1822 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Christopher Marlowe

Anonymous, in "The Augustan Age in England" The Album 1 (1822) 196-97.



MARLOW is a writer less known, and whose merits are less acknowledged but we look on him as well worthy of being placed by the side of his mighty contemporaries. He is a poet of the most determined energy and will. He has an uncontrouled and uncontroulable fire, which sheds its radiant splendour over all his writings. He loves to gaze on the volcano of human passion — to sit on the crater's brink, and watch its workings within. He delights, too, in that full, deep, engrossing voluptuousness, which so often is the attendant of stormy passion; and he shadows it luxuriously forth with the same striking truth that marks his fiercer delineations. The feelings and passions of Marlow's writings appear to be more his own, than do those of almost any other poet. Others copy from general nature — he seems to transcribe from himself. We can well conceive Marlow to have resembled his own Faustus — that, granting the possibility of similar circumstances, the picture would have been that of himself. What has comedown to us of his life strengthens this idea; his actions shew him a wild, self-indulged voluptuary; — his writings prove hint to have been a man of deep thought and splendid genius. It is the same with Faustus. His ability and learning have placed super-human power in his grasp, and he uses it for the attainment of unbounded gratification. We look on this work as immeasurably Marlow's best. It is indeed a mighty production. There is true knowledge of the human heart, in the apparently incongruous union we have noticed above; and it is embodied in poetry worthy of the splendid conception. Where did the age of Anne produce a work like this?