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A "birthright into a new world": representing the Town on Brome's Stage.

England in the 1630s witnessed increasing hostilities between Puritans and Royalists as different religious and political groups competed to shape the way the English conceptualized the newly constructed town locales. During this period, sites such as Covent Garden, Asparagus Garden in Lambeth across from Whitehall, and the New Exchange in the Strand at Westminster, among others, emerged as contested spaces among the court, the city, and the country. (1) Most critics characterize the dramatist Richard Brome as siding with the town gentry and depicting these upscale districts in his plays as oppositional hotbeds to Charles's increasingly autocratic rule. While R. J. Kaufmann, Julie Sanders, Martin Butler, and, more recently, Matthew Steggle and Adam Zucker emphasize the setting in Brome's plays, they largely overlook the way these suburban developments were imagined as colonial ventures. (2) This essay examines how the establishment of the town, as represented in Brome's plays, is framed by European models of both internal colonialism and New World expansion. (3) Although my essay treats mainly Carolinian drama, I also discuss Ben Jonson's plays, in order to contextualize the ways in which Brome brings together two seemingly different functions of Jacobean drama: to familiarize recent arrivals to London to their fast-changing milieu and to marginalize an English underclass that cannot assimilate into the competitive marketplace of these new urban spaces. Teasing out the tensions of these two representational models, Brome identifies how elite speculators and the state collude as they attempted to increase profit margins and solidify their control of these expanding districts. By dramatizing how developers incorporate foreign architecture, install foreign workers in the town, and construct the town as an overseas territory, Brome lays bare an urban topography that upends traditional social relationships grounded in land ownership among the underclass, "middling sort," and aristocracy. (4)

In the first section of the essay, I analyze Ben Jonson's The Entertainment at Britain's Burse (1609), which registers the bewilderment of Londoners who have trouble comprehending the transformation of the western suburbs, as formerly remote green spaces became integrated into a global network of commerce. In this masque, which was performed before James I at the inaugural ceremony of the New Exchange in the Strand at Westminster, Jonson depicts this high-end shopping center as an initial foray into the town by developers who intended to displace the area's inhabitants. The New Exchange, one of the main developments of the West End, along with Hyde Park, Tottenham Court, and Covent Garden, specializes in luxury consumer items from the Far East--products from a region of the world that testified to Dutch trading supremacy. As I will demonstrate, because the Netherlands permeates the way the English conceive of the town, these sites come to be characterized as extensions of Dutch commercial activities, alienating the English from their homeland. (5)

I then consider the construction of London's suburbs as a New World plantation that must "weed" undesirable elements in order to form a community fit for the nobility in Brome's topographical comedy, or "placerealism" play, The Weeding of Covent Garden (1633). Alternately called a "forest" and a "lawless" precinct inhabited by "Amazonian trulls" and "tribe[s]" of men and women, (6) Covent Garden contains an underclass thriving on the disorder inherent in this new suburb. Primarily, developers of the suburbs introduced foreign architecture to draw the city's elite to the area to maximize profits; in his study of this play, Zucker points out that the "building of the Covent Garden piazza signaled the consolidation of the city's first neighborhood based on wealth." (7) As contemporary pamphlets demonstrate, this gentrification was disguised as a colonial venture--an inducement to nonlocals to settle in the area, but only if they strictly conform to the builders' image of the development as an exclusive setting designed for a new merchant elite. Yet, Brome depicts residents as treating the area as a temporary stage set, subverting and supplanting the developers' scheme to control who can occupy the suburbs.

Finally, I turn to The Sparagus Garden (1635), a play that offers the Netherlands' delicate nation-building project as an ambivalent model

for England's colonialist ambitions. On the one hand, the Netherlands' embattled status--its precarious natural and political boundaries and low-lying lands threatened by the sea as well as by France and Spain, powerful Roman Catholic powers--differs markedly from conceptions of England as this "fortress built by Nature for herself/Against infection and the hand of war." (8) On the other hand, the Netherlands' practice of claiming new land from the sea and turning it into viable production units offers a lucrative model to apply to schemes in England for fen drainage. From 1570 to 1640, Holland added 40 percent to its stock of arable land, and investors in land reclamation became some of the richest men in the Netherlands, although most of the country's elite made their money in overseas trade. (9) When the English aristocracy in the 1630s intensified development in fen areas long abandoned to the peasantry, it hastily colonized these sites by employing Dutch-style land reclamation projects and then introducing buildings that catered to an economic elite. (10) Brome reveals how these projects contribute to growing social unrest because they treat the fens as an undomesticated wilderness and drastically alter England's environment, forcing the former inhabitants to move to less fertile land. Moreover, these large-scale projects ruin local livelihoods and "settle" the countryside with foreign workers. Brome, therefore, suggests that the English developers appropriate the worst aspects of the Dutch economic "miracle," amassing land for short-term profit and threatening traditional English values that prioritize land for the way it orders society and constitutes individual and social identity. (11)


Jonson's Entertainment at Britain's Burse stages the ways in which London's immersion in global trade provides a pretext to modernize the city as a commercial entrepot. In the guise of condescendingly ridiculing the provinciality of suburban Londoners who cannot imagine the worldly schemes of their betters, the doorman for the bourse gently chides town planners for ignoring more pressing needs, including "an Arsenall for decayed Citizens" and "a store howse for westminster, of Corne here aboue, and wood and Seacole belowe; to praeoccupy the nexte greate froste." (12) The Key Keeper's rhetoric satirically implies that developers should have addressed the exigencies of a wide set of English society. Before inventorying these possibilities, the Key Keeper articulates the confusion of the West Enders: "And before the shops were vp, the perplexityes, that they were in, for what it shoulde be" (ll. 36-37). The syntax of the sentence actually enacts the confusion and excitement that the innovative architecture incites.

Even King James needs a guide to navigate these new surroundings. The host comments, "I thinke you scarse knowe, where you are now nor by my troth can I tell you, more then that you may seeme to be vppon some lande discouery of a newe region heere, to which I am your compasse" (ll. 9-12). Prior to his role as a not-so-informative guide, the Key Keeper worked as an innkeeper and a bartender; in that capacity, he "coulde entertayne my guestes in my veluet cap, and my red Taffata doublett; and I coulde aunsuer theyr questions, and expounde theyr riddles" (ll. 24-27). Clearly mindful of the way that the proper display of newly arrived commercial products, in this case fashionable clothing, stands in for his knowledge of the fast-changing local topography, (13) the Key Keeper foregrounds his "taffeta doublet" and "veluet cap" as semiotic indicators of his mental map of the city: velvet was first manufactured around 1580 in London and silk-tuftaffeta began in 1590, and both were trades predominantly practiced by Dutch and French immigrants. (14) Luxury items from the Far East, however, disorient both the vender and the aristocratic consumer. As David Baker points out, this project "brings alien climes into contiguity with London streets and, by so doing, gives rise to problems of knowing that no one, not even the king, could hope to escape." (15) Yet, the "Hollanders fleete" mediates the contact between the English and the Far East. (16) As the master of the shop informs the king, the Dutch have overtaken other European powers in their trade with the East Indies and therefore regulate the commerce from this region: a "Hangings of the Ilande of Coqin ... and thousand such subtitlyes, which you thinke to will haue cheape now at the next returne of the Hollanders fleete from the Indyes" (ll. 173-76). (17) Unable to domesticate the manufacturing of wares from China and India, as with velvet and silk-tuftaffeta, the English buy products imported from the Dutch. English demand for these luxury goods from the Far East expands the suburbs and creates the New Exchange but does little to assimilate foreign workers and the wares they produce into the fabric of the city. Therefore, Londoners' mental map of their surroundings becomes less familiar and is mediated by Dutch commercial networks. Whereas Jacobean drama "provided a representational space in which different urban subjectivities and communities could project themselves, as in a cartographic mirror," (18) Jonson demonstrates that that "cartographic mirror" is increasingly one that reflects the Netherlands' sense of the world.


