Marlowe the Playwright

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Source: The Works of Christopher Marlowe, ed. A.H. Bullen (London: John C. Nimmo, 1885). Vol. 1.

Ἁδυμελεῖ θάμα μὲν φόρμιγγι παμφώνοισί τ᾽ ἐν ἔντεσιν αὐλǶν.

Pindar, Olymph. VII.


The present volumes are the first instalment towards a collective edition of the dramatists who lived about the time of Shakespeare. As the series is intended neither for school-boys nor antiquarians, I have avoided discussions on grammatical usages, and I have not preserved the orthography of the old copies. In Elizabethan times orthography followed the caprices of the printer.1

I desire to acknowledge in the fullest and frankest manner the obligation under which I lie towards the late Mr. Dyce. Perhaps it will be thought that Mr. Dyce's name occurs too frequently in the notes to the present volumes. In many cases the emendations he proposes would naturally suggest themselves to any sensible reader; but I was unwilling to incur the suspicion of having furtively appropriated my predecessor's notes.

I have used with advantage the late Lieutenant-Colonel Cunningham's edition of Marlowe. Colonel Cunningham was a genial and acute editor, though somewhat inaccurate. The elaborate editions of The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus, by Professor Ward, and the late Professor Wagner of Hamburg, have afforded me much help; and I have consulted with profit the edition of Edward II. prepared by Mr. F. G. Fleay, a scholar whose knowledge in some respects is unrivalled. In the British Museum is preserved an interleaved copy of the 1826 edition of Marlowe (acquired by the Museum authorities in 1847), containing MS. notes by a competent scholar, J. Broughton. I have found Broughton's notes serviceable.

My best thanks are due to the Keeper of the Records of Canterbury Cathedral, Mr. J. Brigstocke Sheppard, for his courtesy in examining the Treasurer's Accounts of the King's School, Canterbury, and in sending me extracts from the Chamberlain's Accounts; to my friend Mr. C. H. Firth of Balliol College, who, besides making frequent references for me to books in the Bodleian, and aiding me with valuable suggestions, read the proof sheets of half of the second volume and of the whole of the third; and to my friend Mr. L. Jacob, formerly scholar ot Trinity College, Cambridge, by whose advice I have frequently profited. For permission to print as an appendix Mr. R. H. Home's Death of Marlowe, I am indebted to Mr. Home's literary executor, Mr. H. Buxton Forman, the well-known editor of Shelley and Keats.

  • West Hampstead,

July 7, 1884.


Four hundard copies of this Edition have been printed and the type distributed. No more will be published.


The achievements of Shakespeare's greatest predecessor in the English drama have at length been recognised as a fact in English literature; nor is it possible to look forward to a time when the study of his works will be restricted, as of old, to antiquarians and bibliographers. All who have any serious care for English poetry have felt the magic of Marlowe's “mighty line.” They know that in moving terror and pity the creator of Faustus and Edward II. was excelled only by Shakespeare; and they know, too, that the rich music of Hero and Leander was heard no more in England until the coming of Keats. One of the lessons which Mr. Browning never tires of teaching is that a lofty aim, even where failure follows, “surpasses little works achieved.” Surely no man ever aimed higher than Marlowe; and within so short a space of life few have carried out so worthily their vast designs. He was the first in England to compose tragedies that should have a lasting interest for men. The plays of Greene and Peele are important only as showing how poor was the state of dramatic art at the young poet's advent. It was Marlowe who created, in the true sense of the word, English blank verse, and constituted it the sole vehicle of dramatic expression for all time. The rest of Shakespeare's predecessors are shadows; Marlowe alone lives.

Christopher Marlowe, son of John Marlowe, was baptized at the church of St. George the Martyr, Canterbury, on a 6th February 1563-4.1 The poet's father, who died on 26th January 1604-5, was “clarke of St-Maries.” On the margin of a copy of Beard's Theatre of Gods Judgments, 1598, is a MS. note “Marlowe a shooe makers sonne of Cant.” Marginal scribblings “in a very old hand “have been so frequently fabricated that I was inclined to attach no importance to this MS. note, but the Keeper of the Records of Canterbury Cathedral, Mr. J. B. Sheppard, kindly extracted from the “Chamberlain's Accounts” some entries which prove that John Marlowe was a shoemaker. The entries relate to the admission of freemen. There is an entry dated 26th April 1593, “Joh. Marlowe's apprentice (shoemaker), Wilt. Hewes admitted;” another dated zgth January 1594, “Joh. Crauforde Shoem. admitted; mar. Anne d. of Joh. Marlowe Shoem;” and a third, dated 8th September 1594, “Thorn. Graddell, Vintner, mar. Dorothy d. of John Marlowe Shoem. (admitted).” Apprenticeship or marriage with a freeman's daughter conferred freedom.

Marlowe was educated at the King's School, Canterbury. His name does not occur in the Treasurer's Accounts for 1575-6 and 1576-7; and the register for 1577-8 is lost. In the accounts for the first quarter of the financial year 1578-9 (namely, from Michaelmas to Christmas 1578) we find no mention of him, but in the accounts for the three following quarters (January to Michaelmas 1579) he is reported to have received his exhibition of £i per quarter. For 1579-80 the record is missing.1

On 17th March 1580-1, Marlowe matriculated at Cambridge as Pensioner of Benet College (now Corpus Christi). The only mention of him in the Books of the College is an entry of his admission, and he is there called simply “Marlin”without the Christian name. It appears to have been a rule at Benet College to record the Christian name along with the surname only in the case of scholars; hence the absence of the Christian name is held to show that Marlowe was not elected to one of the two scholarships which had recently been founded by Archbishop Parker at Benet College for the benefit of boys educated at the King's School, Canterbury. Cunningham urges that it is “less unlikely that a hurried and quasi informal entry has been made in the books than that a boy of Marlowe's industry and precocity of intellect should have gone from that particular school to that particular college on any footing than that of a foundation scholar.” The absence of Marlowe's Christian name from the College Books is a tangible piece of evidence, but there is nothing whatever to show that Marlowe was distinguished for industry at school. His classical attainments at the beginning of his literary career appear not to have been considerable. In his translation of Ovid's Amores, which is by no means a difficult book, he misses the sense in passages which could be construed to-day with ease by any fourth-form boy. After making all allowance for the inaccuracy of ordinary scholarship vn Marlowe's day, it may be safely said that the poet could not have earned much distinction at Cambridge for sound classical knowledge. The probability is that, both at school and college, he read eagerly but not accurately. His fiery spirit, “still climbing after knowledge infinite,” would ill brook to be fettered by the gyves and shackles of an academical training. But whether he held a scholarship or not, he was content to submit so far to the ordinary routine (less irksome then than now) as to secure his Bachelor's Degree in 1583 and proceed Master of Arts in 1587.

Dyce puts the question, Who defrayed the expenses of his Academical course if he had no scholarship? It is not improbable that he may have gone to Cambridge at the expense of some patron; and Dyce ventures to suggest that the patron was Sir Roger Manwood, Chief Baron of the Exchequer, who had a mansion at St. Stephen's, near Canterbury. On the back of the title-page of a copy of Hero and Leander, ed. 1629, Collier found a manuscript Latin epitaph on this gentleman (who died in December 1592), subscribed with Marlowe's name. The epitaph has every appearance of being genuine;1 and as Sir Roger Manwood was distinguished for his munificence, it is not at all unlikely that at some time or other he had made Marlowe the recipient of his bounty. But I must leave the reader to accept or reject Dyce's theory as he pleases.

We have now to consider how Marlowe was engaged after taking his bachelor's degree in 1583. The most plausible view is that of Cunningham, who suggests that the poet trailed a pike in the Low Countries. He points out with some force that Marlowe's “familiarity with military terms, and his fondness for using them are most remarkable.” But we must beware of laying too much stress on this argument; for all the Elizabethan dramatists possessed in large measure the faculty, for which Shakespeare was supremely distinguished, of assimilating technical knowledge of every kind. Phillips, who was followed by Antony-a-Wood and Tanner, states in his Theatrum Poetarum that Marlowe “rose from an actor to be a maker of plays;” but the authority of Phillips- who was very frequently inaccurate—carries little weight Collier, who did so much to enlighten students, and so much to perplex them, produced from his capacious portfolio a MS. ballad about Marlowe, entitled the Aiheisfs Tragedie, from which it would appear that the poet had been an actor at the Curtain and in the performance of his professional duties had had the misfortune to break his leg:-

  • “A poet was he of repute,
  • And wrote full many a playe;
  • Now strutting in a silken sute,
  • Now begging by the way.
  • He had also a player been
  • Upon the Curtame-stage;
  • But brake his leg in one lewd scene
  • When in his early age.”1

This is doubtless very ingenious, but I have little hesitation in pronouncing the ballad to be a forgery, though Dyce—who had been victimised on other occasions—and later editors accept it as genuine. The words “When in his early age “can only mean that the poet was a boy-actor at the Curtain; but we know that he could not possibly have been connected with the stage before 1583. I have not seen the MS., and so am unable to deliver any opinion as to the style of the hand-writing; but when we remember how many documents, proved afterwards to be forgeries, Collier put forward as genuine, we shall be quite justified in rejecting the Atheist's Tragtdie. It is a work of no great difficulty to imitate with success a doggerel ballad.

Critics are agreed that the first, in order of time, of Marlowe's extant dramatic productions is the tragedy of Tamburlaine the Great, in two parts. From internal evidence there can be no doubt that Tamburlaine was written wholly by Marlowe; but on the title-page of the early editions there is no author's name, and we have no decisive piece of external evidence to fix the authorship on Marlowe. In Henslowe's Diary there is an entry which, if it had been genuine, would have been conclusive :—

”Pd unto Thomas Dickers, the 20 of Desembr 1597, for adycyous to Fostus twentie shellinges, and fyve shel-lenges for a prolog to Marloes Tamberlen, so in all I saye payde twentye fyve shellinges.” (Henslowe's Diary, ed. J. P. Collier, p. 71.)

Unfortunately this entry, which was received without suspicion by Dyce and other editors, is a forgery. Mr. G. F. Warner, who published in 1881 his careful and elaborate catalogue of the Manuscripts and Muniments of Dulwich College, pronounces that “the whole entry is evidently a forgery, written in clumsy imitation of Henslowe's hand. The forger, however, has shown some skill in his treatment of a narrow blot or smudge which intersects the upper part of the U in the second 'shellinges;' for in order that the writing may appear to be under and not over the old blot, he has at first carried up the ll (as if writing u) only as far as the lower edge of the blot, and then started again from the upper edge to make the loops” (p. 159). The only piece of external evidence which appears to connect Marlowe with Tamburlaine is to be found in a sonnet1 of Gabriel Harvey's, printed at the end of his New Letter of Notable Contents, 1593. From a passage in the Black Book, 1604 (a tract attributed on no sure ground to Thomas Mid-dleton the dramatist), Malone inferred that Tamburlaine was written in whole or part by Nashe. The passage to which Malone referred occurs in the account of an imaginary visit paid to Nashe in his squalid garret “The testern, or the shadow over the bed,” we are informed, “was made of four ells of cobwebs, and a number of small spinner's ropes hung down for curtains: the spindle-shank spiders, which show like great letchers with little legs, went stalking over his head as if they had been conning of I'amburlaine.” (Dyce's Middleton, v. 526.) It is difficult to see how any conclusion about the authorship of Tamburlaine can be drawn from this passage. The writer's meaning is that the spiders walked with the pompous gait of an actor rehearsing the part of Tamburlaine. But, putting aside the evidence (in itself conclusive) of style, there is an excellent reason for dismissing Nashe's claims. To Robert Greene's Menaphon, of which the first extant edition is dated 1589 (though some critics supposed that the book was originally published in 1587), Nashe contributed an epistle “To the Gentlemen Students of Both Universities,” in which he holds up to ridicule the “idiote art-masters that intrude themselves to our eares as the alcumists of eloquence; who (mounted on the stage of arrogance) think to outbrave better pens with the swelling bumbast of a bragging blank verse. Indeed it may be the ingrafted overflow of some kilcow con-ceipt that overcloieth their imagination with a more than drunken resolution, beeing not extemporall in the invention of anie other meanes to vent their manhood, commits the digestion of their cholenck incumbrances to the spacious volubilitie of a drumming decasillabon.” (Grosart's Nashe, i. xx.) This passage vas surely intended as a counterblast to the Prologue of lamburlaine. The allusion to “idiote art-masters” points distinctly to Marlowe, who took his Master's degree in 1587; and it was Marlowe who had stamped “bragging blank verse “as his own. Afterwards Nashe was on friendly terms with Marlowe; but in 1589 (or 1587?) he was doing his best to aid Greene in discrediting the author of Tamburlaine. In an address “To the Gentlemen Readers,” prefixed to his Perimedes the Black Smith, 1588, Greene denounces the introduction of blank verse, which he compares to the “fa-burden of Bo-bell.” He speaks with scorn of those poets “who set the end of scollarisme in an English blank verse;” and expressly mentions Tamburtaine,—“daring God out of heaven with that atheist Tamburlan, or blaspheming with the mad preest of the sonne.” It is therefore plain that Tamburlaine, which was entered in the Stationers' books on 14th August 1590, and published in the same year, had been presented on the stage in or before 1588 (probably in 1587); and it is equally plain that Nashe1 had no share in the composition of a play which he so unsparingly ridiculed in the epistle prefixed to Menaphon.

