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diviner Muse than he Kit Marlowe;" and Heywood calls him “ the best of poets.” Peele, in his Honou of the Garter, thus speaks of him :
Unhappy in thine end,
In The Return from Parnassus he is characterised in these words :
“ Marlowe was happy in his buskined muse,
Drayton describes him in a still higher and fine
“ Next Marlowe bathed in the Thespian springs,
your first poets had : his raptures were
Which rightly should possess a poet's brain."
We will now exhibit the reverse of the picture from which, if the representation be correct, we mus conclude Marlowe to be a blasphemer and an atheist a scoffer of God, and a standing monument of his justice. Thomas Beard, in The Theatre of God's
Judgments*, a zealous puritan, and an arcb-dialectician, holds him up as a notable example of the danger of speaking lightly of religious mysteries. “ Not inferior," says he, “ to any of the former in atheism and impiety, and equal to all in manner of punishment, was one of our own nation of fresh and late memory, called Marlowe, by profession a scholar, brought up from his youth in the University of Cambridge, but by practice a play-maker, and a poet of scurrility, who by giving too large a swing to his own wit, and suffering his lust to have the full reins, fell (not without just desert) to that great outrage and extremity that he denied God and his son Christ, and not only in word blasphemed the Trinity (but also as it is credibly reported) wrote books against it, affirming our Saviour to be a deceiver, and Moses but to be a seducer of the people, and the Holy Bible to be but vain and idle stories, and all religion but a device of policy. But see what a hook the Lord put in the nostrils of this barking dog : so it fell out that as he purposed to stab one whom he ought a grudge unto with his dagger; the other party perceiving, so avoided the stroke that withal catching hold of his wrist, he stabbed his own dagger into his own head, in such sort that not
We quote from the 4to. edition, by Thomas Beard and Thomas Taylor, p. 92, 1668, fol.
withstanding all the means of surgery that could be wrought he shortly after died thereof, the manner of his death being so terrible (for he even cursed and blasphemed to his last gasp, and together with his breath an oath flew out of his mouth) that it was not only a manifest sign of God's judgment, but also an horrible and fearful terror to all that beheld him. But herein did the justice of God most notably appear in that he compelled his own hand which had written those blasphemies to be the instrument to punish him, and that in his brain which had devised the same.”
William Vaughan, another of the same class, in a book called the Golden Grove, published in 1600, gives a somewhat different version of this story. “ Christopher Marlowe," says he, “by profession a play-maker, who, as it is reported, about fourteen years ago wrote a book against the Trinity, but see the effects of God's justice; it so happened that at Deptford, a little village about three miles distant from London, as he meant to stab with his poinard one named Ingram, that had invited him thither to a feast, and was then playing at tables, he quickly perceiving it so avoided the thrust, that withall drawing out his dagger for his defence, he stabbed this Marlowe into the eye in such sort that his brains coming out at the dagger's point he
shortly after died. Thus did God, the true executioner of divine justice, work the end of impious atheists."
From the Register of Burials for the Parish of St. Nicholas, Deptford, it appears that the name of this person was Archer and not Ingram. The entry is as follows:-" 1st June, 1593, Christopher Marlowe slain by Francis Archer.”
The earliest authority for the manner of Marlowe's death is that of Francis Meres in his " Wits' Treasury,' 8vo. 1598, who observes, “ As the poet Lycophron was shot to death by a rival of his, so Marlowe was stabbed to death by a bawdy serving man, a rival of his lewd love."
Anthony Wood introduces Beard's story into his Athænæ Oronienses, with this addition on the authority of Meres, “ that he being deeply in love with a certain woman, bad for his rival a bawdy serving man, one rather fit to be a pimp than an ingenious amoretto as Marlowe conceived himself to be."
The opinions ascribed to Marlowe probably originated in a string of accusations, which appear to have been preferred against him by a man of the name of Richard Bame or Banes. This document is amongst Lord Keeper Puckering's papers* and is
Harl. MSS. No. 6853.
printed in Ritson's Observations on Warton, for the purpose of sheving the truth of the accusations brought against Marlowe. Its extravagance and absurdity however render it totally unworthy of credit; indeed some of the opinions, we conjecture, have been considered so ridiculous by a more cautious person than the informer, that he has struck them out with a pen; the same person has also altered the title of the piece. Whether it was dictated by personal dislike or misguided zeal, or proceeded from mercenary motives is perhaps unimportant; but it is not unimportant to observe, that Marlowe's accuser was hanged at Tyburn on the 6th of December, 1594..
It is probable, however, from the quotation we are about to make from the posthumous work of his friend, Robert Greene, “A groatsworth of wit bought with a million of repentance," that Marlowe had doubts on the subject of religion.
He addresses his brother poets in the following words :-“ To those gentlemen, his quondam acquaintance, that spend their wits in making plays, R. G., wisheth a better excuse and wisdom to prevent his extremities.” The first address has generally been considered as being directed to Marlowe. “ Wonder not,” says he, “ with thee will I first
* Stationers' Reg. Book, p. 316.