The Marlowe Studies Entry: April 20, 2011

birds

 

Echoes and Repeats in Edward the Third

Wraight traces the origin of the author’s repetition in King Edward the Third's romantic lines to Marlowe’s translation of Ovid’s Amores while at Cambridge, where he had repeatedly written such lines as:

Accept him that will serve thee all his youth,
Accept him that will love with spotless truth,

And she to whom in shape of swan Jove came,
And she that on a feign’d bull swam to land
Book 1, Elegy III

When King Edward III must show the poet how to write love poetry he repeats himself:

And let me have her likened to the sun;
Say she hath thrice more splendour than the sun,
That her perfections emulate the sun,
That she breed sweets as plenteous as the sun,
That she doth thaw cold winter like the sun,
That she doth cheer fresh summer like the sun,
That she doth dazzle gazers like the sun;
And, in this application to the sun,
Bid her be free and general as the sun,
Who smiles upon the basest weed that grows
As lovingly as on the fragrant rose.

Act II Scene 1, 11.140-165

Are we to believe the man from rural Stratford came to town able to write as if he were a University man, capable of lithely penned, scholarly lines like, “And, in this application to the sun”? Cambridge taught Marlowe dialectic and rhetorical skills that one does not receive just by reading books.

Wraight says that in the above passage we have, "Marlowe’s iterative use of words and imagery in building up a climax, so effectively used in Tamburlaine which was on the boards in the previous year. It is a trick he learned from Ovid, and is one of his most characteristic traits." She goes on to say, "It was Marlowe’s work translating Ovid and Lucan that prepared the way for his dramatic blank verse style. These are love poems, and in Edward the Third he is writing a love scene, so that the memory of Ovid is strongly evoked and the style subconsciously pervades his writing.”

wraight
A.D. Wraight in Marlowe's home town of Canterbury
with Shakespearean actor Sir Ian Mckellen.


No one before Marlowe had translated Ovid's Amores, and his translation was not published until circa 1599 -when Archbishop John Whitgift promptly had every copy burned in The Bishops’ Bonfire on June 4, 1599. This is a crucial point in the Shakespeare debate. It is well known Shakespeare had a love of Ovid akin to Marlowe's (one of the many coincidences we find). Are we to believe that the young man from Stratford who had been busy having children with his wife Anne, rode into London circa 1590 at 26 years-old with a heavily laden Warwickshirian tongue, a pocketful of Ovidian repetitions and double adjectives ready to splash upon the pages of Edward the Third like Aphrodite born full-blown from sea foam? (In his Venus and Adonis: A Study In The Warwichsire Dialect, Appleton Morgan says, "But I must admit to have only found two words in the poem which I could even with effort succeed in tracing to Warwickshire - one, the word "tempest," which, in Warwickshire usage means "a rainstorm," and the other the word "cop," spelled cope in the poem and in the plays . . . In the plays, however, the word "tempest" does not appear to be used in the Warwickshire sense-though "cope" appears in them as well as in the poem.")

Wraight goes on to say, "Marlowe in romantic mood echoes himself, and this is a cogent argument, for dramatic parallelism revealing the same mind at work is perhaps even more indicative of authorship than reliance on an analysis of prosody, which is subject to the mood and emotion of a poet of such sensitivity as Marlowe, who varies his style and metrics according to the character and situation he is portraying."

All scholars agree Marlowe's habit is to quote his lines from previous plays. What another remarkable coincidence that Shakespeare also quotes Marlowe's lines from Marlowe's plays, and only Marlowe's Peter Alexander, in full knowledge of this, chose instead to state (assume) that all the allusions in Edward III to Marlowe's plays meant that Shakespeare from Stratford wrote those lines first, and that Marlowe copied him. Marlowe, the one poet who copied no one, the poet who was, as they say, "the creator of Shakespearean blank verse drama". (It should be noted that while reading Robert Giroux's The Book Known As Q, A.H. Schulenburg recently discovered a sonnet by Thomas Watson, Marlowe's friend, quoted in Much Ado About Nothing, Act I, scene i, line 263. )

John Bakeless, 1942

"Shakespeare quotes Marlowe or alludes to his plays repeatedly … practically the whole of Marlowe’s work as it is now known. . . . The abundance of Shakespeare’s quotations, echoes, and allusions [of Marlowe] is especially important because he lets his other literary contemporaries severely alone."

