Figuring the Consumer for Early Modern Drama

  • Kathleen McLuskie


In the text of Thomas Goffe’s The Careless Shepherdess (printed 1656), immediately preceding the text of the play, there is a short dialogue, called a ‘Praeludium’ between Thrift, a citizen, Spruce, a courtier, Spark an Inns of Court man and Landlord, a country gentleman. Each figure enters the scene separately: Thrift attempts to bargain with Bolt, the door-keeper who is charging a shilling to see the play, offering him ‘a groat’ on the grounds that ‘I always use to ask just twice as much/As a thing’s worth.’ When Bolt insists that a shilling is the set price, Thrift argues ‘I have known some Aldermen that did begin with twelve pence: and for half so much/I saw six motions last Bartholomew Fair.’ Bolt insists that he can’t and won’t bargain: ‘This is no market or exchange.’ Thrift concedes the price, indicating that he can, in any case, make good his spending by cheating his own customers: ‘I’ll go unto my book/And set a figure to each single Cipher; I’ll cheat a shilling in a penny, and a pound in twelve pence.’ When Spruce, the courtier enters, Thrift asks ‘if you go on tick here too, /what did it cost you to come in’. He also tells Spruce that ‘There is a Courtier Sir that owes to me/Two thousand pound for Garters and for Roses’ and offers to sell him some ‘Ribboning round your hat’.


Aesthetic Judgement Early Modern Period Good Play Early Eighteenth Century Commercial Consideration 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen McLuskie

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