Page images
PDF
EPUB

(2. I) give the character of everybody at such great length that the scene sounds like a long but witty extract from Overbury or Earle.1 Brome never carried the method so far as this, but he uses it repeatedly as one of his important technical devices. Examples are to be found in the English Moor (1. 2, p. 9), Sparagus Garden (3.4, p. 159), Mad Couple well Matched (3. I, pp. 41, 44), Court Begger (2. I, pp. 205–7, 213), and Covent Garden Weeded (1. I, p. 3 ; 3. 2, p. 50). The entrance of nearly every character in the Antipodes is prepared for by such a brief introduction. The use of the soliloquy in clarifying a situation by a recapitulation of certain details, already commented on, is exemplified in the Damoiselle (4. I, p. 437). The great frequency with which this sort of exposition is employed by both Jonson and Brome-I have merely cited some typical cases-leads me to believe that here we have another direct influence through the study of models.

Influences that can be traced more definitely than those of structure and tricks of technique are the borrowings of situations and scenes. The parallels with the Alchemist, where Kastrill is taught to quarrel and his sister Pliant to be a lady, have been mentioned before. With the similar situation, that of the bogus academy of deportment in the New Academy and the Damoiselle, may be compared the news office in the Staple of News. Both establishments are meeting-places for people who are gulled by their own folly and vanity. These places, and those in which country gulls are taught to become gentlemen, are kept by what Schelling calls a group of irregular humorists'—a Jonsonian device. The situation of The Silent Womana man disguised as a girl, concealing his identity even from the audience until the end of the last act, and bringing about a double climax by the revelation-Brome has used in the City Wit, where Tryman turns out at the end to be Jeremy, who in disguise has been helping his master play tricks on everybody else in the play, though neither his master nor the audience recognizes him. The reverse of this situation—a girl, disguised as a man, keeping her identity concealed until the dénouementwhich occurs in the New Inn, is used by Brome in the Damoiselle and the Mad Couple well Matched. Another disguise, that of the obliging courtezan who is willing to impersonate any character needed by the scheme of her employer-e. g. Dol Common's duping of Dapper, occurs repeatedly in Brome. Dr. Faust 3 has found a suggestion for the situation in the Jovial Crew in a phrase in the Gipsies Metamorphosed : ‘Gaze upon ... this brave Spark struck out of Flintshire, upon Justice Jug's Daughter, then sheriff of the county, who running away with a Kinsman of our captain's, and her father pursuing her to the marshes,' etc. This passage, however, has to be wrenched from its absurd context to show any suggestion of the plot of the Jovial Crew.

1 Cf. also Lovel's characterization of Lady Frampul, New Inn 1. 5, the epigrammatic characterizations of Magnetic Lady 1. 1, the character of Hilts given by Tub, Tale of a Tub l. 1, and the Jong explanation of Sir Hugh's disguise, 3. 5.

2 See above, p. 61. 3 See above, p. 55. 4 However, see note, p. 68.

An interesting parallel in a single short scene is that between the one in the English Moor (1.2, p. 15), in which masqued friends enter and make a noisy congratulation and warning to old Quicksands, who has lately married a young wife, and that in the Silent Woman (2. I), in which Truewit does the same thing to Morose under similar circumstances. Four other parallels in single scenes are pointed out by Professor Koeppel.1 Three of them occur in the City Wit, a play which also shows Jonsonian influence strongly in satire and in humor-study. Crasy (2. I, p. 295), disguising himself as a lame soldier in order to get some money out of Sarpego, is following Brainworm, who plays the same trick in Every Man in his Humor 2. 2. In the same play, the scene in which Pyannet gives her husband instructions as to how to behave at court may be compared with Every Man out of his Humor 5. I, and Cynthia's Revels 3.3. Again, , in the CityWit (3. 1, pp. 309 ff.; 3. 3, pp. 325 ff.)the supposed widow, Tryman, apparently on her deathbed, gives many legacies to the various persons interested, in order to dupe them of their money. There is a slight resemblance between the scenes in which this occurs and the first act of Volpone. One more interesting parallel is that between the New Academy 2. 1 (pp. 39 ff.) and the Silent Woman 3. 2. In both plays an old man thinks he has married a quiet and obedient wife, but finds that she is a virago. These half-dozen resemblances in situation at the bases of plots, and the five in single scenes, need not all be considered as cases of conscious borrowing. Whenever two situations, the elements of which may be identical, are changed in treatment of background, period, or social grade, they often become so different that no one but the student on the scent of literary influences would even suspect a parallel.

