COURT INFLUENCES ON SERIOUS DRAMA IN THE REIGN OF CHARLES I
T HE period of the reign of Charles I boasts no great names, by right of peculiar possession, on the honor-roll of its dramatists. Shirely and Brome were Elizabethan survivals. Suckling, with all his talent, wrote eccentric and wayward plays. D'Avenant was unsuited to the work assigned him. But, to a marked degree, the court had social distinction, and its influence was to be unusually far-reaching. Never before had an English court exerted a more powerful influence on contemporary manners and through that channel on contemporary literature. The French queen, Henrietta Maria, had the hardihood to impose on her followers a highly specialized system of formal etiquette, destined to have lasting effects, not only on court literature in her own day, but also on court literature in the reign of her son, Charles II. The précieuse fashions authorized by the queen had a particularly significant influence on court drama, providing it with a social mode which vastly increased its resources for the study of manners and from which, through gradual stages, the social mode of Restoration comedy developed.
When Henrietta Maria came to England in 1625 as the bride of Charles I, she brought with her social prejudices which, through her effective encouragement, were to take root and flourish in English soil. Henrietta's girlhood had witnessed the rise of the salon of the Marquise de Rambouillet, where the most brilliant and cultivated French society of the day assembled. The salon was chiefly distinguished for its encouragement of a