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The City Wit

Edited by E. Schafer

The City Wit

Textual Introduction
Elizabeth Schafer
1The earliest extant text of The City Wit is that published in 1653 by Alexander Brome: the copy text for this edition is the copy held at Eton College. The City Wit forms part of an octavo collection of previously unpublished plays by Richard Brome entitled Five New Playes consisting of (in the order in which they appear) A Mad Couple Well Matched, The Novella, The Court Beggar, The City Wit and The Demoiselle.n10959 While records at Charterhouse Hospital indicate Brome died on 24 September 1652, it is entirely possible that Brome took some part in getting his plays published;n10960 one British Library copy of Five New Playes has 20 May 1653 written on its title page which would certainly suggest a timetable whereby Brome could have contributed to the assembly of the materials needed by the printing house.n10961 Given that the collection was reissued in 1654, it seems reasonable to detect some commercial success. The Stationers’ Register, however, does not mention The City Wit until 1659 when on 11 June Richard Marriott assigned to Humphrey Moseley twenty–one titles; this includes Five New Playes and the individual play titles are listed, including The Cittie Witt.n109622The title page of The City Wit indicates that it was printed by T.R. for Richard Marriot and Thomas Dring, and the collection was ‘to be sold at their Shops in Fleet–street’. The typeface used for the title page produces a very particular emphasis: the play is identified as ‘THE CITY WIT, or The Woman wears the BREECHES, A COMEDY’; however the size of the typeface for CITY WIT, BREECHES, and COMEDY, typeface that is 1.2 cm tall, means that these are the words that produce the most impact. While the marketing rationale behind the typeface for CITY WIT and COMEDY, is easy to deduce, the emphasis on BREECHES (without comparable emphasis, for example, on ‘Woman’) reads rather oddly but it does evoke the climactic moment of the play, when, at the end of 5.1. Tryman’s breeches are revealed.n109633The general title page of the 1653 octavo collection confirms Brome’s plays were to be sold at the shops of Richard Marriot and Thomas Dring but also adds Humphrey Moseley to the list of booksellers. W.W.Greg points out that the last two plays in Five New Playes (The City Wit and The Demoiselle) are ‘bibliographically independent’; the signatures of the first three plays are consecutive (A5v–S8v) but both The City Wit and The Demoiselle start again with A(1);n10964 ornaments used in the last two plays are different from those used in the first three plays but similar to those used in the preliminaries.n10965 Greg hypothesises that A Mad Couple Well Matched, The Novella, The Court Beggar were the work of one printer and that The City Wit and The Demoiselle were the work of another, and that the printer of the latter two plays was also responsible for the preliminary matter. Greg comments that ‘There is no indication that the two bibliographically independent pieces were ever issued separately, though like others in the volume they are sometimes found so’.n10966 Greg suggests the reason that Humphrey Moseley is only mentioned on the general title page and not on the individual title page of The City Wit is because he only became involved in the publication of Five New Playes later on; Greg also identifies the printer T.R. as Thomas Roycroft.n10967 The 1654 reissue was printed by J.F. (James Fletcher) and to be sold by J. Sweeting ‘at his Shop at the Angel in Popeshead–Alley’.n109684The City Wit is printed on signatures A2v– G4v in five acts, with scenes marked throughout, and with a mixed prose and verse prologue, and a verse epilogue. There are no prefatory letters, commendations etc. The prologue is headed by two lines of repeat pattern decoration; the same decoration, but only one line of it, heads the Dramatis Personae. The Dramatis Personae does not list all the characters: it omits some servant/ page figures. It does not list Tryman and the fact that it does not indicate that Tryman is Jeremy in disguise gives the reader some chance of enjoying the surprise of that revelation in the final scene. The Epilogue is preceded by a completely different decorative border with a pattern based on flowers and crowns.5The text opens the play by repeating the title ‘The City VVit. Or the woman wears the Breeches’ under an impressive block of decoration that is pictorial and suggestive of a carved lintel. The first spoken sentence appears two thirds of the way down the page and is given a very impressive opening of a factotum, an upper case S in an elaborate frame, the only occasion in the text that such a decorative letter is used. More usually the first letter of the opening speech of any scene is two lines high; however in the prologue it is the first letter of ‘You’ which is given this treatment and this ‘Y’ is nearly five lines high. Another anomaly is the opening of 2.2 where the enlarged letter is part of the speech heading, ‘Jos.’.6There are 29 copies of the 1653 octavo (Five New Playes: FNP) currently known to be extant: some copies exist separately from the collection in which they were published (The City Wit: TCW).UK Libraries
British Library: 2 FNP; 1 TCW
Bodleian Library, Oxford: 2 FNP
Dyce Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum: 1 FNP
Eton College: 1 FNP (bound in 2 volumes, TCW bound with The Demoiselle)
National Library of Scotland: 1 FNP; 1 TCW
University Library, Cambridge: 1 FNP
Worcester College, Oxford: 1 FNP
US libraries
Boston Public Library, Boson, Mass.: 1 FNP
University of Chicago Library, Chicago: 3 FNP
Library of Congress, Washington D.C.: 1 FNP
Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington D.C.: 2 FNP
Harvard College Library, Cambridge, Mass.: 1 FNP
Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, California: 1 FNP
Pierpont Morgan Library, New York City: 1 FNP
Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois: 1 FNP
New York Public Library, Berg collection: 1 FNP
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa.: 1 FNP
Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection, New York, now at Austin Texas: 1 FNP
Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.: 1 FNP
Austin, Texas: 1 TCW
University of Illinois, Urbana–Champaign Library: 1 FNP
Yale University Library, New Haven, Conn.: 1 FNP
7Copies of the 1654 reissue can be found in:UK Libraries
British Library: 1 FNP
Bodleian Library, Oxford: 1 FNP
US Libraries
Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington D.C.: 1 FNP
Yale University Library, New Haven, Conn.: 1 FNP
8Generally, the text of The City Wit is readable, clear and makes good sense: however there are a few exceptions and by far the most important is the problem in continuity that appears at the end of 4.4. Here Crasy announces he will write to Sir Andrew Ticket to tell him to disguise himself as Doctor Pulse–Feel in order to visit Josina and (Ticket hopes) have sex with her. What actually happens is that Rufflit, not Ticket, turns up dressed as Doctor Pulse–Feel. However, this is also a section of the play where something seems to have gone missing. At the bottom of E8 Crasy cuts off his speech rather abruptly; Linsy–Wolsey and Crack then immediately burst onstage, opening 4.4. There is no exit marked for Crasy and, although it is possible to make sense of him finishing his speech here, the fact that the catchword is ‘My’, which does not appear at the opening of 4.4., suggests that at least a line or two might be missing, perhaps lines debating which of the courtiers should be instructed to appear dressed as Doctor Pulse–Feel and concluding that it should Rufflit and not Ticket after all. E8v also begins 4.4. lower down the page than usual; the gap is equivalent to two lines of text which might indicate that a space had been left for more text to be entered but it never was.9The fact that this problem is not corrected in the 1654 reissue, suggests nobody spotted the error or that nobody could be bothered to correct it. While a reader would quite probably skip over this as a problem, as the two courtiers Ticket and Rufflit can appear rather interchangeable, it is unlikely that such a problem would have remained unresolved in performance. Without risking anachronistic Stanislavskian approaches to character, I contend that the actors playing Ticket and Rufflit would pick it up: the actors playing these roles are, after all, facing the prospect of either being beaten, or being beaten whilst suspended in mid air. Most would prefer the former option. In addition, the sequence where Ticket is beaten hanging from the balcony of the stage would need to be thought through carefully and planned; not of course with the attention to detail expected today by health and safety inspectors but, nevertheless, the performer playing Crasy would be unlikely to be able to take the whole weight of Ticket hanging from a rope, and the logistics of this sequence would have to be sorted out and discussed. My hypothesis is that the end of Crasy’s speech here slipped out of the octavo text and that we have no way of telling how much text has gone missing.Dating10The date and provenance of The City Wit are also explored in the critical introduction to the play but one aspect of the play’s dating has been used to hypothesise a layered textual history: some parts of the prologue clearly belong to a time after the premiere, probably to a time when the play was revived in the late 1630s. The Prologue speaks of[…] this our comedy, which, in bold phrase,
The author says has passed with good applause
In former times. For it was written when
It bore just judgement and the seal of Ben.
Some in this round may have both seen’t and heard,
Ere I, that bear its title, wore a beard.
11The ‘former times’ spoken of here must be the time of the premiere, and a bearded player, that is an adult male actor, is speaking of the play being performed originally when he did not have a beard. G.E. Bentley hypothesizes that the prologue may actually be two prologues run together: one section being from the premiere or at least an early performance; the other section being from a revival.n10969 Bentley cuts the prologue in two: the first prologue he discerns ‘ends, apparently incomplete, with the line “Ile nothing speak but figures, strayns & tropes”’. The second prologue consists of the rest of the speech. He does not suggest why the two prologues should be run together in print rather than printed separately. Bentley sees the prologue as ‘printed with some confusion’, something ‘perhaps derived from the state of the playhouse manuscript from which it was set up – see, for instance, the prompter’s warning at the beginning of Act II’.n10970 What Bentley describes as the prompter’s warning, ‘A purse’, however, is not necessarily an indication that the text is a playhouse copy. The comment ‘A purse’ could just as easily indicate a reader–conscious text (as is argued below) or someone familiar with playhouse conventions.n10971 In addition, to argue that ‘a purse’ suggests a playhouse copy, when, for example, the really rather vital information that a bed needs to come on stage at the beginning of Act 3 is omitted, seems to be stretching the argument. What is more, a permissive stage direction like the one that opens 1.1 ‘A Table set forth with empty Mony–bags, Bills, Bonds, & Bookes of accompts, &c.’ would not work in the playhouse; if nothing else the ‘&c’. would need to be clarified and rendered precise. The English Moor manuscript, which is not a playhouse copy, includes a similar stage direction ( ‘a paper’ (page 12). Finally, no part of the prologue exhibits what Tiffany Stern indicates are characteristics of prologues written for first performances: an emphasis on ‘freshness, youth, and novelty’ in the play and speculation about how the audience will react.n10972 Given all this, the case for separating the prologue into two discrete speeches seems less compelling.n10973Copy text provided for the printer12I contend that The City Wit was set from an authorial manuscript for several reasons, most of which are grounded in comparison between the printed text of The City Wit and the manuscript of The English Moor held in Lichfield Cathedral, a manuscript which is written in Richard Brome’s own hand.n10974 Several aspects of The City Wit text resemble The English Moor manuscript.13Firstly, The City