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sestiads, which only serve to set in stronger relief the supreme beauty of the two that precede them. Marlowe also translated into good rhymes, probably as a college exercise, the "Amores" of Ovid; his clever version, however, was not appreciated by certain critical bishops, who found it their duty to make a public bonfire with the work. Another translation, that of the "First Book of Lucan," in strong blank verse, with some short lyrics, including the famous "Come live with me and be my Love," make up the number of our poet's legacies to literature. These are all. His was a brief career. He died at twenty-nine, in the bright morning of his fame. We keep him in that chamber of our memory where are those poets stolen too soon from the world by Death, the great Robber; he is with all others whom the gods loved-with Otway and Keats, with Chatterton and Shelley, with Chénier and de Guérin. Had time been his, who shall say to what heights he would not have soared. But he had only six stormy years in which to fight his battle for fame, for immortality. Then came that ignominious end.
Marlowe's work reflects his life as a mirror reflects a face: all his life was swayed by passion; all his dramas take passion for their theme. Play-writers before him made types of the Virtues ; he makes types of the Lusts. Each drama exhibits some overmastering passion, as it grows, and develops, and destroys. The lust for empire and limitless rule; the lust for lucre, for all knowledge and all beauty-these form the groundwork, the mainspring of each play.
"Tamburlaine" shows us the quenchless thirst for reign. As a tragedy, it has been so often ridiculed and censured for its bombast and rant, that it were idle to re-echo here the derision or the blame. It certainly exhibits an abundance of that brutalité, férocité, fougue, for which French critics condemn the Elizabethan drama. But then it was a beginning, a trial of strength; the poet was feeling for his way, using all his tremendous powers for the first time. We may consider the scheme of the play to be inartistic, absurd; we may scoff at that spectacle of caged and harnessed kings, at the grim effects gained by blood and battered brains; yet all b
the extravagance, all the ferocity, can never dull for us the splendour of the poetry that shines out through it all. What Englishman before Marlowe could write such burning passages as those which I have taken from "Tamburlaine" wherewith to enrich this little book? Nay, who now, in this tame and temperate age, could make such a vehement poem for us, or draw such a dread picture of the lust for empire as this of "Tamburlaine," the mediæval Napoleon ? Yet nobody wants such a picture. The world is older and wiser; we are all strictly moral now. We do not care for embodiments of the lusts. We prefer our own modern dramas, with Parisian petticoats and dialogue-plays from which the "three" all-important "unities" of adultery, arsenic, and tea-cups are never missing. Well, Marlowe had his systems, his effects; we have ours. But then he had also his glorious poetry, his rich, fearless imagination. And our modern dramas have neither.
"Tamburlaine" is valuable to us now as a lurid, intoxicating poem, full of glare and horror, yet rich with many a lovely and melodious line. Marlowe
was the first Elizabethan dramatist who from the very outset showed style. He uses words as a painter uses pigments; his pages are luminous with beautiful words, beautifully combined. If style be to writing what colour is to painting, we may justly call Marlowe one of our first great colourists in language. And we may ask ourselves, indeed, if the impression that he makes upon our senses, if the high nervous pleasure he creates for us a pleasure similar to that begotten by the sight of boughs or waters turbulent in storm-be not in great measure due to this his strange strength as poet and stylist, to this rich imagination and this felicitous use of words? Splendid as a poem, "Tamburlaine" fails as a play.
In the second drama, in "Dr. Faustus," it is again the poetry which leavens the whole mass and makes it great. "Faustus" is the portrait of a soul struggling and fearfully failing to seize all knowledge and all pleasure. The poet has given the picture by bold strokes, has handled the old German legend in his own powerful, fearless way. "How largely it is all planned ! "
exclaimed Goethe. Hazlitt calls it Marlowe's best work. But yet it is not the philosophical, not the teaching element in "Faustus" which attracts us now. The play touches us, I think, by the quality of its poetry, by the magic of such lines as these commencing
"Have not I made blind Homer sing to me;" or of those in the "Apostrophe to Helen,"
"Was this the face that launched a thousand ships."
For the fine emotion, then, for the ébranlement nerveux produced by these passages and by the whole dreadful death scene, we must value this weird tragedy; they alone are sufficient to blind us to some serious defects.
In its day "The Jew of Malta" was perhaps the most popular of Marlowe's dramas. He wrote it for Alleyn, the celebrated actor of that time, who is said to have played Barabas with great effect. Barabas is another type, a Shylock with a difference, one whom lust for money has made into a monster. As a drama, this, too,