I count religion but a childish toy,
And hold there is no sin but ignorance.
Birds of the air will tell of murders past!
I am asham'd to hear such fooleries.
Machiavel, Act 1, Jew of Malta
Marlowe Studies Entry: April 17, 2011
In her In Search Of Christopher Marlowe, A.D. Wraight says, "It is perhaps fitting that the most appreciative of the early critics of Marlowe should have been a poet, Algernon Charles Swinburne, with whom the 20th century reassessment of Marlowe may be said to begin, in conjunction with the editing of his works and the publication of his biography by C.F. Tucker Brooke and J.H. Ingram. In comparing Marlowe with his contemporaries Greene and Peele, Swinburne wrote: 'These three gifted men have been bracketed together by his critics for 300 years. But Marlowe differs from such people, not in degree, but in kind; not as an eagle differs from wrens and tit-mice, but as an eagle differs from frogs and tadpoles.' Comparing Marlowe, on the other hand, with his true successors, Shakespeare and Milton, he wrote: '[Marlowe] first, and he alone, gave wings to English poetry . . . among all English poets he was the first full-grown man, the first among us of their kind.' "
Wraight goes on to say, "Swinburne thus placed him in the hierarchy of the truly great, the first genius of this kind, the 'morning star' of a line of lyric poets of the highest caliber." She then gives us several pages detailing just what was so remarkable about Marlowe's genius. She begins with another quote from Swinburne, "[Marlowe] began his career by a double and incomparable achievement; the invention of English blank verse, and the creation of English tragedy"' Of this, she says, "This is not too much to claim, and in this assessment Swinburne is by no means alone. As Professor Bakeless has pointed out, 'The amazing newness and strangeness' of Marlowe's poetic drama was immediately striking to his contemporaries, if it is less so to us who have heard the strains of Shakespeare, Milton, Keats and a hundred others who came after.' "
On the previous editorial page 1 we showed several scholars' arguments for Marlowe's authorship of King Henry VI, Parts 1 and 2 and contrasted them against Peter Alexander's arguments for the Stratford Shaksper as author. By placing the arguments side by side, Alexander's argument was revealed to be based on assumptions. Do students at the universities know that Peter Alexander left C. F. Tucker Brooke's research on King Henry VI, Parts 1 and 2 out of his later book Shakespeare? Do they know that C.F. Tucker Brooke eclipsed Alexander by far with his studies of both Marlowe and Shakespeare?
Charles Frederick Tucker Brooke, 1883-1946
Brooke was an author, literary scholar, and professor of English at Yale from 1909-1946. As a Rhodes Scholar he studied at West Virginia University, the University of Chicago, and at Oxford University. He published works on English literature and drama, including studies of Marlowe and Shakespeare. His works include: The Apocryphal Shakespeare (1908), English Drama 1580-1642 (1933), Tudor Drama: A History of English National Drama to the Retirement of Shakespeare (1911), The Works of Christopher Marlowe (1910), The Authorship of the Second and Third Parts of King Henry VI, Shakespeare's Plutarch, (1909), The Life of Marlowe and the Tragedy of Dido, Queen of Carthage (1930).
Marlowe Studies Entry: April 18, 2011
J. M. Robertson agreed with Tucker Brooke that Marlowe was the main writer of King Henry VI Parts 1 and 2 (The Contention and The True Tragedy). He, like Brooke, Gaw, Bakeless, Wraight, and even Edmund Malone, went for a more scientific approach than Alexander's rabbit-eared assumptions pulled out of a tall black circular argument hat, i.e., Shakespeare from Stratford was with the Pembroke players (assumption) and wrote King Henry VI Parts 2 and 3 for them (conclusion based on assumption), therefore the many allusions in Parts 2 and 3 to Marlowe's Edward II, were not a sign Marlowe wrote Parts 2 and 3, but that Marlowe got the lines in his plays after Shakespeare from Stratford wrote Parts 2 and 3. Abracadabra. Alexander has just stripped of his creative genius the man who gave blank verse drama its first wings upon the stage by assuming he stole his lines from another writer!
