« PreviousContinue »
have very complicated plots, but not so well managed as Brome's. They are totally without a regular organic development of one theme : Northward Ho, especially, is a string of episodes. Brome's skill in construction can not come from Dekker. The influence, I think, consists in the fondness for bourgeois intrigue as a dramatic theme, hints for the plot of the City Wit, and a similarity in a few characters.
In Westward Ho there are four intrigues of citizens' wives with city gallants. This I have already mentioned as not only a favorite theme in Brome's plots, but one which he alludes to constantly. The underplots of the Mad Couple well Matched, Sparagus Garden, and New Exchange, have characters that find their duplicates in both these comedies of manners of Dekker and Webster. The treatment of this theme and these characters, moreover, is much closer to that of Northward Ho and Westward Ho than that of the few cases found in Jonson.2
The last mentioned of these plays is, I think, a much closer source for the City Wit than Timon of Athens, which Professor Koeppel has proposed as the original. Justiniano, the merchant, through his jealousy causes his wife to leave him. He then, under pretense of going on a journey, goes about the city disguised as a writingmaster or a collier, makes a great deal of trouble for his faithless friends and neighbors, and finally discovers his wife's fidelity. The merchant's character might well have formed the basis for the character of Crasy in the City Wit, and, though the motives are different, the general scheme of a man revenging himself by tricking his friends through a series of disguises makes the resemblance quite close. The fact that several of Crasy's tricks are designed to test the fidelity of his wife adds something further to the evidence. Finally, this is the play which Fleay and Bayne agree shows most markedly the 'easy humor' of Dekker. However, the very successful treatment of a plot of trickery in the matter of structure, as I have already suggested,” is due to a study of the Alchemist.
1 See above, p. 65.
2 See above, p. 89. Thomann (Der Eifersüchtige Ehemann im Drama der Elisabethanischen Zeit, Halle, 1908) gives a catalogue of examples in the miracle plays, Heywood's interludes, Lyly, Greene, Marlowe, Jonson, Shakespeare, etc.
The most tangible indication of the borrowing of a specific character is the similarity of the wittol, Saleware, in the Mad Couple well Matched, to Candido, the husband in the underplot of the Honest Whore, Part I. Saleware refuses to be jealous of his wife, who tries her best to make him ; Candido refuses to lose his patience, though his wife lays various plots against him to force him to show some resentment.? Another type of character that Brome uses, which is a great favorite with Dekker, is the loud, coarse-grained, but good-natured harlot, or bawd. For instance, Bettie and Francisca, who attack each other with torrents of Billingsgate in Covent Garden Weeded (4. I), and then are easily reconciled, are quite like such characters in Dekker.
I should also mention the cony-catching underplot of Northward Ho as a possible source for the similar theme in Brome and his contemporaries. Dol, a harlot, with the help of several men friends, cheats some foolish fellows of their money by pretending to offer herself as a wealthy ward looking for a match. This, of course, is not so close a parallel to the favorite situation of late drama, the tricking a dull country fellow who wishes to become a gay city blade, as is the Alchemist, though the difference of dates, 1605 and 1610, gives Dekker and Webster the priority. However, the possible influence of Northward Ho on the Alchemist is worth suggesting. The similarity in character of the two Dols, and the fact that two of the victims in Northward Ho speak foreign languages, and one in the Alchemist pretends that he does also, with the resulting confusion, strengthen the impression that Jonson may have borrowed this incident. Brome's introduction of Swatzenburg, the 'glorious German,' a French cavalier, and a brave Spaniard, as suitors for the advertised maidenhead of Victoria, the famous ‘Novella,' in the play so called, may have been in imitation of Dekker's Hans von Belch, the Dutchman, and Captain Jenkyns, the Welshman, or of Jonson's Sir Pertinax Surly, in the guise of a Spaniard.
1 See above, p. 55.
2 Faust (op. cit., p. 62) works out the similarity at length. As I came to the me conclusion before reading Faust, I am convinced that this is an undoubted case of the influence of Dekker.
MINOR INFLUENCES Beside these three important sources of influence, there are a few possibilities of borrowing from most of the other contemporaries. Some of these are extremely doubtful. Eight of the cases that have been indicated by various scholars seem worth pointing out. To these I have added eleven more.