In The Weeding of Covent Garden, Brome depicts Covent Garden as a place where the young sons of the gentry cavort with masterless men and prostitutes at the same time their fathers try to domesticate it to maximize their profits. Cockbrain asks that the builder of a new row of brick residences, Rooksbill, leave him the work of "weeding them [the lewdest blades] out" of this west bank site (1.1.sp10). This justice of the peace for St. Martin's in the Fields--the larger district from which Covent Garden was later carved out just north of Whitehall--compares the gentrification of the suburb to the gradual process of improving the quality of the settlers in newly formed colonies. He asks, "What new plantation was ever peopled with the better sort at first?" (1.1.sp10). References to tobacco (1.2.sp154) underscore the play's ambivalent stance toward the urbanization of the countryside. Depictions of the Americas as inhospitable and dangerous, the last refuge of English society's execrable elements, dominated the popular imagination throughout the seventeenth century, but as recent critics have shown, by the late 1620s, with economic conditions in the colonies improving, English playwrights and audience members alike began to envision the New World as a respectable destination. (19)

A reprisal of Ben Jonson's character Justice Adam Overdo in Bartholomew Fair (1614), Cockbrain disguises himself to observe the criminal or vulgar offenses committed by those who take advantage of the lawlessness of the new suburb:
   These are a parcel of those venomous weeds,
   That rankly pester this fair garden plot,
   Whose boisterous growth is such, that I must use
   More policy than strength to reach their root.

For Cockbrain, "policy" operates as a stand-in for the social control that the pristine town--Covent Garden itself--is supposed to induce. As Rachel Ramsey asserts in her analysis of seventeenth-century London, "changes in the physical environment are portrayed as compelling changes in social behaviors and patters." (20) Cockbrain tries to imagine Covent Garden as a "fair garden plot" to meet the social demand by those of Rooksbill's class--entrepreneurs and builders who try to capitalize on the changing topography in order to ascend the social ladder--that these "lands" be treated as though they were equal to aristocratic estates. At the same time, he also depicts the town as overrun with a rank "parcel of those venomous weeds," necessitating government intervention, when the rising gentry's own mismanagement of the development foments this social disorder. Crosswill, a member of the country gentry who sells his estate to move into the town, reveals Rooksbill's social climbing. As Rooksbill has created new property through fen drainage, he must sanitize the land by offering it on the marriage market to Crosswill; in exchange for social status, Rooksbill provides Crosswill with a foothold in the town. Yet, Crosswill cannot hide his disgust at Rooksbill's proposal to marry off his daughter, Lucy, to his eldest son, Gabriel: "What a mechanic slave is this, to think a son of mine ... a fit mate to mingle blood with his Moorditch breed. True, his estate is great ... but of all fowl I love not moorhens" (2.2.sp339). Rooksbill has accumulated his capital by fen drainage, a particularly fraught project in 1630s London. First drained in 1527 and "laid out in pleasant walks in the reign of James I," (21) Moorfields is representative of the hasty gentrification of the suburbs. Despite its developers' pretentions, Moorfields continued to attract thieves and prostitutes, prompting one commentator to maintain that the area is "impossible to reform." (22) Because Crosswill eventually agrees to marry his youngest son to Rooksbill's daughter, Brome seems to suggest that the town papers over disputes between old money/land and new money/land and establishes a venue that subsumes religious and social divisions. Yet, in this exchange, Crosswill trades a country estate and the authority it underwrites for reclaimed marshland fraught with negative associations, including claims to the land by peasants who occupied the area before its gentrification.

Much of the new construction in the London suburbs involved fen drainage schemes, including those proposed by the Dutch engineer Cornelius Vermuyden. These "projectors" included men who often proposed underhanded, impractical schemes to realize a quick profit and who are satirized in numerous plays of the period, starting with Ben Jonson's The Devil Is an Ass (1616), through Brome's Weeding of Covent Garden and Sparagus Garden, to his The Court Beggar (1640). They proposed to drain marshland to create viable land for agriculture or urban growth at the expense of local livelihoods, which were threatened by these large-scale developments. Andrew McRae states that these projects "epitomiz[e] the exploitation of a preexistent rural order by the acquisitive ethos of the city." (23) Yet King Charles himself encouraged such drainage schemes to augment England's arable land, "despite numerous outbreaks of unrest, sabotage, and even fatal violence during the 1630s." (24) He tried to assuage this unrest by addressing egregious mismanagement of the fens, including dismissing the unpopular Bedford from overseeing the Great Level of the South Fens. (25) Yet Charles, eager to emulate the Dutch and add revenue to his depressed coffers, spurred these projects onward, partly by convincing himself of their "public good." (26) H. C., calling attention to the perceived similarities between fenlands and the Netherlands, wrote in 1629 that fen drainage could yield "a goodly Garden of a Kingdome; yea, a little Kingdome it selfe: as much and as good ground ... as the States of the Low-Countreys enjoy in the Netherlands." (27) Charles allowed visions of Dutch success to delude him into ignoring how these projects antagonized an already angry populace.

Brome also caricatures propaganda written on behalf of courtiers and others who made claims to the outlying fens in order to take advantage of Charles's assault on the English countryside in his desperate attempts to raise money. These fens were extremely valuable to their inhabitants; Keith Lindley explains that villagers "enjoyed common of pasture, without stint, for all kinds of livestock ... and it was the availability of commons that had attracted 'multitudes of people' to settle there." (28) Therefore, schemes to "reduc[e] the area of pasture were bound to be intensely unpopular and provoke resistance." (29) In a "True and Natural Description of the Great Level of the Fenns," a project also called the "Bedford Level" for its principal financier and architect, Francis Russell, Earl of Bedford, the anonymous poet writes, "could we joyn / To England's blessings, Holland's industry / We all the World in wealth should far outvie." (30) In an attempt, though, to graft "Holland's industry" onto a country that was conceived of by its people as a geographical entity apart from Europe, these projectors and their apologists shatter a traditional, if imaginary, English sense of national identity. Because locals objected to the seizure of common land by private enterprises, these projectors imported Dutch and French workmen who eventually settled in the area. (31) The poet, however, argues that the Great Level project will render superfluous overseas commercial enterprises, save Englishmen from having to emigrate to the New World, and, above all, realize fantastic profits:
   Courageous Merchants, who, confronting fates,
   Trust Seas and Pyrates with your whole Estates,
   Part in this Bank, methinks were far more sure;
   And ye, whom hopes of sudden Wealth allure,
   Or wants into Virginia, force to fly,
   Ev'n spare your pains; here's Florida hard by

The fantastic profits, including metaphorical "heaps of Gold, and Indian Ore" that the poet promises read like an advertisement for a colonial venture:
   Would you repair your fortunes, would you make,
   To this most fruitful land your selves betake
   Where first your Money doubles, in a trice,
   And then by new Progression, multiplies

Eliding the actual threat to the trades of local inhabitants, the poet advertises the project as an opportunity for potential colonists who can find Virginia and Florida right outside London. He implies that fen drainage will convert a rootless underclass into propertied farmers, downplaying how developers engrossed the best common land that had provided livelihoods for rural commoners.

The poet also addresses the long-held concerns that the fens breed illness and death, and he assures his readers that the drainage projects will purify the air:
   When all dire Vapours ... are turn'd to Air,
   Pure as the Upper Region
   When Agues, Scurveys, Coughs, Consumptions, Wind,
   All crude distempers here their Cure shall find.

And, because the early moderns imagined an "interlocked physicality" between the land and the people, (32) the project to improve the environment at the Great Level promises to alter the makeup of the inhabitants:
   When with the change of Elements, suddenly
   There shall a change of Men and Manners be;
   When for sordid Clowns,
   And savage Scythians, There Succeeds a Race
   Worthy the Bliss and Genius of the place.

The poem also promises to reward settlers to the reclaimed fens whose only other option is emigration to the New World, transforming internal immigrants into proper English citizens.

