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Convention and device in the plays of Thomas Middleton Tener, Robert Hampden 1956

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CONVENTION AND DEVICE IN THE PLAYS OF THOMAS KCDDLETON by ROBERT HAMPDEN TENER  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n the Department of ENGLISH  We accept t h i s thesis as conforming t o the standard required from candidates f o r the degree o f MASTER OF ARTS.  Members o f the Department o f E n g l i s h  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA July, 1956  ABSTRACT  I t has "been the o b j e c t of t h i s t h e s i s to d i s p l a y the h a n d l i n g of conventions  and d e v i c e s i n the p l a y s of Thomas  M i d d l e t o n w i t h a view to a r r i v i n g at an assessment of h i s q u a l i t i e s as a t r a g i c The  artist.  term, convention,  i s here i n t e r p r e t e d as  an  a r t i s t ' s means, n e c e s s a r i l y both t r a d i t i o n a l and  ephemeral, to  produce c e r t a i n f a m i l i a r e f f e c t s i n "building and  sustaining a  world of i l l u s i o n .  By  "device" i s meant any means employed "by  the a r t i s t to achieve the e f f e c t s he aimed a t , means t h a t he o r i g i n a t e d or t h a t have no t r a d i t i o n behind The  conventions  surveyed have been grouped i n each  chapter under f o u r headings: and  staging.  them.  theme, s t r u c t u r e , c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n ,  The c o n v e n t i o n a l themes are those of sex  c u c k o l d r y , wittoldom,  lust),  (chastity,  of honour, of revenge and d e l a y i n  revenge, of g u l l i n g and the t r i c k s t e r t r i c k e d , of  ambitious  c l i m b i n g , and  The  of the s e l f - d e s t r u c t i v e n e s s of s i n .  conven-  t i o n s of s t r u c t u r e i n c l u d e i n t r i g u e p l o t - p a t t e r n s , d i s g u i s e r e v e l a t i o n p a t t e r n s , de c a s i b u s r i s e and f a l l , punishment sequence of domestic tragedy, a c t i o n p a t t e r n of revenge tragedy.  the  and the  sin-repentance-  action-counter-  The main c o n v e n t i o n a l  c h a r a c t e r s are the g u l l and the t r i c k e d t r i c k s t e r , the  chastity  f i g u r e , the c u c k o l d , the w i t t o l , the l e c h e r , the f a i t h l e s s w i f e , the w i l f u l woman, the j e a l o u s husband, the t y r a n t f i g u r e manding f a t h e r s , u n c l e s , and guardians,  dukes and  (com-  usurpers),  the d i s g u i s e r , the malcontent, the r e s o l u t e M a c h i a v e l l i a n , the d e d i c a t e d revenger.  The  c h i e f conventions  of s t a g i n g are  those  2.  of the syncopation of time  (often secured through the use of  dumb-shows), the n e u t r a l i t y of space, the e x p l o i t a t i o n of spectacle  (masques, p l a y s - w i t h i n - p l a y s , dumb-shows, a.nd songs). The t h e s i s i s composed of eight c h a p t e r s , the f i r s t  f o u r "being p r e p a r a t o r y to the next t h r e e which d e t a i l the handl i n g of conventions i n the three main t r a g e d i e s . t e r attempts  The l a s t  an assessment of M i d d l e t o n as a t r a g i c  i n s o f a r as t h i s may he determined by measuring  chap-  artist  his tragic  con-  v e n t i o n s a g a i n s t the g e n e r i c nature of tragedy. M i d d l e t o n ' s C i t y comedies, The [Family of Love, The Phoenix,  A Mad World, My Masters, Michaelmas Term, Your F i v e -  G a l l a n t s , A T r i c k to Catch The Old One, A Chaste Maid i n Cheaps i d e , and The Roaring G i r l , a r e f u l l  of the conventions of  i n t r i g u e , d i s g u i s i n g , g u l l i n g , the t r i c k s t e r t r i c k e d , c u c k o l d r y , and f o r t u n e h u n t i n g , of such s t o c k f i g u r e s as g u l l s , c u c k o l d s , l u s t f u l g a l l a n t s , l e c h e r o u s o l d men, f a i t h l e s s wives, misers, young w a s t r e l s , and greedy  social climbers.  scheming Dumb-shows,  masques, p l a y s - w i t h i n - p l a y s , d i s g u i s e s , f e a s t s , t r i a l s , mockf u n e r a l s , the f l u i d h a n d l i n g of space and the t e l e s c o p i n g of time a r e f u r t h e r conventions abundantly The  illustrated.  e a r l y t r a g e d i e s , The Revenger's Tragedy  Second Maiden's Tragedy  and The  ( f o r which Samuel Schoenhaum i n M i d d l e -  ton's T r a g e d i e s has assembled  the evidence of M i d d l e t o n ' s  a u t h o r s h i p ) , d i s p l a y most of these conventions, a l b e i t f r e q u e n t l y t a i l o r e d to s u i t the requirements  of Senecan revenge  drama..  I n t r i g u i n g , d i s g u i s i n g , c u c k o l d r y , the t r i c k s t e r t r i c k e d , and  3. f o r t u n e Taunting a.ppear here i n much the same forms as i n the C i t y comedies,  as do the conventions of c h a r a c t e r - g u l l s ,  cuckolds, l e c h e r s , s o c i a l c l i m b e r s - and such conventions as the f l u i d h a n d l i n g of space and the syncopation of time.  Such '  Senecan conventions as the revenge theme, the revenger, the ghost, dumb-shows, the f a t a l r e v e l s , wh.olesa.le b u t c h e r i n g s , malcontents, and madmen a l s o appear,  too.  Most of these conventions are d i s c o v e r a b l e i n M i d d l e ton's P l e t c h e r i a n p l a y s (More Dissemblers b e s i d e s Women, Ho  Wit,  No Help, l i k e a Woman's, A P a i r Q u a r r e l , The Witch, The Widow,_ and The Old Law).  But here the conventions of s u r p r i s e , of the  improbable h y p o t h e s i s , the Protean c h a r a c t e r , the theme of honour, the r h e t o r i c of e x a l t e d sentiment, the middle mood, and l a v i s h s p e c t a c l e , conventions which are o u t s t a n d i n g c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the new vogue of drama i n t r o d u c e d by Beaumont a,nd F l e t c h e r , are prominent, M i d d l e t o n kept a l e r t The f i r s t that M i d d l e t o n was  too.  L i k e most of h i s contemporaries,  to changes i n dramatic f a s h i o n . of h i s t h r e e l a t e t r a g e d i e s , however, shows  sometimes p u z z l e d "by what h i s audience wanted.  Hengist, K i n g of Kent  i s a b e l a t e d c h r o n i c l e p l a y that  utilizes  n e a r l y a l l the major conventions that M i d d l e t o n had p r e v i o u s l y employed, but which a l s o embodies such conventions of the h i s t o r y p l a y as B r i t i s h c h r o n i c l e m a t e r i a l , a de c a s i b u s s t r u c t u r e , r o y a l ambition, a l o o s e l y a t t a c h e d comic  s u b - p l o t , the spec-  ulum p r i n c i p i s , t y r a n t s , u s u r p e r s , c l i m b e r s , M a c h i a v e l l i a n s , and malcontents.  The theme of the s e l f - d e s t r u c t i v e n e s s of s i n  4. appears here, t o o .  This i s a tragic  counterpart of the City-  comedy theme of the t r i c k s t e r t r i c k e d . ty  of what t o g i v e h i s audience, M i d d l e t o n r a t h e r a b r u p t l y  switches the purpose  of h i s p l a y from d e p i c t i n g ambition t o  d i s p l a y i n g s o r d i d a.nd l u s t f u l His  intrigues.  next tragedy, Women, Be\?are Women, by v i r t u e of  i t s b e i n g i n p a r t a domestic  tragedy embodies a good many o f  the conventions of the C i t y comedies. domestic sin,  Such conventions o f  tragedy as t h e exemplum moral c o n c e r n i n g the wages of  t h e c h a i n of v i c e , and t h e s e l f - d e s t r u c t i v e n e s s o f t h e  wicked appear as w e l l . tic  But, i n h i s u n c e r t a i n -  There i s here a l s o something  tragedy's f o u r - f o l d p a t t e r n of repentance  o f domes-  (contrition,  c o n f e s s i o n , a f f i r m a t i o n of f a i t h , and amendment of l i f e ) , b u t because Women, Beware Women i s transformed i n Act IV i n t o an I t a l i a n a t e revenge  p l a y that repentance p a t t e r n i s cut s h o r t .  Although the p l a y c o n t a i n s many o f the conventions o f revenge drama (delay i n revenge, M a c h i a v e l l i a n scheming, f a t a l for  example),  revels,  and some of P I etcher i an drama, (the Protean  c h a r a c t e r and e l a b o r a t e s p e c t a c l e ) , M i d d l e t o n c o n t r i v e s , esp e c i a l l y i n the f i r s t  three a c t s , t o g i v e a c o m p e l l i n g l y l i f e -  l i k e r e a l i t y to h i s c h a r a c t e r s and t h e i r c a r e e r s . This l i f e - l i k e a i r i s b r i l l i a n t l y  embodied i n M i d d l e -  ton's f i n a l tragedy, The Changeling, which i n the main p l o t i s a s t u n n i n g l y powerful r e a l i s t i c  tragedy of l u s t and w i l f u l n e s s .  S u p e r f i c i a l l y , some o f the f e a t u r e s of Senecan revenge a l s o appear here, t o o .  drama,  Such conventions as the s e l f - d e s t r u c -  5.  tiveness of s i n , of the t r i c k s t e r  tricked, thew i l f u l  the l u s t f u l , M a c h i a v e l l i a n v i l l a i n virtually unrivalled brilliance.  woman,  a r e embodied h e r e w i t h The a r t i s t i c  i n f e r i o r i t y of  the s u b - p l o t , however, g r a v e l y d i s f i g u r e s t h e p l a y . The  concluding chapter  M i d d l e t o n was u n d o u b t e d l y present  a tragic  o f t h e t h e s i s shows t h a t  a fine tragic artist  view of l i f e  i n t h a t he d i d  - sin i sself-destructive.  More-  o v e r , h e showed t h a t h e was a b l e t o make s u c h c o n v e n t i o n s a s the t r i c k s t e r t r i c k e d ,  the l u s t f u l v i l l a i n ,  t h e headstrong  woman, a n d s i n ' s s u i c i d a l n a t u r e c o n s u m m a t e l y e x p r e s s i v e o f h i s c o n v i c t i o n t h a t t h e r e i_s a m o r a l o r d e r i n t h e w o r l d works w i t h i n e x o r a b l e j u s t i c e .  But the concluding  that  chapter  a l s o shows t h a t M i d d l e t o n was n o t a w h o l l y s u c c e s s f u l t r a g i c artist  since the dramatist a l l too often r e s o r t s to convention  i n the p e j o r a t i v e sense.  Hengist, K i n g of Kent i s s t r u c -  t u r a l l y v e r y weak s i n c e t h e o v e r l o a d i n g o f 'dumb-shows w i t h s t o r y , t h e s w i t c h i n purpose i n t h e main p l o t and t h e v e r y l o o s e l y a t t a c h e d s u b - p l o t make t h e p l a y d i s j o i n t e d .  Women,  B e w a r e Women i s d i s f i g u r e d b y a P r o t e a n c h a n g e i n t h e c h a r a c t e r of L i v i a ,  t h e k e y i n t r i g u e r , a change s u b s e r v i n g t h e Senecan  denouement w h i c h i n t u r n e m p l o y s t h e h a c k n e y e d d e v i c e o f t h e f a t a l r e v e l s t o produce i n t h e catastrophe an improbable of b o d i e s . inferior  The C h a n g e l i n g  i s marred b y Rowley's  sub-plot as w e l l as b y t h e a r c h a i c t r i a l  i n t h e main  action.  huddle  artistically of chastity  FOREWORD  I t i s a very r e a l pleasure to record my many obligations i n curred i n the preparation of M s t h e s i s . For encouragement i n what has been a much protracted task I owe a debt of gratitude to members of the Department of English a t the University of B r i t i s h Columbia. To Dr. Marion Smith and Mr. Craig M i l l e r I owe an a d d i t i o n a l debt f o r t h e i r help i n obtaining books and p e r i o d i c a l s which have proved extremely usef u l . To Mr. I n g l i s B e l l of the University L i b r a r y go my especial thanks f o r h i s unstinted readiness to supply me with hard-to-procure volumes and f o r innumerable kindnesses extending f a r beyond h i s p r o f e s s i o n a l services. But my obligations are heaviest i n three other d i r e c t i o n s . Every chapter of t h i s thesis bears witness to the helpfulness of that indispensable study of Middleton's tragedies by Samuel Schoenbaum. Every page bears even more compelling witness to the extraordinary patience, acumen, and k i n d l y but searching advice of the English Department's Dr. G. P. V. Akrigg to whose scholarship my obligations are f a r more extensive than t h i s acknowledgment can convey. F i n a l l y , though, i t i s to my wife that I owe most. Every word of the following chapters has benefitted from her encouragement, cajolery, c r i t i c i s m , and patience. Hers, too, was the weary labour of typing several draughts o f a study that grew to unforeseen proportions.  CONTENTS  I  INTRODUCTION  1  II  THE CITY COMEDIES  10  III  THE EARLY TRAGEDIES  46  IV  *THE FLETCHERIAN PLAYS  78  V  HENGIST, KING OF KENT  117  VI  WOMEN. BEWARE WOMEN  l69  VII  THE CHANGELING  VIII  CONCLUSION  318  BIBLIOGRAPHY  344  237  CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION  The purpose of t h i s essay i s to study Middleton's use of dramatic conventions and devices with a view to assessing h i s q u a l i t i e s as a t r a g i c a r t i s t , f o r i t i s a commonplace of c r i t i c i s m to assert that an a r t i s t ' s stature i s to be measured i n terms of the success with which he works within the l i m i t s of convention or i n terms of h i s success i n getting innovations accepted. i n terms of who i s h i s master:  And h i s stature i s to be further measured mere convention, or independent  vision.  Middleton i s a Jacobean playwright who deserves more attention than he has received;  as J . Q. Adams put i t ,  I t i s strange that of the major E n g l i s h dramatists contemporary with Shakespeare Thomas Middleton, who at several points touched the master, has been the most neglected by modern scholarship. Samuel Tannenbaum concurred. Notwithstanding h i s many high q u a l i t i e s and the abundance of h i s output, scholars have neglected him i n a manner which i s almost i n e x p l i c a b l e . 2  Although a considerable quantity of p e r i o d i c a l l i t e r a t u r e has  appeared  since Bald published h i s e d i t i o n of Heneist. King of Kent i n 1938, only one f u l l - l e n g t h study of a major aspect of Middleton's dramatic a r t has  1 "Foreword , i n R. C. Bald (ed.), Heneist. King of Kent: or The Mavor of Queenborough. New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1938, p. v i i . 11  2 "Foreword", Thomas Middleton (A Concise Bibliography). Elizabethan Bibliographies, Number 13, New York, Samuel A. Tannenbaum, 1940, p. v i i .  2. appeared i n the l a s t t h i r t y years.  Samuel Schoenbaum brought out i n  1955 a study of Middleton's tragedies. I f , then, f o r no other reason than that Middleton has not received h i s due from scholars a paper on him is justified.  Much more p o s i t i v e a reason f o r studying him, however, i s  that i n The Changeling Middleton wrote one of the few great tragedies of the Elizabethan Age. Because the e l u c i d a t i o n of the processes of a r t i s of such absorbing f a s c i n a t i o n , the following pages w i l l attempt t o shed l i g h t on the nature of Middleton's three chief tragedies, Hengist. King of Kent; or The Mayor of Queenborough Women. Beware Women, and The Changeling by f  t r a c i n g the development of h i s handling of conventions from h i s r e a l i s t i c C i t y comedies through h i s Fletcherian plays t o the major tragedies. Along the way t h i s paper w i l l examine conventions i n The Revenger's Tragedy and The Second Maiden's Tragedy, plays which are Middleton's according to evidence that has been assembled by Schoenbaum.^ assessment of the achievements  F i n a l l y , an  of Middleton i n tragedy w i l l be made.  "'Poetry i s , i n essence, of convention a l l compact."4  That the  very medium of poetry i s conventional, Lowes reminds us when he says that ...language i t s e l f stands i n no Immediate r e l a t i o n to the objects which i t represents, but i s a congeries of conventional" symbols... 5  3 Samuel Schoenbaum, Middleton's Tragedies. A C r i t i c a l Study. (Columbia University Studies i n English and Comparative L i t e r a t u r e , Number 168), New York, Columbia University Press, 1955, pp.. 153 - 183. 4 J . L."Lowes, Convention and Revolt i n Poetry. Boston, Houghton M i f f l i n , 1919, p. 46.  5  Op. <?4t., p. 13.  3. Conventions, indeed, axe often defining c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of a r t i s t i c But not merely conventions, and not a l l conventions.  genre.  Poetry springs out  of language's metaphorical p o s s i b i l i t i e s whereby the f r e s h perception of likenesses i s an i n t u i t i v e , creative a c t .  That i s , the poet expresses  himself within l i m i t s imposed by the medium he chooses, e x p l o i t i n g the expressive p o s s i b i l i t i e s inherent i n the conventional symbols of language. Lowes* statement, then, which opens t h i s paragraph i s valuable as a r e minder of the pervasive presence of convention i n a r t , but misleading as a generalizationj  i t overlooks the v i t a l element i n a r t - i n d i v i d u a l  vision. I t i s not, however, convention as the d e f i n i n g c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of a r t i s t i c genre that i s the concern of t h i s paper. i n a narrower sense.  I t i s convention  The d e f i n i n g conventions of drama are, we  remind  ourselves, action-with-conflict, and dialogue d i s c l o s i n g a story s c e n i c a l l y by means of actors on a stage. may,  Such indispensable conventions we  following M. C. Hyde's suggestion^, c a l l " p r i n c i p l e s of dramaturgy."  The term "convention" we s h a l l therefore reserve f o r c e r t a i n of those features and techniques that are c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of some periods of drama but which f a i l to gain acceptance i n others.''' What, p r e c i s e l y , i s a convention? bethans f o r a d e f i n i t i o n of the term.  We cannot go t o the E l i z a -  They never formulated the canons  of t h e i r a r t nor d i d they take pains to d e t a i l the conventions of drama  6 Mary Crapo Hyde, Plavwritine f o r Elizabethans: 1600 - 1605. (Columbia University Studies i n English and Comparative L i t e r a t u r e , Number 167), New York, Columbia University Press, 1949, p. 4. 7 This i s a generalization whose t r u t h i s not, I hope, m a t e r i a l l y a f fected by the f a c t that Eugene O'Neill f o r one has resurrected the soliloquy.  in their criticism. Neo-classical critics in Italy, France and England drew up rules of dramatic propriety, but Aristotle's later descendants (on Minturno and Castelvetro out of Horace) did not breed in the Elizabethan theatre - despite Jonson's attempts at paternity. The Elizabethan playwright was perforce an empiric.  Not the canons of art but the  tolerance of his audience shaped his plays.  In such a circumstance i t is  not surprising that original practices which were successful on the stage would be imitated by other writers. The theatrical effectiveness of such features would determine the duration of their existence;  as their  usefulness declined they would disappear from the playwright's bag of tricks.  Thus, dismissing as irrelevant "convention" interpreted as "a  defining characteristic of an artistic genre", and realizing that many of the features of Elizabethan drama were produced by playwrights necessarily lackeying with the tides of taste, we may approximate a l i t t l e more closely to the more common area that discourse labels convention. A convention in this narrower sense is an artist's means, necessarily both traditional and ephemeral, to produce certain familiar effects in building and sustaining a world of illusion.8 M. C. Hyde expresses one aspect of our definition in this way: Conventions are fashions of a time, and as is the case with fashions, have not only the quality of influence but also that of transience.9  8 Cf. Lowes, op. cit.. pp. 2 - 3 , for whom convention is to be defined in terms of "acceptance * and "illusion". 1  9  Flaywriting for Elizabethans, p. 4 .  5.  The modishness and transient nature of conventions i s implied by the N.E.D. d e f i n i t i o n of the term: A rule or practice based upon general consent, or accepted and upheld by society at large; an a r b i t r a r y rule or practice recognized as v a l i d i n any p a r t i c u l a r a r t or study. This d e f i n i t i o n brings out a f u r t h e r aspect of convention - the f a c t that i t represents an agreement between the a r t i s t and h i s audience.  John  Livingston Lowes makes e x p l i c i t t h i s aspect. Convention ... so f a r as a r t i s concerned, represents concurrence i n c e r t a i n accepted methods of communication.^ But perhaps the most thoughtful d e f i n i t i o n of convention i s Bradbrook's: A convention may be defined as an agreement between writers and readers, whereby the a r t i s t i s allowed to l i m i t and s i m p l i f y h i s material i n order to secure greater concentration through a control of the d i s t r i b u t i o n of emphasis.-^ In suggesting a s t e a d i l y a l e r t a r t i s t i c s e n s i b i l i t y e x e r c i s i n g unflagging judicious care over the d i s p o s i t i o n of elements within a play, Bradbrook's d e f i n i t i o n i s probably flawed with respect to the Elizabethans since the structure of Elizabethan plays i s often ramshackle.  They are not "well-  made plays" i n the n e o - c l a s s i c a l or Scribean^- senses. 2  10  They are b u i l t  Lowes, op. c i t . . p. 3.  11 M. C. Bradbrook, Themes and Conventions of Elizabethan Tragedy. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1935, p. 4. She f u r t h e r says: " I t was...impossible that writers who worked at the speed of these dramatists should not evolve a convention." (p. 4 ) . 12 John Gassner says of Scribe i n Masters o f t.fra I>rfl ^r Third Revised E d i t i o n , New York, Dover, 1954* P» 349: "He set an example of c l o s e l y k n i t dramaturgy...for r e a l i t i e s that could not be scattered over the stage i n Shakespearean romantic fashion." m  6. more l i k e twentieth century musical comedies or commercial f i l m s - ^ vaudeville shows^ or revues.15  o  r  Nevertheless, Elizabethan conventions  were f u n c t i o n a l , i f not always i n a dramatic way, then at l e a s t i n enhancing the t h e a t r i c a l quality of the plays. I t must be r e a l i z e d that the term "convention" w i l l not necess a r i l y be used i n a pejorative sense.  This study hopes to keep clear the  d i s t i n c t i o n between the use of conventions and evaluations of t h e i r worth, f o r , as Gassner remarks, r i g h t l y , "A convention i s not objectionable; only i t s r e s u l t s can be so™.16 One danger f a c i n g the student embarked on a study of convention i s the d i s p o s i t i o n to see everything i n a play i n terms of stock characters, i m i t a t i v e s t r u c t u r a l patterns, hackneyed dialogue, and conventional devices of staging.  Levin Schucking and E. E. S t o l l have contributed much towards  our understanding of conventions i n English Renaissance drama, but t h e i r studies are sometimes marred by t h e i r tendency to miss the o r i g i n a l i t y i n these plays.  S t o l l makes much of a "slanderer believed"!''' convention i n  i n t e r p r e t i n g Iago, but i t i s at l e a s t debatable that an Elizabethan audience r e a l l y d i d "carry around i n memory, a Convention of the Calumniator  13 S. L. B e t h e l l , Shakespeare and the Popular Dramatic T r a d i t i o n . London, Staples Press, 194-8, p. 24. 14 Karl J . Holzknecht, The Background of Shakespeare's Plays. New York, American Book Company, 1950, p . 164. 15  Bradbrook, Themes and Conventions, p. 35.  16  Gassner, O P . c i t . . p. 349.  17 E. E. S t o l l , A r t and A r t i f i c e i n Shakespeare. New York, Barnes and Noble, 1951, pp. 6 - 8. See, too, h i s Shakespeare Studies. New York, The MacMillan Company, 1927, p. 94.  7. Credited as an a i d i n swallowing Iago",-^ although i t i s true that " s l a n der was conventionally b e l i e v e d " ^ and that the character of Iago contains a number of d i s c e r n i b l e stock t r a i t s of the Elizabethan v i l l a i n .  A simi-  l a r f a l l a c y i s to i n t e r p r e t the plays wholly by means of current Renaissance theories, b e l i e f s , philosophies, and dogmas.  A dramatic work i s not  merely an exemplification of conventional i n t e l l e c t u a l habits.  Alfred  Harbage warns us, i n c r i t i c i z i n g L i l y B. Campbell*s Shakespeare's Tragic Heroes. Slaves of Passion, that Two major flaws appear i n t h i s learned approach to the plays. One i s that f i c t i o n does not conform i n d e t a i l to the philosophy of the age.... The second flaw i s more grave. I t does not follow because resemblances appear i n a p h i l o sophical system and a play that the play i s •patterned on the system. The system may not be a cause but a p a r a l l e l effect.20 1  In short, there i s a danger to the c r i t i c "of being hag-ridden by conventions".  2  1  No attempt w i l l be made here to l i s t the conventions that w i l l be discussed i n the following chapters.  We s h a l l attempt to keep our  d e f i n i t i o n i n mind, however, when evaluating Middleton's a r t i s t r y i n handl i n g the conventions, supplementing i t with Bradbrook's, and her i n t e r -  18 G. G. Sedgewick, Of Irony. E s p e c i a l l y I " Dr»™q of Toronto Press, 1948, p. 91. 19  T  Toronto, University  B e t h e l l , op. c i t . . p. 15.  20 A l f r e d Harbage, As They Liked I t : An Essav on Shakespeare and Morality. New York, Macmillan,. 1947, p. 35. 21  B e t h e l l , O P . c i t . . p. 97.  8. pretation with Langer*s following p r e s c r i p t i v e observations: A l l a r t i s t i c conventions are devices f o r creating forms that express some idea of v i t a l i t y or emotion. Any element i n a work of a r t may contribute to the i l l u s o r y dimension i n which such forms are presented, or to t h e i r appearance, t h e i r harmonization, t h e i r organic unity and c l a r i t y ; i t may serve many such aims at once. Everything, therefore, that belongs to a work i s expressive; and a l l a r t i f i c e i s functional.22 The conventions studied w i l l be grouped under four headings f o r reasons of methodological convenience:  conventions of structure, of theme, of charac-  t e r i z a t i o n , and of staging.  They need not be d e t a i l e d here since t h e i r  existence i s well established and since the volumes of S t o l l , Schiicking, Bradbrook, Hyde, B e t h e l l , Harbage -^ and others examine them at length f o r 2  the reader wishing to study them. The term "device" i s d i f f i c u l t to define p r e c i s e l y .  We  shall  mean by i t any means employed by Middleton to achieve the e f f e c t s he aimed at, means e i t h e r that he originated or that have no t r a d i t i o n behind them. This i s as e x p l i c i t as we can make what i s meant i n t h i s paper by "device". Perhaps, i n connection with d e f i n i t i o n , i t i s wise to remember A r i s t o t l e ' s advice given i n the Nichomachean E t h i c s : Our discussion w i l l be adequate i f i t has as much clearness as the subject matter admits of, f o r p r e c i s i o n i s not to be sought  22 Susanne K. Langer, Feeling and Form. London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1953, p. 280. 23 See e s p e c i a l l y Shakespeare's Audience. New York, Columbia University Press, 1941, and Shakespeare and the R i v a l Traditions. New York, The Macm i l l a n Company, 1952.  9. f o r a l i k e i n a l l discussions....24 F i n a l l y , a b r i e f b i b l i o g r a p h i c a l note.  For the canon of Middle-  ton's works r e l i a n c e w i l l be mainly on R. C. Bald's a r t i c l e , "The Chronology of Middleton's Plays" 5, which supplies dates, too, although here 2  Baldwin Maxwell ^ and others supplement Bald. 2  Dewar M. R o b b  necessary information on the collaboration with Rowley.  provides the  27  Samuel Schoenbaum ^ 2  assembles the evidence of Middleton's authorship of The Revenger's Tragedy and The Second Maiden's Tragedy.  I t need scarcely be added that use has  been made of those formidably i n t i m i d a t i n g volumes of Chambers *? and Bent2  ley3° to which the student of Elizabethan drama i s indebted so much. Bullen's e d i t i o n i s the standard one f o r Middleton's p l a y s ^ l ;  i t has been  supplemented, of course, with Bald's f i n e e d i t i o n of Hengist. King of Kent. Greg's Malone Society editions of The Witch and of The Second  M^ir^n'!=i  Tragedy, and N i c o l l ' s e d i t i o n of Tourneur's plays.  24 Richard McKeon (ed.), The Basic Works of A r i s t o t l e . New York, Random House, 1941, p. 936. 25  Modern Language Review, v o l . 32 (January, 1937), pp. 3 3 - 4 3 .  26 "The Date of Middleton's Women. Beware Women". P h i l o l o g i c a l Quarterly_, v o l . 22 (October, 1943), pp. 338 - 42. 27 "The Canon of William Rowley's Plays", Modern Language Review, v o l . 45 ( A p r i l , 1950), pp. 129 - 41. 28  See p. 2, above, n. 3.  29 E. K. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage. 4 vols., London, Oxford Univ e r s i t y Press, 1923. 30 G. E. Bentley, The Jacobean and Caroline Stage. 2 v o l s . , London, Oxford University Press, 1941. 31 A. H. Bullen, The Works of Thomas Middleton. 8 vols., London, John C. Nimmo, 1885 - 6.  CHAPTER I I  THE CITY COMEDIES  Thomas Middleton has been c a l l e d "•the greatest"! and "the most a b s o l u t e " r e a l i s t i n Elizabethan dramaj 2  he i s a dramatist who,  T, S. E l i o t says, gives us "a dispassionate picture of human nature...."3 E l i o t further remarks, That Middleton's comedy was 'photographic', that i t introduces us to the low l i f e of the time f a r better than anything i n the comedy of Shakespeare or the comedy of Jonson, better than anything except the pamphlets of Dekker and Greene and Nashe, there i s l i t t l e doubt.4 But i f realism i s not.,merely "the accurate reproduction of d e t a i l f o r purposes of i n c i d e n t a l embellishment"5 and i f i t i s characterized by an o v e r - a l l f a i t h f u l n e s s i n the r e n d i t i o n of a c t u a l i t y , e s p e c i a l l y i n terms of the r e l a t i o n s h i p of i n d i v i d u a l to environment, the nature of the events i n which he i s involved, and the whole shape of h i s l i f e and personality^,  1 Kathleen M. Lynch, The S o c i a l Mode of Restoration Comedy. New York, 1926, p. 25, c i t e d i n L. C. Knights, Dram^, ^nr} Society i n the Age of Jonson. London, Chatto and Windus, 1951, p. 258. 2 F e l i x E. Schelling, Eljz,abetfrai} Drama, 1558 Houghton, 1908, p. 516.  16/,?,  v o l . 1,  Boston,  3 T. S. E l i o t , "Thomas Middleton"', Elizabethan Essays. London, Faber and Faber, 1934, p. 99. 4  Loc, c i t .  5 Joseph T. Shipley (ed.), Dictionary of World L i t e r a t u r e . New Philosophical Library, 1953, p. 335. The i t a l i c s are mine. 6  MA*,  P.  335.  York,  11. then we must agree with L. C. Knights about the " l i m i t e d usefulness as •social documents' "^ of Middleton's comedies. graphic.  His plays are not photo-  Moreover, i f T h r a l l and Hibbard are r i g h t i n s t a t i n g that one  other quality of realism should be emphasized: i t presents the i n d i v i d u a l rather than type character..78 then we must conclude that Middleton i s not a r e a l i s t  of the kind implied  since h i s characters are, f o r the most part, s o c i a l types.  "Middleton"',  Knights declares, somewhat exaggeratedly, i n discussing the comic charact e r s , " t e l l s us nothing at a l l about these as i n d i v i d u a l s i n a p a r t i c u l a r place and period."9  And i n parenthesis Knights remarks on the "completely  generalized conventionality"-^ of the brothel scenes i n Middleton, suggesting thereby that convention plays a much larger r o l e i n the C i t y comedies than c r i t i c s have hitherto cared to discuss. But i f Middleton's realism i s not that of photographic actualism, he i§, r e a l i s t i c i n a sense to be defined i n contrast to Elizabethan r o mantic comedy with i t s abundant sentiment, exotic settings, high-born, i d e a l i z e d characters, love themes, and happy endings highly a r t i f i c i a l i n contrivance.il  The many songs i n t h i s genre contribute to i t s l y r i c a l  e f f e c t , as does the customary medium of verse.  7  In contrast, Middleton's  Knights, OP. c i t . . p. 261.  8 W. F. T h r a l l and A. Hibbard, A Handbook to L i t e r a t u r e . New York, The Odyssey Press, 1936, pp. 357 - 8. 9  Knights, op. c i t . . p. 258.  10 Loo, c i t . 11 A l f r e d Harbage, Shakespeare and the R i v a l Traditions. New York, The Macmillan Company, 1952, pp. 58 - 89, and passim.  12. comedies are s a t i r i c a l and c y n i c a l i n tone, are set i n burgher London *^ 1  have c i t i z e n s and rogues as t h e i r main characters, and are l a r g e l y concerned with g u l l i n g and t r i c k i n g p l o t s . a decreased use of verse and songj  With the prosaic settings goes  and prose abounds.  Middleton by no means i n i t i a t e d t h i s branch of the comedy of manners - i t s pattern goes back at l e a s t to Plautus.  I t appears i n Eng-  land at l e a s t as e a r l y as Gascoigne's Supposes, and both Jonson and Chapman were w r i t i n g plays of t h i s type before Middleton entered the f i e l d . Indeed, Middleton's sources are everywhere discoverable i n l i t e r a t u r e or in l i f e . ^  L a t i n and I t a l i a n comedy and t h e i r E n g l i s h descendants, the  E n g l i s h r e l a t i v e s of German and Dutch education drama, the morality plays  12 Although Ferrara i s the s e t t i n g of The Phoenix, the f o l l i e s and v i c e s exposed are those of London, while some of the characters not only have "English" names (Falso, Guieto, Tangle) but are also t y p i c a l f i g u r e s of r e a l i s t i c comedy (the c i t i z e n ' s social-climbing wife, the f l e e c i n g lawyers, the courtiers p a r a s i t i c on c i t i z e n s , and the newly-made knight who cuckolds shopkeepers). 