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Title: It Was Marlowe: A Story of the Secret of Three Centuries

Author: Wilbur Gleason Zeigler

Release date: August 29, 2018 [eBook #57810]

Language: English

Credits: E-text prepared by Wayne Hammond and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team ( from page images generously made available by the Google Books Library Project (



E-text prepared by Wayne Hammond
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from page images generously made available by
the Google Books Library Project


Note: Images of the original pages are available through the Google Books Library Project. See



It Was Marlowe.

A Story of the Secret of Three Centuries.

Wilbur Gleason Zeigler.

It is not for any man to measure, above all it is not for any workman in the field of tragic poetry lightly to take on himself the responsibility or the authority to pronounce what it is that Christopher Marlowe could not have done.”—Algernon Charles Swinburne.

Donohue, Henneberry & Co.
407-429 Dearborn St.

“She had turned her face for a last look at the Combatants.” P. 78.

All rights reserved.

Wilbur Gleason Zeigler
June 8, 1898.

ii iii


Preface 5
The Meeting in Finbury Fields 13
A Chance to Serve the Church 33
The Drawn Sword 47
A Clash of Steel 60
The Cover of His Fame 77
The Apprehension of Anne 91
A Precarious Existence 103
The Passing of Tabbard 118
The Molding of the Mask 131
A Point of Confluence 144
In the Prince’s Wardrobe 153
Where Lamentation Prevailed 165
Over the Body of the Dead 175
Into the Lion’s Mouth 191
The Sacking of St. Olave 203
Guilty on General Principles 217
The Master Hand is Here 235
Death to Thy Client or Mine 250
The Ride to Tyburn 267
Finis Coronat Opus 280
Appendix 297

iv v


Nature doth strive with Fortune and his stars
To make him famous.
I Tamburlaine, ii, 1.
Nature and Fortune joined to make him great.
King John, iii, 1.

A number of years ago I read the plays of Christopher Marlowe; and as evidence of the impression they made upon me, there is still among my recent notes gathered for this romance, the extracts I then wrote down from his Tamburlaine and Faustus. There was something in them to excite more than the passing interest of a boy; and for a long time I mourned over the accepted account of the untimely, and disgraceful ending of that unfortunate poet—“our elder Shelley,” as Swinburne has termed him. Later the Bacon-Shakespere controversy attracted my attention; and while I became skeptical concerning the authorship by William Shakespere of the dramas that bear his name, I could not attribute them to the pen of Francis Bacon.

There are many reasons for my disbelief, in the solution of the mystery as presented by the Baconians, but it has not arisen from my failure to study the proofs and argument. One reason, however, must be mentioned. A man, so solicitous of his vi fame as to leave it in his will “to foreign nations and the next ages,” would not, if he had written the plays, have departed this life without some mention of them. Whoever wrote them was not blind to their merits; and of his knowledge of their enduring quality we have the author’s own opinion in the lines:

“Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme.”

Shakespere also left a will, as mean and petty in its details of “gilt boles,” “wearing apparrell” and money to “buy them ringes,” as though conceived by a tiller of the soil whose eyes had never been raised above his plow-handles. It had been carefully prepared three months before his death, and subscribed while his “mind was yet unclouded;” but, as in the case of Bacon, we listen vainly for one word from the testator concerning the grandest productions of all time. Ye who have sweat in striking “the second heat upon the Muse’s anvil,” think of the utter indifference of both these men concerning the “living lines” of Hamlet and of Richard!

With the fame of Shakespere thus rudely shaken, and that of Bacon firmly set upon the enduring monument of law and philosophy which he alone had raised for himself, I began groping for a solution of these mysterious questions. Who wrote the plays? Why was their authorship concealed?

As to the first inquiry, my belief that Christopher Marlowe could have written the plays, had vii his life been sufficiently prolonged, was supported by the opinions of Phillips, Collier, Dowden, Malone, Swinburne and Dyce [notes 1-6.]

This belief was founded upon the striking similarity of the strongest portions of his acknowledged works to passages of the Shakespere plays; the tendency of each to degenerate into pomposity and bombast in passages of tragic pathos [note 7]; the similar treatment of characters, and the like spirit that pervades them. (The Shakespere plays, free as they are from any trace of a hand during the period when it was moved by an immature mind, seem like a continuation of the works of the earlier master, and evolved when the author was at the meridian of his power.)

It has been said that “Marlowe could not don alternately the buskin and the sock,” and that he “never attempted to write a comic scene,” and thus it would have been impossible for him to have written the light and witty portions of the plays. The conclusion of Bullen, above quoted, is not well founded. There are comic scenes in Faustus, and originally there were like scenes for “vain, conceited fondlings” in the “stately history” of Tamburlaine.

Against the theory of the authorship of Marlowe, was the record of his death in June, 1593, when at the age of 29 years, a period of life all too short to have enabled him to have produced much, if any, more than the work which is known, beyond reasonable doubt, to be his. The accredited account viii is that he was slain with his own sword in a tavern brawl. Upon a careful examination of all the reports, I found them loose and contradictory. In September, 1593, Harvey wrote that his death was from the plague [note 8]; in 1597, Beard, the Puritan, wrote that he was killed in the streets of London [note 9]; in 1598, Meres referred to Beard’s account without correcting it [note 10]; in 1600, Vaughn wrote that he was killed by “one named Ingram” [note 11]; in 1600, Rowland attributed the death to drinking [note 12]; about 1680, Aubrey wrote that he was the victim of the famous duel of 1598, when Ben Jonson killed his adversary [note 13]; and the burial register of the parish church of St. Nicholas, in Deptford, contains the entry that he was slain by Francis Frazer [note 14].

But no investigation brought to light what became of his slayer. There is no record yet discovered of his escape or trial. Although Ben Jonson was thrown into prison and “brought near the gallows” for his duel on Bunhill, the alleged slayer of “kynd Kit Marloe” appears to have vanished so utterly that it was not until within the last quarter of this nineteenth century that even his name written in the burial register became correctly known to the world.

It might be said that this obscurity concerning the death of Marlowe was occasioned by the dearth of facilities for the conveyance of news, but we can not close our eyes to the fact that it was not an ix ignorant age, but one of criticism, violent controversial correspondence, and pamphleteering. And then it was not the case of an obscure person suddenly removed from the walks of life. Although violently attacked a few years previously by contemporaries [note 15], for his allusion to “the jigging veins of rhyming mother-wits” [note 16], and for the innovations that his genius brought about upon the English stage [note 17], the height of his fame and the reverence in which he was held by the English intellectual world was shown by Petowe, Chapman, Peele, Blunt, Harvey, Chettle, and Drayton [notes 18-24]. It was praise that emanated from the lips of these poets and writers before the close of the year 1600. To them he was “the famous gracer of tragedians,” “the highest mind that ever haunted Paul’s,” the “king of poets,” “the muses’ darling,” that “Free soul whose living subject stood
Up to the chin in the Pierian flood.”