Wit contains many stage directions which seem not only to be written by someone very familiar with the play in performance, possibly remembering how the play looked and worked onstage, but which also seem deliberately designed to help a reader follow what would be happening were the play to be performed. Examples include the opening stage directions of 1.1.: ‘A dinner carried over the stage in covered dishes’; ‘He takes up the bags’; ‘He takes up the bills and papers’; ‘He puts the bills and bonds into a bag’; ‘He takes up a scroll’. Such attentiveness to how the play looked in performance would be particularly helpful because when The City Wit was published in 1653, the playhouses had been officially closed for over a decade and so the readership for Five New Playes might not actually have seen a play (legally) performed on a stage for a long time. If some prospective buyers and readers of the play were not very conversant with playhouse practice, these stage directions would function as a pragmatic aid to reading. It is also worth noting that by 1652–3, the period when the publication project would have been talked about and then worked upon, the obvious source of a previously unpublished play text would be the author; with the playhouses closed, the possibility of a company text being used would depend on someone from the playhouse having stored a text for ten years. It seems far more plausible that Brome himself, rather than anyone else, would store manuscripts of his plays. A very similar use of this kind of evocative stage direction located in the right hand margin of its pages can also be found in the reader aware manuscript of The English Moor; for example, 26v has in the right hand margin ‘As shee is presenting her Pistoll Enter Rashly, Meanwell, Winlosse, Arthure without his false beard. Rafe.’ Particularly significant for this discussion is the phrase ‘As shee is presenting her Pistoll’, which attempts to indicate timing.n1097514Secondly, The City Wit deploys a large number of different kinds of dashes and dots in the text which function as a kind of scoring of performance. Before examining these dots and dashes and comparing them with similar usages in The English Moor manuscript, it is worth commenting on the uses of dots and dashes more widely in play texts of the period and Brome’s relationship with Jonson is relevant here. If The City Wit was written between 1629 and 1631 it comes early in Brome’s career, close to the time when he was indubitably working for Jonson. At the time of the first performance(s) of The City Wit, Jonson was preparing what was supposed to be his 2nd Folio of works for publication. In the end this did not eventuate quite as Jonson wished and only three plays were published in 1631, including Bartholomew Fair (with the reference to Richard Brome in its Induction). The second Folio of Jonson’s plays was only finally printed after Jonson’s death (in 1637). Jonson often, as Richard Cave has argued, through his use of spacing, lineation, layout etc. attempted to create a readerly experience that evokes something of the playhouse.n10976 For example, Cave comments on the use of asterisks in The Sad Shepherd to indicate where Robin is to kiss Marian; and in Cynthia’s Revels the use of ‘dashes in the text of the dialogue’ to ‘show where the actors are to puff on their pipes’.n10977 Cave contends ‘Brilliantly through his chosen format Jonson has found a way of circumventing the limitations of the hand–held book such that one rests in a kind of half–illusion that one is in the theatre experiencing a performance’ but modern editors ignore, or at least do not reproduce, this theatrically aware layout and annotation.n10978 Cave also suggests that Jonson’s layout gestures towards giving readers ‘access to the required tempo’.n10979 Brome seems to have learned from Jonson to think carefully about how print play texts; certainly the use of the right hand margin for stage directions that set the scene is reminiscent of, for example, Jonson’s publication of Bartholomew Fair with stage directions which help the reader enjoy something of the theatricality of that sprawling, exuberant text with its moments of physical, as well as verbal virtuosity, such as the pick–pocketing sequence.n1098015Dots and dashes were used by other authors and scribes of course. For example, dashes are used to mark exits and entrances in the 1620s manuscript of Thomas Middleton’s The Witch, a presentation manuscript written out by the scrivener, Ralph Crane;n10981 an example would be on page 4 where both Florida’s exit and the entrance of Almachildes and Amoretta have short dashes to highlight the stage direction. Page 14 has a dash to mark a pause in Hecate’s speech ‘I rise, and bid thee welcome; –– What’s thy wish now?’; page 68 has a dash which suggests a pause after Isabella’s speech ‘One word in Privat Sir.—’; page 77 has a dash after Antonio’s speech ‘by the way –’. However, what is noticeable in comparison with The City Wit is how extremely restrained the use of dashes is in The Witch.n10982 The difference here might be accounted for by a generally increased usage of dashes in play texts and a text from 1693, George Powell’s adaptation of The City Wit, A Very Good Wife, indicates the use of a long dash to mark pauses, astonishment, interruption etc. has become completely commonplace. What is not present in A Very Good Wife, however, is the deployment of dashes of different length that is present in The City Wit text and in the manuscript of The English Moor.16In The English Moor manuscript Brome uses a middle length dash to indicate breaking off in astonishment (page 19, 26);n10983 to draw out an ‘Ah’ (page 22 twice); to express grief (page 17v); and to prefix the catchword. He uses several medium length dashes to link the last word of a speech with an exit (passim, but, for example, see page 19); and to link up with stage business (page 17v ‘Beats him’). He uses a very long dash for a moment of high drama (page 13 ‘I love ––––––––––– Theophilus.’) and occasionally to link a speech to the stage direction to exit (page 15v). He appears to use dots for a short pause (page 20 ‘sweetly .. now’).n10984 He sometimes uses short dashes between speech headings and the first