UNIVERSITY .OF PENNSYLVANIA
THE DRAMATIC WORKS OF
PRESENTED TO THE FACULTY OF THE GRADUATE. SCHOOL IN
PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR
THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
GEORGE BANTA PUBLISHING Co.
UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
THE DRAMATIC WORKS OF
PRESENTED TO THE FACULTY OF THE GRADUATE SCHOOL IN
PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR
THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
Ollf* (KoUtyate $Jrrs
GEORGE BANTA PUBLISHING COMPANY
MEN ASH A, WISCONSIN
I. Biographical Data 1
II. Nabbes and his Critics 7
III. A Review of:
1. The Comedies 12
2. The Masques 17
3. The Tragedy of The Unfortunate Mother 22
IV. The Tragedy, Hannibal and Scipio 24
V. The Question concerning "A Former Play" 32
VI. The Original Sources and Influences 40
VII. Nabbes' Hannibal and Scipio compared with other English and
Foreign Plays on the Subject of the Second Punic War.... 45
Transcript of the Bodleian Fragment 53
The Collected Poems and Plays of Thomas Nabbes, edited by A. H.
Bullen, and published in 1887, is the first and only attempt to bring the
work of this dramatist into a form easily accessible to the student of the
old drama. The introduction to this edition supplemented by Sir
Sidney Lee's sketch in The Dictionary of National Biography, has
furnished the point of departure for the biographical comment which
opens the present study of Nabbes as a dramatist and the author of the
tragedy, Hannibal and Scipio. As far as practicable, the sources used
by the biographers named, and by others of the scant commentators upon
Nabbes, have been carefully reexamined. In the review of the indivi-
dual plays, Bullen's edition has been used for the comedies, the masques
and the tragedy of The Unfortunate Mother. For the more detailed
study of the tragedy, Hannibal and Scipio, the Quarto text, 1637, has
been used. 1
The method is indicated in general, at each stage of the investigation,
which has aimed to distinguish as clearly as possible between the modi-
cum of the really authoritative and the purely inferential concerning
Nabbes and his work. The aim has been not so much to draw conclu-
sions as to find probable grounds for possible conclusions.
Grateful acknowledgement is due to the professors of the depart-
ment of English in the University of Pennsylvania, to whose lectures
there is traceable either direct or indirect influence, in this study. Spe-
cial acknowledgement is made to Professor F. E. Schelling under whose
direction the study was undertaken and to whose criticism it was sub-
mitted. Among those of other departments acknowledgement is due
to Professor Walton B. McDaniel of the department of Latin.
Among librarians, those of the circulating department of the Uni-
versity of Pennsylvania, those of Columbia University and the librarian
of the University of Chicago, are remembered for special courtesies.
The librarian of the Bodleian, Oxford, has generously granted a trans-
cript of the manuscript fragment used in the study of Hannibal and
Scipio, and reprinted at the close. The Rector of Exeter College kindly
sent copies of the record of the matriculation of Nabbes in that College.
May 21, 1915.
1 Hunter's Ms. Chorus Vatican in Brit. Mus. Addit. Ms. 24487, ff. 334.
So far as known, the name, Thomas Nabbes, is found in but one ori-
ginal record, that of the Register of Commoners at Exeter College, Oxford,
where he was matriculated on the third of May 1601 at the age of sixteen. 1
The same entry is given by The Oxford Historical Society, but the name
is spelled doubtfully as Nabbes (Nabbs). 2 From the meagreness of
record it may be inferred that the Oxford residence of Nabbes was
briefer than might be assumed from the wide and accurate first-hand
knowledge of the classics and of the modern languages displayed in his
literary work. 3 How far this attainment and its influence upon his
work are due to academic training, is not clear, though much of it was
doubtless the result of his mental bent stimulated by the prevailing
literary taste of his time.
The Worcestershire birth of Nabbes indicated by his matriculation,
is possibly supported by several of his minor poems. An Encomium
on the London Steeple at Worcester carries with it a sense of intimacy
with the cathedral and its environment. The wish expressed at the
close of the poem, to find here a final resting place, is suggestive, though
not proof, of strong attachment to the cathedral and village.
Oh might I begge that when my soule goes forth
Of this foule earth to climb above thy head
And that the rest be reckoned with the dead. 4
Two other poems have been noted by the two brief biographers of
Nabbes, as indicative of Worcestershire residence. 5 Bullen finds evidence
in these of a more than ordinary conviviality of temperament for Nabbes.