How striking appears this praise when contrasted with the meager contemporary notices of Shakespere by obscure writers [note 25]!

Among this crowd of admirers we catch no glimpse of the man from Stratford-on-Avon, whom the most devout of his followers recognize, in the earliest of the plays, as merely a “pupil” of “the earlier master.” If it were his voice that was then uttering the “parrot-like note of plagery,”1 x how unpardonable seems his silence, standing, as he did, in the presence of the mighty dead!

These tributes to the memory of Marlowe, all with the omission of the exact nature of his death; and on the other side, the full but contradictory reports by rancorous Puritan scribblers, of the killing of “this barking dogge,”2 led me irresistibly to an answer to the second question. Why was the authorship of the plays concealed?

The most plausible answer was that that master spirit labored until his death under some tremendous fear. What else but the fear of arrest and capital punishment for some crime could have kept him silent until, unwarned and unprepared, he entered “the undiscovered country?”

Was it not possible that this crime was committed in 1593? If so, would it not have kept this “king of poets” hidden in just such condition of darkened vision, isolation and solitude as Frederic Schlegel [note 26] deemed imperative for the production of these austere tragedies? Suppose this condition had existed for five years; that is, from 1593 to 1598; all of the stronger plays which it is possible to attribute to the pen of one man could have been written. And what occurred during those five years? Several of Marlowe’s acknowledged dramas were published under his name [note 27], and at least Titus Andronicus, Romeo and Juliet, Richard II, and Richard III appeared without the name of any author on their title xi pages [note 28]. In 1598 the name of “W. Shakespere” made its first appearance [note 29] on some of the editions. Did Marlowe die in 1598, instead of 1593? Was Aubrey right?

Upon these conjectural answers to the questions of who was the author, and why did he conceal his identity, I have built the story of “It Was Marlowe,” and I trust that in its narration I have made my theory plausible. But whether or not such has been the result, if through this effort I have awakened, or increased the reader’s interest in a being as grandly illumined with the flame of pure intellect as any who have, since his consecration, knelt at the shrine of ideal beauty, or aspired to ideal power, my work has not been entirely futile.





The man that on the forehead of his fortune
Bears figures of renown and miracle.
I. Tamburlaine, ii.
A combination, and a form, indeed,
Where every god did seem to set his seal,
To give the world assurance of a man.
Hamlet, iii, 4.

At the point where the path from the Theater penetrated the brick wall on the eastern boundary of Finbury Fields, late in the afternoon of June the first, 1593, a man had paused, apparently to prevent overtaking a crowd that was preceding him in the direction of the Shore-ditch Highway.

A fog of varying density, that had already enveloped the streets of London, was drifting across the fields, and hid not only the Theater and Curtain from view, but also the buildings, nearer at hand, of the dissolved Priory of Holywell. In spite of the obscuring mist, if one had stood at one end of the broken wall while the man, just spoken of, had paused in the center of the opening, the form and features of the latter could have been seen to advantage. His face would first have 14 attracted attention. Both energy and sensibility could have been traced upon it even in repose when the dark and glowing eyes were closed. The first characteristic was displayed in a close-shaven chin which was almost pugnacious in its squareness, and in a nose which, while too fine for that of a Cæsar, had all the lordly outline of the latter. Intelligence and sensitiveness were written on the full and finely curved lips, and the glow upon his cheeks pronounced the extreme of temperance in habit, or an inexhaustible power of recuperation. In the eyes and broad and compact forehead evidences of genius were disclosed, but it could not be determined whether it was in the fiery glance of the former, or in the serenity of the latter, that such proof was written. The letters were of a type intelligible to all readers. The lines of thought, between his brows and on his cheeks, were indicative of age, but his laugh was from the heart of youth alone. Between the two one would have guessed his years correctly as close to thirty.

He was slender in stature and slightly above medium height. His dress was of the extreme style of the period; but although rich in texture, was worn with much use, and stained from evident dissipation. The black cloak, with buff silk lining, was torn across one shoulder. The scarlet doublet, because of missing buttons, was open more than its maker intended, to show the vest of same color, and gayly embroidered shirt front. The belt around the doublet was enriched with 15 silver cord, and held a long rapier, whose bejeweled hilt was enough to excite the cupidity of vagrants or rufflers. The trunk hose of black fabric, reaching half way down his upper leg, was slashed so as to admit the protruding of purple silk, while tights of the latter color extended from the bottoms of the trunks down into the low shoes. He wore a flat cap with single white feather, and under it a mass of black hair hung to his shoulders.

The crowd before him was one dispersing after a short afternoon performance3 at both theaters. It was smaller than usual and was the last of the season. The Plague had firmly engrafted itself in the city, and was gathering new life with increase of deaths.

Even in the suburbs the red crosses were being marked upon the doors of infected houses. A week previously, the Lord Mayor had issued a proclamation prohibiting the holding open of places of amusement during the prevalence of the epidemic. This order, aimed at the gathering of multitudes where germs of disease might be readily propagated, was nugatory outside the city walls, but it had had its effect upon the theater-going public. It was a warning of greater force than those thundered from the pulpits. The hegira of the wealthier class of people to the country had begun, and the poorer classes were closing their doors and venturing out only as necessity compelled. 16

It was this condition of affairs that had caused the managers of the play-houses in Finbury Fields to announce a closing of their doors, and the prospect of a reopening before the fall, or possibly the winter season, was not encouraging.

Such a cessation of occupation assured discomfort and perhaps misery to the man described; for his livelihood depended upon the prosperity of the theaters; but if he had at any time seriously considered the matter, the consideration had in no wise affected his perennial good humor. He laughed at the unsuccessful attempts of several crows at lighting upon one of the wings of a near windmill that turned slightly one way and then another in the shifting breeze. And then again he was amused at the actions of an apparently intoxicated man, who, having stumbled from the path, had in the fog encountered the wall near by, and with one hand against it was repeating in loud voice the lines he had lately heard from the lips of a ranting actor: “Swing back the gates, thou triple-headed fiend,
Or by the gods this hand will draw a blade
To make thy shoulders strangers to thy head.”

The laugh which these words and gestures awakened on the part of the quiet observer just described was joined in by another man who was approaching by the same path. The latter had been whistling with all the ardor and enthusiasm of tender years and an undisturbed mind, until the 17 loud voice of the drunkard provoked him to laughter.

