John Suckling


circa 1637–1641

a synoptic, alphabetical character list


Like Piramont, a former servant to the father of Orsabrin and the Prince. When he and Piramont are captured by Tamoren and his band of thieves, Ardelan tells them the great secret that Orsabrin, in infancy, was smuggled out of Francelia for safety with some servants, including Piramont and himself; the group was quickly captured by pirates, who killed all but Ardelan, Piramont, and the infant prince. Ardelan and Piramont seem to have continued in the role of Orsabrin's servants, without letting him in on the secret; they had long hoped, says Ardelan, that they would one day return to Francelia, but on their recent voyage there, they lost Orsabrin, who they believe has drowned in a storm. The thieves spare their lives, and later capture Orsabrin, who is not really dead at all. At the end of the play, Ardelan is able to produce a token (a diamond elephant) that convinces the court that the now-sentenced Orsabrin is indeed the Prince's long-lost brother.


A "ghost character." One of the thieves led by Tamoren.


Leads a band of soldiers hunting for the escaped prisoners Samorat, Nashorat, and Pellegrin; the attempt led by the captain is unsuccessful, but two of his men soon after catch their quarry at a country wedding.


A rustic character at the country wedding, which Samorat, Nashorat, and Pellegrin infiltrate in the guise of fiddlers.


Joins the hunt, near the beginning of the play, for Orsabrin, after the latter has wounded the Sergeant.


Accompany the Gaoler in his search for the escaped Orsabrin. (Their part in this is not wholly clear: Nashorat and Pellegrin involved in the plot to rescue Orsabrin, shout for a drawer, who brings them drink; this perhaps leads the drawers (number unspecified) to help the Gaoler.)


A "ghost character." The father of the bride to whose wedding the fiddlers are going.


Accosted on their way to play at a country wedding by Samorat, Nashorat, and Pellegrin, who are on the run. Nashorat and Pellegrin insist on taking the fiddlers' clothes as a disguise and going to the wedding - a plan to which Samorat reluctantly accedes.


Responsible for Orsabrin when he is arrested. The Gaoler refuses the attempts of Samorat, Nashorat, and Pellegrin to bribe him, and requires to be threatened at sword-point to release his prisoner. After the escape, the Gaoler runs in pursuit of Orsabrin, not knowing that he has now been caught by Peridor and the thieves. Orsabrin and Samorat are both returned to his custody towards the end, and he appears in the final court-scene.


A "ghost character." The servant, now dead, to whom the infant prince Orsabrin was entrusted. Garradan was killed by pirates, who thereupon captured the infant and brought him up, unaware of his own identity.


The two judges try the case of Samorat and Orsabrin at the end of the play. They are about to pass the death-sentence on them for killing Torcular; on discovering that he is still alive, they maintain that the same sentence applies for escaping from prison. But further discoveries bring the heroes safely to a happy ending.


Two lawyers are present, and speak a very few words, at the trial of Samorat and Orsabrin.


Like Pellegrin, a cavalier and friend of Samorat, in whose complicated chivalric adventures he plays an appealing but not wholly heroic part.