13 R. C. Bald, "The Sources of Middleton's City Comedies", Journal of English and Germanic Philology, v o l . 33 (July, 1934), pp. 373 - 87. More detailed studies of other sources may be found i n the essays on the f o l lowing t o p i c s . L a t i n comedy: S i g n i Falk, "Plautus' Persa and Middleton's A Trick to Catch The Old One". Modem Language Notes, v o l . 66 (1951), pp. 19 - 21, and Madeleine Doran, Endeavours of A r t , p. 151. I t a l i a n comedy and i t s E n g l i s h descendants: Warwick Bond, "Introductory Essay" to E a r l y Flavs from the I t a l i a n . Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1911, pp. xv - c v i i . But Middleton could read I t a l i a n f o r himselfj see A l l a n H. G i l b e r t , "The Prosperous W i t t o l i n Giovanni B a t t i s t a Medio and Thomas Middleton", Studies i n Philology, v o l . 41 (1944)> p. 237. Education drama: Bond, op. c i t . . pp. x c i i - c i x . The novella: Day I I , story i x of the Decameron has The Family of Love's chest t r i c k . See also Bond, O P . c i t . , pp. xxxv - xxxvi, and Bald, "Sources", pp. 385 - 6. Verse s a t i r e : Bald, "Sources", pp. 376 - 7. Rogue l i t e r a t u r e : Mildred G. C h r i s t i a n , Nnn-dT-qmw.tic Sources f o r the Rogues i n Middleton's Plavs. Private E d i t i o n , Chicago, University of Chicago L i b r a r i e s , 1936. Contemporary plays: W. J . Olive, "Imitation of Shakespeare i n Middleton's The Family of Love". Phi 1 r.1 opjcal Quarterly, v o l . 29 (January, 1950), pp. 7 5 - 8 . See also Bald, "Sources",, p. 387. Pamphl e t s : see, f o r a tangled problem i n l i t e r a r y indebtedness, Lucetta J . Teagarden, "The Dekker-Middleton Problem i n Michaelmas Term". Texas U n i v e r s i t y Publications i n English, v o l . 26 (1947), pp. 4 9 - 5 8 ,  13. and the interludes, novella, verse s a t i r e , rogue l i t e r a t u r e , contemporary plays, and pamphlets - h i s sources were numerous, though undoubtedly h i s clearest debt i s t o the l a t t e r three.  Middleton obviously owes much t o  the vogue of r e a l i s t i c comedy inaugurated by Jonson. Whichever way we look at i t , we see that Middleton was working within a t r a d i t i o n ;  that there were conventions f o r him t o adopt.  It i s  the purpose of t h i s chapter t o review these conventions i n terms of theme, structure, character, and staging, and t o examine, too, the devices Middleton employs i n these C i t y comedies. The eight comedies that w i l l be surveyed here are the following, l i s t e d i n the probable order of c o m p o s i t i o n . T h e  Family of Love (writ-  ten i n 1602 and revised i n 1606 or 1607) i s a play that "must be allowed to take the place previously occupied by B l u r t . ^Master ConstableJ as Middleton's f i r s t known venture i n t o the f i e l d of drama"'.l5  Thereafter  14 R. C. Bald, "The Chronology of Middleton's Plays", Modern Language Review, v o l . 32 (January, 1937), pp. 33 - 43. The dates given are Bald's. Some minor differences i n dating these plays w i l l be found i n studies published subsequent t o Bald's. The Phoenix belongs t o 1603 according to Baldwin Maxwell's persuasive essay, "Middleton's The Phoenix" Joseph Quincy Adams Memorial Studies. Washington, Shakespeare Folger Library, 1948, p. 738. Michaelmas Term appeared i n 1605 - 6 according t o the v i r t u a l l y conclusive a r t i c l e by Maxwell, "Middleton's M-jriiwrimas Term" . P h i l o l o g i c a l Quarterly, v o l . 22 (January, 1943), pp. 29 - 35. The same scholar a t t r i butes Your Five Gallants t o 1606 or 1607 i n "Thomas Middleton's Your Five Gallants". P h i l o l o g i c a l Quarterly, v o l . 30 (January, 1951), pp. 30 - 9. The most conspicuous change i n dating, however, occurs i n connection with The Family of Love. Maxwell assigns i t t o a period almost h a l f a dozen years a f t e r the e a r l i e s t date that Bald a t t r i b u t e s i t t o . See Baldwin Maxwell's "A Note on the Date of Middleton's The Family of Love with a Query on the Porter's H a l l Theater" i n Elizabethan Studies and Other Essays: In Honor of George F. Reynolds. University of Colorado Studies, Series B., Studies i n the Humanities, v o l . 2, no. 4, University of Colorado Press, 1945, pp. 195 - 200. f  1  15 Gerald J . Eberle, "Dekker's Part i n The Famine of Love". Joseph Qoincv Adams Memorial Studies. Washington, Shakespeare Folger Library, 1948, p.738.  14. there appeared The Phoenix (either i n 1602 or 1603), the p l o t of which mayhave anticipated that of Measure f o r Measure. A Mad World. My Masters (written i n 1604 and revised i n 1606 or 1607), Mjg:hae;imas Term (1604), Your Five Gallants (1605, 1607), A T r i c k to Catch The Old One ( c . 1606), a play extremely useful to Massinger f o r h i s comedy, A New Way t o Pay Old Debts. The Roaring G i r l (1607 - 8),  which i s about two-fifths the work of  Dekker ^, Middleton's collaborator i n T h ^ F a m i l y of Love and elsewhere, and 1  A Chaste Maid i n Cheapside (1613), Middleton's f i n a l r e a l i s t i c comic s t a t e ment about London l i f e .  "The predominant themes are probably cuckoldry and g u l l e r y . . . . " Cheating, t r i c k i n g , t r i c k i n g the t r i c k s t e r s ; land-lust;  social-climbing and parasitism;  sex-lust, money-lust, and needy youth versus greedy age  - these, i n d e t a i l , are the major themes of the City comedies. Cuckoldry, attempted or achieved, appears i n a l l these plays. In the sub-plot of Thp. F a m i l y of Love. G l i s t e r , Lipsalve, and Gudgeon pursue the wife of Purge, a jealous apothecary, who "cuckolds" himself i n the darkness at a meeting of the Family (IV. i v . 1 - 14 and 44- - 5.) so that he might b r i n g a charge of unfaithfulness against h i s wife. t r i v e s to get her H o  He con-  answer a venereal crime, f o r having carnal copu-  l a t i o n with others besides [her] husband"' (IV. i v . 155 - 6.).  In The  16 George R. P r i c e , "The Shares of Middleton and Dekker i n a Collaborated Play", Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science. Arts and L e t t e r s , v o l . 30, (1944), PP. 601 - 15. 17 Madeleine Doran, Endeavours of A r t . Madison, The University of Wisconsin Press, 1954, P. 159.  15. Phoenix the nobleman, Proditor, attempts the honour of Castiza, the Captain's wife ( I . i i i . 1 - 11.), and the Knight enjoys h i s "sweet Revenue", the Jeweller's Wife, who makes room f o r her love both at her father's house and a t her husband's since "they're both good f o r nothing e l s e " ( I . v. 35 - 6.).  So blatant i s her cuckoldry that she blandly assures her  father, the v i l e Falso, that "my husband and he [the Knight] has l a i n both i n one b e l l y " ( I . v i . 55 - 6.).  Penitent B r o t h e l l , a conscience-ridden  sinner i n A Mad World. My Masters, y i e l d s to h i s passion f o r Mistress Harebrain, cuckolding thereby the jealous Harebrain, the "watch and ward" of h i s wife whom he keeps locked up l e s t he sprout horns.  Quomodo, the  memorable usurer of M-i ^baai ™AS Term, r e a l i z e s that the "deadly enmity" between town and country, between c i t i z e n and gentry, e x i s t s because "They're busy 'bout our wives, we 'bout t h e i r lands" ( I . i . 112.). s t a r t Scotsman  ,  Lethe, the up-  explains to Mistress Quomodo i n a l e t t e r how h i s  marriage t o her daughter w i l l f a c i l i t a t e h i s access t o the mother, thereby b e n e f i t i n g a l l concerned  ( I . i . 230 - 9.).  Quomodo, however, i s more con-  cerned that Easy should cuckold him than Lethe, but i s consoled by Shortyard's To be a cuckold i s but f o r one l i f e ; When land remains t o you, your heir,or wife. ( I . i . 114 - 5.) Quomodo not only i s nearly cuckolded by Easy but i s also almost the l o s e r of a wife to him.  Mistress Newcut of Your Five Gallants has "broke the  back of one husband already;  and now t h ' other's dead with g r i e f at sea"  18 Baldwin Maxwell, "Middleton's Michaelmas Term". P h i l o l o g i c a l Quarter3a, v o l . 22 (January, 1943), pp. 32 - 35.  16. (V. i . 13 - 4-.) as a r e s u l t of her pursuing her "sheer pleasure and a f f e c t i o n " ( I I . i . 20.) with gallants and proper gentlemen.  Though cuckold-  ing does not play a r o l e i n A T r i c k to Catch The Old One. Middleton returns to the theme i n the scenes he wrote f o r The Roaring Girl.19  Here  Laxton attempts the v i r t u e of the apothecary's wife, Mistress G a l l i p o t ; Jack Dapper pursues the wily Mistress T i l t y a r d , the featherer's wife;  and  Goshawk seeks to gain Mistress Openwork's favours by means of i n s i d i o u s suggestions ( I I . i . ) .  Perhaps the most notorious instance of cuckoldry  i n Elizabethan drama and c e r t a i n l y the most s t r i k i n g i n Middleton i s i n the A l l w i t scenes of The Chaste Maid i n Cheapside.  A l l w i t , however, i s a  contented cuckold, a conscious wittol ©, v i l e , c a l c u l a t i n g , and yet dread2  f u l l y comic.  His s e l f - r e v e l a t i o n ( I . i i . 11 - 56.) i s thorough and exact,  his morality r e v o l t i n g .  Of S i r Walter Whorehound he says:  I thank him, has maintain'd my house t h i s ten years; Not only keeps my wife, but 'a keeps me And a l l my family; I'm at h i s t a b l e : He gets me a l l my children, and pays the nurse Monthly or weekly; puts me to nothing, rent, Nor church-duties, not so much as the scavenger: The happiest state that ever man was born toI ( I . i i . 15 - 21.)  19 George R. Price, op. c i t . p. 614; Middleton's share seems t o be: I. i i - i i i . , I I . , I I I . i - i i . , IV. i . , V. i i . Middleton revised some of the other scenes, too. Although Middleton signed the preface, "To the Comic Play-Readers, Venery and Laughter", we may f e e l sure that Dekker's more generous and l e s s cynical s p i r i t i s behind the words: "... ' t i s the excellency of a writer to leave things better than he f i n d s 'em." The r e mark of A l f r e d Harbage, Shakespeare and the R i v a l Traditions, p. 176, on these words might be taken as epitomizing the main approach of h i s study of the competing t r a d i t i o n s i n the Elizabethan theatre. Harbage remarks that " i t i s revealing when the cynic of Paul's becomes the i d e a l i s t of the Fortune...." f  20 A l l a n H. G i l b e r t i n "The Prosperous Wittol i n Giovanni B a t t i s t a Modio and Thomas Middleton", Studies i n Philology, v o l . 41 (1944), pp. 235 - 7, discusses a possible source f o r A l l w i t .  17. confirming our impression of h i s debased nature i n I I I . i i .  66-71:  No mar'l I heard a c i t i z e n complain once That h i s wife's b e l l y only broke h i s back; Mine had been a l l i n f i t t e r s seven years since, But f o r t h i s worthy knight, That with a prop upholds my wife and me, And a l l my estate buried i n B u c k l e r s b u r y .  21  G u l l i n g occupies an even l a r g e r area than cuckoldry i n Middleton's comedies, perhaps because a greater v a r i e t y of comic e f f e c t s could be extracted from t h i s theme.  Although cuckoldry i s a species of g u l l i n g ,  i t has been examined as a separate theme since i t leads so d i r e c t l y to the sex themes of Middleton's l a t e r plays.  Thus the f o l l o w i n g discussion of  g u l l i n g w i l l ignore what was s a i d above about cuckoldry.  Gulling i n a  wide sense of t r i c k i n g or deceiving i s t o be found i n a l l the C i t y comedies; i n the narrow sense of f l e e c i n g and sharping, i n h a l f of them. G u l l i n g i n the wide sense occurs notably on three occasions i n T h e  FflFPily of Love:  f i r s t , G l i s t e r g u l l s L i p s a l v e and Gudgeon with h i s  a r t magic which causes the two gallants "that only pursue c i t y lechery" to whip each other;  second, Purge g u l l s L i p s a l v e and Gudgeon at a meeting of  the Family by a n t i c i p a t i n g t h e i r attempt t o f o r n i c a t e with h i s wife; t h i r d (and here the narrow sense operates, too), Gerardine, disguised, g u l l s G l i s t e r of a thousand pounds plus "her father's portion" with a bond that gives Maria to Gerardine and that releases G l i s t e r from the charge of i n 21  A l l w i t ' s f e a r i s of conditions described by Lear's F o o l : The cod-piece that w i l l house Before the head has any The head and he s h a l l louse; So beggars marry many. (III. i i .  27-30.)  18. cest.  Since The Phoenix exposes the " i n f e c t i o u s dealings i n most o f f i c e s ,  and f o u l mysteries throughout a l l professions" so that "abuses that keep low, come t o the r i g h t view of a prince" ( I . i . 108 - 15.), there i s a rather formal pattern i n the disclosure of abuses.  We observe Tangle gul-  l i n g s u i t o r s of t h e i r money under the guise of performing l e g a l services ( I . i v . 1 - 194.) and Falso doing the same ( I . v i . 1 - 56.) and attempting to b i l k h i s niece of her dowry ( I . v i . 119 - 44.).  Phoenix deceives Pro-  d i t o r , f o r e s t a l l i n g h i s treasonable designs on the Duke by means of a report which reveals to the court the abuses r i f e i n the state (V. i . 68 153.).  A Mad World. My Masters i s s i m i l a r i n s i t u a t i o n t o A T r i c k t o  Catch The Old One.  F o l l y w i t i n A Mad World determines t o g u l l h i s grand-  s i r e , S i r Bounteous Progress, f o r whom "charity begins abroad and ends at home"22  >  D  U  t i n the end the t r i c k s t e r i s t r i c k e d , betrayed by a watch he  has stolen from S i r Bounteous (V. i i . 240 - 1.).  Moreover, F o l l y w i t d i s -  covers he has been gulled by a courtesan i n t o marrying her (V. i i . The reverse of these situations occurs i n A T r i c k .  284.).  Witgood g u l l s both h i s  uncle, Pecunius Lucre, and Walkadine Hoard, the one of the mortgage t o h i s land, the other of enough money t o discharge h i s debts.  In t h i s play, i t  i s the o l d Hoard's f a t e to discover that he has been gulled i n t o marrying a courtesan, not a widow with lands i n the country worth £400 a year (V. i i . 96 - 101.).  In A Mad World  the courtesan, Mistress Gullman, i s  instrumental i n Mistress Harebrain's desire t o outwit her husband. Her l o v e r , Penitent B r o t h e l l , i s admitted t o Harebrain*s c l o s e l y watched house  22 Una ELlis-Fermor, The Jacobean 1953, p. 134.  Qrama Third f  E d i t i o n , London, Methuen,  19. i n the guise of a doctor of physic b r i n g i n g cures f o r the " s i c k " Gullman (III. i i . ) .  The central g u l l i n g episodes i n Minhaft^mas Term involve Quomodo  who fleeces Easy of h i s Essex land by means of the surety t r i c k ( I I . i i i . 267 - 391.), and Easy and Thomasine who g u l l Quomodo, disguised as a Beadle attending the linen-draper's f u n e r a l . h i s wife.  For a while Easy gets Thomasine as  Other g u l l i n g scenes appear i n t h i s play, the most  important  being the t r i c k i n g of the lecherous Lethe i n t o marrying h i s Country Wench. But the play which exhibits g u l l i n g best i n i t s coney-catching  sense i s  Your Five Gallants which exposes i n almost b a l l e t - l i k e pattern the t r i c k s , cheatings, and deceptions of f i v e accomplished coney-catchers:  Frippery,  the broker-gallant, Primero, the bawd-gallant, Goldstone, the cheating gallant, Pursenet, the pocket-gallant, and Tailby,the whore-gallant.  In  the end the disguised gentleman, Fitsgrave, g u l l s them a l l of Katherine, the wealthy orphan.  Clothing, jewels, a chain of p e a r l change hands many  times as l i g h t - f i n g e r e d f i l c h e r s "nim" other people's property ( I I . i . 119 f f . ) .  We see i n Act I I , scene i i i a l l the time-worn t r i c k s of the pro-  f e s s i o n a l gambler, topped by the p u r l o i n i n g of a g i l t goblet ( l l . 321 - 412). Goldstone, disguised as Mistress Newcut's cousin, decamps with her s a l t c e l l a r (IV. v i i . 68.) - one of the many t r i c k s i n the play that Middleton owes to rogue l i t e r a t u r e . - * 2  The g u l l i n g and counter-gulling of t h i s play  seems to have exhausted most of Middleton's  i n t e r e s t i n t h i s theme since  except f o r Witgood's t r i c k i n catching the o l d Lucre and Hoard, the l a t e r plays i n the City group show l i t t l e i n t e r e s t i n the subject.  There i s  23 Bald. "The Sources o f Middleton's C i t y Comedies", p. 378. The scene depicting the t h e f t of the s a l t - c e l l a r i s highly reminiscent of Sc. i x i n Dr. Faustus.  20. some t r i c k i n g i n The Roaring G i r l (Moll allows h e r s e l f t o be l u r e d t o assignations but she discomfits her would-be lovers by drawing her r a p i e r on them and thrashing them ( I I . i . 253 - 70j  I I I . i . 60 - 207.), and  Sebastian g u l l s h i s father, S i r Alexander Wengrave, f e i g n i n g love f o r Moll to drive Wengrave i n t o approving of h i s passion f o r Mary F i t z a l l a r d ) . And i n A Chaste Maid A l l w i t preserves h i s s e c u r i t y i n his arrangement with S i r Walter by deceiving him about possible mates ( I . i i . 99 - 104.)s I have poison'd His hopes i n marriage already with Some o l d r i c h widows, and some landed v i r g i n s ; And I ' l l f a l l to work s t i l l before I ' l l l o s e him; He's y e t too sweet to part from. Touchwood Junior t r i c k s Yellowhammer, the goldsmith, i n t o fashioning a wedding r i n g f o r Moll Yellowhammer and himself although Yellowhammer has promised his daughter to Whorehound ( I . i . 171 - 208.).  But the main em-  phasis i n the play i s on cuckoldry and wittoldom. Middleton apparently could not think about cuckoldry and g u l l i n g without thinking, too, of themes a l l i e d to them by the l i t e r a t u r e and thought of h i s time.  His prose expose of London v i c e s , The Black Book.  written some time between the summer of 1603 and the end of 160424, when i t was published, l i n k s sex-lust and money-lust and land-lust with s o c i a l climbing and parasitism and the need of youth with the greed of age 5, a l 2  24 Middleton mentions " t h i s l a s t plaguy summer and r e f e r s t o a coverlet that "was made of pieces a' black c l o t h clapt together, such as was snatched o f f the r a i l s i n King's-street at the queen's f u n e r a l " . See Bullen's e d i t i o n , v o l . 8, pp. 16, 25. 11  25 See "The l a s t W i l l and Testament of Lawrence L u c i f e r , the o l d wealthy bachelor of Limbo, a l i a s Dick Devil-barn, the g r i p i n g farmer of Kent" i n The Black Book, pp. 33 - 45.  21. though he regards the gravest abuses, the "two devouring g u l f s " , as being "deceit and l u x u r y " . ^ 2  The locus of the sex-lust, money-lust, land-lust themes i s Minhae^mas Term, written about the same time as The Black Book. ? 2  Quomodo's  speech, already quoted, points the matter: They're busy 'bout our wives, we 'bout t h e i r lands. ( I . i . 112.) Quomodo, with the assistance of Shortyard and F a l s e l i g h t , persuades the needy young Easy t o accept commodity by way of cash and to sign surety f o r B l a s t f i e l d (Shortyard) who i s the actual borrower.  In t h i s way Quomodo  acquires the deeds to Easy's Essex lands which Quomodo apostrophizes 0 that sweet, neat, comely, proper, d e l i c a t e parcel of land! l i k e a f i n e gentlewoman i * t h ' waist, not so great as pretty, pretty; the trees i n summer whistling, the s i l v e r waters by the banks harmoniously g l i d i n g . ( I I . i i i . 91 - 4.)  thus:  And h i s desire to have h i s family come up i n the world i s expressed i n h i s following words.  He says the lands are an excellent place f o r a student; f i t f o r my son that l a t e l y commenced at Cambridge, whom now I have placed at inns of court. Thus we that seldom get lands honestly, must leave our heirs t o i n h e r i t our knavery.... ( I I . i i i . 95 - 9.)  The "sweet inventions" (IV. i . 84.) that the "thought of g r e e n f i e l d s " (IV. i . 85.) i n s p i r e d i n Quomodo also i n s p i r e d Hoard t o dream eagerly of the "goodly parks and champion grounds" (IV. i v . 55.) he now owns as a  26  "The E p i s t l e t o the Reader", The Black Book, p. 5.  27  Baldwin Maxwell, "Mi<MIet.nn'sMir»haaiwa Term". pp. 29 - 35 s  22. as a r e s u l t of h i s marriage to "Widow Jane Medler".  Both Hoard (IV. i v .  10 - 23.) and Quomodo (IV. i . 74 *- 80.) gloat over the e f f e c t t h e i r t r i p s to t h e i r country estates w i l l have on t h e i r c i t y neighbours and r i v a l s . ^ 2  The powerful a t t r a c t i o n that the green f i e l d s of Essex have f o r Quomodo, higher s o c i a l ranks have f o r certain women i n these plays. Country Wench exhibits t h i s i n i t s mildest formj  The  H e l l g i l l has enticed her  from her father's country cottage with h i s "sweet enchantments";  felts  and s i l k s and a l l fashionable a t t i r e s (Minh^imas Term. I . i i . 14  -16.)  are promised her;  she w i l l f'go l i k e a gentlewoman" ( I . i i . 30 - 1.) i f  she w i l l become Lethe's mistress, and she i s a l l " i n a swoon" ( I . i i . 9.) to acquire g e n t i l i t y .  58 -  Since Maudlin Yellowhammer i n A Chaste Maid  wants to have good connections, she pushes her daughter towards S i r Walter Whorehound's arms to the consternation of Moll and her young l o v e r , Touchwood Junior.  Perhaps the s t r i k i n g instance of the wish to climb the s o c i a l  ladder occurs i n The Phoenix.  The Jeweller's Wife, whose lover, the Knight,  has addressed her as "lady", r e p l i e s , Lady? that word i s worth an hundred angels at a l l times.... (III. i i . 3-4.) and the s i l l y female gawks l i k e a simpleton i n the Duke's palace: Who would not love a f r i e n d at court? What f i n e g a l l e r i e s and rooms am I brought through! (V. i . 209 - 11.)  28 The whole matter of land-hungry affluent c i t i z e n s preying upon the possessions of country gentry i s discussed i n an i l l u m i n a t i n g manner by L. C. Knights i n Drama and Society i n the Age of Jonson. pp. 261 - 69. He says on p. 267: "Middleton constantly gives us such glimpses of a society i n the process of rapid reorganization. Most of h i s characters assume that s o c i a l advancement i s a major preoccupation of the c i t i z e n c l a s s . . . . "  23. But her genuinely middle-class, debased nature i s displayed i n her answer to Phoenix's "... know you not me?".  She says,  Your worship i s too great f o r me to know: I'm but a small-timbred woman, when I'm out of my apparel, and dare not venture upon greatness. (V. i . 221 -  3.)  In her knight Middleton s a t i r i z e s the p a r a s i t i c courtier *? or 2  gallant who l i v e s o f f c i t i z e n s ' wives, often a s i t u a t i o n that was the obj e c t of h i s s a t i r e .  Middleton's intention i n The Phoenix, of course, i s  p a r t l y to g i r d at James I's p r o l i f e r a t i o n of knights - a popular theme with Jacobean dramatists and s a t i r i s t s a l i k e . So much f o r the stock themes of the C i t y comedies.  Now  i tis  appropriate to examine the general pattern, the structure, of the kind of comedy Middleton wrote.  At once we may  say that the pattern i s that of  i n t r i g u e ^ comedy, a type that has i t s roots i n ancient Greece and that the t y p i c a l Elizabethan playwright, i f he had any education at a l l , would encounter i n the plays of Plautus and Terence.-31 "The plots of L a t i n comedy are  manipulated  29 Middleton's attack on courtiers i s summed up i n challenging form i n the report sent by Phoenix to h i s father, the Duke: "Against Lussurioso and Infesto, who not only most r i o t o u s l y consume t h e i r houses i n v i c i o u s gaming, mortgaging t h e i r l i v i n g s to the merchant, whereby he with h i s h e i r s enter upon t h e i r lands; from whence t h i s abuse comes, that i n short time the son of the merchant has more lordships than the son of the nobleman, which else was never born to inheritance: but that which i s more impious, they most adulterously t r a i n out young l a d i e s to midnight banquets, to the u t t e r defamation of t h e i r own honours, and r i d i c u l o u s abuse of t h e i r husbands." (V. i . 91 - 100.) 30  Madeleine Doran, Endeavours of Art, pp. 152 - 6.  31  Bond, Early Plavs from the I t a l i a n , pp. xv - c v i i i  24. p l o t s , with someone managing the i n t r i g u e . . . . The ingenuity of h i s devices, the narrowness of the escapes, the success of the execution, not realism, are the tests of excellence. I t i s only i n a few p l o t s , however, that the i n t r i g u e r carries things to a conclusion without the help of good fortune. 32 Elizabethan dramatists had modern I t a l i a n models f o r t h i s type 33 of p l o t t i n g , too. For the i n t r i g u e p l o t was a fundamental c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of renaissance I t a l i a n comedy, both academic and popular. I t was often much complicated by disguises, mistaken i d e n t i t i e s , and subplots.34 But Middleton d i d not need to go to e i t h e r of these sources f o r h i s i n t r i g u e plotsj  he could have discovered the patterns i n English drama i t s e l f , i n  The Bugbears. Gascoigne's Supposes. Lyly's Mother Bombie. perhaps The Comedy of Errors. Thft Taming of the Shrew, and The Merrv Wives of Windsor (Shakespeare's only'City" comedy), i n Porter's Two Anerv Women of Abingdon. Chapman's A l l Fools-^. and probably Jonson*s two early humour plays. too,  some of the elements of i n t r i g u e i n tragedy no doubt influenced Middle-  ton.-*""  There were, moreover, i n non-dramatic l i t e r a t u r e scores of patterns  of i n t r i g u e t r i c k i n g i n the rogue pamphlets.  32  Doran, op. c i t . . p. 153.  33  Bond, op. c i t . . pp. xv - x v i ,  34  Doran, op. c i t . . p. 153.  1 - xcii.  35 fiia.,pp. 154 - 5. 36  Then,  See, e s p e c i a l l y , The Phoenix. I. i . and V.  25. The basic intrigues i n the C i t y comedies concern the a c t i v i t i e s of a young man t o f o i l the e f f o r t s of other, u s u a l l y older, people who t r y to prevent h i s marriage and the recouping of h i s f o r t u n e . ^  Six of the  eight plays follow t h i s pattern, The Phoenix and Mi n h ^ i mas  Term being the  exceptions, although even here more than traces of the pattern are to be found:  Proditor attempts to seduce Castiza away from her i d e a l of true  love, and Rearage's pursuit of Susan Quomodo i s opposed by her father ( I . i . 68 - 9.).  But the central pattern of The Phoenix i s akin to that of  Measure f o r Measure^, and the chief i n t r i g u e i n Mp^h^Riinas Term involves Quomodo's f l e e c i n g Easy of his lands, the t r i c k s t e r being t r i c k e d i n the denouement as a r e s u l t of over-reaching.  I t i s , then, not u n t i l the con-  cluding l i n e s of Act Four that the pattern common t o most of the other comedies makes i t s appearance i n Easy's career. In A Mad World. Mv Masters and A Trick t o Catch The Old One we have the best i l l u s t r a t i o n s of the basic i n t r i g u e pattern.  This i s true  despite the f a c t that the marriage which i s revealed at the end (V.  ii.  270 - . 8 4 . ) of A Mad World i s not quite what F o l l y w i t thought i t to be. Like Hoard i n A T r i c k , he discovers that he i s l i n k e d t o a courtesan, not to an honourable woman of means.  37 Muriel Bradbrook sees the pattern from a s l i g h t l y d i f f e r e n t angle: "For Middleton, the hunting of a widow and the s e t t i n g up of a broken g a l l a n t are the favourite bases of i n t r i g u e . . . . " See her recent study, The Growth and Structure of Elizabethan Corned?. London, Chatto & Windus, 1955, p. 154; also p. 235, n. 19. 38 Mary L a s c e l l e s , Shakespeare's "Measure f o r Measure". London, The Athlone Press, 1953, pp. 26 - 27. . A f t e r comparing supposedly s i m i l a r f i g ures i n other plays to Shakespeare's Duke, Lascelles says, "Middleton's Phoenix...is engaged i n an enterprise which bears some resemblance t o h i s , at l e a s t i n the exposition. The son o f an ageing Duke of Ferrara, he has reason t o suspect l a x administration, and therefore gives out that he w i l l t r a v e l abroad, the better t o i u r k i n disguise at home and discover hidden abuses."  26. The i n t r i g u i n g and the t r i c k i n g i n these plays depend to a marked extent on disguise used s t r u c t u r a l l y .  "Disguise", Bald points out,  " i n some form or other, enters i n t o three-quarters of plays...."^9  Middleton's  Since the disguise convention i s encountered so frequently  i t i s best to single out the play that most r i c h l y i l l u s t r a t e s i t , r e f e r r i n g to others f o r corroboration and d i v e r s i t y .  M^hafllmas Term i s our instance.  The two types of disguise most common i n the comedies are the "rogue i n multi-disguise" and the "spy i n disguise"40, ing more of Middleton's  ingenuity.  the former a t t r a c t -  In Michaelmas Term the chief rogue i n  multi-disguise i s Shortyard, Quomodo*s "true and secret" " f a m i l i a r s p i r i t " . When Quomodo urges Shortyard to draw Easy, the f r e s h , landed gallant from Essex, i n t o Quomodo's clutches41, he suggests a disguise to Shortyard: " s h i f t t h y s e l f speedily i n t o the shape of g a l l a n t r y " ( I . i . 125.); Shortyard poses as "kind master B l a s t f i e l d " ( I I . i . 34.).  hence  Easy i s as easy  as his name declares; he allows " B l a s t f i e l d " to become f r i e n d l y with him.42,  39 "The Sources of Middleton's City Comedies", p. 383. Bald expresses his indebtedness to V. 0. Freeburg's Disguise Plots i n Elizabethan Drama. New York, Columbia University Press, 1915, a study not available f o r t h i s thesis. 40 Bald, "Sources", p. 383. The terms are Freeburg's. Perhaps i t should be noted at t h i s point that Middleton, i n using disguise, was not doing so with a 'philosophical' sense of appearance and r e a l i t y i n h i s mind, a sense that was seemingly i n Shakespeare's consciousness at times. 41 "Keep foot by foot with him, outdare h i s expenses, f l a t t e r , dice, and brothel to him; give him a sweet taste of sensuality; t r a i n him to every wasteful s i n , that he may quickly need health, but e s p e c i a l l y money ...." ( I . i . 126 - 30.). 42 Later Easy describes B l a s t f i e l d fulsomely: "Methinks I have no being without his company; ' t i s so f u l l of kindness and d e l i g h t : I hold him to be the only companion i n earth... So f u l l of nimble wit, various discourse, pregnant apprehension., and uncommon entertainmentI he might keep company with any l o r d f o r his grace." ( I I I . i i . 8-15.)  27. and soon h i s f r i e n d witnesses h i s discomfiture at dice ( I I . i . " B l a s t f i e l d " discovers he i s out of cash too ( l l .  80-1.),  70.).  so o f f they go  to Quomodo*s f o r a loan where they l e a r n that Quomodo can give commodity only ( I I . i i i . 191 - 3.).  " B l a s t f i e l d " pretends wrath at t h i s o f f e r but  Easy t a l k s him i n t o accepting the c l o t h .  Easy, as the second party, glad-  l y signs the loan bond " f o r fashion's sake" ( l . 274.)  as F a l s e l i g h t ,  Quomodo's other f a m i l i a r s p i r i t "disguised as a Porter, sweating", lugs the c l o t h out only to return a few minutes l a t e r with the news that no merchant w i l l buy the c l o t h .  Quomodo then mentions "a new  s e t t e r up",  a  Master Idem,who w i l l be sure to "lay out money upon't", and c a l l i n g i n F a l s e l i g h t , who  appears as himself, he sends f o r the merchant - F a l s e l i g h t  disguised as Idem ( I I . i i i . 466.).  "Idem", however, can o f f e r only three-  score pound, a sum the gallants are obliged by need to accept.  A f t e r the  passage of a month, during which " B l a s t f i e l d " reminds Easy, "I am seven hundred pound i n bond now to the r a s c a l " ( I I I . i . 139 - 40.),  "Blastfield"  disappears to show up with F a l s e l i g h t , Shortyard disguised as a Sergeant and F a l s e l i g h t as a Yeoman, both preparing to a r r e s t Easy ( I I I . i i i . 1 10.), knowing that Easy w i l l surrender h i s lands to Quomodo rather than go to prison, but not u n t i l he has made a search f o r "master B l a s t f i e l d ^ wors h i p f u l master B l a s t f i e l d " ( i l l . i i i . 15 - 6.) to rescue him from h i s d i f ficulties.  The "Sergeant", a f t e r conducting Easy to Quomodo, suggest to  Easy that "two  substantial subsidy c i t i z e n s " be procured to b a i l him so  that he may make h i s search;  Easy gives him h i s purse, and under pretext  to Quomodo (and Easy!) about "a l i t t l e urgent business at G u i l d h a l l " ( I I I . i v . 129.)  the two constables go o f f .  Then, "Re-enter Shortyard and F a l s e -  28. l i g h t disguised as wealthy c i t i z e n s i n s a t i n s u i t s " ( I I I . i v . 197.). provide security f o r Easy who then makes h i s search.  The next day, accom-  panied by Shortyard i n his l a t e s t disguise, he encounters Rearage, and Lethe, none of whom has seen B l a s t f i e l d .  They  Salewood,  Easy begins t o r e a l i z e h i s  predicament ("I begin t o be sick" I I I . v. 4-5.), despairing f i n a l l y when " c i t i z e n " Shortyard decides to turn him over to Quomodo ( l . 70.), and, i n doing so, says to Quomodo, Here are a l l h i s lands f o r f e i t e d t o us, master Quomodo; and t o avoid the inconscionable trouble of law, a l l the assurance he made t o us we w i l l i n g l y resign to you. (IV. i . 20 - 2.). Quomodo takes the deeds and declares Easy a free man as he a f f a b l y bids h i s wife t o b r i n g Easy "a cup of small beer" ( l l . 53 - 6.) and urges him that since he knows Quomodo s house to v i s i t them often and dine with them once f  a quarter ( l l . 58 - 9.).  