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Date. There is no evidence on which to determine very accurately the date of The Jew of Malta. The allusion to the death of the Duke of Guise in line 3 points to a period subsequent to December 23, 1588, for the composition of at least that part of the play. It is quite true, as Wagner has argued, that this Prologue of Macheuil may possibly have been written after the rest of the piece, but considerations of dramatic structure and versification make it wellnigh impossible to refer the play as a whole to an earlier year than 1589. It seems certainly to have been written and performed between the period of the composition of Doctor Faustus (? 1588-9) and February 26, 1591/2, when an entry in Henslowe's Diary shows it to be already an old play. The year 1590 cannot be far wrong.

Štage history and the early edition. The earliest mention of The Jew of Malta is that already referred to, which occurs very near the beginning of Henslowe's Diary: 'Rd. at the Jewe of malltuse the 26 of febrearye 1591 [1592, N.S.] Is.' The play belonged apparently to Henslowe and was acted by each of the many companies with which he was connected during the next five years. It was one of the most popular pieces in the manager's repertoire: the Diary notes thirty-six representations, the last being on June 21, 1596. This record exceeds that of any other of Marlowe's plays,1 even the very popular Doctor Faustus having only twentyfive certified performances.

In 1601 The Jew of Malta was certainly revived, probably in a somewhat altered form. Unfortunately the Diary does not mention the individual performances for this period, but it contains the following notes of expenditure: Lent vnto Robart shawe & mr. Jube the 19 of Maye 1601 to bye divers thinges for the Jewe of malta the some of . . . vli.


We have, however, no information concerning the number of performances of Edward II and Dido, which did not belong to

lent mor to the littell tayller the same daye for more thinges for the Jewe of malta some of . . x.' Later-at some time before the end of 1633-as we learn from the extant text, the play was presented at Court and at the Cockpit Theatre with prologues and epilogues on both occasions by Thomas Heywood.

On the seventeenth of May, 1594, Nicholas Linge and Thomas Millington entered for publication on the Stationers' Register the famouse tragedie of the Riche Jewe of Malta. On the previous day John Danter had licensed "a ballad intituled the murtherous life and terrible death of the riche Jew of Malta', very obviously a piece inspired by the play.

It is peculiarly unfortunate that no copy of Linge and Millington's contemplated edition has come down to us. Instead, all editors have had to base their texts on the faulty and unauthoritative version published in 1633. It is, of course, possible that Linge and Millington were by some accident prevented from bringing out the edition which they had already licensed, but this seems, on the whole, improbable. It is certainly not easy to believe that this one play of Marlowe-apparently the most popular of all on the stage-should have remained forty years and more unprinted after a text was already in publishers' hands. Moreover, Heywood's adverb in the Epistle Dedicatory to the 1633 edition, now being newly brought to the Presse (p. 237), would normally indicate that there existed an earlier edition.1

Text and authorship. It has been said that our only text of The Jew of Malta is that preserved in the 1633 version There is no evidence that any one has seen an earlier edition, and we can hardly do more than hope that some happy accident may reveal a hitherto unknown and relatively correct text. Undoubtedly the 1633 quarto presents the tragedy in a form sadly corrupted and altered from that in which it left the hands of Marlowe. Besides the incidental impurities due to very bad printing and to the casual changes of actors during many decades, it is probable that the extant text incorporates the results of at least two separate revisions; the first carried out before the revival in 1601, to which Henslowe alludes, the second that which

'Cf. the phrase 'Newly imprinted' on the title-page of the 1592 Faustbook and discussion, supra, p. 142. But see, on the other hand, the title-page of Tamburlaine, 1590, 'Now first, and newlie

must have been necessary before so old a work could be presented at Court and at the Cock-pit. The author of the prologues and epilogues on these last occasions and of the dedicatory epistle of 1633 is Thomas Heywood, the dramatist. It is not improbable that he likewise altered the play for performance at Court. Mr. Fleay 1 has pointed out the close similarity between the last friars' scene (11. 1623-1715) and the underplot in Heywood's newly discovered comedy, The Captives.2 The relationship, however, cannot be held to prove that Heywood is author of the passage in The Jew of Malta, which is evidently earlier and less carefully worked out than the other version. In the part of The Captives alluded to, Heywood may be elaborating an earlier conception of his own, but he may equally well be plagiarizing from Marlowe.

