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Greene And Marlowe. Poems Of Robert Gree...
even the third-rate poets ; and if Marlowe ' s vigour , and his massive music , place him in a much higher rank , yet even his merits are small when compared with the really fine poets ; separate lines , ' and even passages , may be quoted which most readers would admire , but no entire page . Mr . Belt has prefixed memoirs of Greene and Marlowe , and added some explanatory notes . The memoirs , although scanty , contain all that is known of these writers ; and convey a not uninteresting picture of the vagabond life led by those roystering dramatists—the men about town just emancipated from college , and writing far the theatre as a means of loose livelihood . On this point , Mr . Bell remarks : —
It is not known at what time Nash , Greene , and Marlowe formed that connexion in which we find their names subsequently associated j but it could not have been very long after the publicatioa of these invectives , as in four or five years from , that date both Greene and Marlowe were dead . Meeting in the theatre , the centre of their labours and their dissipation , they soon discovered those kindred tastes which afterwards drew them constantly together ; while the encroachments Shakspeare -was beginning to make about this period upon their position as dramatic -writers , imparted sometMng like a character of combination to their fellowship . They had a common interest in opposing the new luminary who was climling the horizon of the stage with a broader and clearer lustre than their own ; and we can easily imagine , without drawing any very fanciful picture , that the discussion of Shakspeare'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 suqh . occasions . He was the oldest of the three ; he had travelled , 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 bis companions shunned the responsibility of hi 3 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 height to
which Marlowe carried the frenzy of dissipation . In Ms address to his old associates , he implores them to abandon tLeir wicked mode of life , their blaspheming , drinking , and debauchery , setting forth his own example as a fatal warning ; and 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 deatn- "bed conversion , can scarcely be considered sufficient to justify the imputation of deliberate atheism . It seem 3 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 scepticism . The charge , however , was afterwards brought 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 ia this- world , awaits the sinner who denies his God , he asserted that Marlowe had in his conversation blasphemed the Trinity , and bad 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 Bear ! is supposed to have attacked in another publication , 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 to some of his characters in the Jew of Malta and Doctor Faustus . Marlo-wc's writings contain ample evidence of licentiousness and lax-ity of principle , but supply no proof that he held atheistical opinions . To what extent the practical impiety of his life may have justified such an imputation , it would be presumptuous to hazard a judgment . Mr . Bell also very properly corrects a common error , when distinguishin g between these Elizabethan dramatists : — ra
The strict observance of chronology , as far as it can be fixed , is indispensable to the history of what is loosely called the Elizabethan drama . The whole period it occupied was about half a century ; and , considering how much was accomplished within that time , every step of the progress , and each individual ' s share in it , becomes of importance . Yet there is hardly any portion of our literary annals in which greater confusion prevails ; and Peele and Massinger , Kyd and Webster , Greene and Bea Jonson , who were really distant from each other , are commonly mixed up together , as if , instead of forming an interlinked series , they were all writing simultaneously . It might be a question of minor biographical interest , whether Marlowe was a little before Shakspeare , or Shakspeare a little before Marlowe ; but it is a question of a very different order of interest , -whether the weighty versification of Tamburlaine preceded or followed the delicate melody of the Midsummer Night ' s Dream . Dates are here essential to enable us to trace the course of our dramatic
poetry from its source to that point where the stream is at its full . Marlowe is close to the spring ; to him is ascribed , on apparently valid grounds , the first use of blank verse in dramatic composition ; and we must , therefore , treat him as a poet who struck out a path for himself , and not as a follower of Shakspeare . In conclusion , we may add that to students of our earlier literature this volume will be interesting ^ but to those who read poetry for other purposes than historical or critical purposes , it will be without attraction .
January 3, 1857.] Tee Leadeb, 17
January 3 , 1857 . ] TEE LEADEB , 17
State Paper Anecdotes. State Papei's And...
STATE PAPER ANECDOTES . State Papei's and Correspondence Illustrative of the Social and Political State of Europe , from the Revolution to the Accession of the House of Hanover . Edited , by John M . Kemble , M . A . ^ J . yyr . Parker and Son . Oi the letters and papers in the collection , the most important were found among the correspondence of Leibnitz , preserved in Hanover . Others are from the British Museum , and a few from printed books . By far the largest number , however , are now published from the original manuscripts , and arc , in general , translations from the French—the French of England and Germany as often as that of France . At intervals , Mr . Kemblo has interposed biographical notices , —of Sophia , Electress of Hanover , of Elizabeth Charlotte , Duchess of Orleans , of Sclioning , Madame de Rocklitz , of jSchulenburg , Patkul , and Cavalier . These sketches , carefully compiled from the beat authorities , scvvg to illustrate the correspondence which refers to nearly all the great events that took place in Europe during the reigns of James II ., William III ., Anne , and Geor « o I . Historical personages are brought in crowds upon the scene—a niol > of Umperors , Kings , Electors ,
Queens , Electresses , and reigning Duchesses , Leibnitz , Sarah , Duchess of Marlborough , Addison , Halifax , Sbaftesbury , Gilbert Burnet , Harley , Paul Byca-ut , Philippe of Orleans , Caroline of Anspach , —the great and the little , who played their parts in Europe after the -Peace ' of Westphalia . Indeed , Mr . Kemble is justified in believing that this volume supplies Dew and valuable materials for the history of Europe during the last years of the seventeenth , and the first of the eighteenth , century . It exhibits the leading princes and statesmen of the period in a familiar and often undignified light ; it brings out their intrigues , cabals , and jealousies , and , as the ISditor remarks , it does justice to the memory of Leibnitz . Leibnitz the Jurist , the Mathematician , the Historian , the Philosopher , the Theologian , is kn 6 wn to most readers ; but not Leibnitz the Politician , Courtier , and Gentleman . .