It is difficult to over-estimate the importance of Tam-burlaine m the history of the English drama. To appreciate how immensely Marlowe outdistanced at one bound all his predecessors, the reader must summon courage to make himself acquainted with such productions as Gor-boduc, The Misfortunes of Arthur, and Sir Clyomon and Sir Clamydes. He will then perceive how real is Marlowe's claim to be_regarded as the fhp F.ngll That the play is stuffed with bombast, that exaggeration is carried sometimes to the verge of burlesque, no sensible critic will venture to deny. But the characters, with all their stiffness, have life and movement. The Scythian conqueror, “threatening the world in high astounding terms,” is an impressive figure. There is nothing mean or trivial in the invention. The young poet threw into his work all the energy of his passionate nature. He did not pause to polish his lines, to correct and curtail; but was borne swiftly onward by the wings of his imagination. The absence of chastening restraint is felt throughout; and, indeed, the beauty of some of the most majestic passages is seriously marred by the introduction of a weak or ill-timed verse. Take the following passage from the First Part:-

  • “Nature that framed us of four elements,
  • Warring within our breasts for regiment,
  • Doth teach us all to have aspiring minds:
  • Our souls, whose faculties can comprehend
  • The wondrous architecture of the world,
  • And measure every wandering planet's course,
  • Still climbing after knowledge infinite,
  • And always moving as the restless spheres,
  • Wills us to wear ourselves and never rest
  • Until we reach the ripest fruit of all,
  • That perfect bliss and sole felicity,
  • The sweet fruition of an earthly crown.” (ii. 70)

The ear exults in the sonorous march of the stately verse as each successive line paces more majestically than the preceding; but what cruel discomfiture awaits us at the end! It seems almost inconceivable that the poet should have spoilt so magnificent a passage by the lame and impotent conclusion m the last line. For the moment we are half inclined to think that he is playing some trick upon us; that he has deliberately led up to an anti-climax in order to enjoy the malicious satisfaction of laughing at our irritation. 'The noble and oft-quoted passage on Beauty (i Tamburlaine, v. i) is injured considerably by the diffuseness of the context. Marlowe seems to have blotted literally nothing in this earliest play. But that he was responsible for the vulgar touches of low comedy I am loth to allow. In the preface the publisher, Richard Jones, writes:—” I have purposely omitted and left out some fond and frivolous gestures, digressing, and, in my poor opinion, far unmeet for the matter, which I thought might seem more tedious unto the wise than any way else to be regarded, though haply they have been of some vain-conceited fondlings greatly gaped at, what time they were showed upon the stage in their graced deformities : nevertheless now to be mixed in print with such matter of worth, it would prove a great disgrace to so honourable and stately a history.” It would be well if he had used his pruning-knife with even greater seventy and had left no trace of the excrescences of buffoonery. There can be no doubt that these “vain and frivolous gestures,” of which the publisher complains, were foisted in by the players.

The popularity of Tamburlaine must have been extraordinary. A prologue by Heywood, written at the revival of the Jew of Malta in 1633, informs us that the part of Tamburlaine was originally taken by the famous actor Edward Alleyn. The hero's habiliments were of a most costly character. His breeches, as we learn from Hens-lowe's Diary, were of crimson velvet, and his coat was copper-laced. It is easy to conceive what roars of applause would be evoked by the entrance of Tamburlaine drawn in his chariot by the harnessed monarchs.

One delightfully ludicrous line in his address to the captives:—

  • “Holla, ye pampered jades of Asia!“

was constantly parodied for the next half century. Greene, as we have seen, infuriated at the success of the piece, railed against the “atheist Tamburlaine.” The satirist Hall, in a passage quoted by Dyce, is equally severe:—

  • “One higher pitch'd doth set his soaring thought
  • On crowned kings that Fortune hath low brought,
  • Or some uprearèd high-aspiring swaine
  • As it might be the Turkish Tamburlaine.
  • Then weeneth he his base drink-drowned spright
  • Rapt to the three-fold loft of heaven hight,
  • When he conceives upon his famèd stage
  • The stalking steps of his great personage,
  • Graced with huf-cap termes and thund'nng threats
  • That his poor hearers' hayre quite upright sets.”

Then he proceeds to ridicule the comic business introduced by the players:—

  • “Now least such frightful showes of Fortune's fall
  • And bloudy tyrants' rage should chance apall
  • The dead-stroke audience, midst the silent rout
  • Comes tramping in a selfe-misformèd lout,
  • And laughs and grins, and frames his mimik face,
  • And justles straight into the prince's place:
  • Then doth the theatre eccho all aloud
  • With gladsome noyse of that applauding crowd
  • A goodly hoch-poch when vile rassettmgs
  • Are match with monarchs and with mightie kings.”

These lines were written in 1597. Ben Jonson. in his Discoveries observes:—” The true artificer will not run away from Nature as he were afraid of her; or depart from life and the likeness of truth; but speak to the capacity of his hearers. And though his language differs from the vulgar somewhat it will not fly from all humanity, with the Tamerlanes and Tamer-Chams of the late age, which had nothing in them but the scenical strutting and furious vociferation to warrant them to the ignorant gapers.” Wither in Britain's Remembrancer (1628) alludes to “great Tamburlame upon his throne “uttering

  • “A majestical oration
  • To strike his hearers dead with admiration.”

Taylor, the Water-Poet, in his Oration to the Great Mogul, states that Tamburlaine “perhaps is not altogether so famous in his own country of Tartaria as in England.” From a passage (quoted by Dyce) of Cowley's Guardian it appears that the old play was revived at the Bull about 1650. In 1681 it had become almost wholly forgotten; for in the preface to his play, Tamerlane, published in that year, Charles Saunders writes :—” It hath been told me there is a Cock-pit play going under the name of The Scythian Shepherd, or Tamberlain the Great, which how good it is any one may judge by its obscurity, being a thing not a bookseller in London, or scarce the players themselves who acted it formerly, cow'd call to remembrance.”

In the pages of the Academy (October 20, 1883), two able scholars, Mr. C. H. Herford and Mr. A. Wagner, have investigated the authorities from which Marlowe drew his conception of Tamburlaine's character and history. They show, at some length, and at the cost of considerable research, that Marlowe was indebted to the lives of Timur, by Pedro Mexia the Spaniard, and Petrus Perondinus. Mexia's Silva de varia lecion, published at Seville in 1543, obtained great popularity, and was translated into Italian, French, and English. The English translation, known as Fortescue's The Foreste, appeared in 1571; and there can be little doubt that the book was an early favourite of Marlowe's. When he determined to dramatise the story the poet probably supplemented the information derived from Mexia by a study of Perondinus' Vita magni Tamerlanis, Flor., 1551. The description of Tamburlaine's person, as given by Perondinus, seems certainly to have been in Marlowe's remembrance. “Of stature, tall” is a translation of “Statura fuit procera;” and “his joints so strongly knit,” exactly corresponds with “valida erat 'usque adeo nervorum compage.” But, in order to render his hero's appearance as majestic as possible, Marlowe omits mention of the lameness on which Perondinus dwells. Messrs. Herford and Wagner conclude their scholarly paper with a suggestion that the poet “enriched his conception of the remote and little-known countries, Persia and Scythia, from his classical reading in Herodotus, Euripides, and Xenophon,” and that “the drawing of the weak Persians, Mycetes, Chosroes, and Theridamas, whose 'weakness' is not touched by Mexia, is exactly what we should expect from a youth fresh from those old books in which Persian effeminacy is so piquantly contrasted with the hardihood of Greece.”

Before leaving Tamburlaine a word must be said about Marlowe's introduction of blank verse. Unrhymed verse of ten syllables had been employed both for epic and dramatic purposes before Marlowe's time. The Earl of Surrey, in his translation of Books ii. and iv. of Virgil's Æneid, had been the first to transplant the metre from Italy. Surrey was a charming sonneteer and graceful lyrist; but it would be absurd to claim that his translations from Virgil afford the slightest hint of the capabilities of blank verse. It is impossible to select six consecutive lines that satisfy the ear. Without freedom or swing the procession of languid lines limps feebly forward. When we come to Gorboduc, the first dramatic piece in which rhyme was discarded, the case is no better. Little advance, or rather none at all, has been made in rendering the verse more flexible. Misled by classical usage, all writers before Marlowe aimed at composing blank verse on the model of Greek iambics. Confusing accent with quantity, they regarded accentuated and unaccentuated syllables as respectively long and short. Hence the aim was to end each line with a strongly accentuated syllable, immediately preceded by one that was unaccentuated; in the rest of the line unaccentuated and accentuated syllables occurred alternately. Then, to complete the monotony, at the end of each verse came a pause, which effectually excluded all freedom of movement. This state of things Marlowe abolished. At a touch of the master's hand the heavy-gaited verses took symmetry and shape. That the blank verse of Tamburlaine left much to be desired in the way of variety is, of course, undeniable. Its sonorous music is fitted rather for epic than dramatic purposes. The swelling rotundity of the italicised lines in the following passage recalls the magnificent rhythm of Milton:—

  • “The galleys and those piling brigandmes
  • That yearly sail to the Venetian Gulf,
  • And hover in the Straits for Christians' wreck,
  • Shall lie at anchor m the Isle Asant
  • Until the Persian fleet and men-of-war,
  • Sailing along the oriental sea,
  • Have fetched about the Indian continent
  • Even from Persep&lis to Mexico.”

Later, Marlowe learned to breathe sweetness and softness into his “mighty line,”to make the measure that had thundered the threats of Tamburlaine falter the sobs of a broken heart.

On the authority of a memorandum in Coxeter's MSS., Warton stated that in the year 1587, the date to which Tamburlaine is usually assigned, Marlowe translated Coluthus' Rape of Helen into English rhyme. This translation, if it ever existed, has not come down. The version of the Amores must belong to a somewhat earlier date. Dyce conjectures that it was written as a college exercise (surely not at the direction of the college authorities). It is a spirited translation, though the inaccuracies are manifold; in licentiousness, I am compelled to add, it is a match for the original. Its popularity was great, and—printed in company with Sir John Davies' Epigrams —it passed through several editions, which are all undated, and bear the imprint” Middleborugh” or “Middle-bourgh” (in Holland). In June 1599, by order of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Marlowe's translation (together with Marston's Pygmalion, Hall's Satires, and Cutwode's Caltha Poetarum) was committed to the flames; but it continued to be published abroad, and some editions, with the imprint Middleborough on the title-page, were surreptitiously printed at London.1

The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus was probably composed soon after Tamburlaine. In February 1588-9 a “ballad of the life and death of Doctor Faustus the great Cungerer” was entered in the Stationers' Registers. It is probable that this ballad (which is perhaps identical with the Ballad of Faustus2 preserved in the Roxburghe Collection) was founded on the play. No mention of the play occurs in Henslowe's Diary-earlier than September 30, 1594, although the entries go back to February 1591-2. As the profits from the performance were unusually high 3 on that occasion, we may conjecture that the play had been revived after a considerable interval. A German critic, Dr. J. H. Albers, suggests that the reference to the Prince of Parma as persecutor of the Netherlands, points to events that took place before 1590; for in that year the Prince, who died in December 1592, was chiefly occupied with the affairs of France. Whence seeks in the lines (i. 80-83),

  • ”I'll have them fly to India for gold,” &c.

an allusion to the banquet given to the Queen on board ship by Cavendish after his return in the autumn of 1588 from a voyage round the world, Dr. Albers' argument seems somewhat strained. But internal evidence amply warrants us in assigning a later date to Faustus than to Tamburlaine. There is more of passion in Faustus, and less of declamation; the early exuberance has been pruned; the pathos is more searching and subtle; the versification, too, is freer,—more dramatic.

Faustus was entered in the Stationers' Books on January 7th, 1600-1, but the earliest extant edition is the quarto of 1604, which was republished with very slight alterations in 16a).1 An edition with very numerous additions and alterations appeared in 1616.

