a stage, except it were by the help of these my rules.
JOHNSON. What are those rules, I pray?
BAYES. Why, sir, my first rule is the rule of transversion,1 or regula duplex -- changing verse 110 into prose, or prose into verse, alternative as you please.
SMITH. Well; but how is this done by a rule, sir?
BAYES. Why, thus, sir -- nothing so easy when understood. I take a book in my hand, either 115 at home or elsewhere, for that's all one -- if there be any wit in't, as there is no book but has some, I transverse it: that is, if it be prose, put it into verse (but that takes up some time), and if it be verse, put it into prose. 120
JOHNSON. Methinks, Mr. Bayes, that putting verse into prose should be called transprosing.
BAYES. By my troth, sir, 'tis a very good notion, and hereafter it shall be so.
SMITH. Well, sir, and what d'ye do with it 125 then?
BAYES. Make it my own. 'Tis so changed that no man can know it. My next rule is the rule of record, by way of table-book.2 Pray, observe.
JOHNSON. We hear you, sir: go on. 130
BAYES. As thus. I come into a coffee-house, or some other place where witty men resort. I make as if I minded nothing (do you mark?), but as soon as any one speaks, pop! I slap it down, and make that, too, my own. 135
JOHNSON. But, Mr. Bayes, are you not sometimes in danger of their making you restore, by force, what you have gotten thus by art?
BAYES. No, sir; the world's unmindful; they never take notice of these things. 140
SMITH. But pray, Mr. Bayes, among all your other rules, have you no one rule for invention?
BAYES. Yes, sir, that's my third rule that I have here in my pocket.
SMITH. What rule can that be, I wonder. 145
BAYES. Why, sir, when I have anything to invent, I never trouble my head about it, as other men do; but presently turn over this book, and there I have, at one view, all that Perseus, Montaigne, Seneca's tragedies, Horace, Juvenal, Claudian, Pliny, 150 Plutarch's Lives, and the rest, have ever thought upon this subject; and so, in a trice, by leaving out a few words or putting in others of my own, the business is done.
JOHNSON. Indeed, Mr. Bayes, this is as sure 155 and compendious a way of wit as ever I heard of.
BAYES. Sirs, if you make the least scruple of the efficacy of these my rules, do but come to the play- house and you shall judge of 'em by the effects.
SMITH. We'll follow you, sir. 160
Enter three Players upon the stage.
1ST PLAYER. Have you your part perfect?
2D PLAYER. Yes, I have it without book; but I don't understand how it is to be spoken.
3D PLAYER. And mine is such a one as I can't guess for my life what humor I'm to be in -- 5 whether angry, melancholy, merry, or in love. I don't know what to make on't.
1ST PLAYER. Phoo! the author will be here presently and he'll tell us all. You must know, this is the new way of writing; and these hard things 10 please forty times better than the old plain way. For, look you, sir, the grand design upon the stage is to keep the auditors in suspense; for to guess presently at the plot and the sense, tires 'em before the end of the first act. Now, here, every line 15 surprises you and brings in new matter. And, then, for scenes, clothes, and dances, we put 'em quite down, all that ever went before us; and those are the things, you know, that are essential to a play.____________________