He was a beardless youth of apparently twenty years of age. As he laughed his little blue eyes were almost closed beneath his red eyebrows, so that their expression alone was enough to excite the merriment of an observer. His wide open mouth revealed two rows of white teeth, separated by at least two inches of space at the moment that the loudest peal of laughter came forth. His round cheeks were red with superabundance of health, and proclaimed contact with country air. It was not an overshrewd face nor one showing resolution; but it was so open, so frank and good natured, that even a person injured by carelessness on the part of its owner would have paused in expressing a natural remonstrance.

One would have expected to have seen a rough doublet of Kendal green, or of homespun russet, with patched trousers and low cockers upon the slender figure beneath this face; but, on the contrary, he was attired in a neat-fitting garb appropriate for the page of a lord or rich country squire. His blue coat, with velvet facing, had even an Italian ruff with a hundred double turnings upon it. A short sword was belted at his waist, and his trunks, of strong material, disappeared into top boots. The latter, however, were patched, of crude manufacture, and looked to have been worn through plowed fields at some recent period. Neither was his hat in keeping with his new body 18 apparel, but was one evidently picked, for wearing on this particular expedition, out of some pile of discarded garments of the man whom he served.

As he saw the man first described a gleam of recognition showed in his face.

“Ho!” he exclaimed, joyfully, “Is that you?”

“None else,” returned the other, carelessly, as though the discovery of himself by the stranger was of the least concern.

“Sir Kit?” queried the youth, taking off a hat, still adorned with a broken feather, and bowing with a grace which was evidently a recent acquirement, for it savored of a contact with people far removed from a service in which he must have acquired his rough field boots.

“‘Sir,’ if so you will have it, but ‘Kit’ without doubt,” answered the man addressed, smiling at the youth’s appearance, and at the same time taking an interest in the jolly face of its owner. The latter feeling caused him to inquire:

“Hast thou any matter of concern to communicate to me?”

“You do not recognize me,” returned the stranger, as though the matter of his identity was first necessary to be established.

The gentleman studied the other for a moment, and then said:

“I have seen thy face before, but can not place thee. Where was it and who are you?”

“You saw me in Deptford, and my name is Tabbard. I come now from Sayes Court, where I have 19 lately entered into better service than that of an attendant upon gentle folk in a wayside inn. The duke took a fancy to me.”

“And gave you a new doublet, and his old hat, eh?”

“True,” said Tabbard, “and the promise of long service, good wages and promotion.”

“Your star is in the ascendant,” laughed the other, and then added, “but what do you want to tell me?”

“It is this. The Duke of Sussex is at Sayes Court now, and many more who have left London with him. You are to attend there a masque with the remainder of the Earl’s actors.”

“Well,” interrupted the other, impatiently.

“But I am not here to tell you that alone. When I last saw you, you were at the Golden Hind, Dodsman’s tavern, in Deptford. They called me Tabbard there, and so did you when I waited upon you, and you gave me an angel for my attendance.”

“I do not remember the gold. When I give gold my memory is gone as well,” said the other, while an expressive smile played upon his lips.

“Well,” again began Tabbard, hurriedly, “at the same time that you were there, a gentleman named Manuel Crossford, from Canterbury, was there also with his daughter.”

“Yes, yes,” the man addressed as Kit exclaimed, and with it all the reserve that he had maintained vanished.

“Let details go,” he continued, grasping Tabbard’s 20 arm, “I remember it all and you too. What of her?”

“The father did not look favorably upon your suit.”

“You evidently learned more than was proper for one in your position,” again interrupted the other, “but you are certainly not here to badger words with me. What else have you to say?”

The two men had moved close to one end of the brick wall, so as to avoid being brushed against by the occasional stragglers, who were still issuing from the mist in one direction and vanishing in the other. These stragglers came singly, in pairs, and in groups. Here would ride by a mounted cavalier in Spanish hat, loose velvet cloak that covered him to his knees, and high boots rattling with clumsy silver spurs. Then close in the latter’s wake would follow a ragged, sneaking vagrant of the Straits,4 who having caught a glimpse of the spurs and the gold cord on the rider’s hat, was now intent on dogging him, until upon the latter’s dismounting at some ordinary or ale-house within the city, a groat might be earned by holding the horse. After these, a line of truant apprentices would stagger by with locked arms and swaying black-capped heads, endeavoring, by blocking the path, to keep a group of gayly dressed women from hurrying toward the tenements in the Garden Alleys.5

The sight of these trailing members of the great 21 body of people which had disappeared did not seem to disturb the attention of the gentleman or his inferior; and pausing but for a moment the latter continued:

“Well, she is there at the Golden Hind to-day. I saw her face at one of the windows as I was riding by and then I remembered your words to never fail to inform you if I ever saw her again. I dismounted and went in.”

“Was she there alone?” asked Kit, without endeavoring to conceal his interest.

“I do not know, except——”

“And what do you know?”

“Let me proceed. Thou art too impatient. A line of horses was before the place and a crowd inside. I went through the tap-room and up the staircase without having made up my mind how to announce myself as coming from thee—coming from thee, mind—or for what purpose; and marry sir, she was at the head of the stairs and I simply blurted out: ‘Kit will be here to-night, and would see thee.’”

“And what answer made she, thou fool?”

“‘At nine,’ she said sir, ‘and tell him not to fail,’ and at that moment a man who had followed me into the hall set his foot on the lower stair and stumbled. This must have startled her, for she stopped speaking.”

“And didst thou not ask the number of the room?”

“Wait. I heard the step and looked below, and 22 when I turned again her finger was on her lips and she drew back.”

“Canst thou never learn expedition?” exclaimed the other, biting his lip.

“She was behind the balustrade,” resumed Tabbard, unmindful of the interruption, “and where the light from the skylight fell upon her. He could not see her, nor she him, but she heard him hit the stairs. I say he could not see——”

“Go on, you stumble in your speech.”

“——not see her, but I could. She was dressed like a lady; her cheeks pink, her eyes as dark as thine own; her hair golden.”

“The same,” uttered the other, nodding his head.

“She went into the room with carved panels on the door.”

“Are they not all carved?”

“May be so; but I think not. No, ’twas the first guest’s room; the second door on the right from the head of the stairs. The man passed me as I went down.”

“Who was he?”

“I never saw him before.”

“Was he not her father?”

“Oh, no. He was a young man dressed in grand style. In face he was so like thee that I almost stopped him as I have thee now.”

“And did you make no inquiry at the bar?”

