The City Madam

The City Madam

The City Madam

The City Madam

Excerpt

According to the office-book of Sir Henry Herbert, Master of the Revels from 1623 to 1642, Massinger's The City Madam was licensed for production on May 25, 1632. The date has been questioned. In the prologue to Massinger's The Guardian (licensed October 31, 1633) occurs the statement that "After twice putting forth to sea, his fame/ Shipwrack'd in either, and his once known name/ In two years silence buried, perhaps lost/ I' the general opinion," the author will try again. The implication would seem to be that Massinger's last two plays had been failures, and if the 1632 licensing date for The City Madam is correct, then it would have been one of these. Those who, like Fleay and the play's most recent editor, Rudolf Kirk, find it improbable that the play should not have met with favor when first produced, regard it as an old play revised and licensed anew in 1632, in which case the two plays which had bid fair to wreck the dramatist's fame, alluded to in the prologue to The Guardian, could have reference to such of his more recent efforts as The Emperor of the East, Believe as You List, or the now lost The Unfortunate Piety, all licensed in 1631. Professor Bentley, on the other hand, finds nothing improbable in supposing The City Madam to have been an initial failure, though he accepts the 1632 date "with some doubt." But the King's Men regarded the play as a sufficiently valuable item in their repertory to take steps for protecting it from the printers in 1641, as Professor Bentley points out; and the prologue to The Guardian might have been attached to that play at any time during the twenty-year period between its licensing in 1633 and its publication in 1655, and so in fact have no bearing on the date of The City Madam. The evidence, such as it is, is much too vague to bear any certain interpretation, and in the absence of any other contemporary references to the play or its performance, it can only be assigned to 1632, with whatever reservations.

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