Love's Aftergame, or The Proxy

Anon. (1634)

Historical Records

The Office-Book of Sir Henry Herbert

1634, 24 Nov. The Proxy, or Love's Aftergame, was produced at the theatre at Salisbury Court, November 24, 1634.
(Herbert, 36).

1635/6, 24 Feb. Loves Aftergame, played at St. James by the Salisbury Court players, the 24 of Feb. 1635.
(Herbert, 56).

Lord Chamberlain's warrant

1636/7, 18 Feb. A Warrant for payment of 50li vnto Richard Heton for himselfe and the rest of ye company of ye Players at Salisbury Court for playes Acted by them before his Maty in Octob. & Feb. 1635 (vizt) 2 at 20li a peece at Hampton, the other at 10li being at St Iames. Febr. 18. 1636. [marg.: Players of Salisbury Court].
(Bentley, 5.1399).

Marriott's List (1653)

In late 1653, the printer Richard Marriott entered a group of twenty-one plays on the Stationers' Register. Among the titles is:

The Proxe or Loues after Game.

Theatrical Provenance

The King's Revels Company at the Salisbury Court Theatre (1634) and at St. James's Palace (1636).

Probable Genre(s)

Comedy (?) (Harbage).

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

None known.

Critical Commentary

Bentley (5.1399) notes that the King's Revels Company enjoyed "few known performances" at court, suggesting that this "was one of their better plays." Bentley also makes the connection between the Herbert record and the Lord Chamberlain's warrant to pay Richard Heton, the company's manager, for the performance of an unnamed play at St James's Palace in February 1636. Interestingly, the payment arrived almost a whole year late.

John Astington notes that small chambers at St. James's Palace were used fairly frequently through the 1630s for performances by professional theatre companies. He reconstructs the staging conditions, observing, for instance, that the ceilings were relatively low, and the rooms were lit by wall sconces rather than by hanging chandeliers. (Astington, English Court Theatre, 1558-1642, 208-9).

For discussion of Marriott's list, follow this link: Marriott's List (1653).

For what it's worth

OED's meanings for "proxy" include "an attorney; a representative, an agent; a substitute".

OED defines "aftergame" as follows:

prop. A second game played in order to reverse or improve the issues of the first; hence ‘The scheme which may be laid or the expedients which are practised after the original game has miscarried; methods taken after the first turn of affairs.’ J. after-game at Irish, an old game resembling Back-gammon.
1631 SANDERSON 21 Serm. Ad. Aul. I. (1673) 14 He had need be a good play an after-game of reputation. 1660 MILTON Free Commw. 427 Losing by a strange after-game of Folly, all the battels we have won. 1669 G. ETHEREGE Comic. Rev. (Wright) Here's a turn with all my heart like an aftergame at Irish. 1713 ADDISON Cato III. vii, Still there remains an after-game to play. 1784 COWPER Task II. 762 What can after-games Of riper joys, and commerce with the world..Add to such erudition?

One helpful example that might illuminate the specific possibilities of the phrase "Love's aftergame" is provided by the following exchange from the Restoration comedy The London Cuckolds. Valentine Loveday has returned in disguise to seduce his former beloved, Eugenia:

Alas! they told me you were dead, and I heard it several times confirm'd.
That was our Parents plot to divide our affections. They writ the same to me of you.
Had I known you were living---
Well, Eugenia, say no more of that. I come now to play an after-game: though you are married, and your person is your husband's, I claim a share in your affections, since wholly I cannot enjoy you, allow me what part you can. I cannot live without your kindness, and since your inclinations to a Gallant, are partly privileg'd by the constraint of your marriage,---I claim that title.
(Ravenscroft, The London Cuckolds, 36v).

With the aid of some witty contriving from Eugenia, Loveday does indeed manage to take her to bed and cuckold her jealous husband. This example shows how the play-title "Love's aftergame" is a titillating one, hinting at some form of infidelity: the overturning of an engagement, or, as in Ravenscroft, the breaking of marriage vows.

Works Cited

Astington, John H. English Court Theatre, 1558-1642. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
Ravenscroft, Edward. The London cockolds a comedy. London: Jos. Hindmarsh, 1682.

Page created and maintained by Matthew Steggle: last revised 30 April 2010.