A Comedy


Regia res amor est [1]


The Stationer to the Readers [2]

Gentlemen and Ladies,

This short account I thought fit to give

you of this poem, that it came to my

hands among other things of this nature

written, and left by Mr. Rich. Broome

a person whose excellency in comical wit has been

sufficiently proved, and needs not my partial and

weak commendation. There are published already of

his playes, the Northern Lass, the Antipodes, the

Sparagus-garden, the Merry Beggers, the Lancashire

Witches, besides the 5. Playes lately published in

a volume. The good acceptance of all which encou-

rages me to publish this, being no way inferior to the

rest; but when 'twas written, or where acted, I know

not. Your kinde entertainment of this will enable me

to make known to the world divers more of the same

Authors works of this kind, which have not yet seen

light; for my ayme is, & prodesse & delectare, [3] by

delighting thee to profit my self.




The Persons in the Play [4]


Osric, King of Northumbria.

Theodric, his favourite and embassador. [5]

Ethelswic, his substitute.

Theodwald, lord of his council.

Eaufrid, lord of his council.

Alfrid, lord of his council.

Edelbert, lord of his council.

A physician.

Jeffrey, the King's fool.

Four clowns.

Bertha, Queen of the West Saxons.

Segebert, a banished lord.

Alberto, a banished lord.

Anthynus, Segebert's son.

Offa, Segebert's son.

Mildred, Segebert's daughter, Osric's Queen.

Arnold, an old servant of Offa.

Celeric, a sycophant lord.

Elkwin, a sycophant lord.

Elfrid, a sycophant lord.

Hermit and his Servant.

Keeper of the prison.

Edith, Mildred's nurse.

A carpenter, a thief.

A mason, a thief.

A smith, a thief. [6]

Three outlaws.

A constable.

A cardinal.

A guard.

Four servants of Offa.

Six Saxon kings' ghosts, who appear to Anthynus.

Echo, heard by Anthynus.

Genius, whispers to Anthynus.

Two ladies, who carry Bertha's train.

Ushers, attendants and followers, attending at both courts.


Prologue [7]


The writer of this play, who ever uses

To usher, with his modesty, the Muses [8]

Unto the stage, he that scarce ever durst, [9]

Of poets, rank himself above the worst,

Though most that he has writ has passed the rest,

And found good approbation of the best,

He as he never knew to bow, he says,

As little fears the fortune of his plays:

He yields their right to us, [10] and we submit

All that they are, in learning or in wit,

To your fair censure. All is then but thus,

As you approve they are good or bad to us,

And all by way of favour we can crave,

Is that you not destroy where you may save.


[1] Regia res amor est] An adaptation of a line from Ovid, Fasti, vi.595: 'Regia res scelus est'; translated, this means 'Crime is a thing for kings', or more poetically, 'Crime is the mark of a king'; in the case of Brome's adaptation, 'Love is the mark of a king'; see the Introduction for a discussion of the potential significance of this epigraph.

[2] This message from the printer, Henry Brome ('H.B.', no relation to Richard Brome), is presented here without emendation or modernisation, and in the place it occurs in the 1657 quarto.

[3] prodesse & delectare] This is an adapted quotation of two lines from Horace, 'Ars Poetica, or Epistle to the Pisos', ll. 333-4: ' Aut prodesse volunt aut delectare poetae / aut simul et iucunda et idonea dicere vitae', meaning 'Poets aim either to benefit, or to amuse, or to utter words at once both pleasing and helpful to life'; Henry Brome's adaptation is more succinct, and is often translated as 'profit and delight'.

[4] A discussion of the possible origins of the names used in the play is included in the Introduction; the regularisation of the names is discussed in the Editorial Procedures.

[5] embassador] ambassador.

[6] This is the last entry in 'The Persons in the Play' that appears in the quarto: the remaining entries are deduced from the body of the play's text.

[7] A sonnet, probably spoken by one of the actors before the play begins.

[8] Muses] The nine goddesses of Greek mythology who inspired the arts, including poetry.

[9] durst] dared.

[10] us] i.e. the actors.