Abraham Cowley
THE GUARDIAN (1641), and

a synoptic, alphabetical character list

Note: This play, first published in 1650, was first performed before Prince Charles at Cambridge in 1641. Probably in 1658, Cowley revised it extensively and gave it a new title, Cutter of Coleman Street; this new version, first published in 1663, was first performed in 1661. Cutter takes place in 1658, under Cromwell's Protectorate, and is full of topical reference. The Guardian's Captain Blade (that play's eponymous hero), a cheerful rogue, is given in Cutter the more genial, less throat-cutting name Colonel Jolly, and described as "a sequestered Cavalier"-a man with a noble reason for his poverty. Even so, the sensitive audience of 1661 took him to be a satirical image of a Royalist and condemned the play accordingly-much to the indignation of Cowley, who had (at least in his own opinion) remained loyal to the King's party throughout the Interregnum.

Cowley himself said that he "chang[ed]" The Guardian "almost wholly" in creating Cutter. Despite this, the two plays are so closely linked that it seemed appropriate to treat them together. Therefore the reader will find the names of the few additional Cutter characters supplied in square brackets, and noted below The Guardian characters' names are any prominent differences in their Cutter roles (these notes also appear in square brackets).


Daughter of Captain Blade; a manipulative character, who nearly succeeds in wrecking the romance of the hero and heroine, but is thwarted in time and repentant afterwards. Aurelia, embittered by her unrequited love for Young Truman, decides to sabotage his relationship with her cousin, Lucia, by disguising herself in Lucia's long veil and propositioning him immodestly. The plan works, and Truman is disgusted. Blade and Old Truman then plan to marry Young Truman to Aurelia herself-an outcome she does not want, partly because she has already (disguised as Lucia) betrothed herself to the wealthy Puny, and partly because Young Truman's depression and Platonism are so unappealing. She decides to pass him off on a newly arrived maid, Jane, not realizing that Jane is in fact Lucia in disguise. Lucia in a double disguise-as Jane disguised as Aurelia-thus marries Young Truman after all, and Aurelia, presented with this fact, tells the truth and vindicates Lucia's reputation. At the same time, she explains to Puny that he is betrothed to her and not to Lucia: news that seems quite to please him.

[In Cutter, Aurelia's character is further developed and much more attractive. Her love for Young Truman has been over for three years, and her trick on him is mischievous, not malicious. She is high-spirited and witty, and has an understanding alliance with her father, Colonel Jolly, in their "sequestered" state; there is a bitter, brave humour in her decision to marry Puny. At the end, when she breaks the news to him (they are actually married, not just betrothed, in Cutter), Puny claims to have known all along; Aurelia demurely concedes that, in that case, he has outwitted her.]


[A "ghost character" in Cutter, the dead husband of Mistress Barebottle, described as the "saint and soapboiler" who bought Jolly's estate. His widow's grisly reminiscences reveal his hypocritical and grasping nature.]


[In Cutter, the plain "Widow" of The Guardian becomes "Mistress Barebottle, a soapboiler's widow, who had bought Jolly's estate, a pretended saint". In other words, the lightly sketched "old Puritan landlady" of The Guardian has acquired a full Cromwellian life history. In exchange for this, she has lost the generous characteristics of the Widow, and it is perhaps less bad for Jolly than it was for The Guardian's Blade to marry her without affection. He is no less cynical about it, though: he tells Aurelia hopefully that if the King gets in, the Bishops will too, and "she'll away to New England", where Puritans belong.]


The "Guardian" of the play's title; uncle and guardian to Lucia and father to Aurelia. Having lost his money to a usurer, Blade wants to recoup by marrying the usurer's Widow; in order to persuade her, he needs to secure some more money for himself, which means taking Lucia's estate. He can do this, by the terms his brother (Lucia's father) has laid down, if she marries without his consent: a situation he hopes to produce by blocking her marriage to Young Truman and insisting on marrying her to either Cutter or Dogrel, his two worthless friends. Young Truman and Lucia slip him a potion that produces the immediate symptoms of poison in order to appeal to him when he thinks he is dying; this fails, and Blade tries to betroth his own daughter, Aurelia, to Young Truman. Thanks to Aurelia's tricks, the foolish Puny believes he has betrothed himself to Lucia, which delights Blade: it seems her estate is safely his, and thus he has no further use for Cutter and Dogrel. Dogrel and Puny now decide to take revenge on him by pretending to be his long-lost brother (See under Brother) and the brother's manservant, John; Blade sees through the trick, and uses his servants Ralph and William to put a stop to it. Shortly afterwards, he succeeds in marrying the Widow, so, when Lucia reveals at the end that she, not Aurelia, has married Young Truman, he takes the news with good humour and does not press his claim to her estate.