 

Should we believe Marlowe wrote Edward the Third, we find another Marlowe/Shakespeare cross-pollination in the Earl of Warwick's speech to his daughter, the married Countess who is horrified her father has been tricked by King Edward to aid him in his quest to have her for his own. In this speech, as Wraight points out, we find the lines from Shake-speare's Sonnet 94: Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds. Wraight points out that Marlowe's well-known "mighty opposites" are in full glory in this passage below. (Marlowe's "mighty opposites" will also cross-pollinate into Shakespeare's works.)

 

Warwick. Why, now thou speak’st as I would
Have thee speak:
And mark how I unsay my words again.
An honourable grave is more esteem’d
Than the polluted closet of a king:
The greater man, the greater is the thing,
Be it good or bad, that he shall undertake:
An unreputed mote, flying in the sun,
Presents a greater substance than it is:
The freshest summer’s day doth soonest taint
The loathed carrion that it seems to kiss:
Deep are the blows made with a mighty axe:
That sin doth ten times aggravate itself,
That is committed in a holy place:
An evil deed, done by authority,
Is sin and subornation: deck an ape
In tissue, and the beauty of the robe
Adds but the greater scorn unto the beast.
A spacious field of reasons could I urge
Between his glory, daughter, and thy shame:
That poison shows worst in a golden cup;
Dark night seems darker by the lightning flash;
Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds;
And every glory that inclines to sin,
The shame is treble by the opposite.
So leave I with my blessing in thy bosom,
Which I then convert to a most heavy curse,
When thou convertest from honours golden name
To the black faction of bed blotting shame.

Act II Sc.1, 11.430-457

 

Marlowe Studies Entry April 24, 2011

bird

 

The Famous Victories of Henry V

On the origination of Henry V, J.M. Robertson says, "Henry V, in its earlier Acts, is visibly a twin-play of Edward III. They begin with the same kind of machinery, each King having to be convinced of his right of inheritance to France. "

He goes on to say, "A practical consideration of the phenomenon of the old actors' play, The Famous Victories of Henry V might have suggested to editors and commentators that it was at least a very likely course for the pre-Shakespearean group to deal with Henry V as they had dealt with the three Edwards. Henry V was the most recent and most popular of the famous conquering Kings; and to deal with the disastrous reign of his son [Marlowe's Edward II] without handling the conqueror himself would have been an inexplicable course from the theatrical point of view. In point of fact, our Folio play contains many internal evidences that it is a late recast of an earlier one, in which Marlowe had a preponderant share, as in Edward III. That there was an intermediate play has been argued even by Professor A.W. Pollard."

Robertson is speaking of the earlier play The Famous Victories, which is likely the source for Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry V, in which several scenes, speeches, and incidents are found in the earlier play, including the Dauphin’s gift of tennis-balls.

 

henry_IV
Tomb of King Henry IV in Canterbury Cathedral. England's former kings and
princes had been deeply embedded in Marlowe's mind since his childhood
in Canterbury. From A.D. Wraight's In Search of Christopher Marlowe

 

Marlowe Studies Entry: April 25, 2011

Were Marlowe's Canterbury Neighbors Characters in The Famous Victories?

What is most interesting about The Famous Victories is that two of the characters were named John Cobler (the name of Marlowe’s shoemaker father) and Lawrence Costermonger. One of John Marlowe's good friends and neighbor was Laurence Applegate, a Canterbury tailor. When we look at the meaning of "Costermonger", an obvious pun and not a true surname, we find a close identification for Laurence Applegate because the word "costermonger" was used for a street seller of apples.

William Urry, Cathedral and City Archivist at Canterbury, gives us a good bit of information about John Marlowe and Laurence Applegate in his book Christopher Marlowe and Canterbury:

John Marlowe's other close friend was Laurence Applegate, the Canterbury tailor, whose shop stood in the High Street some distance below St. George's church, next to the Vernicle alehouse, which stood on the corner of Iron Bar Lane. The defamation case of Hurte v. Applegate revealsLaurence and John setting forth on the Dover Road one summer day in 1564 to go to Barham eight miles away, with Applegate boasting of his sexual prowess with Godelif Hurte . . . The company in the public house consisted of Lora herself, Goodman Harmon (Harmon Verson, the German glaxier), Goodman Shawe the basketmaker and his wife, and Goodman Marley and his wife. Though the lawsuit petered out inconclusively, Applegate was made to perform public penance.