word of the speech (page 12v); for short pauses (first speech on page 17); for a change of direction (page 13 ‘It is – what is it?’); an interruption (page 15v ‘Cheare thy heart–’). It is also important to note that there is plenty of space on the page and that short dashes or dots cannot be explained away because of insufficient room for longer dashes. What these dashes seem to be gesturing at are different kinds of gaps in speech, or that pauses are being envisaged; hence they might give some indication of pacing within particular speeches.n10985i) Exits 17As indicated above the use of dashes to indicate exits and entrances is not unique; however The City Wit uses dashes for some exits and not others: for example, 4.1. (E4) has Rufflit say ‘Farewell’ with –– (two en dashes) afterwards but when Rufflit exits in 1.2. (B2v) he has no dashes.n10986 Exits in The City Wit vary between long dashes (F1v); two short dashes (E4); sometimes no dashes (B4). In The English Moor dashes are used for exits, although not for entrances;n10987 however, importantly The English Moor also varies in its use of dashes for exits: sometimes a short dash is used in front of the word ‘exit’ (several at the bottom of page 4v); sometimes widely spaced long dashes run across almost the entire page to link up the exit with the end of a speech (page 5, 5v). It has been argued that exits (and entrances) in the early modern playhouse, because of the distance to be travelled from the front of the stage to the back, could have taken the same amount of time as two lines of blank verse.n10988 It may be that some of this dash notation suggests an exit whilst speaking the last lines of the speech.ii) Characters interrupting each other: e.g. in 1.1. (A7v) Sneakup:Good Madame ––– (continuous line)
Pyannet: Uds so! There’s a trick! You must talk, must you?
18This is also fairly unremarkable but the technique can be found in The English Moor (page 8v, 9, 10)iii) Characters breaking off – sometimes in astonishment, or interrupting themselves. Straightforward examples would include 4.1. (E1v), where Sir Andrew Ticket seems to trail off, possibly because the look on the angry Pyannet’s face daunts him. To indicate something of the difference the dashes make here I am reproducing the speech first without the dashes:Ticket: Good Mistress Pyannet, bear’t as well as you may. Your loss is heavy, yet under the strength of your constant wisdom. I’faith my wife was so careful lest you should take too deep sense of it, that she importuned my own presence to comfort you: for sure I know.
Pyannet: You are a wittolly cuckold I know.
19The octavo’s use of dashes helps secure the meaning of the last four words of Ticket’s speech.Ticket: Good Mistress Pyannet, bear’t as well as you may. Your loss is heavy, yet under the strength of your constant wisdom –––––– (continuous line) I’faith my wife was so careful lest you should take too deep sense of it, that she importuned my own presence to comfort you: for sure I know ––––––––– (continuous line)
Pyannet: You are a wittolly cuckold I know.
20Without the dashes ‘for sure I know’ could be read as an affirmation of what has just been said; with the dashes ‘for sure I know’ is the beginning of a new sentence which breaks off either as Ticket begins to realise that Pyannet is exploding with anger, or as she interrupts him. An equivalent in The English Moor appears on page 26 where Theophilus say ‘Blesse me – tis –’. A variation on this type of implicit stage direction appears in The City Wit 3.2. (C8) where Sarpego is talking about his lack of silver and has en dashes between the second and third syllables of the word ‘argentum’ (silver) which suggests something like a sigh or a sad pause is being asked for: Argent[sigh]tum !’.iv) Dashes marking pauses marked for stage business: so, for example, in 3.2. (D2) Sneakup says ‘Yes, now I come in, make my three legs ––– and then –––’ (en dashes). This looks like spaces for Sarpego to perform ‘three legs’, that is, comic bowing. See also 4.1 (D8) where there is a sequence discussing and listing dances:Tricks of twenty: your traverses slidings, falling back, jumps, closings, openings, shorts, turns, pacings, gracings ––– (en dashes) As for ––– (en dashes) corantoes, lavoltas, jigs, measures, brawls, galliards, or canaries [….]21This suggests some action was envisaged before and after ‘As for’, such as a demonstration of some dancing or, possibly, as this is partly a seduction scene, some close contact between the dancing master and his pupil.n1098922One of the best examples of what I am suggesting is a kind of scoring appears in 3.1. where there is a large variety of ‘agh’s, ‘pagh’s, ‘oh’s, ‘uh’s etc. written in for the supposedly dying widow Tryman. These instructions, which are basically telling the performer to make inarticulate noises, are very much geared to helping a reader to imagine the delivery of a performance, which, judging from other characters’ comments, include gasps, gurgles, vomiting noises, the breaking of wind, burping etc. The fact that ‘aghs’ and ‘paghs’ or ‘ohs’ and ‘uhs’ are distinguished indicates some attention to the sounds to be made. So in 3.1. (C3v) Tryman delivers the following line: ‘Then I am even well methinks –– agh –– agh –– ’ that is, the breaks between her aghs (coughs? gasps? something less decorous?) are indicated by two en dashes. A few lines later (C4) Tryman has a different kind of scoring: faced with the prospect of being left alone with the man she supposedly loves, she utters the line ‘Oh no, no no no ––––– (continuous line)’. (The use of only one comma here could also suggest tone or emphasis.) In The English Moor there are comparable dashes after roars (page 24v) and a ‘Wretch that I am. O––– O ––––’ (page 16).23Another use of dashes is to mark a pause while comic violence is performed. So in 4.2.