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characters of the comedies, but repeated so often that there is too little variety in them.
In all this array of characters there is little originality. Not that they are feebly drawn, for there is considerable vigor in Brome's pen at times, but we have seen people with these same exaggerated peculiarities from the miracle plays to Jonson. About the best individual figures are Mrs. Pyannet Sneakup, a very good caricature of a shrew, in the City Wit; Constance, in the Northern Lass ; and Springlove, in the Jovial Crew. The last two are Brome's only original contributions in the way of characterdrawing to English drama. Constance is a
Constance is a pathetic figure with a freshness, simplicity, and naturalness that are markedly contrasted with the rather unwholesome atmosphere of the most of Brome. She is the only example in all the comedies, of unsophistication made charming. Rev. Ronald Bayne suggests that the seventeenth century saw in her some of the charm of the heroines of Scott. The Yorkshire dialect she speaks adds much to this. Springlove is the best figure in Brome's best play ; Charles Lamb speaks with some enthusiasm of him in a review of the play in 1819.2 Springlove is a gipsy, whom civilization has been unable to subdue. The love of the fields and woods and the call of the open road suggest the late nineteenth-century theme of vagabondia. 3
1 Walter Baetke (Kindergestalten bei den Zeitgenossen und Nachfolgern Shakespeare's, Halle, 1908, pp. 73–76) considers Gonzago in the Queen and Concubine an original type of the child in drama, a creation of Brome's.
2 The Examiner, July 4, 5, 1819 (Works, ed. Lucas, 1. 186).
3 In connection with this notice of types of character I may mention Brome's use of dialect and foreign phrases. The Northern Lass contains a great deal of Yorkshire dialect ; the Lancashire Witches considerable fairly accurate Lancashire ; and the Sparagus Garden little of the ordinary clown-dialect (Somersetshire ?) REALISM AND ROMANCE
The chief interest in Brome's work to-day as drama is, of course, historic rather than intrinsic, but it also has a real interest to the student of the manners of the seventeenth century. In reading with this interest, one must be careful to remember that the realism' of the comedy with a complicated intrigue becomes almost as artificial and as divorced from actual life as work that is frankly romantic. The exigencies of such plots as Brome is fond of bring about situations that probably occurred as seldom in the life of the seventeenth century as in that of to-day. For instance, the association on the stage of women of character with harlots, a common situation in Brome, probably does not reflect the manners of the age. Likewise, the presence of gentlewomen at taverns was a much rarer thing in life than in Brome's comedies. Artificialities of this sort become dramatic conventions, just as types of characters do.
The student who reads Brome for manners must carefully consider this point. But there are some scenes which are doubtless transcripts of the daily life of England under Charles I. Such scenes are that in which a rabble duck a pandar in the Damoiselle (4. I); that in which an old woman is ducked for scolding in this case, however, a 'manscold ') in the Antipodes; the very realistic tavernscenes in Covent Garden Weeded 1 and the Sparagus Garden, and the scenes at an academy of deportment in the New
so frequently used by the Elizabethan dramatists. Some French and French English occurs in the Damoiselle, and one or two German phrases in the Novella. (For a complete list of dialect words, etc. see E. Eckhardt, Die Dialekt- und Ausländertypen des Alteren Englischen Dramas, Louvain, 1910–11). The City Wit has a great deal of Latin, and the Jovial Crew several scenes written in beggars' cant.
1 In 3. 1, an interesting tavern-bill is itemized.
Academy. At scenes of this sort Brome is very successful. In fact, the historian of society will find more for his purpose in Brome than in Jonson, who saw more humor in universal foibles than in ephemeral conditions.
Realism was Brome's most congenial field, but, like Shirley, a typical playwright, he tried his hand at whatever was popular. As romance was in great demand through the latter half of the period of his activity, he made several attempts at two or three varieties of romantic plays. In the prologue to the Northern Lass he says that he is capable of serious work, and in the prologue to the Sparagus Garden, actually promises something to 'take graver judgment.' This, I suppose, he attempted to fulfill in the three tragi-comedies. These Fletcherian imitations have been moderately praised by Ward, Schelling, and Rev. Ronald Bayne. The earliest, the Lovesick Court, is a mediocre piece of work, but the other two, the Queen's Exchange and the Queen and the Concubine, are really interesting, in spite of the fact that Brome's poetry has no distinction. All three plays show the skill in plotting that I have commented on in speaking of the comedies of manners.