Even the first edition gives us the play in an interpolated state; for no sane critic would maintain that the comic scenes belong entirely to Marlowe. One instance of a certain interpolation was pointed out by Dyce. In scene XL there is an allusion to Dr. Lopez —“Mass, Dr. Lopus was never such a doctor.” Now the doctor was hanged for treasonable practices in June 1594. He did not come into notoriety until after Marlowe's death, and any allusion to him before 1594 would have been unintelligible to the audience. From this one passage it is plain that the first quarto does not represent the play exactly as it came from Marlowe's hand. But on the strength of internal evidence we might go further, and say that the comic scenes are in no instance by Marlowe. As far as possible, it is well to avoid theorising, but I must state my conviction that Marlowe never attempted to write a comic scene. The—. Muses had dowered him with many rare qualities— nobility and tenderness and pity—but the gift of humour, the most grateful of all gifts, was withheld. To excite ' tears and laughter for all time” was given to Shakespeare alone; but all the Elizabethan dramatists, if we except Ford and Cyril Tourneur, combined to some extent humour with tragic power. The Elizabethan stage rarely tolerated any tragedy that was unrelieved by scenes of mirth. It was in vain to plead the example of classical usage, to point out that the Attic tragedians never jested. Fortunately the “understanding” pittites were not learned in the classical tongues; they applauded when they were satisfied, and they “mewed “when the play dragged. As the populace in Horace's time clamoured “media inter carmina,” for a bear or a boxer, so an Elizabethan audience, when it felt bored or scared, insisted on being enlivened by a fool or a clown. After a little fuming and fretting the poets accepted the conditions; they soon found that the demand of the audience

was no outrage upon nature, and that there need be no abruptness in the passage from tears to laughter. And so was realised for the first and last time in the world's history the dream of Socrates; the theory he propounded to Agathon, who was too drunk and drowsy for argument or contradiction, as the dawn broke over that memorable symposium. But Marlowe could not don alternately the buskin and the sock. His fiery spirit walked always on the heights; no ripple of laughter reached him as he scaled the “high pyramides” of tragic art. But while the poet was pursuing his airy path the actors at the Curtain had to look after their own interests. They knew that though they should speak with the tongues of angels yet the audience would turn a deaf ear unless some comic business were provided. Accordingly they employed some hack-writer, or perhaps a member of their own company, to furnish what was required. How execrably he performed his task is only too plain. But it is strange that Marlowe's editors should have held so distinguished a dramatist as Dekker responsible for these wretched interpolations. They were misled by the entry in Henslowe's Diary concerning Dekker's “addycions” to Faustus,—an entry which has been shown (vtd, p. xv.) to be a gross forgery. There is not the slightest tittle of evidence to convict Dekker of having perpetrated the comic scenes found in the quarto of 1604.

Let us now consider the relationship between the quartos of 1604 and 1616. From an undoubtedly genuine entry in Henslowe's Diary (ed. J. P. Collier, p. 228), we learn that on November 22, 1602, William Birde and Samuel Rowley were paid the sum of four pounds for “adicyones” to Faustus. As the sum was comparatively large the additions must have been considerable. Dyce at first thought that the quarto of 1616 represented the play in the shape it had assumed at the hands of Birde and Samuel Rowley. This view he afterwards modified on finding that the anonymous Taming of a Shrew, 1594, contained an obvious imitation of a line1 first printed in ed. 1616. But the editors are agreed that the additions found in ed. 1616 are in no instance to be ascribed to Marlowe. My own opinion is, tKatthe^ new comic scenes and the bulk of the additional matter are certainly not his; but I hold at the same time that ed. 1616 gives us occasionally the author's revised text, or restores passages that had been omitted in the first edition. As this theory has not been put forward before, I may be excused for dwelling on it at some length. If the reader will turn to the speech of the chorus preceding scene vii., and compare the texts of eds. 1604 and 1616, he will readily perceive that the additional lines preserved in the later edition render the passage much more picturesque. As the speech stands in the earlier edition it is very meagre; the additional lines, which were certainly beyond the reach of Birde or Samuel Rowley, give precisely what was wanted. Either Marlowe added them when revising the play, or lines omitted in the earlier edition were restored in the later. The variations in scene xiv. are interesting. At the point where Helen passes over the stage ed. 1604 has—

  • 2nd Schol. Too simple is my wit to tell her praise,
  • Whom all the world admires for majesty.
3rd Schol.
  • No marvel though the angry Greeks pursued
  • With ten years'.war the rape of such a Queen,
  • Whose heavenly beauty passeth all compare.
1st Schol.
  • Since we have seen the pride of Nature's works,
  • And only paragon of excellence,
  • Let us depart; and for this glorious deed
  • Happy and blest be Faustus evermore.”
  • In ed. 1616 the passage stands—
2nd Schol.
  • Was this fair Helen whose admired worth
  • Made Greece with ten years' wars afflict poor Troy.
3rd Schol.
  • Too simple is my wit to tell her worth
  • Whom all the world admires for majesty.
1st Schol.
  • Now we have seen the pride of Nature's work
  • We'll take our leaves, and for this blessed sight,” &c.

In both editions the text is assuredly Marlowe's; but in this instance the first quarto seems to preserve the revised text. Later in the same scene the exhortation of the Old Man reads better in the later than in the earlier edition. The alterations are such as we might expect the author to have made on revision. As to the additions in the terrific scene xvi. it is not easy to speak with confidence. In my judgment the text of the earlier edition is preferable. By delaying the catastrophe the additions seem to weaken its impressiveness. At the departure of the scholars, after they have paid their last sad farewell, our feelings have been raised to the highest pitch; and the intrusion at that moment of the Good and Evil Angels is an artistic mistake. Nor does the entrance of Lucifer and Mephistophilis at the beginning of the scene contribute in the slightest degree to the terror of the catastrophe. The scene as it stands in the earlier edition—the pathetic leave-taking between Faustus and the scholars, followed swiftly by the awful soliloquy —needs no addition of horror. But the new matter found in the later edition is undoubtedly powerful; it was penned by no hack-writer, but has the ring of Marlowe. My impression is, that the text in the later edition gives us the scene in its first state; and that Marlowe on revising his work heightened the dramatic effect of the profoundly impressive catastrophe by cancelling the passages which found their way into ed, 1616. But what shall be said of the final colloquy between the scholars when they find the mangled body of Faustus on the morrow of that fearful night of storm? Is it by Marlowe, or is it, as the late Professor Wagner thought, the work of a “mere versifier “? To my ear the lines are solemn and pathetic, thoroughly worthy of Marlowe; but it does not on this account follow that they have a dramatic fitness. It is not improbable that the play in its un-revised state concluded with the scene between the scholars, and that the poet afterwards substituted for this scene the chorus' speech of compassion and warning. If we retain the colloquy between the scholars, then the final moralising of the chorus would seem to be otiose; if, on the other hand, the chorus closes the play, then even the short delay caused by the ap'pearance of the scholars is felt to be a dramatic impropriety. To the chorus, in my judgment, must be given the last word; and we must part, however reluctantly, with the tender and pitiful colloquy.1

My view, then, is that Marlowe revised his work; that the quartos of 1604 and 1616 were both printed from imperfect and interpolated play-house copies, and that neither gives the correct text; that in some cases the readings of the earlier editions are preferable, in other cases the readings of the later.

But, it may be objected, what evidence have we to show that the Elizabethan dramatists ever revised their works with such care and elaboration? Omitting all reference to doubtful cases—such as the relationship between the 1597 and 1599 quartos of Romeo and Juliet, or the 1603 and '604 quartos of Hamlet—and omitting, too, the example of Ben Jonson, who was twitted by his contemporaries for the labour that he bestowed on his works (“For his were called works where others were but plays”), I select two pieces which underwent at their author's hands precisely the same revision as I hold to have been given by Marlowe to Faustus. In Egerton MS. 1994 (preserved in” the British Museum) there is a play entitled Calisto, or the Escapes of Jupiter, which I have elsewhere shown to be composed of scenes from Heywood's Golden Age and Silver Age. A comparison of the text of the MS. with the text of the quartos shows that the author when issuing the printed copy, revised his work throughout, scene by scene, and line by line, correcting, rewriting, curtailing, augmenting. This is the more remarkable in Heywood's case, for he was the most prolific of all the old dramatists, and might well be supposed to have had little time for correction. Again: in my edition of the works of John Day I have printed, along with the text of the quarto, the readings of an early MS. copy of the Parliament of Bees. In the MS., which gives the unrevised text, we find many passages that were afterwards cancelled on revision, and the quarto on the other hand contains passages not found in the MS.; while the variations in phrases and single words are very numerous.

For information as to the origin and growth of the Faust-legend, I refer the reader to the elaborate introductions by Professor Ward and the late Professor Wagner to their editions of Faustus. The point for us to consider is where Marlowe obtained the materials for his tragedy. In 1587 at Frankfort-on-the-Main appeared he first connected account of the great conjurer, under he title of Historia von D. Johann Fausten, dem meitbeschreyten Zauberer und Schwartzkunstler. Two reprints were published in the same year, and three more editions followed in 1589. It was from this book that Marlowe drew his materials; but it is probable that he used an English translation, not the German original. The earliest translation yet discovered is dated 1592. It bears the following title:—The Historic of the damnable 'ife and deserved death of Dr. John Faustus, Newly imprinted and in convenient places imperfect matter amended: according to the true copie printed at Franckfort and translated into English by P. F. Gent.1 The words “Newly imprinted” show that there must have been an edition prior to 1592. It should be remembered that the book was one of those popular productions which ran the greatest risk of being thumbed out of existence. Of the first edition of the German original only a single copy (preserved in the Imperial Library at Vienna) is now known.2 There is one strong piece of evidence to show that Marlowe made use of an English translation. In scene v. the third article of the contract signed by Faustus runs, “Shall do for him and bring for him whatsoever.” Dyce pointed out that the curious text of this passage closely tallies with the text of the corresponding passage in the prose tract. Dyce's quotations are from ed. 1648; he does not seem to have been aware of the existence of the 1592 edition, where the article stands, “That Mephistophilis should bring him anything and do for him whatsoever.”1 This verbal coincidence is too striking to be merely accidental. It has been suggested by Dr. Von der Velde that the English actors who performed at the courts of Dresden and Berlin between 1585 and 1587 (as shown by Mr Albert Cohn in his work on Shakespeare in Germany) brought with them on their return to England at the end of 1587 the recently published Faustbuch. Professor Ward adds a further suggestion, which deserves consideration. In the German original we have a Duke of Anhalt (in the English tract, Anholt) who becomes in the play the Duke of Vanholt. Professor Ward thinks that the “oddity is best to be reconciled with the other circumstances of the case by the supposition that the German Faustbuch was brought over to England in one of its early editions (before that of 1590) by some person or persons who had travelled both in Germany and in the Netherlands; that through them it came into Marlowe's hands in the shape of a MS. English translation; and that the MS. translation was very probably used by ' P. R.' or whoever was the 'gentleman' who wrote the English History.” He proceeds to state that the English actors who had been performing in Germany would naturally pass through the Netherlands on their return to England. The theory is ingenious, but it is hardly safe to build on such slender foundations.

Marlowe's tragedy speedily became popular not only in England but abroad. From a recently published work of great interest by Herr Johannes Meissner, Die Englischen comædiantenzur zeit Shakespeares in Oesterreich, we learn that Faustus and the Jew of Malta, with nine other English plays, were acted (in German versions) by an English company in 1608, during the Carnival, at Graetz.1 Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Faustus remained a favourite at Vienna. A Hanswurst or Clown was introduced; the Jesuits, disliking Faustus' scepticism, converted him into a sort of Don Juan; and the two aspects of his character were afterwards combined by Goethe. Among the plays performed by an English company at the Dresden court in 1626 was a Tragadia von Dr Faust?2 which was certainly Marlowe's; on the same list is found a Harrabas, which was no less certainly a version of the Jew of Malta.

Although the popularity of Faustus in England is attested by the number of editions through which it passed, few early allusions to the play are discoverable. When Shakespeare wrote of Helen in Troilus and Cressida,

  • Why, she is a pearl
  • Whose price hath launched above a thousand ships“

he must surely have had in his mind the line of Marlowe—

  • “Was this the face that launched a thousand ships? “

It was pointed out by Wagner that the scene in Bar-nabe Barnes' Devil's Charter, 1607, where Pope Alexander VI. signs a contract with a devil disguised as a pronotary, is modelled on scene v. of faustus. In Tim^s Whistle, by “R. C. Gent,” a collection of satires written between 1614 and 1616, there is a passage which Mr. J. M. Cowper (who edited the satires for the Early English Text Society) takes to refer “to the story of the play of Faustus, although it may be said the story was common enough for 'R. C.' to have got it elsewhere.” From Samuel Rowlands' Knave of Clubs we learn that the part of Faustus was originally sustained by Edward Alleyn:—

  • “The gull gets on a surplis,
  • With a crosse upon his brest,
  • Like Allen playing Faustus,
  • In that manner was he drest.”

In this Theatrum Poetarum (1675) Phillips observes quaintly “Of all that Marlowe hath written to the stage, his Dr. Faustus hath made the greatest noise, with its devils and such like tragical sport.”

Dr. Faustus is a work which once read can never be forgotten. It must be allowed that Marlowe did not perceive the full capabilities afforded by the legend he adopted; that crudeness of treatment is shown in making Faustus abandon the pursuit of supernatural knowledge, and turn to trivial uses the power that he had purchased at the price of his soul This and more may be granted; but criticism is silenced when we reflect on the agony of Faustus' final soliloquy and the fervid splendour of his raptures over Helen's beauty. Dr. Faustus is rather a series of dramatic scenes than a complete drama. Many of these scenes were the work of another hand and may be expunged with advantage. But what remains is singularly precious. The subtler treatment of a later age can never efface from our minds the appalling realism of the catastrophe in Marlowe's play : still our sense is pierced by that last despairing cry of shrill anguish—

  • “Ugly Hell, gape not! come not, Lucifer!
  • I'll burn my books! Ah, Mephistophihs!”

Goethe's English biographer speaks slightingly of Marlowe's play; but Goethe1 himself, when questioned about Dr. faustus,” burst out with an exclamation of praise : How greatly was it all planned! He had thought of translating it.”