While he was writing about the evidence for Marlowe continuing to revise and insert lines into his plays after their original play date, J.M. Robertson (The Genuine in Shakespeare, 1930, Marlowe, 1931) said that we must never let any apriorism dictate our assignments. "Scrutiny of the problems of authorship in Elizabethan drama is equally a pursuit to be conducted in the scientific spirit, with a concern for testable inference such as is only latterly emerging. Without loyalty to inductive method it is but a procedure of literary or aesthetic impressionism not recognizable as scientific in any sense . . . "
Robertson gives to Marlowe the following anonymous plays he sees as collaborative works: The Troublesome Raigne of King John, Alphonsus Emperor Of Germany, Taming Of A Shrew (the early version of Taming Of The Shrew), and Edward III.
Marlowe Studies Entry: April 19, 2011
On Edward III
". . . so good that we are forced to think of Shakspere and of Marlowe, of Shakspere in his period of lyricism, or of Shakspere following the track of Marlowe." John Addington Symonds, 1884
In Marlowe (1931) J.M. Robertson analyzes the style of several apocryphal plays in which he sees Marlowe's hand. Below, he discusses Edward III and its relationship to Marlowe:
"In Edward III, Marlowe's hand is evident at the outset: and though all logical scrutiny of the versification and the phrasal echoes of the "Countess scenes" leads to the view of them as rewritten by Greene, not long before his death, there also we have such plain traces of Marlowe's hand that he must be held to have drafted the episode in the first form of the play. The other contributions to the piece, by Kyd and Peele, are subsidiary; and though its plot, purpose, and limitations precluded any powerful exercise of his faculty on the male parts, he may be reckoned in this case "chief plotter".
Robertson believes it is the powerfulness of the Countess scenes that inspires their ascription to Shakespeare. He says that if the Countess scenes were Shakespeare's, we must ask ourselves why this play was not included in the Folio. The Marlowe Studies suggests many people of the time knew Marlowe had a strong hand in Edward III because Greene and Nashe were popular pamphleteers and their allusions to Marlowe authoring Edward III had not gone by the populace unnoticed. This may be why it was not included in the First Folio under his pseudonym Shakespeare.
Robertson says, "Dyce's declaration that in the play "no traces of [Marlowe's] genius are discernible" is impercipient both positively and negatively. The lines on Antwerp (74-6):
Oh, she is amorous as the wanton air
And must be courted: from her nostrils comes
A breath as sweet as the Arabian spice . . .
are like Marlowe and no one else; and his "genius," of which Dyce seems to have noted only the inflation, is to be seen here in the strong concision of the writing. It was a case for realism, with no clear opening for either the "high astounding" vein of Tamburlaine, or a "character" study like that of Guise. We begin with ruthless military planning and preparation for a treacherous attack; and nobody even up to 1602 can be named who could more forcibly strike the note. Furthermore, there are in the earlier Acts a score of verbal and phrasal clues to Marlowe, and to no one else."
In his An Introduction To The Study Of The Shakespeare Canon, Robertson says, "A longer and closer study of Marlowe leads to the conviction that he is the primary author [Edward III]; and there can at least be no a priori objection to the view that he would be about as readily interested in the figure of Edward III as in that of his luckless father. The presumption is, indeed, that he would handle the hero-King first, and the failing King afterwards, when he awoke to the dramatic possibilities of such presentments."
Robertson says that when we take Marlowe as the author we can correctly amend the obvious mistake in Act III, scene 5, of Edward III :
The dismal charge of trumpets loud retreat.
The word "charge" has no meaning, and critics have wondered if it is a mistake for clang or clangour. Robertson refers us back to Marlowe's Tamburlaine, Act 4 where we find the line:
The dismal clange of trumpets sound retreat.
There we find the correct replacement for "charge", which is" clange". Again, Marlowe's tendency was to repeat himself, especially in the plays he wrote with a team of other writers. When we add these plays to his canon, we see how busy he must have been writing the collaborative plays, his own plays, and working in secret intelligence.
