« PreviousContinue »
And yet a drayman may advance
This quotation is hardly of much importance, particularly as it occurs long after the date of the play, but I give it because it is the nearest hint of the idea under discussion.
As a result of this evidence, I think we must allow Brome's fantastic conception of the antipodes to be his own. A few suggestions, however, of topsyturvydom used with comic effect may be brought forward as possible germs of the idea that he developed with much cleverness and originality. Ward 1 remarks that perhaps he had been looking into Bacon's New Atlantic (published 1627), or he may have derived a general hint from Jonson's masque of the World in the Moon (1620)' Faust's comment on this is 2 : ‘Dass Brome die Idee zur Schilderung solch einer verkehrten Welt durch Jonsons Maske News from the New World discovered in the Moon empfangen habe, was Ward für wahrscheinlich hält, kann nicht ohne weiteres geleugnet werden; nur ist zu bedenken, dass beiden Dichtungen kaum ein individueller Zug gemein ist. Auch Bacon's New Atlantis könnte höchstens eine Anregung genereller Art gegeben haben.' In this scientist's paradise of Bacon's I can find nothing that could suggest itself as a parallel to Brome's play The idea of a voyage to a strange land, whose customs differ in some ways from the English, is all they have in common. The nearest hint to be found in Jonson's masque is in coaches that go only with wind, coachmen 'with cheeks like a trumpeter to blow them along, walks in the clouds, epicoenes who lay eggs, and children who are part fowl.
Jonson's masque has been shown to have been based partly on Lucian's Vera Historia, which may possibly have
1 Op. cit., 3. 130. 2 Op. cit., p. 57.
given some suggestion to Brome as well. Most of the wonders in the Vera Historia are wildly fantastic ideas like those quoted from Jonson, but occasionally they occur as usages or views exactly antipodal to our own. Such a notion appears in the description of the inhabitants of the moon 1 : 'Beauty with them consists in a bald head and hairless body; a good crop of hair is an abomination. On the comets, as I was told by some of their inhabitants who were there on a visit, this is reversed.' There are other passages like this, but none which show definitely that Brome actually took any suggestion from Lucian.
A much more definite suggestion, and in fact, an undoubted source for at least part of the conception of the antipodes, is to be found in the Late Lancashire Witches. Here there is a scene in which, through witchcraft, the usual relations of father and son are completely reversed. The son keeps his father on an allowance and reproves him severely for his extravagance, and the father, in great awe of his son, meekly begs forgiveness. This scene is closely imitated in Antipodes 2. 9, where three old men carrying satchels like schoolboys, enter singing, Domine, domine, duster ! Three knaves in a cluster !! The son of one of them rebukes them severely for playing truant, and they all reluctantly go off to school. The scene in the Lancashire Witches from which this is copied is one that I have attributed to Heywood.? This is one source, at least, with which we have positive proof that Brome was thoroughly acquainted. It may be that the whole conception of the play was developed from this scene, the success of which with the public Brome had, of course, opportunities of testing.
One more possible source for the underlying idea of the Antipodes is the Travels of Sir John Mandeville. This popular old collection of cock-and-bull stories about far countries is mentioned by name in the play, and frequently quoted and alluded to. It is not at all improbable that the extraordinary customs of the strange peoples described '1 H. W. and F. G. Fowler's Translation of Lucian 2. 145. 2 See above, p. 51.
in that delightful old book may have suggested to Brome the possibilities of fun and satire in an inverted world. The existence of the antipodes is implied in chapter 20 1: 'And wit well, that, after that I may perceive and comprehend, the lands of Prester John, Emperor of Ind, be under us. For in going from Scotland or from England toward Jerusalem men go upward always. For our land is in the low part of the earth toward the west, and the land of Prester John is in the low part of the earth toward the east. And they] have there the day when we have the night ; also, high to the contrary, they have the night when we have the day. For the earth and the sea be of round form and shape, as I have said before; and that that men go upward to one coast, men go downward to another coast.'