We have no evidence to enable us to fix precisely the date of the Jew of Malta. The reference in the prologue to the death of the Duke of Guise shows that it was composed not earlier than December 1588. Hens-lowe's Diary contains numerous entries concerning the play, ranging from 26th February 1591-2 to 2ist June 1596; and there is a notice in the Diary of its revival on 17th. On ay 1594 it was entered in the Stationers' Books, but it was not published until 633, when it was edited by Thomas Heywood after its revival at Court and at the Cockpit. In 1608, as Herr Meissner has shown, it was one of the plays performed at Graetz during the Carnival; in the previous year it had been performed at Passau.

The Jew of Malta is a very unequal work. Hallam, the most cautious of critics, gives it as his opinion that the first two acts “are more vigorously conceived, both as to character and to circumstance, than any other Elizabethan play, except those of Shakespeare.” This judgment, bold as it appears at first sight, probably represents the truth. The masterful grasp that marks the opening scene was a new thing in English tragedy. Language so strong, so terse, so dramatic, had never been heard before on the English stage. In the two first acts there is not a trace of juvenility; all is conceived largely and worked out in firm, bold strokes. Hardly Shakespeare's touch is more absolutely true and unfaltering; nor is it too much to say that, had the character been developed throughout on the same scale as in the first two acts, Barabas would have been worthy to stand alongside of Shylock. But in the last three acts vigorous drawing is exchanged for caricature; for a sinister life-like figure we have a grotesque stage-villain, another Aaron. How this extraordinary transformation was effected, why the poet, who started with such clear-eyed vision and stern resolution, swerved so blindly and helplessly from the path, is a question that may well perplex critics. Was the artist's hand paralysed by the consciousness of an inability to work out in detail the great conception? I think not. It is more reasonable to assume that the play was required by the actors at a very short notice, and that Marlowe merely sketched roughly the last three acts, leaving it to another hand to fill in the details; or it may be that he put the play aside, under stress of more pressing work, with the intention of resuming the half-told story at a later date, an intention which was frustrated by his sudden death. In any case it is a sheer impossibility to believe that the play in its present form represents the poet's finished work. Marlowe is not less guiltless of the extravagance and buffoonery in the last three acts of the Jew of Malta than of the grotesque and farcical additions made to Dr. Faustus. Yet it was doubtless to this very extravagance that the play owed much of its popularity.1

It has not yet been discovered where Marlowe procured the materials for his play. Probably he used some forgotten novel; nor is it unlikely that he had been afforded opportunities of personally studying Jewish character. The old notion that there were no Jews in England during the Elizabethan time has been shown by modern research to be wholly untenable.2 Barabas' devoted lore for his daughter is so fully emphasized in the first two acts that we cannot but suppose Marlowe to have been acquainted with at least one leading trait in Jewish character, the intense family-affection which has distinguished the Jews of all ages. Round the person of Barabas, in the two first acts, is thrown such a halo of poetry as circles Shylock from first to last His figure seems to assume gigantic proportions; his lust of gold is conceived on so grand a scale that the grovelling passion is transmuted, by the alchemy of the poet's imagination, into a magnificent ambition. Our senses are dazzled, sober reason is staggered by the vastness of Barabas' greed:—

  • “Give me the merchants of the Indian mines,
  • That trade in metal of the purest mould;
  • The wealthy Moor that in the Eastern rocks
  • Without control can pick his riches up,
  • And in his house heap pearl like pebble-stones,
  • Receive them free and sell them by the weight;
  • Bags of fiery opals, sapphires, amethysts,
  • Jacinths, hard topaz, grass-green emeralds,
  • And seld-seen costly stones of so gieat price,
  • As one of them, indifferently rated,
  • And of a carat of this quantity,
  • May serve, in peril of calamity,
  • To ransom great kings from captivity.”

Very impressive is the scene where Barabas is shown pacing beneath the casement, “in the shadow of the silent night,” like an unquiet spirit round a spot where treasure has been buried. And what a burst of lyric ecstacy when he clasps once more his money-bags!—

  • “Now, Phœbus, ope the eye-lids1 of the day,
  • And, for the raven, wake the morning lark,
  • That I may hover with her in the air,
  • Singing o'er these, as she does o'er her young.”

Again and again must we regret that the last three acts were not composed on the same scale as the earlier part of the play.

Edward the Second was entered in the Stationers' Books on 6th July 1593. In the Dyce Library at South Kensington there is a quarto with a MS. title-page (in a hand of the late 17th century), dated 1593. The first page is in MS., and contains several mistakes, but the text of the printed matter agrees throughout with the quarto of 1598; it may therefore be assumed that the date 1593 is a mistake of the copyist for iSgS.2 Warton states that the play “was written in the year 1590,” but he adduces no evidence in support of his assertion. It is certainly the most elaborate of Marlowe's works, and it has fortunately descended to us with a text free from any serious corruptions. We can hardly assign an earlier date than 1590 for its composition.

A comparison between Edward II. and Richard II. naturally suggests itself to every reader. Charles Lamb remarked that” the reluctant pangs of abdicating royalty in Edward furnished hints which Shakespeare scarce improved in his Richard the Second; and the death-scene of Marlowe's king moves pity and terror beyond any scene, ancient or modern, with which I am acquainted.” Mr. Swinburne thinks that there is more discrimination of character in Marlowe's play than Shakespeare's; that the figures are more life-like, stand out more clearly as individual personalities. It may also be urged that there is more “business “in Marlowe's play; that the action is never allowed to flag. Ttie character of the gay, frank, fearless, shameless favourite, Piers Gaveston, is admirably drawn. Even in the presence of death, with the wolfish eyes of the grim nobles bent on him from every side, he loses nothing of his old jauntiness. Marlowe has thoroughly realised this character, and portrayed it in every detail with consummate ability. Hardly less successful is the character of Young Spenser, the insolent compound of recklessness and craft, posing as the saviour of society, while he stealthily pursues his own selfish projects. In his drawing of female characters, Marlowe showed no great skill or variety. The features in some of his portraits are either so dim as to present no likeness at all, or they are excessively unlovely. Isabella is a vain, selfish woman, without any strength of character. She is hurt at finding herself neglected by the king, but the wound is only surface-deep. She acquiesces passively in her husband's death, and with equal indifference would have sacrificed her paramour. Edward, with all his weakness, is not wholly ignoble. In all literature there are few finer touches than when, after recounting his fearful suffering and privations in the dungeon, he gathers his breath for one last kingly utterance:—

  • ”Tell Isabel, the queen, I looked not thus
  • When for her sake I ran at tilt in France,
  • And there unhorsed the Duke of Cleremont.”

What heart-breaking pathos in those lines! For a moment, as his thoughts travel back across the years, he forgets the squalor of his dungeon and rides blithely beneath the beaming eyes of his lady. It has been objected that the representation of the king's physical suffering oversteps the limit of dramatic art. Euripides was censured by ancient critics for demeaning tragedy; but to-day the judgment of readers is on the side of Euripides, not of his critics. Besides, if Euripides erred, Sophocles erred also. The physical suffering of Philoctetes excites far more disgust than anything that we find in Euripides. There are those who think that the blinding of Gloster, in Lear, surpasses in horror any scene of physical agony enacted on the English stage. But criticism, which fears to raise its voice against Shakespeare, shows no mercy to Shakespeare's contemporaries.

It has been usually stated that Fabyan's Chronicle was Marlowe's authority for the plot of Edward II., but Mr. Fleay has made it abundantly clear that the poet's indebtedness to Fabyan was very slight, and that the narratives of Stow and Holinshed, who tread closely in the steps of Sir Thomas de la More, were largely used.

The two remaining plays, the Massacre at Paris and the Tragedy of Dido, are preserved in a very unsatisfactory state: the former had been cruelly mutilated, and the latter—left unfinished at the author's death— was completed by Thomas Nashe, an unequalled master of invective, but a tragic poet of no high order. In Henslowe's Diary (ed. J. P. Collier, p. 30), under date 30th January 1593-4, there is an entry—“Rd. at the tragedy of the guyes [Guise] … iij8 … iiij8.” In this part of the Diary the dates are in some confusion; and it is clear from the preceding and following entries that the year should be 1592-3, not 1593-4. In the margin opposite the entry Henslowe has written ”tie” to show that it was a new play. External evidence, therefore, seems to insist that the Massacre at Paris was one of Marlowe's latest works. Even if we suppose that the performance of the play did not immediately follow its composition, yet we cannot regard the Massacre at Paris as a very early work of Marlowe's; for Henry III., with whose assassination the play ends, died on 2nd August 1589. But we have clear proof that the play has come down in a corrupt and mutilated state. There is preserved in an early MS.1 a portion of scene xix., probably a fragment of an original play-house copy. A comparison of the text of the MS. (vid. Vol. II. 277-8) with the text of the printed copy shows how cruelly the play suffered in passing through the press. But when all allowances have been made on the score of curtailments and corruptions, it is certain that the Massacre at Paris was the feeblest of Marlowe's works. Only in one passage does the poet rise to the height of his theme. I refer of course to the fine soliloquy of the Duke of Guise in the second scene. There, and there only, we find the old splendour of diction and magnificence of imagination, the old yearning after limitless power. The other characters are writ in water.

The Tragedy of Dido was published in 1594. On the title-page it is stated to have been written by “Christopher Marlowe and Thomas Nash, Gent.” Probably Marlowe left it incomplete at his death, and Nashe finished it. The tragic power shown in Dido is very slight For once Marlowe seems to have descended from his fiery flight above the clouds, and to have sought repose in a trim garden-plot; instead of daring imagination, we have quaint conceits and dainty play of fancy. My own opinion is, that the play is in the main by Marlowe, and that Nashe's work lay chiefly in completing certain scenes which Marlowe had sketched in the rough. To Marlowe must surely be given such lines as these in the opening scene:—

  • “Vulcan shall dance to make thee laughing-sport,
  • And my nine daughters sing when thou art sad;
  • From Juno's bird I'll pluck her spotted pride,
  • To make thee wings wherewith to cool thy face;
  • And Venus' swans shall shed their silver down
  • To sweeten out the slumbers of thy bed,” &c.

The rhythm of these passages is precisely the same as in the passage (lii. i) where Dido offers to Aeneas a fleet with “tackling made of rivell'd gold.” As Mr. Symonds observes, “The blank verse, falling in couplets, seems to cry aloud for rhymes.” These passages, and the pretty scene where the old nurse tempts away Cupid (who is disguised as Ascanius) by a playfully exaggerated description of the delights of her orchard and flower-garden, must have come from the same hand,—the hand that wrote the song of the “Passionate Shepherd to his Love.” In the second act, where Aeneas relates to Dido the story of the fall of Troy, occurs the passage, which Shakespeare burlesqued in Hamlet1 describing the slaughter of Priam. It is hard to believe that in its present shape the narrative of Aeneas was written wholly by Marlowe. In parts it is so absurdly grandiose that a very slight heightening is required in order to get the effect of burlesque. Let us take the description of the slaughter of Priam:—

  • “At which the frantic queen leaped on his face,
  • And in his eyelids hanging by the nails,
  • A little while prolonged her husband's life.
  • At last the soldiers pulled her by the heels,
  • And swung her howling in the empty air,
  • Which sent an echo to the wounded king:
  • Whereat he lifted up his bed-rid limbs,
  • And would have grappled with Achilles' son,
  • Forgetting both his want of strength and hands;
  • Which he disdaining, whisk'd his sword about,
  • And with the wound [wind] thereof the King fell down;
  • Then from the navel to the throat at once
  • He ripp'd old Priam.”

If these lines are Marlowe's they must have been written at the very beginning of his career. Compared with this extraordinary passage the rant of Tamburlaine is tame. It seems probable that Marlowe left the scene unfinished, and that Nashe worked it up into its present ridiculous shape. If the lines I have quoted are Nashe's he must surely have been laughing in his sleeve when he wrote them. It was a good opportunity of showing that he had learnt the trick of “bragging blank verse,” and could swagger in “drumming decasyllabons.” Earlier in the same scene we find passages quite worthy of Marlowe, as in the description how, when Smon unlocked the wooden horse,

  • “Suddenly
  • From out his entrails, Neoptolemus,
  • Setting his spear upon the ground, leapt forth,
  • And, after him, a thousand Grecians more
  • In whose stern faces shined the quenchless fire
  • That after burnt the pride of Asia.”

About the authorship of such lines as those there can be no possible doubt; but there are very few passages in Dido where the “mighty line “rings so unmistakeably.

The exquisite fragment of Hero and Leander, which was entered in the Stationers' Books on 28th September 1593, was first published in 1598, and a second edition,1 with Chapman's continuation, appeared in the same year. From a passage of the Third Sestiad it appears that Marlowe, perhaps with a foreboding of his untimely death, had enjoined upon Chapman the task of completing the poem. The lines are these;—

  • “Then, ho, most strangely-intellectual fire
  • That, proper to my soul, hast power t' inspire
  • Her burning faculties, and with the wings
  • Of thy unspherèd flame visits't the springs
  • Of spirits immortal. Now, as swift as Time
  • Doth follow Motion, find th' eternal clime
  • Of his free soul whose living subject stood
  • Up to the chin in the Pierian flood,
  • And drunk to me half this Musaean story,
  • Inscribing it (a deathless memory;
  • Confer with it, and make my pledge as deep
  • That neither1 s draught be consecrate to sleep:
  • Tell it how much his late desires 1 tender
  • {If yet it know not), and to light surrender
  • My sours dark offspring.”

