Abbildungen der Seite



Tamburlaine the Great who from a Scythian Shepheard, by his

rare and wonderful conquestes became a most puissant and mightie monarch: And (for his tyrannie and terror in warre) was tearmed, The scourge of God. The first part of the two Tragicall discourses, as they were sundrie times most stately shewed upon stages in the citie of London. By the right ho. nourable the Lord Admirall his servantes now first and newlie published, Printed by Richard Jones', dwelling at the signe of the Rose and Cronne neere Holborne Bridge, 1590. 8vo.


TH is play, or history as the publisher calls it, which is founded on the vulgar notion of Tamburlaine's history, is one of the most wild and extravagant productions of an imperfectly formed stage: and yet from what the publisher says in his address to the reader we may infer that it was originally still more extravagant. “I have purposely,” says he, “omitted some fond and frivolous gestures, digressing, and in my poor opinion, far unmeet for the matter which I thought might seem more tedious unto the wise than any way else to be regarded, though haply they have been of some vain conceited fondlings, greatly gaped at what time they were shewed upon the stage in their graced deformities.” With an audience of this kind we could hardly expect the author to prefer the modesty of nature. As far as the delineation of Tamburlaine himself goes, some justification for the extravagant stuff which is put into his mouth may be found in the lofty oriental strain which he really adopted in his correspondence with foreign princes. The title of Marlowe however to this play, or rather its title to him, has been disputed. That Marlowe was the author of a play called “Tamburlaine,” has long been the received opinion, founded on one of the pro

logues written by Thomas Heywood, to the Jew of Malta, and which has been supposed to convey that information. It appears to us doubtful whether this play has not been attributed to Marlowe under a misconception of Heywood's meaning. The passage in question is as follows:

We know not how our play may pass this stage,
But by the best of poets* in that age,
The Malta Jew had being and was made ;
And he then by the best of actors t play'u :
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.”

This is the way in which the lines printed in Italics are punctuated in the old editions, and those lines have always been read as if the poet meant to say that one gained a lasting memory in Hero and Leander, Tamburlaine and many other compositions. Langbaine appears to have been the first who put this construction upon the passage, and he says, “ Had I not Mr. Heywood's word for it in the forementioned prologue, I should not believe this to be his.” Dr. Farmer conjectured, “ that the play, Tamburlaine, praised by Heywood, might be different from the bombast one, and that written by Kyd.” We are inclined to think independently of internal evi

[blocks in formation]

dence, which is strong against the supposition of this play being written by Marlowe, that it was the -composition of some other author. The sole authority upon which it is attributed to him is the prologue just quoted. The words in italics may with equal if not greater propriety be read in this way, “In Hero and Leander one did gain A lasting memory : in Tamburlaine This Jew with others many, the other wan The attribute of peerless.”— * In the words of the poet one “made” and the other “played,” the Jew; and therefore as far as relates to this play the latter part of the sentence may be applied to either Marlowe or Allen, and in like manner what is said of Tamburlaine, may independently of other evidence, be applied either to the author or the actor. But it may be urged that the intention of the writer of the prologue was to illustrate his praise by giving examples of those things in which the objects of his eulogium gained reputation; as that Marlowe was famous for the poem of Hero and Leander, and Allen, in the character of Tamburlaine and the Jew of Malta. It may also be added that the words “with others many" are much more applicable to Allen, whose characters were numerous, than to Marlowe, whose compositions were few ; besides this reading seems more likely to have been the natural order of the poet's thoughts, one was celebrated in Hero and Leander, the other in Tamburlaine. The confusion arises from both being associated with the Jew of

« ZurückWeiter »