According to the author of the ballad, Marlowe went upon the stage at an early age, but was obliged to abandon it in consequence of having broken his leg. Of this last circumstance, which, probably, entailed lameness on him for life, no other record has been traced. The absence of all contemporary allusion to it is so remarkable, at a time when the town was inundated with lampoons full of personal reflections, that the veracity of the ballad-monger may be fairly questioned. Marlowe's halt would have been at least as conspicuous à mark for ribaldry as Greene's red nose, or Gabriel Harvey's leanness.

The tragedy of Tamburlaine the Great, in two parts, was entered in the Stationers' books on the 14th of August, 1590, and published in the same year. Its reception upon the stage was 80 favorable that the second part was brought out immediately after the first. Faustus and The Jew of Malta speedily followed. In all these pieces, which were highly successful, Alleyn played the principal characters. The next play was Edward II.,

said by Warton to have been written in 1590. The Massacre of Paris, supposed to be the piece noted by Henslowe in his Diary as the Tragedy of the Guise, was acted for the first time on the 30th of January, 1593. It was probably the last of Marlowe's productions. Alleyn played the chief part in this play also. Heywood, celebrated the alliance between Marlowe and Alleyn in a prologue he wrote for the revival of The Jero of Malta in 1633. The lines are interesting as an evidence of the estimation in which Marlowe was held as one of the fathers of the stage:

“We know not how our play may pass this stage,
But by the best of poets in that age
The Malta Jew had being and was made;
And he then by the best of actors played."

Nash and Greene had both preceded Marlowe in London, and there is reason to suppose that he had not entered into any intercourse with them when he brought Tamburlaine upon the stage. This inference is drawn from Nash's preliminary Epistle to Greene's Menaphon, 1587, in which he indirectly satirizes Marlowe and his new-fashioned style, which he describes as the "swelling bombast of bragging blank verse."

Nash and Marlowe were contemporaries at Cambridge, where Nash obtained his Bachelor's degree in 1585. and left the College

without being allowed to take out his Master's degree in 1587, the year in which it was conferred on Marlowe.* It was natural enough that Nash should feel jealous of a member of his own University, who had just taken out honors from which he had been himself excluded; and his frequent use in the Epistle of the term “art-masters" confirms the suspicion that he was giving vent to a feeling of personal vexation. The application of these censures to Marlowe is placed almost beyond discussion by a passage in Greene's address to his Perimedes, published in the following year, which, referring openly to that “atheist Tamburlaine," and the “blaspheming with the mad priest of the sun,' is evidently a continuation of the previous attack by Nash.

It is not known at what time Nash, Greene, and Marlowe formed that connection in which we find their names subsequently associated; but it could not have been very long after the publication of these invectives, as in four or five years from that date both Greene and Marlowe were dead. Meeting in the theater, the center of their labors and their dissipation, they soon discovered those kindred tastes which afterward drew them constantly together; while the encroachments Shakspere was beginning to make about this period upon their position as dramatic

* The materials for Nash's biography are scanty, and the few details furnished from different sources involve contradiction. He was a native of Lowestoff, in Suffolk, where it has been hitherto supposed he was born about 1564; but recent investigations have discovered that he was chris. tened in November, 1567. See Shakspere Society Papers, iii. 178. Mr. Collier (History of the Stage, iii. 110) says that Nash entered St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1585, and was obliged to leave the University in 1587 without taking his degree. It does not appear upon what authority this statement is made, but it is irreconcilable with Harvey's assertions in a pamphlet published in Nash's lifetime, called The Trimming of Thomas Nash, Gentleman, 1597, from which we learn that while he was at Cambridge he wrote part of a satirical show called Terminus et non Terminus, that the person who was concerned in it with him was expelled, and that Nash, who was of seven years' standing, left the College about 1587. He then went up to London, where he joined Greene, who had been educated at St. John's College. The remainder of Nash's life was passed in profligacy and distress, and a considerable portion of it in the jails of the metropolis. Like Greene, he became penitent toward the end, and in a pamphlet entitled Christ's Tears Over Jerusalem expressed contrition for his writings and his conduct. He died in 1600 or 1601.

ers, imparted something like a character of combination to their fellowship. They had a cominon interest in opposing the new luminary who was climbing the horizon of the stage with a broader and clearer luster than their own; and we can easily imagine, without drawing any very fanciful picture, that the discussion of Shakspere's pretensions, and the denunciation of his depredations on their manor, stimulated them at their orgies to many an additional flask of Rhenish.

Greene was, probably, the leader on such occasions. He was the oldest of the three; he had traveled, and brought home with him the vices of Italy and France; and he had been established in London before either of the other two had found his way to the metropolis. For this pre-eminence he paid a bitter penalty in the end. Subsequent circumstances show that his companions shunned the responsibility of his friendship when the full glare of publicity fell upon the errors of his life, in which they had themselves so largely participated. They deserted him in his last illness, and after his death disowned the terms of intimacy on which they had lived together. * Marlowe was deeply implicated in these excesses.