From Massinger Brome may have received four hints, or at best possible reminiscences. The genius who appears in the Queen's Exchange, Act 4, to encourage Anthynus, and help along the action by dumb show, may have been suggested by the good and bad spirits who follow two of the characters in the Virgin Martyr.1 There is a general resemblance between parts of the main situations of the New Academy and of the City Madam. This consists in the plotting of a landless scoundrel with the steward of his wealthy brother to get money away
1 Ward, op. cit., 3. 129, note 4.
from the brother. Faust, I think makes too much of this resemblance ; his closest parallel, New Academy Act 1, with City Madam 2. I, is not very convincing. 1 The Bellamy episode in the Mad Couple well Matched is a variation of the changeling motive of Measure for Measure, but the Parliament of Love is nearer as a source.2 The similarity of the methods in which the play within a play is introduced into the plot of the Antipodes and of the Roman Actor will be treated at length in the consideration of the sources of the Antipodes.3
Middleton has a parallel to the pretended wealthy Widow Tryman, who, in the City Wit, has several men running after her for her money, in the courtesan in A Trick to catch the Old One. In the Court Begger (2. I, p. 232), Citwit declines to resent an insult to his mother, on the ground that she is dead. 'If she were living,' he says, ' Why I would civilly ask her if she were a whore ? If she confess'd it, then he were in the right, and I ought not to fight against him : for my cause were naught. If she deny'd it, then he were in an error, and his cause were naught, and I would not fight, 'twere better he should live to repent his error.' This passage suggests the situation of the Fair Quarrel.
Fletcher and Brome seem to touch in several places. I have already discussed their personal relations, but I think there may also be possibilities of influence. The Begger's Bush perhaps gave a hint for the outdoor spirit of the Jovial Crew. With the City Wit 3. I, where Jeremy pretends to be the Widow Tryman who makes a will on her deathbed, may be compared the Spanish Curate 4.5, where Diego does the same thing. Constance,
1 Faust, op. cit., pp. 63–64.
* Koeppel, Shakespeare's Wirkung, pp. 42-43; also QuellenStudien 2. 106 ff.
3 See Appendix I. 4 See above, p. 20. 6 Ward, op. cit., 3. 130.
in the Northern Lass, goes mad for love, like the jailor's daughter in the Two Noble Kinsmen. The main situation in this same play of Fletcher's is much like that of the Lovesick Court, where the princess Eudina is in love with two brothers, and unable to choose between them.2 Moreover, there is probably influence of King and No King 3 on the Lovesick Court. The sister's love for her brother (3. 2) results in much the same situation as in Fletcher—that is, it is later discovered that the pair are not brother and sister.
Ford's 'Tis Pity may possibly have suggested this theme of incest. The same theme in the love of Offa for Mildred, in the Queen's Exchange, doubtless goes back to the same source. The strange Masque of Discord in the Antipodes (5. 10) indicates another influence of Ford, in the Masque of Madness in Lover's Melancholy (2. 3).
Shirley, in his Lady of Pleasure 5. I (1635, pr. 1637) makes the student, Frederick, when drunk, court his aunt. A similar situation occurs in the Mad Couple well Matched 3. I (1636?), where the rake Careless courts his aunt, the Lady Thrivewell, the morning after he has come in drunk, and misbehaved. The similarity of the 'academy' of deportment in the New Academy and that in Lovetricks, or the School of Compliment, I have already spoken of in connection with the possible influence of the Staple of News or Cynthia's Revels.5
Chapman's Cynthia, in his Widow's Tears, may have suggested Josina, a kind of Matron of Ephesus,' in the City Wit. The green-room scene in the Gentleman Usher
1 Ward, op. cit., 3. 128. 2 Schelling, Eliz. Drama 2. 336. 3 Faust (op. cit., p. 77) mentions this as the sole source.
* Schelling (Eliz. Drama 2. 336), thinks the influence apparent enough to help determine the date of Ford's play.
5 See above, p. p. 68, n ; 86.
• Koeppel, Shakespeare's Wirkung, p. 43; and Quellen-Studien 2. 66.