Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 36.djvu/193

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Marlowe
Marlowe
187

'Passionate Pilgrim,' 1699, a collection of verse by various hands, although the title-page bore the sole name of Shakespeare. In 'England's Helicon' the lyric appeared in its complete form, with the signature 'C. Marlowe' beneath it; the well-known answer in six stanzas which follows immediately is signed 'Ignoto' and is ascribed to Sir Walter Raleigh. Marlowe's lyric caught the popular ear immediately. Sir Hugh Evans quotes it in 'The Merry Wives of Windsor' (iii. i.); Donne imitated it in his poem called 'The Bait;' Nicholas Breton referred to it as 'the old song' in 1637; and Isaak Walton makes Maudlin in the 'Complete Angler' sing to Piscator 'that smooth song which was made by Kit Marlowe,' as well as 'The Nymph's Reply' 'made by Sir Walter Raleigh in his younger days.' Walton supplies an additional stanza to each lyric. Both were issued together as a broadside about 1650 (Roxburghe Ballads, i. 205), and they were included in Percy's 'Reliques' (cf. ed. 1876, i. 220 sq.) A beautiful fragment by Marlowe, 'I walked along a stream for pureness rare,' figures in 'England's Parnassus,' 1600.

Marlowe's life ended gloomily. Of revolutionary temperament, he held religious views which outraged all conventional notions of orthodoxy. In 'Tamburlaine'(ii. 5) he spoke with doubt of the existence of God. Greene in his 'Goatsworth of it,' written in September 1592, plainly appealed to bim to forsake his aggressive unbelief. 'Why should thy excellent wit, God's gift, be so blinded that thou abouldst give no glory to the giver?' Chettle, Greene's publisher, wheu defending himself in his 'Kind Hart's Dreame' from a charge of having assisted Greene to attack Marlowe and other dramatists, claimed to have toned down Greene's references to Marlowe, which in their original shape contained 'intolerable' matter. The early manuscript notes in the 1629 copy of 'Hero and Leander' (formerly in Hebers collection) also describe Marlowe as an atheist, and state that he converted to his views a friend and admirer at Dover. The latter, whose name has been deciphered as 'Phineaux' (i.e. Fineux), is said to have subsequently recanted (cf. Hunter's MS. Chorus Fatum). It is moreover certain that just before his death Marlowe's antinomian attitude had attracted the attention of the authorities, and complaints were made to Sir John Puckering, the lord keeper, of the scandal created on the part of Marlowe and his friends by the free expression of their views. On 18 May 1593 the privy council issued 'a warrant to Henry Maunder, one of the messengers of Her Majesties Chamber, to repair to the house of Mr. Thomas Wolsingham in Kent, or to anie other place where he shall understand Christopher Marlow to be remayning, and by virtue hereof to apprehend and bring him to the court in his companie, and in case of need to require ayd' (Privy Council MS. Register, 22 Aug. 1592-22 Aug. 1593, p. 374). Walsingham lived at the manor of Scadbury in the parish of Chislehurst (cf. Hasted, Kent, 1797, ii. 7; Manning and Bray, Surrey, ii. 540). Some weeks earlier (19 March) similar proceedings had been taken by the council against Richard Cholmley and Richard Strange; the former is known to have been concerned with Marlowe in disseminating irreligious doctrines (Privy Council Reg. p. 298). Cholmley and Marlowe both escaped arrest at the time. The poet reached Deptford within a few days of the issue of the warrant, and there almost immediately met his death in a drunken brawl. He was little more than twenty-nine years old. In the register of the parish church of St. Nicholas, Deptford, appears the entry, which is ordinarily transcribed thus: 'Christopher Marlow, slain by Francis Archer 1 June 1593.' Mr. Holliwell-Phillipps read the surname of the assailant as 'Frezer,' i.e. Frazer.

In a sonnet which concludes Gabriel Harvey's 'Newe letter of Notable Contents' (September 1593) reference is made to the death of 'Tamberlaine' as one of the notable events of 'the wonderful yeare' 1593, and in a succeeding 'glosse' death, 'smiling at his Tamberlaine contempt,' is declared to have 'sternly struck home the peremptory stroke.' The exact circumstances are doubtful. Francis Meres, in 'Palladis Tamia,' 1598, wrote: 'As the poet Lycophron was shot to death by a certain rival of his, so Christopher Marlowe was stabd to death by a bawdy serving-man, a riual of his in his lewde love' (fol. 2S6). William Vaughan, in his 'Golden Grove,' 1600, supplies a somewhat different account, and gives the murderer the name of Ingram: 'It so happened that at Detford, a little village about three miles distant from London, as he [i.e. Marlowe] meant to stab with his ponyard one named Ingram that had inuited him thither to a feast and was then playing at tables, hee [i.e. Ingram] quickly perceyving it, so avoyded the thrust, that withall drawing out his dagger for his defence, be stabd this Marlow into the eye, in such sort that, his braynes comming out at the dagger point, he shortly after dyed.' Thomas Beard the puritan told the story more vaguely for purposes of edification in his 'Theatre of God's Judgments,' 1597, p. 148. 'It so fell out,' Beard wrote, 'that in