Robertson says that other clues in Edward III to Marlowe's authorship are "airy fowl" and "airy floor of heaven", which allude to Dido's "airy wheels" and "airy creatures". "Ragged heaps of stones" points to Edward II's "ragged stony walls". Even more significant is the echo from 1 Tamburlaine,
The host of Xerxes, which by fame is said
To have drank the mighty Parthian Araris.
in Edward III's seventh act
By land, with Xerxes we compare of strength,
Whose soldiers drank up rivers in their thirst.
It should be noted we find Marlowe echoing himself again in 2 Tamburlaine:
Think them in number yet sufficient
To drink the river Nile or Euphrates.
He says, "To call such passages 'impotent imitations' is as idle as to set down to imitation the abundant Marlowese verse in the old Shrew [Taming Of A Shrew], where the actual repetitions from Marlowe plays are only items in a mass of equally Marlovian matter. The lines last cited from Edward III are as exactly in Marlowe's style and versification as the thought is that of the lines from Tamburlaine." Robertson finds the most decisive parallel in the play is to Marlowe's Jew Of Malta, not in the duplication of thought, but of voice and manner:
Edward III Act II, scene ii
The sin is more to hack and hew poor men
Than to embrace in an unlawful bed
The register of all rarieties
Since leathern Adam till this youngest hour,
Jew Of Malta Act I, scene ii
Why, I esteem the injury far less
To take the lives of miserable men
Than be the causes of their misery.
Another one of academia's Marlowe myths is that he was all bombast and rant, therefore he could not have been Shakespeare. This idea is founded on only one of Marlowe's plays, Tamburlaine, his first stage success. Tamburlaine was written when Marlowe was about twenty-one while still at Cambridge. Academics tend to equate Tamburlaine's ruthless ambition as a projection of Marlowe's own desires, ignoring the fact that the hero-villain character was popular at the time he wrote this play. The hero-villain replaced the medieval characters that merely represented personalized virtues and vices in the Morality Plays, and later in the Interludes. We find little bombast and rant in Dr. Faustus, The Jew of Malta, Edward II, and The Massacre At Paris. Should we accept Marlowe's authorship in the history plays Edward III, The Contention, The True Tragedy, and 1 King Henry VI, we see him headed in the direction of his later Shakespeare works. (See editorial page 11 for Tamburlaine)
In his An Introduction To The Study Of The Shakespeare Canon, Robertson says, "For Dyce, "genius" was apt to mean the production of highly rhetorical poetry. But there is a playwright in Marlowe as well as the poet; and the marked difference in manner and method between Tamburlaine and Edward II, to say nothing of the line-for-line translation of Lucan's first Book, tell of an artistic transformation which might go further. I confess to having failed at first to recognize Marlowe in the opening scene of Edward III . . . renewed scrutiny discloses him in both, in his lowered key. those who, with Swinburne, cannot associate Marlowe with anything approaching to flatness in style should scrutinize Edward II, where he so often eschews all rhetoric and descends to a nearly pedestrian level by way of securing a kind of dramatic realism that is incomparable with his "heroic" vein. For instance, Pembroke's speech in Act II, sc. v; -
My lord Mortimer and you, my lords, each one,
To gratify the king's request therein
Touching the sending of this Gaveston,
Because his majesty so earnestly
Desires to see the man before his death,
I will upon mine honour undertake
To carry him, and bring him back again;
Provided this, that you my lord of Arundel
Will join with me.
J.M. Robertson sees Marlowe's hand in several of the Shakespeare Folio plays; 1 King Henry VI, along with Parts 2 and 3, Henry V, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, The Comedy of Errors, Titus Andronicus, The Merchant of Venice, Richard II, and Richard III.
Richard II and Richard III
Quotes from traditional scholars:
"Shakespeare's incorporation and revision of original writing by Marlowe
. . . would help to account for the subliminal Marlovian characteristics of the Henry VI plays, their invariable association with each other and with Titus Andronicus, Richard II and Richard III . . ." Thomas Merriam, 1996
"Throughout Shakespeare’s ‘Richard III’ the effort to emulate Marlowe is undeniable." Sidney Lee, 1898
"This [Richard III] only of all Shakespeare’s plays belongs absolutely in the school of Marlowe. The influence of the elder master, and that influence alone, is perceptible from end to end."