When Chapman is inspired he is not always articulate. In this apostrophe to the “free soul” of Marlowe we cannot fail to be moved by the impassioned fervour of the language; but when we come to re-read the passage, and ask ourselves what is the meaning of the italicised lines, we are beset with some difficulties. It is certain that the words “late desires “cannot refer to any deathbed utterance of Marlowe; for we know that his end was fearfully sudden. But if it has any meaning at all, the line, “And drunk to me half this Musaean story,” implies that Marlowe had shown his unfinished poem to Chapman. It would not be rash to assert that Chapman had encouraged Marlowe to proceed with the poem, or that it had been originally undertaken at Chapman's request. The words “his late desires “refer to some conversation that had passed between the two poets. Marlowe must have expressed a desire that in the event of his death Chapman should edit and complete the poem, a duty which Chapman solemnly pledged himself to perform. In my judgment the passage shows that Chapman not only had a profound admiration for Marlowe, but had been on terms of intimate friendship with him. Dyce remarks that “as to the conclusion of the passage,' and to light surrender,' &c., I must confess that I am far from understanding it clearly.” But the meaning seems intelligible: his “soul's dark offspring “is the continuation of the poem, the four last sestiads as yet undisclosed to public view; and “to light surrender” merely means to set forth in print to the gaze of the world.

Among all the Elizabethan poets there was none whose genius fitted him to complete the poem of Hero and Leander. The music of Marlowe's rhymed heroics was all his own; he was a master without pupils. In Michael Drayton's Heroical Epistles, which need fear no comparison with Ovid's Heroides, we find fluency and freedom and sweetness; but the clear, rich, fervent notes of Hero and Leander were heard but once. No less truly than finely does Mr. Swinburne say that the poem “stands out alone amid all the wild and poetic wealth of its teeming and turbulent age, as might a small shrine of Parian sculpture amid the rank splendour of a tropic jungle.” In Chapman's continuation, as in everything that Chapman wrote, there are fine passages in abundance; but the reader is wearied by tedious digressions, dull moralising, and violent conceits. There are couplets in the Tale of Teras (Fifth Sestiad) that for purity of colour and perfection of form are hardly excelled by anything in the first two sestiads; such passages, however, are few. Malone stated that Marlowe left in addition to the two first sestiads “a hundred lines of the third,” but he afterwards retracted the statement.

Hero and Leander sprang at once into popularity. Shakespeare, as everybody knows, quoted in As You Like It the line, “Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?” apostrophising the ill-fated poet, not without a touch of pity, as “dead shepherd;” Ben Jonson introduced passages of the poem into Every Man in his Humour; Henry Petowe, a feeble versifier but a sincere admirer of Marlowe's genius, had the audacity to write and in 1598 to publish The Second part of Hero and Leander; Nashe in Lenten Stuffe speaks of “divine Musaeus and a diviner Muse than him, Kit Marlowe;” Taylor the water-poet tells how he used to sing couplets of Hero and Leander as he plied his sculls on the Thames. Sometimes the poem is mentioned m company with Venus and Adonis. “1 have conveyed away,” says Harebrain in Middleton's A mad World my Masters,”all her wanton

pamphlets; as Hero and Leander, Venus and Adonis: O two luscious marrow-bone pies for a young married wife.”

Marlowe's translation of the First Book of Lucan was entered in the Stationers' Books on 28th September 1593, but no earlier edition than the quarto of 1600 is now known to exist. Lucan's name stood much higher in Elizabethan times than in our own day. His grandiloquence, his artificiality, his frigid rhetoric have blinded modern readers to the genuine power which the author of the Pharsalia undoubtedly possessed. Quintilian's judgment was well expressed—” Lucanus ardens et con-citatus et sententiis clanssimus et, ut dicam quod sentio, magis oratoribus quam poetis imitandus.” Lucan was not a born poet; there was no spontaneity in his verse, and even in his best passages he merely keeps on the border-land between poetry and rhetorical prose. But he could rap out telling lines, and he had an imposing vocabulary. Marlowe's version of the first book of the Pharsalia is a piece of close translation, more poetical in some passages than the original, but not doing justice to Lucan in single lines. In the description of the prodigies observed at Rome after Caesar's passage of the Rubicon the advantage is undoubtedly Marlowe's, but on the other hand Lucan's pregnant antitheses and telling phrases are often insufficiently rendered, as where the famous line

  • “Victrix causa diis placuit sed victa Catoni,”

is Englished by

  • “Caesar's cause Tiie gods abeited, Cato liked the other.”

Dyce was so struck with the want of “variety of pause “in the versification, that he was inclined on first thoughts to consider the translation an early essay. But I venture to think that the lines are not wan ting in variety of pause to any very noticeable extent. In judging of epic blank verse, it is difficult to avoid a reference to Milton; and of course if we compare the rhythm of Marlowe's translation with the rhythm of Paradise Lost—cadit quaestio. But let us dismiss Milton from our minds, and let us select some of the strongest lines from the translation:—

  • “Strange sights appeared; the angry threatening gods
  • Filled both the earth and seas with prodigies.
  • Great store of strange and unknown stars were seen
  • Wandering about the north, and rings of fire
  • Fly in the air, and dreadful bearded stars,
  • And comets that presage the fall of kingdoms;
  • The flattering sky glittered in often flames,
  • And sundry fiery meteors blazed in heaven,
  • Now spear-like long, now like a spreading touch;
  • Lightning in silence stole forth without clouds,
  • And, from the northern climate snatching fire,
  • Blasted the Capitol; the lesser stars,
  • Which wont to run their course through empty night,
  • At noon-day mustered; Phoebe, having filled
  • Her meeting horns to match her brother's light,
  • Struck with th' earth's sudden shadow, waxed pale;
  • Titan himself, throned in the midst of heaven,
  • His burning chariot plunged in sable clouds,
  • And whelmed the world in darkness, making men
  • Despair of day; as did Thyestes' town,
  • Mycenae, Phoebus flying through the east.
  • Fierce Mulciber unbarred Aetna's gate,
  • Which flamèd not on high, but headlong pitched
  • Her burning head on bending Hespery.
  • Coal-black Charybdis whirled a sea of blood.
  • Fierce mastives howled. The vestal fires went out;
  • The flame in Alba, consecrate to Jove,
  • Parted in twain, and with a double point
  • Rose, like the Theban brothers' funeral fire.
  • The earth went off her hinges; and the Alps
  • Shook the old snow from off their trembling laps.”

That passage can be read throughout with pleasure. Though not wholly free from monotony, the lines are not stiff; the pause at the end of the line occurs somewhat too frequently to thoroughly satisfy the ear, but as a whole, the passage is at once massive and flexible. I suspect that the translation was intended chiefly as a metrical experiment. As the rhymed heroics of the translation of the Amores were the prelude to Hero and Leander, so the blank verse of the First Book of Lucan may have been a preparatory exercise for a projected epic. The reader will note with some surprise the unusual number of double-endings in the translation of Lucan. In less than 700 lines the double-endings are no fewer than 109;a1 while in Edward II. and the Jew of Malta (which are each about thrice the length of the translation), the double-endings are 107 and 70 respectively. We should naturally expect to find the proportion higher in dramatic than epic blank verse. In the former we look for greater freedom and a less accentuated rhythm; in the latter for a fuller and more sonorous volume of sound. Milton uses double-endings very sparingly.

The delightful song “Come live with me, and be my love” was first printed, without the fourth and sixth stanzas, in the Passionate Pilgrim, 1599. It is well known that, though Shakespeare's name is on the title-page, the pieces in this collection are by various hands. The complete song first appeared, with the author's name, C. Marlowe, subscribed, in that most charming of Elizabethan anthologies, England's Helicon, 1600. Of all pastoral ditties, “Come live with me “is the best and most popular. Sir Hugh Evans trolled snatches from it in the Merry Wives of Windsor; and all lovers of the Complete Angler remember how Maudlin sang to Piscator and his pupil the “smooth song made by Kit Marlowe,” her mother following with the reply of Sir Walter Raleigh (if his it be): “They were old-fashioned poetry, but choicely good.” Donne and Herrick tried—but all in vain—to recapture the fresh dainty notes. An exquisite fragment of Marlowe's, beginning, “I walked along a stream for pureness rare,” is preserved in England?! Parnassus, 1600. Dyce thought that the lines were extracted from some printed composition now unknown; but I do not share Dyce's confidence that the editor of the anthology, Robert Allot, never resorted to manuscript sources.

It is now time to set down what is known of Marlowe's personal history. One thing it is pleasant to record,— that he was under the patronage of Sir Thomas Walsing-ham. To this worthy patron Hero and Leander was dedicated in 1598 by Edward Blunt, the publisher, in language which showed a genuine regard for the deceased poet's memory. I give the dedication in full, as it has not received due attention from Marlowe's editors:— “Sir,—We think not ourselves discharged of the duty we owe to our friend when we have brought the breathless body to the earth; for albeit the eye there taketh his ever-farewell of that beloved object, yet the impression of the man that hath been dear unto us, living an afterlife in our memory, there putteth us in mind of farther obsequies due unto the deceased; and namely of the performance of whatsoever we may judge, shall make to his living credit and to the effecting of his determinations prevented by the stroke of death. By these meditations (as by an intellectual will) I suppose myself executor to the unhappily deceased author of this poem; upon whom knowing that in his lifetime you bestowed many kind favours, entertaining the parts of reckoning and worth which you found in him with good countenance and liberal affection, I cannot but see so far into the will of him dead, that whatsoever issue of his brain should chance to come abroad, that the first breath it should take might be the gentle air of your liking; for since his self had been accustomed thereunto, it would prove more agreeable and thriving to his right children than any other foster-countenance whatsoever.” There is nothing conventional in such language as this. It is plain that Edward Blount had a sincere admiration and pity for Marlowe. “The impression of the man that hath been dear unto us!” Surely these are tender and pathetic words! When vials of venom were being poured on the dead man's head, it required some courage to speak out generously and manfully; and, therefore, let us give honour to the magnanimous publisher.

The name “atheist” has a very ugly sound. “Agnostic,” “materialist,” and the like, are gentleman-like designations, but a person who styles himself “atheist” is regarded in polite society as blunt and boorish. In Marlowe's time there were no fine distinctions. Any who ventured to impugn the authenticity of the biblical narrative spoke and wrote at their own deadly peril. In February 1589 Francis Kett, fellow of Benet College, Cambridge,—the College of which Marlowe had been a member,—was burnt at Norwich for holding unorthodox views about the Trinity and about Christ's divinity. Such being the state of society, prudence would naturally have dictated that each man should keep his private views to himself, or at least that he should have explained them only to his most intimate friends. “In divinity I keep the road,” says that champion of orthodoxy, Sir Thomas Browne, who exposed the vulnerable points in the scriptural narrative with more acumen and gusto than the whole army of “free-thinkers “from Antony Collins downwards. It would have been well if Marlowe had “kept the road.” Unfortunately he seems to have lost no opportunity of expounding his heretical opinions-The passage referring to Marlowe in Greene's Groat's Worth of Wit, that crazy death-bed wail of a weak and malignant spirit, has been often quoted before, but must be given here once again:—” Wonder not (for with thee will I first beginne), thou famous gracer of tragedians, that Green, who hath said with thee, like the foole in his heart, “There is no God,” should now give glorie unto his greatnesse; for penetrating in his power, his hand lyes heavy upon me he hath spoken unto me with a voyce of thunder, and I have felt [old ed. left] he is a God that can punish enemies. Why should thy excellent wit, his gift, be so blinded that thou shouldest give no glory to the giver? Is it pestilent Machivilian policie that thou hast studied? O peevish [old ed. punish] folie! What are his rules but meere confused mockeries, able to extirpate in small time the generation of mankinde? for if sic volo, sic iubeo, holde in those that are able to commaund, and if it be lawfull fas et nefas, to doo any thing that is beneficiall, onely tyrants should possesse the earthe, and they, striving to exceed in tiranny, should ech to other be a slaughterman, till, the mightyest outliving all, one stroke were left for Death, that in one age mans life should end. The brocher of this dyabolicall atheisme is dead, and in his life had never the felicitie he aymed at, but, as he beganne in craft, lived in feare, and ended in dispaire. Quam inscrutabilia sunt Dei judicia! This murderer of many brethren had his conscience seared like Cayne; this betrayer of him that gave his life for him inherited the portion of Judas; this apostata perished as ill as Julian : and wilt thou, my friend, be his disciple? Looke unto mee, by him per-swaded to that libertie, and thou shalt finde it an infernall bondage. I know the least of my demerits merit this miserable death; but wilfull striving against knowne truth exceedeth all the terrors of my soule. Deferre not (with mee) till this kst point of extremitie; for little knowest thou how in the end thou shalt be visited.” Then follow the well-known references to Nashe (or, as some think, Lodge), Peele, and the “upstart crow” Shakespeare. Greene died in September 1592, and the tract must have been published immediately afterwards. Its publication caused much excitement, and the rumour went abroad that the pamphlet was a forgery. Some attributed it to Chettle, others to Nashe. Both these writers quickly came forward to disclaim all share in the authorship. In the preface to Chettle's Kind-Harts Dreame, a tract entered in the Stationers' Books in December 1592 and published immediately afterwards, occurs the following passage:—