Enraged, Easy leaves.  Describing Shortyard's Protean changes does not exhaust d i s g u i s i n g i n t h i s play. l a s t two acts:  The "spy i n disguise" convention appears notably i n the  Quomodo disguised as a Beadle observes the e f f e c t s of h i s  death on h i s wife, h i s son, and h i s daughter (IV. i v . f f . ) .  But, i n turn,  he i s d i s i l l u s i o n e d by the "censure" of h i s servants, Sim, h i s son, and of Thomasine, h i s wife (V. i . 108 - 32.).  Even when he discovers himself  ( l . 131.) subsequent to s e l f - b e t r a y a l caused by p l a c i n g h i s signature t o the discharge memorandum ( l . 104.) he i s not believed t o be Quomodo u n t i l he swears before the judge i n the l a s t scene. A variant on the "spy i n disguise" convention i s provided i n the same play by the Country Wench's Father who disguises himself to act as h i s daughter's servant "to f r i g h t her from base e v i l s " ( I I . i i . 37.), but,  29.  when t h i s f a i l s , to "see/How former f o l l i e s d i d appear i n me" 303 - 4.).  And an echo of t h i s disguise pattern i s heard i n the f a i l u r e  of Mother Gruel, who the now  (ill. i .  has come to London to search f o r her son, to  dandified Andrew.  recognize  She serves as his servant u n t i l she defies him  i n the f i n a l scene of r e v e l a t i o n and judgment.^ The spy motif i s also worked out i n I I I . i i i . where Thomasine, not disguised but "watching above", observes Quomodo and his accomplices p l a y i n g at cat-and-mouse with Easy.  Her p i t y f o r the gulled gallant grows  to love ( l l . 267 - 8.) which motivates her matrimonial-financial rescue of Easy a f t e r Quomodo's "death". Multi-disguise i s found elsewhere i n the C i t y comedies, notably i n The Family of Love, where Gerardine dons the guises of Porter (IV. 35 f f . ) , of Parator (IV. i v . 72 f f . ) , and of Doctor of Law  (V. i i i .  iii.  159.).  F o l l y w i t i n A Mad World successively appears i n disguise as Lord Owemuch ( I I . i . 87 f f . ) , as a t h i e f ( I I . i v - v . ) , as the l o r d again ( I I . v i i i . ) , as - and i n t h i s we can see the convention of the "boy-bride" disguise the Courtesan (doubly disguised since "she" wears a mask) i n IV. i i i . ,  as  a player (V. i . 36.), but f i n a l l y as himself, the r e t a i n e r of stolen goods that betray him (V. i i . 198 - 246.). The spy i n disguise i s best i l l u s t r a t e d i n Middleton i n Phoenix, the son of the Duke of Ferrara, i n The Phoenix.  The disguised young man  43 Ellis-Fermor, The Jacobean Drama, p. 133, n. 1, says i n reference to the conclusions of Middleton's plays, "The l a s t acts, i t i s true, are usually taken at a gallop so that a c e r t a i n amount i s l e f t inconclusive. This i s due not so much to carelessness on the part of the author as to an understanding of the psychological condition of an audience at the end of a comedy i n t r i g u e . Once they have foreseen the end they only want i t sketched, not expounded."  30. hunts out abuses i n the c i t y ostensibly a f t e r having set out on h i s t r a v e l s . Treacherous courtiers have suggested the t r a v e l s , and part of h i s success consists i n the u n r a v e l l i n g of a conspiracy among those who have wished him out of the way; part, i n h i s intervention i n the a f f a i r s of those who (as he had suspected) are hindered of access to j u s t i c e . By an ingenious t r i c k - he hires himself out to each of the evil-doers i n turn he obtains the information needed f o r eventual interposition.44 Fitsgrave i n Your Five Gallants i s also a spy i n disguise.  He observes  the actions of the f i v e gallants and discomfits them at the end of the play by d i s c l o s i n g t h e i r u n s u i t a b i l i t y as husbands f o r Katherine. Before we leave the discussion of the s t r u c t u r a l conventions  in  the Gity comedies, we must b r i e f l y investigate coincidence, the dumb-show, the masque, and the play-within-the-play, and glance at Middleton's  use of  verse and prose. Middleton's r e a l i s t i c comedies are f u l l of coincidence, a convent i o n which e l i c i t s the "commonest complaint against the Elizabethan drama" 45 - that the action i s i l l o g i c a l .  But the Elizabethans worked within a  t r a d i t i o n of narrative i n which the "consecutive or causal succession of events [was] not of the f i r s t importance".46  So we f i n d i n the eight com-  edies coincidence used often i n the place of what i n a "well-made play" would be an elaborate causal chain.  Sometimes a character enters at the  44 Mary L a s c e l l e s , op. c i t . . p. 27. 45 Muriel Bradbrook, Themes and Conventions of Elizabethan Tragedy. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1935, p. 30. 46  Loc, c i t .  31. f o r t u i t o u s moment to i n s p i r e or supply the s o l u t i o n to a problem f a c i n g the on-stage people.  In A T r i c k to Catch The Old One  (I. i . ) ,  Witgood  has just uttered, "Any t r i c k out of the compass of law now would come happ i l y to me"  ( l . 27 - 8.), when the Courtesan, who  i n s p i r e the s o l u t i o n to h i s d i f f i c u l t i e s , enters.  a few moments l a t e r w i l l Again, instead of a  c a r e f u l , l o g i c a l motivation of the entrance of a character, Middleton employs a psychological j u s t i f i c a t i o n of h i s appearance. characters w i l l t a l k about him f o r a few moments;  The on-stage  then that character  w i l l enter, p a t l y , the action moving ahead once more.  Sometimes Middleton  gives such pat entrance an i r o n i c tone as we see i n Michaelmas Term. ( I . i . 239 - 53):  Lethe has written the v i l e , mistaken l e t t e r to Mistress  Quomodo explaining how h i s marriage ("copulation", he c a l l s i t ) to her daughter w i l l give him readier access to Mistress Quomodo. someone to d e l i v e r the document;  Lethe needs  he expresses a wish that  Some poor widow woman would come as a necessary bawd now! ( I . i . 250 - 1.) At that moment he sees someone, and continuing with h i s s o l i l o q u y which i s broken up only by action, not by words, he  exclaims,  and see where f i t l y comes - [jSnter Mother Gruel] my mother! . (11. 251 -  3.)  A l l these are stock ways of using the convention of coincidence i n the organization of events i n an Elizabethan play. Other s t r u c t u r a l means are the r e l a t e d conventions the masque, and the play-within-the-play.  of dumb-show,  The dramatic value of these  conventions, as distinguished from t h e i r t h e a t r i c a l u t i l i t y , was warding a c t i o n .  in for-  The dumb-show could be used to symbolize themes or moods;  32. to outline action, that i s , to provide perspective on forthcoming events too lengthy f o r stage narrative;  or i t could be used to sketch action  peripheral t o the main events.47  Three of Middleton's r e a l i s t i c comedies  have dumb-shows: The Phoenix (before I I I . i . ) , which employs the convent i o n i n order to introduce the f i r s t scene of the t h i r d act without the delay normally consequent upon ordinary entrances with t h e i r customary dialogue;  Mir-.hflP.imas Term (^Induction" 32 f f . ) which symbolically repre-  sents one of the main objects of s a t i r e i n the play: of law t o acquire sudden r i c h e s .  the unscrupulous use  Not only the symbolic nature of t h i s  dumb-show^ but also the abstract morality f i g u r e s of the "Induction i n 11  which i t appears gives t o t h i s dumb-show an old-fashioned f l a v o u r . The t h i r d play containing a dumb-show i s A Chaste Maid i n Cheanside (V. i v . ff.)49  >  i n which the convention has become almost indistinguishable from  a lengthy stage d i r e c t i o n .  As i s the case with the dumb-show i n Michael-  mas Term, most of the characters mentioned i n the dumb-show d i r e c t i o n s take part i n the dialogue that immediately follows.  The chief s t r u c t u r a l value  of t h i s dumb-show i s to e s t a b l i s h a funereal mood which Middleton w i l l soon suddenly convert to i t s opposite. Related to the dumb-show are the conventions  of the masque and  the play-within-the-play, both of which could serve the same s t r u c t u r a l l y dramatic purposes.  The disguised F o l l y w i t and h i s "players" i n A Mad World.  47 B. R. Pearn, "Dumb-Show i n Elizabethan Drama"', Review of English Studies, v o l . 11 (October, 1935), pp. 385 - 405. Pearn shows that more than h a l f of the plays written between 1562 and 1626 that contain dumbshows f a l l within the two decades during which Middleton was active as a dramatist. 48  Ibid., p. 387 - 91.  49  So c l a s s i f i e d by Pearn, on. c i t . . p. 396.  33. My Masters f o r the benefit of the unsuspecting S i r Bounteous act "The S l i p " (V, i i . 19 - 124..), an extemporized interlude which enables F o l l y w i t to walk o f f with h i s uncle's chain, jewel, and watch.  And i n Your F i v e  Gallants the f i v e would-be wooers take part i n a masque (V. i i . 9 -  25.)  which ends as Frippery presents Katherine with the chain of pearl, a g i f t that proves the undoing of him and the four other rogues.50 Middleton wrote none of the City comedies e n t i r e l y i n verse, and none e n t i r e l y i n prose.  In general, he used prose f o r moments when the  emotional tension was relaxed, reserving the more formal pattern of verse f o r emphasis.51  Sententious utterances are often cast into couplets, and  couplets frequently terminate scenes and acts, but when verse occurs i t i s normally unrhymed pentameter;  the few songs and the masque i n Your Five  Gallants resort to other meters.  The conventional reformation of wayward  characters sometimes r e s u l t s i n forms other than blank verse:  i n The  Phoenix Quieto delivers an ode-like couplet incantation to cure the  mad  Tangle (V. i . 317 - 38.), and the Courtesan and Witgood i n A Trick renounce t h e i r e v i l ways i n couplets which hesitate between o c t o s y l l a b i c and  50 Middleton wrote several masques and many Mayoral pageants. See R. C. Bald, "Middleton's C i v i c Employment", Mncfern Philology, v o l . 31 (August, 1933), pp. 65 - 78. 51 Cornelia C. Coulter i n "The Plautine Tradition i n Shakespeare", The Journal of E n g l i s h and Germanic Philology, v o l . 19 (January, 1920), p. 73, says that the s i m i l a r i t y between mixed verse and prose i n the two authors referred to i n her t i t l e i s "probably accidental", but she does say, "One might draw a neat p a r a l l e l between Plautus's v a r i a t i o n of l y r i c and simple dialogue meters, and Shakespeare's a l t e r n a t i o n of prose and verse, e s p e c i a l l y when the senarius of the L a t i n poet and the prose of the E n g l i s h b r i n g a d i s t i n c t lowering of the emotional tone."  34. pentameter lengths. The conversion of the wayward, however, points to another major d i v i s i o n of convention i n the C i t y comedies, that of character, and c e r t a i n l y the conventional reformation of scapegraces i s not the only instance of convention i n character portrayal i n these plays.  Everywhere i n them  we discover the presence of stock f i g u r e s , some t r a c i n g t h e i r descent from the i n t r i g u i n g slaves, dissolute wastrels, well-born courtesans, cowardly braggarts, conservative fathers, "worldly-wise comedy;  and a n x i o u s " i n L a t i n  others coming out of I t a l i a n comedy - the doctor of laws, the doc-  t o r of medicine, the magician, the pedant, the e l d e r l y s u i t o r , the  nurse^  and the Pantalones, Dottores, zannis. and servettas of the commedia dell'arte54  ;  SO  me descending from the native English t r a d i t i o n - the Vice  and the D e v i l ^ ;  and some from current l i t e r a t u r e and the I t a l i a n a t e t r a -  v e l l e r - the malcontent.5°  52 Thomas Marc Parrott and R. H. B a l l , A Short View of Elizabethan Drama. New lork, Scribners, 1943, p. 33. 53  Bond, op. c i t . . pp. xxxix - x l .  54  Shipley, op. c i t . . "Commedia d e l l ' a r t e " , p. 71.  55  Parrott and B a l l , op. c i t . . p. 28.  56 I f Marston gives us the t y p i c a l p o r t r a i t of the malcontent, the f i g u r e of the melancholy s a t i r i s t r a i l i n g against what he sees about him i n s o c i e t y i s not a whole-cloth product of Marston's imagination. The malcontent i s a compound of the melancholic, the b i t t e r r a i l e r , and the r e t a i n e r whose employment security i s precarious. Phoenix has some of the character t r a i t s of the malcontent and exhibits some of the conventional ways of staging him. The Duke of Ferrara's son r a i l s b i t t e r l y against the abuses of h i s time, and he does so i n set speeches ( I I . i i . 162 - 196; I. i v . 197 - 227.). See Theodore Spencer, "The Elizabethan Malcontent", Joseph Qni^cy Adams Memorial Studies. Washington, Shakespeare Folger Library, 1948, pp. 523 - 35, and Lawrence Babb, The Elizabethan Malady. East Lansing, Michigan State College Press, 1951, pp. 73 - 101.  35. Middleton i s l a v i s h with dramatis personae.  There are so many-  people i n h i s plays that i t i s impossible t o consider them a l l i n a study of t h i s kind.  But the chief stock characters are the r a k e - h e l l wastrel,  the miserly o l d man, the courtesan, the young woman (who i s sometimes the courtesan and who marries well i n the end, sometimes with the dissolute young man),  the virtuous young man, the gallant, the wanton wife, the  jealous husband, the f a i t h f u l f r i e n d , the i n t r i g u e r , the rogue, the paras i t e , the g u l l , the w i t t o l , the usurer, the lawyer, the doctor, and the servant. The most apparent instances of the r a k e - h e l l d i s s o l u t e are F o l l y wit of A Mad World and Witgood of A T r i c k .  Like many of t h e i r prototypes  i n L a t i n comedy, they are young men who have f i n a l l y come t o t h e i r senses and now begin t o scheme and intrigue t o recoup t h e i r l o s s e s .  Pecunius  Lucre, Witgood's uncle, Walkadine Hoard of the same play, S i r Bounteous Progress of A Mad World. Quomodo of Michaelmas Term. Falso i n The Phoenix, and G l i s t e r i n The F a m i l y of Love represent o l d men who cheat young people out of t h e i r money.  They are miser f i g u r e s .  Unlike them are the courtesans  i n A Mad World. M^nhaelmas Term. Your Five G a l l a n t s , and A T r i c k t o Catch The Old One.  These women are e n t i r e l y conventional while the o l d misers  are often v i t a l i n a Pickensian manner.  They constitute, with S i r Walter  Whorehound, a "great group of eccentric originals"57, even though i t i s c l e a r l y possible t o see i n them the lineaments of conventional comic types. Like F a l s t a f f , they betray t h e i r o r i g i n s but are a t the same time vigorousl y alive individuals.  57  This i s hardly true of many of the other f i g u r e s i n  Ellis-Fermor, op. c i t . . p. 131.  36. the City comedies.  F i d e l i o i s merely a f a i t h f u l f r i e n d and son i n The  Phoenix, and Phoenix i s both a conventional i n t r i g u e manager and a mouthpiece f o r conventional morality.  Fitsgrave i s a wooden spy who dupes the  f i v e gallants, and another example of the i n t r i g u e r convention with which these plays teem.58  We must agree with L. C. Knights, then, that Middle-  ton's characters are not often i n d i v i d u a l s seen i n a p a r t i c u l a r place and period but are f o r the most part completely generalized conventionalities. His g u l l s , w i t t o l s , rogues, gallants, lawyers, usurers, lovers and scapegraces normally do exactly as we would expect them t o do since we have met them so many times before.59  i t i s p r o f i t a b l e , however, t o examine two  stock figures at some length, the usurer and the Puritan. Since the theme of usury i s o f such c e n t r a l importance to A T r i c k to Catch The Old One, i t i s not s u r p r i s i n g t o f i n d h a l f a dozen usurers i n the play.  Nor i s i t s u r p r i s i n g to discover conventional t r a i t s i n  their portrayal.  Pecunius Lucre, the Hoards (Walkadine e s p e c i a l l y ) ,  Moneylove, Dampit, and Gulf betray by t h e i r label-names either t h e i r profession or conventional moral attitudes towards i t .  Walkadine and Pecunius,  moreover, querulous l i k e the t r a d i t i o n a l stock usurer, are o l d men, Walkadine d i s p l a y i n g the further c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of being a doting aged suitor.60  58  See pages 23 - 30 above.  59 L. C. Knights, op. c i t . . p. 258: "But, reading h i s comedies as caref u l l y as we can, we f i n d - e x c i t i n g discovery! - that gallants are l i k e l y to be i n debt, that they make love t o c i t i z e n s ' wives, that lawyers are concerned more f o r t h e i r p r o f i t s than f o r j u s t i c e , and that cutpurses are thieves." 1  60 Celeste Turner Wright, "Some Conventions Regarding the Usurer i n Elizabethan L i t e r a t u r e , Studies i n Philology, v o l . 31 ( A p r i l , 1934), pp. 176, 177/ 11  37. Another stock t r a i t , self-destruction by hangingol, ±  s  alluded to i n  Hoard's boasting that he w i l l vex Lucre with a d i s p l a y of wealth.  Lucre,  he says, w i l l never endure i t , but run up and hang himself presently. (IV. i v . 2 2 - 3 . ) Conventionally, the usurer l i v e s i n semi-starvation; reformation i s the banquet spread at h i s expense.62  thus a sign of h i s i n Hoard's f i n a l ac-  ceptance of h i s s i t u a t i o n , revealed i n h i s words at the end of the play, "So, so, a l l f r i e n d s !  the wedding-dinner cools", such reformation appears.  In Quomodo i n Mi nhaftl mas Term we see yet further stock t r a i t s .  Quomodo  i n v i t e s h i s victim, Easy, to v i s i t him often and t o dine with him once a quarter (IV. i . 5 8 - 9 . ) .  In t h i s appears the convention of the usurer  as niggardly host^-*, while i n h i s v i c t i m i z i n g of Easy appears the t r a i t suggested i n these words by Wright. One chief Elizabethan grievance against the usurer was h i s r u i n of the hospitable gentry.64 F i n a l l y , of course, there appear i n a l l these usurers such conventional c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s as heartlessness, chicanery, and d i a b o l i c delight i n trickery. The Puritan i s the second stock f i g u r e deserving rather d e t a i l e d  61  Wright, SP, v o l . 31 ( A p r i l , 1934), pp. 192 - 6.  62  Ibid., pp. 181 - 7.  63  Ibid., p. 186.  64  Ibid., p. 187.  38. analysis.°5  Middleton often mocked the Puritanj  i n fact,  Thft F a m i l y of Love i s a laboratory specimen, with appendages complete, of the anti-Puritan comedy. 00  The precisian's clothing, speech, manners, and morals are s a t i r i z e d here i n t y p i c a l terms, but by f a r the strongest attack i s delivered against Puritan hypocrisy.  Middleton makes h i s point by repeated i r o n i c contrasts  between what may be s t y l e d the honest corruption of the gallants and the h y p o c r i t i c a l corruption of the F a m i l i s t s .  Such hypocrisy may be seen i n  the f o l l o w i n g colloquy between Dryfat and Gerardine, Gerardine s 1  statement  betraying r a t i o n a l i z e d cant and j u s t i f i e d " lechery, Dryfat's r e p l y being 11  a parody of the Puritan's d i c t i o n and standard  hypersexuality.  Dryfat; Well, master Gerardine, I hope to see you a F a m i l i s t before I d i e . Gerardine: That's most l i k e l y , f o r I hold most of t h e i r p r i n c i p l e s already: I never r a i l nor calumniate any man but i n love and charity; I never cozen any man f o r any i l l w i l l I bear him, but i n love and c h a r i t y to myself; I never make my neighbour a cuckold f o r any hate or malice I bear him, but i n love and c h a r i t y to h i s wife. Dryfat: And may those p r i n c i p l e s f r u c t i f y i n your weak membersJ (IV. i i . 68 - 77.) Hypocrisy appears i n the f o l l o w i n g passage, too, as well as sexual innuendo, but the Puritan's preciseness, b i b l i o l a t r y , fear of popery, and fanaticism  65 This conventional character i s ably discussed by William P. Holden i n h i s recent study, Anti-Puritan S a t i r e . 1572 - 1642. New Haven, Yale University Press, 1954, pp. 101 - 44. 66 Ibid., p. 129. At t h i s point i t may be noted that although The Puritan i s not studied i n t h i s t h e s i s , many scholars believe i t to be Middleton's.  39 axe i t s chief themes. Drvfat: I commend t h i s zeal i n you, Mistress Purgej I desire much to be of your society. Mistress Purge: Do you, indeed? b l e s s i n g on your heart , are you upright i n your dealings? Dryfat: Yes, I do love to stand to any thing I do, though I lose by i t : i n truth, I deal but too t r u l y f o r t h i s world. You s h a l l hear how f a r I am entered i n the r i g h t way already. F i r s t , I l i v e i n charity, and give small alms to such as be not of the r i g h t sect; I take under twenty i * t h hundred, nor no f o r f e i t u r e of bonds unless the law t e l l my conscience I may do't; I set no pot on a Sundays, but feed on cold meat drest a* Saturdays; I keep no holydays nor f a s t s , but eat most f l e s h o Fridays of a l l days 1* the week; I do use to say i n s p i r e d graces, able to starve a wicked man with length; I have Aminadabs and Abrahams to" my godsons, and I chide them when they ask me b l e s s i n g : and I do hate the red l e t t e r more than I follow the written v e r i t y . ( I I I . i i i . 61 - 78.) 1  1  1  1  The detestation of Catholicism i s expressed, too, i n Mistress Purge's animadversion on organs where a scarcely-veiled sexual a l l u s i o n provides a further piquant remark f o r the prejudiced audience: Organs? f i e , f i e , they have a squeaking sound i n mine ears; a whit; I detest 'em: I hope organs. (III.  most abominable they e d i f y not my body has no i i i . 29 - 31.)  Puritan l o g i c i s burlesqued by Club i n h i s "proof" to Mistress G l i s t e r that the F a m i l i s t s love t h e i r neighbours better than themselves: Yes, better than themselves; f o r they love them better than t h e i r husbands and husband and wife are a l l one; therefore better than themselves. ( I I . i v . 75 - 78.)  40. The stock stage Puritan was sexually intemperate, and was u s u a l l y cast i n the r o l e of an adulterer, but one who could argue that h i s behaviour was r e l i g i o u s l y moral.  And provided she preserved appearances, the Puritan's  wife could cheat him sexually without danger from God's wrath.  This  Mistress Purge proceeds to do a t the Family's meeting (IV. i v . 14 f f . ) , thereby providing Middleton's coterie audience with a s i t u a t i o n that could t i t i l l a t e and outrage a t once. ? 0  Mistress Purge's l a t e r h y p o c r i t i c a l de-  fense of her actions at the meeting - she declares that she turned her wedding r i n g over to help "distressed Geneva" (V. i i i . 262 - 78.) - i s partner to her i n j u r e d innocence which prompts her "doggerel verse on the order of a bad hymn"^: Here I am - 0 time's impiety! Hither I come from out the harmless f o l d To have my good name eaten up by wolves: See, how they g r i n ! Well, the weak must to the w a l l ; I must bear wrong, but shame s h a l l them b e f a l l . (V. i i i . 185 - 9.) F i n a l l y , Mistress Purge's reprehension of plays reveals a stock Puritan a t t i t u d e : F i e , f i e , ' t i s p i t y young gentlemen can bestow t h e i r time no better: t h i s playing i s not lawful, f o r I cannot f i n d that e i t h e r plays or players were allowed i n the prime church of Ephesus by the elders. ( I . i i i . 110 - 113.)  67 Holden remarks, op. c i t . . p. 129, that "Middleton has used the name of the sect [of the Family of Love} only because i t had t o his audience an aura of Paphian r i t e s and secret s i n s . " On sex i n the coterie theatres see Harbage, Shakespeare and the R i v a l Traditions, pp. 186 - 258. 68  Holden, op. c i t . . p. 131.  a .  I t i s apparent, therefore, that v i t a l as some of Middleton's characters may be, they disclose at nearly every turn conventional t r a i t s . Conventional, too, i s the use Middleton makes of the stage of his time.  For him space i s neutral and f l u i d when he wishes i t to be,  and time i s telescoped i n a manner not acceptable to dramatists of a l a t e r 69 age. the  7  Act IV, scene i of The Phoenix apparently begins i n a street near  Court of Law?*- but then switches to the Court: 1  Phoenix: Hah, whither have my thoughts conveyed me? I am now Within the dizzy murmur of the law. (IV.  i . 37 - 9.)  A c t u a l l y there i s no need t o d e f i n i t e l y l o c a l i z e either the PhoenixProditor part of t h i s scene or the Tangle-Falso-Quieto section.  Not un-  t i l Phoenix accidentally j a r s the r i n g of the Jeweller's door do we need a specific setting;  we then r e a l i z e that one part of the stage possibly  stood f o r the Court of Law as the part Phoenix i s now on must represent the  area immediately before the Jeweller's House.  That i s , Middleton  (conventionally enough) l o c a l i z e s action only when l o c a l i z a t i o n i s necessary.  His treatment of time i s s i m i l a r l y conventional - the time of the  action i s whatever moment the dramatist wants i t to be.  In the space of  one hundred and f o r t y l i n e s Middleton can allow a month t o pass away. In Michaelmas Term t h i s i n t e r v a l stands f o r the lapse of time during which " B l a s t f i e l d ' s " note with Quomodo becomes mature ( I I I . i . 1 - 14.0.).  Per-  haps Middleton learned something about the u t i l i t y of telescoping time  69  Bradbrook, Themes and Conventions, pp. 7 - 14.  70 We learn from the stage d i r e c t i o n at l i n e 211 that the Jeweller's House i s nearby, too.  A2. i n w r i t i n g The Family of Love with Dekker whose Gerardine-Maria scenes are separated by " s u f f i c i e n t " time to allow Maria to conceive, then to grow noticeably pregnant.  I t i s apparent from the above survey that Middleton's City comedies are f u l l of convention, that everywhere the reader looks he w i l l encounter stock characters, f a m i l i a r p l o t s , conventional themes, and the customary Elizabethan treatment of staging.  Conventional, too, are the  uses of soliloquy, asides, the f i v e - a c t structure, the scene, and the emphasis on story and b r i s k action, although l i m i t a t i o n s of space have prevented a study of these matters here. Before making f i n a l generalizations on convention i n the City comedies, however, we must note i n the plays devices popular with Middleton.  In t h e i r use we can see Middleton r e s o r t i n g to means that would be  acceptable to most of h i s audience i f not always to the twentieth century theatre-goer.  But since they were used frequently by previous dramatists,  i t might seem that at l e a s t some of these devices should more properly be c a l l e d conventions.  Admittedly, the d i s t i n c t i o n i s d i f f i c u l t to make,  but i n p a r t i a l defense of c l a s s i f y i n g them as devices, i t should be observed that many of these means used by Middleton to create c e r t a i n e f f e c t s are not stock conceptions of p l o t , theme, or character but rather stage properties.  Other means may be termed devices because of the r e l a t i v e i n -  frequency of t h e i r appearance.  In r e a l i s t i c Elizabethan comedy we expect  i n t r i g u e p l o t s , cuckoldry and t r i c k i n g , gallants and g u l l s , but we do not necessarily look f o r the supernatural, banquets, or t r i a l s .  Hence these  43. l a t t e r may be termed devices rather than  conventions.  One of Middleton's favourite devices i s the written document: the l e t t e r , the deed, the bond, the release. (V. i i i .  In Thp F a m i l y of Love  323 - 38.), a l e t t e r implicates G l i s t e r i n bastardy;  Phoenix,  i n a supposed " b r i e f of a l l h i s travels"', makes known t o his father, the Duke, the evildoers i n Farrara (The Phoenix. V. i . 68 - 153.);  Easy loses  his land to Quomodo by going surety f o r a bond f o r "Blastfield"', but r e gains i t when Quomodo, blinded by arrogance, signs h i s own name t o the Beadle's quittance r e c e i p t (V. i . 104.);  i n A T r i c k Joyce receives a note  from her l o v e r , Theodorus Witgood, who assures her that a l l w i l l be well ( I I I . i i . 16 - 9.), and Hoard has the Scrivener read the release by which Witgood gives up a l l claim t o the widow and her estate (IV. i v . 252 - 69.). The precise l e g a l phraseology of t h i s document points t o another device Middleton exploited, t e c h n i c a l language, whether the jargon of lawyers as i n The Phoenix. ( I . i v . 46 - 121.), medical terms as i n A Mad World. My Masters ( I I I . i i .  55 - 74.), or the cant of gallants and rogues as i n  Your Five Gallants ( I I . i i i . 109 f f . ) . ^  One of the devices most i n t e r e s t -  i n g i n these r e a l i s t i c plays i s the supernatural.'''  2  In Thp. F a m i l y of Love.  Lipsalve and Gudgeon separately appeal to G l i s t e r t o help them with a r t magic i n t h e i r love f o r Mistress Purge ( I I . i v . 130 - 219.), each t h i n k i n g the other t o be a s p i r i t when they put G l i s t e r ' s charm t o use ( I I I . v i . ) . In A Mad World a succubus a c t u a l l y appears before the l o v e - d i s t r a c t e d  71  Ellis-Fermor, op. c i t . . p. 135.  72 The Black Book describes a journey of the D e v i l through London where he views, i n various guises, the abuses r i f e i n the c i t y .  44.  Penitent Brothel in the shape of Mistress Harebrain, lasciviously tempting him with charms, song, and dance (IV. i . 29 - 74.).  But very common in  Elizabethan plays of a l l types, not merely in Middleton's, is the device of the banquet for concluding a play. A Trick to Catch The Old One and A Mad World both end in this manner. Common, too, is the final scene as court t r i a l ; MinhaftlTnas  the fake trial of The Family of Love and the judgment in  Term illustrate the device. Finally, Middleton resorts to the  use of such devices as trunks, rings, chains of pearl, whips, tobacco, dice, liquor, and weapons for achieving certain dramatic effects. What, then, is the pattern, the trend in Middleton's handling of convention and device? Obviously, as the meaning of convention implies, i t is the playwright resorting to means found effective by his contemporaries and his forebears. And since the City comedies are heavily weighted in favour of the taste of the Jacobean private theatre audience with its demand for the titillating, the piquant, and the amoral rather than for the romantic, the cheerful, and the edifying (the demands of the audiences in the popular theatres), the pattern in Middleton's handling of convention is that of the dramatist maintaining a sensitive response to current fashion. As will be seen in the later chapters of this thesis, like so many other writers then (and now), Middleton lackeyed with the tides of taste.  ,J  Whether he could be genuinely vocal in dramatic forms other than that of the realistic we do not know; we do know that at his maturity he produced tragedies whose power is largely a product of the actual deeds and language  73 H. B. Bullock, "Middleton and the Fashion in Playmaking", Publications of the Modern Language Association, vol. 42 (September, 1927), pp. 766 - 76.  45. of men  and women. Not that h i s a r t became shapeless as chronicle, not  that i t became j o u r n a l i s t i c ;  on the contrary, because he was able, l i k e  Hemingway i n our own times, to confer a r t i s t i c order on the material l i f e supplies, with the shaping power of a r t so concealed that a r t ig. l i f e , did Middleton succeed.  But h i s success was only intermittent because, i n  large part, h i s audience forced him to follow f a s h i o n . ^  Some of h i s  bewilderment, f r u s t r a t i o n , and bitterness that t h i s should be so i s expressed i n A Mad World. My Masters (V. i . 29 - 34.) where S i r Bounteous Progress  exclaims: But f o r c e r t a i n players, there thou l i e s t , boy; they were never more uncertain i n t h e i r l i v e s ; now up, and now down; they know not when to play, where to play, nor what to play: not when to play, f o r f e a r f u l f o o l s ; where to play, f o r puritan f o o l s ; not what to play, f o r c r i t i c a l fools. Long before Middleton achieved h i s summit as a dramatist, however,  he was to undergo an apprenticeship to two fashions that exerted great pressure on a l l Jacobean playwrights:  the I t a l i a n a t e tragedy  of blood revenge,  and the mode of tragi-comedy defined by the plays of Beaumont and F l e t c h e r . Middleton's plays i n these vogues must now receive a t t e n t i o n .  74 Six of the eight comedies were acted by dramatic companies appealing to s p e c i a l audiences, more courtly than those of the Globe, the Fortune, or the Rose. The. F a m i l y of Love was acted by His Majesty's Revels, but The Phoenix. Michaelmas Term. A Mad World. My Masters. Your Five Gallants, and A T r i c k to Catch The Old One were acted by Paul's boys. See E. K. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage, v o l . 3, London, Oxford University Press, 1923, pp. 439 - 41, f o r information on the staging of these plays, and A l f r e d Harbage, Shakespeare and the R i v a l T r a d i t i o n s , passim, f o r the fashions Middleton had to pursue i n these City comedies.  