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in asserting that Ben Jonson never wrote a word that might offend the chariest sense of modesty. Ben is always moral, but it would take a bold critic to call him modest. The same thing is true of most of the Jacobeans. With the Caroline dramatists there was somewhat of a weakening of the moral tone, and a slight increase in the vulgarity and indecency of the dialogue. But they surely did not have far to go in the last mentioned respect, after Bartholomew Fair. In both morality and indecency Brome reflects the tendency seen in the average plays of the reign of Charles 1.1
Alexander Brome, in his preface to Five New Plays of 1653, is quite right in saying that the plays are 'as innocent of wrong, as full of worth,' but he is not right in the sense in which he intended the line to be understood. Extreme coarseness seems to have become a dramatic convention in the comedy of manners. Middleton and Nabbes are as great offenders against modern taste as Brome. Glapthorne and Davenant become equally foul in language, whenever their style is colloquial. Even the knight, Sir Aston Cokayne, and the clergyman, Jasper Mayne, are quite as degraded. The dramas of these men reached such a low point that Wycherley and Vanbrugh in the next reign could not descend much further. However, none of them put on the stage such unspeakable grossness as Jonson and Herrick employed in certain of their epigrams.
Though there is no difference in the indecency of language between the writers of the Caroline and those
1 Dekker and Webster's Northward Ho is not exactly a moral preachment, either. The whole atmosphere of it is foul. Every man tries to cuckold his friend. Poetic justice is meted out in the end by marrying the worst villain to a prostitute. In one scene a man is pandar to his wife.
2 Marmion’s comedies are the least open to objection, on this point, of all those of the time.
of the Restoration period, there is some difference in the moral tone of their plots. Plays in which vice is made attractive and virtue ridiculous do occur in Elizabethan drama, but they are rare. The triumph of the rake, Mirabel, in Fletcher's Wild Goose Chase (1621), marks the beginning of the moral decline carried on in Shirley's Brothers (1626) and Lady of Pleasure (1636), and Brome's Mad Couple well Matched (c. 1635). In the Brothers, Luys is the counterpart of Mirabel, and in the Lady of Pleasure, the three gallants, Scentlove, Kickshaw, and Littleworth, are typical Restoration sparks, who talk openly of intrigues, and affect immorality more than they practise it. In the Mad Couple well Matched there are four intrigues, and two more suspected ; the bad characters all end happily; no one suffers for his flagrant immorality; the hero is faithless, a rake, a scoundrel, and a liar.
This play, however, is unique among Brome's. In all the rest, the good wins in the end. In several of them there is a definite moral, or at least a conscience, in spite of the fact that the aim is chiefly to amuse. An instance is Fabritio's excusing himself to the audience for his conduct toward his father in the matter of the old man's amours. Again we have the highly moral speech of Diana to Letoy, who pretends to tempt her virtue, in the Antipodes (5.2). And in the Damoiselle there is a strong moral influence, without any trace of the Restoration manner. In his satire we have perhaps the best proof that Brome worked most of the time with a correct moral standard, for he always, like his master, ridicules folly and vice, but never virtue.?
i Novella 4. 2, p. 160.
SOURCES AND INFLUENCES
Langbaine, who did very creditable work for a pioneer in literary criticism, says of Brome: ‘His plots were his own, and he forged all his various Characters from the mint of his own experience, and judgement. Tis not therefore to be expected, that I should be able to trace him, who was so excellent an imitator of his master, that he might truly pass for an original.' This easy way of dismissing the whole matter of literary influence will unfortunately not satisfy the demands of modern scholarship.
