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See where my Grissell and her father is,

Methinks her beauty, shining through those weeds,
Seems like a bright star in the sullen night.
How lovely poverty dwells on her back!
Did but the proud world note her as I do,

She would cast off rich robes, forswear rich state,
To clothe her in such poor habiliments.

Our remarks upon the early part of English dramatic literature, have now brought us down to Marlow, who was by far the mightiest of Shakspeare's precursors.

CHRISTOPHER MARLOW was the son of a shoemaker, and was born at Canterbury, Kent, in 1562. He was educated at Bennet College, Cambridge, and took his master's degree in 1587. He had, however, previous to this, commenced his career as a dramatist, and written his tragedy of Tamberlaine the Great, which was successfully brought upon the stage, and long continued a favorite. Though there is in the play much rant and fustian, still it has passages of great beauty and wild grandeur, and the versification justifies the compliment afterward paid by Ben Jonson, in the words, Marlow's mighty line.' His finely modulated and varied blank verse, observable even in this early play, is one of his most characteristic features. The success of 'Tamberlaine' induced Marlow to commence the profession of an actor; but he was soon incapacitated for the stage by accidentally breaking his leg.

Marlow's second play, the Life and Death of Dr. Faustus, exhibits a far wider range of dramatic power than his first. The hero studies necromancy, and makes a solemn disposal of his soul to Lucifer, on condition of having a familiar spirit at his command, and unlimited enjoyment for twenty-four years; during which period Faustus visits different countries, calls up spirits from the vasty deep,' and revels in luxury and splendor. At length the time expires, the bond becomes due, and a party of evil spirits enter, amid thunder and lightning, to claim his forfeited life and person. Such a plot afforded scope for deep passion and variety of adventure, and Marlow has constructed from it a powerful though irregular play. Scenes and passages

of terrific grandeur, and the most thrilling agony, are intermixed with low humor and preternatural machinery, often ludicrous and grotesque. The ambition of Faustus is a sensual, not a lofty ambition. A feeling of curiosity and wonder is excited by his necromancy and his strange compact with Lucifer; but we do not fairly sympathize till all his disguises are stripped off, and his meretricious splendor is succeeded by horror and despair. Then, when he stands on the brink of everlasting ruin, waiting for the fatal moment, imploring, yet distrusting repentance, a scene of enchaining interest, fervid passion, and overwhelming pathos, carries captive the sternest heart, and proclaims the full triumph of the tragic poet. To illustrate these remarks, we shall here introduce the closing scene of the play. The last fatal midnight approaches, and Faustus is left alone:


[The Clock strikes Eleven.]

Faust. Oh, Faustus,

Now hast thou but one bare hour to live,
And then thou must be damn'd perpetually.
Stand still, you ever-moving spheres of heaven,
That time may cease and midnight never come.
Fair Nature's eye, rise, rise again, and make
Perpetual day: or let this hour be but

A year, a month, a week, a natural day,
That Faustus may repent and save his soul.

O lente, lente, currite, noctis equi.

The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike,
The devil will come, and Faustus must be damn'd.
Oh, I will leap to heaven: who pulls me down?
See where Christ's blood streams in the firmament:
One drop of blood will save me: Oh, my Christ,
Rend not my heart for naming of my Christ.
Yet will I call on him: O spare me, Lucifer.
Where is it now? 'tis gone!

And see a threat'ning arm, and angry brow.
Mountains and hills, come, come, and fall on me,
And hide me from the heavy wrath of heaven.
No! then I will headlong run into the earth:
Gape, earth. Oh no, it will not harbour me.
You stars that reign'd at my nativity,
Whose influence have allotted death and hell,
Now draw up Faustus like a foggy mist
Into the entrails of yon labouring cloud;
That when you vomit forth into the air,

My limbs may issue from your smoky mouths,
But let my soul mount and ascend to heaven

[The Watch strikes.]
Oh, half the hour is past: 't will all be past añon.
Oh, if my soul must suffer for my sin,
Impose some end to my incessant pain.
Let Faustus live in hell a thousand years,
A hundred thousand, and at last be saved:
No end is limited to damned souls.

Why wert thou not a creature wanting soul?
Or why is this immortal that thou hast ?
Oh, Pythagoras, Metempsychosis, were that true,
This soul should fly from me, and I be chang'd
Into some brutish beast.

All beasts are happy, for when they die,
Their souls are soon dissolv'd in elements:
But mine must live still to be plagued in hell.
Curst be the parents that engender'd me:
No, Faustus, curse thyself, curse Lucifer,
That hath depriv'd thee of the joys of heaven.

[The Clock strikes Twelve.]

It strikes, it strikes; now, body, turn to air,
Or Lucifer will bear thee quick to hell.

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First Sch. Come, gentlemen, let us go visit Faustus,

For such a dreadful night was never seen

Since first the world's creation did begin;

Such fearful shrieks and cries were never heard.

Pray heaven the Doctor have escaped the danger.

Sec. Sch. O help us heavens! see, here are Faustus' limbs

All torn asunder by the hand of death.

Third Sch. The devil whom Faustus serv'd hath torn him thus:

For 'twixt the hours of twelve and one, methought

I heard him shriek and call aloud for help;

At which same time the house seem'd all on fire

With dreadful horror of these damned fiends.

Sec. Sch. Well, gentlemen, though Faustus' end be such

As every Christian heart laments to think on;

Yet, for he was a scholar once admired

For wondrous knowledge in our German schools,

We'll give his mangled limbs due burial:

And all the scholars, cloth'd in mourning black,

Shall wait upon his heavy funeral.

