Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

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 emo- . tions. 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
As far as from the frozen place of heaven
Unto the watery morning's ruddy bower :-

but the following is surely Marlowe's own :

As princely lions when they rouse themselves,
Stretching their paws and threatening herds of beasts,
So in his armor looketh Tamburlaine.-

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
Shall Tamburlaine extend his puissant arm.
The gallies and those pilling brigandines
That yearly sail to the Venetian gulf
And hover in the Straits for Christian wreck,
Shall lie at anchor in the isle Arant,
Until the Persian fleet and men of wars,
Sailing along the Oriental sea,
Have fetch'd about the Indian continent,
Even from Persepolis to Mexico,
And thence unto the Straits of Jubaltàr.

cursors.

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 pre

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 occa. sion 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,
And of the third part of the Persian ships,
There was the venture summ'd and satisfied.
As for those Samnites, and the men of Uz,
That bought my Spanish oils and wines of Greece,
Here have I purs’d their paltry silverlings.

Fie; what a trouble 'tis to count this trash!
Well fare the Arabians, who so richly pay
The things they traffic for with wedge of gold,
Whereof a man may easily in a day
Tell that which may maintain him all his life
The needy groom, that never finger'd groat
Would make a miracle of thus much coin;
But he whose steel-barr'd coffers are cramm'd full,
And all his life-time had been tired (read ti-er-ed),
Wearying his fingers' ends with telling it,
Would in his age be loth to labor so,
And for a pound to sweat himself to death.
Give me the merchants of the Indian mines,
That trade in metal of the purest mould ;
The wealthy Moor, that in the eastern rocks
Without control can pick his riches up,
And in his house heap pearl like pebble-stones ;
Receive them free, and sell them by the weight;
Bags of fiery opals, sapphires, amethysts,
Jacinths, hard topaz, grass-green emeralds,
Beauteous rubies, sparkling diamonds,
And seld-seen costly stones of so great price,
As one of them indifferently rated,
And of a carat of this quantity,
May serve, in peril of calamity,
To ransom great kings from captivity:
This is the ware wherein consists my wealth ;
And thus, methinks, should men of judgment fram
Their means of traffic from the vulgar trade,
And as their wealth increaseth, so inclose
Infinite riches in a little room.
But now how stands the wind ?
Into what corner peers my halcyon’s bill?*
Ha! to the East? yes; see how stand the vanes ?
East and by south. Why then, I hope my ships
I sent for Egypt and the bordering isles
Are gotten up by Nilus' winding banks;
Mine argosies from Alexandria,2
Loaden with spice and silks, now under sail,
Are smoothly gliding down by Candy shore
To Malta, through our Mediterranean Sea.

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, tragi. cal enormity, and a knowledge superior to all petty and transi.

tory 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.-
Her lips suck forth my soul ! see where it flies.
Come, Helen, come, give me my soul again.
Here will I dwell, for heav'n is in these lips,
And all is dross that is not Helena.
I will be Paris; and for love of thee,
Instead of Troy, shall Wittenberg be sack'd;
And I will combat with weak Menelaus,
And wear my colors on my plumèd crest;
Yea, I will wound Achilles in the heel,
And then return to Helen for a kiss.
Oh, thou art fairer than the evening air,
Clad in the beauty of a thousand stars ;
Brighter art thou than flaming Jupiter,3
When he appear'd to hapless Semele;
More lovely than the monarch of the sea,
In wanton Arethusa's azure arms;
And none but thou shalt be my paramour !

8“ 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.

Graveston meditates how to govern Edward the Second

I must have wanton poets, pleasant wits,
Musicians, that with touching of a string
May draw the pliant king which way I please.
Music and poetry are his delight:
Therefore I'll have Italian masks by night;
Sweet speeches, comedies, and pleasing shows;
And in the day, when he shall walk abroad,
Like sylvan nymphs my pages shall be clad:
My men, like satyrs grazing on the lawns,
Shall with their goat-feet dance the antic hay.
Sometimes a lovely boy in Dian's shape,
With hair that gilds the water as it glides,
Shall bathe him in a spring; and there, hard by,
One, like Actæon, peeping through the grove,
Shall by the angry goddess be transformid;
And running in the likeness of a hart,
By yelping hounds pull'd down, shall seem to die-
Such things as these best please his Majesty.

BEAUTY BEYOND EXPRESSION.

If all the pens that ever poet held
Had fed the feeling of their master's thoughts,
And ev'ry sweetness that inspired their hearts,
And minds, and muses on admirèd themes ;
If all the heavenly quintessence they still
From their immortal flowers of poesy,
Wherein, as in a mirror, we perceive
The highest reaches of a human wit;
If these had made one poem's period,
And all combin'd in beauty's worthiness.
Yet should there hover in their restless heads,
One thought, one grace, one wonder, at the best,
Which into words no virtue can digest.

« AnteriorContinuar »