“About three moneths since died M. Robert Greene, leaving many papers in sundry book-sellers hands; among other, his Groantsworth of Wit, in which a letter written to diver play-makers is offensively by one or two of them taken; and because on the dead they cannot be avenged, they wilfully forge in their conceites a living author; and after tossing it two [to] and fro, no remedy, but it must light on me. How I have all the time of my conversing in printing hindred the bitter inveying against schollers, it hath been very well knowne, and how in that I dealt I can sufficiently proove. With neither of them that take offence was I acquainted, and with one of them [i.e.Marlowe] I care not if I never be : the other [i.e. Shakespeare], whome at that time I did not so much spare as since I wish I had, for that as I have moderated the heate of living writers, and might have used my owne discretion (especially in such a case) the author beeing dead, that I did not, I am as sory as if the originall fault had beene my fault, because myselfe have scene his demeanor no lesse civil than he exclent in the qualitie he professes: besides, divers of worship have reported his uprightnes of dealing which argues his honesty, and his facetious grace in writing that aprooves his art. For the first, whose learning I reverence, and, at the perusing of Greenes booke, stroke out what then in conscience I thought he in some displeasure writ, or, had it beene true, yet to publish it was intollerable, him I would wish to use me no worse than I deserve. I had onely in the copy this share; it was il written, as sometime Greenes hand was none of the best; licensd it must be, ere it could bee printed, which could never be if it might not be read: to be breife, I writ it over, and, as neare as I could, followed the copy, only in that letter I put something out, but in the whole booke not a worde in; for I protest it was all Greenes, not mine, nor Maister Nashes, as some uniustly have affirmed.” From Chettle's statement it is plain that the passage about Marlowe m the Groat's Worth of Wit was not printed in its venomous integrity. Chettle had no personal knowledge of Marlowe; he judged only from common report. It is to his credit that, prejudiced as he was, he had the good feeling to temper the virulence of Greene's attack. Nashe, in the “Private Epistle to the Printer,'1 prefixed to Pierce Peniltsse (a tract issued at the close of 1592) was more vehement in repudiating all connection with the pamphlet which had given so much offence. “Other newes,” he writes, “I am advertised of, that a scald triviall lying pamphlet, cald Green's Groats-worth of Wit, is given out to be of my doing. God never have care of my soule, but utterly renounce me, if the least word or sitlible in it proceeded from my pen, or if I were any way privie to the writing or printing of it” At this time Nashe was a friend of Marlowe's. In Pierces Supererogation (which is dated 2yth April, 1593), Gabriel Harvey accuses Nashe of disloyalty to his friends, among whom he particularly mentions Marlowe. Doubtless there was not a word of truth in the charge that Nashe “shamefully and odiously misuseth every friend or acquaintance (as he hath served some of his favorablest Patrons, whom, for certain respects, I am not to name), M. Apis Lapis, Greene, Marlow, Chettle, and whom not?” In Have with you to Saffron Walden, Nashe exclaims indignantly, “I never abusd Marloe, Greene, Chettle, in my life, or anie of my friends that usde me like a friend; which both Marloe and Greene (if they were alive) under their hands would testifie, even as Harry Chettle hath in a short note here;” and then follows a note in which Chettle declares that he never suffered any injury at Nashe's hands. “Poore deceased Kit Marlowe!” are Nashe's words in the Epistle to the Reader prefixed to the second edition (1594) of Chrisfs Tears over Jerusalem.

The burial-register of the Parish Church of St Nicholas, Deptford, contains the following entry1 :—” Christopher Marlow, slain by firancis Archer, the i of June 1593.' Thomas Beard the Puritan, Oliver Cromwell's tutor, relates the manner of the poet's death as follows:—

“Not inferior to any of the former in atheisme and impietie, and equal to al in maner of punishment, was one of our own nation, of fresh and late memorie, called Marlin [in the margin Marlow], by profession a scholler, brought vp from his youth in the Vniuersitie of Cambridge, but by practise a playmaker and a poet of scurrilitie, who by giuing too large a swing to his owne wit, and suffering his lust to haue the full reines, fell (not without just desert) to that outrage and extremitie, that hee denied God and his sonne Christ, and not onely in word blasphemed the Trinitie, but also (as u is credibly reported) wrote bookes against it, affirming our Sauiour to be but a deceiuer, and Moses to be but a coniurer and seducer of the people, and the holy Bible to bee but vame and idle stories, and all religion but a deuice of policie. But see what a hooke the Lord put in the nostrils of this barking dogge! So it fell out, that as he purposed to stab one, whom he ought a grudge vnto, with his dagger, the other party perceiuing so auoyded the stroke, that, withall catching hold of his wrest, hee stabbed his owne dagger into his owne head, in such sort that, notwithstanding all the meanes of surgerie that could bee wrought, hee shortly after died thereof; the manner of his death being so terrible (for hee euen cursèd and blasphemed to his last gaspe, and together with his breath an oath flew out of his mouth), that it was not only a manifest signe of Gods judgement, but also an horrible and fearefull terror to all that beheld him. But herein did the justice of God most notably appeare, in that hee compelled his owne hand, which had written those blasphemies, to bee the instrument to punish him, and that in his braine which had deuised the same.” So the passage stands in the later editions. It is not unimportant to notice that in the first edition, 1597, for “So it fell out,” &c. we find, “It so fell out that in London Streets as he purposed to stab,” &c. The vague mention of “London Streets” shows that Beard had no exact information when he put together his highly-coloured description of the poet's last moments. Francis Meres in Palladis Tamia, 1598, writes:—” As the poet Lycophron was shot to death by a certain rival of his, so Christopher Marlowe was stabd to death by a bawdy serving-man, a riual of his in his lewde love “(fol. 286). From Vaughan's Golden Grove, 1600, Dyce quotes a somewhat different account:—” Not inferiour to these was one Christopher Marlow, by profession a play-maker, who, as it is reported, about 14 yeres agoe wrote abooke against the Trinitie. But see the effects of God's justice! It so happened that at Detford, a little village about three miles distant from London, as he meant to stab with his ponyard one named Ingram that had inuited him thither to a feast and was then playing at tables, hee quickly perceyving it, so avoyded the thrust, that withall drawing out his dagger for his defence, hee stabd this Marlow into the eye, in such sort that, his braynes comming out at the daggers point, hee shortly after dyed. Thus did God, the true executioner of diuine iustice, worke the end of impious atheists” (sig. c. 4, ed. 1608). I must now direct the reader's attention to a strange “Sonet” and stranger “Postcript” and “Glosse,” printed at the end of Gabriel Harvey's Newe Letter of Notable Contents, 1593. Dyce (following Collier) quoted the last line of the “Sonet,” but none of Marlowe's editors has referred to the “Postcript” and “Glosse;” so I make no apology for giving the pieces in full


  • St. Fame dispos'd to cunnycatch the -world
  • Uprear'd a wonderment of Eiyhty Eight;
  • The Earth, addreading to be overhurld,
  • What now auailes, quoth She, my ballance weight:
  • The Circle smyl'd to see the Center feare:
  • The wonder was no wonder fell that yeare.
  • Wonders enhaunse their powre in numbers odd:
  • The fatal! yeare ofyeares is Ninety Three:
  • Parma hatk kist, Demaine entreats the rodd;
  • Warre wondrcth Peace and Spaine in Fraunce to see,
  • Brave Eckenberg the dowty Bassa shames,
  • The Christian Neptune Turkish Vulcane tames.
  • Navarre wooes Roome, Charlmaine glues Guise the Phy:
  • Weepe Powles, thy Tambcrlaine voutsafes to dye.


  • The hugest miracle remains behinde,
  • The second Shakerley Rash-Swash to binde.

The Writers Postcript, or a friendly Caueat to the second Shakerley of Powles.


  • Sltimbring I lay in melancholy bed
  • Before the dawning of the sanguin light;
  • When Eccho shrill or some Familiar Spright
  • Busted an Epitaph into my hed.
  • Magnifique Mindes bred of Gargantnas race
  • In grisly weedes His Obsequies waiment [sic]
  • Whose Corps on Powles, whose mind triuph'd on Kent,
  • Scorning to bate Sir Rodomont an ace.
  • I mus'd awhilt, and, having mus'd a while,
  • Jesu (quoth I) is that Gargantua minde
  • Conquered and left no Scanderbeg behinde?
  • Vowed hi not to Powles a Second bile?
  • What bile or kibe? (quoth that same early spright)
  • Have you forgot the Scanderbegging wight.


  • Is it a Dreams? or is the Highest minde
  • That ever haunted Powles or hunted winde
  • Bereaft of that same sky-surmounting breath,
  • That breath that taught the Tempany to swell!
  • He and the Plague contended for the game:
  • The hawty man txtolles his hideous thoughtes,
  • And g!oriously insultes upon poore soulcs
  • That plague themselves: for faint harts plague themselves.
  • The tyrant Sickness of base minded slaites
  • Oh how it domino's in Coward Lane!
  • So Surquidy rang out his larum knell
  • When he had girn'd at many a dolefull bell.
  • The ground Disease disdain'd his Toade Conceit
  • And smiling at his Tantberlainc contempt
  • Sternly struck home the peremptory stroke,
  • He that nor feared God nor dreaded Diu'll,
  • Nor ought admired but his wondrous self:
  • Likejunos gawdy Bird that proudly stares
  • On glittringfan of his triumphant taile,
  • Or like the ugly Bugg that scorrid to dy,
  • And mmtntes of Glery rear'd in towering witt—
  • Alas I but Babell Pride must kiss the put.


  • Powles steeple, and a hugyer thing if dmane; Bcware
  • the next Bull-beggar of the owne.
  • Fata immature vagantur.”

Harvey's Newe Letter is dated September 1593, and Marlowe died in the June preceding. The drift of the “goggle-eyed sonet of Gorgon “(as Nashe terms it) and “L'enuoy “plainly is,—” Marlowe is dead; it remains to muzzle Nashe.” The epitaph in the “Postcript” certainly refers to Marlowe, and the meaning of the extraordinary lines “I mus'd awhile,” &c., is the same as in the previous sonnet But what are we to make of the Glosse? The only sense to be got out of the lines is that Marlowe had fallen a victim to the plague. We know that the plague was raging at that time in the metropolis. Probably Gabriel Harvey was staying in the country, to be out of the reach of infection,1 when he wrote his Newe Letter. Hearing the report of Marlowe's death he had taken it for granted, when he raised his whoop of exultation, that the poet had died of the plague. We may be sure that, if he had been acquainted at the time with the true account of Marlowe's tragic end, he would have gloated over every detail with ghoul-like ferocity. Though Marlowe took no active part, so far as we know, in supporting Nashe, he seems not to have attempted to conceal his contempt for the Harveys. In Have with you to Saffron Walden, Nashe reports a saying of Marlowe's about Gabriel's younger brother, the Rev. Richard Harvey:—” Kit Marloe was wont to say that he was an asse, good for nothing but to preach of the Iron Age.” If Marlowe was accustomed to deliver his opinion about the Harveys after that fashion, the doctor's animosity is explicable. In Pierces Supererogation (p. 62) the vindictive writer exclaims:—” His [i.e. Nashe's] gayest flourishes are but Gascoigne's weedes or Tarleton's trickes, or Greene's crankes or Marlowe's bravadoes.” In the same tract he uses the term “Marloweism “in the sense of “irreverence.”

It must be frankly conceded that Marlowe not only abandoned Christianity, but had the reputation of leading a vicious life. In the Returne from Pernassus, an anonymous academical play, printed in 1606, but acted before the death of Queen Elizabeth, while high praise is paid to his genius, regret is expressed for the disorderli-ness of his life:—

  • “Marlowe was happy in his baskin['d] Muse,—
  • Alas, unhappy in his life and end!
  • Pitty it is that wit so ill should dwell,
  • Wit lent from heaven, but vices sent from hell.
  • Our theater hath lost, Pluto hath got
  • A tragick penman for a driery plot.”

