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His poetry, his simple, sensuous, passionate bursts of high poetry. For this we must prize him; in this we must find our satisfaction and refreshment.
Marlowe has not yet got the ear of Europe. In England even, few comparatively give him high regard; abroad, he still counts as a barbarian. Germans may sympathise, perhaps, with one who first touched their great Faust-legend; the French have never seen more in him than a wild pioneer and road-breaker for Shakespeare. A distinguished modern Italian poet and critic, in verses made by him while reading Marlowe, expressed the belief that his author seemed to have been inspired by the fumes of beer. Truly a fine criticism, a subtle inference this, to deem all Marlowe's "mighty lines" as but the outcome of beer! From such a singular judgment we may conclude that foreigners, with their curious slowness to appreciate any Anglo-Saxon poets but Byron and Shakespeare, have not yet got at the true Marlowe. In England, even, he is not known enough. I shall hope that this little set of extracts may recommend him;
may prove to be "infinite riches in a little room; may really help to make his fame wider and more bright, of whom it was once written :
"What mortall soule with Marlo might contend
That could 'gainst reason force him stoope or bend?
Whose silver-charming toung mov'd such delight,
That men would shun their sleep in still darke night
To meditate upon his golden lynes,
His rare conceyts and sweet-according rimes.
But Marlo, still admired Marlo's gone
To live with Beautie in Elysium;
Immortall beautie, who desires to heare
His sacred poesies, sweete in every eare.
Marlo must frame, to Orpheus' melodie,
Himnes all divine, to make heaven harmonie.
There ever live the prince of poetrie,
Live with the living in eternitie!"
TAMBURLAINE PROCLAIMS HIS SCHEME OF
FIRST PART.-ACT I., SCENE 2.
Ther. Where is this Scythian Tamburlaine?
Tamb. Whon seek'st thou, Persian? I am Tam-
Ther. Tamburlaine !
A Scythian shepherd so embellished
With nature's pride and richest furniture!
His looks do menace heaven and dare the gods;
His fiery eyes are fix'd upon the earth,
As if he now devis'd some stratagem,
Or meant to pierce Avernus' darksome vaults
To pull the triple-headed dog from hell.
Tamb. Noble and mild this Persian seems to be, If outward habit judge the inward man.
Tech. His deep affections make him passionate.
Tamb. With what a majesty he rears his looks!—
In thee, thou valiant man of Persia,
I sce the folly of thy emperor.
Art thou but captain of a thousand horse,
That by characters graven in thy brows,
And by thy martial face and stout aspect,
Deserv'st to have the leading of an host?
Forsake thy king, and do but join with me,
And we will triumph over all the world:
I hold the Fates bound fast in iron chains,
And with my hand turn Fortune's wheel about ;
And sooner shall the sun fall from his sphere
Than Tamburlaine be slain or overcome.
Draw forth thy sword, thou mighty man-at-arms,
Intending but to raze my charinèd skin,
And Jove himself will stretch his hand from heaven
To ward the blow, and shield me safe from harm.
See, how he rains down heaps of gold in showers,
As if he meant to give my soldiers pay!
And, as a sure and grounded argument
That I shall be the monarch of the East,
He sends this Soldan's daughter rich and brave,
To be my queen and portly emperess.
If thou wilt stay with me, renowmed man,
And lead thy thousand horse with my conduct,
Besides thy share of this Egyptian prize,
Those thousand horse shall sweat with martial spoil
Of conquer'd kingdoms and of cities sack'd:
Both we will walk upon the lofty cliffs;
And Christian merchants, that with Russian stems Plough up huge furrows in the Caspian Sea,
Shall vail to us as lords of all the lake ;
Both we will reign as consuls of the earth,
And mighty kings shall be our senators.
Jove sometimes masked in a shepherd's weed;
And by those steps that he hath scal'd the heavens
May we become immortal like the gods.
Join with me now in this my mean estate
(I call it mean, because, being yet obscure,
The nations far-remov'd admire me not),
And when my name and honour shall be spread
As far as Boreos claps his brazen wings,
Or fair Böotes sends his cheerful light,
Then shalt thou be competitor with me,
And sit with Tamburlaine in all his majesty.
ACT II., SCENE 2.
Cos. Thus far are we towards Theridamas,
And valiant Tamburlaine, the man of fame,
The man that in the forehead of his fortune
Bears figures of renown and miracle.
But tell me, that hast seen him, Menaphon,
What stature wields he, and what personage?
Men. Of stature tall, and straightly fashioned,
Like his desire, lift upwards and divine;
So large of limbs, his joints so strongly knit,
Such breadth of shoulders as might mainly bear
Old Atlas' burden; 'twixt his manly pitch,
A pearl more worth than all the world is plac'd,
Wherein by curious sovereignty of art
Are fix'd his piercing instruments of sight,
Whose fiery circles bear encompassed