Last Updated on January 19, 2017, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1578
The Famous Tragedy of The Rich Iew of Malta. As it was playd before the King and Qveene, in His Majesties Theatre at White-Hall, by her Majesties Servants at the Cock-pit. Written by Christopher Marlo. London; Printed by I. B. for Nicholas Vavasour, and are to be sold at his Shop in the Inner-Temple, neere the Church. 1633. 4to.
TO MY WORTHY FRIEND, MASTER THOMAS HAMMON, of GRAY'S INN, ETC.
This play, composed by so worthy an author as Master Marlowe, and the part of the Jew presented by so unimitable an actor as Master Alleyn, being in this later age commended to the stage; as I ushered it unto the court, and presented it to the Cock-pit, with these Prologues and Epilogues here inserted, so now being newly brought to the press, I was loath it should be published without the ornament of an Epistle; making choice of you unto whom to devote it; than whom (of all those gentlemen and acquaintance within the compass of my long knowledge) there is none more able to tax ignorance, or attribute right to merit. Sir, you have been pleased to grace some of mine own works 1 with your courteous patronage: I hope this will not be the worse accepted, because commended by me; over whom none can claim more power or privilege than yourself. I had no better a new-year's gift to present you with; receive it therefore as a continuance of that inviolable obligement, by which he rests still engaged, who, as he ever hath, shall always remain,
THE PROLOGUE SPOKEN AT COURT.
EPILOGUE SPOKEN AT COURT.
THE PROLOGUE TO THE STAGE, AT THE COCK-PIT.
EPILOGUE TO THE STAGE, AT THE COCK-PIT.
THE JEW OF MALTA.
Tho. Heywood. 2
Gracious and great, that we so boldly dare
('Mongst other plays that now in fashion are)
To present this, writ many years agone,
And in that age thought second unto none,
We humbly crave your pardon. We pursue
The story of a rich and famous Jew
Who liv'd in Malta: you shall find him still,
In all his projects, a sound Machiavill;
And that's his character. He that hath past
So many censures 3 is now come at last
To have your princely ears: grace you him; then
You crown the action, and renown the pen.
It is our fear, dread sovereign, we have bin 4
Too tedious; neither can't be less than sin
To wrong your princely patience: if we have,
Thus low dejected, we your pardon crave;
And, if aught here offend your ear or sight,
We only act and speak what others write.
We know not how our play may pass this stage,
But by the best of poets 5 in that age
THE MALTA-JEW had being and was made;
And he then by the best of actors 6 play'd:
In HERO AND LEANDER 7 one did gain
A lasting memory; in Tamburlaine,
This Jew, with others many, th' other wan
The attribute of peerless, being a man
Whom we may rank with (doing no one wrong)
Proteus for shapes, and Roscius for a tongue,—
So could he speak, so vary; nor is't hate
To merit in him 8 who doth personate
Our Jew this day; nor is it his ambition
To exceed or equal, being of condition
More modest: this is all that he intends,
(And that too at the urgence of some friends,)
To prove his best, and, if none here gainsay it,
The part he hath studied, and intends to play it.
In graving with Pygmalion to contend,
Or painting with Apelles, doubtless the end
Must be disgrace: our actor did not so,—
He only aim'd to go, but not out-go.
Nor think that this day any prize was play'd; 9
Here were no bets at all, no wagers laid: 10
All the ambition that his mind doth swell,
Is but to hear from you (by me) 'twas well.
FERNEZE, governor of Malta.
LODOWICK, his son.
SELIM CALYMATH, son to the Grand Seignior.
MARTIN DEL BOSCO, vice-admiral of Spain.
MATHIAS, a gentleman.
BARNARDINE, | friars.
BARABAS, a wealthy Jew.
ITHAMORE, a slave.
PILIA-BORZA, a bully, attendant to BELLAMIRA.
Knights, Bassoes, Officers, Guard, Slaves, Messenger,
KATHARINE, mother to MATHIAS.
ABIGAIL, daughter to BARABAS.
BELLAMIRA, a courtezan.
MACHIAVEL as Prologue speaker.
MACHIAVEL. Albeit the world think Machiavel is dead,
Yet was his soul but flown beyond the Alps;
And, now the Guise 11 is dead, is come from France,
To view this land, and frolic with his friends.
To some perhaps my name is odious;
But such as love me, guard me from their tongues,
And let them know that I am Machiavel,
And weigh not men, and therefore not men's words.
Admir'd I am of those that hate me most:
Though some speak openly against my books,
Yet will they read me, and thereby attain
To Peter's chair; and, when they cast me off,
Are poison'd by my climbing followers.
