1687 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Christopher Marlowe

William Winstanley, Lives of the Most Famous English Poets (1687) 134.



Christopher Marlow was (as we said) not only contemporary with William Shakespear, but also, like him, rose from an Actor, to be a maker of Comedies and Tragedies, yet was he much inferior to Shakespear, not only in the number of his Plays, but also in the elegancy of his Style. His Pen was chiefly employ'd in Tragedies; namely, his Tamberlain the first and second Part, Edward the Second, Lust's Dominion, or the Lascivious Queen, the Massacre of Paris, his Jew of Malta, a Tragi-comedy, and his Tragedy of Dido, in which he was joyned with Nash. But none made such a great Noise as his Comedy of Doctor Faustus with his Devils, and such like tragical Sport, which pleased much the humors of the Vulgar. He also begun a Poem of Hero and Leander; wherein he seemed to have a resemblance of that clear and unsophisticated Wit which was natural to Musaeus that incomparable Poet. This Poem being left unfinished by Marlow, who in some riotous Fray came to an untimely and violent end, was thought worthy of the finishing hand of Chapman, as we intimated before; in the performance whereof, nevertheless he fell short of the Spirit and Invention with which it was begun.