Of these poems, that Upon Excellent Strong Beere which he drank at the
Towne of Wich in Worcestershire where Salt is made might pass as a
1 "Nabbes, Thomas; plebs. of Worcs. (Worcestershire). Matriculated 3rd May,
1621, Age 16," Register of Commoners, Exeter College, Oxford.
2 The Oxford Hist. Soc. V. II, pt. 11, p. 387.
3 See also Nabbes' continuation of Knowlle's History of the Turks where frequent
quotation is made from a wide range of the classics, and from modern foreign literature.
4 For minor poems in this connection, see Bullen, V. I, pp. 238, 242, 246.
5 See introduction to Bullen's Collected Works of Thomas Nabbes, 2 Vols. (Odl
Eng. Plays) London 1887. Sidney's Lee's Thomas Nabbes in The Dictionary of
National Biography. The sketch in the Encyclopedia Britanica follows Bullen and
2 THE DRAMATIC WORKS OF THOMAS NABBES
tourist's wine song for which he had popular examples among poets
of a sobriety consistent even with Puritan ideals of the day. The
second poem, Upon losing of his way in a Forrest parting from his company
to go home towards the evening, is possibly more definite for the convivial
temperament inferred by Bullen. The author relates that the darkness
added to the uncertainty of forest paths and his equally uncertain
steps, obliged him to ask hospitality for the night, at the house of a
smith, to whom he commends himself as a " Servant of my Lords."
This inference from his poems of convivial tendencies might find some
support from the poet's verses, Upon Mr. Henry Welby whose total
abstinence extending to the regimen of a strict vegetarian, gained for
him the eccentric title, The Phoenix of these late times. The praise which
Nabbes confers upon the gentleman as
A scholler of all Sorts in some degree,
Philosopher, Historian and Divine;
All but a poet, for he drank no wine.
might argue the author's confidence in a source of inspiration, at that
time rarely neglected by either philosopher or divine. It is the local
basis of these poems however, which gives Bullen's conclusion that
"Nabbes liked good liquor," 6 a precedence over an opposite inference
of strict temperance for Nabbes, to be gathered from his constant em-
phasis upon self-control in the entire conduct of life, exhibited in his
plays, and especially in his Hannibal and Scipio. It is perhaps safe
to conclude that the episode of the poem mentioned, in which Nabbes
says "A pleasant juyce (perry) was brought, made us beguile Time
with more words than matter," probably was for himself at least, an
isolated event, and all the more proved so by its celebration in the
author's verse. 7 As a staple of Western Worcestershire, perry would
reasonably be celebrated in a poem connected with that locality, just
as the beer of Wich was celebrated in the poem on that place, and as
the Worcester Cathedral was the theme of the poem connected with
the town of Worcester.
It is equally as hazardous to conclude definitely individual traits
for Nabbes, from the characters of his plays. That he was constant
to lofty dramatic ideals, and that he was a man of excellent motives,
no reader of his plays can doubt. Whether his personal characteristics
were those of Sam, his "deserving gentleman of the Irins of Court,"
