Manuche, Cosmo (DNB01)

MANUCHE or MANUCCI, COSMO (fl. 1652), dramatist, of Italian origin, probably belonged to the Florentine family of Mannucci, some members of which were in the service of the Medici (cf. Crollalanza, Dizionario Storico-Blasonico, ii. 66; Ademollo, Marrietta de' Ricci, ed. Passerini, ii. 632-3). In 1587 one Giacopo Manucci was among the agents in Italy who were in correspondence with the English foreign office (Hatfield Papers, iii. 262). Cosmo was doubtless related to Francesco Manucci, who was at one time in the domestic service of Edward Wotton, first baron Wotton [q. v.], and from 1624 in that of Edward Conway, first viscount Conway (cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1623-5, pp. 263, 288, 426, 434; 1628-9, p. 348). He seems to have himself joined the household of James Compton, third earl of Northampton, who encouraged his literary tastes and ambitions. During the civil wars he joined the royalists and obtained commissions in the king's army as captain and major of foot. He commonly described himself as Major Cosmo Manuche. He served continuously to the end of the war in England, and then joined the royalists in Ireland. Returning to England, he sought a livelihood by 'boarding scholars' and writing plays, most of which he dedicated to Lord Northampton. His poverty was great. In his need he did not disdain the service of the Protector. On 4 June 1656 he sent, through Secretary Thurloe, a petition to Cromwell begging for the payment of 20l., which he claimed to be the balance of an account due to him for 'making discoveries of the disturbers of our present happy government' (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1655-6, p. 348). At the time of the Restoration he represented to adherents of Charles II that he had often suffered imprisonment during the Protectorate for his loyalty to the cause of the king. On 12 Dec. 1661 Lord Berkeley of Stratton, Sir Gilbert Talbot, and Sir Lewis Dyve signed a certificate attesting Manuche's military achievements in Charles I's behalf, and the present ill-health and destitution not only of himself but of his wife and two children (Egerton MS. 2623, f. 34).

No less than twelve plays—three in print and nine in manuscript—have been assigned to Manuche. The two by which he is best known were published in 1652, with his name on the title-page. The titles run: 'The Just General: a Tragi:Comedy, written by Major Cosmo:Manuche. London, Printed for M.M. T.C. and G.Bedell, and are to be sold at their Shop at the Middle Temple gate in Fleet Street, 1652;' and 'The Loyal Lovers: a Tragi Comedy Written by Major Cosmo Manuche. London, Printed for Thomas Eglesneld at the Brazen Serpent in St. Paul's Church-yard, 1652.' Each is described as a tragi-comedy. In neither does the language show any trace of its author's foreign origin. According to his own account 'The Just General' was his first literary effort. Neither piece was acted. 'The Just General' is dedicated to the Marquis of Northampton and his wife Isabella, and has, by way of prologue, a dialogue between characters called 'Prologue' and 'Critick.' 'The Loyal Lovers' is defaced by much coarseness. Hugh Peters is furiously denounced under the name of 'Sodome.' Manuche's metrical methods are curious. In the 'Loyal Lovers' there is some prose, but the rest of that play and the whole of the 'Just General' are written in an eccentrically irregular form of blank verse, which is rhythmical and not metrical, and is barely distinguishable from prose. A third printed play, a tragedy, called 'The Bastard,' which was published anonymously also in 1652, has been assigned traditionally to Manuche, and that theory of authorship is accepted by Charles Lamb, who gives a quotation from it in his 'Specimens of English Dramatic Poets.' Langbaine traces its plots to episodes in 'The English Lovers' and in Cespedes's 'Gerardo, the unfortunate Spaniard' (Engl. transl. by Leonard Digges, 1622). In the prologue the author describes his work as translated from the Spanish. A small part of 'The Bastard' is in prose, the rest is in blank verse, which is of a far more regular kind than is to be met with in Manuche's undoubted work.

Bishop Percy found, about 1770, nine manuscript plays other than those already named in the Marquis of Northampton's library at Castle Ash by, the greater number of which he attributed on reasonable grounds to Manuche's pen. Eight, which are written on folio sheets, are all in the same handwriting. Of these, two in blank verse, entitled respectively 'The Banished Shepherdess' and 'The Feast: a comedy,' have dedications to the Marquis of Northampton, which are signed 'Cos:Manuche.' The third and fourth, 'The Mandrake' (a comedy in prose) and 'Agamemnon: a tragedy,' are unfinished. The fifth, a blank-verse tragedy, is named by Percy 'Leontius, King of Ciprus;' the sixth, 'The Captives,' seems to be an adaptation in prose from Plautus; the seventh, 'Mariamne,' a blank-verse tragedy, is 'very much torn;' and the eighth, a tragedy in blank verse without a title, opens with a scene between three characters named Macrinus, Papinianus, and Ardentius. A manuscript of a prose untitled comedy in quarto, in which the first character is called Hermengildus, is also at Castle Ashby, and was tentatively ascribed by Bishop Percy to Manuche.

[Authorities cited; Langbaine's English Dramatic Poets (with Bishop Percy's manuscript notes in British Museum Library, C 45, d. 15); Phillips's Theatrum Poetarum; Fleay's Chron. of the English Drama; Lowndes's Bibliographer's Manual.]

S. L.