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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. 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
But he whose steel-barr'd coffers are cramm'd full,
To ransom great kings from captivity:
This is the ware wherein consists my wealth;
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 ?*
Loaden with spice and silks, now under sail,
1" 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,
And burnt the topmost towers of Ilium?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.—
I will be Paris; and for love of thee,
And none but thou shalt be my paramour!
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,
Therefore I'll have Italian masks by night;
By yelping hounds pull'd down, shall seem to die-
BEAUTY BEYOND EXPRESSION.
If all the pens that ever poet held
And all combin'd in beauty's worthiness
THE PASSIONATE SHEPHERD TO HIS LOVE.
Come live with me and be my love,
A belt of straw, and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs.
The shepherd swains shall dance and sing
Then live with me and be my love.
This song is introduced, not so much for its poetical excellence (though it is quite what a poet would write on the occasion) as because it is one of those happy embodiments of a thought which all the world thinks at some time or other; and which therefore takes wonderfully with them when somebody utters it. The " golden buckles" and "amber studs" are not to be considered as a contradiction to the rest of the imagery; for we are to suppose it a gentlewoman to whom the invitation is addressed, and with whom her bridegroom proposes to go and play at shepherd and shepherdess, at once realizing the sweets of lowliness and the advantages of wealth. A charming fancy! and realized too sometimes; though Sir Walter Raleigh could not let it alone, but must needs refute it in some excellent