William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle
(and James Shirley?)


a synoptic, alphabetical character list


Barbara, chambermaid to Lucy, tries to convince her mistress that Newman has only gone to the tavern in order to test the strength of Lucy's affection.


Marries the veiled Voluble to the Justice.




Near the end of the play, Simpleton tries to spirit Lucy away to his country house with the aid of a "lusty" coachman. Simpleton's man, James, exposes the plan to Newman, who rescues Lucy.


The constable and officers arrest Newman at the behest of Simpleton. They believe that Newman has assaulted Simpleton without cause, but the truth is that Newman only fought with Simpleton in order to rescue Lucy. The constable and officers bring Newman to the Justice.


Newman jokingly offers the suspended Formal to the Drawer in payment for tavern charges.


In the tavern, the First Wench is asked by Newman to take the part of Lucy in a little play. The First Wench is supposed to appear from behind a hanging at the end of a song, but instead she disappears.


Formal is a punctilious servant who tries to dissuade his mistress, Lucy, from loving Newman. He falsely accuses Newman of murder, but Lucy catches him in the lie. She is unmoved in her love and sends Formal to the tavern to extract Newman, but Newman plies Formal with drink. Newman then induces Formal to take off his shirt, and Formal decides to warm himself with the [Third] Wench. In a scene of considerable spectacle, Formal, seated beside the woman, is raised to the ceiling of the tavern on a mechanical throne and is literally left hanging as IV comes to an end. Newman jokingly offers the suspended Formal to the Drawer in payment for tavern charges.


Galliard, the French dancing master, courts and marries the chambermaid Nice under the mistaken impression that she is the rich widow. At the play's end, he complains to the Justice, who notes that Galliard, himself, has given Nice the false impression that he is a French lord. [n.b. When The Variety was revived during the Restoration as The French Dancing Master, Lacy's performance as Galliard was much praised by Samuel Pepys. Galliard, played as a fop with a heavy French accent, appears to have been popular with audiences of Interregnum drolls. Galliard's belief that dancing could help to forestall rebellion offers a bit of a parody by Newcastle on his own beliefs.]


Helps Newman to rescue Manley from the Jeers.


James is a quick-witted and antiauthoritarian servant, whose master is Simpleton. James loves the old ballads that form such a large part of the music of the play. He exposes Simpleton's plot to abduct Lucy.


Jeer Major is a man whose stock insults and trendy talk are vacuous. He is almost indistinguishable from his constant companion, Jeer Minor. The two pretend that they are officers and try to arrest Manley when he is dressed as the ghost of Leicester, but Manley is rescued by Newman and gentlemen with drawn swords. The Jeers then join Newman and accompany him to the tavern, where they take part in the revelry. Jeer Major is given money by Newman at the end of the play so the tavern bill may be paid and Formal released. Speeches are assigned to the two Jeers as Jeer 1 and Jeer 2.


The Justice uses and misuses the language of the law as a cover for his ineptitude and lechery. According to Voluble, he has "done [her] some discourtesy" by believing the complaints "intemperate tongues." Voluble seems to seek his favor by advising him on how to win the hand of the rich widow, mother to Simpleton. While he seems to agree to have Newman hanged in exchange for Simpleton's consent that he marry the mother, he probably would not have been quite so harsh on Newman. In any event, the Justice marries the veiled Voluble, thinking that she is that widow, but he doesn't seem to mind very much when the truth is revealed. During the examination of Newman, he clears the stage so that he may be alone with Lucy in order to make indecent overtures. Just as he forces a kiss on her, Lady Beaufield, her mother, appears. All of this business is brought to a halt when Manley, who happens to be his cousin, reveals that the Justice has been an alchemist and has promised to obtain a reprieve for a condemned man in exchange for sexual favors from the man's wife.


Three ladies help to make an audience for Voluble's lecture on clothing and other finery. Each lady has a single question or remark.


Lady Beaufield is a flirt who also enjoys teasing men. She makes light of Sir William's fancy language at the beginning of the play and angers him by taking a romantic interest in Manley, after Manly successfully turns the tables on Sir William in the episode of the ghost of Leicester. She provokes Manley into drawing his sword by showing a romantic interest in Simpleton, and it appears that the love interest that has been generated between her and Manley is over. After all of the other couples are one by one brought together and reconciled to their lots, Lady Beaufield says to Manley, "Nay then let marriages goe round, with this [her hand] take both possession of my heart and fortunes."


Newman, a suitor to Lucy, is a humour character who is motivated by an unreasonable fear of melancholia. Voluble, acting on behalf of Simpleton, tells Newman that "love is a melancholy business," which often ends in suicide. Newman goes to a tavern to find merriment and thus escape melancholia. There he engages in some drinking, listens to a good deal of singing, and dupes Formal. Nevertheless, he cannot get Lucy out of his mind and really is, as he admits, unfit for "roring and whoring." He decides to abandon tavern life and soon after learns from James that Simpleton plans to abduct Lucy. Newman rescues Lucy but is charged by Simpleton with assault. After the truth comes out and as the play ends, Newman leaves the stage with Lucy to be married. [n.b. Many of the tavern songs were written by Newcastle for the play and were set by the composer John Wilson. Some of these songs are to be found in seventeenth-century songbooks.]