6 Bullen, V. I, p. 271.
7 Upon Losing of his way in a Forrest, etc. Bullen, V. I p. 242.
THE DRAMATIC WORKS OF THOMAS NABBES 3
or whether Changelove of the same play, portrays more nearly its
author's habitual moods, there can at least be no doubt that his Sam,
and his Scipio Africanus express his approved principles of conduct,
and that in ideal at least, he never declined below the better moments
of his Changelove who holds that,
Society is the use
Of man's best ornaments, speech and discourse
Are reason's messengers, that carry errands
From one soule to another. I confesse
I love good company. 8
Except the date of his matriculation at Oxford, all dates and events
associated with Nabbes by his brief biographical sketches, are wholly
conjectural from his works. Even his short poems described above
seem to be merely reminiscent of Worcestershire. As shown by its
connection, An Encomium on the leaden Steeple was written after the
benefactor of the cathedral, Dr. William Juxon, had been made Bishop
of London, and at least six years after the date 1630, assigned by bio-
graphers as the beginning of Nabbes' London life." 9 The date 1630
is itself wholly conjectural from the supposition that C event Garden,
which was acted in 1632, was the author's first play. 10
From 1632-41, the poet's name appears not infrequently among
those of playwrights and other poets, sometimes in connection with
commendatory verses prefixed to certain editions of poets of the day,
as well as in other memorial tribute. The circumstances as well as
the date of Nabbes' death are unknown. The brief note in Chamber's
Encyclopedia of English Literature gives 1645 as approximately the
date of his death, but there is evidently no reliable source for this date. 11
As an author Nabbes disappears in 1641. Whether like Shirley, he
found retreat amid rural scenes, or whether as Bullen conjectures, he
may have fallen in battle for his King, it is impossible to say. 12 The
latter conjecture is pleasing in so far as it suggests such martial adventure
as that in which his "true friend" and fellow playwright, Shackerley
Marmion, lost his life. A more prosaic but more probable conjecture
8 Tottenham Court, Act V, 3, p. 172. Bullen, V. I.
9 See the date of the poem (1637) affixed to the title page, by the author, (Bullen
V. II, p. 242).
10 For the date 1630 see Lee, Dictionary National Biography, XI, Thomas Nabbes.
11 Allibone's Critical Dictionary, Eng. Lit. VII, Philadelphia, 1880, also gives
12 Bullin's Introd. p. xii, V. I.
4 THE DRAMATIC WORKS OF THOMAS NABBES
would accept 1641 as approximately the date of Nabbes' death. If
we may trust tradition, he died in London, and was buried in the Temple
Church, in the near neighborhood of which he must have had residence.
Bullen cites Baker's Companion to the Play House, 1764, as giving Coex-
ter's opinion that, "This is the Thomas Nabbes who lies buried in the
Temple Church, under the organ, on the inner side." 13 As to the absence
of his name in the burial register of the church, Bullen quotes Canon
Angier's opinion that the omission is referable to the poet's humble
station, an explanation evidently inadequate. Baker's quoted reference
to the burial place of a Thomas Nabbes in the Temple Church however
accords with an inference regarding the London residence of Nabbes, to
be derived from certain characters of his Tottenham Court, and especially
from his dedication of The Bride.
The latter comedy acted in 1638 is addressed by the author, "to
the Generality of His noble friends, Gentlemen of the several Honorable
Houses of the Inns of Court. " A hint of employment on the part of the
Inns is given at the close of the dedication. After commending The
Bride to their acceptance and protection, he adds; "And the honor
that you doe me thereby will add to those many engagements that
bind me always to declare myself your most thankful servant, Thomas
Nabbes." Tottenham Court acted in 1633, has among its principal
characters, two gentlemen of the Inns of Court. The inference is reason-
able that Nabbes had residence in the Inns of Court. Whether like
Beaumont and Wycherley and Tom Moore, he was a student at law,
or like Johnson, Goldsmith, Cowper, Lamb and others, he was a lodger
merely, or whether he held a clerk's or a secretary's position, it is not
clear. The tone of the dedication as well as the apparent respect in
which Nabbes was held by contemporary writers, would at least favor
the view that he possessed the qualities essential to a cultured man of
that day. His favorite studies, Greek and Latin literature besides
general literature and history, were those required for entrance as a law
student at the Inns of Court. 14 Whether he resided at the Inner Temple,
the proverbial residence of the less wealthy, would depend upon whether
Nabbes' depreciation of his means may be considered sincere or whether
it was merely the seventeenth century author's conventional flaunt at
his fortune. The character of Nabbes' dramatic work classes it with
"Baker's Companion to the Play House, V. II, Thomas Nabbes. Coexter's
Manuscript notes were used by Gibber in his Lives of the Poets.
14 Walter Thornbury's "Old and New London," V. I; 13-16, pp. 173-179. Lon-
don (no date).
THE DRAMATIC WORKS OF THOMAS NABBES 5
that of members of the Inns of Court. His critics are agreed upon his
excellence as a writer of masques. It is quite possible from his phrase
"those many engagements," that he composed entertainments for the
Inns, upon occasions not on record.
The brief poems of Nabbes complimenting the work of his fellow
playwrights and poets, are of the kind incident to the most informal
intercourse of their gild. 15 These define in general the literary envi-
ronment of Nabbes. Among those whom he addresses as friends are:
Schackerly Morman and Sir John Suckling, both gentlemen of depleted
fortunes; Robert Chamberlain, the author of Nocturnal Lucubrations,
1638; John Tatham, the dramatist and the composer of the Lord Mayor's
pageants; Thomas Jordan, Tatham's successor as city poet, and the
author of Poetical Varieties, 1640; also Thomas Beedome of the Poems
Divine and Human, 1641. Among complimentary verses addressed to
Nabbes are those of Richard Brome, "To his deare friend, the author
upon his Microcosmus. 16 Brome had risen from the rank of servant to
Ben Jonson, to the place of leading playwright in the reign of Charles
the first. Fortune's wheel almost measured its round in these friends
of Nabbes, as they met upon the common ground of poets with an occa-
sional play, and of dramatists with occasional poems. Nabbes appar-
ently had as strong an affinity with the poets of the group as with the
playwrights, and so fraternized with both.