All critics of the play have noticed with regret the failure of the last half of The Jew of Malta to fulfil the splendid promise of the first two acts. It is beyond question that the vigorous flow of tragic interest and character portrayal with which the play opens wastes away amid what, for the modern reader, is a wilderness of melodrama and farce. The change is so marked as to suggest grave doubt whether the tragedy as we have it can represent even remotely the conception of a single man. And yet, after recognizing the practical certainty that the 1633 text gives an extremely corrupt version of Marlowe's work, and that the elaborators here, as in the case of Doctor Faustus, found far greater opportunity for revision and expansion in the latter half of the drama than in the earlier part, we do not appear justified by the facts in denying that the thread of the plot is probably throughout Marlowe's contribution. There is, indeed, hardly any explanation short of insanity which in a modern dramatist would account for the sudden change from the vivid realization of Barabas's character, as indicated in the first two acts, to the complete absence of sympathetic insight which marks the last three. present case, however, it must be considered that we are dealing confessedly 3 with a unique form of drama governed by rules of its own-the Machiavellian tragedy.

Machiavellianism was, on the Elizabethan stage, an avocation rather than a psychological necessity. In The Jew of Malta, as in Titus Andronicus and Richard III, the

1 Biog. Chron. Eng. Dr., ii. 61, 62.

2 Old Plays, ed. Bullen, vol. iv.

3 Cf. 11. 1-35.

melodrama belongs to the first conception of the play; the deep humanity enters, as it were, by accidental inspiration. I believe that the heterogeneous character of The Jew of Malta is fundamental, not due in any essential degree either to excessive haste of composition or to plurality of authorship. The first two acts, as we have them, probably represent with moderate fidelity the deep study of a human passion with which Marlowe was inspired to preface, and partly to overlay, his drama of blood and thunder'. Few playwrights have ever shown such power in conceiving states of intense feeling, and surely none of comparable greatness has ever been less skilful than Marlowe in blending this lyric fabric with the structural framework of a tragedy. The last three acts appear to represent, though inaccurately, with possible interpolations and occasional changes, the original sensational plot of Marlowe, bare of the imaginative humanizing which the earlier acts received. I see little reason to believe that the poet's general design has anywhere been very seriously tampered with, and to the very end of the play there occur, among obvious corruptions, verses which it seems all but impossible to deny to Marlowe.1

Source. A direct source of The Jew of Malta has not been discovered. Many of the incidents are undoubtedly based on history, though in each case the poet has allowed himself considerable licence. Malta was several times besieged by the Turks, notably in 1565, but unsuccessfully. L. Kellner (Englische Studien, x. 80 ff.) has drawn attention to the interesting parallel between the career of Barabas in the play and that of Juan Miques (Michesius), a Portuguese Jew who flourished during the middle of the sixteenth century. After enduring persecution in his own country, in Antwerp, and in Venice, Miques took refuge with the Turks in Constantinople, and there employed his enormous wealth and his influence over the Sultan Selim to the disadvantage of the Christians. He was made Duke of Naxos and the Cyclades, and caused the Turkish attack on Cyprus in 1570. This notorious foe to Christendom is mentioned by the historians Foglietta, Strada,3 and others,

e.g. 1330-5, 1399-1408, 1431-56, 1509-15, 1570-85, 1806-16, 1858-66, 2066-7 (cf. Doctor Faustus, 710, 711), 2230-7, 2361-73, 2405-8.

De Sacro Foedere in Selimum, 1587.
De Bello Belgico, 1632 ff.


but no such accounts known can claim to have done more than suggest in the vaguest way the character of Barabas. A play called 'The Jew', of which we know nothing further, is mentioned in Stephen Gosson's School of Abuse as early as 1579, and a Viennese manuscript preserves the bare outlines of a comedy performed by English actors in which the plots of The Jew of Malta and The Merchant of Venice seem to be blended with some independent matter from the history of Michesius.1

1 Cf. Meissner, Die Englischen Comoedianten zur Zeit Shakespeare's in Oesterreich, p. 131 ff.

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