At the beginning of the play, when discussing Sir William's courtship of Lady Beaufield with Sir William, Manley suggests that money is more important than love. After a brief encounter with the empty headed Jeers, Manley confess to Sir William that he likes to dress up in the "habit of Leister." Sir William agrees to meet the costumed Manley later in the evening. Sir William, without saying so to Manley, plans to bring along Lady Beaufield in order to entertain and amuse her with the sight of Manley. In fact, many characters are on stage when Manly appears looking like the ghost of Leicester, and much hilarity follows. Manley rather than being humiliated rises to the occasion and appeals to nostalgia for the age of Elizabeth by singing old ballads. The stage audience is impressed and Lady Beaufield begins to show an interest in him, thus annoying Sir William. Sir William decides to drop his suit to Lady Beaufield, but Manley and Lady Beaufield's budding courtship is nearly spoiled by Manley's humour, anger. When she flirts with Simpleton, Manley draws a sword. In the end, however, Manley and Lady Beaufield are destined for each other, and she simply gives herself to him in marriage, a gift he unhesitatingly accepts.


A derisive name for Formal, used by Newman.


Lucy, daughter to Lady Beaufield, is in love with Newman and sends her servant Formal to extract him from a tavern. Newman dupes Formal but, realizing that tavern life will lead to his own destruction, decides to abandon "wine and noise." Soon after Newman announces his decision to the audience, Simpleton begins to execute a plan to abduct Lucy and keep her in his country house until she agrees to marriage. Newman rescues Lucy but is charged with assault by Simpleton. When the truth becomes known, the Judge first tries to seduce her in private but then threatens to condemn Simpleton to Newgate Prison. Lucy, who has no desire for revenge, intercedes and asks for mercy for Simpleton. Lucy and Newman go off stage to be married as the play ends.


Voluble is something of a profeminist, who has established an academy in which various women characters offer lectures. Sir William contemptuously says to Newman, "You may live to see another University built, and only women commence Doctors." Voluble, herself, delivers a long lecture, which deals mostly with clothing and other sorts of finery. She is reputed to be something of a witch and Sir William says, "She is for more than Artificiall White and Red; some think her guilty of the Black-Art." She is the landlady of Simpleton and a helper in his suit with Lucy. Accordingly, Voluble frightens Newman away from Lucy by warning him that love may cause him to commit suicide. It is made known that she predicted the deaths of two husbands, and this information recalls the contemporary sensation Lady Eleanor Davies, who correctly predicted the death of her own husband (Sir John Davies). Voluble confesses at the end of the play that she "has no skill in stares nor fortune telling," that she has only masterminded a series of plots—some of which have had pleasing outcomes.


The mother of Simpleton is herself a simple country woman, who would like to marry into the aristocracy. She is a rich widow but very old, so Voluble concocts a plan to fool suitors about her appearance by having the chambermaid Nice play the part of the Mother while the Mother acts as the chambermaid. Simpleton, her son, tries to hide the fact that such a countrified woman could be his mother. The Mother marries the avaricious Sir William, who is not bothered by the advanced age of his new wife.


Nice is the chambermaid of the elderly rich widow and mother of Simpleton. Nice exchanges places with her mistress in order to fool the widow's suitors. Nice is married to Galliard, who believes she is the widow. When Galliard learns that he has been gulled, he is at first angry, but when exposed as something of a fraud himself, is happy enough in his marriage. She is required to give back the jewel that has been used to lure suitors.


The constable and officers arrest Newman at the behest of Simpleton. They believe that Newman has assaulted Simpleton without cause, but the truth is that Newman only fought with Simpleton in order to rescue Lucy. The constable and officers bring Newman to the Justice.


Richard, clerk to the Justice, announces that Newman has injured Simpleton and is to be examined by the Justice. He also announces the arrival of the Curate.


Seare is summoned by Simpleton to attend to his wounds. He states that Simpleton's wounds are not serious. He is a "chirurgion" (sometimes spelled surgeon).


In the tavern, the second wench offers herself to Newman sexually, but, for all of his bluster, he is unwilling to be untrue to Lucy. The Second Wench disappears saying as she exits, "These Gentlemen are for nothing but song and drink, I see no market all this while."


Simpleton is Newman's rival for the hand of Lucy as the play opens. He has pretensions to city sophistication and hence denies that he is the son of his countrified mother, the rich widow. He induces the two Jeers (Major and Minor) to harass Newman verbally and arranges for his landlady, Voluble, to intercede against Newman. When Lucy continues to reject his suit, he plans to abduct her and keep her in his country house until she agrees to marriage. James, his servant, alerts Newman to the abduction, and Newman rescues Lucy. Simpleton charges Newman with assault in the rescue, but this charge is eventually dismissed, and Simpleton is nearly sent to Newgate Prison. In the huge confusion over just who the rich widow is at the end of the play, Simpleton is forced to acknowledge his mother in front of all of the other characters.


In the tavern, the [Third] Wench is raised up in the mechanical throne with Formal. She complains that she needs to lowered and allowed to leave so that she can meet "three Innes of court Gentlemen at the Stillyard." When her request is not honored, she throws down her wine on those below.


Sir William begins the play as the suitor of Lady Beaufield. He hopes to entertain her by tricking Manley into wearing outdated and hence comic Elizabethan costume in her presence. When Manley turns the tables on Sir William with accomplished singing of old ballads and when Lady Beaufield shows a romantic interest in Manley, Sir William abandons his suit for her. In a soliloquy, he admits that what he is really interested in is money and so he instead will pursue the rich widow, who is Simpleton's mother. He does, in fact, marry the rich widow, and exchanges low-grade recriminations with Lady Beaufield afterwards.


Also called Seare, he is summoned by Simpleton to attend to his wounds. He states that Simpleton's wounds are not serious. In the play, this profession is spelled "chirurgion."