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work has received. The signature, T. S., is interpreted by Ward in the Dictionary of National Biography as Thomas Shadwell, but this attribution is quite unsupported. I think there is no doubt that the verses are by Stanley, not only from the fact of the previous dedication, and his friendship with Alexander, the editor, but also from the following lines in an Epistle to T. S., later explained as Stanley, in Alexander Brome's Poems (1661)?:
A poem I have sent thee heere,
Now that we have discussed what evidence there is for Brome's friendships, we may give some consideration to his enmities. In the Musarum Deliciæ (p. 68), a collection of facetious verse published in 1656, there is an unsigned piece entitled Upon Aglaura printed in Folio, which also appears in the Five New Plays 2 of 1659, with the initials R. B. added. This is a rather good bit of satire on Suckling's Aglaura, which was published in a sumptuous folio edition with wide margins in 1638. This uncommon format for a commonplace tragi-comedy gave the author of the satire a chance to display his wit very cleverly in the fashionable conceited style, comparing the text on the page, among other things, to a child lodged in the great bed at Ware. The including of the piece among Brome's plays by an editor who was a close friend may be taken as evidence of authorship. As Dr. Faust has suggested, for Brome to satirize Suckling, who had ridiculed Jonson, in the Session of the Poets, was consistent with his loyalty to his former master. Immediately
1 P. 169. Preceding Covent Garden Weeded.
following this poem in the same volume of 1659 is another of eight lines, called A Song, 1 two verses of which are :
Nor sorrow, nor care can crosse our delights
which Dr. Faust considers a reference to Suckling's Goblins, or possibly to Randolph's Amyntas. This poem, however, is not at all satirical.
The scholar just quoted has a further conjecture as to the relations of Brome and Randolph which should be discussed.2 Amyntas, or the Impossible Dowry,has, as one of its dramatis persona, ‘ Bromius, a blunt clown,' who is called in one of the scenes of horse-play a' profane, rude groom.' I think, however, if one reads further in the play than the dramatis persone, the identification of Bromius with Brome appears impossible. The character is merely an uninteresting clown. He is the 'man' of 'Jocastus, a fantastical shepherd and a fairy knight,' who is an absurd creature that devises strange masques, and dances a morris for the entertainment of the king of the fairies. Now if Randolph is ridiculing Brome, he must also be satirizing Jonson, his own master and friend. And further, the only indication of intended satire, the pointless similarity of the names, can easily be explained away by the fact that Bromius is a very common name for Dionysus in Greek drama ; and one of the derivations of the name, which makes it mean ‘ the brawler,' is quite appropriate for the low-comedy shepherd in Randolph's pastoral.
As the few external allusions left to us do not help us to judge the character of Richard Brome, we must construct it from hints scattered through his work. It seems to have impressed every one who has written of him in much the same way. Ward, 1 judging from the prologues and epilogues, has expressed it very well. He says : 'He exhibits an amusing mixture of modesty and self-consciousness as a dramatic writer. He repeatedly begs his audience not to expect more than they will find; all he pretends to is' but Mirth and Sense? ; he is content to term himself a 'Playmaker,' without aspiring as yet to the names of ' Author, or Poet,' any more than to the office of Laureate 3 ; 'a little wit, less learning, no poetry' is all he dare boast 4 ; but though he' scarse ever durst rank himself above the worst of Poets,' 'most that he has writ has past the rest, and found good approbation of the best ’5; and though he only professes to help to keep alive' the weakest branch of the stage '—that species of comedy which treats of low and home-bred subjects 'he questions whether it is in truth the weakest, or whether it be not
1 The last two verses of this occur again in the Jovial Crew 5, p. 445.
2 Faust, op. cit., p. 9.
as hard a labour for the Muse To Move the Earth as to dislodge a Star.
This same contradiction in character occurs over and over again in Brome's prologues, epilogues, and his lines to Fletcher. One other trait that appears is an almost Jonsonian bluff scorn of flattery and compliment?; but this does not seem to represent a usual mood. In his offering of his last two plays to the public, the humility of tone seems more real, and the aged dramatist throws himself on the mercy of his audience and his patron with some show of genuine feeling. 8 In spite of the fact that he is
1 Hist. Eng. Dram. Lit. 3. 127. ? Novella, Prologue. 3 Damoiselle, Prologue.
4 Love-Sick Court, Prologue. 6 Queen's Exchange, Prologue. 6 Antipodes, Prologue. 9 Mad Couple, Prologue. 8 Court Begger, Prologue and Epilogue.
usually guilty of the mortal sin of spiritual pride in his boastful excessive modesty, we are told by his friend Alexander Bromel that he was a devout believer : ‘One he adored and all the rest defied.' This, however, says Ward, 3 was not inconsistent with his hatred of Scotch Presbyterians,4 and of Puritans in general.
There is a considerable amount of evidence to show that Brome was an extremely popular playwright in his day. Though none of it taken individually can be considered conclusive, the whole body of it will bear some weight. The statements of many of the title-pages to the plays, Brome's own dedications 5 and prologues, and the verses of Jonson and other friends,’ all agree in giving us the impression that the confidence in Brome's power to please the public that is implied in the two offered contracts with Salisbury Court was well justified. The fact is worth considering, too, that fifteen plays of a man of very obscure origin were published within seven years after his death. The stationer's preface to the last volume of five plays states that the first had sold well, but this may be taken cum grano. Finally, a remark in the epilogue to the Court Begger shows that he received the best price for his plays from the actors, “because we would ha’ the best.' But in spite of this general approval, there seem to be also suggestions of adverse criticism in the commendatory verses of friends who hasten to deny the charges intimated. The four 8 references on which I base this may be considered merely as examples of a literary convention
1 Jovial Crew, Dedication. 2 Five Plays, 1653, Preface. 3 Dict. Nat. Biog. A Court Begger. 5 E. g., Northern Lass.
6 Especially the broad statement in Prologue to Queen's Exchange.
? E. g., Tatham and A. Brome in Jovial Crew.
8 The verses of C. G. and R. W. before the Sparagus Garden, those of Chamberlain before the Antipodes, and Tatham's contribution to the Jovial Crew.
in such verses, or as indications of the growing tendency of the late drama toward romance in tragedy and comedy. As the great body of Brome's work deals with manners, his most successful vein, the hostile criticism may mean merely this.
Brome's own impression of his place among his contemporaries was, I think, generally speaking, quite correct : a writer of no mean ability, who wrote without illusions as to the value of his work for the future, purely to obtain a livelihood. This practical view he has expressed in the prologue to the Damoiselle, which epitomizes him for us :
He does not . . . . claime
In spite of this materialistic attitude, Brome's works were in greater repute after the Restoration than could be expected from plays written frankly with such an intent. Four of them, at least, were revived, and one held the stage for a hundred and fifty years. The Antipodes was seen by Pepys in 1661; the Mad Couple Well Matched was slightly altered by Mrs. Aphra Behn, and played and published under the title of the Credulous Cuckold in 1677 ; the Northern Lass was acted in 1684, 1706, 1717, and 17382 ; and the Jovial Crew three times in 1661,3 and again in 1705, 1707, and 1708. In 1731 it was made into an opera by the addition of many songs, and continued to be produced.4 Dodsley,5 in 1744, gives
i The Jovial Crew is the one notable exception, but even here the interest in humors is strong.
3 Genest 1. 420 ; 2. 360 ; 2. 601 ; 4. 549. 3 Pepys' Diary for 1661. ^ Genest 2. 384 ; 2. 395 ; 3. 288. 5 Dodsley, Vol. 6.