Page images
PDF
EPUB

less the result of rewriting old plays, rather than of collaboration. Shirley addresses him as his ‘worthy Friend,' and generously praises his work for the knowledge of men shown in it, far more than that of University wits like Cartwright, against whom he directs a sly shaft. Sir Aston Cokayne, a wealthy University man, the friend of Massinger, and a dramatist himself, wrote verses for Five New Plays the year after Brome's death. This, if we may judge from the verses themselves, he did probably more for the editor's sake than because of any friendship for the departed playwright.

There seems, moreover, to have been a circle of the smaller literary men of the time who frequently exchanged with one another the courtesy of writing complimentary lines. Brome contributed some to Shakerley Marmion's Cupid and Psyche (1637), Thomas Jordan's Poetical Varieties (1637), and John Tatham's Fancies Theatre (1640). Tatham, in return, contributed to the Jovial Crew, and Tatham's volume is dedicated to John Ford of Gray's Inn, who is mentioned above as possibly the author of the verses before the Northern Lass. Robert Chamberlain contributed both to Tatham's book and to the Antipodes. The C. G. in the Antipodes, the Sparagus Garden, and Tatham's Fancies Theatre, is in all probability Charles Gerbier. F. T., Mag. Art. Oxon., who did

1 Jovial Crew (1652). Cartwright's volume, with its many prefatory verses, appeared the year before.

2 A C. G. wrote prefatory verses to Nabbes's Unfortunate Mother (also printed 1640). Bullen (ed. Nabbes 2. 88), following Hazlitt, conjectures Charles Gerbier, author of Eulogium Heroinum (1651) and other works. Allibone credits him with Astrologo-Mastix (1646) and the Praise of Worthy Women (1651). C. G. is also found attached to verses in Rawlin's Rebellion (1640), and C. Gerbier to others in John Tatham's Fancies Theatre, along with some by Nabbes, Brome, and Chamberlain. The lines before the Unfortunate Mother refer to the New Inn, and show Gerbier to be an admirer

two sets of verses for the Jovial Crew, is likely to be the same author who appears in the first edition of Cupid and Psyche, as Francis Tuckyr, but in later editions as F. T.1 The J. B. in the Jovial Crew I cannot identify, but the same initials appear in the Poetical Varieties. The R. W. of the Sparagus Garden (1640) may (as a wild guess) be the Richard West who appears in Jonsonus Virbius (1638). John Hall, another contributor to the Jovial Crew, was a clever University man, a poet and pamphleteer, a friend of Shirley and of Thomas Stanley. Thomas Nabbes, who next to Shirley was Brome's strongest rival in the comedy of manners or humors, seems to have written no verses for Brome, though he contributed to the volumes of most of the others of this group. Brome prefixed verses to Nabbes' Microcosmus in 1637. This interchange of literary compliments suggests that Brome may have made one of a circle of eight or ten very obscure authors that existed just before the outbreak of the war.

In the case of none of these men can we find any indication of a real friendship for Brome. The one exception to this is Alexander Brome, an attorney and popular royalist poet, a man of no mean ability. His name is found attached, among those of the friends of Jonson, to a great deal of eulogistic verse. His poem, The Club, and his translation of the Leges Conviviales, show that he was often to be found among the witty revelers at the Devil Tavern. His encomiastic verses prefixed to the Jovial Crew seem to me to be the only ones that indicate any personal affection for the old author.

of Jonson. Fleay (Biog. Chron. 2. 169) says that the C. G. who prefixed verses to Rawlin's Rebellion was 'unquestionably Christopher Goad, not Charles Gerbier,' but his chief reason, I fancy, is that Bullen thinks otherwise.

1 Minor Caroline Poets, ed. Saintsbury, 2. 7. 2 1627-1656. 8 1620_1666.

But though I may not praise ; I hope, I may
Be bold to love thee. And the World shall say
I've reason for't. I love thee for thy Name;
I love thee for thy Merit, and thy Fame:
I love thee for thy neat and harmlesse wit,
Thy Mirth that does so cleane and closely hit.
Thy luck to please so well : who could go faster ?
At first to be the Envy of thy Master.
I love thee for thy self ; for who can choose
But like the Fountain of so brisk & Muse ?
I love this Comedie, and every line,
Because tis good, as well 's because tis thine.