Having arrived at this idea of the antipodes, Brome may have associated with it some of the marvels of other lands in Mandeville. For instance, in chapter 31 an isle is mentioned where women sorrow when children are born, and rejoice when they die. The godly souls of the Isle of Bragenan in chapter 32 3 must also have appealed to the satirist. In that isle is no thief, ne murderer, ne common woman, ne poor beggar, ne never was man slain in that country. And they be so chaste, and lead so good life, as that they were religious men. And because they be so true and so rightful, and so full of all good conditions, they were never grieved with tempests, ne with thunder, ne with light, ne with hail, ne with pestilence, ne with war, ne with hunger, ne with none other tribulation, as we be many times, amongst us, for our sins.'
Whether or not Brome drew from Pseudo-Mandeville the fundamental conception of his play, he used the Travels as his only source for the deranged Peregrine's conversations on the wonders of distant parts. I find, in all, seven passages taken directly from this source. The first parallel is almost an attempted quotation, but all the others merely allusions to the idea in Mandeville:
1 Ed. 1905, p. 122.
2 Op. cit., p. 189.
3 Op. cit., p. 192.
He talks much of the Kingdome of Cathaya,
And men with heads like hounds.
(Antipodes 1. 3, p. 240) With this passage compare the following three from Mandeville : ‘Under the firmament is not so great a lord, ne so mighty, ne so rich as is the great Chan; not Prester John, that is Emperor of the high Ind, ne the Soldan of Babylon, ne the Emperor of Persia. All these be not in comparison to the great Chan, neither of might, ne of noblesse, ne of royality, ne of riches; for in all these he passeth all earthly princes.'
(Chap. 25, p. 161) • In that country be white hens without feathers, but they bear white wool as sheep do here.'
(Chap. 22, p. 136) • And all the men and women of the isle have hound's heads, and they be clept Cynocephales.'
Chap. 21, p. 130) Peregrine. And seen the trees of the Sunne and Moone, that speake. And told King Alexander of his death, Ha you bin there Sir, ha' you seene those trees ? Doctor. And talked with hem, and tasted of their fruit. Peregrine. Read here againe then : it is written here, That you may live foure or five hundred yeere.
(Antipodes, 1.6, p. 248—9) Compare : ‘But it was told us of them of the country, that within those deserts were the trees of the Sun and of the Moon, that spoke to King Alexander, and warned him of his death. And men say that the folk who keep those trees, and eat of the fruit and of the balm that groweth there, live well four hundred year or five hundred year by virtue of the fruit and of the balm.'
( (Chap. 32. p. 196) ... Are they not such As Mandevile writes of without heads or necks, Having their eyes plac'd on their shoulders, and Their mouths amidst their breasts ?
(Antipodes, 1. 6, p. 250) Compare : 'And in another isle toward the south dwell folk of foul stature and of cursed kind that have no heads. And their eyen be in their shoulders.' 1
(Chap. 22, p, 133) Mandivell writes Of peopel near the Antipodes, called Gadlibriens : Where on the wedding-night the husband hires Another man to couple with his bride, To clear the dangerous passage of a Maidenhead.
She may be of that Serpentine generation
(4. 10. p. 315) The source of this is the following passage in Mandeville. (Chap. 31, p. 188):
‘Another isle is there, full fair and good and great, and full of people, where the custom is such, that the first night that they be married, they make another man to lie by their wives for to have their maidenhead : and therefore they take great hire and great thank. And there be certain men in every town that serve of none other thing; and they clepe them Cadeberiz, that is to say the fools of wanhope. For they of the country hold it so great a thing and so perilous for to have the maidenhead of a woman, that them seemeth that they that have first the maidenhead putteth him in adventure of his life. And if the husband find his wife maiden that other next night after that she should have been lain by of the man that is assigned therefore, peradventure 1 Cf. also Othello 1. 3. 144.
Anthropaphagi and men whose heads