The prospect of creating an England to match or exceed the climate of Virginia or Florida and to offer the economic opportunities of an untapped land not only obviates the impetus for emigration but also addresses early seventeenth-century representations of the lower class as "savage Scythians." Depicting these country inhabitants as "Souls of Sedge" the poet promises "New hands shall learn to Work, forget to Steal, / New legs shall go to Church, new knees shall kneel" (75-76). As Mark Netzloff explains, "laws in early modern England constructed a racialized class among laborers who refuse to adapt to the regime of workhouses ... consequently designating these groups for forced transportation to the colonies." (33) In an affected display of forestalling this forced overseas colonization, the poet promotes this area as an empty space available for new plantations, but only under the condition that fen dwellers strictly comport themselves according to a new and proper mode of respectable existence. After developers undertake this project, they will create a "new land" in which the current inhabitants cannot exist: if they fail to adhere to the law and observe their religious and social duties, then they are not fit to remain in the area; if, however, they agree to abandon their traditional pursuits and support these large-scale projects, the poem and similar propaganda will have succeeded in promoting the colonizing and civilizing of the fens.

Fittingly, Brome first came to public attention in Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair. In the same breath, this play introduces Brome and employs the space of Smithfield to imagine the Atlantic world: "But for the whole play, will you ha' the truth on't?--I am looking, lest the poet hear me, or his man, Master Brome, behind the arras--it is like to be a very scurvy one.... When't comes to the Fair once, you were e'en as good go to Virginia for anything there is of Smithfield." (34) A young apprentice when the play was performed, Brome internalizes the way his mentor imagines the outlying areas of London as a site to stage the increasing fragmentation of English society. Jonson's comedy dramatizes how the English at home as well as the "savages" abroad are in need of a civilizing force, one absent from the fair's chaotic world. Brome, however, seems to have objected to the way the aristocracy develops sophisticated ways to conflate the most troublesome elements of English society with individuals who choose not to or cannot compete in a society that envisions itself as part of globalized network of commerce. (35) If the land is perceived as not realizing its profit potential, developers exoticize broader sectors of English society, delegitimizing their right to occupy the land.

When Wasp characterizes Jonson's fairgoers as a "kind o' civil savages that will part with their children for rattles, pipes, and knives" (3.4.30-32), he presents the English underclass as naive dupes, with no comprehension of how to navigate the flood of commercial items available for consumption--and, by extension, a rapidly expanding world. Rebecca Ann Bach suggests that the individuals represented in the play--masterless men, the Irish, English economic criminals, and so on--"elude proper domination and beg (in the imaginations of their dominators) for civilization" by "an explorer to settle [them] in the proper English mode." (36) Jonson (in the second performance of the play) appeals to the king to address the ills he presents to him, namely, the way the Puritans seem to control the city. (37) He safely sets the disorder of the play at Smithfield, a site traditionally identified with religious dissension; indeed, it was the site for the execution of Jack Straw, the leader of the 1381 Peasants' Revolt, dramatized in a 1593/94 play, The Life and Death of Iacke Straw, A notable Rebell in England: Who was kild in Smithfield by the Lord Maior of London. Jonson can, therefore, safely stage religious and political divisions in Smithfield without burdening other city or town landmarks with fraught associations.

In his version, Brome suggests how the liminal site of Covent Garden triggers social disorder. While critics such as Butler argue that in "Bromes account of Crosswill's despotism over his children" he offers a "protest to Charles about the contradictions inherent in arbitrary rule," (38) Michael Leslie, in the introduction to his recently edited version of the play, moderates this strand of criticism. Noting the play's 1632 or 1633 composition date (Parliament had sat as recently as 1629) and claiming that "for many subjects ... there was much that was admirable about a mode of ruling that produced the quiet and prosperity of the early 1630s," Leslie refocuses our attention on "the ambiguous territory of Covent Garden and the divide between that and the traditional social organizations" of the city and the country. (39) Just as his children defy his interdictions, Crosswill flouts royal authority by moving to the town; Mihil says his father "never was fully bent on't [moving to the town] until the Proclamation of restraint spurred him up" (2.1.sp212). Crosswill's arrival in Covent Garden challenges Charles's Royal Proclamation of 1632 to keep landholders on their country estates, establishing the town as a site that not only comes to embody the clash between royal and aristocratic power but also plays a central role in conceptualizing the ways in which topography (dis)orders social relationships. Paradoxically, Crosswill refuses to submit to Charles's decree, suggesting his unwillingness to permit his physical environment to define him, but also seemingly moves to the voguish town to mitigate Gabriel's radical Puritanism, relying on the town to refashion his wayward son. (40) In fact, he encounters a site in which all recent arrivals draw on the contested meanings of the town to further their own agendas.

As these developments have successfully displaced the peasantry who worked and lived on the land, recent settlers respond to the way the speculators portray the town as a "plantation," exploiting the chaos of the suburbs to garner their share of the profits. Dorcas, Crosswill's niece who was seduced in the country by Nicholas, Rooksbill's son, proposes to act the part of Venetian courtesan in order to glamorize a brothel run by Madge and Francesca. Her venture satirizes the schemes of town developers, who imitate foreign architecture to cater to an economic elite, even as they create a physical environment in which the rest of English society is effectively dislocated. In 1631, Charles allowed Francis Russell, Earl of Bedford, to develop Covent Garden. As with his fen drainage works which "Shall Parallel the Streights of Magellane," (41) this project was imagined as a daring overseas expedition to open up new worlds to English colonists. Invoking the Age of Discovery, enthusiasts for town developments envisioned these ventures as a colonial project to establish new trading ports. Bedford "had started a large development ... based around an enormous Italian-style open square 420 by 613 feet ... [with buildings] which required construction from brick or stone, a uniform frontage ... and the first balconies in Britain." (42) In keeping with the original Italianate design, Dorcas appears "upon a balcony ... habited like a courtesan of Venice," subverting the original grand designs of Bedford (1.1.sp69). (43) She supposedly "travelled [to] France and Italy, and ... [intends to] plant some of her foreign collections, the fruits of her travels, in this garden here, to try how they would grow or thrive on English earth" (1.1.sp101, 103). Her "brave rebellion" against the "stricter laws" of England recalls the popular lore of tracts that commemorate successful prostitutes: a woman warrior who defies an authoritarian state, Dorcas attempts to establish a thriving business outside city jurisdiction. She hopes that her foreign "fashion ... [m]ay persuade justice to allow our games" (1.1.sp82). Because she participates in the state's attempt to exoticize Covent Garden, she effectively forces "Justice" to permit an otherwise illegal activity, testing the limits of its authority. These women entrepreneurs co-opt and Anglicize the state's attempt to remake the city. When it turns out that Madge, "old Countess of Codpiece-row," and Francesca "travelled 'cross the seas from the Bankside hither" (1.2.sp132), Nicholas and the rest of the "Brother[s] of the Blade and the Battoon" ally themselves with the "Sisters of the Scabbard" (1.1.sp83, 1.2.sp167). Arriving from the notorious southern suburbs, these bawds answer the call of tracts that beckon potential colonists by promoting the suburbs as unsullied lands like Virginia and Florida, which offer lucrative economic opportunities. Yet, the physical environment of the town has not reformed the deviant behavior of London's underclass. Underneath the veneer of cultural sophistication lies a "party purple, or rather parboiled bawd" (1.2.sp130). Brome suggests that the English can see through the schemes of their betters; like the exotic costumes of these prostitutes, the Italian architecture is merely a facade by powerful entrepreneurs to capitalize and exploit these suburbs.