(E6) a long dash seems to indicate when Pyannet is hitting her husband Sneakup with her truncheon, to evoke the theatrical effect, and at least to acknowledge that physical action is taking place around the words. Shortly after this, on pages E6v and E7 en dashes appear after ‘sweet wife’, ‘How’s this’, ‘Honey Mother’ ‘modesties sake’ but continuous lines (em dashes) appear after, for example, ‘Ods my precious’, ‘Nay mother’, ‘I am cony–catch’d’.n10990 This is a section of text where several characters are trying to talk, which presumably in performance becomes a babble of overlapping speech. This example in The City Wit of a section of text littered with dashes and dots might also compare with The English Moor page 15v where there are nine uses of dashes on a single page.24Of course these dashes are open to different interpretations but given that there does sometimes seem to be some logic in the use of dashes in the text of The City Wit, and that the situations that result in a break out of dashes resemble similar dash intensive moments in The English Moor, I posit that the typesetters are responding to something in the script they were setting from, which I believe is in Richard Brome’s hand, and that this script used dashes in distinctively different ways in order to indicate business and/ or pacing. It is clear that Brome did want to have his dramatic work recorded carefully; at the end of The Antipodes he inserted a letter to the ‘Courteous Reader’ which statesYou shall find in this book more than was presented upon the stage, and left out of the presentation for superfluous length (as some of the players pretended). I thought good all should be inserted according to the allowed original of passages left out in performance.25One thing that is also noticeable about The English Moor manuscript is that Brome’s hand is very legible, clearly spaced and neatly written. This is a presentation manuscript, dedicated to William Seymour, Duke of Somerset, and so clearly it would be written out with a consciousness of it being read, not played. Matthew Steggle argues that this manuscript dates from between 1636/7 and 1640;n10991 if this is the case then, by the time there was talk of publishing his previously unpublished plays, Brome could have learned from the experience of producing a reader–centred copy of The English Moor, before handing over the manuscript of The City Wit to the printers for the (posthumous) 1653 publication.n10992 Although seventeenth–century printers were not likely to have taken much extra time (equals money) to observe subtlety in diacriticals, the participation of Richard Brome’s friend, Alexander Brome, in the publishing process may have increased the chances that authorial notation was retained.26While The City Wit is generally well printed there are several categories of mistakes:n10993Speech prefixes.• In 1.1., lines 314 and 315 have the speech prefixes ‘Bri’ and ‘Jos’ mixed up; two consecutive ‘Jos’ speech prefixes are used to get the speech prefixes back on track.• A couple of times ‘Car’ appears instead of ‘Cra’; for example, in 1.1., line 519; 2.1., line 583.• In 3.3., line 1514 Linsy–Wolsey does not get his speech prefix (corrected in ink in the British Library Thomas Grenville copy)• In 4.1., lines 1658-1663 the octavo has 3 speeches in a row with the speech heading ‘Cras’ when the middle one should be ‘Crac’; a similar mistake appears at line 2076 where the middle ‘Cra’ should be ‘Tic’• 5.1., line 2592 has ‘Tra’ for ‘Cra’• 5.1., line 2809 has La. T. when it has to be Ticket as the speech is about the jewels Ticket has sent to Josina to improve his chances of seducing her.• There are a few instances where there is no speech prefix but it is obvious who is speaking; for example, when Crack is singing.• There are some ambiguities over similar speech prefixes: for example, ‘Cra.’ as a speech prefix could indicate Crasy or Crack. This is particularly important in scenes where Crasy and Crack speak to each other and ‘Cra.’ could refer to either of them. 3.3. (D3) begins very carefully differentiating the two characters (Cras. (long s) and Crack. or Crac.) but D3v has an ambiguous ‘Cra.’ for lines 1489 and 1491 before going back to the use of ‘Cras.’ (long s).Exits or entrances not listed or mistaken27These are very few.• There is no exit for the Prologue but then this character operates very differently from other characters.• There is no exit for Jeremy around 1.1., line 330.• 1.1., line 343 the octavo has Josina exit instead of Jeremy; misreading ‘Jer’ as ‘Jos’ would be quite easy, especially if the manuscript ‘Jos’ did not have a long s.• 2.2., around line 665: Bridget has no exit. However, Bridget could simply withdraw upstage as she does not have to exit completely.• Tryman’s first entrance in 3.1. has to be accompanied by a bed but this is only revealed in the exit at the end of the scene when Tryman, Crasy and Crack ‘put in the bed’.• 3.1., line 1247 has no entry for Crack• 3.2., line 1348: there is no exit for Bridget but she does have to exit• 5.1., line 2553: the boy has to exitGeneral Mistakes• 1.2., line 459: the octavo has 'Beare' for 'beard'. My emendation is based on Crasy’s use of the same phrase, but using ‘beard’ not ‘bear’, in Act 5 (speech 942). (This emendation is written in black ink into the Eton copy.)• 1.2., line 524: the octavo has ‘chosen’ when it seems ‘cozen’ is needed.• 2.1. The catchword on B4 appears as ‘oar. I’ instead of ‘Sar. I’ with the exception of the George III copy in the British Library where the entire catchword is missing.• 2.3. is identified in the scene heading as 2.2.• 2.3., line 949: the ‘and’ of ‘and he can do’ has a turned n (u)• 3.1., [C5]: the catchword should be ‘Cras. I’ but the ‘C’ is missing• 3.2., line 1283: ‘Catlinarian’ for ‘Catilinarian’• 3.2., line 1415: ‘dowe’ for ‘down’• 4.1., line 1940: ‘Ohat’ for ‘What’ (corrected in ink in the British Library Thomas Grenville copy)• 4.1., line 1974: ‘at for Crasy’ should be ‘as for Crasy’ (corrected in ink in the British Library Thomas Grenville copy); and ‘about his degree’ (line 1983) is corrected in ink in the Eton copy (and the British Library George III and Thomas Grenville copies) to ‘above’, which makes much better sense.• The mistake involving missing text from the end of 4.3. is discussed above.• 5.1. An ‘a’ is missing from line 2376• 5.1. ‘Fice’ for ‘Fico’, line 2433 (corrected in black ink in the British Library Thomas Grenville copy)• 5.1.: line 2540, a turned ‘n’ in ‘poison’• 5.1.: line 2732, Crack’s song has ‘prore’ instead of ‘poore’• 5.1.: line 2796, a turned ‘n’ in ‘know’ (u)Erratic use of typeface28The printers seem to have been stretched in terms of their use of upper case italics for speech headings. There are several runs where the first letter of various speech headings is not in italics when the rest of the speech heading is: examples include• 2.3. (C2, C2v) (shortage of italic T);• 3.1.