Algernon Swinburne, 1880
[We now know Marlowe was not the "elder" master. He was born the same year as Shakespeare from Stratford, 1564.]
Of Richard II, J.M. Robertson says:
For a perceptive reader, the presence of Marlowe in this play [Richard II] might be at once made plain by such lines as these (I, iii, 88-92):
Never did captive with a freer heart
Cast off his chains of bondage and embrace
His golden uncontroll'd enfranchisement
More than my dancing soul doth celebrate
This feast of battle with mine adverssary.
Everything that constitutes blank-verse style is here identical with the same elements in these (EDWARD II, II, ii):
Sweet lord and King, your speech preventeth mine.
Yes have I words left to express my joy:
The shepherd nipt with biting winter's rage
Frolics not more to see the painted spring
Than I do to behold your majesty;
which in turn point straight back to these (2 TAMBURLAINE, I, iii) :
Your presence, loving friends and fellow-Kings,
Makes me to surfeit in conceiving joy:
If all the crystal gates of Jove's high court
Were open'd wide and I might enter in
To see the state and majesty of heaven,
It could not more delight me than your sight.
In these three passages there is no repetition of phrase, yet the trope-scheme is exactly similar in all, and the verse-movement is congenital in every pulse. When men asseverate [assuming with a tone of authority], nevertheless, that Shakespeare wrote the first passage, they are asking us to believe that in him the principle of imitation was of a pathological potency.
It is probable, indeed, that the play was revised by Marlowe after its first state. In the first 100 lines of blank verse there are 17 double-endings, which is much above Peele's percentages, but also higher than the rate in some scenes which appear to be Marlowe's. When, as in II, iii, it reaches 20 percent, there can be no question of his activity unless we raise the hypothesis that here as in some other plays the imitative Heywood had a revising hand.
There are, in fact, so many salient parallels in RICHARD II to EDWARD II and to RICHARD III, as well as to other works of Marlowe's, that we must either avow his presence or assume Shakespeare to have actually aimed at all manner of unimportant imitations, not of style but of little specialties of phrase. In Act I, scene i, for instance, we have the line (152):
As might make
Wrath-kindled gentlemen, be ruled by me.
In Marlowe's translation of Ovid's AMORES we have the lines (II, v, 51-2):
As might make
Wrath-kindled Jove away his hunger shake.
Robertson goes on to say, "Nowhere else in the Folio does the double epithet "wrath-kindled" appear at all. Coming as it does at the beginning of a line, it is either a fantastic reminiscence by Shakespeare of a line in a manuscript by Marlowe, not yet printed, or a normal reminiscence of himself by Marlowe in one or the other case. For nobody now dates RICHARD II as written by Shakespeare before the date of Marlowe's death."
Marlowe Studies Entry April 20, 2011
Ovid. The poet of love. It is well-known King Edward III's love poem and Countess scenes are the best in the play. So lets take a brief break from Robertson and compare Marlowe's known verse style with their lines.
A.D. Wraight has taken Robertson's observations of Marlowe's double adjectives to the source of their inception, and in the process provided us with three of them in Edward III. She says, "His distinctive use of double-barrelled adjectives, first developed in his translation of Lucan and Ovid, are here superbly represented in the 'iron-hearted navies' and the 'through-shot planks', and King John’s dramatic 'mirror of pale death', an association of imagery that is typical of Marlowe."
The Marlowe Studies suggests the double-adjectives Marlowe uses in King Edward III are just one of many signals in this play he is developing into his mature works under the Shakespeare pseudonym. We think of Shakespeare's hyphenated compounds, "The strong-based promontory," "The cloud-capped towers," "Sour-eyed disdain," "Still-closing waters."
While Robertson suggests Greene's hand in the Countess scenes, Wraight says there is ample evidence that the love episode is from Marlowe's pen as much as the rest of the play. She goes on to show us how the stylistic affinity is especially strong in the expressions of romantic love between Edward the Third and Tamburlaine. Note the correspondence in style, versification, mood and passion in the comparison of these two passages:
Ah, fair Zenocrate! — divine Zenocrate!
Fair is too foul an epithet for these.
Better than beautiful, thou must begin;
Devise for fair a fairer word than fair.