Dorcas's appearance on a balcony singing to attract customers is one of several performative acts by Covent Garden residents that parody the way in which Jacobean theater familiarized Londoners with this new suburb. Gazing up at the balcony, Clotpoll and Nicholas call her a "device" and a "show." Yet, the cadre of roving masterless men and dissatisfied sons shatters this fantasy. Nicholas, Rooksbill's son, is correct when he first posits, but then rejects, his theory that the brothel was started by "the mountebank's wife that was here; and now come to play some merry new tricks by herself" (1.1.sp92). This mountebank or "antifounder" of Covent Garden, a sort of underworld Earl of Bedford, "brought the first resort into this new plantation [and] drew such flocks of idle people ... that the players ... cursed him abominably" (1.1.sp93, sp95). An earlier iteration of Dorcas, Madge, and Francesca, the mountebank operates as a one-man theatrical troupe who draws crowds to this suburb. Brome implies that new illegal enterprises will simply replace ones that are suppressed by the authorities or exposed as clumsily disguised, quotidian criminal schemes.

In these instances, Brome reveals the ways in which these enterprises strive to capture the imagination of Covent Garden's inhabitants by appropriating the function of the theater, usually the venue, as Jean Howard puts it, by which "people of the period ... made sense of this fast-changing urban milieu" (2). In earlier Jacobean versions of the place-realism comedy, Henry Turner argues, plays set in the city "reproduc[ed] in miniature ... specific identifiable elements in the streets around them, correlating a concept of citizenship ... with physical placement in a realistic urban topography." (44) Playwrights performed this civil function because, as Mimi Yiu reminds us, "At the center of a flourishing economy sparked by new trade routes and colonial ambitions, metropolitan London underwent a seismic reorganization of its topography, anchoring a widespread program of spatial restructuring that historians have called the Great Rebuilding" (45) Rather than domesticating this wilderness-turned-colonial outpost, these initial settlers establish the community as forever in strife. As Clotpoll puts it, the mountebank "sowed so much seed of knavery and cozenage here, that 'tis feared 'twill never out" (1.1 .sp93). The threat of colonial or mercantile chaos resides in the very heart of the town and in the very scheme to modernize and expand the city.

Brome's metatheatrical commentary on the ineffectiveness of the stage to shape people's perceptions of Covent Garden forces us to question the concluding lines spoken by Crosswill. Crosswill, a more authoritative figure, replacing the absurd Cockbrain, issues the edict: "Go now, while ye are well, and be seen no more in this precinct." To which summons the prostitutes, rabble-rousers, and confidence men respond, "Never, and 't please your worships, never" (5.3.sp1247). Crosswill then reiterates Cockbrain's opening sentiments as he operates as a mouthpiece to convey the state's intention to establish an upscale, urban precinct:
   'Twas built for no such vermin. Hence, away,
   And may the place be purged so every day
   'Til no unworthy member may be found,
   To pester or to vilify this ground;
   That as it was intended, it may be
   A scene for virtue and nobility.

Supposed to be the setting for aristocratic pleasure seekers, Covent Garden instead seems already tainted with the stigma of its less illustrious inhabitants. While the opening and concluding passages may indicate a tripartite agreement among the state, Puritan city power, and (former) country landholders to develop Covent Garden, we hardly need the too tidy assurances of the undesirable elements to notice the cracks in this uneasy alliance. (46)

Instead, masterless men, a dissatisfied and adrift younger generation, and an emboldened merchant class lay claim to the new suburb. Mihil complains that in this quarter tradesmen have encroached on the prerogatives of gentlemen: owners o shops are removed into the new plantation here, where, they say, are a tribe of infidel tradesmen, that have made a law within yourselves to put no trust in gentlemen" (2.1.sp230). Nicholas states quite explicitly and forcefully that they intend to defend against any incursion of state power. He vehemently assures his comrades that he will violently thwart any attempt by the state to encroach upon what he views as his territory: "I would but see the carcass of authority prance in our quarter, and we not cut his legs off" (5.3.sp1123). Rooksbill, at least, takes these threats very seriously when he walks into Paris Tavern, the site of the play's climatic confrontation: "My wicked, caitiff, reprobate son is here too. Pray let me flee. I am but a dead man else" (5.3.spl 170). Brome draws attention to how Rooksbill's aggressive social climbing initiates a breakdown in familial as well as civic order. While Jacobean playwrights portray heirs as openly desiring their fathers' deaths--usually for comic effect--Brome describes a town society that witnesses open warfare between father and son. If Rooksbill can create an estate by land reclamation that ignores former tenants' rights, circumventing traditional channels to obtain the social status that land confers in English society, Nicholas can just as callously hasten patrilineal succession to gain control of his inheritance.

Gabriel's restoration from a Puritan to his former "manly carriage," characterized by "Stout and brave action" (4.2.sp851), also sets into motion his superimposition of a military scene on the Paris Tavern in Covent Garden. This scene, which finally dramatizes the overt generational conflict of the play, outwardly seems to defuse the tension between the different factions but, more deeply, secures the town as the prevailing prototype for a new topography embodying a state of ongoing war and thus invalidates any pretense of a social contract between a ruler and the body politic. This pivotal scene, in which the roving gang forces him to drink and then wakes him up by blaring military alarms, prompts Gabriel to map out an imaginary battle formation in the tavern. He resolutely assures the onlookers:
   I know how to have my ordnance artillery for discharging missiles
   planted here, my cavalry mounted here, my battery-discoverer on
   such a point, my trenches cut thus, my mine carried thus, my
   gabions raised thus. Here my parapet, there my pallisado o'th' top
   of that. The enemy made saultable six hundred paces there. And I
   draw out my musketeers to flank 'em in their trenches here, while
   my pikes and targeteers advance to the breach there. (5.3.spl 157)

Steggle describes this scene as demonstrating how the stage molds the perception of space in the new city suburbs: "On Bromes stage, and by extension in the empty new urban spaces of west London, geography is not an objective given but something that can be imposed by force of will and is dependent upon the agreement of others." (47) While Steggle rightly calls attention to the way the force of imagination constructs the town, he seems to misconstrue the larger implications of this scene. Fabricating a military crisis, Nicholas and the others lead Gabriel to institute what might be termed "a state of exception." (48) Finally bringing to a head the violent intimations and calls to "cut" the legs from under the authorities, Gabriel gives the signal to attack when Crosswill and Rooksbill arrive: "An ambuscado of the enemy. Alarm! Lieutenant, charge in with your shot! Now, gentlemen, for the honour of Covent Garden, make a stand with your pikes; in to the short sword; well fought, take prisoners" (5.3.spl 165). Believing representatives of a hostile enemy are attacking Covent Garden's inhabitants, Gabriel establishes an internal warzone, defeating the overbearing authority figure and the Puritan builder who try to impose an urban topography designed only for the wealthy. Like Charles and his fen drainage schemes, the planners of Covent Garden imported foreigners to work on and benefit from the projects at the expense of the English. The Paris Tavern, the site Gabriel recaptures, represents what William Prynne designated as a growing territorial footprint by foreign powers: Queen Henrietta Maria's French servants, "'who doe suck the marrow of our estate; had secretly obtained a number of properties in the area" including Paris Tavern. (49) Spurred to take up arms under supposedly false premises, he lays claim to the ground as English territory.

Although Gabriel's assault is provoked by Nicholas's "military blare" intended to awaken him from his Puritan doldrums, he responds to a real threat to English society. While Crosswill tries to "purge" undesirables from the town, the play underscores that the "true" natives are the bawdy house owners and the itinerant mountebank. When Gabriel becomes "Captain" of the "Blade and the Battoon" with Nicholas as his lieutenant, Brome suggests the real-world implications of Gabriers resistance to the upper-class incursion in Covent Garden. In an understatement, Clotpoll remarks, "This goes beyond the Blade and the Baton," to suggest the wider political and social ramifications for this scene. (50) Brome represents Charles and Henrietta's internal colonization as affecting all aspects of traditional English life, including, of course, the way that the nation mismanages its urbanization. In this way, the Crown makes it impossible for playwrights to constitute a cohesive social imaginary. While the previous generation of playwrights domesticated their audience by familiarizing them with an urban topography that signified the growing importance of the city, Brome shows how developments that prioritize profits at the expense of local livelihoods have frittered away any chance of a shared social imaginary. Gabriel's imagery also gives new meaning to the deterritorialization suggested by references to Covent Garden as a "forest" or a "lawless" precinct inhabited by "Amazonian trulls" and "tribe[s]" of men and women. His mock military incursion seems a natural outgrowth of the way Covent Garden is portrayed.

