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We know not how our play may pass this stage,
But by the best of poets1 in that age

The Malta Jew had being, and was made;
And he, then by the best of actors 2 played;
In Hero and Leander, one did gain

A lasting memory: in Tamburlaine,

This Jew, with others many, th' other wan
The attribute of peerless, being a man
Whom we may rank with (doing no one wrong)
Proteus for shapes, and Roscius for a tongue,
So could he speak, so vary; nor is't hate
To merit, in him3 who doth personate
Our Jew this day; nor is it his ambition
To exceed or equal, being of condition
More modest: this is all that he intends,
(And that too, at the urgence of some friends)
To prove his best, and, if none here gainsay it,
The part he hath studied, and intends to play it.

1 "Marlo." Marginal note in the old copy.

2 "Allin." Marginal note in the old copy. In the (old) Shakespeare Society's publications there is a memoir by J. P. Collier of the celebrated actor, the founder of Dulwich College, Edward Alleyn.

3 "Perkins." Marginal note in the old copy. Richard Perkins was an actor of great ability. At the end of the White Devil Webster speaks of the "wellapproved industry of my friend Master Perkins," and adds that "the worth of his action did crown both the beginning and end." He took the part of Capt. Goodlack in Heywood's Fair Maid of the West, of Sir John Belfare in Shirley's Wedding, of Hanno in Nabbes' Hannibal and Scipio, and of Fitzwater in Davenport's King John and Matilda. From Wright's Historia Histrionica we learn that he died "some years before the Restoration."


IN graving, with Pygmalion to contend ;
Or painting, with Apelles; doubtless the end
Must be disgrace: our actor did not so,
He only aimed to go, but not out-go.


Nor think that this day any prize1 was played;
Here were no bets at all, no wagers laid ;a
All the ambition that his mind doth swell,
Is but to hear from you (by me), 'twas well.

1 "A metaphor borrowed from the fencing-school, prizes being played for certain degrees in the schools where the Art of Defence was taught,-degrees, it appears, of Master, Provost, and Scholar."-Dyce's Shakespeare Glossary.

2 A friend of Alleyn's backed him for a wager to excel George Peele in acting any part that had been sustained by Knell or Bentley. See Dyce's Greene and Peele (ed. 1861, pp. 330, 331). In the Introduction to the Knight of the Burning Pestle the Citizen says that his prentice Ralph "should have played Jeronimo with a shoemaker for a wager."


FERNEZE, Governor of Malta.

SELIM CALYMATH, Son of the Grand Seignior.

DON LODOWICK, the Governor's Son, in love with


DON MATHIAS, also in love with her.

MARTIN DEL Bosco, Vice-Admiral of Spain.

BARABAS, the Jew of Malta.

ITHAMORE, Barabas' slave.


Two Merchants.

Three Jews.

Bassoes, Knights, Officers, Reader, Messengers, Slaves, and Carpenters.


ABIGAIL, the Jew's Daughter.


Two Nuns.

BELLAMIRA, a Courtesan.

MACHIAVEL, the Prologue.




Machiavel. Albeit the world thinks Machiavel is dead, Yet was his soul but flown beyond the Alps;

And now the Guise1 is dead, is come from France,
To view this land, and frolic with his friends.

To some perhaps my name is odious,

But such as love me guard me from their tongues ;
And let them know that I am Machiavel,

And weigh not men, and therefore not men's words.
Admired I am of those that hate me most.
Though some speak openly against my books,
Yet they will read me, and thereby attain
To Peter's chair: and when they cast me off,
Are poisoned by my climbing followers.
I count religion but a childish toy,
And hold there is no sin but ignorance.

Birds of the air will tell of murders past!

I am ashamed to hear such fooleries.

Many will talk of title to a crown:

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1 The Duc de Guise, who organised the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. He was assassinated in 1588.

What right had Cæsar to the empery?

Might first made kings, and laws were then most sure 20
When like the Draco's 2 they were writ in blood.
Hence comes it that a strong-built citadel
Commands much more than letters can import;
Which maxim had [but 3] Phalaris observed,
He had never bellowed, in a brazen bull,
Of great one's envy. Of the poor petty wights
Let me be envied and not pitièd!

But whither am I bound? I come not, I,

To read a lecture hear in Britainy,

But to present the tragedy of a Jew,

Who smiles to see how full his bags are crammed,
Which money was not got without my means.
I crave but this-grace him as he deserves,
And let him not be entertained the worse
Because he favours me.

1 This is Dyce's correction for "empire."

2 Old ed. "the Drancus."



3 As a word is required to complete the verse, I have followed Cunningham in inserting "but."

4 All the editions give "Britain." For the sake of the metre I read "Britainy"—a form found in Edward II., ii. 2, 1. 42.

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