CHAPTER I I I  THE EARLY TRAGEDIES  Anyone coming from a study of Middleton's e a r l y City comedies to The Revenger's Tragedy w i l l not be at a l l s t a r t l e d by the a t t r i b u t i o n of that I t a l i a n a t e revenge play to Middleton-*- since i t conforms to Middleton's acknowledged e a r l y writings i n d i c t i o n and i n verse, i n idiom and i n mannerism. The play i s very s i m i l a r to the City comedies i n point of view, characterization, and dramatic technique. I t affords also s t r i k i n g examples of phraseology p a r a l l e l e d c l o s e l y i n works accepted as Middleton's. 2  The s t r u c t u r a l s k i l l , the i n t e n s i t y of mood, the poetic excellence of The Revenger's Tragedy a l l have p a r a l l e l s i n the e a r l i e r plays as Schoenbaum's a n a l y s i s ^ has shown.  There i s thus no need to account f o r putative "pro-  blems of a r t i s t i c continuity''^- a l l e g e d l y a r i s i n g when t h i s play i s taken out of the Tourneur  canon5  and placed among Middleton's works.  These problems, furthermore, are no more relevant to The Second  1 The evidence i s assembled by Samuel Schoenbaum i n h i s Middleton's Tragedies (Number 168 of the Columbia University Studies i n English and Comparative L i t e r a t u r e ) New York, Columbia University Press, 1955, pp. 153 - 82. f  2  Ibid., pp. 181  3  Ibid., pp. 3 -  -  2. 35.  4 L. G. Salingar, '"Tourneur and the Tragedy of Revenge" i n B o r i s Ford (ed.), The Age of Shakespeare. Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1955, p. 342. 5 Even so eminent a scholar as Allardyce N i c o l l dismisses objections to Tourneur's authorship rather summarily. See the "Introduction" to h i s The Works of C y r i l Tourneur. London, F a n f r o l i c o Press, [1930], pp. 18 - 20.  47. Maiden's Tragedy^, although i t i s obviously an i n f e r i o r work.  The de-  c l i n e i n power i n t h i s play from that of Vindice's tragedy can be accounted f o r i n terms of a s h i f t i n dramatic purpose r e s u l t i n g from the enormous popularity of a new vogue - the Beaumont-Fletcher  play.  But  i n view of the f a c t that much i n The Second Maiden's Tragedy conforms to the mode of the Italianate drama of blood revenge''', the chief discussion of t h i s play w i l l take place here i n connection with The Revenger's Traedy.  When Middleton i n t e l l i n g Vindice's story made h i s f i r s t incursion into tragedy he already had h a l f a dozen years of comic played  w r i t i n g experience behind him, while the second of h i s early tragedies, The Second Maiden's Tragedy, came at the end of t h i s e a r l y comic period. As might be expected, then, both plays show the influence of the themes, structures, characterization, and staging worked out i n the comedies.  But  equally i t i s to be expected that many of the preoccupations and techniques of the Senecan - Italianate tragedy of blood revenge, the t y p i c a l species of Elizabethan tragedy, should have deeply affected Middleton. The following pages w i l l delineate these two major influences i n Middleton's early tragedies, the comic influence r e c e i v i n g treatment f i r s t .  At  6 Schoenbaum, pp. 183 - 202, 36 - 68, discusses authorship and provides a c r i t i c a l analysis, the most extensive a v a i l a b l e . 7 F. T. Bowers, Elizabethan Revenge Tragedy. 1587 - 16Z2. Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1940, pp. 166 - 7. See also Schoenbaum, pp. 36-68. 8 I accept N i c o l l ' s dates of 1606 or 1607 f o r The Revenger's Tragedy. °P. c i t . . p. 21.  48. once i t w i l l be observed that Middleton assimilates into tragedy conventions that he exploited i n comedy. F i r s t , then, the conventional themes.  As i n the comedies,  sexual corruption i s the object of s a t i r i c a l attack i n the tragedies, and t h i s constitutes just as an important a theme here as there.  The very  f i r s t l i n e s of The Revenger's Tragedy e s t a b l i s h the tone of b i t t e r , almost savage, r a i l i n g against lechery that smolders and f l a r e s i n t h i s play i n a way highly reminiscent of The Phoenix.  Vindice's opening speech quivers  and writhes with l o a t h i n g of sexual intemperance: Dvke: r o y a l l l e t c h e r ; goe, gray hayrde adultery, And thou h i s sonne, as impious steept as hee: And thou h i s bastard true-begott i n e u i l l : And thou h i s Dutchesse that w i l l doe with D i u i l l , Foure exlent Characters - 0 that marrow-lesse age, Would stuffe the hollow Bones with dambd desires, And stead of heate kindle i n f e m a i l f i r e s , Within the spend-thrift veynes of a drye Duke, A parcht and i u i c e l e s s e luxur. 0 God! one That has scarce bloud inough t o l i v e vpon. And hee to ryot i t l i k e a sonne and heyre?  (I. i . [ l - 14-3)9  The s t r i v i n g of the v i c i o u s f o l k i n t h i s play to outdo one another i n s i n i s the theme of Vindice's r e p l y to Lussurioso's question i f he "knowst Ith world strange l u s t " , 0 Dutch l u s t ! fulsome l u s t ! Drunken procreation, which begets so many drunckards; Some father dreads not (gonne t o bedde i n wine) t o s l i d e from the mother, And c l i n g the daughter-in-law, Some Vncles are adulterous with t h e i r Neaces, Brothers with brothers wiues, 0 howre of Incest! Any k i n now next t o the Rim ath s i s t e r Is mans meate i n these dayes.... ( I . i i i . [65 - 72j)  9  A l l quotations are from N i c o l l ' s e d i t i o n c i t e d above.  49. Lechery alone i s not Middleton's target i n The Revenger's Tragedy. Middleton presents, r e a l l y , a k i n d of anatomy of sexual excesses and deviations i n t h i s play.  He had i n The Phoenix shown us Falso's would-be  i n c e s t , i n A T r i c k to Catch The Old One the o l d Hoard's lechery, i n Michaelmas Term H e l l g i l l ' s pandering, i n The F a m i l y of Love Lipsalve's and Gudgeon's attempted rape of Mistress Purge.  But i n h i s f i r s t tragedy  Middleton, adopting a much more vehement tone, presents us with a case of actual rape - the youngest son of the Duchess, Junior, has, we l e a r n , v i o l a t e d the virtuous wife of the good o l d l o r d , Antonio ( I . i i . 1 f f . ) . Although by an error accorded the extremity of j u s t i c e , Junior hears h i s sentence with f l i p p a n t cynicism: Must I bleed then, without respect of slgne? w e l l My f a u l t was sweet sport, which the world approves, I dye f o r that which euery woman loves. ( I I I . iv.(85 - 7j) And instead of pandering being a minor theme as i n Michaelmas Term. Lussurioso, the Duke's son, engages the disguised Vindice, who poses as a "strange digested fellow...Of i l l - c o n t e n t e d nature", to pander f o r him to Castiza, Vindice's s i s t e r .  Although Vindice f a i l s i n t h i s mission ( I I . i .  47.), he does succeed i n persuading Gratiana, h i s mother, to plead with Castiza on behalf of Lussurioso ( I I . i . 62 - 177.).  The boldest and most  shocking sexual i r r e g u l a r i t y i s , however, the cold-blooded proposal of incest made by the Duchess to Spurio, her husband's bastard son, a f t e r the Duke has sent Junior to prison.  Spurio consents, agreeing with the  Duchess that by begetting him out of wedlock the Duke d i d him a gross i n justice.  He therefore declares, Duke on thy browe l i e draw my Bastardie. For indeed a bastard by nature should make Cuckolds,  50.  Because he i s the sonne of a Cuckold-maker. (I. i i . J 2 2 2 - 4 J .  Incest i n The Family of Love and The Phoenix had e i t h e r been supposed or merely  proposed. The same sexual abuses, then, that appear i n the London plays  make t h e i r presence strongly f e l t i n The Revenger's Tragedy. with a difference,. though.  They do so  Here, as b e f i t s tragedy and as i s the case  with e a r l i e r tragedies - those of Marston, f o r example - a seriousness, a b i t t e r n e s s , i n f a c t , informs the s a t i r e .  Only i n the dark comedy, The  Phoenix, had t h i s tone prevailed before i n one of Middleton's p l a y s . But s a t i r e against lechery and other sexual aberrations was by t h i s time a convention of l i t e r a t u r e , a stock theme f o r the comic expose, and f o r tragedy - witness HamLsJ,, Antonio's Revenge, and Malevole i n the t r a g i comedy, The Malcontent.  10  To make the theme of sexual abuse dramatic Middleton takes h i s cue from e a r l i e r plays which derive t h i s technique ultimately from the Moralities : 1 1  Vice.  figures of Virtue are contrasted sharply with those of  Against the blackness of the Duke and h i s court i s set the d i g n i t y  of virtuous poverty that we see i n Castiza and i n her mother (before her seduction and a f t e r her reformation), i n the "miracle" of the chaste wife of Lord Antonio, i n "the common sense horror of Antonio at the r e TP * vengers' deed", ^ and i n the agitated indignation of the outraged Vindice.  10  We are reminded of Bosola's l a t e r attacks, too.  1 1 In The Phoenix we have Middleton's best early example of t h i s Morality technique. 12  Bowers, op. c i t . . p. 1 3 4 .  51. I t i s t h i s contrasting of black with white that Middleton employs to dramatize the themes of sexual abuses i n The Second Maiden's Tragedy. too.-'--*  Here, also, we f i n d themes explored i n the C i t y comedies: the  l u s t of the powerful f o r the unprotected, the sick anxiety about a woman's f i d e l i t y , the temptation of a wife, the contented cuckoldry of a w i t t o l , the s o l i c i t a t i o n s of a pander.  But against the predatory machinations of  the l u s t f u l Tyrant i s set the steadfastness of the Lady's pure love f o r her "matche"', Govianus, who has despaired of her constancy as a r e s u l t of his deposition, groaning o shees a woman, and her eye w i l l stande upon advauncement. ( I . ( i . 68 - 9]) The Lady's behaviour i n the main plot contrasts yet again with that of the Wife i n the sub-plot.  The Wife y i e l d s to Votarius's pleading, soon ad-  dressing him as "my best and deerest servaunt" ( I I . i i . 845.).  I f the  chastity of the Lady i n the main p l o t reminds the reader of Castiza i n The Revenger's Tragedy and of F i d e l i o ' s mother i n The Phoenix, the temptation and f a l l and the subsequent hardened d u p l i c i t y of the Wife i n the sub-plot he w i l l encounter again i n Women. Beware Women and The Changeling.  The  Wife acts under the b e l i e f expressed by the courtesan's mother i n A Mad World1 %  Masters, Who gets t h ' opinion f o r a virtuous name May s i n at pleasure, and ne'er think of shame. ( I . i . 182 - 3.)  The Wife's d u p l i c i t y , i n f a c t , i n prompting the dying Anselmus's f i n a l r e -  13 W. W. Greg (ed.), The Second Maiden's Tragedy. 1611. Malone Society Reprints, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1909, i s the e d i t i o n c i t e d here.  52.  mark, evokes a t the same time the comment i n t h i s play most applicable to the action of Women. Beware Women and The Changeling: 0 thow beguxler of mans easy t r u s t ,, The serpents wisdome i s i n weemens l u s t . Another sex theme i n The Second Maiden's Tragedy that found expression, though i n humorous rather than t r a g i c terms, i n A Mad World was f e a r f u l anxiety over a wife's f a i t h f u l n e s s .  But whereas the f r a n t i c Hare-  brain i n the l a t t e r play was t e r r i f i e d l e s t h i s wife cuckold him and so guarded her s t r i c t l y , Anselmus i n the former play i s driven by a pathol o g i c a l compulsion t o t e s t his wife's f i d e l i t y and consequently exposes her t o temptation.  His devoted f r i e n d , Votarius, having noticed Anselmus's  distraught condition, wonders why Anselmus does not enjoy "peace and pleasure", and asks, had y o not both longe since by a kinde worthy Ladie.yo chast wife u  r  (  I.[ii.  282 - 3~J)  Anselmus r e p l i e s , revealing the source of h i s turbulence of s p i r i t , that's i t that I take paines w^ thee, t o be sure of what true reporte can I send to my sowle of that I know not... but saie shees a l l chast, yet, i s that her goodnes? what labour i s t f o r woman t o keep constant thats never t r i d e or tempted? ... give not me the thinge that i s thought good, but whats approu'd so ... pry thee set t o her and bring my peace alonge w^* thee. 1  (  I.Q.i.  284 - 3013)  The i n t e n s i f i c a t i o n of f e e l i n g against sexual corruption that i s found i n The Revenger's Tragedy caused Middleton f o r maximum dramatic e f f e c t t o cast Vindice i n the r o l e of pander t o h i s own s i s t e r .  In his  next tragedy, he d i d a s i m i l a r thing (and we s h a l l see him r e c u r r i n g t o  53. the t r i c k ten years l a t e r i n Women. Beware Women where L i v i a panders f o r her own brother).  The Tyrant engages Helvetius t o pander t o h i s own  daughter, the object of the Tyrant*s l u s t .  Helvetius, however, i s con-  verted t o v i r t u e by Govianus's violence (he f i r e d a p i s t o l at him), and f o r the rest of the play acts as one o f the Morality f o i l s of goodness against the wickedness of the usurper.  The Tyrant, therefore, i s obliged  to make use of Sophonirus, the w i t t o l . Contentment i n cuckoldry fascinated Middleton.  Mention of i t i s  found i n h i s e a r l i e s t play, The Family of Love ( I I I . i i i . 131 - 7.), and i n his l a s t City comedy, The Chaste Maid i n Cheapside. i t receives i t s most famous expression.  But A l l w i t ' s words there echo with  remarkable  closeness the words spoken here by Sophonirus who has been hoping t o prof i t by getting his wife preferment a t court ( 18.).  I . i . 40; I I . i i i .  1117 -  Sophonirus says, I' allowe her her [one]0WNE frend, t o stop her mowth and keep her quiet, gifjie] him h i s table f r e e , and the huge feeding of h i s great stone horse ON [V* J w ° " he rides i n pompe about the C i t t i e only t o speak t o gallants i n bay-windowes; marry h i s lodging he paies deerly f o r , he getts me a l l my children, there I saue by'te, beside I drawe my l i f e owte by the bargaine some twelue yeres longer then the tymes appointed, when my young p r o d i g a l l gallant kicks up's heeles at one and t h i r t i e , and hes dead and rotten some ffyve and f o r t i e yeares before I'me coffinde, T i s the r i g h t waie t o keep a woman honest one frend i s Baracadoe t o a hundred & keepes em owte, nay more, a husbandes sure to haue h i s children a l l of one[sjmans getting, & he that performes best, can haue no b e t t e r . ( I . Q . 42 - 5 8 j 1  Perhaps the most shocking sexual abuse i n The Second Maiden's Tragedy i s the Tyrant's insane desire t o embrace the Lady even a f t e r she  54. has taken her own l i f e ;  he vows that  death nor the marble prison my loue sleepes i n s h a l l keep her bodie l o c k t vp f r o myne armes. (  IV. { i i .  1709 - lO-J  His pathological l u s t drives him to wrest the Lady from her tomb and to take her to h i s palace where her body i s decked " i n a l l the glorius Ritches" of the "treasure howse of a r t e " .  His n e c r o p h i l i a betrays him, though, f o r  he needs the assistance of "a Picture drawer" to a l t e r "the too constant palenes" of the Lady's cheek, "to purchase ther/ the breadth of a red Rose, i n n a t u r a l l coloure". ter  Govianus, disguised, i s the picture drawer.-^ Af-  he f i n i s h e s the job, the Tyrant then employs "Armes and l i p p s / . . . to  labour l i f e i n t o her".  Govianus, however, has used i n h i s paints "the best  poison [hej could get f o r monie", and the Tyrant dies.  Govianus and the  ghost of the Lady are the v i r t u e - f i g u r e s contrasting i n these scenes with the Tyrant whose l u s t reaches an extreme not equalled elsewhere i n Middleton. 14 I f the Tyrant's h y s t e r i a , r e s u l t i n g from his being cheated by death of the love of the Lady, reminds us of Tamburlaine*s fury i n being s i m i l a r l y f r u s t r a t e d of Zenocrate's love, a f r u s t r a t i o n that drives him to have her embalmed so that he might carry her with him wherever he goes (Part I I , I I . i v . 127 - 32.), the decision of the Tyrant to h i r e someone to simulate l i f e i n the Lady points forward to Massinger's Duke of Milan where Sforza hires the v i l l a i n , Francesco, disguised as a Jewish doctor, to cure the Duchess, Marcelia, from the i l l n e s s that the insane Duke believes his murdered wife to be s u f f e r i n g from. Francesco rouges the l i p s and cheeks of the corpse, so that Sforza exclaims, This hand seems as i t was when f i r s t I kissed i t , These l i p s i n v i t e too: I could ever feed Upon these roses, they s t i l l keep t h e i r colour and native sweetness. (V. i i . ) See U. M. Ellis-Fermor (ed.), Tamburlaine The Great i n Two Parts. London, Methuen, 1930, and Arthur Symons (ed.), P h i l i p Massinger. The Mermaid Series, v o l . 1, London, V i z e t e l l y & Co., 1887.  55.  The themes of cheating and of the t r i c k s t e r t r i c k e d , so prominent i n the City comedies, are equally prominent i n the e a r l y tragedies. Indeed, one c r i t i c ^ regards The Revenger's Tragedy as being made up p r i marily of diverse i l l u s t r a t i o n s of the about-face experienced when a t r i c k ster i s t r i c k e d .  Since these themes may be most conveniently discussed i n  connection with the conventions of structure, they w i l l be examined below. F i n a l l y , then, the themes of virtuous poverty tempted by the corrupt possessors  of power and place, the innocent  (gentle) f o l k of the  country ensnared by the sophisticated c i t y schemers (including c o u r t i e r s ) , and the theme of s o c i a l climbing, themes exploited i n Michaelmas Term. The Phoenix, and The Chaste Maid of Cheapside. receive t h e i r attention i n the two e a r l y tragedies.  In The Revenger's Tragedy the same contrast be-  tween the virtuous poor and the corrupt r i c h that was made i n Mi gh.ap.1map Term appears between Vindice's family on one hand and the Duke's on the  16 other.  With two exceptions, "luxury goes to the heads of the poor"  in  the tragedy as i n the comedy where the Country Wench's Father remained, as a r e s u l t of d i s i l l u s i o n i n g youthful experiences, untempted, while h i s daughter was l u r e d into s i n with promises of f i n e r y and the l i f e of a gentlewoman.  The two i n The Revenger's Tragedy unaffected by the wealth  and pleasures of the court are Vindice and Castiza.  But t h e i r mother,  Gratiana, i s seduced by the disguised Vindice to pander to her stubborn daughter who  continues to Deny aduancement, treasure, the Dukes Sonne!  (II. i.Q.793)  15  Bradbrook, Themes and Conventions of Elizabethan Tragedy, p. 1 6 5 .  16  Ibid., p. 1 6 9 .  56. Vindice urges h i s mother to continue pleading with her: 0 thinke vpon the pleasure of the Pallace, Secured ease and state; the s t i r r i n g meates, Ready t o moue out of the dishes, that e'en now quicken when t h e i r eaten, Banquets abroad by Torch-light, Musicks, sports, Bare-headed v a s s a i l e s , that had nere the fortune To keepe on t h e i r owne Hats, but l e t homes were em. Nine Coaches waiting - hurry, hurry, hurry.  ( I I . i.[222 - 8^) In The Second Maiden's Tragedy the Tyrant t r i e s t o buy the Lady's love with jewels "worth ten c i t t i e s " , but she scorns him, declaring, 1 have a mynde, that must be s h i f t e d ere I cast of thease or I s h a l l weare straung coloures; - t i s not t i t l e s nor a l l the bastard - honoures of t h i s frame that I am taken w™ , I come not hether to pleaze the eye of g l o r i e , but of goodness and that concernes not y o s i r , you're f o r greatness I dare not deale w*"* yo , I have found my matche and I w i l l never loose him. 1  u  1  (  I. [ i .  132 - 4 0 J  Though Govianus i s "as poore as Vertue" she remains l o y a l t o him. 1  She i s  s t r i k i n g l y contrasted by the w i t t o l , Sophonirus, who s t r i v e s t o get h i s wife "preferd" by o f f e r i n g her ostensibly as a pledge before going o f f to plead the Tyrant's love to the Lady.  Actually, he hoped that the Tyrant  would take .his wife as h i s mistress, to the making of the w i t t o l ' s fortune. But that the powerful, wealthy people i n these tragedies should a t tempt to buy the virtue of the poor with offers of place and jewels and that the poor should corrupt themselves by s e i z i n g the opportunity not onl y repeats a conventional theme of the London comedies but also points f o r ward to one of the dominant themes of Women. Beware Women. In his London comedies Middleton gained much experience with the i n t r i g u e pattern, the conventional form of Elizabethan r e a l i s t i c comedy.  57. The framework of the early tragedies i s the i n t r i g u e pattern, too. dice i s the chief i n t r i g u e r i n The Revenger's Tragedy. consciously soj  Vin-  Indeed, he i s  of the k i l l i n g of the Duke, he says with considerable  satisfaction, Twas some-what witty carried tho we say i t . (V. i i i .  [139  j)  But as happened i n Michaelmas Term and A Mad World the main i n t r i g u e r overreaches himself - Vindice i s haled o f f to execution since, as Antonio says, You that would murder him would murder me.  (v. i i i . [1483) Events have "come about" indeed f o r Vindice as f o r many other i n t r i g u e r s i n the play, one of the more memorable i r o n i c reversals of fortune being the attempt of Ambitioso and Supervacuo to have the imprisoned Lussurioso executed.  They are shocked to discover that Junior, instead, has f e l t the  axe ( I I I . v i . 69 -  100.).  (Junior's smug assurance of" rescue, i t might be  noted, i s reminiscent of Pedringano's  i n The Spanish Tragedy.)  So numerous  are the volte-faces i n t h i s tragedy, that M. C. Bradbrook was l e d to assert that "...the main structure of the p l a y . . . i s an enlarged series of 18 peripeteia". The narrative i l l u s t r a t e s with ingenious v a r i e t y i n how many ways a v i l l a i n may be hoist with h i s own petard.19 In The Second Maiden's Tragedy also the i n t r i g u e pattern i s apparent.  The Tyrant schemes to gain the Lady's love;  her suicide does not  17  Bradbrook, op. c i t . . p. 165, says she counted twenty-two.  18  Ibid., p. 165.  19  Ibid., p. 165.  :  58. thwart him f o r he plots to have her even i n death, -until Govianus's counter-intrigue defeats his demented desire.  One d e t a i l at the end of  the Tyrant's story that aptly i l l u s t r a t e s i r o n i c reversal of fortune i n t h i s play i s the Tyrant's  c a l l i n g his lords to a i d him only to f i n d they  have deserted him f o r Govianus (  V. i i .  2401  - 17.).  Anselmus's p l o t  i n the secondary action of the play f o r t e s t i n g his wife's f i d e l i t y boomerangs dreadfully as the r e s u l t of Leonela's trap, but the maid h e r s e l f also f a l l s v i c t i m to her own  device, as does her revengeful l o v e r .  As i n the comedies, so i n the e a r l y tragedies does disguise form one of the chief s t r u c t u r a l conventions. Vindice with disguise.  Almost a d r o i t as F o l l y w i t i s  As Piato he deceives Lussurioso, his mother, Grat-  iana, Castiza, his s i s t e r , and the Duke, his nine-years enemy.  As Hippo-  l i t o ' s malcontent brother he deludes Lussurioso i n t o b e l i e v i n g that "going to Law"  f o r "three and twenty years" has made him melancholy.  hires him to l u r e Piato to where Lussurioso may  k i l l him.  Lussurioso  So Vindice, the  Revenger, i s engaged as the Malcontent to slay the Pander, a l l of whom are Vindice.  F i n a l l y , Vindice, disguised, a p a r t i c i p a n t i n the Mask of  vengers i n the revels which conclude the play, slays Lussurioso and to the shocked Antonio the unknown h e r o - v i l l a i n of the play.  Rereveals  (Govianus's  disguise of a picture drawer i s instrumental i n securing revenge i n The Second Maiden's Tragedy.) Further s t r u c t u r a l conventions are the dumb-shows and masques, but since these are stock features of Senecan tragedy t h e i r use w i l l be discussed l a t e r .  Moreover, no i d e n t i f i a b l e influences of the comic hand-  l i n g of these conventions can be discerned i n these tragedies. That The Revenger's Tragedy occupies a c r u c i a l p o s i t i o n i n the  59. h i s t o r y of the revenge play e s p e c i a l l y Vindice.  u  i s considerably the r e s u l t of i t s characters,  l e t i f the people of the City comedies are l a r g e l y  stock figures repeatedly found i n the r e a l i s t i c London comedy of the age, the  characters of The Revenger's Tragedy a l l have t h e i r prototypes i n r e -  venge drama written p r i o r t o 1606 - 7 or the Jonsonian humour morality.  2 2  21  or i n the  Vindice i s a composite of the revenger-protagonist (who has,  i n comic guise, been encountered before i n Middleton's Phoenix), the v i l l a i n ( i n the comedies Proditor i s one such), the malcontent, and what i n morality terms might be c a l l e d Outraged Righteousness (again Phoenix i s c a l l e d to mind).  However, unlike another but more famous composite char-  acter, F a l s t a f f , the combination of stock characters known as Vindice i s not  credibly human, since no incantation was uttered over the mixture by  the  playwright to make the elements fuse into a creative whole, i n d i v i d u a l  and v i t a l .  Moreover, we have seen the lineaments of Vindice's character  i n some of Middleton's e a r l i e r f i g u r e s :  h i s shocked outrage over corrup-  t i o n i n Phoenix, h i s over-confident scheming i n Quomodo, h i s manipulation of the wicked consequent upon disguise i n Fitsgrave, and h i s quick-change talent i n F o l l y w i t . Other figures i n the tragedies whom we have seen t o be stock characters i n the comedies are the paragon of chastity, (Vindice's betrothed, Gloriana, Lord Antonio's wife, two chaste women who do not appear i n  20 Bowers, op. c i t . , p. 138: "The Revenger's Tragedy stands p r a c t i c a l l y at the crossroads of Elizabethan tragedy. " 11  21 Bradbrook, op. c i t . , p. 1 6 5 " . . . f o r t h i s play Tourneur also used the Humorous system of characterization...." 22  F. P. Wilson, Elizabethan and Jacobean, pp. 101 - 2.  60. person, Castiza, Govianus's Lady), the wanton woman (the Duchess, the Wife of Anselmus, Leonela), the gallant (Lussurioso, Spurio - possibly, Votarius), the jealous husband (Anselmus), the f a i t h f u l f r i e n d (Hippolito, Votarius), the i n t r i g u e r (Lussurioso, Ambitioso, Supervacuo, the Duchess, Leonela, the Wife), the w i t t o l (Sophonirus), and the g u l l (Vindice must be included here, too, as well as the Duke, Lussurioso, Ambitioso, Supervacuo, the Tyrant, Anselmus, Leonela, indeed, a l l those cheated of t h e i r expectations). Conventions of staging observable i n the City plays are i n e v i dence here, as w e l l . ton  As i n Michaelmas Term, so i n these tragedies Middle-  f e l t no need to observe unity of time;  with v i r t u a l l y no i n d i c a t i o n  of the time necessary f o r i t s development he traces the inception, d i s closure, and growing notoriety of a case of incest i n The Revenger's Tragedy, while i n The Second Maiden's Tragedy Anselmus's purposeful absence from home i s lengthy enough to permit h i s wife to f a l l i n love with Votarius and to confer her utmost favours upon him. The City comedies were not Middleton's sole source of convention. Before turning to the other major influence on these two plays, that of the Italianate drama of blood revenge, i t i s worth noting that l i t e r a r y t r a d i t i o n provided Middleton with conventions found outside drama, top. major instance of t h i s i s the memento mori theme.  A  "Hav mynd o t h i l a s t  23 endej" ^ was the perpetual warning of Medieval p u l p i t orators, and t h i s theme of the sermon became that of many l i t e r a r y forms, from ,the l y r i c to the Morality, and l a t e r exerted enormous pressure on the Elizabethan mind. 23 Cited by G. R. Owst i n h i s Literature and Pulpit i n Medieval England. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1933, p. 527.  61. I f i t s most famous dramatic embodiment involves Yorick's s k u l l , and i f i t s most exalted prose expression i s i n Ralegh's "Hie jacet", i t also occurs i n memorable form i n The Revenger's Tragedy where the motif i s a l l i e d with the theme of l u s t .  We hear Vindice a t the beginning of the play  addressing the s k u l l of h i s "betrothed Lady" i n these terms: 0 thou t e r r o r t o f a t folkes To haue t h e i r c o s t l y three-pilde f l e s h worne of As bare as t h i s and l a t e r on i n I I I . 5. we encounter one of the great speeches of the playj gazing at "the s k u l l of h i s loue drest up i n Tires"', Vindice asks, Dos euery proud and s e l f e - a f f e c t i n g Dame Camphire her face f o r t h i s ? and grieue her Maker In s i n f u l l baths of milke, - when many an infant starues, For her superfluous out-side, a l l f o r t h i s ? Who now bids twenty pound a night, prepares Musick, perfumes, and sweete-meates? a l l are husht, Thou maist l i e chast now! i t were f i n e me thinkes, To haue thee seene at Reuells, f o r g e t f u l l f e a s t s , And uncleane B r o t h e l l s ; sure twould f r i g h t the sinner And make him a good coward, put a Reueller Out o f f h i s Antick amble And cloye an Epicure with empty dishes. Here might a s c o r n e f u l l and ambitious woman Looke through and through her s e l f e , - see Ladies, with f a l s e formes You deceiue men, but cannot deceiue wormes. ( I I I . 5. [87 - 101J There i s l i t t l e , i f any, of "the genuine t r a g i c a l f e e l i n g - c e r t a i n l y more c l a s s i c than Christian" i n Middleton's handling of the theme.  G. R.  Owst t e l l s u s ^ that the ars moriendi theme i n the Medieval sermon d i d 2  possess t h i s f e e l i n g . the  Rather, Middleton seems t o have been i n s p i r e d by  grotesqueness, the demonic glee, the mordant s a t i r e , and the savage  irony found i n the Danse Macabre.  24  Ibid., p. 527.  62. A second l i t e r a r y convention needs only the b r i e f e s t mention. Not only the s a t i r i c posture but also the very objects s a t i r i z e d i n the early tragedies were an attitude assumed and targets f o r attack at l e a s t as early as the Medieval homilists.25  Jacobean s a t i r e reworked a much-  plowed f i e l d . Another much-plowed f i e l d was the Italianate tragedy of blood revenge.  The Revenger's Tragedy i s set squarely i n the vogue of revenge  plays that owe  t h e i r paternity to the Roman Seneca and t h e i r maternity to  the sensational n o v e l l a .  In f a c t , Fredson Bowers considers the play as  belonging to the school of Kyd26 whose Spanish Tragedy may be regarded  as  the t y p i c a l Elizabethan tragedy. The influence of Seneca on Elizabethan drama may be summed up i n the following way.  The tragedies of Seneca sanctioned the sensational  action of the revenge t a l e s dramatized by the Elizabethans, and provided models f o r organizing the action around the theme of revenge.  Seneca's  plays, moreover, supplied the t y p i c a l Elizabethan tragedy i t s background of Fate and Nemesis. The c l a s s i c t r a d i t i o n established the convention of Blank Verse, of f i v e Acts, of Moralising and Introspection, Rhetoric and Stichomuthia, Ghosts and the Supernatural. 27 A l l these Senecan features are discoverable i n The Revenger's Tragedy but  25  Owst, op. c i t . . pp. 210 - 470.  26  Elizabethan Revenge Tragedy, pp. 132 -  8.  27 F. L. Lucas, Seneca and Elizabethan Tragedy. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1922, p. 104.  63.  not i n unmixed form since i n popular E n g l i s h revenge drama the I t a l i a n i n f l u e n c e was very powerful.  Hence the M a c h i a v e l l i a n e v i l spawning bloody  vendettas i n corrupt Mediterranean  courts made f o u l w i t h h o r r i b l e sexual  crimes, outrageous murders, ghastly poisonings, and other s e n s a t i o n a l deeds.  The n o v e l l a were ransacked f o r these. As i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c w i t h the genre, revenge gives shape and  d i r e c t i o n to the tragedies of Vindice and the Lady.  The long-harboured r e -  pa  venge of V i n d i c e c o n t r o l s  much of the a c t i o n .  This l o n g wait f o r ven-  geance before the opening of the play "gradually became a of revenge drama.29 f o r instance.  semi-convention"  I t appeared much l a t e r i n Massinger's Duke of M i l a n  But i t was not o r i g i n a l w i t h Middleton.  In Marston s !  Antonio's Revenge P i e r o d i s c l o s e s that he and Andrugio were, years before, r i v a l s f o r Maria's l o v e .  Andrugio won her, had a son by her, and l i v e d  l o n g enough to see that son grow to manhood; P i e r o d e c l a r e s , We both were r i v a l s i n our May of blood, Unto Maria, f a i r e Ferraras h e i r e . He wan the Ladie, t o my honours death: And from her sweetes, cropt t h i s Antonio: For which, I burnt i n inward s w e l t r i n g hate, And f e s t r e d r a n k l i n g malice i n my breast, T i l l I might belke revenge upon h i s eyes: And now (o blessed nowi) t i s done. ( I . i . 23 - 3 0 . )  The l o n g delay may be accounted f o r - and  3 0  questioned.  28 Bradbrook, op. c i t . . p. 167, " V i n d i c e . . . c o n t r o l s events more than the other characters...." But see Bowers, op. c i t . . p. 136: "There are so many i n t r i g u e s that the revenger l o s e s c o n t r o l and i s l o s t i n the maze." 29  Bowers, op. c i t . . p. 136, n.  23.  30 A l l quotations from Marston are from H. H. Wood (ed.), The Plavs of John Marston. 3 v o l s . , Edinburgh, O l i v e r and Boyd, 1934-.  64.  