“The tapster was busy; the serving men were strangers to me, and Dodsman was not in sight.” 23

“And you learned nothing more?”

“No; I mounted and came on.”

“Marry, and why didst thou not wait, and why didst thou not find me before?” questioned the other, in tones of reproof. “It is now near six o’clock and three miles lie between here and London bridge and then another three miles or more to Deptford.”

“Is that not time enough?”

“And how much can one spare from it for a full meal and a glass of Canary at the Red Bull or the Mermaid? I would not chance more than a mug of sack and a square of black bread at the ale-house next to the London wall. And how can one push his horse faster than a walk through such a fog as this? But let us press on.”

Through the fields they proceeded along a wide path unfenced and bordered with stretches of grass and rushes.

“You ask me why I did not wait for knowledge about the lady,” at length said Tabbard, thinking that some explanation was still due. “It was then late, and besides the message I had for the Earl’s actors, I wished to see Gabriel Spencer as the king in ‘Edward the Second,’ at the Theater. I could not miss that, Sir Kit.”

“And nearly missed seeing me,” said Kit, absently.

“I expected to see thee there, too. For admission I paid my last penny, or at not seeing thee on the stage I should have gone to the other playhouse. 24 I tried to go into the galleries, but an upstart youth in bare head and with sword at his side, like one of the Queen’s men, forced me back, demanding another penny. Before me went a crowd of women, and the galleries were filled with them. Unlike those in the open pit, they sat under roof and without fear of rain.6 So into the pit I went, and must needs have paid another penny for a seat had not Dudden, a countryman of mine from near Maidstone, in Kent, whom I had not seen for four years, touched me on the shoulder and bade me squeeze in between him and a friend. They had brought bottles of sack in with them,7 and not a drink would they take without my joining them.”

“And did that require much urging?”

“Little at first,” answered Tabbard, “but when once the play was well on, I could not drink for fear of taking my eyes from the stage; not that the devil heads on the tops of the posts on each side interested me, or the dandies on the stools and dried rushes on the stage-floor8 under these heads, but the actors! Ah, but the actors, Sir Kit! Were there ever such crimson doublets and cloaks with copper lacings worn? And the rich dresses that the men wore, who played the parts of the Queen and ladies, made me think that they had broken into the wardrobe at Whitehall. And do ladies never play such parts, Sir Kit?” 25

“Never,”9 answered the other, shaking his head.

“But Dudden swore they were ladies, and when one of the spectators on the stage hissed the Queen for forgetting a line he threw one of the empty bottles of sack at him. It was all so grand, so fierce, so bloody. And Dudden went into a drunken fit when the head of Mortimer was brought in. But that was at the end. My own heart was in my throat at the sight of the mowers, with their Welch hooks, taking the king captive.”

“Art thou so easily disturbed, fellow?” asked Kit, with a twinkle in his eye.

“Prut!” exclaimed Tabbard, “Thou couldst never have seen the play, if you say that. What man could sit still when the king moaned; ‘Lay me on a litter and to the gates of hell——’”

“Hold,” interrupted the other, “not quite so. These are the words: ‘A litter hast thou? Lay me in a hearse,
And to the gates of hell convey me hence:
Let Pluto’s bells ring out my fatal knell,
And hags howl for my death at Charon’s shore.’”

“Then he throws off his disguise,” continued Tabbard, excitedly. “Why those sound like the very words. Didst thou ever play the part of Edward?”

“Nay,” said Kit, shaking his head.

“Or Gaveston or Mortimer?”

“Nay, neither.” 26

Tabbard looked at his companion with open mouth, and then asked:

“And what says the king when he hands the Bishop his crown?”

“Now, sweet God of Heaven, make me despise this transitory pomp,” answered the other without hesitation.

“Well, and dost thou know all the play?” asked Tabbard in amazement.

“Much of it,” came the answer.

“And never was in it as an actor?”


“And how comes it that you know it all?”

“I wrote it,” quietly answered the other.

“Wrote it!” exclaimed Tabbard, “and then thou art——”

“Christopher Marlowe,” continued the gentleman, “commonly called Kit.”

The effect on the excited youth was something magical. He stopped talking but gave vent to a prolonged “Oh,” that died into a whisper. He was in the presence of genius; this was the man who had written the lines which for three hours under a hot sun, he had listened to in silent awe and tremblings of terror. He could scarcely believe his eyes; and Marlowe noticing Tabbard’s stupid amazement said:

“How much sack did you punish, Tabbard?”

The question was designed to bring the latter-mentioned person out of his stupefaction, and it had this effect; but in his recovery Tabbard’s wonder 27 ran along the mental line of inquiry concerning how it was that genius could be interested in such common matters.

“Enough to have lost my way and the place where I tied my horse,” at length answered Tabbard, recovering his voice, and looking about him.

“Tied him? Witless, you should have had a boy hold him,” said Marlowe, exhibiting some interest in the welfare of the man who had brought him the message of all others the most pleasing to his ear.

“Then I needst must have cheated the boy, for I have not an old Harry Groat in my pocket,” answered Tabbard, spreading his hands open before him, with palms turned up.

“It is not safe to trust one’s animal with rope and post in these fields nor in this lane,” said Marlowe in the tone of an adviser.

“Well a boy held two horses near where I tied mine to a tree not a great way from this opening. But for the fog I could see him. And I said ‘keep an eye on him. He can not be held.’”

“Which was false, undoubtedly,” nodded Marlowe, smiling.

“Ay, for the brute needs spurs for walking smooth roads. But the watching required no labor.”

“And I suppose that your horse is a pleasing sight to look upon,” said the other.

“True, Sir Kit, and so the score will be even.”

“Was one horse gray that the boy held, and one 28 black, and did the boy wear a cap and stand under an apple tree next to the Priory wall?”

“That is all true,” responded Tabbard.

“Well, the gray horse is mine,” said Marlowe.

“And why did you leave him so far from the entrance to the play-houses?” asked Tabbard.

“A man who has creditors must appear to be a beggar on foot. I limped to the theater and have now let the crowd precede me as you see,” explained the other, and then noticing a group emerging from the fog, he exclaimed: “Ah! here the boy is now, and there is your horse where you tied him.”

The pair had been following the path for some distance, and now mounting their horses, rode down the lane between brick walls, over which great orchard trees extended their branches, and again on between low houses with green blinds where the miserable outcasts of the city had located themselves. Before them ran the Shore-ditch highway, and entering this they rode on toward the invisible city wall.