(C3v, C4) (shortage of italic T);• 3.4.(D4v, D5, D5v, D6) (shortage of italic S and T).• Upper case ‘w’ is often replaced by two upper case ‘v’s instead, especially in page headings (‘The CityVVit’).n10994Other observations• The typesetters also routinely used ‘J’ for ‘I’ and ‘I’ for ‘Aye’.• For Josina ‘Jo.’ is sometimes used and other times ‘Jos’ (long s).• ‘Toby’ and ‘Tobias’ both appear in speeches and in stage directions. Crack’s first name varies between ‘Jeff’ (3.1.speeches 392 (twice), 395), ‘Jeffery’ (3.1. speech 377) and ‘Geffrey’ (3.3. speech 458).Press variants29Press variants are very hard to find. In 4.1. the speech heading for speech 619 has ‘Cra:’ in the Folger copy (1654) but ‘Cra.’ in the (1653) Eton, British Library and Harvard copies. A colon is not generally used in speech headings and this might simply be a tiny spot of stray ink. Eleanor Lowe’s scepticism concerning variants in A Mad Couple Well Matched suggests that actually it may be the case that very few press variants exist in the collection. The 1654 reissue of Five New Playes still has 1653 on the title page for The City Wit which suggests the text was not changed.Previous editions30The City Wit appears in Pearson’s 1873 publication, The Dramatic Works of Richard Brome.n10995 The text purports to be something approaching a facsimile and has no glossing or commentary but uses, for example, the long ‘s’, ‘I’/‘J’ as in the octavo. It attempts to reproduce the text spatially as well as literally and so includes blocks of decoration where the octavo has such blocks; however the actual decoration in the blocks used (and the opening upper case ‘s’ in 1.1.) is completely different. In addition the text is silently tidied up in many places: one critical example is the end of 4.3. where I have hypothesised that some text has gone missing and the catchword ‘My’ is not picked up over the page with the beginning of 4.4. (see above). The Pearson text has the catchword ‘ACT’, which is picked up on the next page with ‘Act IV. Scene IV’. Other examples of silent corrections include: 1.1. where speeches 73 and 74 have the speech prefixes ‘Bri’ and ‘Jos’ mixed up; the use of ‘Car’ instead of ‘Cra’ in speech headings. However, in 4.2. 650 where a ‘Cra’ is used instead of a ‘Tic’, Pearson does not correct it. Given the importance accorded to the octavo’s use of dashes in this introduction, it must be noted that Pearson flattens out the distinctions between the various deployments of dashes.31The City Wit was edited as an MA project, by Katherine Wilkinson;n10996 this edition is available online and helped make the play much more accessible than it had ever been before; however it does not have the extended apparatus which accompanies this edition.This edition32This text of The City Wit has complied with the general editorial procedures for the Brome online project and has modernised spelling and punctuation; annotated and glossed extensively; translated Latin stage directions into English. It has also identified staging challenges and opportunities, with some sequences accompanied by video material garnered from the performance workshops on The City Wit conducted with RSC actors. This video material inevitably privileges certain sections of the play but it has been chosen to illuminate very specific issues. The aim is to indicate something of The City Wit as a play that is theatrically aware and indeed theatrically intelligent, but to avoid becoming prescriptive: there are, of course, as many different ways of playing these scenes as there are actors and directors willing to engage with them. The edition is extensively glossed and many readers will not need to call up all the glosses; however, it is envisaged that some online readers will not be reading the whole play: some may, for example, quarry the play for audition speeches (for example, Pyannet’s honesty speech (1.1.speech 44) could make a good comic audition piece) and so some words have been repeatedly glossed even though a traditional reader, starting at the beginning and going through to the end would find some of these glosses redundant.33The copy text, the Eton College copy is in good condition, carefully bound and interleaved. The binding was in place when Eton acquired its Brome collection (5 volumes) in 1800 and it is highly likely the binding was done according to the wishes of the previous owner, the statesman and collector Anthony Storer.n10997 There are some emendations in black ink that predate 1800 when Eton acquired the Brome volumes. These may have been written in by Storer although he did not generally annotate his books, something which suggests they date from before Storer started his career as a collector in 1793, when he inherited his fortune from his father. Some pages are cropped at the top affecting the running play title. Several pages show traces of ink from the page opposite; for example the title page has traces of the final page of The Court Beggar. Three copies of The City Wit have been examined at the British Library: the copy from George III’s collection, which is bound singly; and two copies of Five New Plays, one the 1653 issue (Thomas Grenville collection) and one from 1654 (Wing 4871, lacking Demoiselle). The following copies have been accessed via EEBO: Harvard, British Library (Wing B4870) and Folger (1654). The British Library copy as it appears in EEBO has some poorly printed sections e.g.4.3. [E8]. The Folger and Harvard copies have blotting on, for example, page F2. The Harvard copy has been marked up in several places by an unidentified hand: a small circle with a cross has been drawn next to a wide variety of different phrases but most of them, if taken completely out of the dramatic context, could function as aphorisms. Examples include: 1.1.speech 9 ‘How easy as thing it is to be undone/ When credulous man will trust his state to others!’; 1.1. speech 40 ‘What should citizens do with kind hearts or trusting in anything but God and ready money’.