Presumably the audience was to be impressed with the revenger's tenacity of purpose and fierceness of resolve. Seldom is this period of inactivity well motivated, for the revenger's ultimate course of action could as well have been adopted at the beginning as at the end. Since only rather villainous revengers are presented as waiting such a period, the suspicion is well founded that the information is given to illustrate their own bloodthirsty characters.31 Perhaps i t can be pleaded in Middleton's defence that Vindice had to wait until Hippolito gained favour with Lussurioso before he could gain access to the court where his revenge could be consummated. There is delay, too, after the plays open, conventionally enough.32 (Marston, i t is to be remembered, had Antonio refrain from slaying Piero, Antonio vowing, "lie force him feede on l i f e / T i l l he shall loathe i t " (III. ii.).)  Lussurioso lets slip the chance to be revenged on "Piato"  (IV. i . 1 - 44.), Govianus fails even to think of revenge until he learns that his Lady's tomb has been rifled, and Bellarius who hates Votarius for some reason never disclosed to the audience allows Leonela to take the active role in planning his revenge. It would seem, then, that Middleton was aware of the convention of delay in revenge tragedy, took enough pains to work i t into his plays, but was not sufficiently conscientious as an artist to feel responsible for its presence there. Particularly does this appear to be the case with Bellarius's hatred for Votarius;  i t is merely a contrivance for bringing  about the catastrophe.  31 Bowers, op. cit.. p. 136, n. 23. 32 This is a feature of The Spanish Tragedy. Titus Adronicus. Antonio s Revenge, and Hamlet. 1  65. In addition to the revenge theme and the delay i n revenge, other Senecan features of Italianate tragedy p r o f i t a b l e to examine i n these  two  plays are the characters, the settings, the trappings of death, the dumbshows and the masques, and the use of the supernatural. That Vindice i s a conventional f i g u r e i n terms of comedies has been indicated above.  Middleton's  I t must now be declared that he i s a l -  so e s s e n t i a l l y l i k e a dozen other protagonists i n revenge plays.  His r o l e  as revenger-protagonist, v i l l a i n , malcontent, and corrector of abuses has p a r a l l e l s , or at l e a s t echoes, i n The Spanish Tragedy. Hamlet. Hoffman, and, e s p e c i a l l y , Antonio's Revenge.  He resorts to a masque to e f f e c t his f i n a l  revenge, he b i t t e r l y castigates the rankness of h i s times, he i s a herov i l l a i n , he displays a callous c r u e l t y . The other characters i n The Revenger's Tragedy are conventional enough, too.  Mainly they are the corrupt I t a l i a n a t e caricatures of human-  i t y so often discoverable i n plays of t h i s vogue, e s p e c i a l l y that ment of i t which was l a r g e l y i n s p i r e d by the pioneering of Marston  developwho,  i n Antonio's Revenge. set h i s tragedy i n the turbulent I t a l i a n Renaissance court of an imaginary Sforza and painted a f u l l - f l e d g e d I t a l i a n despotic v i l l a i n of the Renaissance. Machiavellian deeds i n h i s play have t h e i r proper background. ... 33 L u s t f u l , murderous i n t r i g u e r s , these beings snatch at every means which w i l l serve t h e i r personal ambitions and often perish hideously i n traps of t h e i r own s e t t i n g .  So, i n The Revenger's Tragedy  r  the Duke, the Duchess, and  t h e i r progeny, Gratiana and Castiza are, as we have seen, stock f i g u r e s  33 Bowers, op. c i t . . p.  120.  66.  providing piquant scenes of temptation, pandering, and reformation, this latter possibly inspired by Hamlet. Gratiana's behaviour confirms the conventional Jacobean belief that a tempted woman will capitulate to rhetorical blandishment-^-, and Gastiza represents the traditional chastity figure.  Hippolito, like Horatio, is a symbol of fidelity. The Tyrant in The Second Maiden's Tragedy behaves according to  pattern, too. The Elizabethans distinguished a tyrant's behaviour from that of a genuinely Christian prince by his injustice, his cruelty, his sensuality, and his hatred of good counsel....-^ But elsewhere could be found models for the figure. Among the stock characters bestowed by Seneca upon the tragedy of Renaissance was that of the cruel villainous tyrant....36 Macbeth, of course, is one of these ambitious, cruel, lustful usurpers, but Middleton's immediate pattern must have been Piero in Antonio's Revenge where the tyrant Claudius-like, seizes the throne from Andrugio, and pursues the former occupant's wife. He is finally defeated by a revenger galvanized into action by the revelations of a ghost. But the Lady whom the Tyrant in The Second Maiden's Tragedy pursues is not a Maria but a Castiza. She is, however, more than a conventional paragon of chastity;  34 Hardin Craig, The Enchanted Glass. Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1950, pp. 116 - 37. 35 W. A. Armstrong, "The Elizabethan Conception of the Tyrant", The Review of English Studies, vol. 22 (July, 194-6), p. 168. 36 Mario Praz, "Machiavelli and the Elizabethans", Proceedings of the British Academy, vol. 14 (1928), p. 63.  67. she i s one of Middleton's courageous and f i e r c e l y self-possessed women who know p r e c i s e l y what they stand f o r and where they are going.  It i s to be  r e c a l l e d that i n reply to the l u s t f u l Tyrant's bribe she asserts, I haue a mynde, that must be s h i f t e d ere I cast of thease or I s h a l l weare straung coloures; - t i s not t i t l e s nor a l l the bastard-honoures of t h i s frame that I am taken w^h, i come not hether to pleaze the eye of g l o r i e , but of goodnes and that concernes not y o s i r , you're f o r greatness ( I. [I. 132 - 8 j u  The Tyrant continues to scheme to enjoy her, according to pattern r e j e c t i n g the reformed Helvetius's counsels to goodness, u n t i l h i s insane l u s t betrays him to the disguised revenger, Govianus. Middleton had used the disguised revenger before - Vindice. Marston had provided some help f o r Vindice's disguising.  In Antonio's Re-  venge the ghost of Andrugio urges h i s son thus, F l y deare Antonio; Once more assume disguise, and dog the Court In fained habit, t i l l Piero's blood May even ore-flowe the brimme of f u l l revenge. (III.  v.)  But Govianus points more c l e a r l y to the most probable source of the device, The Malcontent. Where The Malcontent had i t s f i r s t great influence was i n i t s popularization of Chettle's device of the disguised revenger introduced when the r i g h t f u l Duke Malevole returns i n disguise to revenge himself on the usurper.37 (Vindice's story borrows more obviously another novel feature of The Malcontent . the "tangled web of revenges" ^.) 3  37  Bowers, op. c i t . . p. 130.  38  Bowers, OP. c i t . . p. 131.  So Govianus, conventional i n  68.  his beliefs about women at the beginning of the play39, becomes equally conventional as an intriguing revenger near the end, except for one trait. He is one of the first revengers without any sign of hysterica passio. unless we take his Hamlet-like sudden violence towards Helvetius and Sophonirus as symptomatic.  (This occurs, though, before his Lady's death.)  Perhaps because of this lack, he lapses more readily from a figure of credible humanity into the wooden intriguer who survives the catastrophe to Live ever honourd here, and blest aboue.  ( v.[Iii. 23993) Kyd and Marlowe had placed the action of revenge dramas in the Mediterranean area; Marston set his plays squarely in the centre of gravity for this region, Italy, the locus of Renaissance culture as a whole. The settings of Middleton's two early tragedies are conventional enough, then, though Italy is not so obviously the locale of The Second Maiden's Tragedy, but because of the Latin^-O forms of the characters' names the Tyrant's corrupt court may reasonably be located in that country, i f any such specific location is necessary. A conspicuous convention of Senecan tragedy was such portents of doom as comets, thunder, lightning, and tremblors of the earth. It was thought by Elizabethans that the wrath of Heaven was expressed in these  39  "o shees a woman, and her eye will stande/upon advauncement."  40 As Schoenbaum has pointed out (op. cit.. p. 38) the sub-plot is drawn from Don Quixote. I, "The Story of the One Who Was Too Curious For His Own Good". In Cervantes the setting is Florence, and the characters have Italian names. See Samuel Putnam (ed.). Don "Quixote. New York, The Viking Press, 1949, vol. 1, p. 280 f f .  69.  signs. Hence we have in The Revenger's Tragedy (V. i i i . 3 . ) a blazing star, and in The Second Maiden's Tragedy the Tyrant's terror in the "earthquake" of the appearance of the ghost of the Lady ( V. i i .  2385 - 6 . ) .  His  despair in the court's acclaim of Govianus as their virtuous king wrings from his dying lips the cry, that thunder strikes me dead (  V. [ i i .  2416  -  17J)  Further conventional aspects of these two plays are the trappings of death. The tomb-settings of some scenes and the use of poison may be chosen as illustrations, the former perhaps chiefly inspired by Antonio's Revenge. In that play the first three scenes of Act III take place in Saint Mark's Church near Andrugio's tomb which the agitated Antonio is visiting to express his woe: Graves, valts, and toumbes, groane not to beare my weight. Colde flesh, bleake trunkes, wrapt in your half-rot shrowdes, I presse you softly, with a tender foote. Most honour'd sepulchre, vouchsafe a wretch Leave to weepe ore thee. (III. i.) After raising the ghost of his father, Antonio swears by graveyard objects to avenge Andrugio, vowing By the astonning terror of swart night, By the infectious damps of clammie graves, And by the mould that presseth downe My deade fathers sculle: lie be reveng'd. (III. i i . ) Although the addresses to Gloriana's skull in The Revenger's Tragedy have some of the charnel-house flavour of Marston's scenes, perhaps the closest Middleton gets to Marston in his first tragedy is in I. iv. where the "discontented" Lord Antonio discloses the body of his wife to certain lords  70.  and H i p p o l i t o who s a y s , My L o r d s i n c e y o u e n u i t e v s t o y o u r s o r r o w e s , L e t s t r u e l y t a s t 'em, t h a t w i t h e q u a i l c o m f o r t , As t o o u r s e l u e s we may r e l e i u e y o u r wrongs; We haue g r e e f e t o o , t h a t y e t w a l k e s w i t h o u t Tong.... (I. iv.[25 - 8 } and P i e r o s a y s , Her f u n e r a l l s h a l l be w e a l t h y , f o r h e r name M e r i t s a toombe o f p e a r l e ; my L o r d A n t o n i o . F o r t h i s t i m e wipe y o u r Lady f r o m y o u r e y e s , No doubt o u r g r e e f e and y o u r e s may one day c o u r t i t , When we a r e more f a m i l i a r w i t h Reueng. (I. In  iv.J76 -  80J  The Second Maiden's Tragedy, however, two s t r i k i n g tomb-scenes  each o t h e r .  I n IV. i i i .  succeed  t h e T y r a n t , who has been b e h a v i n g "wondrous d i s -  c o n t e n t e d l y " , e n t e r s t h e e c h o i n g v a u l t t o f i n d t h a t t h e monument was, a s he  says, weepinge t o i t s e l f b e f o r e I came,  and he o r d e r s t h e s o l d i e r s t o p i e r c e t h e Iawes o f t h i s c o l d ponderous c r e a t u r e . ( IV.[iii. 1752 As t h e moon r i s e s t h e T y r a n t  3J)  observes,  how t h e monuments g l i s t e r as i f Deathes p a l l a c e s were a l l m a s s i e s y l u e r and s c o r n d t h e name o f m a r b l e (  IV. [ i i i .  1822  -  4j)  A f t e r e m b r a c i n g t h e c o r p s e , he c a r r i e s h e r o f f t o h i s p a l a c e t o p r a c t i s e his  "fine c h i l l venerie".  A c t I V , scene i v opens w i t h Govianus conven-  t i o n a l l y a r r a y e d and equipped; his  we see h i m " i n b l a c k , a booke i n h i s hand,  page c a r y i n g a Torche b e f o r e hym", e n t e r i n g t h e v a u l t .  weeps, A l l r e a d i e myne eyes m e l t s , t h e monument  Govianus, t o o ,  71. no sooner stood before i t , but a teare ran s w i f t l i e from me (  IV. (iv.  and then "kneels at the Toomb wrondrous passionatly".  1879 - 8 l J  His subsequent  apostrophe to h i s " E t e r n a l l maid of hono " has the s t a r t l i n g r e s u l t of r  evoking h i s lady's ghost, as Antonio's t e a r f u l dolours had awakened the s p i r i t of Andrugio. One of the trappings of death discoverable i n these early t r a gedies without any sense of surprise i s the use of poison i n the death scenes, a conventional enough device even at the time of The Spanish Tragedy.  Poison was e s p e c i a l l y appropriate to Middleton's I t a l i a n a t e plays  since, as Mario Praz has shown^-l, i n the customary use of the word, Machiav e l l i s m suggested "a treacherous way of k i l l i n g , generally by poison". (And Machiavellian Middleton's two plays were, The Revenger's Tragedy inan e s p e c i a l l y thoroughgoing fashion.) These Machiavellian poisons, punctual l i k e clock-work, became no less of a regular property of the Elizabethan stage than the Senecan bloody blades42 (the l a t t e r f i g u r i n g i n the catastrophes of both early tragedies).  A con-  ventional way of mingling the Machiavellian poison with the Senecan swords was to envenom the weapons.  Thus Leonela i n the l a t e r tragedy contrives  her sweetheart's revenge with the a i d of a poisoned r a p i e r .  From Kyd's  Soliman and Perseda43 Middleton took a device he exploited i n both plays,  41  Op. c i t . . p. 80.  42  Ibid., p. 81.  43 Bowers, op. c i t . . p. 135, "...murder by poisoned l i p s i s found i n Soliman and Perseda."  72. the poisoned k i s s , producing with Gloriana's s k u l l i n h i s e a r l i e r playe f f e c t s of dreadful, indeed, s a d i s t i c , power.  The l e t h a l cosmetics Govia-  nus places on the face of h i s Lady have t h e i r sure potency, too, but the force of the scenes portraying the Tyrant's death has diminished from that of the Duke's, possibly because Middleton had one eye cocked at a new dramatic fashion.44 A further convention i s the dumb-show.  Gorboduc had nearly half  a century before abundantly displayed t h i s feature i n a Senecan play, and i t had appeared i n many l a t e r revenge dramas, so i t s presence i n The Revenger 's Tragedy and i n The Second Maiden's Tragedy could v i r t u a l l y be predicted.  Middleton had used i t i n the London comedies;  during h i s l a s t decade of playwriting.  he was to use i t often  In f a c t , only one other dramatist  during Middleton's l i f e t i m e employed the dumb-show more often45, but Middleton i s wholly commonplace i n h i s treatment of i t .  During the Jacobean era,  we are t o l d , the majority of dumb-shows...contribute d i r e c t l y to the advance of the action. They are, i n f a c t , additional scenes, sometimes prologues and sometimes i n t e g r a l parts of the play, d i f f e r i n g from the p r i n c i p a l scenes only i n that they are acted by the performers without the accompaniment of speech.46 At the beginning of V. i i i . i n The Revenger's Tragedy such a plot advance occurs: In a dum show, the possessing of the young  44 The vogue of the Fletcherian play i s discussed below i n the next chapter. 45 B. R. Pearn, "Dumb Show i n Elizabethan Drama"', Review of English Studies, v o l . 11 (October, 1935), pp. 404 - 5. 46  Ibid., p.  395.  73.  Duke with a l l his Nobles: Then sounding Musick. A furnisht Table is brought forth: then enters the Duke & his Nobles to the banquet. - A biasing-star appeareth. In The Second Maiden's Tragedy a similar use is made of the convention: They bringe the Body in a Chaire drest vp in black velvet which setts out the pailenes of the handes and face, And a faire Chayne of pearle crosse her brest and the Crucyfex aboue i t ; He standes silent while letting the Musique play, becknying the soldiers that bringe her in to make abeisaunce to her, and he hym self makes a lowe honour to the body and kisses the hande (  V. ( i i .  2225 -  9$  Here the dumb-show is performed "by characters of the main play", as might be expected, but also as a prologue to the scene, the purpose...being primarily to bring the characters into the necessary positions on the stage for the ensuing scene without the delay which would be caused by ordinary entrances with spoken accompaniments.4-7 Another sort of spectacle popular with revenge dramatists was the masque. This convention is represented in The Revenger's Tragedy and the use to which i t is put is also commonplace. As in The Spanish Tragedy the final defeat of the forces of evil is brought about by a revenger participating in a show purporting to be innocent entertainment. Vindice, his brother, Hippolito, and two lords participate in a "Maske of Reuengers". The Reuengers daunce. At the end, steale put their swords, and these foure k i l l the foure at the Table, in their Ghaifes. (V. i i i . [54 - 6]) This action resulting in the death of Lussurioso, the remaining villains are slain in the aftermath of a second masque. The Machiavellian character  47 Pearn, op. cit.. pp. 398 - 9.  74. of these i r o n i c situations i s conveyed by Vindice's words as he p l o t t e d the intrigue;  i t was h i s wish that when they thinke t h e i r pleasure sweete and good, In midst of a l l t h e i r ioyes, they s h a l l sigh bloud. (V. i i . [ 2 3 -  Middleton was to remember Vindice's wish i n w r i t i n g A Game At Chesse. the Black Knight, the Machiavellian Gondomar, says ( I . i . 257  There,  ff.),  And what I've done, I've done f a c e t i o u s l y , With pleasant subtlety and bewitching courtship, Abus'd a l l my believers with delight, They took a comfort to be cozen'd by me: To many a soul I've l e t i n mortal poison, Whose cheeks have crack'd with laughter to receive i t . They took t h e i r bane i n way of recreation. There i s scarcely need to labour the conventions f u r t h e r .  It i s  p r e c i s e l y the omnipresence of the stock characters, the conventional s e t t i n g , the hackneyed pattern of melodramatic  action, and the f a m i l i a r Senecan and  Italianate devices that flaws these plays. It i s true, however, that i n the sub-plot of The Second Maiden's Tragedy Middleton s t a r t s to write about people with the simple language and great power that so d i s t i n g u i s h h i s l a t e tragedies; here i s the beginning of his penetrating insights into "the way the mind works".49  Whether  i t i s the development which f i v e years have brought, or whether i t was a congeniality a domestic s e t t i n g possessed f o r Middleton's temperament, t h i s sub-plot i s not the v i c t i m of convention, nor i s i t merely a tour-de-force  48 Praz, op. c i t . . pp. 81 - 2, points out how t y p i c a l l y Machiavellian such situations were taken to be, how Webster, f o r instance, "set great store on 'the rare t r i c k e s of a Machiavellian'." 49  Bradbrook, Themes and Conventions i n Elizabethan Tragedy, p. 213.  75. i n v o l v i n g t r i t e characters, themes, and p l o t s .  Convention i s there, but  f o r the most part i t loses the pejorative meaning i t has i n the main p l o t because of the compelling c r e d i b i l i t y of the characters. suffice.  One instance w i l l  After Votarius has most r e l u c t a n t l y undertaken to t e s t the  f i d e l i t y of Anselmus's wife, he f a l l s i n love with her i n spite of himself. She returns h i s f e e l i n g s and grants him enjoyment of her person. selmus returns from his purposed absence. ton's i n s i g h t i n t o human beings expresses fashion.  But  An-  I t i s at t h i s point that Middlei t s e l f i n a wonderfully credible  In equivocal terms Votarius answers Anselmus's queries about the  Wife's f a i t h f u l n e s s , but Anselmus i n t e r p r e t s h i s words favourably, declaring, I w i l l no more seme so vnfashionable f o r pleasure and the chamber of a l a d i e ( I I . [ i i . 903 and makes h i s e x i t with h i s wife.  4j)  Then the l o y a l , the devoted f r i e n d ,  Votarius, becomes a s t r i k i n g l y convincing i n d i v i d u a l f o r he asserts, I do not l i k e h i s company now, t i s irksome h i s eye offends me, mee thinckes t i s not k i n d l i e wee two should l i u e together i n one howse. I do not l i k e h i s ouerbouldnes v her hees to famylier wth the face I loue, I feare the sicknes of a f f e c t i o n I f e e l e a grudging on't, I s h a l l grow iealous eene of that pleasure w ° she has by lawe I s h a l l go so neere w^h her ( I I . [ i i . 913 - 28J) zn  n  Unfortunately, Middleton f a i l s to sustain t h i s sort of thing to the very end of the sub-plot since the catastrophe i s a sensational blood-bath Senecan conventionality.  of  (Curiously enough, the Senecan blood-bath i s  missing from the end of the main plot.)  The charge therefore remains -  conventionality, i n the pejorative sense of the term, mars these plays. F i n a l l y , then, by way of r e i n f o r c i n g the contention made here  76. that Middleton disfigures his early tragedies by over-loading them with overworked conventions we may turn to the conclusion of the main action of the second play. As was noted above, Govianus i n IV. i v . goes to the tomb to pay his respects to h i s betrothed.  At t h i s juncture Middleton cannot r e s i s t  making use of a Senecan ghost, the s p i r i t of the Lady5°, who reveals that her body has been stolen.  Middleton exploits the spectacle f u l l y , des-  c r i b i n g her sensational appearance i n a long stage-direction: On a sodayne i n a kinde of Noyse l i k e a Wynde, the dores c l a t t e r i n g , the Toombstone f l i e s open, and a great l i g h t appears i n the midst of the Toombe; His Lady as went owt, standing i u s t before hym a l l i n white, Stuck with Iewells and a great crucifex on her brest. ( IV. [iv. 1926 - 31J) C h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y i n Seneca the ghost prompts the revenge;  i t i s the  Lady's r e v e l a t i o n which s t i r s Govianus into vengeful action here.  Had  Middleton dismissed the ghost at t h i s point the t r a d i t i o n a l use he makes of i t would have had the shock-value often obtained by the convention, but he allows the ghost to hang around i n the t i r i n g room, pushing her on-stage i n V. i i . to answer the poisoned Tyrant's c a l l f o r a i d .  Her  appearance i n a costume s i m i l a r to that of the Lady i n the chair e l i c i t s from him the cry, I cald not thee thow enemie to firmeness m o r t a l l i t i e s earthquake  50 Bowers notes that "the Lady i s the f i r s t female ghost to appear to a revenger" (op. c i t . . p. 167.). But a f t e r recovering from our mild surp r i s e over t h i s f a c t , we r e a l i z e that t h i s o r i g i n a l t r a i t i n the convention matters l i t t l e . More s i g n i f i c a n t i s a second novelty - the ghost does not urge revenge upon Govianus. This turns out to be equally unimportant since her appearance had the same e f f e c t on Govianus that a somewhat more t r a d i t i o n a l ghost would have. had. Govianus i s prompted to revenge by her revelations, anyway.  77  and from Govianus the rhetorical flourish, wellcome to myne eyes as is the day - springe from the morninges woombe vnto that wretche whose nightes are tedius as liberty to Captives, health to laborers and l i f e s t i l l to ould people, never weary on't, So wellcome art thow to mee: the deedes don thow Queen of spirrits, he has his end vpon him, thy bodie shall returne to rise agen for thy Abuser falls, and has no powre to vex thee ffarder Qiowe] (  V.[iii.  2388 - 97J)  And then Middleton resorts once more51 to the same supernatural character] At line 2447 fhe Spirit enters a|en and stayes to gc^e out with the bd]dy as i t were attejndinge i t . It is this over-working, this undramatic, hyperbolic, exaggerated employment of convention that disfigures Middleton's tragedies.  51 Marston, in Antonio's Revenge, had made much use of Andrugio's ghost - even for drawing the curtains of Maria's bed (III. v.)J  CHAPTER IV  THE TJWCHERIAN PLAYS  Middleton was always sensitive t o changes i n the fashion of playmaking.  Thus, when Beaumont and F l e t c h e r inaugurated a type o f  sophisticated courtier drama with The F a i t h f u l Shepherdess i n 1608, P h i l a s t e r i n 1609, and The Maid's Tragedy i n 1611, Middleton was hard on t h e i r heels with The Second Maiden's Tragedy, the main action of which adopts many of the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the new vogue.  During the e n t i r e  second decade o f James's reign Middleton continued to write F l e t c h e r i a n plays, and even h i s two f i n a l tragedies, Women. Beware Women and The Changeling, masterpieces as they are, betray the enormous p o p u l a r i t y o f the new fashion. But within t h i s fashion we should d i s t i n g u i s h between Fletcher's comedies and h i s tragi-comedies. A few features of Fletcher's comedies were novelties t o Middleton, but most o f them he had himself employed i n h i s e a r l i e s t C i t y dramas. Perhaps the most important c h a r a c t e r i s t i c that he was now to borrow was the s o c i a l s e t t i n g , upper-class E n g l i s h l i f e , a section o f society whose manners the gentle-born Fletcher often d e s c r i b e d .  1  Other s a l i e n t features  of t h i s playwright's comedies Middleton had already exploited:  lively  b u s t l i n g p l o t s , Jonsonian humours, inconsistency o f character, disregard f o r a moral, e x p l i c i t or implied, and "ingenious complication and s o l u t i o n  1 T. M. Parrott and R. H. B a l l , A Short View of E l i z a b e t h a n Drama New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 194-3, p. 202. Despite the I t a l i a n settings of many of h i s comedies, the manners Fletcher examines are English. r  79. of i n t r i g u e s , with the attendant reversals and surprises of an entertaining p l o t " .  2  Fletcher's keen sense of stage e f f e c t may  have been a  happy example to Middleton, too, since a number of b i s e n t i r e l y F l e t c h e r ian plays have a t h e a t r i c a l effectiveness and a shapeliness not found i n such plays as The Second Maiden's Tragedy.  The Chaste Maid of Cheap-  side, and The Witch where other dramatic fashions constitute the chief patterns. Fletcher's main influence on Middleton i n t h i s period, however, was a r e s u l t of h i s most famous dramatic product, tragi-comedy, a genre that Fletcher attempted to define i n what he wished "had been the prologue" to The F a i t h f u l Shepherdess.  The d e f i n i t i o n i s b r i e f .  A tragi-comedy i s not so c a l l e d i n respect of mirth and k i l l i n g , but i n respect i t wants deaths, which i s enough to make i t no tragedy, yet brings some near, which i s enough to make i t no comedy, which must be a represent a t i o n of f a m i l i a r people, with such kind of trouble as no l i f e be question'd; so that a god i s as lawful i n t h i s as i n a tragedy, and mean people as i n a comedy.3 This explanation has evoked considerable comment, elaboration, and r e appraisal;  F. H. R i s t i n e ^ has supplied the most famous exposition.  2 Op. c i t . . p. 202. Parrott and B a l l divide Fletcher's comedies i n t o two groups, those of manners, and those of i n t r i g u e , warning, however, against sharp d i v i s i o n s . A s i m i l a r d i v i s i o n - and warning - may be made of Middleton's C i t y comedies. 3 See "To the Reader" which prefaces The F a i t h f u l Shepherdess i n W. A. Neilson (ed.), The Chief Elizabethan Dramatists. Boston, Houghton M i f f l i n Company, 1939, p. 598. A F. H. R i s t i n e . English Tragicomedy. I t s Origin and History. New The Columbia University Press, 1910, p. x i i i .  York,  80 Perhaps the f i r s t impression gained from reading any such group of plays i s one of s t a r t l i n g u n r e a l i t y . The reader i s transported t o a no man's land, beyond the ken of human experience, where men take on superhuman c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s , where strange events happen, and imaginary h i s t o r y i s made and unmade i n the twinkling of an eye. The checkered fortunes of monarchs, generals and lords and l a d i e s of high degree engross h i s chief attention; war, usurpation, r e b e l l i o n - actual or imminent - f u r n i s h a subordinate i n t e r e s t ; while a comic touch or sub-plot i s the d i v e r t i n g accompaniment of the romantic action. Love of some sort i s the motive force; i n t r i g u e i s r i f e ; the darkest v i l l a i n y i s contrasted with the noblest and most exalted v i r t u e . In the course of an action teeming with incident and excitement, and i n which the characters are enmeshed i n a web of disastrous comp l i c a t i o n s , reverse and surprise succeed each other with a l i g h t n i n g r a p i d i t y , and the outcome trembles i n the balance. But f i n a l disaster i s ingeniously averted. The necessary d e i ex machina descend i n the nick of time: wrongs are righted, wounds healed, r e c o n c i l i a t i o n sets i n , penitent v i l l a i n y i s f o r given and the happy ending made complete. Not a l l scholars, however, have been s a t i s f i e d with Ristine's analysis:  they have f e l t that the defining c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the new type  of drama l a y elsewhere.  Una ELlis-Fermor, f o r example, was concerned with  the tonal significance of the genre when she said that i t i s the creation of [al middle mood which i s the contribution of Beaumont and F l e t c h e r to subsequent drama.5 One of the most recent a p p r a i s a l s  0  only implied by Ristine's analysis.  of the genre adds three c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s The f i r s t of the three i s the presence  5 Una Ellis-Fermor, The Jacobean Drama,. London, Methuen and Company, 1953, p. 205. 6 Eugene M. Waith, The Pattern of Tragicomedy i n Beaumont and Fletcher. (Yale Studies i n English, Volume 120), New Haven, Yale University Press, 1952, pp. 3 6 - 9 .  81 of Protean characters who are "monsters and saints, l i v i n g abstractions and combinations of i r r e c o n c i l a b l e extremes" who "confront each other as opposites...and by t h e i r intense reactions e x p l o i t to the f u l l the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of some f a n t a s t i c situation".7 In every case the character, conceived as an extreme type, i s subordinate to the s i t u a t i o n and often changes r a d i c a l l y to s u i t the requirements of the i n t r i c a t e plot.** The second c h a r a c t e r i s t i c i s the " l i v e l y touches of passion". The passions...have more r e a l s o l i d i t y than the characters themselves. In the most u n l i k e l y situations the most extravagant characters r e act to each other with emotional outbursts which have, as i t were, a l i f e of t h e i r own.9 These emotional outbursts are embodied i n poetry which does nothing to give the moral problems of the play f r e s h s i g n i f i c a n c e , Waith goes on to say i n describing the t h i r d c h a r a c t e r i s t i c , the "language of emotion". the p o e t i c a l speeches he asserts, Their conspicuous a r t i f i c i a l i t y s u i t s them to the plays, but there i s no more deception here than i n any a r t i s t i c convention.... The verse of Beaumont and Fletcher, which does not deal seriously with l i f e , as does the verse of some of t h e i r contemporaries, i s exactly what the situations demand, a means of e l i c i t i n g maximum emotional response. The poetry of every major scene i s a b r i l l i a n t  7  Eugene M. Waith, op. c i t . . p. 38.  8  Ibid., p. 39.  9  Ibid., p. 39.  Of  82. solution t o a r h e t o r i c a l problem. 1° I t might be said, then, that F l e t c h e r i a n tragi-comedy i s a verbal game which exploits r h e t o r i c , sentiment, and surprise, that u t i l i z e s the t h e a t r i c a l devices of spectacle and song, that employs extravagant themes and characters, that i s placed i n exotic settings, and that has escapist entertainment as i t s chief object. The nature of Fletcherian tragi-comedy has been dwelt on at length since i f scholars working f o r years over Fletcher's d e f i n i t i o n and p e r f o r mance have only p a i n f u l l y and p a r t i a l l y understood the genre, i t i s perhaps too much to expect a busy playwright l i k e Middleton t o have had an acute grasp of i t .  We s h a l l see that such i s the case;  he took the more obvious  features of the tragi-comedies and worked them up i n t o saleable products. And with the conventions of t h i s new genre Middleton mingles conventions and devices that a dozen years of dramatic composition had made habitual to him. In turning to examine Middleton's Fletcherian plays, we are faced with d i f f i c u l t i e s that d i d not a r i s e i n connection with h i s e a r l i e r p l a y s . These d i f f i c u l t i e s have to do not only with the dating and respective shares of collaborators i n these dramas but also with a t t r i b u t i o n . shares of Middleton and Dekker i n the two City comedies,  The respective  TVIP. F a m i l y  of Love  10 Eugene M. Waith, op. c i t . . p. 39. Waith continues, "The renunciation of meaning i s no mere relaxation of control, however. I t can better be described as one of the strategies by which Beaumont and Fletcher achieve t h e i r superbly calculated succession of dramatic moments. Theirs i s a deliberate playing with the most serious issues. To make much of every r e l a t i o n s h i p becomes a kind of game which i s most successfully when most daringly played. The sudden change, the unexpected revelation, the d i s appearance of one issue to make way f o r another are a l l parts of an i n t r i cate pattern of f e e l i n g which i s fundamental to Fletcherian tragicomedy." (pp. 3 9 - 4 0 . ) .  