Chorus. Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight,

And burned is Apollo's laurel bough

That sometime grew within this learned man:

Faustus is gone! Regard his hellish fall,

Whose fiendful fortune may exhort the wise

Only to wonder at unlawful things:

Whose deepness doth entice such forward wits

To practice more than heavenly power permits.

The classical taste of Marlow is shown in the fine apostrophe to Helen of Greece, whom the spirit of Mephostophilis conjures up between two Cupids' to gratify the sensual gaze of Faustus :—

Was this the face that lanched a thousand ships,

And burn'd the topless towers of Ilium ?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss!
Her lips suck forth my soul-see where it flies.
Come, Helen, come give me my soul again;
Here will I dwell, for heaven is in these lips,
And all is dross that is not Helena.
O thou art fairer than the evening air,
Clad in the beauty of a thousand stars!
Brighter art thou than flaming Jupiter
When he appeared to hapless Semele;
More lovely than the monarch of the sky
In wanton Arethusa's azure arms;
And none but thou shall be my paramour.

Before 1593, Marlow produced three other dramas, the Jew of Malta, the Massacre of Paris, and a historical play, Edward the Second. The last of these is a noble drama, and contains a number of ably drawn characters and splendid scenes. We subjoin part of the death-scene at the close of the play-a scene which Charles Lamb says, 'moves pity and terror beyond any other scene, ancient or modern.' It may challenge comparison with Shakspeare's death of Richard the Second; but with all his power, Marlow could not interest us in his hero as the great dramatist does in the gentle Richard:-



Edw. Who's there? what light is that? wherefore com'st thou?
Light. To comfort you, and bring you joyful news.

Edw. Small comfort finds poor Edward in thy looks.

Villain, I know thou com'st to murder me.

Light. To murder you, my most gracious lord!

Far is it from my heart to do you harm.

The queen sent me to see how you were us'd,

For she relents at this your misery:

And what eyes can refrain from shedding tears,
To see a king in this most piteous state.

Edw. Weep'st thou already? list awhile to me,
And then thy heart, were it as Gurney's1 is
Or as Matrevis, hewn from the Caucasus,
Yet will it melt, ere I have done my tale.

This dungeon where they keep me is a sink,
Wherein the filth of all the castle falls.

Light. O villains!

Edw. And there, in mire and puddle have I stood
This ten days' space; and lest that I should sleep,

One plays continually upon a drum.

They give me bread and water, being a king;
So that, for want of sleep and sustenance,
My mind's distemper'd, and my body's numb'd,
And whether I have limbs or no, I know not.
O would my blood drop out from every vein,
As doth this water from my tattered robes.
Tell Isabel the queen, I looked not thus,
When for her sake I run at tilt in France,
And there unhors'd the Duke of Cleremont.

Light. 0 speak no more, my lord! this breaks my heart.

Lie on this bed and rest yourself awhile.

Edw. These looks of thine can harbour nought but death:

I see my tragedy written in thy brows.

Yet stay awhile, forbear thy bloody hand,

And let me see the stroke before it comes,
That even then when I shall lose my life,

My mind may be more steadfast on my God.

Light. What means your highness to mistrust me thus?
Edw. What mean'st thou to dissemble with me thus?

1 His keepers.


Light. These hands were never stain'd with innocent blood,
Nor shall they now be tainted with a king's.

Edw. Forgive my thought, for having such a thought.

One jewel have I left, receive thou this.

Still fear I, and I know not what's the cause,

But every joint shakes as I give it thee.

Oh, if thou harbour'st murder in thy heart,

Let the gift change thy mind, and save thy soul.
Know that I am a king: Oh, at that name

I feel a hell of grief. Where is my crown?

Gone, gone; and do I still remain alive?

Light. You're overwatch'd, my lord; lie down and rest.
Edw. But that grief keeps me waking, I should sleep,
For not these ten days have these eyelids closed.

Now as I speak they fall, and yet with fear

Open again. O wherefore sitt'st thou here?

Light. If you mistrust me, I'll be gone, my lord.
Edw. No, no; for if thou mean'st to murder me,
Thou wilt return again; and therefore stay.

Light. He sleeps.

Edw. O let me not die; yet stay, O stay awhile.
Light. How now, my lord?

Edw. Something still buzzeth in mine ears,
And tells me if I sleep I never wake;

This fear is that which makes me tremble thus.
And therefore tell me, wherefore art thou come?
Light. To rid thee of thy life; Matrevis, come.
Edw. I am too weak and feeble to resist:

Assist me, sweet God, and receive my soul.

In addition to the dramatic productions already mentioned, Marlow assisted Nash in the tragedy of Dido, Queen of Carthage, and translated part of Hero and Leander, and the Elegies of Ovid.

Marlow's life was as wild and irregular as his writings. He was even accused of atheistical opinions; but there is no trace of this in his plays. He came to an early and singularly unhappy end. He was attached to a lady, who favored another lover; and having found them in company together, in a frenzy of rage he attempted to stab the man with his dagger. His antagonist seized him by the wrist, and turned the dagger so that it entered Marlow's own head in such a manner, that, notwithstanding all the means of surgery that could be resorted to, he shortly after died of his wounds. The last words of Greene's address to him, a year or two before, are somewhat ominous :-'Refuse not, with me, till this last point of extremity; for little knowest thou how in the end thou shalt be visited.' Marlow's fatal conflict is supposed to have taken place at Deptford, as he was buried there on the first of June, 1593.

Of the various compliments paid to the genius of this unfortunate poet, the following, by his celebrated contemporary, Michael Drayton, is the finest :

Next Marlow, bathed in the Thesperian springs,

Had in him those brave translunary things

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