n10959   The earliest extant text of The City Wit is that published in 1653 by Alexander Brome: the copy text for this edition is the copy held at Eton College. The City Wit forms part of an octavo collection of previously unpublished plays by Richard Brome entitled Five New Playes consisting of (in the order in which they appear) A Mad Couple Well Matched, The Novella, The Court Beggar, The City Wit and The Demoiselle. For more discussion of this collection see Eleanor Lowe’s textual introduction to the first play in that volume, A Mad Couple Well Matched. [go to text]

n10960   it is entirely possible that Brome took some part in getting his plays published; See Robert C. Evans, 'Richard Brome's Death', Notes & Queries, 234 (September 1989), 351, and Eleanor Lowe, ‘Confirmation of Richard Brome’s Final Years in Charterhouse Hospital’, Notes & Queries, 252 (December 2007), 416-418. Alexander Brome in his epistle ‘To the Readers’ comments of Richard Brome that ‘now he is dead’ he need not worry about gaining praise or not for his work; the portrait of Richard Brome, which appears opposite the collection title page also confirms Richard Brome’s decease: Alexander Brome’s verse underneath this portrait comments that although ‘Wee thinke Brome dead’, his writing is so full of life that ‘who reads it, must thinke hee nere shall dy.’ [go to text]

n10961   the assembly of the materials needed by the printing house. See W.W. Greg A Bibliography of the English Printed Drama, 4 vols (London: Bibliographical Society, 1939), Vol. 3, p.1022. [go to text]

n10962   The Stationers’ Register, however, does not mention The City Wit until 1659 when on 11 June Richard Marriott assigned to Humphrey Moseley twenty–one titles; this includes Five New Playes and the individual play titles are listed, including The Cittie Witt. W.W. Greg A Bibliography of the English Printed Drama, Vol. 1, p.67. [go to text]

n10963   Tryman’s breeches are revealed. On the title page of the British Library copy from George III’s library someone has copied ‘BREECHES’ out again in black ink, and then added ‘BRE’ at the bottom of the page. [go to text]

n10964   start again with A(1); It is probably fortuitous that these two plays, The City Wit and The Demoiselle, are bound together in a single volume in the Eton Library copy. [go to text]

n10965   from those used in the first three plays but similar to those used in the preliminaries. W.W. Greg, A Bibliography of the English Printed Drama, Vol. 3, p.1021. [go to text]

n10966   ‘There is no indication that the two bibliographically independent pieces were ever issued separately, though like others in the volume they are sometimes found so’. W.W. Greg, A Bibliography of the English Printed Drama, Vol. 3, p.1021. The British Library single copy of The City Wit, from George III’s library, has ‘p.159’ written at the beginning which suggests it has been taken from a copy of Five New Playes. [go to text]

n10967   Greg also identifies the printer T.R. as Thomas Roycroft. W.W. Greg, A Bibliography of the English Printed Drama, Vol. 3, p.1022. [go to text]

n10968   the Angel in Popeshead–Alley’. Confusingly, the title Five New Playes was also used for the 1659 publication of five other plays by Richard Brome. [go to text]

n10969   the other section being from a revival. Bentley, The Jacobean and Caroline Stage, 7 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1941), 3: 59-61. [go to text]

n10970   warning at the beginning of Act II’. Bentley, Jacobean and Caroline Stage, 3: 59, 59-60. [go to text]

n10971   familiar with playhouse conventions. See also Paul Werstine, ‘Foul Papers and Prompt Books: Printer’s Copy for Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors’, Studies in Bibliography, 41 (1988), 232-246, for an argument against separating playhouse and authorial papers into completely discrete categories. [go to text]

n10972   speculation about how the audience will react. Tiffany Stern. '"A Small-Beer Health to His Second Day":Playwright, Prologues, and First Performances in the Early Modern Theater' Studies in Philology, 101 (2004), 172-199. The Prologue does talk of the audience exercising their judgement but this is immediately referred back to the ‘former times’ of previous performances and so cannot be associated with a first performance of the play. [go to text]

n10973   discrete speeches seems less compelling. This view is also supported by workshop explorations of the prologue which found that the entire speech worked well as a whole and did not seem to be two speeches cobbled together. [go to text]

n10974   Richard Brome’s own hand. For a discussion of this manuscript see Matthew Steggle’s textual introduction to The English Moor. For confirmation that the manuscript is in Brome’s hand see Eleanor Lowe, 'Confirmation of Richard Brome's Final Years in Charterhouse Hospital'. [go to text]