King Edward instructs his courtier Lodowick to compose a poem that will move the Countess to respond to his passionate love for her. He requests Lodowick invoke 'some golden Muse' to bring his poet 'an enchanted pen':
King. Now, Lodowick, invocate some golden Muse,
To bring thee hither an enchanted pen,
That may for sighs set down true sighs indeed,
Talking of grief, to make thee ready groan;
Wraight says Marlowe is recalling memories for his audience of his famous panegyric on 'beauty, mother of the Muses' in his recently written Tamburlaine, where he wrote:
Where Beauty, mother to the Muses, sits,
And comments volumes with her ivory pen,
Taking instructions from thy flowing eyes;
Eyes, when that Ebena steps to heaven,
In silence of thy solemn evening's walk,
If all the pens that poets ever held
Had fed the feelings of their masters’ thoughts,
Below, King Edwards’s speech of passion for the Countess echoes Tamburlaine’s passion for Zenocrate. Marlowe himself invites his audiences to associate King Edward's passion with Tamburlaine’s by referring directly to Tamburlaine, when he says 'raising drops in a Tartar’s eye' and making 'a flintheart Scythian pitiful'.
King . . .
And when thou writest of tears, encouch the word
Before and after with such sweet laments
That it may raise drops in a Tarter’s eye
And make a flintheart Scythian pitiful;
The Marlowe Studies suggests there is also an allusion to Dr. Faustus in the passage, a few lines down we found:
For so much moving hath a poet’s pen;
Then, if thou be a poet, move thou so,
And be enriched by thy sovereign’s love.
For, if the touch of sweet concordant strings
Could enforce attendance in the ears of hell,
How much more shall the strains of poets’ wit
Beguile and ravish soft and human minds?
Both romantic passages build up to a climax which ends abruptly. King Edward’s passage ends with “What, thinkest thou I did bid thee praise a horse?” Tamburlaine’s romantic passage ends with "Who's within there?” (Enter Attendants) “Hath Bajazeth been fed to-day?”
King Edward: . . . Forget not to set down, how passionate,
How heart-sick, and how full of languishment,
Her beauty makes me.
Lodowick. Write I to a woman?
King. What beauty else could triumph over me,
Or who but women do our loves lays greet? What, thinkest thou I did bid thee praise a horse?
Tamburlaine: . . . Shall give the world to note, for all my birth,
That virtue solely is the sum of glory,
And fashions men with true nobility.—
Who's within there?
Hath Bajazeth been fed to--day?
Read the two passages in full and compare the sound and rhythm of King Edward’s lines with those of Tamburlaine praising Zenocrate. Then you can decide for yourself if they sound like they were written by the same man.
MARLOWE BOOKS and AUTHORS
A.D. Wraight: Her Work
The Story That the Sonnets Tell
Christopher Marlowe and Edward AlleynIn Search of Christopher Marlowe:
A Pictorial Biography (more than 300 photos that illustrate Marlowe's life)
Wraight Dismantles the Marlowe Myths
1. Violent: The Distorted Image
The Myth of the Bradley Duel
The Myth of Corkyn v. Marlowe
Kyd's Statements After Being Tortured
2. Assumption of Homosexuality
3. Assumption of Blasphemous Atheist
4. The Flimsy Credibility of Baines' Note
David Rhys Williams
Shakespeare Thy Name Is Marlowe
Who Was Kit Marlowe?
The Clue In The Shrew
Hoffman and the Authorship
The First Man Proclaims: It Was Marlowe!
William Gleason Zeigler (1895)
The Second Man Asks: "Was It Marlowe?"
Archie Webster (1923)
Marlowe's Mighty Line:
Was Marlowe Murdered at Twenty-Nine?
Benjamin Wham (1961)
If Shakespeare was a pseudonym for Marlowe
we would expect to find these orthodox
Scholar's Quotes: Marlowe/Shakespeare
Marlowe's Extended Canon?
Amores, translated by Marlowe
(with A.D. Wraight's comments)
THE AUTHORSHIP DEBATE
The Marlowe Studies
The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection
#1 Web Blog on Christopher Marlowe
Contact The Marlowe Studies