Page images

that Virgil does not represent Shakespeare. 3) In respect to scholarship and literary ideals, Chapman and Jonson stood shoulder to shoulder; there is no evidence of unfriendliness between the two poets in 1601, and later they were collaborators. But the characterization of Virgil seems wholly undeserved by Chapman, and Poetaster itself contains an uncomplimentary allusion to one of Chapman's pieces of bombast. Identification of Chapman with Virgil, then, is quite unwarranted. Our final conclusion must be that the Virgil of Poetaster is Virgil and no other.

Summary. Of the many identifications proposed for characters in Poetaster, our investigations have established but three. Horace is Ben Jonson; Crispinus is John Marston; Demetrius is Thomas Dekker. Perhaps Dekker was right in surmising that Tucca represented Captain Hannam, but the latter is quite unknown to us. Critics who have discovered others of Jonson's contemporaries in our play have followed threads of fancied relation that lead into, but never out of, a labyrinth. Unless new sources of information be found, we must rest for the most part upon negations.

F. THE OviD ELEGY IN POETASTER The version of Ovid, Eleg. 1. 15, given in act 1, scene 1, is of disputable authorship. Gifford writes (GC. 2. 376): “This little poem does not now appear for the first time. In 1599 was published a translation of Ovid's Elegies by Christopher Marlow, and this among them: not, indeed, pre

The version which appeared as Marlowe's I reproduce from his Works (ed. Bullen, 3. 136-8):



Ad invidos, quod fama poetarum sit perennis.
Envy, why carp'st thou my time's spent so ill?
And term'st my works fruits of an idle quill?
Or that unlike the line from whence I sprung
War's dusty honours are refused being young?
Nor that I study not the brawling laws,
Nor set my voice to sail in every cause?
Thy scope is mortal : mine, eternal fame.

cisely as it stands here, but with such variations as may be supposed to exist in the rough sketch of a finished original. Marlow was now dead; but is seems strange that the editor of his poems, who might be Chapman, should print this under his name, especially as it is followed by that before us; which Jonson probably reclaimed when he wrote the Poetaster. I give this poem to Jonson, because he is

That all the world may ever chant my name.
Homer shall live while Tenedos stands and Ide,
Or to the sea swift Simois shall slide.
Ascræus lives while grapes with new wine swell,
Or men with crooked sickles corn down fell.
The world shall of Callimachus ever speak;
His art exeelled, although his wit was weak.
For ever lasts high Sophocles' proud vein,
With sun and moon Aratus shall remain.
While bondmen cheat, fathers (be) hard, bawds whorish,
And strumpets flatter, shall Menander flourish.
Rude Ennius, and Plautus full of wit,
Are both in Fame's eternal legend writ.
What age of Varro's name shall not be told,
And Jason's Argo, and the fleece of gold?
Lofty Lucretius shall live that hour,
That nature shall dissolve this earthly bower.
Æneas' war and Tityrus shall be read,
While Rome of all the conquered world is head.
Till Cupid's bow, and fiery shafts be broken,
Thy verses, sweet Tibullus, shall be spoken.
And Gallus shall be known from East to West,
So shall Lycoris whom he loved best.
Therefore when flint and iron wear away,
Verse is immortal and shall ne'er decay.
To verse let kings give place and kingly shows,
And banks o'er which gold-bearing Tagus flows.
Let base-conceited wits admire vild things;
Fair Phæbus lead me to the Muses' springs.
About my head be quivering myrtle wound,
And in sad lovers' heads let me be found.
The living, not the dead, can envy bite,
For after death all men receive their right.
Then though death racks my bones in funeral fire,
I'll live, and as he pulls me down mount higher.

After this follows:

Tbe same, by B. I. The second version differs from that in Poetaster only in line 37,

which runs :

The frost-drad myrtle shall impale my head.

well known to be incapable of taking credit for the talents of another; and it certainly affords a curious instance of the laxity of literary morality in those days, when a scholar could assert his title to a poem of forty-two lines, of which thirty at least are literally borrowed, and the remainder only varied for the worse.'

There have been dissenters from the theory advanced by Gifford. Collier (Bibliog. and Crit. Account, 1866, 2. 312) in describing one of the Middleburgh editions of Marlowe's translations from Ovid, says: 'After Lib. 1, Elegia, 15, comes "The same by B. J.” [B. I.] which may mean Ben Jonson; but it is rather a correction and improvement of Marlowe than a new translation.' Fleay (Chr. I. 367) implies that Jonson was borrowing without credit given: 'In (Poetaster] i i, the translation of Ovid's Elegy is taken bodily, with slight alterations, from Marlowe, and was inserted as "by B. I.” by the side of Marlow's in the 3rd (2nd Middleburgh) edition of his translation. Even Nicholson (Ben Jonson 1. 269) asserts: “This is Jonson's improved variant of Marlowe's vision [sic] of Ovid's First Book of Loves, Elegy 15, and a variant not improbably first made for this play.'