[In Cutter, Blade is transformed into Colonel Jolly, and considerably renovated. He has now lost his money as a punishment for his loyalty to the King, and he feels guilty about trying to rob his niece. It is a step to which he is driven in part by concern for his daughter, he says (a concern from which The Guardian's Blade seems to be free). He offers her to Cutter and Worm (The Guardian's Dogrel), but with a difference: he will take only part of the money, and whichever of them wins Lucia must agree to treat her well (another concern which does not occur to his prototype)].


A "ghost character." The long-lost brother of Captain Blade does not appear in the play, but is impersonated, first by Dogrel, then-in a counter plot intended to unmask Dogrel-by Blade's servant William. Apart from his career as a traveler, all that is revealed about him is his short memory, which Dogrel zealously feigns.


A self-styled soldier; a rascally friend of Captain Blade and lodger in the house of Blade's hoped-for wife, the Widow. Blade offers Cutter, who also needs a rich wife, his own niece, Lucia, but the Colonel settles on Tabytha, the Widow's daughter. She has been brought up on strict puritanical lines, and Cutter woos her by pretending to observe them himself. After the marriage, however, he flings pretence aside, and, in one of the play's best scenes, he quickly persuades her to drink and sing and dance off happily to bed with him.

[In Cutter, the character is elevated to titular status, and brought up to date: he "pretend[s] to have been a colonel in the King's army", unlike Jolly, who has really suffered for the defeated Royalist cause. Despite this, however, his role is not noticeably increased.]

DOGREL [see also WORM]

Dogrel, "a sharking poetaster", is the companion of Cutter, a fellow-tenant of the Widow, and a pale reflection of Shakespeare's Ancient Pistol. He and Cutter are briefly rivals for Lucia, then Tabytha, but his real passion is for inventing and reciting bad verse. He helps Aurelia in her successful plot to secure Puny as a husband, and he himself devises a plot of revenge against Blade, disguising himself as Blade's long-lost brother (See under Brother); this plot, however, is unsuccessful. At the end of the play he is spouseless, but, as he grandly explains, "The thrice three sisters [i.e. the Muses] are my wives."

[In Cutter, Dogrel, renamed Worm, is no longer a poetaster but merely a fake-soldier, a slighter version of Cutter. He thus cannot be left with the Muses at the end, and the resourceful Aurelia promises to match him up with her silly maid, Jane.]


In The Guardian, "Jane" is the name taken by Lucia in her disguise as the new maid for Aurelia. When Aurelia is under pressure from her father to marry Lucia's beloved, Young Truman, she asks "Jane" to take her own place, disguised in a long veil; thus Lucia is reunited with her lover.

[In Cutter, Jane is an actual character: the maid of Lucia, whom Aurelia attempts to use in her plot to avoid marrying Truman. Aurelia asks Jane to take her own place, disguised in the veil. Jane is thrilled, but spends so long arranging her "lozenge and half-moon" cosmetic patches that Lucia is able to slip into the disguise herself. At the end of the play, Aurelia plans to marry her to Worm, the only man left unpartnered; Jane is now "agog" for a husband, says Aurelia, and she herself will try to provide some money as a dowry, so it should work well enough.]


A disguise assumed by Puny to exact revenge upon Captain Blade. John is the name of a manservant belonging to Captain Blade's long-lost brother. Intending to play a trick on Blade, Puny and Dogrel dress themselves up as John and the brother; they are foiled by two of Blade's servants, Ralph and William, who disguise themselves in the same way and scare them off.


A Puritan preacher whom the Widow is anxious to send to Captain Blade when he seems to be dying. Blade succeeds in keeping him out.