If Christopher Marlowe did write The Famous Victories, it is within the realm of possibity that it was one of his first attempts at playwriting while still a young scholar at King's School in Canterbury. You can read The Famous Victories and judge for yourself the age of the writer. While several scholars date the play to 1588, a few think it may have been written around 1577 by a very young writer for its lack of sexual references and unsophisticated words. This would have made Christopher thirteen years old at the time he wrote it -not too young for a child prodigy. Mozart wrote his first symphony at the age of eight. Students at the King's School were allowed to take part in plays, and this could have been his motivation for writing it. If so, it would be dated 1578-79. One sign this play may have been written before 1588, as the extant cast list showing that Richard Tarlton played the part of "Dericke." Tarlton died in 1588.

Since this play is thought by most scholars to be the origin of King Henry IV and King Henry V, it is curious that in their search for its author no traditionist Shakespeare scholar has mentioned the quite possible relationship of the characters' names to Christopher Marlowe.

 

Marlowe Studies Entry April 26, 2011

bird

 

We have been tracing connections between Marlowe and the early history plays that most current day Shakespearean scholars want to give to Shakespeare from Stratford. At this point it might be a good idea to contrast Robertson and Wraight with one of the "post-modern" scholar's interpretations of Edward III as written not by Marlowe, but by Shakespeare from Stratford. We will choose Eric Sam's Shakespeare's Edward III: an early play restored to the canon.

Much of current day academic scholarship has become literary politics which is a reaction against the growing populace of Shakespeare Doubters. Academia's literary politicians write books like Greenblatt's fallacious Will in the World, which stands on "ifs" and "would haves" and "probablys". The academic literary politicians are trying to place Shakespeare in London earlier than 1594, so that they have a foundation for his presence before Marlowe "died" and for his writing the King Henry VI trilogy, Edward the Third, Titus Andronicus, and the early Sonnets. Eric Sams is one of the orthodox Shakespeareans trying to place Shakespeare in London before 1594. The reason he needs to do this is because the only foundation academic's have for the Stratford man’s presence before 1594 as a dramatist is the mention of a "Shake-scene" in Greene’s Groatsworth of Wit (1592) which they take as the first mention of the Stratford Shakespeare as a playwright, as if Greene was punning on the Shakespeare name.

First of all, "shake-scene" was a colloquialism meant to "shake a stage". It was a common epithet most often used for Edward Alleyn who played many of Marlowe's leading characters. It is most probable that Greene was referring to the great stage actor Edward Alleyn in Groatsworth, not the Stratford Shakespeare. Alleyn was the Roscius of his time and received both fame and fortune acting in the dramas men like Greene wrote for about £5 per play. The evidence for this is of the highest grade because Greene was so vocal writing about his anger at Alleyn. We have the sequence captured chronologically, culminating in the Groatsworth allusions to Alleyn as "Shake-scene" and the "upstart-crow". Although we can thank both Greene and Nashe for being blabber mouths in their pamphlets, books, and plays, neither Alleyn or Marlowe could have been very happy about it.

Certainly it is proved another irony for Marlowe that more than four hundred years later his two fellow playwrights would help to disprove the Stratford case for authorship, while at the same time prove Marlowe was the chief collaborator in the writing of Edward the Third.

Marlowe Studies Entry: April 27, 2011

Before presenting Eric Sams' reasons for attributing Edward III to the Stratford Shakespeare, we will give the sequence of Greene’s and Nashe’s allusions that tell us Marlowe wrote Edward III and that Alleyn was the "upstart-crow" and "Shake-scene" in Green's Groatsworth of Wit. This is important to show, because Sams leaves all this information out of his book. Now you will be able to judge for yourself whether or not he was choosing to exclude vital evidence.

1. Greene: 1588
Wraight tra
ces the source of Greene’s comments aimed at Marlowe back to a play he wrote in imitation of Tamburlaine titled Alphonsus, King of Aragon, which was a flop and jested at by other writers. A few months later the envious Greene took his first stabs at Marlowe in the Preface of his 1588 novel Perimedes the Blacke-Smith. In this Preface we find the progenitor of the heretic-atheist label that has plagued Marlowe ever since. Greene described the dramatist as "daring God out of heaven with that Atheist Tamburlan, or blaspheming with the mad preest of the sonne” and “wantonlye set out such impious instances of intolerable poetrie, such mad and scoffing poets, that have propheticall spirits, as bred of Merlins race”. Greene’s "mad preest of the sonne” was an allusion to Giordano Bruno, that friend of England’s freethinkers whose heretical cosmological theories went beyond the Copernican by identifying the sun as just one of an infinite number of independently moving heavenly bodies. The ideas of men like Bruno are what renaissance thinkers like Marlowe and his friends discussed. Bruno was eventually burned as a heretic. Marlowe would soon “die” while charges of heresy were being brought against him.

