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done: but to the labours of a friend, whose name he is not permitted to make public, the work is infinitely more indebted than to his own. By the persevering exertions of this gentleman, in a cause in which he had no natural interest, and a more intimate knowledge of the dramatic writers of that age than the Editor pretends to possess, the publication has been much improved; and he would have declined the name altogether, if he had not conceived it his duty to avow his own responsibility for the execution. The nature of his plan would not permit him to delay the publication, and from some other local circumstances he was obliged singly to superintend it. He was permitted to exercise an uncontrolled liberty of approving or rejecting whatever was suggested by his friend, but he had not always sufficient time for consideration or enquiry. How much the publication might have · been improved if circumstances had rendered it practicable for him fully to arrange the text and the annotation in concert with this gentleman before it was sent to the press, no person can estimate so fully as the Editor. For the errors of the work he conceives himself to be solely responsible : the extent of his obligations he acknowledges with much pleasure: and to this friend, if his private acknowledgments had not been more acceptable, the publication should have been inscribed.
“There is no account extant,” says the Biographia Dramatica, “ of this author's family;" indeed we are ignorant of the time and place of his birth : all I learn from the MS. notes of Mr. Oldys' +, a very diligent enquirer, is, that he was born about the former part of Edward the Sixth's reign. It is, however, certain that he was of Bennet College, Cambridge; where he took the degree of B. A. 1583, and M. A. 1587 ; afterwards, leaving the university, 'he became an actor and writer for the stage. Of his line of character or his merit in the former, we have no account; in the latter, he gained a very high reputation among his contemporaries, and maintained it with the poets of the succeeding age. Robert Green, in his Groatsworth of Witte bought with a Million of Repentance, addresses him, “thou famous gracer of tragedians;" on which Mr. Malone observes, that Marlowe was the most famous and admired poet of that age, previous to the appearance of Shakspeare.” In Francis More's second part of Wits Common Walkt, he is ranked with a bevy of first-rate genius, “ who mightily enriched, and gorgeously invested, in rare ornaments and resplendent habilements, the English tongue.” Heywood, in his prologue to the revival of The Jew of Malta S, styles him
the best of poets.” Ben Jonson mentions“. Marlowe's mighty line;" and Michael Drayton, the celebrated author of the Polyolbion, speaks of him with great admiration. These are but a few evidences of the high
*“ A kind of second Shakspeare, says Philips.” Theatrum Poetarum Anglicanorum.
† On Langbaine, in the British Museum.
opinion entertained of him, in that meridian of dramatic literature.
Of his unfortunate death we have the following account in Wood's Athence Oxonienses. That being in love with a young girl of low condition, he suspected her of showing a partiality for a man who had more the appearance of a pimp, “ than an'ingenious Amoreth, as Marlo conceived himself to be:" and one day finding them together, he rushed upon the man with his drawn dagger, with intent to kill him; but he being an active fellow, not only warded off the blow, but so directed the point, that it entered the head of its master, who shortly after died of the wound: this event took place before the year 1593. This, says our authority, many considered a judgment on him for his impieties : for, he was an epicure and an atheist,” and wrote several discourses against revealed religion. It is not pleasant to assist in establishing a charge of this nature; but in a work before referred to, where the author, certainly a most abandoned character, is repenting of his follies, Marlowe is thus addressed: “Wonder not that Green, who hath said with thee like the fool in his heart, there is no God, should now give glory unto his greatness," and Mr. Lamb, by the following note, seems to think traces of this feeling are discoverable in his writings. “Marlowe is said to have been tainted with atheistical positions, to have denied God and the Trinity. To such a genius the history of Faustus must have been delectable food; to wander in fields where curiosity is forbidden to go, to approach the dark gulf near enough to look in, to be busied in speculations which are the rottenest part of the core of the fruit that fell from the Tree of Knowledge. Barrabas the Jew, and Faustus the Conjurer, are offsprings of a mind which at least delighted to dally with interdicted subjects.” Dr. Warton, however, thinks the character of Marlowe was blackened by “ the prejudiced and peevish puritans," and I cannot refuse myself the pleasure of inserting here, the observations of the editor of the Biographia Dramatica. “ This character, if just, is such a one, as should induce us to look back with con