London: Printed by R[ichard]. H[odgkinson]. for Laurence Blaikelocke, 1640.
Quarto: 17.3 x 14.2 cm.  p. Collation: A-I4. Lacking blank (A1); imprimatur leaf (I4) present.
Bound in 19th c. half morocco and marbled boards (rubbed, minor defects at head of spine and corners, boards a bit soiled. A very good copy, the lower margin cut short, affecting some catchwords but never the text, title a little dusty, a few light spots. Provenance: Hove Public Library (withdrawn) stamp. Two very pretty woodcut floral headpieces.
The first edition of Thomas Nabbes’ romantic adventure about a runaway bride who survives duplicitous relatives, abduction, and attempted rape to be rescued by her true love.
“[Nabbes] employs an exciting plot of comic intrigue and romantic adventure, including runaway lovers and unknown relationships, intentions misunderstood and tragedies avoided, set in the realistic world of the London merchant and Bankside brothelkeeper, but with pervasive reference to an allegorical superstructure that suggests that every man’s action in this world is a microcosm of the struggle of good against evil in a just and ordered universe. The result is an atypical Caroline realistic comedy with an unusual emphasis on positive examples of exemplary moral conduct by members of the London middle class.” (Lurie 2)
As the play opens the (un-named) Bride is engaged to the much-older Goodlove, a prosperous merchant. When Goodlove’s stepson Theophilus declares his love for the Bride, she returns his affection:
My desires were never
Setled on any other, though I durst not
Reveale my passions aw'd by feminine custome,
And my strict parents eyes. If you'l receive me,
The desperate state of my crosse fortune armes me
To any enterprise you'l be my guide in. (I.v.)
The couple run off and hide at Squirrell’s tavern and brothel. They meet Theophilus' cousin, the villainous Raven, who orders his henchmen, known as the Blades, to abduct the Bride. The henchmen try to rape the Bride:
Bride: ‘You are mistaken sir, I have no skill/ In th' art of prostitution.’
Blade: ‘You shall be instructed Lady; 'tis the Blades profession.’ (II.vi)
Theophilus defeats the Blades, rescues the Bride, and the lovers are reunited:
‘Thy life! I scorn it: 'tis too base to pay
A satisfaction; she must be redeem'd
At a far higher rate.’ (II.vi)
In the play’s final scene the characters are again brought together. Theophilus and the Bride learn Goodlove’s true identity and his real intentions regarding his engagement to the Bride.
“In his dedication, Nabbes joined the ranks of dramatists critical of contemporary actors who added and removed dialogue without consulting the author. ‘The Bride’ ‘is here drest according to mine owne desire and intention; without ought taken from her that my selfe thought ornament; nor supplyed with any thing which I valued but as rags', implying that the actors in performance had deleted passages of his ('ornament') and added others of their own (‘rags’).” (Levin 553)
“By the early 1630s, Thomas Nabbes had settled in London and started to write plays for the professional theatre. He is generally considered one of the ‘sons of Ben’, and while there is no evidence that he knew Ben Jonson personally his work shows Jonson's strong influence. In addition to his dramatic works, Nabbes wrote numerous commendatory verses for his literary friends. At some point Nabbes married a woman named Bridget and they settled in London. He was buried in St Giles on 6 April 1641, and the following year the parish granted 1s. for poor relief to 'Mrs. Mabbs, a poet's wife, her husband being dead'.” (ODNB).
STC 18338; Greg II 576; Pforzheimer 753; ESTC S113039