In this vacancy of event, there is space for an epitome of the period, in so far as it affected the condition of the principal character of this romance. The somberness of the natural scenery, and the obscurity of the sky were in keeping with his social surroundings and the uncertainty of his existence. The fog might rise disclosing a sky conducive of joyous spirits, or it might gather so dense that naught but the austere form of Melancholy, with her trailing robes of black, could walk 29 with firm and unfaltering strides within it. It was the latter condition that was to follow. At that moment, in the mind of Marlowe, the rosiest dreams of life pursued one another as though conceived by an Ovid, and impelled by the spirit of a Homer; but they were to be buried in the blackness of what seemed eternal night.

Fired with the ambition of a god, he had issued from the studious walks of Cambridge in 1587. Finding dramatic art confined to a close circle, wherein only rhyming productions were considered fit for presentation on the stage, and the public clamorous for aught that possessed the fire of action and the thunder of bombastic declamation, he cast from his shoulders the splendid cloak of rhyme, in which for a moment he had adorned himself, and with the plain but majestic front of a warrior, with feet in the buskins of an actor, he presented himself before the public. It fell in adoration at his feet. The thunder of his tread shook all the gods of rhyme from their immemorial thrones, and from amid the ruins Greene, Nashe and others lifted their protesting voices. Recognizing him as the son of the clerk of the parish church of St. Mary, Greene insisted that he could not “write true English without the help of clerks of parish churches,”10 and Nashe, like Gervinus in his analysis of the “Shakespere” plays, saw in the productions of this late graduate of Cambridge and dramatic innovator, the lines of Seneca read 30 under the light of the English candle.11 But all in vain was the outcry.

In the production of Tamburlaine he had with one bound reached an eminence from which it was impossible to dislodge him,12 and, in quick succession, followed the dramas of Faustus, The Jew of Malta, Edward the Second, and the Massacre at Paris. These plays had been produced during a term of six years, wherein he had alternated his afternoon occupation as an actor at the Curtaine,13 with nights as a dramatic writer. These productions, teeming with majestic lines, and filled with a spirit from “translunary” sources, required not the critical minds of a later school of commentators to establish their worth.14 Some passages are still recognized as having “no parallel in all the range of tragedy.”15 Thus it was that at this period he was throned in a school where all his fellows were his servile imitators. Among them were Nashe, Peele, and Lilly; but poor Greene, with one more outburst against the “upstart crow,” with “his tygres heart,”16 who could have been none else than the writer whom he had attacked in 1587, had finished his unfortunate career. And his career was the one being pursued by all these fiery and impatient souls. It was Marlowe, especially, who had plunged into all the mad excesses of an 31 unbridled life,17 the temporary drift of a youth with convictions unsettled by draughts from Greek philosophers, senses inflamed by the voluptuousness of Ovid, and an existence checkered by frequent shadows of poverty and flitting gleams of plenty. It was the unsettled state of vigorous youth, augmented by the peculiar social conditions then existing.

Upon the continent the civil wars of Henry IV. had approached their close. In England the Starchamber held its secret sessions; the block of the executioner was kept warm with the blood of the insecure nobility; while the torch for the fires of heretics was never allowed to smolder. Elizabeth had been on the throne 35 years; Francis Bacon, with mind bent on pre-eminence as a philosophic writer, was her counsel learned extraordinary, and William Shakespere, six years previously arrived from the obscure village of Stratford-on-Avon, was a member of Lord Pembroke’s Company of actors. There were no theaters at that time within the walls of the city; histrionic exhibitions being presented on the boards of the “gorgeous playing houses erected in the fields.” The edict against strolling players was rigorously enforced; freedom of expression in matters of religious belief was the subject of penal laws, and any animadversions concerning the policy of the government were declared treasonable.

As an evidence of the barbarity of the times, 32 the Southwark end of the London bridge was decorated with the heads of thirty traitors, all of which had fallen beneath the axe of the executioner after the hanging and disemboweling of the bodies. The tower held many martyrs of religion; and Fleet Street prison, with its foul quarters, was the abiding place of hopeless prisoners for debt. If the pinch of poverty of itself was spur enough to have produced the poems of Goldsmith, the wonder at the immortal dramas and poems of the Elizabethan era must vanish upon consideration of what poverty and debt then meant, and the insecurity of the beggar who gave expression to his coin-producing thoughts.

It was during a time, thus out of joint, that Hamlet and Richard the III. walked, as embodied entities, from the brain of their author. Besides the barbarity of the period, the intolerant spirit, and the harsh laws, did any other factor add its motive power toward these productions? Had some crisis been reached in the life of the author greater than that evolved through poverty and the prospect of imprisonment alone? 33


Now will I show myself
To have more of the serpent then the dove;
That is more knave than fool.
The Jew of Malta, ii, 3.
And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With odd old ends stolen forth of holy writ,
And seem a saint when most I play the devil.
King Richard III, i, 3.

Under the newly-cast sign of an iron dolphin suspended before the ale-house of that name, the two horsemen, who had ridden abreast from Finbury Fields, dismounted for hasty refreshment. While Tabbard was securing the horses near the end of the long stone trough, at the front of the building, his waiting companion was idly surveying the suroundings.

Directly across the unpaved highway, he could see the bulky steeple of the parish church of Saint Botolph lifting itself into the misty air, and just beyond the brick walls of the structure, the miserable churchyard of Petty France. The few straggling headstones of the graves of a multitude of buried foreigners could be faintly discerned under scrubby trees inclosed with a fence of crumbling masonry. Its southern edge was bordered by the town ditch, once broad enough for the defense of the city, but now showing only a narrow black 34 mouth under the shadow of the old Roman wall. The latter was near enough to be visible, and, coming out of the fog from east and west, terminated in stone bulwarks against which the ancient gates of Bishopsgate were hung. These were swung back, revealing a black expanse below which ran the unseen road into the metropolis.

The scene was desolate in the extreme, but the spirits of the silent observer had reached too high a pitch of exaltation to be affected by any aspect of Nature. The news brought him by the present henchman of the Duke of Sussex and past servant of the Golden Hind, had lifted his mind above the plane where even thoughts of approaching financial distress or fears of the plague could arise, much less any sober-colored clouds be created by what passed before the eye.

The bearer of the message, menial though he was, had rendered too valuable a service to be treated in any other manner than as a good fellow of equal rank with himself. Hence, he had thrown off the superiority he generally assumed amid the common rabble, and after listening affably to the remarks of Tabbard, had held him for a meal at the Dolphin.

“How long will those gates be open?” asked Tabbard, looking in the direction of the wall.