Tonson, the of T.S. (Thomme parts or por the

But the evidence of Alexander Brome's devotion to his friend does not rest on these lines alone. It is to him as editor that we owe the preservation of ten plays. In 1653 he put out five, with a preface and two sets of verses to introduce them, and in 1659 five more. This second volume has as preface an appreciation of Brome's work, defending him from detractors, and incidentally praising Jonson, the master of both writers. In his verses that follow after those of T.S. (Thomas Stanley), he states that he is not related to Richard in ' parts or person,' and shows some feeling in his concluding lines on the poverty in which his friend died. 1

The Stephen Brome who calls himself a brother to Richard has already been spoken of. Besides him, there was a Henry Brome, a bookseller' at the Inn in St. Pauls Churchyard, near the west end, who published the Queen's Exchange in 1657, with a brief preface. He also had a hand in the volume of 1659, published Alexander Brome's Songs and Other Poems in 1661, and as late as 1674 put out the Westminster Drollery. There is no indication of relationship.

Both the volumes published by Alexander appeared

Quoted above, p. 3.

without dedications, the earlier with some witty remarks on the fact that the patron must pay 'two or three pieces' for a book which any one else may get for ‘half a crown.' Richard, however, seems to have held less independent views on the practice, or needed his forty shillings more. The Northern Lass (1632) is addressed "To the Right Worthy, and no lesse Judicious than Ingenious Gentleman, Richard Holford, Esquire. If this worthy had any other virtues they have been interred with him, for I can find no other mention of his name. The only fact that appears in the dedication is that Brome received 'real favors’ from him. The Sparagus Garden (1640) is dedicated to William, Earl (afterward Duke) of Newcastle, ‘Governour to the Prince his Highnesse.' The duke, besides gaining distinction in his political career, and some praise as an author, deserves the reputation of being the greatest literary patron of his time. Clarendon says that his generalship was impaired because he had a tincture of a romantic spirit, and had the misfortune to have somewhat of the poet in him.' Langbaine praised him for what Clarendon considers a fault and calls him ' our English Mæcenas.' The duke and his very literary duchess took the greatest interest in Jonson, who seems to have accepted and appreciated their patronage. Jonson wrote epitaphs, elegies, appreciative verses, an interlude for a christening, and two masques at a royal entertainment for the duke. The remark of the duke, quoted in one of the duchess's letters, 2 that he never heard any one read well but Jonson' suggests that the poet's relations were extremely intimate and friendly, and Jonson shows in his letters 3 that he considered the duke a munificent patron. Shirley

i Rebellion and Civil War 8. 82. 2 Gifford's Life, in Ben Jonson, Works 1. xvi. 3 Works 3. 459.

and Dryden were not merely his friends, but collaborators, 1 and Ford,” Jasper Mayne, and Shadwell? dedicated works to him. Flecknoe,1 Davenant, and the philosopher Hobbes, were also among those who received favors. We have no means of knowing how intimate Brome was with Newcastle. The servility of his dedication is purely a literary convention, from which it is unsafe to draw inferences. The verses, ‘To my Lord of Newcastle on his Play called the Variety,' are as extravagant as all of their type, but the statement, 'He having commanded to give him my true opinion of it,' which is appended, must indicate, if true, that his lordship thought enough of Brome to ask for his judgment. 3

William Seymour, Earl of Hertford, to whom the Antipodes (1640) is dedicated, seems to have had no other relation with Brome than that of patron of this work. In 1652 the Jovial Crew, the last play printed during the author's lifetime, was addressed to Thomas Stanley, Esq. Stanley was of the seventeenth-century type of gentleman, of broad culture, profound learning, and many interests. In addition to his long authoritative history of philosophy, he wrote several volumes of notes on Greek dramatists, and a thin collection of original poems. He was also known as a patron of several minor literary men, and seems to have been a close friend of Alexander Brome. In the octavo of 1659 there is a long commendatory poem to Richard, the most detailed and appreciative eulogy that the dramatist's

1 Firth, Preface to edition of the duchess's Letters. 2 Dict. Nat. Biog.

3 These verses are to be found in the octavo volume of 1659, immediately preceding Covent Garden Weeded.

4 Thomas Stanley : His Original Lyrics, complete in their collated readings of 1647, 1651, 1657, edited with notes and introduction by L. I. Guiney, Hull, 1907.

« PreviousContinue »