The recent editors of Marlowe, however, disclaim our poem. Dyce (Marlowe's Works, 1870, p. 324) has this note: The same by B. I.] Not in ed. A.—“B. I.” i. e. Ben Jonson, who afterwards introduced this version into The Poetaster; see his Works, ii. 397, ed. Gifford, who is probably right in stating that both the translations are by Jonson, the former one being the rough sketch of the latter.' Cf. also Dyce, ibid. xxxix. From Bullen (Marlowe's Works 1. xxv-xxvi.) it is necessary to quote at length: ‘The version of the Amores must belong to a somewhat earlier date [than 1587). Dyce conjectures that it was written as a college exercise (surely not at the direction of the college authorities). It is a spirited translation, though the inaccuracies are manifold; in licentiousness,

I am compelled to add, it is a match for the original. Its popularity was great, and-printed in company with Sir John Davies' Epigrams—it passed through several editions, which are all undated, and bear the imprint “Middleborugh" or "Middlebourgh” (in Holland). In June, 1599, by order of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Marlowe's translation (together with Marston's Pygmalion, Hall's Satires, and Cutwode's Caltha Poetarum) was committed to the flames; but it continued to be published abroad, and some editions, with the imprint Middleborough on the title-page, were surreptitiously printed at London.' The earliest of these editions extant, Bullen believes to be that which he calls the 'Isham copy, discovered by Mr. Charles Edmonds. 'In his preface to a facsimile reprint of the little volume, Mr. Edmonds states his conviction that this edition, notwithstanding the imprint Middleborough, was issued at London from the press of W. Jaggard, who in 1599 printed the Passionate Pilgrime. He grounds his opinions not only on the character of the type and of the misprints, but on the fact that there would be no need for the book to be printed abroad in the first instance. It was not (he thinks) until after June, 1599—when (with other books) it was condemned by Archbishop Whitgift to be burnt—that recourse was had to the expedient of reprinting it at Middieburgh' (ibid. 3. 104). This edition was not known to Dyce, who, however, speaks of three other editions as A, B, and C. The Isham copy and Ed. A are incomplete; Ed. B bore on the title page All Ovid's Elegies: 3 Bookes. By C. M. Epigrams by I. D. At Middleborugh, 12mo. So Ed. C. Dyce notes (Marlowe's Works 324) that the version ‘by B. I.' is 'Not in ed. A. Bullen does not say whether it occurs in the Isham copy.

Before proceeding, it may be worth while to recall the fact that the Passionate Pilgrim presents some points that are suggestive in connection with the case in hand. This collection, made and printed for Jaggard in 1599, bore on

its title page By W. Shakespeare, though the poems were by various authors. It contained the famous lyric, 'Live with me, and be my love, though without the fourth and sixth stanzas. This was first reclaimed for its real author, Marlowe, in England's Helicon, 1600. It is easy to see that an unscrupulous publisher could command irregular means of obtaining poems he might desire; while it is conceivable that even a well-intentioned editor might inadventently insert in a collection a poem not by his author. Supposing, then, one of Marlowe's translations to have been lost or for any reason not obtainable, what would be more probable than a levy upon some scholar-poet?

Unfortunately, our arguments as to the authorship of the two translations of Ovid, Eleg. 1. 15 have to be mainly a priori, for the following reasons: 1) Some of our editions are undated and of unknown editorship; 2) the poems in question are translations of the same original, so that close correspondences do not necessarily prove either plagiarism or identity of authorship; 3) peculiarities in the translation of particular words have little significance, owing to the exigences of metre and rime; 4) the poems are short and do not present singularities of style that can be regarded as decisive. We are thus limited to probabilities and negations.

First, as to Marlowe's translation of Ovid's Elegies, Dyce (Marlowe's Works xxxix.) has this to say: 'This version of the Amores, taken altogether, does so little credit either to Marlowe's skill as a translator or to his scholarship, that one is almost tempted to believe it was never intended by him to meet the eye of the world, but was made, merely as a literary exercise, at an early period of life, when classical studies chiefly engaged his attention. That Marlowe was capable of passing cheerfully on after having made translations so obscure or absurd in English as to prove complete want of comprehension of the original Latin, will be evident from even a cursory glance at the footnotes in

« PreviousContinue »