“Until ten o’clock, and even after that hour you can pass through if you pound upon their fronts loudly enough to wake the keeper, who sleeps within the little black house close to the wall on the 35 southern side. But in pounding, mind thee, Tabbard,” continued the speaker, with a smile, “see to it that you do not mar the stone features of the full length figure of King Richard the Second, which with broken scepter in his hand, stands out from the northern front of one of the rotting gates.”

“He must have his face now against the wall, for they are swung outward,” remarked Tabbard.

“Yes, for the nonce, as closely hidden as the manner of his violent death.”

“Ah,” said Tabbard, his mind crowded with the thoughts of the existing religious persecutions, “did he espouse the cause of the Papists?”

“Nay, my good fellow, that was two hundred years ago, when the fury of the church, then in power, expended itself mainly in bulls of excommunication. The violence of these days did not exist; but still conflicting doctrines entertained by the clergy disturbed the serenity of Rome, and the chief heretic was Wycliffe, whom the young king protected. That priest sowed the most fruitful seeds of the Reformation; but none of the Brownists or Puritans appear to recognize, amid the tenets of their beliefs, the handwriting of that master husbandman.”

“And I suppose that he was burnt, was he not?”

“After death.”

“In hell’s everlasting fire, eh?”

“Nay, I do not mean that. He died a natural 36 death; but many years after, his body was taken from its grave and publicly burned.”

“Little it disturbed him, I wot,” remarked Tabbard.

“So it seems that fanaticism rests not even with the death of the person on whom it would wreak its fury, and it burns even in the breasts of men as mild looking as yonder group of Puritans.”

He pointed to the middle of the road close before them where several men were slowly walking toward Houndsditch. The plainness of their dress, of the same color from head to foot, and of exactly similar cut, was in striking contrast with the apparel of the two men whom they were passing.

Their broad brimmed hats were high-crowned and flat at the top, and pulled down so low that only four inches of face were visible above the deep collars of their gray coats. The latter were hung with heavy capes, and fronted with pin-head buttons to the lowest point below their waists. Loose breeches disappeared at their knees into rough looking high-boots with great rolling tops.

Their appearance excited Tabbard to laughter. Although still regarded as objects of ridicule by the irreligious populace and the body of the established church, the more thoughtful of those of adverse belief were beginning to recognize in the Puritans’ open and covert attacks upon the follies and vices of the times, the growth of a moral and political power which likewise demanded forcible suppression. 37 Their railing libels against the clergy of the established church had at length formed a pretext for Parliament to pass an act that year making Puritanism an indictable offense. Their assembling had already been prohibited by the Black Act of 1584.

Despite their persecution, the zeal of the dissenters continued in their attacks upon what they considered crying evils. They stood ready to apprehend all offenders against such ecclesiastical laws as upheld the truth and sacredness of religion and the divinity of Christ. So far as Romanism might be by them considered destructive of true religion, they were ready to wield the sword forged by the Episcopalian Parliament for the dismemberment of the Papists. Many a non-conformist discovered in the person of the prosecuting witness swearing against him a member of the sect of Brownists. But particularly in the case of apostates and blasphemers the Puritans and Brownists directed their efforts toward having meted out to the offender the effective punishment provided by law.

As the two men turned and approached the door of the tavern, a man with deep-set eyes, sunken nose and red-bearded face, and dressed in the garb of a Puritan, hurriedly withdrew his face from a window adjoining the entrance. The sinister expression of his face had grown more pronounced during the last moment of his survey of the newcomers; for it was at them that his gaze had been 38 directed. It was evident that their approach had disturbed him greatly; but the disturbance was rather that of joy than of alarm. Still, whatever the sight created or revived in the mind of Richard Bame, the fanatic, his movements elicited the fact that he was either not desirous of the impending meeting, or that he considered that his presence in another quarter would be more to his advantage. He had seen the gentleman in the black cloak before, but not to the knowledge of the latter, so it was not the dread of an encounter that made Bame turn and hasten toward the side-door of the dimly lighted tap-room. It was the second step which he had taken in what he considered a holy cause; of most evil effect it might be to the man approaching. As the former passed the big chair in which the fat hostess of the Dolphin sat knitting he muttered not too softly to be kept from ears already aroused at the note of his departure:

“My chance to serve the church is ripe.”

He passed into the side alley leading to the high road when the two men entered the room. The leader spoke without giving the woman chance for words of greeting:

“Good hostess, a hasty snack is what we want.”

“Of what shall it be?” she asked.

“Sack, cheese, bread and two pieces of meat as big as your hand. Drop yourself there, Tabbard?”

The speaker had tossed his cloak over the back of a chair as he spoke and as hastily filled another. In impatience he drummed a tattoo with one of his feet on the smooth oaken floor; and, apparently 39 without noting the freshness of the bare walls and the chimney in which no fire had ever burned, his eyes roamed around the room.

“Just built,” remarked Tabbard.

“Yes,” returned the hostess, setting the dishes called for before the two strangers and smiling as though she felt flattered over the knowledge that her house was the subject of observation and comment.

“Where went the old building?” asked Tabbard.

The hostess turned her hand with thumb pointing upwards and said, “In smoke.”

“Yes,” said Marlowe, whose scarlet doublet and silver-corded belt had awakened the hostess’ admiration and almost hushed her into respectful awe, “I saw its blaze from as far south as the Standard in Cheap. The old tavern was twice as large as this, and being just outside the wall was greatly frequented by travelers approaching London late at night.”

“Do many stop here now?” inquired Tabbard.

“Not many at this season,” answered the hostess.

“The last one before you, kind sir,” she continued, now turning her attention to Marlowe and bowing so that her eyes caught only the sparkle of his rapier’s hilt, “left just as you entered. He acted strangely as he caught sight of you.”

“So, who was he?”

“He gave me no name, but as he went out I heard him say: ‘My chance to serve the church is ripe.’” 40

“How was he dressed?” asked Marlowe, suddenly setting down his half-raised mug, and fixing his eyes upon the hostess.

“Like a Puritan,” she answered.

“And what business have honest Puritans hanging around the bars of ordinaries and taverns?” exclaimed Marlowe, while Tabbard sneered audibly, and asked:

“And of what appearance was this man who was lounging here for the service of God?”

“His long red beard was all I noted,” she replied.

“I know him not,” said Marlowe, shaking his head, and then he asked:

“Do you know his name?”

“Methinks that a man who was with him earlier called him Bame at times, and again Richard.”

“Richard Bame!” exclaimed Marlowe, lifting his eyebrows and gazing fixedly at the woman. “And he said that his chance to serve the church was ripe?”

“True,” nodded the hostess, with her fists against her waist and continuing to look at her interlocutor as though in expectation that he would explain what interest he had in the man who had departed.

