« EelmineJätka »
sionally a refined sweetness. Take, for instance, the noble verses to be found in the description of Tamburlaine himself, which probably suggested to Milton his "Atlantean shoulders" --" fit to bear mightiest monarchies "—and to Beaumont a fine inage, which the reader will see in his Melancholy:
Of stature tall and straightly fashioned
Like his desire lift upward and divine,
So large of limbs, his joints so strongly knit,
Such breadth of shoulders as might mainly bear
Old Atlas' burthen :
Pale of complexion, wrought in him with passion, &c.
By "passion we are to understand, not anger, but deep emotions. Peele or Green might possibly have written the beautiful verse that closes these four lines:
Kings of Argier, Moroccus, and of Fesse,
You that have marched with happy Tamburlaine
but the following is surely Marlowe's own :—
As princely lions when they rouse themselves,
And in the following is not only a hint of the scornful part of his style, such as commences the extract from the Jew of Malta, but the germ of those lofty and harmonious nomenclatures, which have been thought peculiar to Milton.
So from the east unto the farthest west
And hover in the Straits for Christian wreck,
Have fetch'd about the Indian continent,
Milton never surpassed the elevation of that close. Who also but Marlowe is likely to have written the fine passage extracted into this volume, under the title of "Beauty beyond Expression," in which the thought argues as much expression, as the style a confident dignity? Tamburlaine was most likely a joint-stock piece, got up from the manager's chest by Marlowe, Nash, and perhaps half-a-dozen others; for there are two consecutive plays on the subject, and the theatres of our own time are not unacquainted with this species of manufacture.
But I am forgetting the plan of my book. Marlowe, like Spenser, is to be looked upon as a poet who had no native precursors. As Spenser is to be criticised with an eye to his poetic ancestors, who had nothing like the Faerie Queene, so is Marlowe with reference to the authors of Gorboduc. He got nothing from them; he prepared the way for the versification, the dignity, and the pathos of his successors, who have nothing finer of the kind to show than the death of Edward the Second -not Shakspeare himself:-and his imagination, like Spenser's, haunted those purely poetic regions of ancient fabling and modern rapture, of beautiful forms and passionate expressions, which they were the first to render the common property of inspiration, and whence their language drew "empyreal air.” Marlowe and Spenser are the first of our poets who perceived the beauty of words; not as apart from their significance, nor upon occasion only, as Chaucer did (more marvellous in that than themselves, or than the originals from whom he drew), but as a habit of the poetic mood, and as receiving and reflecting beauty through the feeling of the ideas.
THE JEW OF MALTA'S IDEA OF WEALTH.
So that of thus much that return was made,
Fie; what a trouble 'tis to count this trash!
Tell that which may maintain him all his life
May serve, in peril of calamity,
To ransom great kings from captivity :
And thus, methinks, should men of judgment frame
And as their wealth increaseth, so inclose
But now how stands the wind?
Into what corner peers my halcyon's bill ?*
1 66 Samnites" and "men of Uz,” and “ Spanish oils "That is to say, countrymen and contemporaries of old Rome, of Arabian
My halcyon's bill.”—The halcyon is the figure on the vane.
Job, and the modern Spanish merchants! Marlowe, though he was a scholar, cared no more for geography and consistent history than Shakspeare. He took the world as he found it at the theatre, where it was a mixture of golden age innocence, tragical enormity, and a knowledge superior to all petty and transitory facts.
2" Mine argosies from Alexandria," &c.-Note the wonderful sweetness of these four lines, particularly the last. The variety of the vowels, the delicate alliteration, and the lapse of the two concluding verses, are equal, as a study, to anything in Spenser.
A VISION OF HELEN.
She passes between two Cupids, having been summoned from the next world by desire of Faustus.
Faust. Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships,
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.—
I will be Paris; and for love of thee,
Oh, thou art fairer than the evening air,
And none but thou shalt be my paramour!
3"Brighter art thou," &c.-Much cannot be said of the five lines here ensuing; but their retention was necessary to the entire feeling or classical association of the speech, if not to a certain lingering modulation.
MYTHOLOGY AND COURT AMUSEMENTS.
Gaveston meditates how to govern Edward the Second
I must have wanton poets, pleasant wits,
By yelping hounds pull'd down, shall seem to die-
BEAUTY BEYOND EXPRESSION.
If all the pens that ever poet held