Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 36.djvu/191

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Marlowe
Marlowe
185

England; with the Tragiciall Fall of proud Mortimer; And also the Life and Death of Peirs Ganeston, the great Earle of Cornewall, and mighty Favorite of King Edward the Second, as it was publiquely acted by the Right Honourable the Earle of Pembrooke his servauntes. Written by Chri. Marlow, Gent. Imprinted at London by Richard Bradocke, for William Jones, 1598, 4to' (British Museum and Bodleian). A manuscript cony of this edition, in a seventeenth-century hand, is in the Dyce Library. The text is in a far more satisfactory state than in the case of any other of Marlowe's works. Other early editions are dated 1612 and 1622. It was translated into German by Von Buelow in 1831. There are recent editions by Mr. F. O. Fleay (1877) and by Mr. O. W. Tancock, Oxford, 1879 and 1887.

In two dramatic pieces—of far inferior calibre—Marlowe was also concerned. The 'Massacre at Paris,' which concludes with the assassination of Henry III, 2 Aug. 1689, appears to hare been first acted 3 Jan. 1692-3 (Henslowe, Diary). It reproduces much recent French history and seems to have been largely based on contemporary reports. The text of the printed piece is very corrupt. A fragment of a contemporary manuscript copy (sc. 19) printed by Mr. Collier is extant among the Halliwell-Phillipps papers, and attests, as far as it goes, the injury done to the piece while going through the press. The soliloquy of the Duke of Guise in sc. 2 alone is worthy of notice. The only early edition is without date. It was probably published in 1600. The title runs: 'The Massacre at Paris: with the death of the Duke of Guise. As it was plaide by the right honourable the Lord High Admirall his Serrante. Written by Christopher Marlow. At London Printed by E A. for Edward White. There are copies in the British Museum, the Bodleian, and the Pepysian libraries.

The 'Tragedy of Dido,' published in 1594, is described as the joint work of Marlowe 'and Thomas Nash. Gent.' Unlike Marlowe's earlier efforts, it is overlaid with quaint conceits and has none of his tragic intensity. Æneas's recital to Dido of the story of the fall of Troy is in the baldest and most pedestrian verse, and was imdoubtedly parodied bv Shekespeare in the play-scene in 'Hamlet.' The piece must have been a very juvenile effort, awkwardly revised and completed by Nashe after Marlowe's death. The title of the editio princep runs: 'The Tragedie of Dido Queene of Carthage: Played by the Children of her Majesties Chappell. Written by Christopher Marlowe and Thomas Nash, Gent. At London, Printed by the Widdowe Orwin for Thomas Woodcocke, 1594. Copies are in the Bodleian, Bridgwater House, and Devonshire House libraries.

Several other plays have been assigned to Marlowe on internal evidence, but critics are much divided as to the extent of his work outside the pieces already specified. Like his friends Kyd and Shakespeare, he doubtless refurbished some old plays and collaborated in some new ones, but he had imitators, from whom he is not, except in his most exalted moments, always distinguishable. Shakespeare's earlier style often closely resembled his, and it is not at all times possible to distinguish the two with certainty. 'A Taming of a Shrew' (1694), the precursor of Shakespeare's comedy, has been frequently assigned to Marlowe. It contains many passages literally borrowed from 'Tamburlaine or 'Faustus,' but it is altogether unlikely either that Marlowe would have literally borrowed from himself or that he could have sufficiently surmounted his deficiency in humour to produce so humorous a play. 'The Trublesome Raign of Kinge John' (1591), 'a poor, spiritless chronicle play,' may in its concluding portions be by Marlowe, but many of his contemporaries could have done as well. Internal evidence gives Marlowe some claim to be regarded as part author of 'Titus Andronicus,' with which Shakespeare was very slightly, if at all, concerned. Aaron might well have been drawn by the creator of the Jew of Malta, but the theory that Kyd was largely responsible for the piece deserves consideration. The three parts of 'Henry VI,' which figure in the 1623 folio of Shakespeare's works, although they were apparently written in 1592, present features of great difficulty. The first part shows very slight, if any, traces of Marlowe's co-operation. But in the second and third plays passages appear in which his hand can be distinctly traced. Each of these plays exists in another shape. Part II. is an improved and much altered version of 'The First Part of the Contention betwixt the two Famous Houses of Vork and Lancaster,' 1594, 4to, and Part III. bears similar relation to 'The True Tragedie of Richard, Duke of Yorke.' 1595, 4to, although the divergences between the two are less extensive. There are many internal proofs that Marlowe worked on the earlier pieces in conjunction with one or more coadjutors who have not been satisfactorily identified. But that admission does not exclude the theory that he was afterwards associated with Shakespeare in converting these imperfect drafts into the form in which they were admitted to the 1623 folio (cf. Fleay, Life of Shakeapeare, pp. 235 sq.; Transactions of New Shakspere Soc. pt. ii.