[In Cutter, we are told that he performs the marriage of Colonel Jolly and Mistress Barebottle. In The Guardian, that cleric is unnamed.]


Niece and ward of Captain Blade, beloved of Young Truman, and heroine of the play. With one exception, she and her lover are the only characters who speak blank verse, while the others all speak prose. (The one exception is Dogrel, which only serves to emphasize the point.) If she marries without her guardian's consent, Blade stands to inherit the money left for her by her father; consequently he opposes her marriage to Young Truman. Old Truman, out of general irascibility, opposes it too. The two lovers try to be resourceful. They slip a mock-poison to Blade in the hope of bringing him to a softer state of mind, and Lucia provides herself with a long, dark veil in order to sidestep Old Truman's order that his son should not see her. Both tricks fail. Blade has Young Truman arrested for his "murder", and while he is in prison, the mischievous Aurelia visits, disguised in the veil, with an immodest letter to which she has forged Lucia's signature, thus destroying his love for Lucia. Next, Aurelia uses her Lucia disguise on the foolish Puny and convinces him that he and Lucia are now betrothed. Rejected by her lover, cast off by her guardian (who is now confident that she will get married without his consent), insulted by her supposed fiancÚ (who is furious to hear of Blade's plan to confiscate her money), Lucia comes up with a last device. She disguises herself as a non-existent maid, Jane, and hires herself out to Aurelia in order to find out what is going on. Meanwhile, Blade and Old Truman have decided to marry Aurelia to Young Truman. Anxious to avoid this, Aurelia wraps up "Jane" in the veil and presents her to Young Truman as herself. Thus Lucia and Young Truman are united after all-with some thanks to her, none to him, and much to the over-clever Aurelia, who finally admits her tricks and clears Lucia's reputation.

[In Cutter, Lucia's final act of resourcefulness is removed, as Aurelia really does have a maid named Jane.]


[A "ghost character" in Cutter, the long-lost brother of Colonel Jolly (Captain Blade in The Guardian) is described as "the Merchant". He does not appear, any more than he does in The Guardian; Cutter ends with Jolly's remark: "If my true brother had come in at last too after his being five years dead, 'twould ha' been a very play."]


Old Truman is the standard irascible Senex, whose decisions and mood-swings are both unpredictable. He wants his son to marry Tabytha, disregarding the young man's love for Lucia, and later tries to force him to marry Aurelia instead. It is very hard for him not to fly into rages in every situation; he accepts the final outcome-his son's marriage to Lucia-with a rare flash of self-knowledge: "I was somewhat rash: I'm an old man, alas."

[In Cutter, he is made more interesting by his ambiguous political inclinations. He wants his son to marry Tabitha because her father has managed to make money out of the "times", even though he himself could not force himself to do so. At one point, he threatens to inform on Jolly to "the Protector", but it is clear that he will not, angry though he is.]


A "young gallant", friend of Cutter and Dogrel, but different from them in being wealthy. He wants to marry Lucia, but, with the help of Dogrel, the ingenious Aurelia plans an elaborate trick to get him betrothed to her instead. Dogrel persuades him to disguise his voice to sound like Young Truman and waylay Lucia in the dark. That way he can court her without her realizing his identity. As a result, he becomes (so he thinks) betrothed to Lucia. When he tells Captain Blade, Lucia's guardian, of this, Puny learns that Blade is entitled to confiscate Lucia's estate. This cools his ardor. With Cutter and Dogrel, he insults the confused and unhappy Lucia, and he joins Dogrel in the ill-fated "long-lost brother" trick against Blade, pretending to be the long-lost brother's long-lost servant, John. Fortunately for Lucia, however, she has no commitment to Puny. He is in fact betrothed to Aurelia, who had disguised as her cousin to ensnare him-a fact that she reveals at the end. "O for a witty parson to marry us two wits!" he exclaims, foolish to the last, but apparently happy enough to be marrying Aurelia.

[In Cutter, Puny is still a friend of Cutter and the others, but is given a more distinct and modern personality as a "rich, brisk fop". Aurelia's decision to marry him is the result of her political situation: as her father says, "fifteen hundred pounds a year is no ill match for the daughter of a sequestered cavalier". The disagreeable scene in which he insults Lucia is removed, leaving Puny a less undesirable proposition-though he still threatens to cast off his new wife when he is told that her guardian intends to keep her money.]


