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-Soumbring I lay in melancholy Bed 45-fore the dawning of the sanguin light; *hen Eccho shrill or some Familiar Spright -5-oxed an Epitaph into my hed. *agnifique Mindes bred of Gargantuas race In grisly weedes His Obsequies waiment [sic] Whose Corps on Powles, whose mind triúph'd on Kent, Scorning to bate Sir Rodomont an ace. * mus'd awhile, and, having mus'd awhile, –Zeru (quoth 1) is that Gargantua minde Conquered and left no Scanderbeg behindef Powed he not to Powles a Second bile? What bile or kibe? (quoth that same early spright) Have you forgot the Scanderbegging wight.
4's it a Dreame? or if the Highest minde 7hat ever haunted Powler or hunted winde &ereaft of that same sky-surmounting breath, 2%at breath that taught the Tempany to ruvell? *se and the Plague contended for the game: 7%e hawty man extolles his hideous thoughter, *nd gloriously insulter upon poore soules 2That plague themselves: for saint harts plague themselves. 2%e tyrant Sickness of base minded slaues Oh how it dominer’s in Coward Lane I
--So Surguidy rang out his larum knell
*When he had girn'd at many a dolefull bell.
And mountes of Glory rear'd in towering witt–
L'ENUOY, Powles steeple, and a hugyer thing is downe; Beware the next Bull-beggar of the towne. Fata immatura vagantur.” Harvey's Newe Letter is dated September 1593, and Marlowe died in the June preceding. The drift of the “goggle-eyed sonet of Gorgon” (as Nashe terms it) and “L’enuoy” plainly is, “Marlowe is dead; it remains to muzzle Nashe.” The epitaph in the “Postcript” certainly refers to Marlowe, and the meaning of the extraordinary lines “I mus'd awhile,” &c., is the same as in the previous sonnet. But what are we to make of the Glosse? The only sense to be got out of the lines is that Marlowe had fallen a victim to the plague. We know that the plague was raging at that time in the metropolis. Probably Gabriel Harvey was staying in the country, to be out of the reach of infection,” when he wrote his Mewe Letter. Hearing the report of Marlowe's death he had taken it for granted, when he raised his whoop of exultation, that the poet had died of the plague. We may be sure that, if he had been acquainted at the time with the true account of Marlowe's tragic end, he would have gloated over every detail with ghoul-like ferocity. Though Marlowe took no active part, so far as we know, in supporting Nashe, he seems not to have attempted to conceal his contempt for the Harveys. In Have with you to Saffron Walden, Nashe reports a saying of Marlowe's about Gabriel's younger brother, the Rev. Richard Harvey:—“Kit Marloe was wont to say that he was an asse, good for nothing but to preach of the Iron Age.” If Marlowe was accustomed to deliver his opinion about the Harveys after that fashion, the doctor's animosity is explicable. In Pierce's Supererogation (p. 62) the vindictive writer exclaims:—“His [i.e. Nashe's] gayest flourishes are but Gascoigne's weedes or Tarleton's trickes, or Greene's crankes or Marlowe's bravadoes.” In the same tract he uses the term “Marloweism” in the sense of “irreverence.” | It must be frankly conceded that Marlowe not only abandoned Christianity, but had the reputation of leading a vicious life. In the Returne from Pernassus, an anonymous academical play, printed in 1606, but acted before the death of Queen Elizabeth, while high praise is paid to his genius, regret is expressed for the disorderliness of his life:– “Marlowe was happy in his buskins'd] Muse,_ Alas, unhappy in his life and end I Pitty it is that wit so ill should dwell, Wit lent from heaven, but vices sent from hell. Our theater hath lost, Pluto hath got A tragick penman sor a driery plot.” Among the Harleian MSS. (6853, fol. 520) is a Note” “contayninge the opinion of one Christofer Marlye,
1 His antagonist Nashe had removed to the country in 1592, for safety as we learn from the Private Epistle to the printer prefixed to the first authorised edition of Pierce Penilesse.
* First printed by Ritson in his Observations on Warton's History of English Poetry. The “Note" will be found in an appendix to Vol. III.
concernynge his damnable opinions and judgment of Relygion and scorne of Gods worde.” It is a comfort to know that the ruffian who drew up the charges, a certain “Rychard Bame,” was hanged 1 at Tyburn on 6th December 1594. Doubtless Bame was backed by some person or persons of power and position. It was a deliberate attempt on the part of some fanatics to induce the public authorities to institute a prosecution for blasphemy against the poet. How the charges would have been met it is not easy to say; probably his friends—particularly his patron Sir Thomas Walsingham—would have been powerful enough to avert any serious danger. To a modern reader many of the charges put forward by Bame seem too silly to deserve any serious attention. If Marlowe had been a man of such abandoned principles as his enemies represented, I strongly doubt whether Chapman, who was distinguished for strictness of life, would have cherished his memory with such affection and respect. To my mind the apostrophe to Marlowe in the Third Sestiad of Hero and Leander shows clearly that the two poets were on terms of intimacy, and I fail to understand how Dyce arrived at the opposite conclusion. It is much to be regretted that no copy can now be found of the elegy on Marlowe written by Nashe and prefixed to the Zragedy of Dido, 1594. The elegy was seen by Bishop Tanner, who in his account of Marlowe writes,<-“Hanc [sc. Tragedy of Dido] perfecit et edidit Tho. Nashe, Lond. 1594, 4to.— Petowius in praefatione ad secundam partem Herois et Izandri multa in Marlovii, commendationem adfert; hoc etiam facit Tho. Nash in Carmine elegiaco tragaediae Didonis praft.xo" in obitum Christoph. Marlovii, ubi quatuor ejus tragoediaram mentionem facit, necnon et alterius De Duce Guisio” (Bibl. Brit., p. 512). Petowe's encomium, to which Tanner refers, runs thus:—
* This fact was discovered by Malone from the Stationers' Registers, Book B, p. 316.
* Quicke-sighted spirits,-this suppos'd Apollo,-
* Warton, in his Hist. of Eng. Poetry, mentions this elegy of Nashe's, but it is doubtful whether he ever saw it. In Malone's copy of Dido (preserved in the Bodleian) is the following MS. note:-"Iie [Warton] informed me by letter that a copy of this play was in Osborne's catalogue in the year 1754; that he then saw it in his shop (together with several of Mr. Oldys's books that Osborne had purchased) and that the elegy n question, “on Marlowe's untimely death,’ was inserted immediately after the title-page; that it mentioned a play of Marlowe's entitled the Puke of Guise and four others, but whether particularly by name he could not recollect. Unluckily he did not purchase this rare piece, and it is now God knows where.”
* Old ed. “All earth on earth."