Populated by various New World types, in an urban topography controlled by French courtiers, Brome's stage lays bare the type of city the Crown institutes. When Crosswill banishes this underclass represented as New World indigenes, the town is imagined as a space where the inhabitants of the fens and suburbs have only marginalized roles in society and no recourse to the law whatsoever. The most trenchant critic of the way the state imagines space to consolidate its rule by creating conditions in which it can revoke its citizens' rights, Giorgio Agamben, describes this set of circumstances by revising how we have mistakenly understood the state of nature and its relationship to civil society. Agamben explains how Carl Schmitt "assimilates" the "ius publicum Europaeum"--the juridical region that "corresponded to the New World, which was identified with the state of nature"--or "zone 'beyond the line' to the state of exception, which 'bases itself in an obviously analogous fashion on the idea of delimited, free and empty space' understood as a 'temporary and spatial sphere in which every law is suspended.'" He then argues that "the Hobbesian mythologeme of the state of nature ... is not a real epoch chronologically prior to the foundation of the City but a principle internal to the City, which appears at the moment the City is considered tanquam dissoluta, 'as if it were dissolved.'" In this respect, the state of nature and the state of exception "are nothing but two sides of a single topological process in which what was presupposed as external (the state of nature) now reappears ... in the inside (as state of exception)." (51) Portraying the newly built precincts as temporarily lawless zones, Brome demonstrates how different political entities conceive of space free from the traditional, if superficial, social relations that mask the actual conditions within the City--an environment designed to declare at any time a state of (lawless) nature in which the sovereign can declare martial law. Brome, however, suggests that the state has miscalculated its ability to control the populace, and even questions the Crown's prerogative to declare a state of exception that would allow it to treat its subjects as though they were New World "savages."


Starting as early as Thomas Dekker's Shoemaker's Holiday (1599) in which Lacy, a nobleman, disguises himself as a Dutch worker to act as a go-between for Simon Eyre and a Dutch merchant importing luxury items from "Candy," or Crete, the Dutch are both scorned and admired on the stage and in popular literature for their commercial reach and skill. Indeed, Nicholas Goodman's pamphlet Hollands Leaguer; or, An Historical Discourse of the Life and Actions of Dona Britanica Hollandia, the Arch Mistress of the wicked women of Eutopia (1632) portrays the expansion of the city as a project that cannot be interwoven into an English national narrative. Questioning traditional interpretations of the pamphlet as a parable of the Anglican Church's decay into Papism, Jean Howard suggests that Hollands Leaguer instead celebrates a bawdy house madam named Elizabeth Holland as a "heroic embodiment ofthe entrepreneurial spirit." (52) Pointing out that Holland "may write Annales, and Comentaries to teach Rome, Venice, Florence, and the Turks Seralia," (53) Howard suggests that "Britannica Hollandia had Englished the trade [and] indicates the perverse national price she embodies." (54) Holland's brothel certainly captured the popular imagination; (55) both of Brome's place-realism plays feature bawds who take up residence in the town, embodying in different ways the commercial spirit that the town encourages. I would like to supplement Howard's account by focusing on Goodman's exploration of how the Dutch influenced the way the English conceive of urban expansion and commercial practices. Goodman portrays the entrepreneurial activities of the west suburbs as leading to the welter of confused and confusing identities typified by popular accounts of the Netherlands.

Initially named Britanica Hollandia, "by reason of some neere allyances betwixt them and the Neatherlands" (56), the allegorical figure is identified as Dona Britanica in the city; but when she opens up her brothel across the Thames, Goodman, without an explanatory note, renames her Dona Hollandia (76). In the city, the "buildings [that] are so linkt one to another" represent a tight, unified community. Outside of the city, specifically across the Thames, which Goodman describes as a territory across the ocean, "she betakes herself to the Sea, and makes a discovery vpon the water," a wilderness outside the borders of the state and a coherent community. She eventually chooses a place fit for her purpose: "[S]hee made for that coast, where shee found such aboundance of Naturall and Arteficiall intrenchments, that ever the house seemed to be in itself a little City" (75). The playhouses that attract a "Concourse of Strangers" on the Bankside produce ready customers who serve as a heterogeneous collection of citizens of her little state (76). The "Taxes" they pay allow her to augment her defenses, increase her workforce, and to purchase "sundry retainers" and sophisticated fashions (78, 79). In this little kingdom, she makes up her own "Lawes and Ordinances" (78). Her growing wealth, the topography of her island kingdom, and the suggestion that her riches contribute to her transformation from a "mayd in the time of her innocence" (56) to the chief magistrate of a flourishing realm strongly suggest an identification with the Dutch Republic. Goodman's pamphlet thus criticizes the Netherlands as an upstart Protestant state that has been corrupted by its overriding commercial motives.

Later in the seventeenth century, in "The Character of Holland," Andrew Marvell scorns the Dutch for cynically permitting religious freedom; the financial prowess of the state depends on its willingness to subordinate religious principles to crass moneymaking:
   Hence Amsterdam, Turk-Christian-Pagan-Jew,
   Staple of sects and mint of schism grew;
   That bank of conscience, where not one so strange
   Opinion but finds credit, and exchange. (56)

Marvell underscores the ease with which various immigrants embrace financial markets which, in his view, foster a dangerous transculturation; Dutch society produces individuals who do not make up a cosmopolitan state but instead are so adaptable that they have no distinct attributes whatsoever. Economic indices like "exchange" and "credit" have been so thoroughly internalized that the people have no stable sense of national or religious selfhood. The Netherlands thus represents, for Goodman, Marvell, and many of their contemporaries, a problematic world in which individuals cannot count on a common social imaginary to face external threats. Instead of Anglicizing the trade, bawdy houses embody the way profit motives corrupt the sanctity of the state.

In The Sparagus Garden, Brome stages this internal colonization of the west part of London as a profitable and violent enterprise, drawing on the ways in which the English represent the Netherlands. The plot, in which three friends, Gilbert, Walter, and Samuel, endeavor to overcome their guardians' tightfistedness and efforts to dictate who they can marry, seems a conventional one. While Samuel succeeds in marrying Annabel and Walter gains his inheritance from his stingy uncle, access to the gardens and what they represent in the 1630s eludes the otherwise triumphant younger generation. While The Weeding of Covent Garden suggests that just as the ground must undergo a gradual process from supposedly degraded to pure land, the quality of the individuals who frequent the island must improve over time, the purveyors of Sparagus Garden attempt to draw and encourage wealthy city merchants who visit the "island" to transgress against social strictures. A "rich old merchant" with a "poor young gentleman's wife in the yellow bedchamber" and "the knight with the broken Citizens wife ... in the blue bedchamber" frequent the garden, indicating how Sparagus Garden serves as a brothel and a sanctuary for those who prevail in the increasingly nasty economic warfare. (57) Martha relegates the three friends, Walter, Samuel, and Gilbert, to the gardens rather than allowing them a room because they have no women with them, assuming that they are not likely to lavish delicacies on each other. Walter reasons, "'Tis enough for them to weed their garden, not their guests" (3.1.sp466). Although their fathers were "worthy and well reputed members of the city while they lived" (1.1.sp 13), the younger generation has only limited access to the garden because their attempts to consolidate their fathers' wealth and marry to patch up interfamily feuds do not recommend them to the gardeners who capitalize on pleasure-seeking Londoners.

