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orders. Be that as it may, his predilection for the drama was decided : before 1587 it seems certain that he had produced Tamburlaine the Great; and eventually he joined the crowd of literary adventurers in the metropolis with a determination to rely on his genius alone for, a subsistence. At one time Marlowe unquestionably
“ fretted his hour upon the stage." According to Phillips, whose account is followed by Wood * and Tanner,t he “ rose from an actor to be a maker of plays ;" # and in a very curious ballad,Ş which was composed while some of his contemporaries were still alive, we are told that he performed at the Curtain in Shore-ditch;
“ He had alsoe a player beene
Upon the Curtaine-stage,
When in his early age.”
But is the assertion of Phillips, that Marlowe was first an actor and afterwards a dramatist, to be received as the exact truth? I think not; for, without taking into consideration the flagrant inaccuracies of Phillips's work, there are circumstances in the history of Marlowe which seem strongly to contradict it. Nor do the words of the ballad, “When in his early age,” necessarily confirm the statement of Phillips. In the stanza just cited, the ballad-monger (who found“ age an obvious rhyme to "stage ") meant, I conceive, no more than this,—that Marlowe's histrionic feats took place soon after he had formed a permanent connection with the London theatres for the sake of a livelihood ; and, as far as I can judge, such really was the case. We have seen that Marlowe took the degree of A.M. in 1587; and there is every reason to believe that he was then known as a successful dramatist : but if he had been also known as one who had exhibited himself on the London boards in the capacity of a regular actor (and as such the ballad-monger evidently describes him), I am by no means sure that, in those days, the University of Cambridge would have granted the degree. On this point, however, I would not urge my opinion with any
* Ath. Oxon. ii. 7, ed. Bliss. + Biblioth. Brit. p. 512.
# Theat. Poet. (Modern Poets), p. 24, ed. 1675. – Warton says that Marlowe was applauded, both by Queen Elizabeth and King James the First, as a judicious player” (Hist. of Engl. Poct, iii. 433, ed. 4to.) ; yet he presently adds that Marlowe “died rather before the year 1593” (p. 437), -which was “rather before ” King James ascended the throne of England.
$ The Atheists Tragedie ; see Appendix I. to this volume. The date of the ballad may be inferred from the second stanza, —
" A truer storie nere was told,
As some alive can showe,” &c.
|| Even the composing of plays for a London theatre by a member of the University was a proceeding very unlikely to meet with approbation from the Dons of Cambridge. They most probably held in supreme contempt all modern dramas which were not academic, —which were not written to be acted in a college-hall when some royal or dignified personage honoured the University with a visit.
positiveness : new materials for Marlowe's biography may hereafter come to light, and prove
that I am mistaken. For the same person to unite in himself the actor and the dramatist was very coinmon, both at that time and at a later period. Marlowe may have performed on more than one stage, though we can trace him only to the Curtain ; and we may gather from the terms of the ballad (“ He had alsoe a player beene .... But brake his leg," &c.) that, the accident which there befell him having occasioned incurable lameness, he was for ever disabled as an actor.
The tragedy of Tamburlaine the Great, in Two Parts (the Second Part, it appears, having been brought upon the stage soon after the First *), may be confidently assigned to Marlowe, though the old editions have omitted the author's name. It is his earliest drama, at least the earliest of his plays which we possess. From Nash's Epistle “ To the Gentlemen Students of both Universities," + prefixed to Greene's Menaphon, 1587, and from Greene's Address “ To the Gentlemen Readers,” I prefixed to his Perimedes the Blacke-Smith, 1588, Mr. Collier concludes, and, it would seem, justly, “that Marlowe was our first poet who used blank-verse in dramatic compositions performed in public theatres, that Tamburlaine was the play in which the successful experiment was made, and that it was acted anterior to 1587.”S On the authority of a rather obscure passage in The Black Book, 1604, Malone had conjectured that Tamburlaine was written either wholly or in part by Nash : || but to that conjecture Mr. Collier,—besides adducing a line from a sonnet by Gabriel Harvey, in which Marlowe, then just deceased, is spoken of under the
* See Prologue to the Sec. Part.
+ In which Nash ridicules the then recent introduction of blank-verse on the public stage, and seems to allude to Marlowe in contemptuous terms.