n10975   ‘As shee is presenting her Pistoll’, which attempts to indicate timing. See also pages 14 and 21 which use an asterisk to place very precisely when an entrance happens mid line. [go to text]

n10976   readerly experience that evokes something of the playhouse. Richard Cave, ‘Script and Performance’ in Ben Jonson: Performance, Practice and Theory, ed. by Richard Cave, Elizabeth Schafer and Brian Woolland (London: Routledge, 1999), pp. 23-32. [go to text]

n10977   ‘show where the actors are to puff on their pipes’. Richard Cave, ‘Script and Performance’, p. 25. [go to text]

n10978   but modern editors ignore, or at least do not reproduce, this theatrically aware layout and annotation. Richard Cave, ‘Script and Performance’, p. 26. [go to text]

n10979   ‘access to the required tempo’. Richard Cave, ‘Script and Performance’, p. 26-7. [go to text]

n10980   verbal virtuosity, such as the pick–pocketing sequence. Richard Cave, ‘Script and Performance’, Plate I. [go to text]

n10981   Ralph Crane; Thomas Middleton, The Witch, ed. by W.W. Greg and F.P. Wilson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, Malone Society Reprints, 1948). The Malone Society reprint is based on the manuscript held in the Bodleian Library (MS. Malone 12). [go to text]

n10982   extremely restrained the use of dashes is in The Witch. John Jowett (private email) comments that, in relation to Middleton, the use of dashes is probably related to ‘a growing habit in the seventeenth century.In Middleton dashes are mostly for changes of addressee, interrupted or suspended speech etc, but just occasionally in place of an obscenity.’ [go to text]

n10983   indicate breaking off in astonishment (page 19, 26); Here I am offering a few examples only. Most of the characteristics listed can be found in plentiful supply in The English Moor; the only exception to this is the use of dots rather than short dashes. The use of dashes and pacing in The English Moor is perhaps easier to comment on because the play uses verse so much more than The City Wit and so metre adds to a sense of timing. [go to text]

n10984   He appears to use dots for a short pause (page 20 ‘sweetly .. now’). There appears to be a use of two dots on page 28 (‘And he has her allready...’) but as one is much lighter than the other this may be an accidental instance. [go to text]

n10985   particular speeches. The original spelling text of The City Wit includes an indication of the use of en and em dashes although sometimes it has been difficult to be absolutely precise on length. What has not been indicated in the original spelling text is the use of spaces around punctuation marks (especially ? ! : ; and brackets). The English Moor again is useful in indicating that Brome used spaces in brackets, for example, ‘a paper’ stage direction at the bottom of page 12. [go to text]

n10986   but when Rufflit exits in 1.2. (B2v) he has no dashes. For this section of the argument – specifically where I examine the use of dashes - I refer to act and scene numbers followed by signature as the details are clearer in the original spelling text rather than in the modernised text. [go to text]

n10987   dashes are used for exits, although not for entrances; Entrances in The English Moor are underlined and preceded by a vertical line, which marks them out clearly. [go to text]

n10988   of blank verse. Mariko Ichikawa, Shakespearean Entrances (London: Macmillan, 2002). [go to text]

n10989   the dancing master and his pupil. See also The Demoiselle where three dots are inserted when a character, Trebasco, is to speak in Cornish. Presumably the actor playing Trebasco knew some Cornish but Brome did not feel able to script the words himself: the dots here indicate the player takes over. [go to text]

n10990   ‘sweet wife’, ‘How’s this’, ‘Honey Mother’ ‘modesties sake’ but continuous lines (em dashes) appear after, for example, ‘Ods my precious’, ‘Nay mother’, ‘I am cony–catch’d’. It seems unlikely that the varied use of dashes is a result of the printers running out of either en or em dashes because both are used freely in the pages surrounding this section (although the printers had at this stage run short of italic upper case T for the speech headings for Toby, the Tickets and, elsewhere, Tryman). [go to text]

n10991   Matthew Steggle argues that this manuscript dates from between 1636/7 and 1640; Steggle, introduction to The English Moor. [go to text]

n10992   the (posthumous) 1653 publication. Another example of a reader aware feature in The City Wit is the designation of Sarpego as ‘prolocutor’ in 5.1. (s.d. after speech 917). Ticket (speech 915) identifies Sarpego as 'The Prologue' and the Latinate 'prolocutor' appears only in a stage direction, and so would not be available to a playhouse audience; however, in the context of the publication of the text, a decade after the playhouses had closed, where the reader is the only 'audience' legally available, 'prolocutor' could colour the reader's response to Sarpego's speech. [go to text]

n10993   While The City Wit is generally well printed there are several categories of mistakes: None of these are corrected in the 1654 reissue of the text. [go to text]

n10994   especially in page headings (‘The CityVVit’). ‘Wit’ is never spelt ‘witt’ in the text of the play although that is how it is spelt on the general title page. [go to text]

n10995   Richard Brome, The Dramatic Works of Richard Brome, ed. by R. H. Shepherd? 3 vols (London: John Pearson, 1873) [go to text]

n10996   Katherine Wilkinson; Richard Brome, The City Wit, ed. by Kate Wilkinson (Sheffield:, 23 July 2007) [go to text]

n10997   Anthony Storer. I would like to thank Michael Meredith, former Librarian at Eton,for information about the Eton collection. [go to text]

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