2. Nashe, working for Greene, 1589
Wraight says, "Greene assailed Marlowe the second time a year later, 1589, when he had the satirist Nashe write the Preface for his novel Menaphon. Here we find not only an echo of Greene’s former sentiments toward Marlowe, but the first attack on both Marlowe and Edward Alleyn. In this excerpt Alleyn is a 'vainglorious tragedian' and Marlowe is his 'idiote art-master':

. . . I impute not so much to the perfection of arts, as to the servile imitation of vainglorious tragedians [Edward Alleyn], who contend not so seriouslie to excel in action, as to embowel the clowdes in a speech of comparison; thinking themselves more than initiated in Poets immortalitie, if they but once get Boreas by the beard, and the heavenlie bull by the deaw-lap. But herein I cannot so fully bequeath them to follie, as their idiote art-masters, [Marlowe] that intrude themselves to our eares as the alcumists of eloquence; who (mounted on the stage of arrogance) think to outbrave better pens with the swelling bombast of a bragging blanke verse.

Later in this long Preface, Nashe again refers to Alleyn, making the association between him as ‘Roscius’ and ‘Caesar’ clear to his readers:

' . . . when as the deserued reputation of one Roscius, is of force to inrich a rabble of counterfeits; yet let subiects for all their insolence, dedicate a De profundis euerie morning to the preseruation of their Caesar . . . ”

Nashe, working for Greene, has here continued Greene’s 1588 allusions to Alleyn. Most modern academics take Nashe and Greene’s words (like “arrogance”) out of context when they interpret Marlowe’s character, instead of relating the allusions to Greene’s envy of Marlowe’s success and to Marlowe’s authorship of Edward the Third. It should also be noted that after Greene’s Groatsworth was published three years later, with its last libelous accusation against Marlowe (“. . . he that hath said there is no God in his heart”) Nashe came to Marlowe’s defense denouncing it as a 'scald trivial lying pamphlet'."

3. Greene, 1589
Greene shot the second barrel in Menaphon’s text where he, as Wraight says, “echoed Nashe’s jibe” at Marlowe through the mouth of his character Melicertus. When Melicertus is wooing Samela, she tells him she has heard that he already loves a beautiful shepherdess in Arcadia, to which he replies: ‘Whosoever Samela descanted of that love, told you a Canterbury tale; some propheticall full mouth that as he were a Coblers eldest sonne, would by the last tell where anothers shooe wrings.’ This allusion further narrows the identity of the “Cobler” who taught “Roscius” to say “Ave Caesar!”

Wraight says, "Greene and Nashe twitted Gabriel Harvey as the son of a rope-maker, here Greene is identifying Marlowe by reference to his father’s trade . . . 'a Coblers eldest sonne' is unmistakably Marlowe – all the connotations are there, and Greene wrote for his readers to understand and enjoy his lampoons, not to obfuscate them. Again he is petulantly referring to the disparaging comparisons made between his play Alphopnsus with Marlowe’s Tamburlaine."

4. Greene, 1590
As Wraight says, Robert Greene’s comments in his 1590 novel Francescos Fortunes precisely match up the author with the play:

Why Roscius, art thou proud with Esops Crow, being pract with the glorie of others feathers? Of thy selfe thou canst say nothing, and if the Cobler hath taught thee to say Ave Caesar, disdain not thy tutor because thou pratest in a kings Chamber.

At this time there was no other "Roscius" in England except for Edward Alleyn. Greene’s readers knew he was alluding to the great actor Alleyn and the dramatist Marlowe (the Cobler) who wrote the words "Ave Caesar" spoken in the "kings Chamber” during the first act of Edward the Third. It is only because of academia’s misconceptions about Marlowe’s character, and, therefore, his dramatic intentions, that this primary literary evidence has been ignored and Edward III has remained in the apocryphal category for so long.

5. Wraight finds the last allusion supporting Marlowe’s authorship of Edward the Third in Nashe’s 1592 Piers Penniless, where he continues to associate the words “Ave Caesar” with a speech spoken by the actor who is identified as "the Cobler’s Crow" in a play written by the Cobbler:

The Cobler’s Crowe, for crying Ave Caesar bee more esteemed than rarer birds that have warbled sweeter notes unrewarded.

