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Cunningham's edition of Marlowe.
My best thanks are due to the Keeper of the Records
Four hundred copies of this' Edition have been printed
and the type distributed. No more will be published.
THE achievements of Shakespeare's greatest predecessor in the English drama have at length been recognised as a fact in English literature; nor is it possible to look forward to a time when the study of his works will be restricted, as of old, to antiquarians and bibliographers. All who have any serious care for English poetry have felt the magic of Marlowe's "mighty line." They know that in moving terror and pity the creator of Faustus and Edward II. was excelled only by Shakespeare; and they know, too, that the rich music of Hero and Leander was heard no more in England until the coming of Keats. One of the lessons which Mr. Browning never tires of teaching is that a lofty aim, even where failure follows, "surpasses little works achieved." Surely no man ever aimed higher than Marlowe; and within so short a space of life few have carried out so worthily their vast designs. He was the first in England to compose tragedies that should have a lasting interest for men. The plays of Greene and Peele are important only as showing how poor was the state of dramatic art at the young poet's advent. It was Marlowe who created, in the true sense of the word, English blank verse, and
constituted it the sole vehicle of dramatic expression for all time. The rest of Shakespeare's predecessors are shadows; Marlowe alone lives.
Christopher Marlowe, son of John Marlowe, was baptized at the church of St. George the Martyr, Canterbury, on 26th February 1563-4.1 The poet's father, who died on 26th January 1604-5, was "clarke of St. Maries." On the margin of a copy of Beard's Theatre of God's Judgments, 1598, is a MS. note "Marlowe a shooe makers sonne of Cant." Marginal scribblings "in a very old hand" have been so frequently fabricated that I was inclined to attach no importance to this MS. note, but the Keeper of the Records of Canterbury Cathedral, Mr. J. B. Sheppard, kindly extracted from the "Chamberlain's Accounts some entries which prove that John Marlowe was a shoemaker. The entries relate to the admission of freemen. There is an entry dated 26th April 1593, "Joh. Marlowe's apprentice (shoemaker), Will. Hewes admitted;" another dated 29th January 1594, "Joh. Crauforde Shoem'. admitted; mar. Anne d. of Joh. Marlowe Shoem'. ;" and a third, dated 28th September 1594, "Thom. Graddell, Vintner, mar. Dorothy d. of John Marlowe Shoem'. (admitted)." Apprenticeship or marriage with a freeman's daughter conferred freedom.
Marlowe was educated at the King's School, Canterbury. His name does not occur in the Treasurer's Accounts for 1575-6 and 1576-7; and the register for
1 This fact was established by Dyce from an examination of the Parish Register.