“Draw us two more cups, Mistress Bunbay,” he said, noticing the inquisitive expression on the woman’s face and desirous to get her out of earshot.

As the woman went towards the bar, he whispered 41 to Tabbard, “Good fellow, for the turn thou hast done me in bringing news of the lady at Deptford I would knight thee had I the power, or enrich thee had I gold, but I have neither the one nor the other, except a brace of angels of which one is thine. Here put it in thy pocket and when occasion offers drink to the health of thy friend and to the confusion of all such fellows as just left here. But now I would ask another service of thee.”

“Speak, I am ready,” said Tabbard, picking up the ten-shilling piece, and holding it as though he would have it grow into his palm.

“The man who left here,” continued the other, “is Richard Bame, who has sworn to secure my arrest.”

“And for what?” exclaimed Tabbard. “Hast thou committed a crime?”

“Nay, listen. He is a whining, canting hypocrite, who has filed an accusation against me for blasphemy. He hath no cause of grievance, and his charges, if like what I have heard, are false. Word of this was brought me but yesterday, and friendly warning given that as soon as my whereabouts were known, my arrest would follow. I said as we journeyed across the fields, a short time since, that I hung behind the crowd to avoid my creditors, and that was partly true; but besides, I was apprehensive of encountering a constable with the writ issued upon the accusation. This Bame 42 hath been watching for me and is now going for the officer, if I mistake not.”

“And what can I do for thee?” asked Tabbard, excitedly. “The sword point is all too good for him. How is it that Barrowe was burnt, and such as he live?”

“He is either carried away by religious fervor or is acting at the instance of some writer whom I have grievously offended, but it matters not what gives the spur to his actions,”18 continued Marlowe; “I would not incite thee to do him violence. As soon as I reach the County of Surrey, the writ issued by the justice will be inoperative; but they may stay me before I cross London Bridge. Nothing must prevent my reaching the Golden Hind, in Deptford, to-night.”

“And why not mount in haste and ride on now down Bishopsgate Street to the Bridge?”

“The constable may be close at hand, and the pair even now awaiting my departure. Then, again, I must stop at my quarters in Coward Lane before I leave the city.”

“Well, well,” exclaimed Tabbard, “give me the word of action. I am ready.”

“Mount horse at once, and press after him. Did you hear her description of him? A red-bearded man with broad-brimmed hat and long gray coat. If he encounters an officer and turns, haste thee here before them with the warning. If he goes to 43 his journey’s end, you will find it at the office of the justice at the corner of the Old Jewry and Poultry Street. It was there that the charge against me was sworn to. Ride down Bishopsgate Street to Threadneedle and then into Poultry. You will know the justice’s office by the red crown in the stone wall above the doorway. Watch the actions of the man. If a constable starts from the office upon Bame’s arrival, see to it that such officer is interrupted by hook or crook, until thou hast reason to believe that London Bridge lies between us.”

Tabbard had risen before the last word was spoken, and saying, “You can trust me to keep your way clear,” he disappeared.

The man Bame paused not a moment on reaching the road, but hastily crossed the bridge over the moat, passed through the wide gate and strode on toward the south. Although he walked with alacrity, a galloping rider coming in his wake had overtaken him before he entered the street now known as Threadneedle. Crowds of people were moving in all directions, but the broad-brimmed hat of the man on foot and his long coat could be easily distinguished, and the rider, slackening his horse’s pace, rode only fast enough to keep this figure in view.

Contrary to the expectation of the rider, Bame, instead of going into and through Poultry Street, turned northerly and passed into Lothbury, by the residences of rich merchants, by the Lothbury entrance 44 of the Windmill tavern, which was once a Jewish synagogue, by the low-built stone shops of coppersmiths and founders of candlesticks, lamps and dishes, and around the corner of the Old Jewry. Here before an arched entrance of the long stone building, known as the Old or Prince’s Wardrobe, he encountered a broad-shouldered man in leather doublet and jerkin, and, as the two halted for a moment, Tabbard dismounted and tied his horse at the corner of the parish church of St. Olave.

Tabbard could not overhear the conversation between the two men; but as they moved, he followed to a building with quaint gables projecting over the broad windows of two upper stories and a wide stone entrance, above which was a great crown made of iron, set in the grimy wall, and painted red. It was the house in which Thomas à Becket first saw the light of day. Bame and his companion entered this building, and Tabbard, leaning against a thick window frame near the door, and on a level with his breast, looked through one of the small squares of glass.

Several candles had already been lighted in the room, for the high walls of the structures facing on the street, aided by the fog, made the interior as obscure as the hold of a vessel with closed hatches. He saw a man with periwig clapped on his gray head, beard trimmed like an ace of spades with sharp end down, and a loose taffeta gown, girt at his gross waist by a buff leather belt. He 45 filled a chair large enough for two men as slender as Tabbard, and had his eyes been less confused by waking suddenly from a comfortable nap, or wide open instead of blinking, he might have seen the curious outsider.

Even Bame’s self-possession was disturbed in the presence of the awakening conservator of the peace, and as noiseless as a drummer in retreat from battle, he bowed most humbly.

“Well,” thundered the dazed justice, “who now, Gyves? Is this thy last catch? And is it bail or the jail? What——”

“Nothing of that sort, your honor,” interrupted the constable, for such he was.

“No,” began Bame, gaining confidence in himself from the knowledge that the justice required some information which he could advance, “I am Richard Bame, who swore to the accusation of blasphemy against——”

“Tut, tut, I know thee,” exclaimed the justice, cutting him short and reaching across the table for a folded paper, “here, Gyves, this is the warrant,” he continued. “It hath lain here to await information of the whereabouts of the rogue. And where is he?”

“At the Dolphin tavern, in Bishopsgate, without the wall,” answered Bame.

“I know not the place. Is it within the ward?”

“’Tis next outside the gate.”

“Then the arrest can be made there by this constable.” 46

“True, your honor,” murmured the latter, “it is the new ale-house this side of Fisher’s Folly where the bowling alleys are.”

“Get you off, rascal, and bring him in.”

“He is a young man and wears a black cloak, scarlet doublet, and cap with white feather. His horse is gray and perchance you may meet him on the road,” said Bame impressively and repeated the description, while the constable kept nodding his head in token of the reception and retention of the words.

As the constable came from the justice’s office into the street he ran into Tabbard who had purposely placed himself in his way. The latter gave utterance to a groan and limped as Gyves stammered an apology for his apparent clumsiness.

“My leg,” whined Tabbard, “is badly knocked. You must help me to the wine room of the Windmill across the way.”