1 Eliz. Drama 2. 287, n. 2 Faust, op. cit., p. 51. 3 Op. cit., p. 86.

The most important part of Brome's imitation is, of course, his humor-study. This becomes patent from even

1 Ben Jonson's Wirkung, und Andere Studien (Arglistische For. schungen 20) 120, 134, 151, 154. The first of these is in Faust, op. cit., p. 52. Koeppel is not always careful about acknowledging his debts to his predecessors.

Sparagus Garden' (Koeppel, p. 151) is evidently a mistake for City Wit.' Also, for “vol. III.' read 'vol I.'

a superficial reading of a single act chosen at random. This most obvious and easily imitable trait of Jonson's work was most closely copied by Brome, Marmion, Glapthorne, Cokayne, and Cartwright, and to a marked degree by Mayne, Nabbes, and even Shirley and Davenant. However, outside of Jonson himself, there is no such gallery of caricature in English drama as Brome presents.

I have already given a summary of the types to be found in the comedies of manners.1 In the treatment of all, the manner is most Jonsonian, and in the case of most of them prototypes may be found. The jealous husband, a character of all drama everywhere, need not be considered a Jonsonian imitation. He occurs, however, in exaggerated form in Kitely, Fitzdotterel, and Corvino. The citizen's wife of light reputation, such a favorite with Brome, may be found exemplified in Fallace and Chloe. The idea of the old justice, whom Brome has made the most prominent of his figures, was doubtless suggested by Clement, Overdo, Eitherside, and Preamble. Cockbraine, in Covent Garden Weeded, even alludes to Overdo as his ancestor, though the relationship is obvious enough without the acknowledgment. In their interest in ancestry, Letoy, in the Antipodes, and Buzzard, in the English Moor, show that they are relatives of Sir Amorous La Foole. Of foolish countrymen there are Kastrill and Master Stephen. Tim Hoyden, 4 who goes to London to be made a gentleman, is rather like Sogliardo, who says (Every Man out of his Humor I. I): 'Nay, look you, ... this is my humor now : I have land and money,

1 See above, p. 65.

2 It is interesting to note that Bassanes, in Ford's Broken Heart, and Dariotto, in Chapman's All Fools, show is wild exaggerations of this humor in romantic plays as any of Jonson's characters, or even as old Joyless in the Antipodes.

8 See, however, “Influence of Dekker,' below, p. 106. Sparagus Garden (Faust, op. cit., p. 67).

my friends left me well, and I will be a gentleman whatsoever it cost me.' The braggart Anvile, in the Northern Lass, is an echo of Bobadil. Dr. Faust has also mentioned Captain Driblow, in Covent Garden Weeded, as another descendant. Brome's blunt servingmen have their prototypes in Humphrey Waspe, Basket Hilts, and Onion. The clever servant, Jeremy, who helps his master in his trickery in the City Wit, bears some resemblance to Brainworm and Mosca. Dol Common I have alluded to before as the possible original of the many obliging harlots whom Brome introduces as ready conspirators in the cause of virtue or of vice. Finally, we have Abel Drugger, the city gull; Sir Moth Interest, the usurer or 'money-bawd’; Dame Pliant, the widow with a foolish desire to learn fashion ; the Puritans of Bartholomew Fair ; and the projectors of the Devil is an Ass and Volpone, all of whom are repeated, though not with especially servile parallels, in Brome.

To show further to what an extent Brome carried Jonsonian humor-study, I may mention the New Academy, in which nine characters, practically all in the play except the two pairs of lovers, are very markedly exaggerated types. Moreover, there are a number of characters throughout the plays which, though without direct antecedents in Jonson, are drawn strictly in his manner. Such are the pedants Geron, in the Lovesick Court, and Sarpego, in the City Wit1; the three wits of the court, the city, and the country in the Court Begger, who converse in the same episodic manner as the ‘ladies collegiate ’; Crosswill, whose eccentricity controls the plot of Covent Garden Weeded, as Morose's does that of the

1 Clove in Every Man out of his Humor is, as Faust (op. cit., p. 51) remarks, the nearest of Jonson's characters to Sarpego, but I do not think he is an actual prototype.

« PreviousContinue »