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also points at Marlow in another work translated by him, and published in 1594, under the title of "The French Academic," in which is also to be found the following bitter philippic against players: "It is a shameful thing to suffer amongst us, or to lose our time, that ought to be so precious unto us, in beholding and in hearing players, actors of interludes and comedies, who are as pernicious a plague in a commonwealth as can be imagined. For nothing marreth more the behaviour, simplicity, and natural goodness of any people than this, because they soon receive into their souls a lively impression of that dissoluteness and villany which they see and hear, when it is joined with words, accents, gestures, motions, and actions, wherewith players and jugglers know how to enrich by all kind of artificial sleights, the filthiest and most dishonest matters, which commonly they make choice of. And to speak freely, in few words we may truly say, that the theatre of players is a school of all unchasteness, uncleanness, whoredom, craft, subtilty, and wickedness."
Is it to be wondered at, that one who was both
player and play-writer, and who had ventured "to dally with interdicted subjects," should be obnoxious to the censure of such writers as this, or have his memory traduced, and his tragic exit accounted a special visitation of the wrath of God?
True it is that among the papers of Lord Keeper Puckering, in the Harleian collection* at the British Museum, a paper exists which may be considered evidence of his heretical, and as it styles them, "damnable” opinions. The writer, one Richard Bome, who appears to have taken a note of his conversation for the purpose of giving information against him, at the conclusion of his diabolical catalogue, says, "These things, with many other, shall by good and honest men be proved to be his opinions and common speeches, and that this Marloe per
* No. 6853. This paper will be found printed at large in the splenetic Ritson's "Observations upon Warton's History of Poetry," 4to. 1782, p. 40.-It is a singular circumstance that Ritson, of all men, should have sought to substantiate the charges against Marlow! The very bitterness and excess of depravity in this document render the veracity of the writer suspicious.
suadeth men to atheism, willing them not to be afraid of bugbears and hobgoblins, and utterly scorning both God and his ministers, as I Richard Bome will justify, both by my oath, and the testimony of many honest men, and almost all men with whom he had conversed any time will testify the same. And, as I think, all men in Christianty ought to endeavour that the mouth of so dangerous a member may be stopped." Probably Marlow was aware of the character of those whom he thus irritated by his unlicensed speech, and did it out of bravado and wantonness, or to excite admiration of his spirit and courage in worrying a puritanical informer to desperation. Be this as it may, I do not mean to defend the act, but only to show what may probably have given rise to it. Of one part of the charge against Marlow, that of having written books against the Trinity, he must stand acquitted, and the reader will no doubt have seen how cautiously his accusers qualify their assertion by the convenient phrase," as it is reported."
* There is good ground for suspecting that Marlow was highly offended at Greene's noted address to him in
It is difficult to conceive that a mind so gifted as Marlow's could have descended from its "towering fancies," from "playing in the plighted clouds,” to the groveling and soul-degrading tenets which are ascribed to him in this infamous paper; though I am willing to admit that his course of life may not have been altogether free from the stains of libertinism, the more to be lamented, as it led to that fatal event by which "Cut was the branch that might have grown full straight, And burned was Apollo's laurel bough."
What might not have been expected from him if he had lived to follow the career of that heaven-gifted bard, whose earliest productions, it has been remarked, strongly resemble those of Marlow? It is evident that Shakspeare was familiar with his writings, and even the present poem interests us the more from being cited in "As You Like it."
that wretched creature's "Groats-worth of Wit;” which, says a writer in Blackwood's Magazine, “would hardly have been the case had he been the open and avowed atheist there represented."
"Dead shepherd, now I find thy saw of might;
It is no slight honour to Marlow that one of his compositions has been thought even to be worthy of Shakspeare, to whom was long attributed that beautiful Pastoral Song
"Come live with me, and be my love,"
some snatches of which are also uttered by Sir Hugh Evans during his "cholars and tremplings of mind" while awaiting Caius at the trysting place, Frogmore: (see Merry Wives, act iii. sc. 1). The popularity of this exquisite little poem is obvious from the number of imitations to which it gave rise.
In a criticism, which is thought to bear strong traces of the hand of Milton, Marlow is styled "a kind of second Shakspeare, not only because like him he rose from an actor to be a maker of plays, though inferior both in fame and merit; but also because in his begun poem of Hero and Leander, he seems to have a resemblance of