83. and The Roaring G i r l , can be determined with considerable p r e c i s i o n . ^ Such determination of authorship may be a r r i v e d at with nearly equal accuracy i n the cases of A F a i r Quarrel and, e s p e c i a l l y , The Old Law. The theme and two-thirds of A F a i r Quarrel belong to Rowley, Middleton bei n g responsible c h i e f l y f o r a r e v i s i o n of the f i r s t and l a s t two pages.12 In The Old Law "the hands of Middleton, Massinger, and Rowley are a l l clearly discernible"-^  D  U  t  Middleton's i s the dominating personality: whoever suggested the theme, h i s i s the close-knit structure and the a r t i s t r y which permitted no page to stray from the theme. The other two contributors deal with s p e c i f i c aspects of the theme - Massinger develops the pathos and n o b i l i t y of Cleanthes's story, Rowley the b r u t a l fun of Gnotho - but the presence of Middleton, whether as designer, as writer or as r e v i s e r i s everywhere apparent.14 But i f these two Fletcherian plays present no further problems i n c o l l a b o r a t i o n ^ , they s t i l l need to be dated d e f i n i t i v e l y . !  0  This, indeed,  11 See Gerald J . Eberle, "Dekker's Part i n The Familie of Love". Joseph Quincey Adams Memorial Studies. Washington, Shakespeare.Folger Library, 194-8, pp. 723 - 38, and George R. Price, "The Shares of Middleton and Dekker i n a Collaborated Play", Papers of the Michigan Academy of Sciences. A r t s , and Letters, v o l . 30, pp. 601 - 15. 12 Dewar M. Robb, "The Canon of William Rowley's Plays", Modern Language Review, v o l . 45 ( A p r i l , 1950), pp. 130, 137. Robb's remarks on page 130 somewhat contradict what he says on the l a t e r page whose main judgements are given above. E a r l i e r he stated that Middleton "wrote the chief scenes ...and...revised...many of Rowley's...." 13 . Ibid., p. 136. 14 all.  Ibid.. p. 136. Many c r i t i c s , though, f a i l to see Massinger's hand at See Baldwin Maxwell's discussion c i t e d i n note 16, below.  15 I t i s too soon to determine i f Robb's analysis w i l l command general assent among Elizabethan scholars. 16 Gnotho's wife was "Born i n .an.. 1540, play t e l l s us, suggesting i t s t r a d i t i o n a l i n "The Old Law", i n Studies i n Beaumont. H i l l , University of North Carolina Press,  and now ' t i s 99" ( H I . i . ) , the date. Baldwin Maxwell, however, Fletcher, and Massinger. Chapel 1939, pp. 138 - 44, prefers 1618.  84. i s the case with a l l of Middleton's plays of t h i s period.  Some scholars,  f o r instance, would remove The Witch from the F l e t c h e r i a n group and place i t i n the C i t y comedy - eariy tragedy period. "^ 1  over the authorship of the plays.  Then, too, c r i t i c s argue  Any|.h-i,r)p f o r a Quiet L j f e may be Web-  s t e r ' s " ^ or M i d d l e t o n ' s ^ , or a product of both authors.  More Dissemblers  besides Women seems i n many ways not to be the unaided work that the 1657 t i t l e page suggests.  The expletive, "push", which i n conjunction with  other evidence proves t o be so u s e f u l a clue t o the authorship of The Revenger's Tragedy and The Second Maiden's Tragedy , does not appear a t a l l 20  i n More Dissemblers. Middleton i s used:  Instead, a form not nearly so c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of  a t I. i v . 10. and at IV. i i . 153. "pish" occurs.  Even  sounder grounds are appealed to when The Spanish Gipsy i s e n t i r e l y struck from the canon;  i n f a c t , so persuasive a case can be brought against t h i s  play - - that i t w i l l not be included among the dramas surveyed i n t h i s chap2  ter.  1  Many other problems - such as the precise r e l a t i o n of The Witch t o  Macbeth - remain, but they must not detain us i n a study of t h i s kind.  17 W. W. Greg and F. P. Wilson (eds.), The Witch by Thomas Middleton. The Malone Society Reprints, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1948 (1950), p. v i i , "...1609 or 1610 i s perhaps as l i k e l y a date as any f o r the compos i t i o n of The Witch." They base t h e i r dating on W. J . Lawrence's specul a t i o n s embodied i n "The Mystery o f Macbeth: A Solution", an essay appeari n g i n h i s Shakespeare's Workshop. Oxford, B a s i l Blackwell, 1928, pp. 24 38. 18  F. L. Lucas (ed.), The Plays of John Webster, v o l . 4, pp. 66 - 8.  19 W. D. Dunkel, "Anything f o r a Quiet L i f e " , Publication of the Modern Language Association, v o l . 43, (September, 1928), pp. 793 - 9. 20  Schoenbaum, Middleton's Tragedies, pp. 176, 196.  21 See Dugdale Sykes' v i r t u a l l y conclusive study i n h i s S i d e l i g h t s on 1 i 7 f f l M r V w ^ " P i r Oxford, Humphrey M i l f o r d , 1924, pp. 183 - 99. Schoenbaum, op. c i t . . pp. 203, 247 comes out f o r Ford's authorship, too, l a r g e l y as a r e s u l t of Sykes*s study. m  85. In view, therefore, of diverse opinion on a l l these matters, the most expedient approach t o a study of convention i n Middleton's F l e t c h e r i a n plays w i l l be t o f i x on the s p e c i a l researches of the apparently soundest students of the canon, chronology, and authorship of these dramas, t r u s t i n g that no subsequent research w i l l s e r i o u s l y impair the v a l i d i t y of any conclusions drawn here.  At any rate, i t might be argued that a study of con-  vention and device does not depend too s u b s t a n t i a l l y on the d e t a i l s of b i b l i o g r a p h i c a l and h i s t o r i c a l research (excepting, of course, d e t a i l s of authorship). For chronology, then, R. G. B a l d  2 2  i s the authority.  canon Dewar Robb, Schoenbaum, Lucas, and Dugdale S y k e s .  23  For the  The plays that  Middleton composed, wholly or i n part, under Fletcher's influence are, accordingly, the following:  The Second Maiden's Tragedy (the main p l o t  only), More Dissemblers besides Women, ( c . 1615), No Wjt, No -Help, l i k e a. Woman's ( c . 1615), A F a i r Quarrel ( l 6 i 5 - 16), The Witch ( l 6 l 6 ) , The. Widow (1616), and The Old Law ( c 1616).  When w r i t i n g on Middleton's early comedy, Arthur Symons was l e d to declare, The idea of sex dominates the whole  22 R. G. Bald, "The Chronology of Middleton's Plays", Modern Language Review, v o l . 32 (January, 1937), pp. 3 3 - 4 3 . The chief disagreements with Bald are over the dating of The Witch and of The Old Law. See Greg's and Maxwell's studies mentioned above. 23  See notes 12, 18, 20 and 21 above.  86. Elizabethan dramaj here, however, i t i s not a t e r r o r , a f a s c i n a t i o n , or a s i n , but an occupation.24 The persistence with which Middleton explored sexual themes suggests, however, that he saw more than dramatic u t i l i t y i n sex.  Like Marston, Donne,  and other Elizabethans, he was not merely occupied but frequently preoccupied with i t . continued.  In the F l e t c h e r i a n plays t h i s i n t e r e s t , t h i s f a s c i n a t i o n ,  Chaste heroines and lecherous men had frequently appeared i n  Elizabethan drama, even before Middleton began to write, but the appearance of The F a i t h f u l Shepherdess. Phi.1 « rher and A Kipp «nfl No King ushered i n a [f  taste f o r the piquant theme, the i n t e n s i f i e d , super-human extreme, "the improbable hypothesis" ^, a taste that l e d to Restoration heroic drama (and 2  that enabled a serious a r t i s t l i k e Ford to analyze i n d e t a i l an incestuous brother-sister relationship).  We saw i n The Second Maiden's Tragedy the  Lady who defended her chastity with l i f e - s a c r i f i c i n g heroism, the l u s t maddened Tyrant who descends t o the loathsome horror of n e c r o p h i l i a , and the w i t t o l who  c y n i c a l l y and complacently o f f e r s h i s wife's honour i n h i s  scramble f o r place.  Preternatural chastity i s also the subject of More  Dissemblers besides Women. Middleton asked himself, "what consequences might ensue i f a widow, miraculously chaste f o r seven years, should, improbably, experience love at f i r s t sight?".  The Duchess of Milan  24 "Middleton and Rowley", The Cambridge History of E n g l i s h L i t e r a t u r e , v o l . 6, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1933, p. 63. 25 Waith, op. c i t . . p. 37. Waith explains h i s term thus: "The s i t u ations which compose the p l o t are as unusual as they are sensational.... Each of them i s a challenge to the reader or spectator to imagine what i t would be l i k e to experience such c o n f l i c t i n g emotions...and as one such hypothesis follows another, we come t o accept them as properly belonging i n a world that i s neither impossible nor quite probable - a world of hypotheses."' (pp. 37 - 8.)  87. That strange great widow, Ne'er t o know love's heat ... who has kept the f o r t To t h ' wonder of her sex,  that ina most this (I. i .  has vow'd so s t i f f l y second husband: valiantly, seven year's day 9 - 12.)  whereas "A month's constancy/is held a v i r t u e i n a city-widow", i s the " r e l i g i o u s triumph" of the Cardinal. admiration of her.  He, " s p i r i t - r a v i s h ' d " , stands up i n  He declares, I make her constancy The holy mistress of my contemplation; Whole volumes have I writ i n zealous praise Of her eternal vow. ( I . i i . 4 - 7.)  And yet the Cardinal cannot be t o t a l l y sure of her since he agrees at once t o the F i r s t Lord's proposal t o t e s t her (Middleton evidently r e membered Anselmus's sick compulsion, at t h i s p o i n t ) .  When the F i r s t Lord  suggests, She that has no temptation set before her, Her v i r t u e has no conquest.... (I. i i . 3 1 - 2 . ) The Cardinal r e p l i e s with a l a c r i t y , You've put my zeal into a way, I s h a l l not be a t peace t i l l I I ' l l make her v i c t o r y harder; When I b r i n g grace t o great'st  my l o r d , make perfect: ' t i s my crown perfection....  ( I , i i . 43 - 6.) The Cardinal then persuades the Duchess t o break her vow of keeping s t r i c t l y private "since the glory on't/ls but a v i r t u e question'd", and she watches from the balcony of her house the v i c t o r y parade of General Andrugio, secure i n her b e l i e f that the sight of no man, "Held he the worth of mi,]lions i n one s p i r i t " , had the power to a l t e r her. Andrugio r i p s from her the cry, My f a i t h i s gone forever, My reputation with the cardinal,  But the sight of  88. My fame, my praise, my l i b e r t y , my peace, Chang d f o r a r e s t l e s s passion: 0 hard s p i t e , To lose my seven years' v i c t o r y at one sight! . ( I . i i i . 124 - 8.) 1  P a r a l l e l i n g the theme of the Duchess's c h a s t i t y and n e a r - f a l l i s the  un-  v e i l i n g of Lactantio, the Cardinal's nephew, whom the churchman believes i s a paragon of v i r t u e : He's but a youth, To speak of years, yet I dare venture him To o l d men's goodnesses and g r a v i t i e s For h i s s t r i c t manners, and win glory by him; And f o r the chasteness of h i s continence, Which i s a rare grace i n the spring of man, He does excel the youth of a l l our time The company of a woman's as f e a r f u l to him As death to g u i l t y men; I've seen him blush When but a maid was nam'd.... ( I . i i . 80 - 91.) Lactantio a l l the while keeps a mistress whose disguise as a page does not f o r long conceal her pregnancy; by her father and who,  he also pursues A u r e l i a , who  upon discovering Lactantio's perfidy, f i n a l l y a l l i e s  herself to Andrugio, her f i r s t love. chastity theme:  i s exposed  There i s yet a t h i r d aspect of the  the magnified v i r t u e of the Cardinal and h i s constant  i n the steadfastness  of the Duchess.  He i s a man  faith  who  Wears so severe an eye, so s t r i c t and holy, I t not endures the sight of womankind About his lodgings: Hardly a matron of fourscore's admitted; Though she be worn to gums, she comes not there To mumble matins; a l l his admiration Is plac'd upon the duchess; he l i k e s her, Because she keeps her vow and l i k e s not any; So does he love that man above his book That loves no woman.... ( I . i . 49 - 58.) As might be expected, the e f f e c t s of l u s t on human"actions and character i s another conventional sex theme occurring i n the F l e t c h e r i a n  89. plays.  The l u s t f u l enterprise of S i r G i l b e r t Lambstone i n No Wit. No Help.  Like a Wnman's  - he desires the r i c h widow, Lady Goldstone, as h i s wife,  and the impoverished Mistress Low-water as h i s mistress - i s revealed by the l a t t e r who greatly values her chaste honour.  Lambstone s o l i c i t s her  favours by means of a l e t t e r which provokes her to u t t e r , what strange impudence Governs i n man when l u s t i s l o r d of himj Thinks he me mad? 'cause I've no monies on earth, That I ' l l go f o r f e i t my estate i n heaven, And l i v e eternal beggar? ( I . i i . 76 - 80.) Unwitting incest h o r r i f i e s one of the main characters of t h i s play.  Philip  i s t o l d by h i s newly-found mother that the g i r l he married i n Antwerp i s h i s long-lost s i s t e r (IV. i . 201 f f . ) .  He i s shattered by the news, groan-  ing, 0, to what mountain s h a l l I take my f l i g h t , To hide the monster of my s i n from s i g h t ! (IV. i . 247 - 8.) Perfidious l u s t i s shockingly displayed by the Physician i n A F a i r Quarrel who demands from Jane as the p r i c e of h i s silence about her i l l e g i t i m a t e c h i l d such love as she gave F i t z a l l e n ( I I I . i i . 29 - 135.). The Witch reminds the reader of The Revenger's Tragedy i n s e t t i n g and i n atmosphere, but e s p e c i a l l y i n i t s anatomy of sexuai abuses. i s rampant i n t h i s play;  incest i s disclosed;  Lust  marital i n f i d e l i t y occurs;  marriage vows are foresworn; a young woman i s got with c h i l d out of wedlock; lechers resort to witches' love-charms, and i n t r i g u e r s to substitute "brides". The Duchess of Ravenna, hating her husband because of h i s pathological i n sistence on her drinking pledges from her father's s k u l l ( I . i . 125 - 170;  90. 26 and I I . i i . 774 - 8.) , engages the l a s c i v i o u s Almachildes t o slay him, promising t o reward the slayer with her own person.  But he takes h i s  pleasure blind-folded, and the denouement reveals that he knew not the Duchess but "onely a hirde-Strumpet:  a Professo^/of Lust, and Impudence"  (V. i v . 2166 - 7. ), the courtesan, F l o r i d a .  As well as betraying her  husband, the Duchess s t r i v e s t o win the a f f e c t i o n s of the Lord Governor, Almachildes being only a t o o l t o be disposed of when h i s usefulness i s over.  The deceit of the Duchess has i t s p a r a l l e l i n Antonio who hypo-  c r i t i c a l l y assures I s a b e l l a that her contracted betrothed, Sebastian, has died i n b a t t l e , thereby gaining Isabella as h i s wife;  and there i s a  further p a r a l l e l i n the a f f a i r between Francisca and Abberzanes which r e s u l t s i n her being with c h i l d .  I l l u s t r a t i n g further the sex-aberrations  anatomized i n t h i s play, a stock notion about the moral i n i q u i t y of dealers i n the black a r t s appears i n the incest episode of I . i i .  Firestone  speaks:  Hec. Fire, Hec.  (Mother) I pray give me leave t o ramble a-broad t o night, with the Wight-Mare; f o r I haue a great mind t o over-lay a fat-Parsons Daughter. and who s h a l l lye with me then? the great Cat, f o r one night (Mother) ' t i s but a Might make s h i f t with him f o r once. you're a kind Son: but ' t i s the nature of you a l l , I see that: you had rather hunt a f t e r strange women s t i l l then l y e with your owne Mothers.... (11. 282 - 92.)  The attempt of a young woman t o cuckold her o l d husband forms one of the main strands i n the p l o t of The Widow.  Justice Brandino has a  youthful wife, Philippa, who looks "to the Maine-Chaunce, (that's  26  A l l references are t o the Malone Society e d i t i o n .  91. Reputation.)" 7 but who 2  covertly by means of a l e t t e r seeks an assignation  with the gallant, Francisco.  This f a i l i n g , she t r i e s to make "Ansaldo"  the substitute. Although Francisco's declaration of his passion f o r P h i l i p p a caused Brandino to " f e e l t h i s Inns-a'-court  man  i n [his] temples"  ( I . i . 216), and although Francisco soothed the o l d Justice's temper by asserting that he merely made a " f r i e n d l y t r i a l of her [Philippa's] constancy" ( I . i i . 231.)  "to damp slander/And a l l her envious and suspicious  brood" ( I . i i . 229 - 30.), Brandino only escapes being cuckolded because Francisco i s robbed and delayed on h i s way to h i s assignation and because "Ansaldo" turns out to be a woman. A f i n a l instance of sex-themes i n these plays i s the r e v o l t i n g , cold-blooded proposal Simonides makes to his aged mother i n The Old  Law.  Her husband, Creon, i s to be executed because he has reached an age where he i s no longer u s e f u l to the state.  Antigona, pleading v a i n l y with the  Duke of Epirus f o r Creon's l i f e , i s urged by Simonides to d e s i s t and to make the most of her remaining years. I ' l l help you to a c o u r t i e r of nineteen, mother, (II. i . 108.) he o f f e r s , suggesting further, You've but a short time to be cast down yourself; And l e t a young c o u r t i e r do't.... ( I I . i . 136 - 7.) S o c i a l climbing or the r i s e of the less-well-born i n the s o c i a l hierarchy i s a theme i n the F l e t c h e r i a n plays as well as i n the e a r l i e r ones.  Lactantio i n More Dissemblers spurns A u r e l i a when he learns ( I I I .  i . 181 f f . ) that the Duchess loves him.  27  The Witch. I I . i i .  865.  He knows that "such another/Whole  92. l i f e could never meet with", and e x u l t i n g l y congratulates himself, exclaiming, The best dissembler l i g h t s on the best woman. ( I I I . i . 220.) Almachildes i n The Witch r e j o i c e s , too, that he i s beloved of a Duchess. She threatens death t o him i f he refuses to k i l l her husband, but marriage i f he commits the deed.  His r e p l y reveals h i s s o c i a l ambition:  then by a l l the hopefull fortunes of a yong mans R i s i n g I w i l l performe i t (Madam) ( I I I . i . [lOOO ~ 1002.] ) In The Old Law. Simonides, c y n i c a l , h y p o c r i t i c a l , and covetous, c h e e r f u l l y sends h i s father t o h i s death that he might i n h e r i t s u f f i c i e n t wealth to be on a f o o t i n g with Evander's c o u r t i e r s .  Before Creon s execution, Simon1  ides would agree with the F i r s t Courtier who asks, prick'd up i n clothes, Why should we f e a r our r i s i n g ?  (II. i . 61-2.)  But u n t i l h i s fortune was made he refused to mingle with these men who would be f a m i l i a r with him. Second Court. Sim.  SimJ Push] I'm not f o r you yet, Your company's too c o s t l y ; a f t e r the o l d man's Despatch'd, I s h a l l have time to t a l k with you; I s h a l l come i n t o the fashion, ye s h a l l see too, A f t e r a day or two; i n the meantime, I am not f o r your company. ;  (II. i .  72-8.)  Themes i n v o l v i n g sex and s o c i a l climbing appeared i n Middleton's e a r l i e r plays;  the theme of the t r i c k s t e r t r i c k e d d i d , too, and i t i s a l -  so exhibited i n the Fletcherian dramas.  This theme, of course, i s con-  nected with the intrigue p l o t pattern which was as much a part of Fletcher's  93. own  comedies28 s of Middleton's. a  Several i n t r i g u e s are set going i n More Dissemblers.  Lactantio  disguises his mistress as a page i n order to enjoy her within the house of his severe and holy uncle.  A f t e r attempting to smuggle h i s sweetheart,  A u r e l i a , i n t o the palace under s i m i l a r circumstances and being f o i l e d by her father's recognition of her, Lactantio i s heartened to hear that he i s the object of the Duchess's a f f e c t i o n s . From the heights of dizzy expectations he i s , however, soon f l u n g .  There i s even a touch of hubris i n  h i s r e p l y to h i s uncle's advice that he prepare himself to be the  choice  of the Duchess Alas, I'm not to l e a r n to know that Where could she make choice here, i f 'Twould trouble the whole state, and To f i n d out such another. (V. i i . 176  now! I were missing? puzzle 'em a l l , -  9.)  But the Duchess reveals that she w i l l remain f a i t h f u l to her seven-years vow,  but that the Cardinal's nephew i s "provided for/According to h i s  merits", and she thereupon brings out the pregnant "Page" and Lactantio's r e s p o n s i b i l i t y i n the case.  explains  The t r i c k e d t r i c k s t e r can only  reply, i n accepting t h i s very d i f f e r e n t chooser, I'm paid with mine own money. (V. i i .  225.)  Lactantio's exalted hopes had originated i n an i n t r i g u e begun by the Duchess a f t e r her f a l l i n g i n love with General Andrugio. as a b l i n d .  She needed Lactantio  Giving out that she loved him,"she used him as her amanuensis  i n f o r g i n g a l e t t e r that would implicate Andrugio ( I I I . i i . 70 f f . ) , then sent Lactantio to arrest him, which he gladly does since The only enemy that (his] vengeance points to  28  Parrott and B a l l , op. c i t . . p.  202.  and  94. Lives i n Andrugio. (III. i i .  58-9.)  But the Duchess's schemes are defeated by the constancy of Andrugio's love f o r A u r e l i a before whom the Duchess withdraws when i t i s disclosed (V,  ii.  112 f f . ) that "the s t r a g g l i n g gipsy" i s r e a l l y a creature whose perfection d i d outshine her. The t r i c k s t e r - t r i c k e d theme of Mo ¥it 9 involves, c h i e f l y , the 2  attempts of the Low-waters t o recoup t h e i r fortune which has been wrested from them by Lady Goldenfleece, a r i c h widow, whose hand and wealth are the goals of a covey of scheming s u i t o r s , S i r G i l b e r t Lambstone, Weatherwise, Pepperton, and Overdone.  Not only does Mistress Low-water f i n a l l y restore  her fortune but she also marries her brother, B e v e r i l , t o the woman who had o r i g i n a l l y t r i c k e d her out of i t (V. i . 129 f f . ) . The Duchess i n The Witch i s t r i c k e d out of a new husband i n the Lord Governor by Almachildes's deception - he l i e d about k i l l i n g the Duke as P h i l i p p a i n The Widow i s cheated of the object of her scheming by the r e v e l a t i o n that her would-be bedfellow i s a woman. And the  complacently  murderous Simonides and Gnotho^O i n The Old Law are t r i c k e d out of t h e i r inheritances and widows a t the height of t h e i r triumph i n the great t r i a l scene which concludes the play.  Evander reads t o the court a l e g a l clause,  29 Of the seven plays i n the F l e t c h e r i a n group No Wit i s closest i n settings, p l o t , characterization, and s t y l e t o Middleton's comedies. I t s Plautine story Middleton derived from an I t a l i a n source (see D. J . Gordon's a r t i c l e , "Middleton's No Wit. No Help Like A Woman's and D e l i a Porta's La forejllft", Review of English Studies, v o l . 17 (October, 1941), pp. 400 - 14.). But many of Fletcher's comedies gave sanction t o plays o f t h i s very sort (see Parrott and B a i l , op. c i t . . p. 202.). 30 Gnotho, Rowley's character, bribes the church c l e r k t o a l t e r the date of h i s wife's b i r t h so that he can marry a r i c h o l d woman ( I I I . i . 58 - 112.).  95. appended to the o l d law, which subverts t h e i r dreams of wealth and  pleasure.  S u f f i c i e n t , then, the i l l u s t r a t i o n s of the t r i c k s t e r - t r i c k e d theme. A theme c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the new  drama that Beaumont and Fletcher  brought into being and one that received i n t e n s i f i e d expression at t h e i r hands because of t h e i r gentle b i r t h , court background, and c o u r t i e r audience was that of honour, a matter of great concern to the Renaissance.  The  code of honour was a super-subtilized c o l l e c t i o n of r u l e s f o r gentlemen touchy about the p u n c t i l i o s of reputation.  Their exaggerated s e n s i t i v i t y  l e d to frequent charges of slander, and t h i s i n turn l e d to the duel as the t e s t of honour.  31  I f Robb i s correct i n b i s analysis of the authorship of A F a i r Q u a r r e l . Middleton i s to be credited with much of the effectiveness of 32  that f i n e play, despite the f a c t that the theme and two-thirds of the o r i g i n a l play i s Rowley's, f o r , apparently, Middleton came i n on i t from the s t a r t , a s s i s t e d i n the planning, t a l k e d i t over t i l l i t captured h i s imagination, wrote the chief scenes ( i n the process r e v e a l i n g p o t e n t i a l i t i e s of h i s own genius, which had had no scope i n the s a t i r i c a l comedies which had been his l i n e so f a r ) , and f i n a l l y t h i s i s most noteworthy - revised, sometimes s u p e r f i c i a l l y , sometimes i n d e t a i l , many of Rowley's scenes.... 33  Middleton, therefore, must have given at l e a s t dramatic, i f not i n t e l l e c t u a l ,  31 Baldwin Maxwell, "The Attitude toward the Duello i n the Beaumont and Fletcher Plays", Studies i n Beaumont. Fletcher, and Massineer. Chapel H i l l , University of North Carolina Press, 1939, pp. 84 - 90. 32  Robb, op. c i t . . p.  33  Ibid., p.  130.  130.  96. sanction to the code of honour as i t i s displayed i n t h i s play, thereby committing himself to one of the age's most c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s o c i a l i n s t i tutions, one which received frequent t h e a t r i c a l expression from Romeo and J u l i e t to, at l e a s t , The Lover's Progress of c.  1623.  The play r e l a t e s how two s o l d i e r s verge on a duel as a r e s u l t of a dispute between t h e i r f r i e n d s over the comparative worth of the choleric Colonel and the more r a t i o n a l Captain Agar.  The Colonel r e s i s t s  Russell's p a c i f i c a t i o n s , exclaiming, S h a l l I lose here what I have safe brought home Through many dangers? % fame, L i f e of my l i f e , my reputation. ( I . i . 108 -  10.)  He i s placated, but soon the quarrel breaks out i n earnest over Russell's allowing the Sergeants to imprison the Colonel's f r i e n d , F i t z a l l e n , f o r indebtedness.  The Colonel loses h i s temper, curses R u s s e l l , Agar's uncle,  and at Agar's remonstrance, c a l l s Agar the son of a whore. disturbed;  Agar i s deeply  he knows that There i s not such another murdering-piece In a l l the stock of calumny (II. i . 3 - 4.)  and he knows where the cause i s just he w i l l f i g h t valourously, but 0, there's the c r u e l t y of my foe's advantage! Could but my soul resolve my cause were j u s t . . . . ( I I . i . 19 - 20.) Theoretically, he i s sure of h i s mother's honour, But when my judgment t e l l s me she's but woman, Whose f r a i l t y l e t i n death to a l l mankind, My valour shrinks at that. ( I I . i . 28 - 30.) To prevent her only son from d u e l l i n g , Lady Agar t e l l s him that once she  97. did  s i n , with the r e s u l t that Agar goes to the f i e l d and not only p a t i e n t l y  endures the Colonel's taunts but also highly praises him.  The Colonel  thereupon sneeringly proclaims Agar "A base submissive coward". i s a l l that Agar needs;  The charge  he c r i e s ,  0, heaven has p i t i e d my excessive patience, And sent me a cause.' Blessed remembrance i n time of need! I'd l o s t my honour e l s e . ( I I I . i . 109 f f . ) In the f i g h t which ensues he vindicates h i s honour; admits h i s wrong and begs forgiveness; by confessing her l i e .  the wounded Colonel  and Lady Agar l a t e r redeems h e r s e l f  The Colonel deeds h i s property to Captain Agar, and  bestows h i s s i s t e r ' s hand on the "Noble deserverl ... most v a l i a n t and most wrong*d of men".  Thus a l l honours are restored and quarrels end.  The theme of honour i s a convention of tragi-comedy. The exalted quintessentialized g l o r i f i c a t i o n of i t i s one, too;  the Colonel's a t t i t u d e  to honour i n A F a i r Quarrel i s thus e n t i r e l y conventional.  Equally con-  ventional i s the apparent t r i v i a l i t y ^ of the cause of the i n i t i a l quarrel 3  i n t h i s play.  I t was the duty of a gentleman "to f i n d quarrel i n a straw  When honour [was] at the stake".  And conventional, too, i s Agar's convic-  t i o n that being c a l l e d the son of a whore i s to be hurt with the deadliest weapon i n " a l l the stock of calumny".  A f u r t h e r stock r e a c t i o n i s h i s  decisiveness when the charge of cowardice i s hurled at him. In the plays of Beaumont and Fletcher there i s , we must note, no s a t i r e upon the duel or upon the d u e l l i s t . There i s , to be sure, s a t i r e upon g u l l s who f o o l i s h l y pretend to valor or who have  34 Baldwin Maxwell, op. c i t . . pp. 91 - 2, examines some of the t r i v i a l i t i e s which provoked many duels.  98. an exaggerated esteem f o r t h e i r nonexistent honor.35 This assertion f i t s Middleton's plays, too.  His treatment of the theme of  honour accords with p r e v a i l i n g dramatic p r a c t i c e .  Russell, whose attitude  must not be misconstrued, takes, f o r instance, a r e a l i s t i c , common-sense view of the Colonel's conception of himself, not a s a t i r i c a l view. Col. ... I am square'd and measur'd out; My heights, depths, breadth, a l l my dimensions taken! Sure I have yet beyond your astrolabe A s p i r i t unbounded. Rus. Tush! A l l t h i s i s weighing f i r e , vain and f r u i t l e s s : The further i t runs into argument, The further plung'd.... (I. i . I l l - 17.J  3 6  Conventional s a t i r e of the would-be valourous g u l l appears i n A F a i r Quarrel as the comic counter-part to the serious main action.  In one of the Rowley  scenes the Physician reveals to Chough that h i s bride-to-be i s "naught". Incensed, the roarer draws h i s sword, only to see the Physician drawing h i s while declaring, S i r , I do not fear you that way; what I speak My l i f e s h a l l maintain; I say she i s naught. Immediately there follows t h i s colloquy, Chough. Dost thou not fear me? Phy. Indeed I do not, s i r . Chough. I ' l l never draw upon thee while I l i v e f o r that t r i c k ; put up and speak f r e e l y . (V. i . 95 - 100.)  35  Maxwell, op. c i t . . p. 90.  36 Since Chough i s a f o o l i s h Cornish gentleman, Rowley*3 roaring school scenes may be regarded as a parody of the t r a i n i n g i n honour of the true gentleman.  99. Middleton p a r a l l e l s t h i s s a t i r e i n The Widow. Encountering Philippa's suspected lover, Martino says to Brandino, Let's both draw, master, f o r there's nobody with him, ( I . i i . 168.) but when Francisco appeals to reason, Martino urges Brandino thus, Pray,hear him; i t may grow to a peaces f o r , master, though we have c a r r i e d the business nobly, we are not altogether so v a l i a n t as we should be. ( I . i i . 216 - 18.) And the scene ( I I I . i i . ) i n The Old Law i n which Lysander engages i n a fencing match as proof of h i s restored youth i s a f u r t h e r s a t i r i c comment on the theme cf gentlemanly honour. Womanly honour had frequently been one of Middleton's themes i n the City comedies, though i t was usually given c y n i c a l treatment i n serving as an i l l u s t r a t i o n of female d u p l i c i t y .  In t h i s sense the theme i s exempli-  f i e d i n the F l e t c h e r i a n plays i n the P h i l i p p a - Francisco - Ansaldo  scenes  of The Widow, and, i n the sense of honour preserved, i n the Duchess of Milan scenes of More Dissemblers. From h i s previous plays Middleton imports another feature, conventions of structure, to which must be added the s t r u c t u r a l devices made popular by Fletcher.  The intrigue pattern, with i t s recourse to the con-  vention of disguise, was a manner of shaping plays f a m i l i a r t o Middleton long before Fletcher turned to w r i t i n g f o r the stage, but the pattern, being common to a l l Elizabethan dramatists, was one that F l e t c h e r was to adopt and, c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y , develop to an extreme. ? 3  Enough was said about i n t r i g u e i n Middleton's F l e t c h e r i a n plays  37  Parrott and B a l l , OP. c i t . . p. 202  100. i n the above discussion of the t r i c k s t e r t r i c k e d theme, except that i t must now be shown that Middleton, too, under Fletcher's influence, pushed the i n t r i g u e p l o t to i t s l i m i t s of complication and surprise. More Dissemblers besides Women has a tangled set of love r e l a t i o n ships unravelled i n a denouement f u l l of r e v e l a t i o n s .  Loved by the Page,  his pregnant mistress i n disguise, Lactantio, pursuing and abandoning A u r e l i a , s t r i v e s f o r the hand of the Duchess.  A u r e l i a i s pursued by Andru-  gio but she prefers Lactantio to her f i r s t love.  She disguises h e r s e l f as  a gypsy to escape her father's bondage, but i n t h i s guise she i s bestowed on Dondolo as his doxy. love to Lactantio.  The Duchess i n her pursuit of Andrugio dissembles  The u n r a v e l l i n g of these complications  a f f a i r , f o r when the Duchess f i n a l l y r e a l i z e s who  i s not a simple  A u r e l i a i s and  Andrugio to her, A u r e l i a turns from him to Lactantio who  surrenders  has just entered,  exclaiming, 0, there appears the l i f e of a l l my wishes] (V. i i . 136.) In turn, however, Lactantio r e j e c t s her since his marriage to the Duchess i s imminent.  A u r e l i a , c o n t r i t e , appeals to Andrugio who  but then accepts her.  spurns her at f i r s t  Lactantio's turn to be rejected then comes, f o r the  Duchess reaffirms her vow  of f i d e l i t y to her dead husband, and then pro-  vides Lactantio with a wife - f i t t i n g l y enough, the poor Page. The surprises reserved f o r the end of t h i s play are not as s t a r t l i n g as those which enable The Witch and The Old Law to end on happy notes. Only one hint i n the e n t i r e course of the action of The Witch up to V. i v (where t h i r t e e n l i n e s before the end of the play the Duke suddenly springs to l i f e ) indicates that the Duke had not been murdered.  