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Enter Iarbus running.
Iar. Cursed Iarbus, dye to expiate
The griefe that tires vpon thine inward soule,
Anna. What can my teares or cryes preuaile me now?
What fatall destinie enuies me thus,
And mixe her bloud with thine, this shall I doe,
1726 S.D. add. Hurst
1736 S.D add. Hurst
v. i. 1724-1736
THE MASSACRE AT PARIS
Date. The play of The Massacre at Paris or The Guise, as Henslowe sometimes terms it with rather more propriety, must have been composed between August 2, 1589, and January 30, 1593. On the first of these dates occurred the event with which the tragedy closes, the death of Henri III of France; on the latter occasion the play was performed at Henslowe's theatre by the company of the Lord Strange. Since Henslowe marks 'the tragedey of the gvyes' as a new play on January 30, 1593, it was probably composed pretty shortly before, and is therefore to be reckoned one of the latest of Marlowe's dramatic works. Crude as the play undoubtedly is, there is nothing to indicate that it was written very immediately after the assassination of the French king, for that event, which in a contemporary 'topical' drama would naturally have formed the mainstay of the plot, is here given very little importance, while the principal interest centres about the ancient history of St. Bartholomew and the animosities of Guise and Navarre.
Stage history. In addition to the single performance by Lord Strange's servants already mentioned, which produced the large sum of £3 14s., Henslowe records ten representations by the Admiral's company between June 19 and September 25, 1594. Notes of expenditure for stage properties show that The Guise was revived in 1598, and again in 1601, and a further memorandum records the disbursement of £6 pd at the apoyntment of the companye the 18 of Janewary 1601 [1602, N.S.] vnto E. Alleyn for iij. boockes wch were played', second on the list being 'the massaker of france'. Mr. Greg is no doubt correct in his opinion1 that the manuscript of our play had been brought to the Admiral's company by Alleyn, when that famous actor left Lord Strange's men to join the other troupe. Text. The Massacre at Paris does not appear to have
been registered for publication. There exists, however, a single early edition ' printed by E. A. for Edward White, dwelling... at the signe of the Gun'. The title-page bears no date and the publication has been conjecturally ascribed to various years between 1594 and 1600. I believe that the edition is somewhat later and that it rather follows than precedes the last revival of the play in 1601. In the first place, the very full character of the stage directions 1 indicates that the text is based on a theatre copy, and such a copy would certainly have been more easily obtainable after it was no longer of immediate use to the company. Moreover, Edward White, though he is known to have published a book as early as 1577, was connected with only one other edition of a work by Marlowe the Tamburlaine of 1605/6, where on the title-pages of both parts there is the same mention of White's name with the notice of his shop at the signe of the Gunne', and in the case of the second part 'E. A.' is again particularly named as the printer. Such evidence is of no great weight, but it is borne out by the general similarity in typographical details between the 1605/6 Tamburlaine and the undated edition of The Massacre.
Of all the extant plays of Marlowe this of The Massacre at Paris is in its present state much the least meritorious. There can hardly be any doubt that our text is shockingly garbled; it would seem to represent a theatrical abridgement, in which the poet's language and versification have been corrupted on nearly every page, while the very sense of the original can in several passages be only imperfectly preserved. We have no reason to suppose that the play ever possessed in a high degree either coherence or artistic finish; it appears to have been the result of a somewhat ill-digested conception hastily and carelessly worked out. There is nothing to indicate collaboration or methodical revision. Throughout the play, to the very end, occur lines of the most characteristically Marlovian quality, and there appears no trace of any second hand except that of the theatrical adapter. The fallacy of the theory, several times suggested, that Marlowe left the play to be completed by another is evident from the indisputable genuineness of the French king's last speeches (11. 1205-1221, 12411257), while the final words of Navarre, with which the piece
1 Cf., for instance, those after ll. 592, 1185.
e.g. ll. 91-166, 390-421, 582-588, 686-703, 854-871, 976-1027.
closes, are as convincing in their swing and melody as the poet's autograph:
And then I vow for to reuenge his death,
As Rome and all those popish Prelates there,
Source. It is not probable that Marlowe derived the subject-matter of his play from any one book. The period of the action covers seventeen years (1572-89), and while the earlier events, such as the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, had already found their way into historical chronicles when the play was written, the later incidents must still have been matter for rumour and journalistic report. Mr. Bullen has pointed out several parallels between Marlowe's treatment of the massacre and that found in Book X of The Three Partes of Commentaries containing the whole and perfect discourse of the Civill Wars of France, &c. (1574). Much of Marlowe's information concerning the later occurrences, which are lightly treated in the play, must have been picked up from broadsides or word of mouth gossip.