The association of Nabbes with those of the older dramatists who
then survived, is even more purely a matter of inference from his works;
but external circumstances also favor the possibility of a personal ac-
quaintance with Ben Jonson who was still the center of an admiring circle
of poets and playwrights recognized by him as his "sons" in the art.
The Apollo Room, which had superseded the Mermaid of earlier days,
was at the Devil's Tavern, not far from the Temple Church. Of the
Mermaid group, there remained Chapman, Dekker, Marston, Webster,
Massinger Ford and Shirley, and of these, the two latter with Webster
were yet strong in their best work. Nabbes' London associates in gen-
eral indicate his literary status among his fellow writers. One of his
Job's comforters after The Unfortunate Mother had been refused by the
actors, declares that tragedy to have rivalled Davenant's popular Albo-
vine. He assures Nabbes that The Unfortunate Mother was well-plotted
and well-written, he bids him remember its illustrious companion in
15 See close of Vol. I, Bullen.
" Prefixed to Microcosmus, V. II (Bullen) p. 162.
O THE DRAMATIC WORKS OF THOMAS NABBES
failure, Jonson's The New Inn. 17 Another assures him that the play
would have proved good, had it only been acted. 18 Another compliments
his "muse that doth so sweetly sing." 19 There is a sort of naivete in
the author's act of dedicating this rejected child of his muse to a stranger,
the "Right worshipfull Richard Braithwaite, Esquire. 20 The solace of
friends however biassed, might have sufficed, had the author's disap-
pointment arisen merely from wounded vanity; but this appeal to a
critic of accredited taste upon whose favor friendship could have no
claim, is apparently not in the spirit of the ordinary seeker of patronage.
Nabbes usually dedicated his plays to his friends: Covent Garden to
" his admired friend, The Right worthy of His Honours, Sir John Suckling,
Knight;" Tottenham Court, to "The Worshipfull William Mills, Esquire
. . . as a publick declaration of the gratitude I owe you. " The Spring's
Glory is dedicated to "Master William Balle, the young son of his friend,
Peter Balle. The Bride, as noted above, was dedicated "To the Gener-
ality of His noble friends ... of the Inns of Court." On the whole
Nabbes' dedications appear to have been written hardly with a view to
advancement as a playwright; they have rather the tone of an author who
made playwriting an avocation of pride and delight. The only apparent
exception to this is the author's complaint in his address to the ghosts
of Hannibal and Scipio, of some lack of pay for the writing of that play. 21
The brief list of Nabbes' plays, the single performance of those which
were acted, and the two excellent masques that were not acted, the light,
thoughtless compliments of his friends who generally reiterate the
author's own arms and ideals, all belong to the range of an amateur.
Microcosmus is the only play of Nabbes, which bears upon its title page
such evidence of public approval as "Presented with general liking."
Prefixed to this as published in 1637, are verses by Richard Brome and
an unidentified Will CuFaude. 22 Brome compliments the author upon
his philosophy, learning and wit that make the play a means of "profit
and delight." The second writer compliments the "poetic rage" that
would "make a schoole of virtue of a common stage." Both writers
17 See Complimentary Verses signed C. G., p. 89, with Bullen's note on Carew-
Hazlitt's opinion that Charles Gerber wrote these lines.
18 Signed E. B. which Bullen thinks the initials for Edward Beedome, poet and
patron of poets, p. 89, V. II.
19 Signed R. W. for which no name has been found. See p. 89, V. II, Bullen.
20 See p. 85, V. II, Bullen.
21 The Ghosts of Hannibal and Scipio to the author B. V. II.
22 See Bullen V. I, pp. 162-3. Of "Will CuFaude" nothing has been found.
Horace, Ars Poetica, 1. 333 "Aut prodesse volunt aut delectare Poetae."
THE DRAMATIC WORKS OF THOMAS NABBES 7
apparently echo the Horatian motto borne by the title page of Micro-
cosmus, "Debent et prodesse et delectare Poetae, " a sentence briefly
summarizing the dramatic creed of Nabbes.
In his prologues, Nabbes often contrasts himself with his latter day
playwrights, in that his plays gave a serious turn to light subjects treated
upon the contemporary stage. 23 As usual with conscientious writers
his excellent aims were acknowledged; but his work was not overrated
by a public intent upon amusement rather than upon ethical values.