Among the Harleian MSS. (6853, foL 520) is a Note1 ”contayninge the opinion of one Christofer Marlye, concernynge his damnable opinions and judgment of Relygion and scorne of Gods worde.” It is a comfort to know that the ruffian who drew up the charges, a certain “Rychard Bame,” was hanged1 Tyburn on 6th December 1594. Doubtless Bame was backed by some person or persons of power and position. It was a deliberate attempt on the part of some fanatics to induce the public authorities to institute a prosecution for blasphemy against the poet. How the charges would have been met it is not easy to say; probably his friends—particularly his patron Sir Thomas Wal-singham—would have been powerful enough to avert any serious danger. To a modern reader many of the charges put forward by Bame seem too silly to deserve any serious attention. If Marlowe had been a man of such abandoned principles as his enemies represented, I strongly doubt whether Chapman, who was distinguished for strictness of life, would have cherished his memory with such affection and respect. To my mind the apostrophe to Marlowe in the Third Sestiad of Hero and Leander shows clearly that the two poets were on terms of intimacy, and I fail to understand how Dyce arrived at the opposite conclusion. It is much to be regretted that no copy can now be found of the elegy on Marlowe written by Nashe and prefixed to the Tragedy of Dido, 1594. The elegy was seen by Bishop Tanner, who in his account of Marlowe writes,—” Hanc [sc. Tragedy of Dido] perfecit et edidit Tho. Nashe, Lond. 1594, 4to.— Petowius in præfatione ad secundam partem Herois et Leandri multa in Marlovii, commendationem adfert; hoc etiam facit Tho. Nash in Carmine elegiaco tragædiæ Didonis prmfixo'1 in obitum Christoph. Marlovii, ubi quatuor ejus tragædiaram mentionem facit, necnon et alterius De Duce Guisio “(Bibl. Brit., p. 512). Petowe's encomium, to which Tanner refers, runs thus:—

  • “Quicke-sighted spirits,—this suppos'd Apollo,—
  • Conceit no other but th' admired Marlo;
  • Marlo admir'd, whose honney-flowmg vaine
  • No English writer can as yet attaine;
  • Whose name in Fame's immortall treasurie
  • Truth shall record to endles memorie;
  • Marlo, late mortal in, now fram'd all diume,
  • What soule more happy then that soule of thine?
  • Liu still in heauen thy soule, thy fame on earth!
  • Thou dead, of Marlos Hero findes a dearth.
  • Weepe, aged Tellus! all on earth2 complaine!
  • Thy chiefe-borne faire hath lost her faire againe :
  • Her faire in this is lost, that Marlo's want
  • Inforceth Hero's faire be wonderous scant.
  • Oh, had that king of poets breathed longer,
  • Then had faire beautie's fort been much more stronger!
  • His goulden pen had clos'd her so about,
  • No bastard seglet's quill, the world throughout,
  • Had been of force to marre what he had made;
  • For why they were not expert in that trade.
  • What mortall soule with Marlo might contend,
  • That could 'gainst reason force him stoops or bend?
  • Whose siluer-charmmg toung mou'd such delight,
  • That men would shun their sleepe in still darke night
  • To meditate vpon his goulden lynes,
  • His rare conceyts, and sweet-according rimes.
  • But Marlo, still-admired Marlo's gon
  • To hue with beautie in Elyzmm;
  • Immortal beautie, who desires to heare
  • His sacred poesies, sweete in euery eare :
  • Marlo must frame to Orpheus' melodie
  • Himnes all dmine to make heauen harmonie.
  • There euer hue the prince of poetrie,
  • Lme with the liuing in eternuie!”

In his preface “To the quick-sighted Reader,” Petowe says that his poem was “the first fruits of an unripe wit, done at certaine vacant bowers.” The poem has little merit, but the young writer's admiration for Marlowe is genuine and striking.

Other admirers of Marlowe were not silent. George Peele, in his “Prologue to the Honour of the Garter,” written immediately after the poet's death, has these lines:—

  • “Unhappy in thine end,
  • Marley, the Muses' darling for thy verse,
  • Fit to write passions for the souls below,
  • If any wretched souls in passion speak.”

“J. M.” in a MS. poem written in 1600 (quoted by Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps in his Life of Shakespeare), speaks with tenderness of “kynde Kit Marloe.” In a famous passage of the Hierarchic of the Biased Angels, 1635, Heywood writes:—

  • “Marlo, renown'd for his rare art and wit,
  • Could ne'er attain beyond the name of Kit,
  • Although his Hero and Leander
  • did Merit addition rather.”

In Michael Dray ton's admirable “Epistle to Henry Reynolds of Poets and Poesy,” 1627, occur the fine lines which have been so frequently quoted:—

  • “Next1 Marlow, bathed in the Thespian springs,
  • Had in him those brave translunary things That the first poets had;
  • his raptures were All air and fire which made his verses clear;
  • For that fine madness still he did retain,
  • Which rightly should possess a poet's brain.”

Much has been written of Marlowe in glowing verse and eloquent prose by writers of our own time; but not even Mr. Swinburne's impassioned praise is finer than the pathetic Death of Marlowe, published nearly half a century ago by the poet who passed so recently, full of years, from the ingratitude of a forgetful generation.

Mr. J. A. Symonds has denned the leading motive of Marlowe's work as 1}Amour de F Impossible—” the love or lust of unattainable things.” Never was a poet fired with a more intense aspiration for ideal beauty and ideal power. As some adventurous Greek of old might have sailed away, with warning voices in his ears, past the pillars of Hercules in quest of fabled islands beyond the sun, so Marlowe started on his lonely course, careless of tradition and restraint, resolved to seek and find “some world far from ours “where the secret springs of Knowledge should be opened and he should touch the lips of Beauty. What Marlowe might have achieved if his life had not been so cruelly cut short it were vain to speculate. The enthusiasm which has led some of his admirers to hint that he might have seriously contested Shakespeare's claim to supremacy is uncritical and absurd. Chapman speaks of men

  • “That have strange gifts in nature but no soul
  • Diffused quite through to make them of a piece.”

All the Elizabethan dramatists, in greater or less degree, possessed these “strange gifts in nature,” but in Shakespeare alone was the soul “diffused quite through.” Marlowe showed stupendous power in exciting terror and pity; but it is in single situations rather than in the clear-eyed development of the plot that his power is seen at its highest Shakespeare's sympathy with humanity in all its phases was infinite; Marlowe was a lofty egoist, little moved by the oys and sorrows of ordinary mortals. The gift of radiant humour, which earned for Shakespeare the title of “gentle” among his contemporaries, was denied to Marlowe. There are passages of Marlowe that for majesty and splendour can never be forgotten; but before the magical cadences of Antony and Cleopatra all the voices of the world fall dumb. Shakespeare began his career as a pupil of Marlowe; the lesser poet was self-taught. More than fifty years of life was granted to Shakespeare; Marlowe went to his grave before he had reached his thirtieth year.1

It remains to discuss briefly certain plays in which critics have alleged that Marlowe was concerned. These are the Tamingoj'a Shrew, 1594; Titus Andronicus; the old King John; and the 3 Parts of Henry VI. The wretched Lamm for London2 and still more wretched Locrine may be at once dismissed as unworthy of the slightest notice.

The Taming of a Shrew contains a number of passages that closely resemble, or are identical with, passages in Marlowe's undoubted plays—particularly Tamburlaine. This fact alone would make us suspect that Marlowe was not the author; for poets of Marlowe's class do not repeat themselves in this wholesale manner. But when we see how maladroitly, without the slightest regard to the context, these passages are introduced, then we may indeed wonder that any critic could have been so insensate as to attribute the authorship to Marlowe. Here is a fair sample of the writing:—

  • ”Father, I swear by Ibis' golden beak
  • More fair and radiant is my bonny Kate
  • Than silver Xanthus when he doth embrace
  • The ruddy Simois at Ida's feet.
  • And care not thou, sweet Kate, how I be clad;
  • Thou shall have garments wrought of Median silk
  • Enchased with precious jewels fetched from far
  • By Italian merchants that with Russian stems
  • Plough up huge furrows in the Terrene mam.”

This passage is patched up from the First Part of Tam-burlaine: cf. I. 2 11. 95-6, 191-2. The reference to “Ibis' golden beak” (in imitation of i Tamb. iv. 3,1. 37) is delightfully ludicrous. In another passage we have a mention of

  • “The massy robe that late adorned
  • The stately legate of the Persian king,“

where (as Dyce remarked) the allusion would be quite unintelligible unless we remembered the lines in 2 Tamb. iii. 2—

  • “And I sat down clothed with a massy robe
  • Which late adorned the Afric potentate.”

Occasionally lines are filched from Faustus;

  • ”And should my love, as erst did Hercules,
  • Attempt to pass the burning vaults of Hell,
  • I would with piteous looks and pleasing words,
  • As once did Orpheus with his harmony
  • And ravishing sound of his melodious harp,
  • Entreat grim Pluto,” &c.

The italicised words are from scene vL (L 29) of Faustus.

In my judgment the anonymous writer was sometimes engaged in imitating Marlowe and sometimes in burlesquing him. But be this as it may, the absurdity of attributing the piece to Marlowe is flagrant. The author of the Taming of a Shrew was a genuine humourist; and Mr. Swinburne is speaking within bounds when he calls him “Of all the pre-Shakespeareans incomparably the truest, the richest, the most powerful and original humourist” Marlowe had little or no humour.

We may therefore safely dismiss the Taming of a Shrew; but with Titus Andronicus the case is different. As I re-read this play after coming straight from the study of Marlowe, I find again and again passages that, as it seems to me, no hand but his could have written. It is not easy in a question of this kind to set down in detail reasons for our belief. Marlowe's influence permeated so thoroughly the dramatic literature of his day, that it is hard sometimes to distinguish between master and pupil. When the master is writing at his best there is no difficulty, but when his work is hasty and ill-digested, or has been left incomplete and has received additions from other hands, then our perplexity is great. In our disgust at the brutal horrors that crowd the pages of Titus Andronuus, we must beware of blinding ourselves to the imaginative power that marks much of the writing. In Aaron's soliloquy at the opening of act ii., it is hard to believe that we are not listening to the young Marlowe. There is the ring of Tamburlaine in such lines as these:—

  • ”As when the golden sun salutes the morn,
  • And, having gilt the ocean with his beams,
  • Gallops the zodiac in his glistering coach,
  • And overlooks the highest-peering hills.”

Both rhythm and diction in the following lines remind us of Marlowe's earliest style:—

  • “Madam, though Venus govern your desires,
  • Saturn is dominator over mine:
  • What signifies my deadly-standing eye,
  • My silence and my cioudy melancholy,
  • My fleece of woolly hair that now uncurls
  • Even as an adder when she doth unroll
  • To do some fatal execution?
  • No, madam, these are no venereal signs:
  • Vengeance is m my heart, death in my hand,
  • Blood and revenge are hammering in my head.”

Aaron's confession of his villainies (in v. i) will recall to every reader the conversation between Barabas and Ithamore in the third scene of the second act of the Jew of Malta. The character of Aaron was either drawn by Marlowe or in close imitation of him; and it seems to me more reasonable to suppose that Titus Andronicus is in the main a crude early work of Marlowe's than that any imitator could have written with such marked power. But the great difficulty lies in determining to whom we should assign the frantic ravings of old Andronicus. They appear to be by another hand than Marlowe's; and they cannot, with any degree of plausibility, be assigned to Shakespeare. Lamb suggested that they recall the writer who contributed the marvellous “additions” to the Spanish Tragedy,—a suggestion that deserves more attention than it has received. What share Shakespere had in the play I must confess myself at a loss to divine. I have sometimes thought that there are traces of his hand in the very first scene,—and not beyond it; that he began to revise the play, and gave up the task in disgust. It is of Shakespeare rather than of Marlowe that we are reminded in such lines as—

  • “Wilt thou draw near the nature of the gods?
  • Draw near them then in being merciful:
  • Sweet mercy is nobility's true badge.”

But however closely we may look for them, we shall find very few Shakespearean passages. Of Marlowe's earliest style we are constantly and inevitably reminded.

That Marlowe had a share in all three parts of Henry VI. is, I think, certain. The opening lines of the First Part at once recall the language and rhythm of Tambur-laine, and the closing lines are suggestive of a passage of Edward II. The opening lines are:—

  • “Hung be the heavens with black, yield day to night!
  • Comets, importing change of times and states,
  • Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky,
  • And with them scourge the bad revolting stars
  • That have consented unto Henry's death!“

Compare II. Tamburlaine, v. 3:—

  • “Weep, heavens, and vanish into liquid tears!
  • Fall, stars that governs his nativity,
  • And summon all the shining lamps of heaven
  • To cast their bootless fires to the earth,
  • And shed their feeble influence in the air;
  • Muffle your beauties with eternal clouds!“

A closer parallel, whether as regards rhythm or expression, could hardly be found. The two lines with which the First Part closes are:—

  • “Margaret shall now be queen and rule the king,
  • But I will rule both her, the king and realm.”

Very similar are Mortimer's words in Edward II., v. 4:—

  • “The queen and Mortimer
  • Shall rule the realm, the king; and none rules us.”

To Shakespeare we can assign with certainty only the scene in the Temple Garden and Talbot's last battle, to which may be perhaps added Suffolk's courtship of Margaret. In my judgment the rest of the play is chiefly Marlowe's. I would fain shift from Marlowe's shoulders to Peek's the scene in which the memory of Joan of Arc is so shamefully slandered; but I am convinced that the composition of that scene was beyond Peele's powers.

It is well known that the Second and Third Parts of Henry VI. represent a revision of two older Plays—The First Part of the Contention betwixt the two famous houses of York and Lancaster (1594) and the True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York (1595); but it is not, perhaps, so generally known that the revised editions preserve passages by Marlowe which are not found in the earlier editions. The subject is one of the highest possible interest, but for adequate discussion a lengthy essay would be needed. It is important to note that the 1619 edition of the Whole Contention preserves in some passages a text partially revised. The fact would seem to be that there existed several copies of the plays in various stages of revision. There is no possibility of discovering the early unrevised text in its integrity. The first editions (1594 and 1595) present a text that had undergone a certain amount of revision. It is more than probable that in many passages of the earliest editions we have a garbled text; for even Peele or Greene might have reasonably considered themselves aggrieved at being held responsible for such lines as these:—

  • “So lie thou there and breathe thy last.
  • What's here? the sign of the Castle?
  • Then the prophecy is come to pass,
  • For Somerset was forewarned of Castles,
  • The which he always did observe.
  • And now, behold, under a paltry ale-house sign,
  • The Castle in St. Albans,
  • Somerset hath made the wizard famous by his death.”