I count religion but a childish toy,
And hold there is no sin but ignorance.
Birds of the air will tell of murders past!
I am asham'd to hear such fooleries.
Many will talk of title to a crown:
What right had Caesar to the empery? 12
Might first made kings, and laws were then most sure
When, like the Draco's, 13 they were writ in blood.
Hence comes it that a strong-built citadel
Commands much more than letters can import:
Which maxim had 14 Phalaris observ'd,
H'ad never bellow'd, in a brazen bull,
Of great ones' envy: o' the poor petty wights
Let me be envied and not pitied.
But whither am I bound? I come not, I,
To read a lecture here 15 in Britain,
But to present the tragedy of a Jew,
Who smiles to see how full his bags are cramm'd;
Which money was not got without my means.
I crave but this,—grace him as he deserves,
And let him not be entertain'd the worse
Because he favours me.
- Heywood dedicates the First Part of THE IRON AGE (printed 1632) "To my Worthy and much Respected Friend, Mr. Thomas Hammon, of Grayes Inne, Esquire."
- Tho. Heywood: The well-known dramatist.
- censures: i.e. judgments.
- bin: i.e. been.
- best of poets: "Marlo." Marg. note in old ed.
- best of actors: "Allin." Marg. note in old. ed.--Any account of the celebrated actor, Edward Alleyn, the founder of Dulwich College, would be superfluous here.
- In HERO AND LEANDER, &c.: The meaning is--The one (Marlowe) gained a lasting memory by being the author of HERO AND LEANDER; while the other (Alleyn) wan the attribute of peerless by playing the parts of Tamburlaine, the Jew of Malta, &c.--The passage happens to be mispointed in the old ed. thus, "In Hero and Leander, one did gaine A lasting memorie: in Tamberlaine, This Jew, with others many: th' other wan," &c. and hence Mr. Collier, in his HIST. OF ENG. DRAM. POET. iii. 114, understood the words, "in Tamburlaine, This Jew, with others many," as applying to Marlowe: he afterwards, however, in his MEMOIRS OF ALLEYN, p. 9, suspected that the punctuation of the old ed. might be wrong,--which it doubtless is.
- him: "Perkins." Marg. note in old ed.--"This was Richard Perkins, one of the performers belonging to the Cock-pit theatre in Drury-Lane. His name is printed among those who acted in HANNIBAL AND SCIPIO by Nabbes, THE WEDDING by Shirley, and THE FAIR MAID OF THE WEST by Heywood. After the play-houses were shut up on account of the confusion arising from the civil wars, Perkins and Sumner, who belonged to the same house, lived together at Clerkenwell, where they died and were buried. They both died some years before the Restoration. See THE DIALOGUE ON PLAYS AND PLAYERS [Dodsley's OLD PLAYS, 1. clii., last ed.]." REED (apud Dodsley's O. P.). Perkins acted a prominent part in Webster's WHITE DEVIL, when it was first brought on the stage, --perhaps Brachiano (for Burbadge, who was celebrated in Brachiano, does not appear to have played it originally): in a notice to the reader at the end of that tragedy Webster says; "In particular I must remember the well-approved industry of my friend Master Perkins, and confess the worth of his action did crown both the beginning and end." About 1622-3 Perkins belonged to the Red Bull theatre: about 1637 he joined the company at Salisbury Court: see Webster's WORKS, note, p. 51, ed. Dyce, 1857.
- prize was play'd: This expression (so frequent in our early writers) is properly applied to fencing: see Steevens's note on Shakespeare's MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR, act. i. sc. 1.
- no wagers laid: "Wagers as to the comparative merits of rival actors in particular parts were not unfrequent of old," &c. Collier (apud Dodsley's O. P.). See my ed. of Peele's WORKS, i. x. ed. 1829; and Collier's MEMOIRS OF ALLEYN, p. 11.
- the Guise: "i.e. the Duke of Guise, who had been the principal contriver and actor in the horrid massacre of St. Bartholomew's day, 1572. He met with his deserved fate, being assassinated, by order of the French king, in 1588." REED (apud Dodsley's O. P.). And see our author's MASSACRE AT PARIS.
- empery: Old ed. "Empire."
- the Draco's: "i.e. the severe lawgiver of Athens; 'whose statutes,' said Demades, 'were not written with ink, but blood.'" STEEVENS (apud Dodsley's O. P.).--Old ed. "the Drancus."
- had: Qy. "had BUT"?
- a lecture here: Qy. "a lecture TO YOU here"?
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