In h i s s o l i l o q u y  101. on h i s "pretty kind of Lightnes" Almachildes p a r e n t h e t i c a l l y had remarked about the Duchess s 1  reckning the Duke's made away (IV.  i . [1389  -  90j).  Nothing else but the f a c t that Almachildes i s "a f a n t a s t i c a l l Gentleman" prepares the audience f o r the volte-face i n t h i s p l o t .  However, these f o r e -  shadowings are not to be found i n Middleton's l a s t tragi-comedy.  Nothing  at a l l i n any way suggests that the outcome of The Old Law w i l l not be brut a l l y tragic.  With Cleanthes's incredulous stupefaction we watch Leonides,  Creon, Lysander and other o l d men f i l e i n t o the court-room t o the accompaniment of loud music, and i t i s only as the grave and formal language of Evander's decree i s read to a court on which amazement s i t s do we r e a l i z e that the impossible has happened, that j u s t i c e i n Epirus reigns triumphant. The tragicomic convention of surprise i s unmistakably present here. Associated with t h i s convention and that of the i n t r i g u e p l o t pattern i s the s t r u c t u r a l convention of disguise.  This appears i n a l l the  Fletcherian plays except the two i n which Rowley had a hand.  I t appears  best i n No Wit. No Help. Like a, Wnman'p where the theme declared by the t i t l e receives i t s exemplification i n the e f f o r t s of Mistress Low-water to r e t r i e v e her husband's fortune from Lady Goldenfleece.  Disguised as a gallant gentle-  man and her husband as a servant, she insinuates herself into a resplendent banquet being given Lady Goldenfleece by her s u i t o r s , and there exposes the shameful proposition of the most hopeful s u i t o r , S i r G i l b e r t Lambstone, by d i s c l o s i n g h i s l u s t f u l l e t t e r addressed to Mistress Low-water, the Lady's "most mortal enemy".  Later, when the remaining s u i t o r s come t o c a l l she  discomfits them by an assumed f a m i l i a r i t y with Lady Goldenfleece.  The s u i t o r s  102. decamp, f o r , as one of them remarks, he that can be so saucy to c a l l her Bess already, w i l l c a l l her prating quean a month hence. ( I I . i i i . 77 - 8.) Kate Low-water then sweeps the Lady o f f her f e e t with her ardent wooing, and i n the presence of the returned s u i t o r s the Lady chooses the "gentleman" f o r her husband.  But Kate contrives to compromise Lady Goldenfleece with  B e v e r i l , Kate's brother, breaks o f f the marriage a f t e r accepting a casket of coins and jewels as a settlement, and a f t e r extracting a promise of marriage to B e v e r i l from Lady Goldenfleece.  Kate and her husband thereupon  discover themselves. In The Widow Martia's disguise as a gentleman i s e f f i c a c i o u s i n t y i n g the two p l o t s together, and the medical disguise of the thieves, Latrocinio and Occulto, with t h e i r colleagues dressed as patients, affords the fun of the g u l l i n g scenes i n the C i t y comedies. A convention of tragi-comedy that Middleton incorporated i n t o h i s four plays of t h i s genre i s what might be c a l l e d the heightened p o e t i c mood, a phrase that includes the extended r h e t o r i c a l expression of sentiment passion, as well as that middle tonal ground described by Ellis-Fermor.  and It  i s not, of course, v a l i d to contend that t h i s convention i s o r i g i n a l with Beaumont and Fletcher.  They merely made fashionable the lengthy r h e t o r i c a l  expression of sentiment, and hence Middleton, ever a l e r t to the current vogue, puts f a r more of such extended r h e t o r i c i n t o the Fletcherian plays than he had i n h i s City comedies. Although treated above as being c h i e f l y influenced by the vogue of the Senecan-Italianate play of blood revenge, The Second Maiden's Tragedy  103. c l e a r l y betrays i n the main p l o t the popularity of the new courtier drama. Indeed, one c r i t i c maintains that the externals of blood and thunder tragedy are used simply as atmosphere f o r a sentimental romance.38 Bowers demonstrates that the poetic mood of t h i s play, i n conforming to the o  conventions of Fletcher's pattern, expelled or a l t e r e d conventions of the older vogue. The h y s t e r i a of the revenger at the appearance of the ghost i s e n t i r e l y missing; instead the l y r i c a l atmosphere of the romantic love of Govianus and h i s Lady i s emphasized, a romance so high-flown that Govianus delays vengeance a t one point f o r the pure delight of seeing the ghost o f h i s beloved again.39 The r h e t o r i c a l f l o u r i s h e s and extended expressions of sentiment and passion c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the new courtier mode have been i l l u s t r a t e d f o r The Second Maiden's Tragedy i n the previous chapter, but they must now be indicated f o r Middleton's tragi-comedies.  I t should be noted a t f i r s t ,  though, that the proportion of verse t o prose i n More Dissemblers. A F a i r Quarrel. The Witch and The Old Law i s very much higher than i n the F l e t c h e r ian  intrigue comedies of t h i s period.  Tragi-comedy i s a t l e a s t v e r s i f i e d ,  i f not poetic, drama. From More Dissemblers, the high-flown praise of the Cardinal f o r the Duchess's chastity may now be displayed at length;  i n h i s eulogy  r h e t o r i c , sentiment, passion, and hyperbole are a l l found.  38  39  Fredson Bowers, Elizabethan Revenge Tragedy, pp. 166 - 7.  ftii.,  p. 167.  104 My l o r d s , I've work f o r you: when you have hours Free from the cares of state, bestow your eyes Upon those abstracts of the duchess' v i r t u e s , My study's ornaments. I make her constancy The holy mistress of my contemplationj Whole volumes have I writ i n zealous praise Of her eternal vow: I have no power To suffer v i r t u e to go t h i n l y c l a d . I that have ever been i n youth an o l d man To pleasures and t o women, and could never Love, but p i t y 'em, And a l l t h e i r momentary f r a n t i c f o l l i e s , Here I stand up i n admiration, And bow to the chaste health of our great duchess K i s s i n g her constant name. 0 my f a i r l o r d s , When we f i n d grace confirm'd, e s p e c i a l l y In a creature that's so doubtful as a woman, We're s p i r i t - r a v i s h ' d j men of our probation F e e l the sphere's music playing i n t h e i r souls. ( I . i i . 1 - 19.) At the r e v e l a t i o n of h i s mother's betrayal "to a most s i n f u l hour", Captain Agar i n A F a i r Quarrel c r i e s , 0, were you so unhappy to be f a l s e Both to yourself and me? but to me c h i e f l y . What a day's hope i s here l o s t ! and with i t The joys of a just causeJ Had you but thought On such a noble quarrel, you'd ha' died Ere you'd ha' y i e l d e d : f o r the sin's hate f i r s t , Next f o r the shame of t h i s hour's cowardice. Curst be the heat that l o s t me such a cause, A work that I was made f o r i Quench, my s p i r i t , And out with honour's flaming l i g h t s within thee! Be dark and dead t o a l l respects of manhood! I never s h a l l have use of valour more. ( I I . i . 196 - 207.) Equally eloquent, equally r i n g i n g with r h e t o r i c a l f l o u r i s h e s , i s t h i s address by the Colonel to h i s s i s t e r : 0 wretched i s the man That builds the l a s t hopes of h i s saving comforts Upon a woman's c h a r i t y ! he's most miserable: If i t were possible, her obstinate w i l l W i l l p u l l him down i n h i s midway to heaven. I've wrong'd that worthy man past recompense, And i n my anger robb'd him of f a i r fame; And thou the f a i r e s t , r e s t i t u t i o n a r t  105. My l i f e could y i e l d him: i f I knew a f a i r e r I'd set thee by and thy u n w i l l i n g goodness, And never make my sacred peace of thee: But there's the cruelty of a fate debarr'd Thou a r t the l a s t , and a i l , and thou a r t hard! (IV. i i . 95 - 107.) It i s the speeches of Sebastian that b r i n g The Witch closest to the t y p i c a l l y r h e t o r i c a l , sentimental "language of emotion" of the other tragi-comedies. Better I neuer knew what Comfort were i n womans love, then wickedly to know i t . What could the falcehood of one Night availe£ ] h i m that must enioy f o r ever, or he's l o s t ? • t i s the way rather to drawe hate vpon me: for (knowne) t i s as impossible she should love me, as youth, i n health, t o doat vpon a g r e i f , or one that's robd, and bound, t ' a f f e c t the Theif No, he that would Soules sacred Comfort wyn, must burne i n pure love, l i k e a Seraphin (IV. i i . [ l 6 0 4 - 13.]) F i n a l l y , and although i t i s marred by an unmetrical s l i p or two, Cleanthes's greeting to h i s father i n h i s f o r e s t refuge i s f i l l e d with devices of r h e t o r i c and noble sentiment. I hope to see you often and return Loaden with blessings, s t i l l t o pour on some: I f i n d 'em a l l i n my contented peace, And lose not one i n thousands: they're disperst So g l o r i o u s l y , I know not which are b r i g h t e s t . I f i n d 'em, as angels are found, by legions: F i r s t , i n the love and honesty of a wife, Which i s the f i r s t and chiefest of a l l temporal blessings; Next, i n yourself, which i s the hope and joy Of a l l my actions, my a f f a i r s , my wishes; And l a s t l y , which crowns a l l , I f i n d my soul Crown'd with the peace of 'em, th'eternal r i c h e s , , Man's only portion f o r h i s heavenly marriage! (IV. i i . 37 - 49.). If Middleton d i d not write that passage, he almost c e r t a i n l y wrote the one that immediately follows.  I t i s Leonides's r e p l y .  106. Risej thou a r t a l l obedience, love, and goodness. I dare say that which thousand fathers cannot, And that's my precious comfort; never son Was i n the way more of c e l e s t i a l r i s i n g : Thou a r t so made of such ascending v i r t u e , That a l l the powers of h e l l can't sink thee. (IV. i i . 5 0 - 5 . ) The creation of a middle mood mediating the temper of comedy and that of tragedy w i l l be regarded here as the defining c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of tragi-comedy f o r that genre i s "not a mere juxtaposition of serious and comic scenes".40  This mood, "the outstanding contribution of Beaumont  and F l e t c h e r " ^ , i s , then, a convention, although i t i s one that Middleton 1  never succeeded i n mastering i n an unaided work unless More Dissemblers may be c l a s s i f i e d as tragi-comedy (no one i s brought near death i n t h i s play). A F a i r Quarrel, though of dual authorship, s t r i k e s the balance between tragedy and comedy.  The pressure of high sentiment i s w e l l main-  tained i n the Captain Agar scenes, and Jane's p l i g h t i s serious from the moment of F i t z a l l e n ' s arrest i n the f i r s t scene to h i s release i n the last.  The comic episodes i n v o l v i n g Chough and Trimtram constitute an e f -  f e c t i v e parody of the honour theme i n the main p l o t . The Witch, however, i s a d i f f e r e n t matter.  This play is,  a  mere juxtaposition of serious and comic moods, with the humour of F i r e stone and Almachildes being pretty poor s t u f f , and the serious s i t u a t i o n s being excessively tangled intrigues f u l l of the o l d lumber of the I t a l i a n ate  revenge play.  And the shockingly ijnprobable conclusion wrenches what  40  Parrott and B a l l , A Short Vjew of Elizabethan Drama, p. 189.  41  Waith, The Pattern of Tragicomedy i n Beaumont and Fletcher, p. ix,  107. might have been a third-rate tragedy into a f i f t h - r a t e tragi-comedy. The Old Law, on the other hand, i s another collaborated play which i s a successful tragi-comedy.  Here, too, the middle mood i s achieved  and f o r reasons s i m i l a r to those true f o r A F a i r Quarrel.  The Gnotho  scenes provide a grimly comic counterpart to the Cleanthes* p l o t ;  with  the story of Simonides they make a powerful attack on human greed.42 We may conclude these remarks on the s t r u c t u r a l conventions of Middleton's tragi-comedy by observing that i n the use of the i n t r i g u e pattern with i t s dilemmas m u l t i p l i e d , i n the employment of disguise as framework, i n the recourse to an intenser and more elevated kind of speech, and i n the establishment of a middle mood (and i n the descent towards death arrested by a sudden f l i g h t up t o r e c o n c i l i a t i o n and happiness) Middleton shows h i s knowledge of the main s t r u c t u r a l commonplaces of the new courtier mode. The two remaining aspects of convention that he also shows a knowledge of are conventions of character and those of staging. The stock figures of the new fashion i n drama are exaggerated extremes:  the i n c r e d i b l y chaste woman (the Lady i n The Second Maiden's  Tragedy, the Duchess i n More Dissemblers); the l u s t f u l , all-powerful tyrant (the Tyrant i n Govianus's story, Evander i n The Old Law): the constant lover (Govianus, Andrugio, Sebastian, Jane, and the Page); the inconstant lover (Lactantio, Aurelia, Abberzanes, Gnotho);  the quintessential  42 Waith, op. c i t . . pp. 43 - 85, discusses the r o l e of the satyr and of s a t i r e i n Beaumont and Fletcher tragi-comedy. The scourging of v i l l a i n y there, however, was so c l o s e l y merged with pastoral elements that there was produced "a genre more formalized and further removed from everyday l i f e " (p. 84) than the Middleton-Rowley imitations.  108. gentleman or valourous s o l d i e r (Captain Agar, the Colonel);  the f o o l i s h  gentleman (Chough, Almachildes); the f i d e l i t y f i g u r e (Andrugio, the Duchess of Milan - u n t i l her f i r s t sight of the General, Sebastian, C l e anthes);  and the f a i t h l e s s f o l k (Lactantio, A u r e l i a , the Duchess i n The  Witch. Simonides). Although many of these characters are hyperbolic, they are not so s t a r t l i n g as that other conventional figure of tragi-comedy, the Protean character. Sometimes he i s merely a disguised personage, sometimes he i s merely a dissembler, but he achieves h i s most d i s t i n c t form as the character who suddenly changes.  His change i s either unmotivated or not  s u f f i c i e n t l y accounted f o r by the s i t u a t i o n i n which he i s involved.  In  The Second Maiden's Tragedy. Helvetius, a would-be pander to h i s own daughter, suddenly changes as a r e s u l t of Govianus*s violence i n t o an exemplar of goodness who r e s i s t s the Tyrant's e v i l desires.  The Duchess  of Milan at her f i r s t glimpse of Andrugio suddenly a l t e r s from a sevenyears-constant widow to a r e s t l e s s , love-smitten i n t r i g u e r .  The Physician  i n A F a i r Quarrel i s at f i r s t a kindly c r e d i t to h i s profession, then a base lecher.  The Duke i n The Witch changes at the end of the play from  a b r u t a l psychopath i n t o a f o r g i v i n g s e t t e r - t o - r i g h t s .  Most s t a r t l i n g of  a l l i s the a l t e r a t i o n of Evander i n The Old Law from a callous executioner of the aged into a perfect symbol of j u s t i c e and mercy. The above characters are a l l from the tragi-comedies (or The Second Maiden's Tragedy), but Middleton's F l e t c h e r i a n comedies contain equally conventional beings, too. the matter p l a i n .  A quotation at t h i s point should make  Parrott and B a l l state that Mistress Low-water i n  109. No Wit. No Help. Like a Woman's i s one of Fletcher's g i r l s , clever, audacious, and e s s e n t i a l l y virtuous43j and they add that The Widow, too, has fashionable Fletcher characters: a f o o l i s h o l d Judge with a wanton young wife, an amorous young gallant, a swaggering s u i t o r , and a runaway g i r l i n boy's clothing.... 44 The Fletcherian comedies do not require any further examination on t h i s point;  and patently, many of these characters Middleton had  i n the plays of other fashions.  delineated  Although the increasingly a r i s t o c r a t i c  composition of the audience accounts f o r much of the up-grading of the s o c i a l s e t t i n g , i t should be observed that Middleton did owe cant debt to Fletcher's comedies, too, where so many of the are drawn from among the gentle-born.  a significharacters  Except f o r the thieves i n The Widow.  "London" l o w - l i f e i s excluded from Middleton's F l e t c h e r i a n plays.45 The most important convention of staging contributed by the vogue of drama, i s that of spectacle.  new  The eye and the ear had always been  appealed to i n Elizabethan drama by means of dumb-shows, masques, and song, but Fletcher greatly m u l t i p l i e d the spectacular element. There are many more songs i n Middleton's F l e t c h e r i a n plays than i n , say, the City comedies.  The grieving Govianus has a boy s i n g dolor-  ously to him as he weeps before his Lady's tomb.  43  A Short View, p.  44-  Ibid.. p.  More Dissemblers opens  164.  164.  45 I t a l y was a common s e t t i n g f o r Fletcher's comedies. The I t a l i a n settings f o r More Dissemblers and The Widow may r e s u l t from t h i s f a c t , or may spring from Marston's influence or Jonson's.  110. with a song that expresses a major theme of the play: To be chaste i s woman's glory, 'Tis her fame and honour's story: Here s i t s she i n funeral weeds, Only bright i n virtuous deedsj Come and read her l i f e and praise, That singing weeps, and sighing plays. Three songs are sung i n the v i c t o r y masque that i s held i n honour of Andrugio ( I . i i i . 67 f f . ) , two on v i c t o r y i n b a t t l e , and one on conquest i n love.  The gypsy scene i n t h i s play contains songs i n abundance.  i s a rhythmic swing t o the songs here appropriate  There  to the s e t t i n g as, f o r  instance, i n the song beginning Come, my dainty doxies, My d e l l s , my d e l l s most dear.... (IV. i . 88 f f . ) And the l i v e l y , o c t o s y l l a b i c couplets of the Gipsy Captain ("Thou s h a l l have a l l thy heart requires", IV. i . 195 f f . ) provide additional song-like elements.  A somewhat adventitious song i s the one at I. i v . 89 that Don-  dolo extracts from the Page, though i t does provide a thematic contrast with the opening l y r i c . ,  Two songs i n The Witch gain t h e i r fame not from any i n t r i n s i c  merit but from t h e i r association with Macbeth: a i r e " , "Come away: V. i i i . 1999:  they are the song " i n y  e  Come away:" at I I I . i i i . 1331 and the charm song at  "Black S p i r i t t s , and white:  Red S p i r i t t s , and Gray". Un-  distinguished also i s Isabella's song i n the f i r s t scene of the second act ( l . 590 f f . ) , a song that extols the married state.  Once again i n a  Fletcherian play there are rhymed l i n e s - e s p e c i a l l y prevalent i n the witch scenes - that contribute to the l y r i c a l e f f e c t which was one object of the writer of tragi-comedy.  The Duke's f i n a l speech, moreover, i s a  111. conventional  couplet  conclusion.  Many of the songs i n the Fletcherian plays are f u n c t i o n a l l y r e l a t e d to the p l o t only i n atmosphere, i f indeed they are r e l a t e d at a l l . But Lactrocinio's song i n The Widow at I I I . i . ("I keep my horse, I keep my whore ", 1. 22 f f . ) i s a part of the action since the l a s t l i n e 1  a command to Martia to surrender her purse, while the t h i e v e s  contains  song ( l .  1  110  f f . ) provides a choric commentary on the i r o n i c change of hands which money undergoes.  The part song that P h i l i p p a sings with her waiting-maid,  V i o l e t t a , alludes to Philippa's s i t u a t i o n ( I I I . i i . 33 f f . ) but the "Song, i n parts, by Latrocinio and the r e s t " at the end of the fourth act ("Give me fortune, give me health"), a s p i r i t e d but conventional assertion that the witty are the ones i n t h i s world assured of success, i s adventitious. Such gratuitously proffered melodies are abundant i n Elizabethan drama. Almost equally prevalent i s the appeal to the eye. e s p e c i a l l y abundant i n plays of the new vogue.  This i s  Perhaps i t i s once more  necessary to mention, however, that spectacle i n Fletcher's plays d i d not act as a source of i n s p i r a t i o n f o r Middleton (spectacle had long been a popular feature of Elizabethan drama) but rather as a pointer to the kind of play that was becoming fashionable.  Thus we f i n d much more spectacle  i n Middleton's F l e t c h e r i a n plays than i n his City comedies or even i n the e a r l y tragedies.  I f none of the F l e t c h e r i a n plays contains a dumb-show,  c e r t a i n l y the numerous masques and showy devices make up f o r the l a c k . There was no dearth of these i n The Second Maiden's Tragedy:  the appearance  of the Lady's ghost i n the tomb, and the bedecked corpse i n the palace, f o r example. ( I . i i i . 67  - 89.)  Tyrant's  More Dissemblers contains the masque of v i c t o r y  and the operetta-scene of the gay gypsy band (IV. i .  112. 88 - 3 1 0 . ) which concludes "with a strange wild-fashioned dance t o the hautboys or cornets".  Music begins the great banquet i n No Wit.  Some  idea of i t s elaborate nature may be gained from t h i s stage d i r e c t i o n : Music. The banquet i s brought i n . s i x of WEATHERWISE'S Tenants carrying the Twelve Signs. A r i e s . Taurus, flom-ini. Cancer. Leo. Virgo. L i b r a . Scorpio. S a g i t t a r i u s . Capricorn. Aquarius, and Pisces, made of banqueting s t u f f . ( I I . i . 94 f f . ) But by f a r the most elaborate spectacle i n the F l e t c h e r i a n plays i s the masque of the s u i t o r s i n the fourth act of No Wit, a show which W. J . Lawrence roundly declared to be "the l a s t word i n Pre-Restoration spectacular display...."4°  One could almost say from t h i s s t r i k i n g instance alone  that Middleton was powerfully influenced by F l e t c h e r i a n spectacle during the second decade of the Jacobean era.  Certainly nothing l i k e t h i s masque  had appeared i n h i s City comedies or e a r l y tragedies, and one must search i n Middleton's f i n a l period to f i n d , i n Women. Beware Women, i t s equal. When the diners have seated themselves the masque begins: After loud music f o r a while, a t h i n g l i k e a globe opens on one side of the stage, and flashes out f i r e : then SIR G. LAMBSTONE, i n the character of F i r e . issues from i t . with yellow hair and beard intermingled with streaks l i k e w i l d flames, a three-pointed f i r e i n h i s hand; and, a t the same time. WEATHERWISE, as A i r , comes down, hanging by a cloud, with a coat made l i k e an almanac, a l l the twelve moons set i n i t . and the four quarters, winter, spring, summer, and autumn, with change of weathers, r a i n , l i g h t n i n g , tempest. &c.; and from under the stage, on d i f f e r e n t sides a t the f a r t h e r  46 "The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms" i n The E l i z a bethan Playhouse and Other Studies. Second Series. Shakespeare Head Press, Stratford-Upon-Avon, 1913, p. 163.  113. end, r i s e OVERDONE as Water and PEPPERTON as Earth; Water with green f l a g s upon h i s head standing up instead of h a i r , and a beard of the same, with a chain of p e a r l ; Earth with a number of l i t t l e things resemb l i n g trees, l i k e a thick grove, upon h i s head, and a wedge of gold i n h i s hand, h i s garment of a clav colour. (IV. i i . 63 f f . ) Each of the disguised suitors then says h i s piece, not the one expected of him but rather a travesty of i t .  Eighty-five l i n e s of near-doggerel,  interspersed with the spectators' exclamations and asides, are then f i n a l l y concluded with S i r Gilbert Lambstone's And now to vex, 'gainst nature, form, r u l e , place. See once four warring elements a l l embrace! (IV. i i . 170 - 1.) As the elements embrace, another set of disguised figures enters and soon the suitors are exposed: Re-enter, at several corners. BEVERIL with three other persons, a t t i r e d l i k e the four Winds, with wings. & c . the South Wind having a great red face, the North Wind a pale, bleak one; the Western Wind one cheek red and another white, and so the Eastern Wind: thev dance to the drum and f i f e , while the four Elements seem to give back and stand i n amaze: at the end of the dance the Winds s t r i p the Elements of t h e i r disguises, which seem to y i e l d and almost f a l l o f f of themselves at thp noming of the Winds. Exeunt a l l the Winds except that represented bv BEVERIL. (IV. i i . 171 f f . ) But there are numerous other instances of spectacle i n Middleton's Fletcherian plays.  Rowley's masque of dancing o l d women i n A F a i r Quarrel  has i t s f i r s t cousin i n the dance of the witches at the end of the t h i r d scene of Act V. of The Witch, and an even more astonishing feast than that i n No Wit occurs at the "close of the f i r s t act:  Almachildes applauds  114. Hecate f o r conjuring up a cat playing on a f i d d l e and s p i r i t s bringing food so that the witch and he might sup.  The most spectacular show i n The  Witch, however, i s the masque-like descent, ascent, and f l i g h t of s p i r i t s and witches i n I I I . i i i .  Less spectacular i s the device resorted to i n  The Old Law that was almost a commonplace of the comedy of the age - the mock f u n e r a l .  At I I . i . 149 a funeral procession enters, "the hearse  followed by Cleanthes and H i p p o l i t a g a i l y dressed".  Their  habiliments  contrast with t h e i r s i t u a t i o n to symbolically suggest Cleanthes*s joy at his father's having beguiled the state's cruel e d i c t , yet at the same time Cleanthes weeps at the r e a l i z a t i o n that h i s father i s "dead"'.  His t e a r f u l  joy f i t t i n g l y symbolizes, too, the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c mood of tragi-comedy. That the new fashion i n drama inaugurated by Beaumont and Fletcher strongly influenced Middleton there can now be no doubt.  That i t attracted  Middleton's deeper sympathies seems improbable i f the poor q u a l i t y of The Witch i s an index of how profoundly he could be engaged by the fashion when when working alone.  A F a i r Quarrel and The Old Law seem to suggest that  Middleton excelled i n t h i s genre only when stimulated by the presence of a collaborator.^  Unfortunately,  the c r i t i c i s reduced to employing such  terms as "seems" i n discussing these plays as a r e s u l t of the uncertain authorship of the various scenes and s i t u a t i o n s i n them.  I t i s c l e a r that  i n the F l e t c h e r i a n comedies Middleton achieved a more consistent a r t i s t i c  47 Surely i t i s minority opinion to declare that the "most important name i n Elizabethan tragicomedy i s Thomas Middleton". This i s the view of L. E. Alexander i n h i s A Study of Thomas Middleton's Tragi-comedies. an unpublished thesis of which an abstract appears i n Summaries of Doctoral Dissertations. University of Wisconsin, v o l . 1 4 , 1 9 5 4 , pp. 4 2 2 - 3 .  115. success than i n the tragi-comedies.  I t i s equally clear that h i s f i r s t  period of dramatic a c t i v i t y served him well i n draughting these r e a l i s t i c intrigue plays.  That h i s success with tragi-comedy was only a q u a l i f i e d  one may, then, be explained by what has often been a s s e r t e d ^ ^ that only within the framework of the r e a l i s t i c play could he express h i s genius since here he could display h i s interest i n the mental processes of men and women. That the lack of o v e r - a l l meaning i n Fletcher's tragi-comedies and that the i r r e s p o n s i b i l i t y revealed i n t h e i r Never-never-land settings, atmosphere, and themes could lead Middleton astray from h i s genius even i n r e a l i s t i c comedy might be i l l u s t r a t e d by what he f a i l e d t o do with a very minor episode i n No Wit. No Help. Like a Woman's. Weatherwise, we observe, penetrates Mistress Low-water's disguise i n I I . i . 193 - 6 . , saying i n an aside, A proper woman turned gallant] I f the widow refuse me, I care not i f I be a s u i t o r t o him; I have known those who have been as mad, and given h a l f t h e i r l i v i n g f o r a male companion. Despite his keen i n t e r e s t i n sex, no r e a l i s t i c study of homosexuality appears i n Middleton's plays.  Perhaps the laws governing the stage i n the  Jacobean state were too powerful to r e s i s t ;  perhaps Middleton d i d not  f i n d homosexuality a congenial topic f o r r e a l i s t i c treatment, comic or tragic;  but perhaps the p r e v a i l i n g taste f o r the piquant and the t i t i l -  l a t i n g , rather than the serious and searching, a taste given tremendous  48 "The predominance of the Fletcherian school i n Jacobean times created a most unfavorable s i t u a t i o n f o r an a r t i s t with Middleton's g i f t s . He was by temperament a r e a l i s t - but the new drama was w i l d l y romantic."' (Schoenbaum, Middleton's Tragedies, p. 57.)  116. reinforcement  and much s a t i s f a c t i o n by the plays i n the Beaumont and  F l e t c h e r canon, forbade the r e a l i s t i c a n a l y s i s of such a subject.  With the C i t y comedies, the e a r l y tragedies, and the F l e t c h e r i a n plays as a background t o our study o f convention and device, we may now turn t o a close examination, play by p l a y , o f Middleton's f i n a l tragedies, Hengist. King o f Kent. ling.  Women. Beware Women, and The Change-  I n them we s h a l l see Middleton moving f a r t h e r and f a r t h e r away  from commonplace themes and stock s i t u a t i o n s and characters, and working towards a r e a l i s m that becomes so a r t i s t i c a l l y splendid i n the main p l o t of The Changeling that i t merits comparison with that o f Shakespeare.  CHAPTER V HENGIST. KING OF KENT  When Henry Herringman published The Mayor " f Q»" "borough i n 1661,  the t i t l e - p a g e announced the " f i r s t flight"-*- of a "comedy", and the  t i t l e i t s e l f explains the designation: i n the play that the King's Men,  so popular were the comic scenes  succeeding i n 1641  i n obtaining from the  Lord Chamberlain a warrant to prevent the p r i n t i n g of t h e i r p l a y s , were 2  l e d to name i t by reference to the hero of the sub-plot.  The memory of  Simon the tanner was kept a l i v e during the Commonwealth by the p r i n t i n g of a scene i n v o l v i n g him i n Wit Restored (1658), and by 1687 come a proverbial f i g u r e " .  3  "Simon had  be-  But the seventeenth century t i t l e of the play  i s misleading since the Simon episodes are c l e a r l y subsidiary to those i n v o l v i n g Vortiger, Hengist, Horsus, and Roxena, a l l of whom p e r i s h i n the f i n a l scene of the play.  As a consequence, A. H. Bullen c a l l e d The Mayor  of Qaeenborough a tragi-comedy.4  However, t h i s l a b e l w i l l not do e i t h e r ,  f o r the play draws most of i t s material from Holinshed and Fabyan,^ thus  1  Herringman's address to the reader describes the e d i t i o n thus.  2 R. C. Bald (ed.), "Introduction" to Hengist. King of Kent: or the Mavor of Qaeenborough (Folger Shakespeare L i b r a r y P u b l i c a t i o n s ) , New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1938, p. x i v . A l l textual references w i l l be to this edition. 3  Ibid., p. xv.  4  "Introduction", The Works of Thomas Middleton. v o l . 1., p. xx.  5 Bald's studies i n the sources are summarized i n pp. x x x v i i - x l i i of his e d i t i o n .  118. suggesting to S c h e l l i n g that Middleton had produced a h i s t o r y play of the legendary chronicle type.6 s i s t e d upon.  But very recently another genre has been i n -  R. C. Bald, i n the introduction to h i s splendid e d i t i o n of  the play, says f l a t l y that "Heneist i s a tragedy...."''' Boas agrees.& The l a t e s t appraisal i s more cautious, f o r Schoenbaum, i n j u s t i f y i n g h i s concern with the play i n a study of Middleton's tragedies, w i l l only go so f a r as to say that "Hengist i s as much a tragedy as a h i s t o r y play".9  It  w i l l be the purpose of t h i s chapter to support Schoenbaum's view by demons t r a t i n g that the conventions of the chronicle play and those of r e a l i s t i c i n t r i g u e tragedy do form the chief models f o r Middleton i n Heneist. King of Kent;  or the Mavor of Queenborough.  During the l a s t t h i r t y years and p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the l a s t  fif-  teen the Elizabethan h i s t o r y play has attracted much attention from schol a r s , l a r g e l y , of course, as a r e s u l t of renewed i n t e r e s t i n Shakespeare's chronicle p l a y s . N e v e r t h e l e s s , there i s l i t t l e agreement about what  6 F. E. Schelling, The English Chronicle Flav. New York, The MacMillan Company, 1902, pp. 1 8 1 - 5 . 7  Op- c i t . . p. x l v i .  8 F. S. Boas, An Introduction t o Stuartr Press, 1946, p. 233.  ty^^r  London, Oxford University  9 Samuel Schoenbaum, Middleton's Tragedies. New York, Columbia Univers i t y Press, 1955, p. 70. 10 Harold Jenkins, "Shakespeare's History Plays: 1900 - 1951", i n Allardyce N i c o l l (ed.), Shakespeare Survey 6. Cambridge, Cambridge Univers i t y Press, 1953, pp. 1 - 15.  119. constitutes the defining c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of t h i s mode of drama, p a r t i c u l a r l y since Shakespeare, the most p r o l i f i c exponent of the type, by v i r t u e of the "thoughtfulness"!! of h i s treatment of h i s t o r i c a l material, i s somewhat removed from the main stream.  I f '"the norm of the Chronicle  Plays i s the f a c t u a l treatment of H o l i n s h e d " then Shakespeare i s abnormal.  12  and chroniclers l i k e him,  I f a concern f o r "degree" and "order" i s  the norm, then Greene i s to be excluded.  