These jerky disjointed lines must have been hashed up from short-hand notes. I will now state my own views very briefly. I hold that Shakespeare worked on a full and accurate MS. copy of the early plays, and that these early plays were in large part by Marlowe. Unless we suppose that Shakespeare had the full text of the early plays before him, I do not know how we are to account for the introduction into the revised plays of passages by Marlowe not found in the earlier copies. Critics have pointed out that the opening lines of act iv. of 2 Henry VI. (” The gaudy, blabbing, and remorseful day,” &c.) are unmistakably Marlowe's; and these lines are not found in the Contention, It is plain that Shakespeare's copy of these plays was more complete than the early printed copy. The difficulty lies in determining how much of the additional matter found in the later copies belongs to Shakespeare and how much to Marlowe. This is a question which I cannot here discuss. It may be true, as Mr. Swinburne says, that there is not in the later plays “a single passage of tragic or poetic interest,” beyond Marlowe's power; but there can be no doubt that Shakespeare corrected, curtailed, and amplified Marlowe's work to a very large extent. Marlowe appears to have worked early and late at the Contention; in one scene we find passages that recall the diction and rhythm of Tamburlaine, in another we are reminded of EdwardII.1 Here are some lines that belong to the early period:—

  • “Dark Night, dread Night, the silence of the Night,
  • Wherein the Furies mask in hellish troops,
  • Send up I charge you from Cocytus' lake
  • The spirit Askalon to come to me,
  • And pierce the bowels of the centric earth,
  • And hither come in twinkling of an eye.”

The verb “mask “occurs several times in Tamburlaine, not in the later plays. In i Tamburlaine, iv. 4, we find:—

  • “Ye Furies, that can mask invisible,
  • Dive to the bottom of Avernus' pool,” &c.

Another passage of the Contention in Marlowe's earliest style is to be found in the scene where the king is presented by Iden with Cade's head:—

  • “O let me see that head that in this life
  • Did work me and my land such cruel spite!
  • A visage stem, coal-black his curled locks;
  • Deep-trenched furrows in his frowning brow
  • Presageth war-like humours in his life.”

Compare II. Tamburlaine, i. 3:—

  • ”And in the furrows ofhis frowmng brows
  • Harbours revenge, war, death, and cruelty.”

In the Contention we find Marlowe's earliest and latest work; but in the Second and Third Parts of Henry VI, we find for the most part merely his latest work. For example, the two passages I have just quoted are not in the revised plays. But I cannot now pursue this subject.

The Troublesome Reign of King John, 1591, is an intolerably wooden piece of work. From the first line to the last we find scarcely a single touch of poetry or power. Earless and unabashed must be the critic who would charge Marlowe with any complicity in the authorship of a play that would rank low among the worst productions of Greene or Peele. The only piece of evidence to connect the play with Marlowe is a passage in the Prologue:—

  • “You that with friendly grace of smoothed brow
  • Have entertained the Scythian Tamburlaine
  • And given applause unto an infidel,
  • Vouchsafe to welcome with like courtesy
  • A warlike Christian and your countryman.”

But so far from indicating that the author of Tamburlaine had written the piece that was about to be presented, these lines rather show that the “warlike Christian “was intended to oust the “infidel” from popular favour,— that the new play was the production of some obscure rival of Marlowe's. The fact that expressions found in Tamburlaine occur in the Troublesome Reign, is, in the absence of other evidence, of no importance; for Marlowe's play was in all men's mouths at the time, and every hack-writer could filch a phrase or two from the man whom they were so anxious to supplant. It is impossible to select from this poor spiritless chronicle-play a dozen consecutive lines that to a good ear would pass as Marlowe's.

So much, then, for Marlowe's relation to plays of doubtful authorship. Among the MS. plays destroyed by Warburton's cook was a comedy entitled the Maiden's Holiday. The piece had been entered in the Stationers' Books on April 8th, 1654, as a joint production of Marlowe and Day. Our knowledge of Day does not begin before 1599, and it is hardly probable that he was writing before that date. If the comedy was written by Marlowe and Day, then we must suppose that Day completed a sketch that had been left by Marlowe, or that he revised the play on the occasion of a revival; but I very much doubt whether Marlowe ever wrote a comedy.

In 1657 Kirkman, the well-known bookseller, published Lusfs Dominion; or the Lascivious Queen. A Tragedie written by Christofer Marloe, Gent. This is a play of some power, but it was certainly not written by Marlowe. Collier showed conclusively that there are references to historical events that happened after Marlowe's death.

I hasten to bring these remarks to a close. So much has been admirably written about Marlowe by excellent critics, that I feel I have trespassed on the patience of the reader by detaining him so long. Far be it from me to attempt to weigh Marlowe's genius. So long as high tragedy continues to have interest for men, Time shall lay no hands on the works of Christopher Marlowe. Though

  • “He who showed such great presumption,
  • Is hidden now beneath a little stone,“

his pages still pulse with ardent life. In all literature there are few figures more attractive, and few more exalted, than this of the young poet who swept from the English stage the tatters of barbarism, and habited Tragedy in stately robes; who was the first to conceive largely, and exhibit souls struggling in the bonds of circumstance.

[1]Where in the old editions we find a plural subject joined to a singular verb, I have not modernised the well-authenticated construction. Such a line as

  • “Her lips sucks forth my soul; see where it flies!”

sounds very harsh to our ears; but if Marlowe so wrote the verse, an editor is not justified in making any alteration.

[1]This fact was established by Dyce from an^ examination of thi Parish Register.

[1]As Dyce's account is somewhat loosely worded, I applied to Mr. J. B. Sheppard, wbo supplied me with the particulars I have given.

[1]It runs as follows:-

  • “InobitumhonoratissimiVm, Rogen Manwood, Militis, Quaestoni
  • Regmalis Capitahs Baroms,
  • Noctivagi terror, ganeoms tnste flagellum,
  • Et Jovis Alcides, ngido vulturque latroni,
  • Urna subtegitur. Scelerum, gaudete, nepotes!
  • Insons, l|ictifica sparsis cervice capillis,
  • Flange! fon lumen, venerandse glona legis,
  • Occidit: heu, secum effcetas Acherontis ad oras
  • Multa abut virtus. Pro tot virtutibus uni
  • Livor, parce viro, non audacissimus esto
  • Illius m cineres, cujus tot milha vultus
  • Mortalium attonuit: sic cum te nuntia Ditis
  • Vulneret exsanguis, febciter ossa qulescant,
  • Famaque marmorei superet monumenta sepulchri,“

[1]The ballad is given in full at the end of the third volume.

[1]This sonnet, with the accompanying postscript and gloss, will be examined later in the introduction.

[1]Several allusions to Tamburfane might be culled from Nashe's works. The following curious passage is from Chnsfs Teares over Jervsalem, 1592'—“When neither the White-flag or the Red which Tamburlaine advaunced at the siedge of any Citty, would be accepted of, the Blacke-fiag was sette up, which signified there was no mercy to be looked for; and that the misene marching towardes them was so great, that their enemy himselfe (which was to execute it) mournd for it. Christ having offered the Jewes the White-flage of forgivenesse and remission, and the Red-flag of shedding his Blood for them, when these two might not take effect, nor work any yeelding remorse m them, the Black-flagge of confusion and desolation was to succeede for the obiect of their obduration.” (Works, ed. Grosart, w. 27)

[1]For full bibliograpical particulars, see Vol. III. p. 104.

[2]See Vol. 1. p. 325.

[3]”Rd. at Docter Fostose … nj xij.” (Henslowe's Diary, ed. J. P. Collier, p. 42.) Between September 1594 and October 1597 the Diary contains notices of twenty-three performances of Faustus. At the last performance, interest in the play having evaporated, the receipts were nil.

[1]Hazhtt mentions an edition of 1611 Mr. Frederick Locker has an unique edition of 1619. (I owe my knowledge of these editions to the exhaustive “Bibliography of Marlowe's Faustus,” by Mr. Hememann in the Bibliographer.)

[1]The line in Faustus is—

Or hewed this flesh and bones as small as sand,” scene x. I. 308, and the imitation is—

  • “And hewed thee smaller than the Lybian sands,“

There is an allusion to an incident of the interpolated scene x. in a passage of Merry Wives, iv. 5 :—“So soon as I came beyond Eton they threw me off from behind one of them in a slough of mire, and set spurs and away, like three German devils, three Doctor Faustuses.” Here the reference may be to the prose tract, but it is equally likely that Shakespeare was glancing at the play; for there is nothing to show that the additional scene was not interpolated at an early date.

[1]The lengthy additions in scene vii. are the work of a practised playwright, but diction and versification plainly show that they are not from Marlowe's hand. So too with the additional scenes on pp 299-311 (Vol. I.), although we are occasionally reminded of Marlowe's early manner in reading such lines as—

  • …” To cast his magic charms that shall pierce through
  • The ebon gates of ever-burning hell,
  • And hale the stubborn Furies from their caves.”

[1]Some later editions bear the name “P. R. Gent.” on the title-page.

[2]The late Professor Wagner is my authority for this statement.

[1]The original has “Zum dritten, dasz er im gefliessen, unterthanig und gehorsam seyn wollte, als em Diener.”

[1]Herr Meissner quotes from a MS. volume of travels by a Wurtem-berg merchant a statement to the effect that at Frankfort-on-the-Mam, in 1592, during the autumn fair, were acted plays “by the master very famous in the island, Christopher Marlowe.” But Herr Meissner has not seen the MS. from which the statement is taken, and his informant is unable to lay his hand upon it in the public library; so better proof is wanted.

[2]See Conn's Shakespeare in Germany, cxv. civil.

[1]H. Crabb Robinson's Diary (u. 434), quoted in the preface to Cunningham's Marlowe, p. xiv.

[1]The extraordinary size of Barabas' nose was long remembered. William Rowley, in his Search for Money, 1609, speaks of the '' artificial Jew of Malta's nose.”

[2]I refer the reader to Mr. S. L. Lee's article on The Original of Skyhxk (m the Gentleman's Magazine for February, 1860). Mr. Lee is understood to be engaged on a searching inquiry as to the residence of Jews in England between 1290 and 1635, the dates of their expulsion and return.

[1]The expression “eye-lids of the day,” recalls the language of Job— “By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eye-lids of thf morning,“

[2]There are two copies of ed. 1398 in the British Museum. In one or two passages the texts differ, a circumstance not uncommon m copies of the same edition of an old play.

[1]First printed in Collier's History of Engl. Dram. Lit. iii. 134

[1]A few years ago a theory was gravely propounded that the player's speech in Hamlet was “written originally by Shakespeare to complete Marlowe's play.” This titanic absurdity—“gross as a mountain, open, palpable “—was received with much applause in certain quarters.

[1]Two copies of this edition were discovered a few years ago by Mr. Charles Eximonds in a lumber-room at Lamport Hall, Northamptonshire, the seat of Sir Charles Isham, Bart. No edition of the complete poem earlier than that of 1600 had been previously known.

[1]These figures are given by Mr. Fleay.

[1]First printed in January 1821, by a wnter in a periodical called. The British Stage.

[1]His antagonist Nashe had removed to the country in 1592, for safety as we learn from the Pnvate Epistle to the pnnter prefixed to the first authorised edition of Pierce Pemksse.

[1]First printed by Ritson in his Observations on Warton's History of English Poetry. The '' Note “will be found in an appendix to Vol. 111.

[1]This fact was discovered by Malone from the Stationers' Registers, Book B, p. 316.

[1]Warton, in his Hist, of Eng. Poetry, mentions this elegy of Nashe's, but it is doubtful whether he ever saw it. In Malone's copy of Dido (preserved in the Bodleian) is the following MS. note:—” He [Warton] informed me by letter that a copy of this play was in Osborne's catalogue in the year 1754; that he then saw it in his shop (together with several of Mr. Oldys's books that Osborne had purchased) and that the elegy n question, 'on Marlowe's untimely death,” was inserted immediately after the title-page; that it mentioned a play of Marlowe's entitled the Duke of Guise and four others, but whether particularly by name he could not recollect. Unluckily he did not purchase this rare piece, and it is now God knows where.”

[2]Old ed. “All earth on earth.”

[1]Old ed. “Neat.”

[1]Some en tics have seen an allusion to Marlowe in Midsummer Night's Dream, v. I:-

  • “The thrice three Muses mourning for the death
  • Of Learning, late deceased in beggary.”

Others suppose that he was the nval to whom Shakespeare refers in the 85th and 86th Sonnets.—There is no evidence to support these theories.

[2]Mr. Collier had a copy of this piece with the following doggerel rhymes written on the title-page:—

  • “Our famous Marloe had in this a hand,
  • As from his fellowes I doe vnderstand.
  • The printed copie doth his Muse much wrong;
  • But natheles manie lines ar good and strong;
  • Of Paris Massaktr such was the fate;
  • A perfitt coppie came to hand to late.”

A very ridiculous piece of forgery!

[1]Dyce and Mr. Fleay have collected several instances of verbal resemblance between the Contention and Edward II.

[1]have touched upon this point in the introduction.