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admits that his plots are firmly traced, and sustained on one plan throughout, without any suggestion of improvisation. Dr. Faust, on the other hand, says his plays are looser in construction than even Every Man out of his Humor, but I do not see how even the most careless reading could lead to this conclusion.
Brome's good points in plotting are his careful exposition in the first act, his attention to motives in the greater number of his plays, and the preparation he never fails to give for any important turn in the plot, except, of course, where he aims at complete surprise. The City Wit illustrates these qualities very well. The motives for Crasy's series of plots throughout the play are all carefully elaborated in the first act, where every one of his family and friends goes back on him in trouble. The entrance of Pyannet Sneakup, the shrew, is very well prepared for, so that she comes on in a whirlwind of invective. And near the beginning of the fifth act (p. 358), Crasy clarifies the very complicated situation by recapitulating the part of the scheme he has already planned. This monologue is very useful, and not at all crudely done. This last trait Dr. Koeppel has observed in Brome. He says, in speaking of Massinger's constructive power? : Same of the dramas of his contemporaries resemble mazes in whose paths both author and spectator may be lost. Richard Brome tried to avoid this by drawing attention to particularly difficult complications by an explicit remark of one of his dramatis persona.'
One reason Brome is difficult to follow, in spite of the craftsmanship displayed in this manner, is that these hints and preparations often come so far before the action that they are forgotten by the audience. Examples of this are to be found in the Sparagus Garden, where an important revelation of the fifth act is prepared for by
1 Op. cit., p. 32. 2 Cambridge Hist. Eng. Lit. 6. 173.
mysterious hints in the sixth scene of the second, and again in the Mad Couple. A place where this preparation of the audience is successfully accomplished is Covent Garden Weeded. Here a revelation of the fourth act is led up to by two conversations and a dumb show in the first three. A very fine dialogue, giving antecedent action with skilful unobtrusiveness, is that in the Sparagus Garden 1. 3. The Antipodes is an excellent example of Brome's attention to details in carrying out his main idea. Much of the humor of the play depends upon the detailed consistency in carrying out the inversions of position. These are but a few of the most striking illustrations of the playwright's careful endeavor to keep his plots clear.
The plays of Brome's contemporaries, besides having his weaknesses, are deficient also in his best pointplotting. Nabbes' Covent Garden, for instance, is mostly aimless dialogue, with little plot, very loosely put together. Tottenham Court is not much better, and the Bride is a series of separate attempts of a villain upon his cousin, without any organic unity in the plot. Marmion's Holland's Leager has another very loose plot—merely a number of old situations thrown together with but little sequence. Brome's situations are usually hackneyed, but they at least grow organically out of what precedes. Marmion's Antiquary is better, but not equal to Brome in the handling of complicated intrigue. His Fine Companion, however, is as good a play as the average of Brome's. Cartwright's Ordinary is devoid of invention, and absurdly crude in stage-craft. Glapthorne's Hollander is clear because it is simple, but his Wit in a Constable is most confused and hard to follow, although it has not nearly so much material as Brome employs in one plot. Cokayne's Obstinate Lady is one of the poorestmade plays of even this poor period. Beside the four last mentioned plays, Brome's productions, tiresome as most of them are, shine like bright metal on a sullen ground. In Mayne's City Match we have a plot of some cleverness, but poorly knit and hard to follow. It is a play of complex type, that needs much more care in preparation and explicit reference. Shirley's comedies are not so complex in structure as Brome's, but, though Shirley is superior in most respects as a dramatist, he has often less ingenuity in plotting.