In which Greene expressly mentions Marlowe's tragedy ; “ daring God out of heauen with that atheist Tamburlan, or blaspheming with the mad preest of the sonne.”—Mr. Collier thinks that Marlowe also wrote the play in which “ the Priest of the Sun” was a leading character.
Hist. of Engl. Dram. Poet. iii. 112.—Compare too the Prologue to the First Part of Tamburlaine ;
“ From jigging veins of rhyming mother-wits,
Mr. Collier informs us, that, before the appearance of Tamburlaine, writers for the regular theatres had confined themselves to the use of prose or rhyme; and that all the English tragedies in blank verse which preceded Tamburlaine were performed either at court or before private societies.- Warton incidentally observes that Tamburlaine was “represented before the year 1588.” Hist. of Engl. Poet. iv. 11, ed. 4to.
|| Shakespeare (by Boswell), iii. 357.—The passage in The Black Book is, -" the spindle-shank spiders ... went stalking over his (Nash’s] head as if they had been conning of Tamburlaine" (see Middleton's Works, v. 526, ed. Dyce); and it means, I have no doubt, that the spiders stalked with the tragic gait of an actor practising the part of Tamburlaine : compare the 2d line of the quotation from Hall in p. xvii.
appellation of "Tamberlaine,"*_has opposed the explicit testimony of Henslowe's Diary, “Pd unto Thomas Dickers (Dekker), the 20 of Desembr 1597 ... ... fyve shellenges for a prolog to Marloes Tamberlen.” + I may add, that the rhymer who has turned the history of Marlowe into a ballad, describes him in one place as "blaspheming Tambolin." I
This tragedy, which was entered in the Stationers' Books, 14th August, 1590,8 and printed during the same year, has not come down to us in its original fulness; and probably we have no cause to lament the curtailments which it suffered from the publisher of the first edition. “I have purposely,” he says, “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 shewed upon the stage in their graced deformities : nevertheless now to be mixtured in print with such matter of worth, it would prove a great disgrace to so honourable and stately a history."|| By the words, fond and frivolous gestures,” we are to understand those of the “clown,” who very frequently figured, with more or less prominence, even in the most serious dramas of the time. The introduction of such buffooneries into tragedy is censured by Hall towards the conclusion of a passage which, as it mentions "the Turkish Tamberlaine,” would seem to be partly levelled at Marlowe :**
“One higher-pitch'd doth set his soaring thought
“Weepe, Powles ; thy Tamberlaine voutsafes to dye.” A New Letter of Notable Contents, 1593, Sig D 3.
+ Diary, p. 71, ed. Shake. Soc. As another proof that Tamburlaine is by Marlowe, Mr. Collier (Hist. of Engl. Dram. Poet. iii. 114) adduces Heywood's Prologue to our author's Jew of Malta : but that Prologue is nothing to the purpose ; see note ll, p. 142 of the present volume. —Notwithstanding the strong evidence to the contrary, Mr. Hallam (Introd. to the Lit. of Europe, ii. 169, ed. 1843) still continues to regard Nash as Marlowe's coadjutor in Tamburlaine.
# See Appendix I. to the present volume.
$ “A ballad entituled the storye of Tamburlayne the greate,” &c. (founded, I suppose, on Marlowe's play) was entered in the Stationers' Books, 5th Nov. 1594.
|| P. 4 of the present volume.
1 In Italy, at the commencement of the 18th century (and probably much later), it was not unusual to introduce "the Doctor,” “Harlequin,” “Pantalone,” and “Coviello,” into deep tragedies. “I have seen,” says Addison, a translation of The Cid acted at Bolonia, which would never have taken, had they not found a place in it for these buffoons.” Remarks on Several Parts of Italy, &c. in the years 1701, 1702, 1703, p. 68, ed. 1745.
Perhaps I ought to add, that Marlowe was dead when (in 1597) the satire, from which these lines are quoted, was first given to the press.