Brother to the Prince of Francelia, a fact unknown to all (including himself) except for Tamoren. In a time of extreme danger, Orsabrin was entrusted to his father's servant Garradan and sent away by sea; pirates attacked the ship, killing Garradan and kidnapping the infant prince, whom they then brought up. Orsabrin is a credit to them: he is a courageous and noble-minded young man, though apparently uncourtly in manner (a trait Suckling occasionally forgets). His sea-travels bring him, at the start of the play, to Francelia, where he is immediately asked to act as second for Samorat in his duel with Philatell and Torcular , two brothers who oppose Samorat's love-affair with their sister. Joining in enthusiastically, Orsabrin wounds Torcular, and believes he has killed him - a belief which leads to considerable complications. Making his escape from the scene, he is accosted by one of the Sergeants, who mistakes him for a thief; he wounds the Sergeant, then takes refuge in a dark house belonging to lady named Sabrina, who mistakes him for the man she loves - Samorat, whose name Orsabrin had not learned during the duel. There the two men meet again, in the dark, fail to recognize each other, and fight, till light is brought: Samorat then sees that he has wounded Orsabrin, is filled with remorse, and goes for a doctor. He thus narrowly misses Philatell, Sabrina's brother: he has come to look for Samorat, whom he holds responsible for Torcular's death. Instead of Samorat, he finds the ounded Orsabrin, fights him, and then has him arrested. Samorat rescues Orsabrin from prison by forcing the Gaoler to change places with him, but immediately after the rescue, Orsabrin is kidnapped by Peridor and the thieves. In captivity, he meets Reginella, a young girl under the thieves' protection, and they fall innocently in love, while Tamoren, the thieves' leader, spies on them benignly. Peridor, jealous of this love, frees Orsabrin, who immediately learns that Samorat has been arrested for the death of Torcular. He surrenders himself to the Prince, thinking that he can be punished in Samorat's stead; the result is that both are put on trial, as killer and accessory. But they are saved at the last moment by Tamoren, who arrives at the courtroom with Torcular - not dead after all, but captured after the duel by the thieves. Tamoren goes on to reveal the true identity of Orsabrin, which is confirmed by two old servants, Ardelan and Piramont, and the Prince - with no overwhelming enthusiasm - welcomes him as his long-lost brother, and sanctions his marriage to Reginella.


With Nashorat, a friend and supporter of Samorat. Like Nashorat, Pellegrin is a good-natured, comic cavalier; in contrast to Samorat and Orsabrin, they regard death with gloom if not outright fear. Faced, as he thinks, with imminent execution along with Samorat, Pellegrin is especially concerned lest "The people will say as we goe along, thou [Nashorat] art the properer fellow" - and they both reflect that they will leave unpaid bills, althought these, "considering the occasion", might be forgiven.


Second-in-command to Tamoren: originally a commander under the Tamoren family in their days of greatness, now henchman to Tamoren as king of the thieves. Peridor is in love with Reginella, and much upset to see her falling in love with Orsabrin; for this reason he betrays the secret of the thieves' identity to Stramador, hoping to secure her for himself as a return from the Prince. His plot is foiled when Tamoren confesses the whole truth, including Orsabrin's identity, and Reginella and Orsabrin are united.


Maidservant to Sabrina. She admits Orsabrin to the house, in the belief that he is Sabrina's lover, Samorat.


Brother to Torcular and Sabrina. Like Torcular, he is very keen to marry his sister to the Prince, and to separate her from Samorat, the man she loves. The two brothers challenge Samorat to a duel: when Samorat's second fails to appear, Philatell scrupulously tries to dismiss Torcular (who tries in return to dismiss him) so that Samorat will have only one opponent, but his scrupulousness ends there: he fights Samorat and is disarmed by him, then takes advantage of Samorat's chivalry to run at him as Samorat is returning his sword, and is only prevented from killing him by Orsabrin, who has arrived just in time to act as second. Acting in this capacity, Orsabrin apparently killsTorcular, so Philatell, who blames Samorat for the death, goes to his sister's house to find him; instead he finds Orsabrin, who intervenes to protect Sabrina ("Kill her!" cries Philatell), and the two fight. He advises the Prince on his courtship: the best thing will be to kill Samorat, but make it look like an administrative error. Philatell's opposition to the Samorat-Sabrina marriage crumbles finally and very rapidly after the revelations about Orsabrin's identity. (He says that Samorat's "merit" has prevailed with him; that, or Suckling's reluctance to leave a malcontent at the end.)


Servant to Philatell; helps him to enter the house of his sister, Sabrina


Like Ardelan, a former servant to the father of Orsabrin, involved in his secret departure from Francelia.


A drunken, comic character, captured by Tamoren and his thieves. L.A. Beaurline believes that he is a comic portrait of Ben Jonson: "My inclination is to interpret the poet as Suckling's answer to Jonsonus Virbius, published in 1638"


Ruler of Francelia, in love with Sabrina; brother (though unknowingly) to Orsabrin. The Prince is less than scrupulous in his courtship, desiring credit for saving the life of Sabrina's preferred suitor, Samorat without actually saving it; but at the end, faced with the revelation of Orsabrin's identity, he accepts at least probable defeat, asking only that Sabrina should not "give away her selfe forever" to Samorat till the next day.