Wraight says most of those who have commented on the play think Nashe’s allusions in Piers Penniless are vague in spite of the fact that "Crow" is another well-known Elizabethanism for an actor. “By 1592 Marlowe had supplied Alleyn with many star roles so to call Alleyn 'the Cobbler’s Crow’ is apt description for he was repeatedly seen as Marlowe’s actor . . . their special relationship missed by paucity of research devoted to Alleyn.”

6. Wraight has shown us that Nashe and Greene kept to a consistent pattern alluding to Alleyn as the "Crow”, and this pattern is not broken later in the Groatsworth letter where the “vpstart Crow” and "Shake-scene" is again Alleyn. It is this 1592 attack that has become academia's assumptive foundational "proof" that the Stratford Shakespeare was in London writing the early plays we have been discussing. Malone was the first to interpret "Shake-scene" as a pun on the Shakespeare name, and academia has unquestioningly accepted this to be true because it gives them the only "evidence" they have that the Stratford Shakespeare was a playwright before Marlowe disappeared from the scene. Here is the part of Groatsworth we are speaking of:

. . . those 
Puppets (I mean) that spake from our mouths, those 
Anticks garnisht in our colours. Is it not strange, that 
I, to whom they all have beene beholding: is it not like 
that you, to whome they all have beene beholding, shall 
(were yee in that case as I am now) bee both at once of 
them forsaken? Yes trust them not: for there is an up-
start Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his 
Tygers hart wrapt in a Players hyde, supposes he is as 
well able to bombast out a blanke verse as the best of 
you: and beeing an absolute Johannes fac totum, is in 
his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrey.

Greene's "those Puppets" are the actors who speak the lines of the writers. The actors are "beholding" to Greene who is poor and dying ("were yee in that case as I am now"). "Tygers hart wrapt in a Players hyde" parodies "O tiger's heart wrapped in a woman's hide", a line in The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York (later to be Henry VI, Part 3). It is a fair assumption to identify this actor who has a "Tygers hart" as Alleyn, who said the line in the play, since earlier in 1590, Greene used the same form when blasting Alleyn by alluding to his role as the Black Prince in Edward III " . . . and if the Cobler hath taught thee to say Ave Caesar, disdain not thy tutor because thou pratest in a kings Chamber". We know this was Alleyn because Greene identified him as Roscius. Roscius was the celebrated Roman actor whose name became an honorary epithet for Alleyn, the most successful actor in the Elizabethan theater.

We can also look to the meaning of "Tygers hart" to identify the actor who "is in 
his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrey". Which of the following makes more sense? A young green-about-the-ears Will Shaksper from Stratford bold and stupid enough to have exhibited a "Tygers hart" when interacting with the writer Greene, or the most beloved actor of the time, Edward Alleyn, who profited more from Greene's pen than Greene himsefl?

You will discover a great deal of information around Robert Greene's relationship with Alleyn in her chapter "Greene's Groatsworth Of Wit: The Whole Story. You can compare her interpretation who Greene's "Shake-scene" is with academia's in the next chapter "The Case for 'Shake-scene' presented by the New Orthodoxy." Marlowe scholars generally include academic Shakespeareans in their works so that the reader can readily see the differences between the academic verus Marlovian arguments. Marlowe scholars do this because they have nothing to fear. The legitimacy of Marlowe's detailed case stands strong against academia's, indeed, reveals the fallaciousness of its superficial studies.

It is Alleyn that Greene has been railing against all along in his sequence of allusions to Marlowe and Alleyn. Wraight gives good evidence Alleyn tried his hand at playwriting bombasting out "a blanke verse" in the play Fair Em 2. Greene’s Tygers hart wrapt in a Players hyde quotation is an allusion to the line "Oh Tygres Heart, wrapt in a Womans Hide" from The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York, one of the early Henry VI plays many traditionist scholars, along with Wraight, believe Marlowe wrote. You can read Wraight's argument for Marlowe's authorship of this play in her book Christopher Marlowe and Edward Alleyn, Chapter IV: "Three Plays of the Pembroke Players".

Among the long sequence of Greene’s and Nashe’s allusions presented, academia has pulled forth only this "Shake-scene" to stand as their documented proof the Stratford man was in London writing for the theater before Marlowe "died”. This is another example of how conclusions are formed in academic Shakespearean scholarship by asservative assumptions that almost always leave out the Marlowe evidence that contradicts their hypotheses.

Now let us see how Eric Sams has chosen to present his case for the Stratford Shakespeare's authorship of Edward the Third in his 1996 Shakespeare's Edward III: an early play restored to the canon.

Editorial page 4

 

 

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