It is apparent that Nabbes was not a timeserver in his dramatic
work. His clearly denned ideals held hard by the Jonsonian precept that
the office of the dramatist is to interpret the life of his age in such a way
as to set forth the eternal verities; but the age that had been even half-
way inclined thus to view the drama, had passed away. Nabbes like
his Master Jonson, had to beat his poetic wings against the unyielding
bars of public opinion. In endeavoring to keep the drama to its nobler
office, each had to take for his solace, that in ideal at least, he was above
the grovelling audiences and those playwrights who were content to
NABBES AND HIS CRITICS
Among dramatic compilers and critics the meagre and somewhat
conflicting comment upon the work of Nabbes, has mainly repeated the
verdict of his own day, in its mingled recognition and neglect. Those
nearest his own time and those farthest from it, regard him the more
favorably. Lee quotes Samuel Shepherd's The Times Displayed pub-
lished in 1646, five years after the date of Nabbes' last published poem,
as ranking him with Beaumont and Fletcher, Shirley and Davenant,
and as especially commending his Hannibal and Scipio. 2 * Bullen finds
that the English Treasury of Wit and Language, edited by John Cot-
grove in 1655, includes among that miscellany "many wise and well-
expressed extracts from Nabbes. Near the close of his century in 1691,
Nabbes is ranked by Langbaine as a third-rate poet, though as one
23 See Prologues to Covent Garden, Tottenham Court, Hannibal and Scipio, V. I,
Bullen. Prologue to The Bride, The Unfortunate Mother, V. II, Bullen, The Spring's
Glory, p. 219, V. II, p. 256, "A Presentation, etc."
24 An Elegie on his Ingenious friend, the deserving Author, Master Thomas Beedome.
Prefixed to Thomas Beedome's Poems Divine and Human, 1641. Lee refers to the
Sixth Sestiad, Assyzes of Apollo.
8 THE DRAMATIC WORKS OF THOMAS NABBES
pretty much respected by the poets of his time. 25 Langbaine commends
Nabbes in that " what he published was his own and not borrowed from
others"; but even in this, Langbaine has taken Nabbes at his own word,
basing the statement upon the prologue to Covent Garden where the
Justifies that 'tis no borrowed straine
From the invention of another's braine
Nor did he steale the Fancie : 26
By the middle of the eighteenth century, Nabbes had fallen in the scale
of the critics. The author of Gibber's Lives of the Poets, published in
1753, gives Nabbes fifth rank. 27 Sir Walter Scott who expressed him-
self delighted with Shackerley Marmion's The Antiquary, takes no notice
of the much less farcical and more nearly romantic characterization of
an antiquary in Nabbes' comedy, The Bride. Genest has the following
perfunctory review of these plays. " Covent Garden is a poor play,
having no plot and little incident, Tottenham Court has scenes that
appear to advantage. Hannibal and Scipio is not a bad tragedy nor
has it much to recommend it"; but by virtue perhaps of the romantic
reversion, the same writer styles The Unfortunate Mother, "a very good
play." 28 Samuel Brydges merely mentions the dramatic work of
Nabbes, but notes more specifically that he wrote in 1637, a continua-
tion of Knolles' History of the Turks. 29
Later comment upon Nabbes, though still meager and conflicting
in valuation, shows a tendency to return to the estimate of the author
in his own day. Ward names his as "a meritorious writer of dramatic
works of various kinds"; but Ward is chiefly interested in the Moral
Masque, Microcosmus, which he says has a certain interest in having
been, so far as known, the first dramatic composition of the kind ever
exhibited on a public stage. 30 Lee, whose biographical sketch of Nabbes
is the more detailed, though in essentials following Bullen, estimates the
author as "a passable writer of comedies, inventing his own plots, and
lightly censuring the foibles of middle class London society. " He thinks
his tragedies not attractive, but notes his " satisfactory command of the
25 Langbaine's An Account of the English Dramatic Poets, 1691.
26 Prologue to Covent Garden, p. 5, V. I, Bullen.
27 Gibber's Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland, 5 Vols. London, 1753.
28 History of the Drama and Stage in England from 1660 to 1830. V. 10, ed. 1832.
29 Biographia Litera V. I, p. 439, Pub. 1838 as the 5th edition.
30 History of English Dramatic Literature. V. 3, p. 194.
THE DRAMATIC WORKS OF THOMAS NABBES 9
niceties of blank verse in which all of his plays are mainly written." 31
Bullen, the most authoritative student of Nabbes, commends him as
"an elegant scholar and a man of gentle disposition, the author of some
agreeable comedies, but having little genius for tragedy." Bullen's
valuation of Nabbes has a judiciousness that is not impaired but rather
enforced by its rhetorical close. "His place is at the feet of Shirley,