Of the three romantic comedies of intrigue, the Novella is the least interesting. There is no Jonsonian influence discernible, but the plot has the intricacy almost always characteristic of Brome. In the English Moor, a well constructed main plot, of very good comedy of its type, is combined with a highly romantic underplot suitable for a tragi-comedy. The combination is not happy, but the plots separated might make two good plays. The piece is particularly interesting as an experiment. Brome,
1 This, again, may be purely an artificial invention. Shirley, who has anticipated Brome here in his Love-Tricks, or the Academy of Compliments (1625), may have developed the idea from Cynthia's Revels.
who always affected to despise romance, is here attempting to satisfy the popular demand for it, without giving up his favorite study of humors and manners.
However, in his last play, the Jovial Crew, Brome has succeded in combining realism and romance with charming effect.
His method here is to choose an amusing romantic plot, and develop it with humor-characters. The success of the combination is probably due to the fact that the plot itself is a mild satire on the love of romance in young ladies. With this idea in mind, the situation of the Spanish Gipsy is transferred to contemporary English country life, and supplied with humorcharacters, which Brome can draw with skill. The combination of these two forms of art is exactly what Jonson tried in his failure, the New Inn. But Jonson tried to write romance with very little action. As Dr. Tennant says in his analysis, three-fifths of the play is a bore. Brome, who is much less interested in satire, or in humor-study for its own sake, and who always has a keen eye for what is dramatic, has been able to avoid Jonson's mistake.
VERSIFICATION Each of the Elizabethan and Jacobean men has a metrical method of his own; Ford and Shirley have metrical methods not of their own, being for the most part only those of Jonson or Middleton weakened by toning down to a uniformity of manner ; but Davenant, Suckling, and a whole host of minor Carolans (who, to our comfort, contributed only one or two plays each), have no metre properly so-called of any kind ; they wrote in a system which even Wagner only ventured to hope for, not to act on, of music without bars; they had no
E. g., the Prologue to the Jovial Crew. 2 New Inn., ed. Tennant, Introduction, p. XXXV.
rule but their individual whim; and the result was a hybrid of irregular iambic, certainly not verse, and which it would be an insult to the ghosts of Milton, Landor, and De Quincey to call prose.'1 This statement of Fleay's, harsh and sweeping as it is, certainly applies to the versification of Brome. In fact, the lover of poetry must read through an arid waste to find a few lines to enjoy in the work of even the most conspicuous names in the dramatic literature of the reign of Charles. Massinger, interesting as he is as a playwright, has nothing but facility to recommend his verse. Symonds allows him scarcely a dozen lines of intrinsic beauty.?
If this is true of the romantic drama of the period, we may expect to find extremely careless work in the realistic comedies of manners. Why these should be written in verse at all is hard to see. Yet Brome, following the custom, wrote six out of the nine plays of this type partly in verse.
The Antipodes, with the exception of a dozen lines, is wholly in verse. This rather useless practice, I
suppose, we may attribute to literary convention.
As verse adds very little to comedies of manners, and in fact, detracts from the realism, we should not be overnice in criticizing Brome, Nabbes, and the rest, for their roughness. Cartwright, who had fair ability as a versifier, has shown in his Ordinary that long speeches and elaborate similes in the romantic manner hardly suggest the atmosphere of the dregs of London society. The more prosaic the verse, the better it is for this purpose. Brome, however, wrote as execrably for tragi-comedy as for his low and home-bred subjects.' In the Prologue to the Northern Lass he says:
Gallants, and Friends-spectators, will yee see
A strain of Wit that is not Poetry ? 1 Fleay, Chron. Hist., p. 314. 2 Massinger's Works, Mermaid Series, Introduction, p. XV.