A: George Chapman, Ben Jonson, and John Marston Pf: 1605, London Pb: 1605 G: Com. in 5 acts; blank verse and prose S: London, 16th c. C: 19m, 8f, extrasWilliam Touchstone, goldsmith, has two daughters, Gertrude and Mildred, one vain, the other modest, and two apprentices, Quicksilver and Golding, one lazy and spendthrift, the other industrious and sober. While Gertrude is to marry a nobleman, Sir Petronel Flash, Touchstone arranges for Golding to marry Mildred. Aided by Quicksilver, Sir Petronel cheats his new bride out of her dowry, but they are both shipwrecked while trying to escape ‘eastward’ to Virginia. They are arrested and brought before Golding, who is now a magistrate. Golding takes pity on the repentant adventurers but can only persuade Touchstone by forcing Touchstone to go to prison to see Quicksilver's and Petronel's conversion for himself. Petronel and Gertrude are reconciled, Quicksilver is forgiven, and all ends happily.
A: George Chapman, Ben Jonson, and John Marston Pf: 1605, London Pb: 1605 G: Com. in 5 acts; blank verse and prose S: London, 16th c. C: 19m, 8f, extras
At first sight this comedy seems based on conventional morality, that vice will be punished and virtue rewarded. But in this picture of bustling London life a little more emerges. The priggish young Golding develops into a wise and compassionate judge, and the knavery of Sir Petronel, Quicksilver, and their associates offers such opportunity for fun at the expense of the somewhat tedious Touchstone and his vain daughter that it is hard to condemn them – or indeed believe totally in the sincerity of their repentance.