A servant of Captain Blade; in order to test the impostors Puny and Dogrel, who are pretending to be Blade's long-lost brother and his manservant, Ralph and his fellow-servant William disguise themselves in the same way and confront them. Puny and Dogrel quickly back down.


[In Cutter, Mr. Soaker, "a little fuddling deacon", who marries Puny to Aurelia in the belief that she is Lucia-a belief shared by Puny. He does not exist in The Guardian, where Aurelia and Puny are only engaged, not married, by the end of the play.]


Daughter to the Widow, object of marital plotting on the parts of Old Truman, who wants her (vainly) for his daughter-in-law, and Cutter, who succeeds in marrying her himself. Despite her puritanical upbringing, Tabytha soon succumbs to the less spiritual lifestyle of her new husband, drinking and dancing off to bed with him.


Taylor (who is possibly a misprint for "Jailor") allows Aurelia, disguised as Lucia, to visit Truman in prison.

[There is no equivalent in Cutter; Young Truman is locked up in Jolly's house.]


The unnamed usurer's Widow acts as landlady to Cutter and Dogrel, and is desired for her money by Captain Blade, who has lost his estate to her late husband. She refuses to marry him without some money of his own. This requirement leads him to plot against his niece and ward, Lucia, whose money he is entitled to take if she marries against his consent. The Widow is, however, rather a good-natured character. She goes on lending to Cutter and Dogrel, who clearly have no intention of repaying her, and she marries Blade before anything is decided about Lucia. Blade then cheerfully allows his niece to marry the man she loves. Whether the Widow minds being married to a man who neither loves her nor has any money, we are not told.

[In Cutter, the Widow acquires a name and a life-history; see under MISTRESS BAREBOTTLE.]


A servant of Captain Blade, who, like his fellow-servant Ralph, disguises himself as his master's long-lost brother in order to foil a trick by Puny and Dogrel. In order to test the impostors Puny and Dogrel, who are themselves pretending to be Blade's long-lost brother and his manservant, William and his fellow-servant Ralph disguise themselves in the same fashion and confront them. Puny and Dogrel quickly back down.

[WORM] [see also DOGREL]

[In Cutter, Worm is the name given to Cutter's boon companion, called in The Guardian Dogrel. The change of name indicates a change of character: Worm is not described as a "poetaster", but only as a fake soldier, and no longer declaims in Dogrel's execrable verse.]


The hero of the play, son of Old Truman and lover of Lucia. Young Truman's courtship is blocked by his father, who wants him to marry Tabitha, and by Lucia's guardian, Captain Blade, who will have to part with her inheritance if she marries with his consent. Old Truman forbids his son to see Lucia again, but she finds a way round this by coming to see him in a long, dark veil. The two lovers then trick Captain Blade into believing that he has been poisoned, so that Lucia can make her appeal while he is in a weakened state; this backfires severely. Cutter has seen the two of them conferring, and, believing they have killed him, Blade has Young Truman taken to jail. Wrapped in Lucia's veil, Blade's mischievous cousin, Aurelia, visits him there and gives him a forged note as from Lucia, inviting him to make love to her. He is appalled (believing this to be Lucia indeed), and, when he next sees the real Lucia (veiled), he rejects her. Old Truman and Blade (now aware that he has not really been poisoned) next plan to marry Young Truman to Aurelia, to which he passively consents. Aurelia has, however, already betrothed herself in secret to the wealthy Puny; an interview with Young Truman-depressed, lethargic, an unshakeable Platonist in his intentions-does not appeal to her, and she decides to use the faithful veil once more to discard him onto her new maid, Jane. Unknown to her, Jane is really Lucia in disguise, so Aurelia has inadvertently driven the two lovers together again. At the end, she confesses her trick and clears Lucia's reputation. Young Truman apologizes, briefly but extravagantly, to Lucia, and they are united.

[In Cutter, Truman's preoccupation with chastity is rather diluted: he thinks that Lucia has not just written him a saucy note but gone on to marry Puny, and at least half his indignation is focussed on that.]