In other accounts of the garden, such as James Shirley's Hyde Park (1632), playwrights portray it as the stylized resort for West London gentry; Mistress Caroline stipulates that even if she is to be married, she must remain free to visit these urban pleasure gardens: "I'll not be / Bound from Spring-garden, and the 'Sparagus." (58) Brome, however, shows the underside of these suburban projects. This Dutch enterprise is represented in the play by a gardener of unspecified origins and his Dutch wife, whose commercial instincts extend solely to efforts to maximize their profits. She informs her husband, "'tis not your dirty 'Sparagus ... your tulips ... can bring you in five hundred pound a year if my helping hand, and brain too, were not in the business" (3.1.sp413). Her "business" largely consists of procuring rooms at the garden for merchants' affairs with other citizens' wives and overcharging these customers--"all to mall as they do in the Netherlands"--for the "dirty 'Sparagus" and wine (3.1.sp428). Her profit depends on the repeat business of these merchants and she fears that "great courtiers and ladies" will by "their coming ... keep out some of our more constant, and more profitable customers" (3.1.sp422, sp423), the city merchants of some money and dubious morals. Lacking the clearly delineated districts within the City that supposedly separate upper-class and commercial districts, the Sparagus Garden discourages both upwardly mobile cits and aristocratic patrons in favor of a middling sort who maximize the profit potential of these "two Acres."

Brome overdetermines the gardens as a Netherlands-like territory and the two caretakers as Dutch overlords. One character refers to the host and hostess of Sparagus Garden as "prince and princess of the province of Asparagus," while another greets Martha and her husband as "lord and lady of the new plantation here" (3.1.sp441, sp440). Yet the gardener and his wife, Martha, do not own the land but merely cultivate it: "and two or three years toil more, while our trade is in request and fashion will make us purchasers. I had once a hope to have bought this manor of marshland, for the resemblance it has to the Low Country soil you came from--to ha'made you a Bankside lady" (3.1.sp414). This explicit identification of the gardens with "the Low Countr[ies]" mobilizes anti-Dutch sentiment as a satiric device. Aspiring to the position of a "Bankside Lady" or a potent bawdy house owner, like Elizabeth Holland, Martha seeks to evade state strictures as she and her husband plot to become "purchasers" of an estate. As profits tail off for the gardener and his wife, though, they become increasingly selective in their clientele and aggressive in the way they pursue profits.

Samuel, a young heir to his father's wealth, describes Sparagus Garden as "[t]he island of two acres here more profitable than twice two thousand in the fens till the drainers have done there" (3.1.sp442). A small prototype of the type of land that will be available when larger inland fen drainage projects are completed, the "island of two acres" grows specialized cash crops--"this precious plant asparagus ... [imported from] Burgundy, Allemagne, Italy, and Languedoc" (3.1.sp475)--and operates under its own rules. When Martha's servant bullies a visitor accompanied by a Mistress Hollyhock ("the precise draper's wife") to pay the inflated price that Martha demands, the gentleman replies that taverns which charge exorbitant rates should compromise to avoid being shut down. His thinly veiled threat that "the Countess of Copthall is coming to be her neighbor again" (3.1.sp642) suggests he may inform the authorities about Martha's procuring prostitutes for her guests. The servant derisively replies, "My mistress scorns your words, sir" (3.1.sp643), underscoring that the garden is not subject to the authorities' jurisdiction.

Brome portrays the Sparagus Garden as a contested site where the scheming commercial class is pitted against members of the upper class who are trying to lay claim to the area. A courtier encourages the ladies to dance by suggesting that the nobility's indisputable ownership of land stems from their exclusive power to purify and rejuvenate it: "You shall fresh vigour add unto the spring, / And double the increase, sweetness and beauty / Of every plant and flower throughout the garden" (3.1.sp556). Yet by commercializing and therefore undermining the very ideological framework that authorizes the aristocracy's rule, the courtier exposes the ideological fissures in this belief. The ladies tease the courtier by sarcastically remarking,
   If I thought so my Lord, we would not doe
   Such precious work for nothing; we would be
   Much better huswifes, and compound for shares
   O'th' gardeners profit.

Treating the Sparagus Garden as a joint-stock enterprise that promises exponential growth, the lady casts Martha's operation as a second front of the Dutch West India Company, an enterprise catering to wealthy traders, while at the same time, cutting out the English aristocracy from their lucrative profits.

The ladies treat the grounds simply as what it is--a pleasure garden-and finally agree to dance but "[n]ot to improve the garden." Their graceful dancing at least represents a more worthy occupation than the activities that normally take place within the confines of the garden: "You have done nobly, ladies, and much honoured / This piece of earth here" Rather feebly, the courtier states, "May the example of our harmless mirth / And civil recreation purge this place / Of all foul purposes" (3.1.sp563, sp565). Seeing Moneylacks and his cronies, the practical lady replies, "But wishes weed no gardens; hither come / Some wicked ones" (3.1.sp566). While these courtiers discern that these troublemakers challenge their efforts to lay claim to and civilize the newly developed land, they exaggerate the peril that the "wicked ones" pose. After all, Moneylacks is an object of ridicule to everyone else in the play. This rhetoric, like the seemingly overwrought threats to murder authority in Bromes Weeding of Covent Garden, demands closer scrutiny. While the court imagines it can wait for an opportunity to exert its influence and eventually assume control over the suburbs, Brome suggests the land is already being appropriated for other uses. The courtier says, "We seek not to abridge their privilege; / Nor can their ill hurt us. We are safe" (3.1.sp567). Despite his reassurances, the ladies decide to return to their lodgings in Whitehall, leaving Sparagus garden to Moneylacks' devices. The exaggerated menace of physical violence--something the state has dealt with and can conceptualize--masks an economic threat that is not immediately present in Moneylacks; instead he raises the Dutch specter of economic hegemony, closing off domestic "markets" to the aristocracy.

Worse yet, Martha uses the English as middlemen to maximize her profits, suggesting the way the Dutch control English domestic markets. In his role as the "Fly of The New Inn there" (1.1 .sp89), Moneylacks drives potential customers to Sparagus Garden. He packages the asparagus as possessing the power to transform rural yeomen into nobles. In an attempt to fleece Hoyden, a recent arrival from the country, of his four hundred pounds, be explains that to make him into a gentleman, "your blood shall be taken out by degrees, and your veins replenished with pure blood" (2.1.sp289). To do that, he must consume asparagus, which "shall set ... your blood as high as any gentleman's lineally descended from the loins of King Cadwallader" (2.1.sp297). Ironically, Hoyden literally consumes his inheritance, expunging his only social status, to strengthen his claim to an illusory class identity. Exposing the troubling disruptions to conceptions of English identity that commerce has introduced, Moneylacks promotes the social status of consuming this foreign plant by explaining how it was imported from "Burgundy, Allemagne, Italy, and Languedoc" Thus, Moneylacks reifies pure Briton blood unalloyed with past invaders into another object for consumption. The cultural geography that defines Britain is available for consumption in the town, and Brome suggests that this space fosters exchanges not only of goods and services but of social identities.

Moneylacks insists that the asparagus must only be eaten at the garden: "Where would you have it [the asparagus] ? Here in our own house? Fie! The virtue of it is mortified if it pass the threshold from the ground it grows on. No, you must thither to the garden of delight" (2.1.sp217). He satirizes the aristocratic worldview that values the land over the goods produced on it. The real value of land can be measured, Brome implies, by how much profit it can generate for entrepreneurs. This enterprising commercial class exploits these newly created lands, while the characters identified with the court belatedly and futilely attempt to consecrate the land. Indeed, the court and the gentry seem to be outmaneuvered, unable to compete with an ever-adaptable commercial class. For Brome, these new town sites offer fresh venues to reinterpret traditional conceptions of the land. While the town blurs the already hazy distinctions among English merchants, developers, and the aristocracy, the efforts of these stakeholders to augment their socioeconomic position are undercut by entrenched inhabitants who refuse to cede easily their real and symbolic power in the town and by foreign powers who have already claimed these sites as part of a global commercial network.