There are but two plays for which undoubted sources for the main idea of the plot have been discovered—the Jovial Crew and the Queen and the Concubine.1 The Jovial Crew has its source, as Dr. Faust has shown,2 in Middleton and Rowley's Spanish Gipsy. He proves that Brome did not go back to the original sources of his story—two novels of Cervantes, La Gitanilla and La Fuerza de la Sangre—but worked from the English play founded on them. The treatment of this plot shows much originality. The atmosphere, motives, characters, and conclusion are completely changed. The source of the Queen and Concubine is followed much more closely. Professor Koeppel discovers this to be Greene's Penelope's Web 4 (1587). Brome has enlarged upon the simple
1 I do not include the Lancashire Witches, because the principal share is due to Heywood. See above, pp. 48 ff.
2 Op. cit., p. 85.
3 He adds an important suggestion from the Gipsies Metamorphosed, and gives a list of six plays in which scenes of the forest and fields occur.
· Quellen und Forschungen (1897) 82. 209.
plan with additional characters and much romantic decoration, but he has kept not only the kernel of Greene's plot, but also in several places his actual wording."
The sources of the rest of the plays are not so evident as these two. We must content ourselves with possible suggestions or parallels to separate situations. Dr. Faust 2 thinks that the main idea of the Lovesick Court comes from Beaumont and Fletcher's King and No King (1611). Dr. Ballman: puts forth the claims of Chaucer's Knight's Tale. By combining the latter suggestion, in the form of the Two Noble Kinsmen, with the former, a great many elements of the plot may be traced. I should like to add a third possibility-John Barclay's Latin novel, Argenis. There is a resemblance of the conclusion of this with that of the Lovesick Court, except that the two lovers are not supposed brothers. In both plots one lover turns out to be the brother of the princess, who marries the other lover. The disappointed man is given the sister of the other as a consolation.5
Of the Queen's Exchange, no hint of origin has yet been discovered. I have looked for one in vain in the chronicles of Hall, Holinshed, Fabyan, etc. If Brome did not invent this rather interesting and quite intricate plot, he
1 Professor Koeppel shows that scenes 3. 11, 4. 6, and 4. 7 are all independent of the source, but 5. 4 follows the source inconsistently with the other scenes. This indicates that our version of the play was not intended by Brome to be final.
2 Op. cit., p. 77.
3 'Chaucer's Einfluß auf das Englische Drama, Anglia (1901) 25. 54 ff.
• Published 1621 ; at least six editions by 1630 ; translated into English 1629, the probable date of the play.
6 The situation of the Lovesick Court is exactly the reverse of that of Shirley's Changes, or Love in a Maze and his Coronation. If there is any borrowing, the dates show that it must have been on Shirley's part.
probably took the story from some old romance, and treated it with the same freedom he used with the source of the Jovial Crew. The Saxon names which give the play a historical suggestion might all be found in Holinshed. The many Shakespearian parallels in this play I shall discuss later. Schelling 2 has suggested that the two stories of which the Novella is composed, if not of Italian origin, at least preserve the atmosphere of the Palace of Pleasure. Hazlitt gives the source of one incident in this play in his note on Killigrew's Parson's Wedding, which uses one of the same situations. The situation in which a man, offered an assignation with one woman, finds a servant has taken her place, is common in Italian novelists. Hazlitt suggests the eighth story of Les Comptes du Monde Aventureux (Paris 1555; a translation from various Italian sources) as Brome's source here. The making the servant a negress he thinks original with Brome, and mentions Casti's tale of La Celia as a parallel.
There is no one of the comedies of manners for which we can prove a definite source for the whole main plot. However, for the various situations of which they are composed we can find many hints and parallels. The discussion of the sources of the Antipodes 4 will show in detail how much originality, and how much suggestion, is typical of Brome's plots in the plays of this class. I have not made such a detailed study of all the comedies, but what results I have obtained can be more comprehensibly grouped under the headings of the influences of the three masters in drama whom Brome imitated.
i Max Koch, in a review of Dr. Faust's thesis (Eng. Stud., 12. 97), says : ' The Queen's Exchange mahnt sehr stark an spanische Werke, wenn ich auch nicht ein bestimmtes Vorbild nachweisen kann.
2 Eliz. Drama 2. 272.