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The play was licensed for performance by Sir Henry Herbert, the Master of the Revels, on Oct. 19, 1624. It was performed by the King's Men, who performed it at Court twice in that season. The 1640 quarto was printed at Oxford by Leonard Lichfield, the printer to the University of Oxford. It was later reprinted in the second Beaumont and Fletcher folio of 1679. It was revived in the Restoration era in an adaptation, like many of Fletcher's plays; the revised version was printed in 1697 and repeatedly thereafter, and proved to be among the dramatist's most popular works.
External evidence, including Herbert's entry in his records and the 1640 quarto, assigns the play to Fletcher alone. The play's internal evicence of style and textual preferences confirms Fletcher's solo authorship: "Fletcher's sole responsibility for it has never been questioned."
- Michael Perez, the "Copper Captain"
- Donna Margarita, the heiress
- Estifania, maid to Margarita
- Don Juan de Castro
- Duke of Medina
- Donna Clara
- Old woman
Perez and Juan are discussing the state of the regiment looking for recruitment. There is mention of Don Leon as a soldier of little experience and good, happy disposition. There is also mention of Donna Margaretta, of how good a match she would make for any man, especially for Perez. Two women walk in. Both are veiled and one, Clara, takes Juan aside and asks him to send a letter to a fellow soldier at the front. Her companion, Estefania, stays to entertain Perez. Piquing his curiosity, he begs her to take off her veil. She does not comply. She leaves but tells Perez to let his servant follow her in order that Perez can visit her.
Sancho and Alonzo, two soldiers, discuss of returning to the front. Alonzo is not very motivated to return, preferring the company of women. There is mention of Donna Margaretta, of a house she bought in Seville.
The servant arrives at Estefania's house and marvels at the luxury of it.
Three old ladies wonder what they were sent for. They describe Donna Margaretta as a wise young lady. Altea enters and tells them they are here for counsell as to her marriage.
Juan and Leon meet. Juan evaluates him as a simple man, but some of his answers lead him to believe he is just playing dumb. Banter between Cacafogo, Alonzo and Leon as to assess the substance of Leon. Alonzo concludes he is a coward and advises Juan to turn him away.
Perez and Estefania meet in her house for the first time. Perez sees her face and is very pleased. He comments on the luxury of the house. The question of maidenhood arises, with regards as to desires and criterias for a husband. A manipulation game is played between both of them as they are each looking to marry above their social class. They discuss what each could offer and thus conclude that a marriage would be advandageous. They exit on lascivious banter.
- Alfred Claghorn Potter, A Bibliography of Beaumont and Fletcher, Cambridge, MA, Library of Harvard University, 1890; pp. 13-14.
- E. H. C. Oliphant, The Plays of Beaumont and Fletcher, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1927; p. 146.
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