The events of the long period which elapsed between the Revolution and the accession of the House of Hanover , though perhaps less dramatic than those of the preceding period , vrere nevertheless , sufficiently remarkable . To that epoch belong the names of William III . and Anne , of Peter I ., of Louis XIV .., of Frederick , and Frederick William I . of Prussia , of Amadeus II . and Sobieski , of the Fourth Mahomet , the Third Solyman , and the Second Mustapha , —names , that by their splendour , or by their insignificance , recal a multitude of chances and changes , that befel the old powers of Europe . Tet it is less with an eye to their value as materials of public history—though their value in this respect is considerable—than with regard to their illustrations of court life and character , that we are interested in Mr . Kemble ' s collection of letters and memorials . A good deal of the historical matter is upon a minute scale , dealing with incidents and individualities of no great importance ; but every page by Leibnitz is of worth , and pleasant to read . It is amusing to find him writing from Hanover in 1692 , that of English , books in general , not even the titles were known in Germany , but , he adds : — They give us hopes of an important work of Mr . Newton , who ia one of the greatest geniuses of this time for Lis knowledge of mathematics and nature .
In July , 1700 , there was a dramatic festival at Liitzenburg , in honour of the Elector ' s birthday . Leibnitz describes the mummery , the doctor , the tooth-drawer , the gipsy-girls , the litter carried by Turis : — They also saw an astrologer make hie appearance with his spectacles or a telescope in his hand . This was to have been my character , but M . le Comte de Wittgenstein charitably took it off my hands . Instead of playing his part , be retired among the spectators : ——I placed myself in a favourable position to see everything near with my little
spectacles , in order to be able to give your Electoral Highness a report of it . Madame the Princess of Hohenzollern ' a lady had the toothache , and the tooth-drawer , doing his duty -with a pair of farrier ' s tongs in his hand , produced a tooth which was about as thick as my arm , and , to tell the truth , it was a walrus ' s tooth . The doctor , praising the skill of his tooth-drawer , left the company to judge how adroit he must be to draw such a tooth as that without hurting anybody . Among the sick who wanted remedies were MM . d'Alefeld and de Tleming , the . Envoys of Denmark and Poland , and our M . d'llten , all dressed like peasants of their several countries , each Jack with bis Jill .
He is next met with in a more serious mood : — There is a French translation of a book by a celebrated Englishman , named Mr Locke , entitled "An Essay on the Human Understanding . " As his philosophy does not agree over-well with mine ( as for instance when he thinks the soul not imperishable ) , and as he does not fail to show a great deal of penetration , I made some remarks upon it while reading a portion of the Work when I was going to Brunswick and Wolfenbilttel , and when I have leisure I will finish the rest . It will be an occupation for the time , which , will give me the advantage of paying my court at Liitzenburg . His sentiments are popular enough , and will have the approbation of many who do not look deeply into things ; and this is why it seems to me important to answer it . This is very characteristic : —
If the verses which have been put at the bottom of my portrait are to stay there , I must get some one to kill me , for fear that those who may afterwards see me should be disabused of the high opinion which the verses will give them of my great knowledge ; as we never canonize Saints till long after their deaths , when their weaknesses are no longer remembered , so people ought not to heap praises upon men of letters till they are no longer in a condition to give the lie to their panegyrists . Upon the whole , the character of Leibnitz is exhibited in tbis correspondence as that of a noble-minded statesman , generous , frank , and faithful .
Other personages appear more coarse and mean the closer we look at them . Among these is Sophie Charlotte , the wife of Frederick of Prussia , who sent her son to be educated by the Comte de Dolma . She always affected , however , the airs of refinement , and even encouraged the licentious conduct of the young prince , on the ground that " love polishes the mind and improves the manners . " "Do not oppose his gallantries , therefore . " In July , 1797 , this lady was introduced to " the great Czar" at Coppenbriigge , a village in Celle . He pretended to be sby , and would not show himself for upwards of an hour-.-
—At last ho agreed that Monsieur the Duke of Celle , my mother , my brothers , and myself ahould come and meet him in the supper-room , which , he would enter at the same time by another door , in order , not to bo seen ; for the crowd of people which he had perceived upon a parapet on arriving ' , had made him turn back from the village . My mother and myself began to make our compliment to him , which he made M . Le Fort answer for him , for it seems he is shy , and hid his faco with hia hand : " Ich knnn nicht eprechen . " However wo aoon tamed him , and he snt down to table between Madame my mother and me , where each of us entertained Mm in turn , and the question was which of us should , have him to herself . Sometimes he answers himself ; sometimes through his two interpreters : and assuredly ho said nothing but
wns very much ajwopos , and that upon all the subjects on which -we put him , for the liveliness of Madame my mother gave plenty of questions , which ho answered with tlio same readiness \ and I am astonished that ho was not tired with the conversation , since they say there is not much of it in his country . As for his grimaces , I expected to find them worse than they wero , and . some of thorn it is not in his power to correct . One sees too that ho never had a master to teach him to cat cleanly ; but Lie has a natural air , and his manner is -without constraint , which pleased me ; for ho aoon behaved as if ho wero at home , and after having permitted the gentlemen who served to come in , and all tho ladies whom he made difficulties at first of seeing , ho made hia people suut the door , and placed liia favourite , whom he calls his right arm ,
Leader (1850-1860), Jan. 3, 1857, page 17, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/l/issues/cld_03011857/page/17/