Page images

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." +

This tragedy, which was entered in the Stationers' Books, 14th August, 1590,§ 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
On crowned kings that Fortune hath low brought,
Or some vpreared high-aspiring swaine,

As it might be the Turkish Tamberlaine.

Then weeneth he his base drink-drowned spright
Rapt to the three-fold loft of heauen hight,

* "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, 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.

¶ 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.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

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," riding in a chariot drawn by harnessed monarchs,§ and threatening destruction to the very powers of heaven,|| was for many years a highly attractive personage to the play

"Tamb. Holla, ye pamper'd jades of Asia !" &c.

*Hall's Virgid. Lib. 1. Sat. iii., ed. 1602.

+ See Heywood's Prol. to our author's Jew of Malta, p. 142 of the present volume.

"Item, Tamberlynes cotte, with coper lace,"- _____66 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, &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 [121], 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 hys head,"
&c. "sitting in a chariote very richly furnished, drawen in by iiii kings in their dublets and hosen, with
crownes also vpon theyr heads, representing vnto vs ambition by the historie of Sesostres," &c.

"Chiama iniquo Macone e doloroso,

Cornuto e becco Trivigante appella ;
Ribaldi, a lor dicea, per qual cagione,
Tenete il cavalier in su'l'arcione ?

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,

[ocr errors]

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,
Et pigli a suo piacer questa difesa,
Ch'io farò sua persona rimanere
Quà giù riversa e nel prato distesa.
Voi non volete mia forza temere
Perchè là su non posso esser ascesa ;
Ma, s'io prendo il cammino, io ve n'avviso,
Tutti v'uccido, ed ardo il Paradiso."

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,

Lib. i. C. xvIII. st. 9, ed. Pan.

"Poi che battuto avrò tutta la terra,
Ancor nel Paradiso io vo' far guerra."
Lib. II. C. I. st. 64.

In Le Prime Imprese del Conte Orlando by Dolce, when Agolante hears that his son Almonte is slain,

"egli ha sua stella
Accusa, e biastema parimente;
Et è da l' ira stimolato tanto

Che di strugger il ciel si dona vanto."

There are touches of this kind even in Ariosto;

C. XVII. p. 134, ed. 1579.

"Dal sagace Spagnuol, che con la guida
Di duo del sangue d'Avalo ardirìa
Farsi nel cielo e ne lo 'nferno via "

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,

The line marked in Italics has be cited neither by to the following passages;

"Should Ioue himselfe in thunder answere I [i.e. ay],
When we say no, wee'd pull him from the skie."
Sig. F 2, ed. 1615.

Yet this early production of Heywood contains some fine things; e. g.,
"In Sion towres hangs his victorious flagge,
Blowing defiance this way; and it showes
Like a red meteor in the troubled aire,
Or like a blazing comet that fore-tels
The fall of princes."
Sig. G.

editors of Milton nor by those of Gray as parallel

"Th' imperial ensign; which, full high advanc'd,
Shone like a meteor streaming to the wind."

Par. Lost. I. 536.

"Loose his beard, and hoary hair

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.


Taylor, the water-poet, makes Tom Coryat inform the Great Mogul, that Tamburlaine "perhaps is not altogether so famous in his own country of Tartaria as in England ;' and notices of the play, which shew that it was still in some repute, might be cited from writers of a more recent period. + But before the close of the seventeenth century it had sunk into oblivion: a precocious young gentleman, a Mr. Charles Saunders, whose Tamerlane (after having been acted, with a Prologue by Dryden) was printed in 1681, writes thus in his Preface; "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.”

With very little discrimination of character, with much extravagance of incident, with no pathos where pathos was to be expected, and with a profusion of inflated language, Tamburlaine is nevertheless a very impressive drama, and undoubtedly superior to all the English tragedies which preceded it;-superior to them in the effectiveness with which the events are brought out, in the poetic feeling which animates the whole, and in the nerve and variety of the versification. Marlowe was yet to shew that he could impart truthfulness to his scenes; but not a few passages might be gleaned from Tamburlaine as grand in thought, as splendid in imagery, and as happy in expression, as any which his later works contain.

A memorandum that Marlowe "translated Coluthus's Rape of Helen into English rhyme in the year 1587," is cited from Coxeter's MSS. by Warton; who observes that "Coluthus's poem was probably brought into vogue, and suggested to Marlowe's notice, by being paraphrased in Latin verse the preceding year by Thomas Watson."§

* Oration to the Great Mogul, p. 85, Workes, ed. 1630.

+ E. G. "Tut, leave your raging, sir; for though you should roar like Tamerlin at the Bull," &c. Cowley's Guardian, act iii. sc. 6, ed. 1650.

