Now, gentlemen, betake you to your arms,
And see that Malta be well fortified;
And it behoves you to be resolute;
For Calymath, having hover’d here so long,
Will win the town, or die before the walls.
FIRST KNIGHT. And die he shall; for we will never yield.
So, Tamburlaine the Great, part II. Part I had been such a smashing success, and suddenly conquerors were all the rage in London playhouses, and one can easily imagine the Admiral’s Men pestering Kit Marlowe about a sequel… Continue reading
Oh, let’s have some poetry, today – poetry and theatre. Kit Marlowe’s Duc de Guise, painting the full colours of his restless ambition, proudly boasting his cleverness and strength – and, most of all, chomping at the bit:
Now Guise, begin those deepe ingendred thoughts
To burst abroad, those never dying flames,
Which cannot be extinguisht but by bloud.
Oft have I leveld, and at last have learnd,
That perill is the cheefest way to happines,
And resolution honors fairest aime.
What glory is there in a common good,
That hanges for every peasant to atchive?
That like I best that flyes beyond my reach.
Set me to scale the high Peramides,
And thereon set the Diadem of Fraunce,
Ile either rend it with my nayles to naught,
Or mount the top with my aspiring winges,
Although my downfall be the deepest hell.
For this, I wake, when others think I sleepe,
For this, I waite, that scorn attendance else:
For this, my quenchles thirst whereon I builde,
Hath often pleaded kindred to the King.
For this, this head, this heart, this hand and sworde,
Contrive, imagine and fully execute
Matters of importe, aimed at by many,
Yet understoode by none.
For this, hath heaven engendred me of earth,
For this, the earth sustaines my bodies weight,
And with this wait Ile counterpoise a Crowne,
Or with seditions weary all the worlde:
For this, from Spaine the stately Catholic
Sends Indian golde to coyne me French ecues:
For this have I a largesse from the Pope,
A pension and a dispensation too:
And by that priviledge to worke upon,
My policye hath framde religion.
Religion: O Diabole.
Fye, I am ashamde, how ever that I seeme,
To think a word of such a simple sound,
Of so great matter should be made the ground.
The gentle King whose pleasure uncontrolde,
Weakneth his body, and will waste his Realme,
If I repaire not what he ruinates:
Him as a childe I dayly winne with words,
So that for proofe, he barely beares the name:
I execute, and he sustaines the blame.
The Mother Queene workes wonders for my sake,
And in my love entombes the hope of Fraunce:
Rifling the bowels of her treasurie,
To supply my wants and necessitie.
Paris hath full five hundred Colledges,
As Monestaries, Priories, Abbyes and halles,
Wherein are thirtie thousand able men,
Besides a thousand sturdy student Catholicks,
And more: of my knowledge in one cloyster keep,
Five hundred fatte Franciscan Fryers and priestes.
All this and more, if more may be comprisde,
To bring the will of our desires to end.
Since thou hast all the Cardes within thy hands
To shuffle or to cut, take this as surest thing:
That right or wrong, thou deal’st thy selfe a King.
I but, Navarre. Tis but a nook of France.
Sufficient yet for such a pettie King:
That with a rablement of his hereticks,
Blindes Europs eyes and troubleth our estate:
Him will we–
(Pointing to his Sworde.)
But first lets follow those in France.
That hinder our possession to the crowne:
As Caesar to his souldiers, so say I:
Those that hate me, will I learn to loath.
Give me a look, that when I bend the browes,
Pale death may walke in furrowes of my face:
A hand, that with a graspe may gripe the world,
An eare, to heare what my detractors say,
A royall seate, a scepter and a crowne:
That those which doe behold them may become
As men that stand and gase against the Sunne.
The plot is laide, and things shall come to passe,
Where resolution strives for victory.
One imagines that Ned Alleyn, with his imposing presence and deep, dark voice, must have been rather impressive in the part.
And besides… what can I say? I never read Marlowe’s dark heroes without imagining that there must have been days when he felt too large and too fiery for his own circumstances – and not much besides poetry as an outlet. Is it fanciful to think that he was the one forever burning for things beyond his reach?
So, the New Oxford Shakespeare credits Christopher Marlowe as co-author of the three Henry VI plays.
Well, actually fourteen more plays get co-authoring credits by someone else, and Arden of Faversham is added to the Canon, as well as one added scene in Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy… But – probably because he is more widely known, and because of the Authorship rumours ever since Ziegler – the idea of Kit Marlowe having had a hand in the Henrys is doing most of the splash.
It’s hard to read the Massacre at Paris without wondering a little at the slightly corner-cutting feel of it. It seems hastily done in its violence and gore, and there is the fact that it is considerably shorter than the average Marlowe play. So it has long be assumed that the Octavo edition we have must be the result of some actor’s imperfect memory.
And then there is the Collier Leaf. Continue reading
Oh yes, there is another one. Same title, but a very different book. Antonia Forest was a children’s writer – and, although this is one of those children’s book that are a pleasure to an adult reader, it’s definitely lighter fare than Bryher’s novel.
The story itself is of the Runaway Boy sort: at eleven, Nicholas Marlow lives with his much older, wealthy and indulgent brother, and studies at the local grammar school… Continue reading
Dear Saint Lucia,
I’m not sure I’ve been good enough so far for this – but, were you by any chance wondering about what I might wish for December, here is an idea: I’ve discovered the existence of this lovely edition of four plays of Christopher Marlowe, published in the mid Sixties by Limited Edition Club and then Heritage Press, and illustrated by French artist Albert Decaris.
As you can see from the Tamburlaine here left, the illustrations are a wonder, and the whole book seems to have been conceived with much flair, design-wise… Continue reading