Several times, however, Brome has fallen into a very serious fault in structure. This is the very cheap solution of a situation by the introduction of a deus ex machina in the fifth act. In the Antipodes, Old Truelock comes in at the end of the play, and relieves us of all doubts as to Lord Letoy's good intentions by explaining that Diana is really Letoy's daughter, who has been brought up from infancy as his own. A quite parallel situation is that of the dénouement of the New Academy, where it turns out that the chastity of Hannah is proved to her jealous husband by the information that Valentine is her halfbrother. Hardyman, her father, is introduced here for the first time to prove this. The Mad Couple has two dei ex machina in the fifth act. These plays are the only ones in which this inartistic device is used to bring about a real solution. Brome had precedents for this in at least two plays by Jacobean dramatists of the first rank, Massinger's crazily constructed play, Believe as You List, and Middleton and Rowley's Spanish Gipsy. In the former, two new characters are brought on in the fifth act to solve the situation, and in the latter, a long lost wife and daughter turn up unexpectedly at the end.?
1 One other fault, that has been pointed out by Dr. Allen (op. cit. p. 51), is that the preparation for the last act or the close of it is sometimes inadequate . . . According to long accepted tradition the conclusion of the comedy must be happy,-even the villain must be punished very lighty, if at all ... So Brome, like many To conclude this discussion of the structural features of Brome's comedy, his dramatic motives should be mentioned. Three plays, the Northern Lass, the Court Begger, and Covent Garden Weeded, depend wholly upon expectation; no important surprise occurs. In all the others there is no use of surprise in the first four acts, but in the fifth there is always one surprise, usually in the identity of some character. This method is used several times by Jonson, notably in the Silent Woman. The Damoiselle has two surprises in the last act, and the Sparagus Garden three. Two of these last are prepared for by slight hints early in the play. This cheaper dramatic motive, is one of Brome's weaknesses, resulting from copying Jonson, who used it with real success but once.
A perusal of any one of the plays will show that Brome has much more interest in plot itself, in devising and solving intricate situations, than his master, Jonson. He tries to carry out Jonson's principle in characterization, but he never allows his interest in humors to create a play of the type of Every Man in his Humor or Every Man out of his Humor. In fact, none of the ‘ Sons of Ben' attempted anything of the sort. However, Brome does introduce purely episodic humors into his plots.
Brome cared more for humor-study than any other of the Jonsonian imitators, and succeeded best in it. But his humors are nearly all imitations-stock characters of London life repeated over and over in this late period of the drama. Some of these characters portray touches of nature that make them stand out somewhat above their types, and show that Brome was an observer of
of his betters, is prone to convert his villain by main strength in the last scene. For this no preparation is likely to be adequate.'
men, though he lacked the creative impulse to break away from the conventional methods of depicting them.
One of his favorite types is the jealous husband, a perennial figure in drama The four representatives in these plays have nothing distinguishing about them. There are four uninteresting foolish citizens 'wives, who are either indiscreet with their husbands' customers or pretend to be. Old knights who are still amorous, and decayed old gentlemen who live by projects or dishonorable employments, abound in the plays. The half-dozen of these, who bear such names as Sir Arnold Cautious and Sir Humphrey Dryground, are rather more disgusting than amusing, with the exception of old Hearty in the Jovial Crew. The 'blunt servingman’ is a slightly drawn figure, who occurs in four plays. I imagine Brome's fondness for him may be caused by the fact that he himself was perhaps such a character when he was reading Tacitus to Ben Jonson ; but this is dangerous dallying with surmise. The Puritan, the pedant, and the usurer, figure two or three times each. In his women-characters Brome is quite successful. The shrews, widows, nurse, silly lover of fashion, and foolish mother, as well as the bawd and the plentiful supply of eight harlots, all have an amusing self-assurance and great glibness of tongue. The last mentioned class of women are often drawn as rather pathetic creatures, with much good in them. Besides all these, there are one or two each of the class of 'wenchers,' projectors, a braggart, and a pickpocket. But Brome's best types are the foolish young countryman who comes to town to marry or to be made a gentleman, and is fleeced and made a fool of, the blunt old country gentleman, and the old justice. There are about seven in the first class, and a dozen in the last two. These old men with some special crotchet are the most amusing
1 See appendix II.