Brome's A Jovial Crew (1641) dramatizes how the chaos inherent in the town has now spread across the country. (60) Oldrents, the patriarch in the play, unreasonably fears that his family's fortunes will decline, and his melancholy forces his children out of his house. The younger generation leaves the domestic safety of their father's estate to seek their "birthright into a new world" (61) Their "birthright" is defined not by the rewards they reap from land ownership but by the freedom to roam the countryside; the promise of patrilineal claims to the land no longer affords social protection or ensures political authority. (62) The play, which was staged on 2 September 1642, the day the London theaters were shut down by order of Parliament, attacks the "love and honour" drama of William Davenant, Sir John Suckling, and Thomas Killigrew, but suggests that the right kind of drama could serve as the means to prevent England from descending into civil war. (63) One of the commendatory letters of the play, written by the dramatist and city poet John Tatham, criticizes the audience for rejecting traditional if old-fashioned plays for "a faction ... in town":
   Ingrateful Negro-kind, dart you your rage
   Against the beams that warm'd you, and the stage!
   This malice shows it is unhallowed heat
   That boils your raw brains, and your temples beat. (64)

Alluding to climatic explanations of racial identity, Tatham contrasts the alien productions that have racialized the English to the native "beams" or plays by Shakespeare, Jonson, and Beaumont and Fletcher, that formed the English. Tatham assures them, "th[is] well-wrought piece" (A Jovial Crew) may"Draw th' curtain of th[e] errors" of the "Adulterate pieces" that have been foisted on English theatergoers. The conceit of the acceptance of debased coin by the masses in their demand for "love and honour" drama captures the sense that the London audience, striving to adhere to the French fashions introduced into London by Henrietta Maria and aped by courtiers, have allowed a foreign standard of value to replace their native one. Tatham compares the audience to "Indians, who their native wealth despise, / And dote on stranger's trash and trumperies" The "unhallowed heat" that Whitehall has introduced into England has altered the racial makeup of its citizens. While constructing the English as a heterogeneous population has enabled, as we have seen, internal colonial ventures in England, these projects have undermined the welfare of the state--a condition that the stage, Tatham implies even as he praises Brome, is now powerless to rectify.

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


(1) See Martin Butler, Theatre and Crisis, 1632-1642 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), esp. chap. 7; in the 1630s, Butler reminds us, "The traditional configuration of court, city and country now had a fourth term, the town" (141).

(2) See Butler, Theatre and Crisis; Julie Sanders, Caroline Drama: The Plays of Massinger, Ford, Shirley, and Brome (P1ymouth: Northcote House, 1999); R. J. Kaufmann, Richard Brome: Caroline Playwright (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961); Matthew Steggle, Richard Brome: Place and Politics on the Caroline Stage (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004); and Adam Zucker, "Laborless London: Comic Form and the Space of the Town in Caroline Covent Garden" Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 5, no. 2 (2005): 94-119.

(3) In England's Internal Colonies: Class, Capital, and the Literature of Early Modern English Colonialism (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), Mark Netzloff provides a historical overview ofthe term internal colonialism (6-8). He "emphasize[s] the domestic foundations of early modern colonial discourse and practices" (6).

(4) See Brian Walsh, "Performing Historicity in Dekker's The Shoemaker's Holiday," SEL 46, no. 2 (2006): 343n2, for a detailed explanation of the term middling sort, a rough approximation of our term middle class.

(5) As Joyce Oldham Appleby explains in Economic Thought and Ideology in Seventeenth-Century England (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1978), the "sustained demonstration of this Dutch commercial prowess acted more forcefully upon the English imagination than any other economic development of the seventeenth century" (73). See ibid., chap. 4., "The Dutch as a Source of Evidence," 73-98.

(6) Richard Brome, The Weeding of Covent Garden; or, The Middlesex Justice of Peace: A Facetious Comedy, Modern Text, ed. Michael Leslie, Richard Brome Online, accessed May 2011,, 3.2.speech695, 4.1.speech792, 4.1.speech709, and 4.2speech887. Subsequent references to this play are from this edition and are cited parenthetically by act, scene, and speech number (abbreviated "sp"). This newly published online scholarly edition of all of Bromes plays includes dramatic stage readings of many passages, revealing interpretative nuances that are discussed in some detail in the critical introductions.

(7) Zucker, 95.

(8) William Shakespeare, Richard II, ed. Stanley Wells (New York: Penguin, 1981), 2.1.43-44.

(9) Benjamin Schmidt, Innocence Abroad: The Dutch Imagination and the New World, 1570-1670 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 140; Jonathan Israel, The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 346-48.

(10) As Robert Brenner points out in Merchants and Revolution: Commercial Change, Political Conflict, and London's Overseas Traders, 1550-1663 (London: Verso, 2003), the "newer trades had as their raison d'etre ... to be built up in commercial struggle against the Dutch" (599). Although the landed class in England sought to create permanent settlements abroad, an increasingly powerful up-and-coming merchant class were "hostile to any expenditures not immediately productive of profit and were constantly urging their agents to spend as little as possible on fortification or buildings of any sort" (171). I argue that this profit motive affects their domestic settlements as well as colonial fortifications abroad.

(11) In Richard Brome: Place and Politics, Steggle notes the many references to Holland in The Sparagus Garden; be concentrates on Brome's comparison of "this two-acre project to a miniature fen-drainage" (76), arguing that "fen drainage raised difficult questions of land-ownership, authority, and 'legitimate title' to lands that did not previously exist" (77).

(12) Ben Jonson, The Entertainment at Britain's Burse: Re-Presenting Ben Jonson, ed. Martin Butler (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999), ll.51, 45-47.

(13) See Arjun Appadurai's introduction to The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 3-63.

(14) Eric Kerridge, Textile Manufactures in Early Modern England (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1985), 126-27.

(15) David J. Baker, On Demand: Writing for the Market in Early Modern England (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010), 101.

(16) See Israel, 318-27.

(17) Jonson immediately tries to lessen the anxieties over the reach of Dutch overseas trade by assuring the king that "my factors from lygourne [a trading port in Greece] haue aduertised that Warde the man of warre, for that is nowe the honorable name for a pyrate; hath taken theyr greatest Hulke [.] ... [I]t is thought they will come whom [home] verye mvch dissolued" (ll. 176-81). Ward, though, represents another threat to the king; as Daniel Vitkus points out: Ward "exemplified the success and autonomy that may be achieved through an unruly masculine virtue that is willing and able to defy the rules laid down by the Christian authorities" See Daniel J. Vitkus, ed., Three Turk Plays from Early Modern England: "Selimus," "A Christian Turned Turk" and "The Renegado" (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), 26.

(18) Henry Turner, The English Renaissance Stage: Geometry, Poetics, and the Practical Spatial Arts, 1580-1630 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 195.

(19) See Rebecca Ann Bach, Colonial Transformations: The Cultural Production of the New Atlantic World, 1580-1640 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000), 120, 144.

(20) See Rachel Ramsey, "'The Language of Urbanization in John Stow's Survey of London," Philological Quarterly 85, nos. 3-4 (2006): 247-70 (255). She draws attention to the way urbanization shapes what she terms the "social topography" of London: "[E]xamples of indiscriminate building narratively precede accounts of social and economic change, so ... the material topography appears to dictate the social topography" (254-55). I concentrate on the "shock" Londoners register as they try to make sense of their new surroundings. See Greg Dening, Islands and Beaches: Discourses on a Silent Land Marquesas, 1774-1880 (Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii, 1980), 94.

(21) See Walter Thornbury, Old and New London: A Narrative of Its History, Its People, and Its Places, 2 vols. (London: Cassell, Petter, Galpin, 1881), 2:196.

(22) Quoted in Thornbury, 2:196.

(23) Andrew McRae, God Speed the Plough: The Representation of Agrarian England, 1500-1660 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 105.

(24) Steggle, Richard Brome: Place and Politics, 76-77. See also Julie Sanders's discussion of this issue in her introduction to The Sparagus Garden, Richard Brome Online, para. 18 (see n. 57, below).

(25) Bedford became a lightning rod for fen drainage opponents prompting Charles's intervention; see Kevin Sharpe, The Personal Rule of Charles I (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1995), 255.