Since those days, the old editions of Marlowe's pieces have, of course, become more and more difficult to procure. The following fragment of Memoranda, in the handwriting of (I believe) Dr. Ducarel, was obligingly forwarded to me by Mr. Bolton Corney, and may prove not uninteresting to some readers. "One fine summer's day, in the year one thousand seven hundred and sixty-four, going into an old book-shop kept by an old woman and her daughter, on the north side of Middle-Row, Holbourn, to look for any ancient books; not being there long, looking round the shop, before Dodd the comedian came in, to search, as he told me, for any one of Kit Marlow's plays. I asked the old woman if she had any more books besides those in the shop. She said she had; but they were in an inner room without any window-light; and that the last person that had been there was the noted book-worm Dr. Rawlinson,' -who then had been sleeping with his fathers some few years.

"Mr. Dodd ask'd if it was agreeable for him to accompany me. We had two candles lighted, and going into this dark recess, saw a great number of books laying on the ground, which took us some hours looking over. He brought out a book or two; but was not lucky enough to find Kit Marlow there. And, after turning over, for three or four hours, many dirty books, I only found worth buying," &c. Though Dodd failed in Middle-Row, he must have found "dark recesses" in other localities where a search after early dramas was not made in vain ; for his collection of plays (sold by auction after his decease) was very curious and valuable.

§ Hist. of Engl. Poet. iii. 433, ed. 4to; where Warton also remarks, "I have never seen it [Marlowe's translation of Coluthus] But there is entered to Jones, in 1595, A booke entituled 6 2



-The poet of Lycopolis so seldom rises above mediocrity, that the loss of Marlowe's version may be borne with perfect resignation.

It is to be presumed that Tamburlaine had not been long before the public, when Marlowe produced his Faustus.* The date of the first edition of the prose-romance which supplied the materials for this play, is, I believe, doubtful; but "A ballad of the life and death of Doctor Faustus the great cungerer" was licensed to be printed 28th February, 1588-9; and, as ballads were frequently founded on favourite dramas, it is most likely that the ditty just mentioned was derived from our author's play. A stanza in Rowlands's Knave of Clubs, not only informs us that Alleyn acted the chief part in this tragedy, but also describes his costume;

"The gull gets on a surplis,

With a crosse upon his brest,
Like Allen playing Faustus,

In that manner was he drest." +

The success of Faustus was complete. Henslowe has sundry entries concerning it; none, however, earlier than 30th Sept. 1594, at which date Marlowe was dead, and the play, there is every reason to believe, had been several years on the prompter's list. Henslowe has also two important memoranda regarding the "additions" which were made to it, when, in consequence of having been repeatedly performed, it had somewhat palled upon the audience;

"Pd unto Thomas Dickers [Dekker], the 20 of Desembr 1597, for adycyons to Fostus twentie shellinges."

"Lent unto the companye, the 22 of novmbr 1602, to paye unto Wm Birde and Samwell Rowley for ther adicyones in Docter Fostes, the some of . . . . iiijli”.§


Faustus was entered in the Stationers' Books 7th January 1600-1.|| The earliest edition yet discovered is the quarto of 1604; which never having been

Raptus Helena, Helen's Rape, by the Athenian duke Theseus'." Surely, Warton could not mean, that the book entered to Jones in 1595 was perhaps Marlowe's version of Coluthus; for Coluthus relates the rape of Helen by Paris, not by Theseus.

* Mr. Collier observes that "Marlowe's Faustus, in all probability, was written very soon after his Tamburlaine the Great, as in 1588 a ballad of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus' (which in the language of that time might mean either the play or a metrical composition founded upon its chief incidents) was licensed to be printed." Hist. of Engl. Dram. Poet, iii. 126. As we find that the play was entered in the Stationers' Books in 1601, the "ballad of Faustus" must mean the story of Faustus in verse, perhaps, that ballad which I have reprinted in the present volume, p. 136. Mr. Collier, in a note on Henslowe's Diary, p. 42, ed. Shake. Soc., states that "the old Romance of Faustus, on which the play is founded, was first entered on the Stationers' books in 1588:" qy. does he mean the old ballad of Faustus?

+ P. 22. ed. Percy Soc. (reprint of ed. 1611).—An inventory of Alleyn's theatrical apparel includes "Faustus Jerkin, his cloke." Collier's Mem. of Alleyn, p. 20.

Diary, pp. 42-91, ed. Shake. Soc.

§ Ibid. pp. 71, 228.-Among the stage-properties of the Lord Admiral's men (Ibid. p. 273) we find "j dragon in fostes."

I make this statement on the authority of the MS. notes by Malone in his copies of 4tos 1604 and 1631 (now in the Bodleian Library).

« PreviousContinue »