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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham (1628–1687)

Beginning a Play with a Whisper

From “The Rehearsal”


Bayes.Now, sir, because I’ll do nothing here that ever was done before, instead of beginning with a scene that discovers something of the plot, I begin this play with a whisper.

Smith.Umph! very new indeed.

Bayes.Come, take your seats. Begin, sirs.


Phys.Sir, by your habit I should guess you to be the Gentleman-usher of this sumptuous place.

Ush.And by your gait and fashion I should almost suspect you rule the healths of both our noble kings, under the notion of Physician.

Phys.You hit my function right.

Ush.And you mine.

Phys.Then let’s embrace.



Johns.Pray, sir, who are those so very civil persons?

Bayes.Why, sir, the gentleman-usher and physician of the two kings of Brentford.

Johns.But pray, then, how comes it to pass that they know one another no better?

Bayes.Pooh! that’s for the better carrying on of the plot.

Johns.Very well.

Phys.Sir, to conclude.

Smith.What, before he begins?

Bayes.No, sir, you must know they had been talking of this a pretty while without.

Smith.Where—in the tyring-room?

Bayes.Why, aye, sir. He’s so dull! Come, speak again.

Phys.Sir, to conclude, the place you fill has more than amply exacted the talents of a wary pilot; and all these threat’ning storms, which, like impregnate clouds, hover o’er our heads, will—when they once are grasped but by the eye of reason—melt into fruitful showers of blessings on the people.

Bayes.Pray mark that allegory. Is not that good?

Johns.Yes, that grasping of a storm with the eye is admirable.

Phys.But yet some rumours great are stirring; and if Lorenzo should prove false—which none but the great gods can tell—you then perhaps would find that——(Whispers.)

Bayes.Now he whispers.

Ush.Alone do you say?

Phys.No, attended with the noble——(Whispers.)


Ush.Who, he in gray?

Phys.Yes, and at the head of——(Whispers.)

Bayes.Pray mark.

Ush.Then, sir, most certain ’twill in time appear,

These are the reasons that have mov’d him to’t:

First, he——(Whispers.)

Bayes.Now the other whispers.

Ush.Secondly, they——(Whispers.)

Bayes.At it still.

Ush.Thirdly, and lastly, both he and they——(Whispers.)

Bayes.Now they both whisper.(USHER and PHYSICIAN exeunt, whispering.)

Now, gentlemen, pray tell me true, and without flattery, is not this a very odd beginning of a play?

Johns.In troth, I think it is, sir. But why two kings of the same place?

Bayes.Why, because it’s new, and that’s it I aim at. I despise your Jonson and Beaumont, that borrowed all they writ from nature. I am for fetching it purely out of my own fancy, I.

Smith.But what think you of Sir John Suckling?

Bayes.By gad, I am a better poet than he.

Smith.Well, sir, but pray why all this whispering?

Bayes.Why, sir—besides that it is new, as I told you before—because they are supposed to be politicians, and matters of state ought not to be divulged.

Smith.But then, sir, why——

Bayes.Sir, if you’ll but respite your curiosity till the end of the fifth act, you’ll find it a piece of patience not ill recompensed.