He was one of that group of dramatists whose lives and writings were held up to public execration by the zealots who attacked the stage; and Greene has left an express testimony of the hight to which Marlowe carried the frenzy of dissipation. In his address to his old associates, he implores them to abandon their wicked mode of life, their blaspheming, drinking, and debauchery, setting forth his own exa as a fatal warning; and he specially exhorts Marlowe to repentance by reminding him that they had formerly said together, like the fool in his heart, “There is no God.” This admonition, written under the influence of a deathbed conversion, can scarcely be considered sufficient to justify the imputation of deliberate atheism. It seems intended rather to warn Marlowe against the revolting levity of speech in which they had both indulged, and which was a sort of fashion in the dissolute society they frequented, than to accuse him of systematic skepticism. The charge, however, was afterward brought


* Nash's disavowal was explicit. In his Strange Newes he roundly as. serted that he had not been ("Greene's companion any more than for a carouse or two."

forward in a specific shape by Thomas Beard, a Puritan minister of the most ascetic and uncompromising cast. Taking advantage of Marlowe's death to illustrate the terrible punishment which, even in this world, awaits the sinner who denies his God, he asserted that Marlowe had in his conversation blasphemed the Trinity, and had also written a book against the Bible. But no such book is known to exist, and the allegation rests on the sole authority of Beard, † who himself repeats it upon hearsay. Marlowe's plays, which Beard is supposed to have attacked in another publication, I furnish no more tenable grounds for the charge of atheism than Paradise Lost; and Milton might just as rationally be held responsible for the sentiments he has put into the mouth of Satan, as Marlowe for the speculations, strictly rising out of the circumstances of the scene, which he has given

* Theatre of God's Judgments, 1597. # It ought, perhaps, to be mentioned that a person named Bame prepared a note of Marlowe's "damnable opinions," with a view to a civil process, which was averted by the death of the poet. Apart from the intrinsic ab. surdity and evident malignity of some of Bame's statements, the value of his testimony may be estimated from the fact that the man who thus un. dertook to sit in judgment upon the religious opinions of another was afterward hanged at Tyburn. I set aside altogether, as being wholly un. worthy of consideration, some MS. notes of an anonymous scribe, written pearly fifty years after Marlowe's death, in a copy of Hero and Leander, in the possession of Mr. Collier. The writer asserts that Marlowe was an atheist, and that he made somebody else become an atheist. When we learn who the writer was, we shall know what amount of credit to attach to his authority.

Peter Primaudaye's work on man, entitled The French Academie, trans. lated into English in two volumes, by T. B. The first volume of this translation was published in 1586, and the second in 1594. An Epistle to the Reader, prefixed by the translator to the second volume, leaves little doubt as to the identity of T. B. In this elaborate address, the writer breaks out with great vehemence upon the subject of atheism; and, after adducing several examples, refers specially to the recent case of Greene. He next proceeds to denounce the writings of Greene and "bis crew," and to demand the restriction of the press as a protection against their profanity. He is particularly seandalized at the lovo pamphlets; and his condemnation of the stage.plays is sweeping and indiscriminate, although he adds that “this commendation of them hath lately passed the press, that they are rare exercisers of virtue.” Beard closes his diatribe against the plays and other pestilential writings by proposing that they should all be collected in St. Paul's churchyard, where most of them were printed, and publicly burned as "a sweet-smelling sacrifice unto the Lord."

to some of his characters in The Jew of Malta and in Doctor Faustus. Marlowe's writings contain ample evidence of licentiousness and laxity of principle, but supply no proof that he held atheistical opinions. To what extent the practical impiety of his life may haye justified such an imputation, it would be presumptuous to hazard a judgment.

Greene died in September, 1592. His Groať: Worth of Wit, edited by Chettle, * was published immediately afterwards. The genuineness of the pamphlet was doubted; and suspicion of the authorship fell upon Nash. It was also, in some quarters, ascribed to Chettle. They both denied it; and we learn from Chettle's disclaimer that Marlowe and Shakspere took offense at the personal reflections made upon them, and went so far as to charge Chettle with having fabricated the work himself. His reply possesses a direct interest in reference to Marlowe, as it distinctly indicates that Greene had written worse things about him than Chettle had published.

With neither of them that take offense was I acquainted, and with one of them I care not if I never be; the other, whom at this time I did not so much spare as since I wish I had, for that as I have moderated the beat of living writers, and might have used my own discretion (especially in such a case), the author being dead, that I did not, I am as sorry as if the original fault had been my fault, because myself have seen his demeanor no less civil than he excellent in the quality he professes; besides, divers of worship have reported his uprightness of dealing, wbich augurs his honesty, and his facetious grace in writing, that approves his art. For the first, whose learning I reverence, and, at the perusing of Greene's book, struck

* Henry Chettle was one of the most prolific playwrights of his day. He is supposed to have been concerned in the production of forty pieces. Of bis merits as a dramatist we have but imperfect means of forming an opinion, only four pieces conjectured to be his having come down to us. Although he wrote some grave and ponderous scenes, his strength lay chiefly in humor, of which we have an excellent sample in Babulo, the clown in Patient Grissell. Meres, in his Palladis Tamia, 1598, speaks of Chettle as being one "of the best for comedy.” Chettle seems to have been originally a compositor, and was certainly engaged in the printing business in 1591. He died about 1607, and is mentioned by Dekker in his Knight's Conjuring, “in comes Chettle, sweating and blowing by reason of his fatness.'

Greene died on the 3d of September, and on the 20th the Groat's Worth of Wit was entered on the Stationers' Register,

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