I f history plays must be "mirrors  of Elizabethan policy"-*-^ then Jamgp IV must be dismissed from the genre. L i l y B. Campbell asserts that i t i s t o an A r i s t o t e l i a n d i s t i n c t i o n between private and public morals that we must look f o r the d i s t i n c t i o n between tragedy and h i s t o r y . Tragedy i s concerned with the doings of men which i n philosophy are discussed under ejfchics.; h i s t o r y with the doings of men which i n philosophy  11 The term i s T i l l y a r d ' s . See h i s Shakespeare's History Plays. London, Chatto and Windus, 1951> pp. 120 (and passim): "Where such p o l i t i c a l i n terest occurs, Shakespeare...comes i n t o the case. In other words, the norm of the Chronicle Plays i s the f a c t u a l treatment of Holinshed. When exceptionally the superior thoughtfulness of H a l l i s found, then Shakespeare i s found too." 12  Ibid., p. 120.  13 L i l y B. Campbell, of course, uses t h i s phrase as the s u b - t i t l e of her Shakespeare's H i s t o r i e s (San Marino, The Huntington L i b r a r y , 1947). Her remarks on p. 116 suggest that the phrase i s applicable t o a l l writers of chronicle plays: "At the beginning of t h i s book I quoted Professor S c h e l l i n g as saying that the English chronicle play was closer i n i t s a f f i l i a t i o n to the wealth of h i s t o r i c l i t e r a t u r e i n verse and prose which was springing up about i t than to other v a r i e t i e s of the drama. This statement goes too f a r , I should say, but i t does serve t o emphasize the need f o r studying the h i s t o r y play as a separate genre from tragedy and comedy. I t i s s t i l l drama, but i t cannot be understood by studying alone i t s dramatic technique. Instead, i t must be studied as a form of a r t which selected and used i t s subject matter f o r the purposes u n i v e r s a l l y accepted as appropriate." Those purposes, she goes on t o say, are "the recognized purposes of h i s t o r y " .  120. axe discussed under p o l i t i c s . - ^ 4 Such a d i s t i n c t i o n , however, would permit the i n c l u s i o n of Gorboduc. C a t i l i n e . and A (lamp/ at  Chess, within a genre having l i m i t s too wide to  be of much value f o r c l a r i t y of d i s t i n c t i o n .  A s i m i l a r weakness would  seem to be present i n I r v i n g Ribner's d e f i n i t i o n which has i t that h i s t o r y plays serve ends which Elizabethans considered the legitimate purposes of h i s t o r y ^ , f o r Ribner discovers seven such purposes, a number of which are vague and sweeping. 16  And i f the h i s t o r y play i s to be defined as that which draws  i t s materials from chronicles such as Holinshed's then Macbeth i s one. I f patriotism ''' i s a mark of the h i s t o r y play, then a case can possibly 1  be made out f o r i n c l u d i n g The Shoef^^^'fi  Holiday i n the genre.  Unsatisfactory as the above d e f i n i t i o n s are as v a l i d i z a t i o n s , they a l l , nevertheless,  general-  are relevant i n varying degrees to an  understanding of what Middleton was  t r y i n g to do i n Hensist. King of Kent.  14 Op. c i t . . p. 17. As w i l l be seen below, t h i s d i s t i n c t i o n does have some value f o r the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of Middleton's achievement i n Hengist. 15 Irving Ribner, "The Tudor History Play: An Essay i n D e f i n i t i o n " , Publications of the Modern Language Association, v o l . 69 (June, 1954), p. 604. 16 For example, number (7): "exposition of a r a t i o n a l plan i n human events which might a f f i r m the wisdom and j u s t i c e of God". How t h i s c r i t e r i o n would enable the c r i t i c to d i s t i n g u i s h between h i s t o r y plays and domestic tragedy Ribner f a i l s to consider i n a persuasive way. 17 S c h e l l i n g , The E n g l i s h Chronicle Plav. p. 5. Schelling's theory that the chronicle play "began with the t i d e of patriotism which united a l l England to r e p e l the threatened invasion of P h i l i p of Spain" (p. l ) i s not held today, at l e a s t not i n the sense that would make the Armada the cause of the genre. See T i l l y a x d , pp. 100 - 1.  121. which l i k e many other plays drawing t h e i r s t o r i e s from chronicles sought to i n s t r u c t "an i n q u i s i t i v e public i n some of the f a c t s and legends of English h i s t o r y " ^ ,  to appeal to a popular audience^, to e x p l o i t "the  mere accident of successive e v e n t s "  20  narrated i n Holinshed,  and t o t e l l  a story i n a dramatic form that resembled i n structure the episodic pattern of the Miracle play -*-, 2  although c e r t a i n elements - the presence of  didacticism i s one - reveal the influence of the Morality. from many chronicle plays i n one s i g n i f i c a n t respect.  Hengist d i f f e r s  Except f o r the  choice of E n g l i s h history22, the p o r t r a i t of the holy Constantius, the presentation of Aurelius as a noble B r i t i s h f i g u r e contrasting with the perfidious Vortiger and the wicked foreign Saxons, and the recognition that the Saxons are "strangers i n religion...W Can bee"  011  is y  e  greatest a l i e n a t i o n  ( I I . i i i . 34 - 5.), there i s l i t t l e of that p a t r i o t i c appeal t o  the sense of n a t i o n a l i t y which c r i t i c s from S c h e l l i n g t o T i l l y a r d  18  2 3  have  T i l l y a r d , Shakespeare's History P l a y s p . 3. f  19 Raynulph's phrase, " t h i s round f a i r e r i n g " , i n Chorus i . indicates a public play-house. A l a t e r passage ( I . i i . 34 - 5.), however, suggests a private theatre. See Bald's note on p. 101 of h i s e d i t i o n of the play. 20  T i l l y a r d , op. c i t . . p. 99.  21 Mbner, PMLA, v o l . 69 (June, 1954), p. 607. T i l l y a r d remarks that " j u s t as Holinshed revives the medieval s i m p l i c i t i e s of Higden, so the plays on English h i s t o r y go behind the severer form of the Morality to the f a c t u a l and accidental forms of some of the Miracle Plays" (p. 99.). 22 The Elizabethans d i d not make the d i s t i n c t i o n between h i s t o r y and legend that we do. 23., Madeleine Doran, too, i n her study of form i n Elizabethan drama, Endeavours of Art, p. 114, says that i n the chronicle h i s t o r y play "the chief shaping attitude i s patriotism".  122.  seen to be c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the chronicle h i s t o r y play. there i s f o r Respublica  tJhat concern  appears i n scattered remarks by the  dissembling  Vortiger to the pious Constantius i n the f i r s t A c t ^ , but e s p e c i a l l y i n the l a s t l i n e s of the f i n a l scene.  Aurelius turns from Hengist to  Castiza, Vortiger's widowed Queen, declaring, Nay to approue thy purenes to p o s t e r i t i e The f r u i t f u l l hopes o f f a f a i r e p e a c e f u l l Kingdom Here w i l l I plant .... and to the ffirmness Of Truths plantation i n t h i s Land f o r ever, always grones vunder som Curse w"th out i t , As I begine my r u l e with the destruction Of t h i s ambitious Pagan, so s h a l l a l l wt* h i s adulterate f a i t h d i s t a i n d , and s o i l d , E i t h e r turne Christians, dye, or l i u e e x i l d . £V. i i . 279 - 89.3 1  25 The date of the play's composition (between 1 6 1 6 and 1 6 2 0  ) w i l l i n part  account f o r the dearth of p a t r i o t i c sentiment - there was not the sense of national unity under James that had existed under the l a t e r E l i z a b e t h . At l e a s t the sentiment of the Jacobean court was not as often that of the populace - witness the Spanish match. may  But what patriotism i s i n the play  p a r t l y have owed i t s o r i g i n s to the f a i n t influence of one aspect of  the Tudor myth of h i s t o r y .  Anxious to make h i s claims to the throne  24 Putting Vortiger beside Constantius i n the f i r s t two acts of the play i s Middleton's o l d t r i c k of contrasting the Virtue f i g u r e with the embodiment of v i c e . Of t h i s technique W. A. Armstrong i n "The Influence of Seneca and Machiavelli on the Elizabethan Tyrant", Review of English Studies. v o l . 24 (January, 1948), p. 19, says, "Tudor l i t e r a t u r e exhibits a well-established convention of s e t t i n g p o r t r a i t s of the i d e a l king the speculum p r i n c i p i s - i n calculated contrast to the accompanying port r a i t s of the s i n f u l tyrant."' 2 5 Bald, "Introduction" to Hengist. King of Kent, pp. x i i i - x v i i , where 1 6 1 9 - 2 0 i s preferred.  123. legitimate, Henry VII had sought to promote the myth that he was redivivus. enemies.  2 0  Arthurus  Arthur's Saxon enemies would, accordingly, be England's  Historians l i k e H a l l and poets l i k e Spenser encouraged t h i s  myth, and i t might not be amiss to see i n Middleton's  treatment of the  Saxons i n Hengist a v e s t i g i a l s u r v i v a l of the Tudor a t t i t u d e . P a r t l y , too, the patriotism i n the play, such as i t i s , stems from conventional E l i z a bethan notions of order and l o y a l t y .  But the absence of any strong note  of patriotism i s l i k e l y the r e s u l t of the f a c t that Hengist i s not - i f the expression be permitted i n connection with such a mongrel type as the history play - a pure dramatic mode.''' The chronicle pattern of the main 2  action i s wedded to both de casibus tragedy and to an i n t r i g u e p l o t of l u s t and ambition, and Middleton f a i l e d to conceal t h i s s t r u c t u r a l bigamy. Moreover, he further complicated and d i s j o i n t e d h i s play by adding long scenes of comic r e l i e f . The debt of the entire Elizabethan drama to the medieval has frequently been pointed out ^, but whereas Renaissance comedy had 2  Plautus  as a model, and tragedy Seneca, the chronicle play had to work out i t s own patterns a s s i s t e d by what p r i n c i p l e s of order the medieval drama could supply and by, modes of organization contributed by non-dramatic l i t e r a r y  26 T i l l y a r d , Shakespeare's History Plavs. p. 30. T i l l y a r d shows that the Tudor myth of h i s t o r y was exceptionally, not u s u a l l y , a part of the chronicle play. Shakespeare, of course, i s the main exponent of i t i n drama. 27 Parrott and B a l l , A Short View of Elizabethan Drama, p. 166, i t a "curious medley of h i s t o r y , tragedy, and f a r c e . "  call  28 One of the l a t e s t i l l u s t r a t i o n s of t h i s indebtedness occurs i n Hardin Craig's English Religious Drama of the Middle Ages. Oxford, The Clarendon Press, 1955, pp. 9 - 10, 383 - 9.  124. forms, the medieval de casibus conception of tragedy, f o r instance. forms of chronicle plays were l i k e l y , then, to be e c l e c t i c ;  The  and despite  the d i s c i p l i n e d examples of Edward I I and Richard I I . most chronicle h i s t o r i e s have ramshackle structures, serious episodes being strung l i k e beads on a thread of narrative, with comic episodes displaying t h e i r l i v e l i e r colours at random i n the necklace.  This looseness of structure, u l t i -  mately traceable to the Miracle play, i s a convention of the chronicle h i s t o r y observable i n Hengist. King of Kent. The main action of the, play concerns the attempts of Vortiger to seize and keep r o y a l power and to r i d himself of Castiza i n favour of Roxena f o r whom he l u s t s .  After f o r c i n g Constantius to take the throne,  Vortiger persuades the new k i n g to leave to him the business of government. But Vortiger i s s a t i s f i e d with absolute power only;  he has Constantius  murdered, making use of the recently landed Saxons to maintain order. Soon he repudiates h i s wife i n favour of Roxena, the daughter of Hengist, leader of the Saxons.  The Britons r e v o l t against Vortiger because of t h i s  marriage, and crown h i s son, Vortiner, king.  Vortiner being poisoned by  Roxena, Vortiger reassumes the throne only to meet with Hengist's treachery which, however, permits Vortiger h i s l i b e r t y .  But Constantius s brothers, 1  Aurelius and Uther, beseige Vortiger and Roxena i n a Welsh castle which i s thereupon f i r e d .  Roxena dies i n the flames;  Vortiger perishes at the  hands of Horsus who had a l l the while been cuckolding him;  Hengist i s cap-  tured by the B r i t i s h princes, and the action ends with Aurelius i i i control of the throne. Had Middleton dramatized the action thus summarized, he would  125.  probably have produced a more t i g h t l y k n i t play, but many of the events just described are merely sketched by means of the spectacular miming of the  dumb-show or b a l d l y narrated i n the o c t o s y l l a b i c s of Raynulph, the  choric presenter. Half-way through Act I the f i r s t dumb-show mimes the bestowal by Fortune on Hengist and Horsus ^ of the leadership of the surplus Saxons. 2  Shown i n dumb-show, too, i s the parting of Roxena from her father and from Horsus.  The choral speech of Raynulph which immediately follows the mime  explains t h i s action, but i d e n t i f i e s only Roxena. senters  3 0  Dumb-shows and pre-  were stock s t r u c t u r a l resources of the Elizabethan dramatist  seeking t o organize h i s material, but Middleton f a l t e r s i n h i s use of these resources.  The gravest s t r u c t u r a l flaw i s that the characters presented  here are not r e l a t e d to the preceding or the following action;  i t i s not  u n t i l the second scene of Act I I that Hengist and Horsus enter and are announced as newly Landed" and begin to take part i n the action. ll  A fur-  ther flaw, mentioned above, i s that though the audience might guess t h e i r i d e n t i t y from the t i t l e of the play, neither of these Saxons i s named i n the  dumb-show or i n Raynulph^ e x p l i c a t i o n .  This f a c t cancels the u t i l i t y  of placing the dumb-show and chorus i n the middle of Act I as a preparation f o r the entry of Hengist and Horsus one act l a t e r . chorus thus have the e f f e c t of irrelevance.  29  The dumb-show and  The only defence that Middle-  Variously s p e l l e d Hersus and Horsus i n the play.  30 Shakespeare had used Gower as the chorus and presenter of P e r i c l e s . Heywood employed Homer thus i n the Golden. S i l v e r and Brazen Ages, and Fletcher and Massinger were to resort t o a s i m i l a r Chorus i n The Prophetess. See Bald, "Introduction", p. x v i i .  126. ton might have made of h i s arrangement would be that the Saxons needed s u f f i c i e n t time to voyage to B r i t a i n and the long i n t e r v a l between t h e i r appearances would, according to the laws of dramatic i l l u s i o n and the time conventions of the Elizabethan stage, e s t a b l i s h the sense of s u f f i cient time.  But the argument i s weak since there was no need i n any case  to n o t i f y the audience that the Saxon f l e e t had l e f t Germany.  I t would  appear that Middleton conventionally enough with t h i s genre, was t r y i n g to get as much of h i s sources ( p r i n c i p a l l y Holinshed but also Fabyan^l) i n t o his chronicle h i s t o r y as possible. The second dumb-show and attending chorus appears between I I . i . and I I . i i .  Here, four events of great importance t o the main action are  h a s t i l y sketched i n :  the murder of Constantius, the execution of the  murderers a t the behest of the h y p o c r i t i c a l l y h o r r i f i e d Vortiger who had hired them, the forced marriage of Castiza t o the newly crowned Vortiger, and the f l i g h t of Constantius s two brothers, Aurelius and Uther. 1  Ray-  nulph gallops h i s explanatory o c t o s y l l a b i c s over t h i s huge stretch of narrative i n breathless haste, and then I I . i i . opens, resuming the more l e i s u r e l y pace of scenic action. A s i m i l a r telegraphic precis of important events appears between the second and t h i r d scenes of Act IV. The dumb—show here displays the crowning of Vortiner as a r e s u l t of Vortiger's marriage t o the pagan, Roxena, her suborning two Saxons to murder Vortiner, r a t i o n by the Britons a f t e r '"sweareing him against y  Vortiger's r e s t o 6  saxons", Hengist's  amazement at Vortiger's betrayal, and f i n a l l y the establishment of a  31  Bald, Hengist. King of Kent, pp. x x x v i i - x x x v i i i , 104 - 105.  127.  seeming truce between the Britons and the Saxons.  Raynulph's choric com-  mentary compresses these events i n t o fourteen rapid l i n e s . Even t o an audience f a m i l i a r with Fabyan and Holinshed, these summary sketches of many c r u c i a l episodes i n the Vortiger - Hengist story must have been bewildering. Middleton had dramatic practice to appeal t o i n compressing h i s material i n t h i s way, but the masters of the chronicle play (Shakespeare was one of the few) selected and organized t h e i r subjectmatter with much greater s k i l l than t h i s .  For loading every r i f t with  story Middleton must take f u l l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y .  3 2  Another s t r u c t u r a l weakness - again a consequence of the Miracle play's influence on the pattern of action of Elizabethan chronicle dramas i s the excessive elaboration of comic episodes that are, because of t h e i r very loose tonal and thematic connections with the main p l o t , contributory to the play's disjointedness. b i l i t y f o r t h i s defect.  Again Middleton must assume responsi-  With the exception of those of the p e t i t i o n e r s  i n I. i i . , the humours of Simon the tanner are the obtruding elements i n the t r a g i c action, although Simon's clowning " i s i n the conventional manner of comic r e l i e f " .  3 3  Such r e l i e f the clowning does a f f o r d , but not  only i s the comic action almost t o t a l l y divorced from the main p l o t , i t  32 The explanation f o r the clumsiness i n the organization and present a t i o n of h i s material might seem t o l i e i n Middleton's r e w r i t i n g an o l d play, some of which gets into h i s own version. Bald, "Introduction", pp. x v i i - xx shows that there i s good reason f o r b e l i e v i n g t h i s t o be the case, Henslowe's diary f o r 1596 mentioning a play variously r e f e r r e d to as "valteger" or "henges". But r e v i s i n g an e a r l i e r drama does not r e lease Middleton from the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of r e t a i n i n g dramatic conventions that make f o r incoherence. 33 Bald, "Introduction", p. x l i . I t need scarcely be added that I agree with Bald's judgment that the Simon scenes, taken alone, are "a p a r t i c u l a r l y happy mingling of humour and f a r c e " (p. I i . ) .  128. also occupies a disproportionate number of the play's l i n e s . of the comic l i n e s to the t r a g i c i s more than one to three.34  The r a t i o That Middle-  ton i n f l a t e s even the only r e a l l i n k the Simon episodes have with the main p l o t may be seen i n I I . i i i . 30 - 139 where the h i d e - t r i c k , t o l d by Fabyan i n a hundred-odd words and by Holinshed i n much less3$, i s padded out by Simon's r u s t i c dialogue into ninety-nine l i n e s .  And the l a t e r long scenes  f i g u r i n g the e l e c t i o n of the Mayor of Queenborough ( I I I . i i i . ) and h i s g u l l i n g by the cheaters at h i s celebration of Hengist's v i s i t (V. i . ) are whole-cloth additions that run respectively to 343 and 405 l i n e s . The action of these dropsical scenes of comedy i s miles removed from the main p l o t , but Middleton may have made a feeble attempt to r e l a t e them to the Vortiger - Hengist story. tan  The treachery of Oliver, the P u r i -  f u s t i a n weaver to Simon, the Mayor of Queenborough, i n V. i . i s some-  thing of a comic p a r a l l e l to the treachery of Hengist to Vortiger at the parley between the Saxons and the Britons i n the previous scene, and the f e s t i v i t i e s Simon holds i n honour of the v i s i t of the King of Kent (V. i . ) i s a s i m i l a r p a r a l l e l to Hengist*s wassail at which Vortiger i s guest of honour i n the second scene of the f o u r t h act.  Perhaps, too, the mayoralty  e l e c t i o n scene ( I I I . i i i . ) i s a lampooning of those serious scenes and dumb-shows which t e l l of the wilfulness of the f i c k l e mob leaders to great place and then h u r l i n g them down.  i n raising  A l l these p a r a l l e l s ,  however, are such s l i g h t things that i t cannot r e a l l y be said that Middle-  34 There are 673 l i n e s devoted to Simon's a c t i v i t i e s and 2024 to those of Vortiger et a l l . The dumb-shows and choric speeches have been omitted from t h i s count. 35  Bald, Hengist. King of Kent, pp. 1 0 8 - 9 .  129. ton exercised much a r t i s t i c conscience by way of u n i f y i n g h i s play;  or  at any rate he d o c i l e l y trod the way sanctioned by loosely constructed h i s t o r i e s , double action comedies, and two-plot F l e t c h e r i a n p l a y s .  And  that the comic sub-plot convention of the chronicle play could produce j a r r i n g e f f e c t s when the author sought to l i n k the two at some point i n the action may be i l l u s t r a t e d i n Hengist by the conclusion to Scene One i n Act F i v e .  A f t e r observing Simon's discomfiture at the hands of the  cheaters, Hengist i s v i o l e n t l y wrenched from witnessing a s i t u a t i o n of f a r c i c a l h i l a r i t y to suddenly devising strategy f o r rescuing h i s daughter since the Gentleman who has just rushed i n has c r i e d , "arm arme my Lord" W^ swiftest speed, I f ever youle behold y Aliue agen n  e  Queene y o  r  daughter  Their Besidgd Aurelius Ambrose & h i s brother Vther W^k numbers i n f i n i t e i n B r i t t a i n e f f o r c e s Besett there Castle, & they Cannot scape W^out y o speedy succour r  With these words the simple innocence of Simon's world vanishes and the audience i s f o r c i b l y propelled into a very d i f f e r e n t order of r e a l i t y . That order, however, i s by no means novel to Middleton;  it is,  rather, c h a r a c t e r i s t i c , f o r what the audience i s abruptly returned to i s a story of ambition, l u s t , and i n t r i g u e t o l d i n r e a l i s t i c terms.  It i s ,  though, shaped to some extent a f t e r the pattern of de casibus tragedy whose chief convention i s the spectacle of the i l l u s t r i o u s man being cast down by Fortune i n t o the ignominious dust.  I t i s a genre defined once  and f o r a l l by Chaucer's Monk: Tragedie i s to seyn a certeyn s t o r i e ,  130. As olde bookes maken us memorie, Of hym that stood i n greet prosperitee, And i s y f a l l e n out of heigh degree Into myserie, and endeth wrecchedly. (11. 1973 - 7 . )  3 6  The r i s e t o great heights of Vortiger, Hengist, and Roxena with t h e i r subsequent plummeting and miserable and wretched ends i s also suggestive of the Morality which i n at l e a s t one notable example depicted man being stripped of a l l h i s worldly goods and q u a l i t i e s .  Hengist s rapid f a l l 1  from the lordship of B r i t a i n to the misery of seizure i n war i s r e f e r r e d to i n his words "Ye headlong fortune o f f my rash Captiuitye" (V. i i . 215.). But the words of Vortiger as he reviews h i s career i n the l i g h t of the Saxon treachery may be taken as representative of the de casibus and Morality strains i n Heneist. Are these the noblest f r u i t e s & f a i r s t r e q u i t a l l s From workes of our owne r a i s e i n g ; Methinks y murder of Constantius Speakes to me i n y® voice on't, and y wrongs Of our l a t e Queene s l i p t both i n t o one Organ Here i s noe safetye f o r me, but whats most d o u b t f u l l The Ranck rowt loue me not, & ye strength I had This fowle devoureing Treachery has demollishd; Ambition, h e l l , mine owne vndooing Lust, And a l l y broode of plauges Conspire against mee I have not a f r i e n d l e f t me. ~(IV. i i i . 132 - 43.) But Fortune has r e a l l y l i t t l e to do with t h i s play, her most prominent 6  e  6  r o l e being confined t o the f i r s t dumb-show where ffortune i s discouered vppon an a l t e r , i n her hand a golden round f u l l of l o t t s (JD.S. i . ] 1 - 2.)  36 F. N. Robinson (ed.), The Canterbury Tales i n The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. Boston, Houghton M i f f l i n Company, 1933. Middleton most probably d i d not get the de casibus conception from Chaucer - i t was a commonplace to h i s age - but he knew "that broad famous E n g l i s h poet" (More Dissemblers. I . i v . 36.).  131 from which Hengist and Horsus extract the leadership of the Saxons. The dominant s t r u c t u r a l pattern of t h i s play i s that of r e a l i s t i c tragedy of i n t r i g u e . Wily, l u s t f u l schemers, ambitious, and hungry f o r power and place, r u t h l e s s l y e x p l o i t opportunity to achieve t h e i r p o s i tions of pleasure and command.  Their a c t i v i t i e s , though, b r i n g about  t h e i r f i n a l downfalls, f o r counter-intrigues are set i n motion against them as a r e s u l t of t h e i r e v i l machinations. The p r i n c i p a l i n t r i g u e involves Vortiger who,  conventionally  enough, i s a self-conscious pursuer of h i s own i n t e r e s t s . In the opening scene of the play he expresses h i s f u r y that the mob h i s plans.  should have thwarted  His words reveal not only a conventional Elizabethan a t t i t u d e  towards the common f o l k but a l s o h i s  self-awareness.  Infill that wide throated Beast the Multitude Neuer Lyn Bellowing? Courtiers are i l l advisd When they f i r s t make such Monsters: What doe they but make head against themselues by't? How neere was I to a Scepter and a Crowne, F a i r e power was een vpon me, my desires Were t a s t i n g glory, t i l l t h i s forked rable With t h e i r i n f e c t i o u s acclamations Poysoned my fortune; they w i l l here haue none As long as Constantius three sons Suruiue, As i f y v a s a i l l e s knew not how to obey But i n that l i n e , l i k e t h e i r e professions That a l l there l i f e time hamer put one way Beaten i n t o t h e i r pates with seauen yeares Bondage; Well! though I r i s e not King H e seeke the meanes To grow as Close to one as p o l i c y e Can And choake there expectations (I. i . 1 - 1 7 . ) * 8  37 We note the Machiavellian word, "policye '. On the Machiavellism i n t h i s play, see pp. 159 - 160 below. I t might be f u r t h e r pointed out that F. S. Boas i n An Introduction to Stuart DrnMf P« 230, says that " i n Vort i g e r Middleton drew a f i g u r e who i s a Stuart counterpart to Marlowe's Guise and Shakespeare's Gloucester. E i t h e r of them might have spoken h i s opening words a f t e r Constantine's death...." 11  132. This self-conscious v i l l a i n y was a convention of Elizabethan drama, poss i b l y most notably demonstrated i n Shakespeare's Richard I I I . Vortiger s u c c e s s f u l l y schemes t o get a l l of Constantius s  powers  1  i n t o h i s own hands, only t o r e a l i z e that he needs the symbol of kingship as well i f he i s t o regain Castiza's love, so he h i r e s "2 V i l l a i n e s " t o slay Constantius.  This accomplished, he makes use of the f r e s h l y a r r i v e d  Saxons t o suppress a l l opposition t o h i s assumption o f the throne.  There-  a f t e r , Vortiger*s remaining i n t r i g u e s have t o do with gaining Roxena, f o r whom he l u s t s , as h i s queen, and thus, too, with devising means f o r repud i a t i n g Castiza.  Horsus a s s i s t s him here with the "rape" p l o t which enables  Vortiger t o put Castiza aside and enthrone Roxena.  But t h i s marriage t o  a pagan enrages the Britons and t h e i r r e b e l l i o n u l t i m a t e l y occasions h i s death a t the hands o f Horsus. Horsus and Roxena were lovers even before l e a v i n g t h e i r homeland, and a l l of Horsus's i n t r i g u i n g i s d i r e c t e d towards keeping his,share i n t h i s woman. Even when a l l others have abandoned V o r t i g e r , he f i n d s Horsus remaining by h i s side, but not, as Vortiger thinks, h i s " f a i t h f u l ! t r e a sure".  Horsus*s scheme i s otherwise than d i s i n t e r e s t e d f r i e n d s h i p . He  i s h i s sole purpose.  follow y o through y® world, t o Cuckold y o u  u  The depths t o which he would sink i n order t o s a t i s -  f y h i s passion f o r the woman who was h i s "whore i n Germany" may best be observed i n the dreadful i n t r i g u e scenes of Act Three where Horsus f i r s t proposes, and then ensures, that the b l i n d f o l d e d Castiza be "raped"' by her own husband so that a charge of dishonour may be brought against her and Roxena preferred as Vortiger's queen ( I I I . i . 116. - I I I . i i . 125.)•  133 Roxena i s involved i n the important i n t r i g u e s , too.  She made  the dangerous journey to B r i t a i n to be with her secret l o v e r but once there a t t r a c t e d the l u s t f u l eye of Vortiger, who, notices Horsus's deep disturbance.  making known h i s desire,  Roxena r e a l i z e s that Horsus i s danger-  ously jealous and i s thereby driven to perjure her soul and to i n t r i g u e and dissemble.  When Vortiger asks, "What ayles our f r i e n d " , Roxena, r e -  v e a l i n g her quick resourcefulness, at once r e p l i e s that she  recognizes  the ailment as the epilepsy that Horsus suffered from even i n Germany, and that a v i r g i n ' s r i g h t hand stroked upon h i s heart w i l l give him ease. she i n s i s t s , i t must be a genuine v i r g i n .  She o f f e r s to help him  But,  now;  Horsus at f i r s t refuses to play her game, threatening to reveal her as a "whoore impostrous", but he r e l e n t s , adding, i f thou ever f a i l s t me, I w i l l f a l l And thou shalt neuer gett me vp againe (II.  i i i . 279 -  to which Roxena r e p l i e s , "Agreed twix't you and I s " . r  80.)  Shortly a f t e r , how-  ever, mutual suspicion and Horsus's jealousy provoke another quarrel, and the scheme which Roxena now  reveals d i s c l o s e s her s k i l l as a  i n t r i g u e r and betrays her nature.  dissembling  Concerning her prospective marriage to  Vortiger she pleads with Horsus thus. How b l e s t are you aboue yo * apprehension I f y o desire would lend you soe much patience, To examine y adventurous Condition Of our a f f e c t i o n s , w are f u l l of hazard, And draw i n y * times goodness to defend vs: F i r s t t h i s bold Course of ours Cant l a s t long Or neuer does i n any without shame, And that you know Brings danger, and the greater My f f a t h e r i s i n Blood, as hees well r i s e n , The greater w i l l y® storme of h i s rage bee, Gainst h i s Bloods wronging: I haue Cast f o r t h i s , 1  r  8  ch  6  134. Tis not advancement that I loue alone T i s loue of shelter to keepe shame vknowne. / ( I I I . i . 16 - 29.) and she confirms these words by urging him t o take but t h ' opinion Of Common reason, and youle f i n d e ' t impossible That y o shold loose me i n t h i s kinges advancem* Who heares a vsurper, as he has y* Kingdome So s h a l l he haue my loue by vsurpation, The r i g h t s h a l l be i n thee s t i l l j my ascension To D i g n i t i e i s but to wafte vpward. ( I I I . i . 63 - 9.) u  At the great banquet prepared by Hengist f o r Vortiger i n IV. i i . i n the course of which Vortiger spurns Castiza, Roxena secures her place at Vortiger's side by b l i t h e dissembling a f t e r Horsus reminds her that the Britons sweare by that we worship not So y o may sweare y o heart out, and nere hurt y o selfe. (IV. i i . 213 - 4.) u  r  r  With a t e r r i b l e assurance she declares t o Vortiger (who has asked her what she dares t o reply t o h i s question), My Lord as much As Chastity Can put a woman too I aske no f a u o , and t'approue the p u r i t i e Of what my habitt and my time professes, As also t o requite a l l Curteous sensure Heer I take oath I am as f r e e from man As t r u t h from death, or s a n c t i t y from s t a i n e . (IV. i i . 254 - 60.) r  By winning Vortiger with t h i s mendacious declaration, Roxena i s more secure to carry on her a f f a i r with Horsus.  That the Horsus - Roxena  i n t r i g u e was important t o Middleton may be judged from the f a c t that there i s nothing suggesting i t i n the chronicles. The fourth important i n t r i g u e r i n the play i s Hengist.  At f i r s t  135. he i s merely the leader of a Saxon band brought by Fortune to B r i t a i n ' s shores.  With the devising of the h i d e - t r i c k ( I I . i i i . 39 f f . ) he becomes  something of an i n t r i g u e r , but i t i s not u n t i l he learns that Vortiger has betrayed the friendship of those who  secured h i s throne f o r him a f t e r  Constantius's murder that he begins to display the nature a t t r i b u t e d to him rather l a t e i n the play by  Horsus:  the Earle of Kent Is Calme & smooth, l i k e a deepe dangerous water, He has som secret way, I know h i s Blood The graues not greedier, nor h e l l s Lord more proud. (IV. i i . 283 - 6.) Hengist plots with cunning the s l a y i n g of the unsuspecting Britons at the ostensibly unarmed parley, and with the success of h i s scheme declares, heres an howre Begins vs,Saxons, i n wealth fame & powre. (IV. i i i . 130 - 1.) The degree of success Hengist schemed f o r i s revealed at the end of the play when Aurelius asks, Is t h i s that Germane Saxon, whose l e a s t t h i r s t Could not be s a t i s f i e d vnder a province? (V. i i . 245 - 6.) Hengist r e p l i e s , Had but my f a t e directed t h i s bold arme To thy L i f e , the whole Kingdome had bene mine That was my hopes greate aime, I haue a t h i r s t Cold never haue bene f u l l quenchd, vnder a l l ; The whole land must, or nothing. (V. i i . 247 - 51.) One further s t r u c t u r a l convention, prominent i n the F l e t c h e r i a n plays but not so frequently u t i l i z e d i n Hengist. i s that of the extended r h e t o r i c a l utterance of exalted sentiment. parenthetically here.  One example may be observed  Constantius pleads with Castiza who has been offered  136. i n marriage to him an