Young relative of Tamoren; heiress of that clan. Reginella has been brought up by Tamoren among his thieves in the innocence of Miranda on her island, and falls instantly in love with the captured Orsabrin without knowing what is happening to her. Despite the efforts of Peridor to part them, the two are reunited at Orsabrin's trial when Tamoren identifies himself and her to the Prince.


Beloved of Samorat, sister to Philatell and Torcular. Despite her brothers' efforts to marry her to the Prince, Sabrina stays loyal to her lover - though at one point she mistakes Orsabrin for him, when he sneaks into her house in the dark - and at the end, after Samorat and Orsabrin's trial has ended with the revelation of Orsabrin's identity, her opponents capitulate and agree to the marriage. The Prince, though, asks her not to "give away her selfe forever" until the next day, so that he can maintain his hopes through the evening of festive reunions; and Sabrina and Samorat confidently and graciously agree.


Lover of Sabrina, but opposed by her brothers, Philatell and Torcular, who want to marry her to the Prince. The play begins with the two brothers forcing Samorat to fight a duel; at first he has no second, but the stranger Orsabrin arrives just in time, and takes on Torcular, apparently killing him. This supposed death leads to many further complications: Samorat and Orsabrin both find themselves on the run, chivalrously trying to protect each other from the penalty, and finally stand trial together, as neither will back down. They are saved when Tamoren reveals that Torcular is still alive and Orsabrin is really the Prince's brother, taken from Francelia in infancy, whereupon the brothers give up their opposition to the Samorat-Sabrina marriage and the Prince (rather reluctantly) gives his consent. Samorat is supported in his adventures by Nashorat and Pellegrin, two comic "cavaliers" who take every opportunity to drink and sing; they have no desire for a heroic death, but are nonetheless prepared to endure it in his company.


Two Sergeants try to arrest Orsabrin, mistaking him for a man who owes money to a Tailor. They are unsuccessful, and one of them is wounded in the attempt.


Courtier and servant to the Prince of Francelia. Caught by Peridor and the thieves (disguised as devils), he is charged with standard courtly vices, all of which he readily admits; Peridor says he will release him, as he can do the devils' work for them once back in society. However, he still among them later on, when Peridor reveals to him the identity of Tamoren and the rest of the thieves.


A complicated character, highly important for the plot: leader of the thieves, guardian to Reginella, kidnapper of Orsabrin and eventually saviour both of him and of Samorat , when both are on trial for the death of Torcular - a man in fact still alive and abducted earlier by Tamoren himself. Tamoren's thieves are disguised as devils, a trick which enables them to provide little reminiscences of A Midsummer Night's Dream, while his own fatherly concern for his young relative Reginella recalls The Tempest. His friend Peridor confides to his captive Stramador that Tamoren is really a nobleman, from a clan opposed to that of the ruling Prince; he resorted to a life of crime after the defeat of his family in battle, vowing not reveal his identity till "some new troubles in the State", or "faire occasion." Tamoren comes to the trial to present the still-living Torcular, and, fair occasion appearing, explains who he himself and Reginella are - and also Orsabrin, whom he has discovered to be the Prince's long-lost brother. Orsabrin, released, is happily reunited with Reginella, and Tamoren himself is pardoned by the Prince.


Sets the Sergeants in pursuit of a debtor; by mistake, they arrest Orsabrin. By this time, the Tailor has wandered off into a tavern, and is not seen again.


A merry gang led by Tamoren. Disguised as devils, they make a good living by robbing and kidnapping passers-by, whom they force to confess to the sins characteristic of their position in life (the courtier is accused of venality, the young man of lechery, etc.). After their leader reveals his true identity as the son of an aristocratic family in defeat, the thieves are presumably disbanded - but not before Tamoren has secured a pardon for them all.


Brother of Philatell and Sabrina. Like his brother, Torcular opposes his sister's marriage to Samorat, hoping to marry her instead to the Prince. At the beginning of the play, he is wounded in a duel by Orsabrin, who is acting as Samorat's second; he is presumed dead, but has in fact been carried off by thieves. In the final scene, Tamoren, the thieves' leader, produces him at the trial of Orsabrin and Samorat, thus proving that both are innocent of his death. Together with Philatell, Torcular now accepts Samorat as his future brother-in-law.