(26) Ibid., 252-54.

(27) H. C., A Discourse Concerning the Drayning of Fennes and Surrounded Grounds in the Sixe Countreys of Norfolke (London, 1629), A4.

(28) Keith Lindley, Fenland Riots and the English Revolution (London: Ashgate, 1982), 8.

(29) Ibid., 9.

(30) "A True and Natural Description of the Great Level of the Fenns" in The History or Narrative of the Great Level of the Fenns, called Bedford Level (London, 1685), 69-81 (78).

(31) Lindley, 19.

(32) Susan Scott Parrish, "Rummaging/In and Out of Holds," American Literary History 22 (2010): 289-301 (297). 33 Netzloff, 4.

(34) Ben Jonson, Bartholomew Fair, ed. G. R. Hibbard (New York: Norton, 1977), pr. 7, ll. 6-11.

(35) The play describes the Puritans and an economic underclass as equal scourges to the state. When the play was presented at court, the prologue welcomed James I by alluding to the ongoing hostilities between Puritans and the Crown: "Your Majesty is welcome to a Fair; / Such place, such men, such language, and such ware, / You must expect; with these, the zealous noise / Of your land's Faction, scandalized at toys, / As babies, hobby-horses, puppet-plays" (pr. 1-5).

(36) Bach, Colonial Transformations, 124, 120.

(37) Jonson's The New Inne, as Bach explains, was supposed to serve as a rejoinder to Bartholomew Fair's unruly state: "As a later development of Smithfield, The New Inne is a domesticated colonial space" (135).

(38) Butler, Theatre and Crisis, 156.

(39) Michael Leslie, introduction to The Weeding of Covent Garden, Richard Brome Online, para. 48 and 51.

(40) Crosswill claims that James's and Charles's insistence on the continuation of traditional country sports and pastimes--practices Puritans denounced--forced Gabriel into the town: "And he has done nothing bur hanged the head, as you see now, ever since holiday sports were cried up in the country. And but for that, and to talk with some of the silenced pastors about it, I should not have drawn him up" (I.l.sp40). He was only induced to accompany his father because, in the teeming metropolis, he could commiserate with small pockets of his radical brethren.

(41) "A True and Natural Description," 74.

(42) Steggle, 47. See J. Newman, "Inigo Jones and the Politics of Architecture," Culture and Politics in Early Stuart England (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), ed. Kevin Sharpe and Peter Lake, 229-56, for a discussion of Inigo Jones's involvement as the King's Surveyor in Covent Garden's uniform architecture. Zucker states, "in the planning of the piazza, Bedford sought the assistance of Inigo Jones ... the driving force behind the Stuart aesthetic of urban uniformity" (99). Discussing the Earl of Bedford's connections between fen drainage schemes and the development of Covent Garden, Sanders, in her introduction to The Sparagus Garden, notes: "much of the profits he made from the lucrative fen drainage schemes was ploughed back into the very material and tangible product of building the area of London known as Covent Garden" (para. 18).

(43) This is akin to Zucker's formulation that "the erotic tension occasioned by the threshold space of the balcony structures a scene of disorderly sexuality that directly threatens the social tenor of the neighborhood by invoking the labor of prostitutes" (106).

(44) Howard and Turner articulate an oft-repeated sentiment about early Jacobean seventeenth-century drama. Butler states: "Plays by Brome, Shirley, and Davenant offered the audience images of themselves in parks, squares, taverns, and gaming houses, supplying standards against which forms and codes of behavior could be established" (Theatre and Crisis, 110-11).

(45) Mimi Yiu, "Sounding the Space between Men: Choric and Choral Cities in Ben Jonson's Epicoene; or, The Silent Woman," PMLA (Jan. 2007): 72-78 (73).

(46) Zucker takes Crosswill's injunction at face value: "a conventional story of young lovers effects an imaginary space on stage temporally purged of disease, labor, and disorder. The Covent Garden neighborhood reproduced in comic form is finally 'fitt ... for gentlemen of ability'" (108).

(47) Steggle, Richard Brome: Place and Politics, 52.

(48) For Carl Schmitt, sovereignty constitutes a transcendent figure by which a ruler can declare a state of emergency, suspending all laws, in such circumstances as civil war or other conditions that threaten to topple the state: "Sovereign is he who decides on the exception"

(49) Steggle, 48.

(50) As Victoria Kahn explains, a highly charged and unstable political authority prompted unrest throughout the early seventeenth century, "From James I's early political treatises through the parliamentary pamphleteers of the 1640s, reasoning about the exceptional case (or, in the rhetoric of the period, reason of state) was a burning political issue" ("Hamlet or Hecuba: Carl Schmitt's Decision" Representations 83 [2003]: 67-96 [70]).

(51) Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998), 36-37, 105, 37.

(52) Jean Howard, Theater of a City: The Places of London Comedy, 1598-1642 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007), 158.

(53) Nicholas Goodman, Hollands Leaguer: A Critical Edition, ed. Dean Stanton Barnard Jr. (The Hague: Mouton, 1970), 80; hereafter cited in the text by page number from this edition.

(54) Howard, 160.

(55) As Steggle puts it, the site's "perceived sexual and pseudo-military unruliness clearly touched a raw nerve in Caroline culture" ("The Knave in Grain Puts Holland's Leaguer on Stage," Notes & Queries 51 [Dec. 2004]: 355-56 [356]).

(56) Andrew Marvell, "The Character of Holland" The Poems of Andrew Marvel, ed. Nigel Smith (Harlow, UK: Pearson Education, 2007), 246-56, ll. 71-74.

(57) Richard Brome, The Sparagus Garden, Modern Text, ed. Julie Sanders, Richard Brome Online, 3.1.speech416, 3.1.speech418. Subsequent references to this play are from this edition and are cited parenthetically by act, scene, and speech number (abbreviated "sp"). As Sanders points out, we need not think of these gardens as the only such site in London, but possibly one of several, "competing with one another for business" (introduction, para. 23).

(58) The Dramatic Works and Poems of James Shirley, 2 vols. (London: Murray, 1833), 2.4 (this edition has no line numbers).

(59) William Harbert writes in his A Prophesie of Cadwallader (London, 1604): "Cesar was twice repulst ere he could see This little world from all the world remote" (H4).

(60) Butler writes: "Brome asks insistently what the 'country' is .... A Jovial Crew is a truly national play written at a turning point in the history of the English stage and the English nation" Theatre and Crisis (275).

(61) Richard Brome, A Jovial Crew, Modern Text, ed. Richard Cave et al., Richard Brome Online, 3.1.speech364.

(62) When Patrico, the patriarch of the beggars, divulges his true identity as "grandson to that unhappy Wrought-on / Whom your grandfather craftily wrought / Of his estate" to Oldrents, Brome suggests how tenuous the claims of even supposedly respectable landholders have to their estates. These cracks in English society are raised only to be too easily resolved. Patrico continues, "I do not charge / You with the least offence in this" (5.1.sp 1034), implying that the continuation of a system--even a corrupt one--that orders society trumps his personal entitlement to the estate (in addition, we learn his nephew is Oldrents' beloved steward and newly discovered son, Springlove, restoring part of the estate to his heirs). Patrilineal succession, then, is still the way the characters in the play understand their world. As Randall, Oldrents's servant, proudly states earlier in the play, the estate "has been my master's and his ancestors' in that name above these three hundred years, as our house chronicle doth notify, and not yet to be let" (4.1.sp610).

(63) See Martin Butler's entry for Brome in the ODNB.

(64) Richard Brome, A Jovial Crew, Quarto Text, ed. Richard Cave et al., Richard Brome Online, [A.sub.4]V; subsequent citations of Tatham's letter refer to this page in the front matter of the Quarto text.
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Title Annotation:Richard Brome
Author:Van Renen, Denys
Publication:Comparative Drama
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUUE
Date:Jun 22, 2011
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