Abbildungen der Seite




THEN the latest biographer of Marlowe set out with

a declaration that “the time of this writer's birth cannot be ascertained,”* he rather hastily assumed the impossibility of discovering it. Christopher Marlowe, the son of John Marlowe, shoemaker, † was born at Canterbury in February 1563-4, and baptized in the Church of St. George the Martyr on the 26th of that month. I

* Lives of English Dramatists, i. 49. (Lardner's Cyclop.)

+ “Marlowe a shooe makers sonne of Cant.” MS, Note, in a very old hand, on the margin of a copy of Beard's Theutre of God's Judgments, 1598, which, when I saw it, belonged to the late Mr. B. H. Bright. -“ His (Marlowe's) father was a shoemaker in Canterburie.” MS. Note in a copy of Hero and Lean. der, ed. 1629, now in the possession of Mr. J. P. Collier.See also the last stanza but four of the ballad called The Atheist's Trugedie, vol. iii. Appendix iv.

# 1563-4, “ The 26th day of ffebruary was christened Christofer the sonne of John Marlow.” Register of St. George the Martyr, Canterbury: --- The following entries are found in the same Register; which, though very old, is only a transcript; and the scribe was unable to decypher the Christian names in the fourth, seventh, and eighth entries.

1548, “ The 28th day of December was christened Marget the daughter of John Marlow."

1562, “The xxist of May was christened Mary the daughter of John Marlowe.”

1565, The [date illegible] day of December was christened Margarit the daughter of John Marlowe.”


[ocr errors]

Our poet's history has hitherto been a blank up to the period of his graduating at Cambridge; but that deficiency is now in some sort supplied by the following particulars.

The King's School at Canterbury was founded by Henry the Eighth for a Master, an Usher, and fifty Scholars between the ages of nine and fifteen, the Scholars having each a stipend of four pounds per annum, and retaining their Scholarships for five years. To enable some of the more deserving Scholars, on completing their education at this establishment, to proceed to one of the Universities, several benefactions were made at various timesThe earliest which I find recorded is that of Archbishop Parker. In 1569 he founded two Scholarships, each of the value of £3. 6s. 8d., in Corpus Christi alias Benet College, Cam.

manticondes 1568, « The last day of October was christened [sic] the sonne of John Marlow."

1569, “ The 20th day of August was christened John the sonne of John Marlow. * 1566. “The 10th day of December was buried Simon the sonne of Thomas Marlow."

1567, " The 5th day of November was buried [sic] thie sonne of John Marlow."

1568, “ The 28th day of August was buried [sic] the daughter of John Marlow."

1570, " The 7th day of August was buried Thomas ye sonne of John Marlow."

- 1604, “ John Marloe clarke-of St. Maries-was buried ye 26th of January.” Qy. does the last entry refer to the elder or they

younger John Marlowe (see the fifth entry)? It is possible that, while our poet's father followed the business of a shoemaker (which, according to the stanza of the ballad referred to in the preceding note, he continued to do till his deatb), he also held the situation of “clarke of St. Maries.". I'onze

So unsettled was the orthography of the time, that our au-s thor's name (as will be seen) was written in ten different ways; -Marlo, Marloe, Marlow, Marlowe, Marley, Marly; Marlye, Marlen, Marlin, Marlyn !

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

bridge, to maintain, during the space of two hundred years, two Scholars, natives of Kent, and educated at the King's School, who were to be called Canterbury Scholars, and to be entitled to all the advantages enjoyed by the other Scho. lars in the college. Archbishop Whitgift having renewed this foundation, it is now perpetual.*

That the King's School may henceforth claim the honour of having contributed to the instruetion of Marlowe is proved by a document which I oblained with great difficulty,t--an extract from the Treasurer's Accounts" concerning the “Stipend. sive Salar. La puerorum studen. Grammatic.,” for the year ending at the Feast of St. Michael, 21st Eliz. It commences with “ Idem denar. per dictum Thesaur, de exit. officii sui hoc anno solut. quinquaginta pueris studen. Grammatic. pro salariis suis ad s. iiij" pro quolibet eorum per annum," and contains four notices of the usual sum having been paid “ Xrõfero Marley," -"in primo termino hujus anni,” “in secundo termino hujus anni,” “in tercio termino hujus anni,” and “in ultimo termino bujus anni.". If I may depend upon the information which I received together with the extract just quoted, Marlowe did not continue at the King's School the full period which its statutes allowed him to remain.f.

At the proper age Marlowe was removed to Cambridge ; and, as Benet was the college of which he became a member,

For other particulars concerning the King's School, see Hasted's Hist. of Kent, iv, 583 sqq.

+ See Preface.

# “ Marlowe's name,” I am informed, “ does not occur in [the Accounts for] 1575, 1576, 1577, nor 1581 : the interven. ing Accounts are wanting." (It could not occur in the Ace counts for 1581).--The present Master of the King's School observes that no special patronage was required for Marlowe's: election as a Scholar, any boy of good ability may at any time get into the School.”

« ZurückWeiter »