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

Sir Philip Sidney (1554–1586)

On Plays

From “Defense of Poesy

OUR tragedies and comedies are not without cause cried out against, observing rules neither of honest civility nor of skilful poetry, excepting “Gorboduc.” For where the stage should always represent but one place, and the uttermost time presupposed in it should be, both by Aristotle’s precept and by common reason, but one day, there is both many days and many places inartificially imagined. You shall have Asia of the one side, and Afric of the other, and so many other under-kingdoms, that the player, when he cometh in, must ever begin with telling where he is, or else the tale will not be conceived. Now ye shall have three ladies walk to gather flowers, and then we must believe the stage to be a garden. By and by we hear news of shipwreck in the same place, and then we are to blame if we accept it not for a rock. Upon the back of that comes out a hideous monster, with fire and smoke, and then the miserable beholders are bound to take it for a cave. While in the meantime two armies fly in, represented with four swords and bucklers, and then what hard heart will not receive it for a pitched field? Now of time they are much more liberal, for ordinary it is that two young princes fall in love. After many traverses, she is got with child, delivered of a fair boy; he is lost, groweth a man; falls in love, and is ready to get another child, and all this in two hours space: which how absurd it is in sense, even sense can imagine and art hath taught.