When he conceiues vpon his fained stage
Now, least such frightfull showes of Fortune's fall
But Hall's taste was more refined and classical than that of his age; and the success of Tamburlaine, in which the celebrated Alleyn represented the hero,+ was adequate to the most sanguine expectations which its author could have formed. Nor did it cease to be popular when no longer a novelty : the Scythian conqueror, gorgeous in his “copper-laced coat and crimson velvet breeches," I riding in a chariot drawn by harnessed monarchs, and threatening destruction to the very powers of heaven,/l was for many years a highly attractive personage to the play
Hall's Virgid. Lib. I. Sat. ii., ed. 1602. + See Heywood's Prol. to our author's Jew of Malta, p. 142 of the present volume.
I "Item, Tamberlynes cotte, with coper lace,' -“ Item, Tamberlanes breches of crymson vellvet.” Appendix to Henslowe's Diary, pp. 274-5, ed. Shake. Soc. We find ibid. p. 273, Tamberlyne brydell” (i. e. the bridle for the captive kings).
§ “Enter Tamburlaine, drawn in his chariot by the Kings of Trebizon and Soria, with bits in their mouths, dc. “ Tamb. Holla, ye pamper’d jades of Asia !” &c.
p. 64, sec. col. This has been quoted or alluded to, generally with ridicule, by a whole host of writers. Pistol's "hollow pamper'd jades of Asia” in Shakespeare's Henry IV. P. ii. Act ii. sc. 4, is known to most readers : see also Beaumont and Fletcher's Coxcomb, act ii. sc. 2 ; Fletcher's Women Pleased, act iv. sc. 1 ; Chapman's, Jonson's, and Marston's Eastward Ho, act ii. sig. B 3, ed. 1605 ; Brathwait's Strappado for the Diuell, 1615, p. 159 ; Taylor the water-poet's Thiefe and his World runnes on Wheeles, – Workes, pp. 111 , 239, ed. 1630 ; A Brown Dozen of Drunkards, &c. 1648, sig. A 3; the Duke of Newcastle's Varietie, a comedy, 1649, p. 72 ;-but I cannot afford room for more references.In 1566 a similar spectacle had been exhibited at Gray's Inn : there the Dumb Show before the first act of Gascoigne and Kinwelmersh's Jocasta introduced “a king with an imperiall crowne vpon bys head," &c. “sitting in a chariote very richly furnished, drawen in by iili kings in their dublets and hosen, with crownes also vpon theyr heads, representing ynto vs ambition by the historie of Sesostres,” &c.
|| In defence of such passages Marlowe perhaps would have alleged the example of the Italian romanesque poets (who were more read in England during his time than they are at present). In Bojardo's Orlando Innamorato, when Marfisa finds that she cannot overcome Ranaldo,
“Chiama iniquo Macone e doloroso,
Cornuto e becco Trivigante appella ;
goers of the metropolis. Numerous entries concerning the performance of both Parts of this tragedy occur in Henslowe's Diary, all of them, however, subsequent to the death of Marlowe: the earliest is dated 28th August, 1594, the latest 13th Nov. 1595.*
Venga un di voi, et lascisi vedere,
Lib. i. C. XVIII, st. 9, ed. Pan.
In the same poem Agramante declares to his council that he is resolved to subdue, not only Carlo Mano, but the whole world ; and he concludes,
“Poi che battuto avrò tutta la terra,
Lib. II. C. I. st. 64.
"egli ha sua stella
C. XVII. p. 134, ed. 1579.
“Dal sagace Spagnuol, che con la guida
Di duo del sangue d'Avalo ardiria
Orl. Fur. C. XXXIII. st. 51. The same sort of extravagance is occasionally found in English dramatists later than Marlowe. For instance, in Heywood's Four Prentices of London (acted about 1599, and certainly intended for a serious play) the Soldan exclaims,
“Should Ioue himselfe in thunder answere I [i.e. ay],
Sig. F 2, ed. 1615.
“In Sion towres hangs his victorious flagse,
Blowing defiance this way; and it showes
Sig. G. The line marked in Italics has been cited neither by the editors of Milton nor by those of Gray as parallel to the following passages ;
“Th' imperial ensign; which, full high advanc'd,
Par. Lost. I. 536.
Stream'd, like a meteor, to the troubled air.” The Bard. Pp. 40-60, ed. Shake. Soc.—The play called Tambercame, which is mentioned in the same Diary, was doubtless a distinct piece from Marlowe's Tamburlaine.