“I can do that much for you,” returned the constable, taking his arm, and across the uneven street, not yet lighted by the watchmen’s lanterns, nor disturbed by the bellman’s drowsy tinkling, the scheming Tabbard proceeded with his prospective comrade for an evening’s carousal. Meanwhile the man left at the Dolphin tavern, settled his bill, mounted his horse and was riding down Bishopsgate Street toward London Bridge. 47


Therefore sheath, your sword;
If you love me no quarrels in my house.
* * * * *
Here must no speeches pass, no swords be drawn.
Jew of Malta, ii, 3.
Gentle Mercutio, put thy rapier up.
* * * * *
Beat down their weapons.—Gentlemen, for shame,
Forbear this outrage:
Romeo and Juliet, iii, 1.

The plague, which thinned the population of London in 1593, was not wholly confined to the city and its suburbs. Several of the villages lying adjacent had been unable to bar its visitation. Travelers on foot, on horse, or by boat upon the Thames, had aided in spreading the germs. At the village of Deptford, situate three and a half miles from London Bridge, cases had increased so that a quarantine had, as early as June the first, been established against all boats approaching the city side. It was not so easy to delay travel along the public roads, and as yet the town lay open for another visitation should the cases already within its limits be suppressed.

Two wayfarers had been struck down before the Golden Hind that day. Dodsman, the landlord 48 of this Deptford tavern, had allowed them to be carried around to the stables, and left there to die, which they did before night; and then, because of fear of infection, he had discharged his two servants who had attended them. It was a duty that he owed to the traveling public, so he asserted, and there seemed weight in the assertion. It is to be supposed that any case within the tavern walls would also have vitally affected his interests; for he knew not whether the legal obligation to mark a red cross on the outer door, with the text under it of “Lord have mercy upon us” was strictly confined to the limits of London. As it was, this double death-stroke had carried consternation into the crowd of refugees who, fleeing this far, had complacently halted for the epidemic to die out. If they did not depart on the morrow, it would be because they trusted more to tavern walls than to the open road.

On this particular night, being the night of the day on which our narrative begins, the tavern doors were closed. Only storms had heretofore kept them from being open until midnight at least. There was no reason to believe that death might not just as easily enter through the keyholes as through open portals, and throttle one at the fireside; but closed quarters seemed to assure safety. Dodsman, at least, felt no fear when thus shut within his tap-room; and his constant rule was to interpret other people’s feelings by the state of his own when in like situations. 49

With his fat hands resting on the thick sill of a window, he stood looking out into the uninviting night. The diamond-shaped panes of variegated colors were not the clearest material to look through, but they were transparent enough for him to see that the lantern hanging from the arm of the high sign post at the tavern’s front was lighted. The rays of this signal light had sufficient penetration to reveal the wooden figure of a gilded deer, of life size, mounted upon the sign post, and any belated traveler upon the fog-wrapped road could by these rays alone have seen the red-painted facade of the building, its bulging upper windows and the pedimented entrance.

The tavern had been erected early in the reign of Henry the Eighth, so that the sunshine and tempests of eighty years had fallen upon it. It was of two stories, the second with bay windows; and its rambling front, plastered and painted red, rose close to the edge of the highway. A few straggling dwellings of Deptford lay on the north and west side of it, but the town proper lay so far to the south and east that the tavern itself might almost be termed a wayside inn. There was another house for travelers, at Redriffe, but this was much meaner in pretensions, and interfered little, if at all, with the business of the Golden Hind. The pretensions of the latter were considerable, if from the gleams of art and the occasional display of extravagance in the interior decorations, were to be drawn an opinion in regard to want, or excess, of show. 50

There was stucco work in the ceiling of the tap-room, not plain, but bearing raised arms, which better befitted the walls of the dining room of some castle. In each corner, close to the ceiling, were medallion figures of satyrs, while full-length images of these sylvan demi-gods danced on raised panels in the center of each side of the room, painted there with apparent reckless abandonment. One smaller than the others was over the door, another was between two square windows at the north, another repainted so that the original lower goat legs and hoofs of the figure were surmounted by a like body and head and horns, shone, in broken colors, from above the bar, while the last of the four, recently retouched but not altered, stood out on the wide chimney above the black fireplace.

This satyr was not the only decoration of the chimney-piece, for above it a great bat extended its dusky wings, and under it hung a long bow such as were even then used at the practice of archery in Finbury Fields, and other commons in the vicinity of London.

There were other paintings in the rooms besides those in the panels. From the cracked appearance of their canvas, and dingy hues, they gave evidence of greater age than the cruder work of the former; but of the collection of the portraits of two kings, one landlord and an oxhead, not one would have been attributed to an Italian master. Which were 51 of the kings and which was of the ox could be still distinguished upon careful observation.

The bar ranged on one side, and seemed of different growth from the room, for there was nothing ornate about it except the decanters and bottles on the shelf behind it. It appeared to have been dragged in after some predecessor of Dodsman had planned to adapt the room to uses other than those of dining, for which it had been originally designed. Hence, tap-room it was, with its sanded floor, round tables, uncomfortable wooden chairs, wherein the unrest of occupants could only be drowned in sack or ale, despite the inharmonious garnishments of walls and ceilings.

At the moment the landlord was staring through the window, the short hand on the copper face of the old clock behind the bar was pointing to the figure eight. Several candles in bronze holders at the angles of the chimney, and at both ends of the bar, were blazing; and above the room’s center, the immense brass chandelier hung with every one of its big lamps lighted. Directly under it stood a round table bearing on its top several silver mugs.

At the table were three men. They were all young in years, without trace of past cares, and undisturbed with apprehensions of the future. Two of the trio were attired in black doublets and hose, and to judge by their dress or faces were little likely to attract attention in any place. Their dark cloaks were hung against the wall at the back 52 of their chairs, and their hats were on the floor beside them.

The other member of the group was of more distinguished appearance. His age was apparently thirty years. Although smooth-shaven and of British cast of countenance there was something about him that bespoke the foreign extraction of the man. It was not in his speech, for his English accent was perfect; neither was it in his dress, for that, although rich and elaborate, was clearly of the style peculiar to the better class of London residents. His coat of buff color, with loose sleeves, was edged with ruffles at collar and wrists, and was the most striking feature of his dress. He appeared a gentleman of quality, and as though he recognized his superiority over his companions, he kept his head covered with a broad-brimmed felt hat. It was thrown back on his head so that the long black plumes touched his shoulder.

The two men first described were members of the Earl of Sussex’s company of actors; their companion was one known as Francis Frazer, nicknamed the Count by those who had heard of his asserted claims to an estate on the continent, or had known him before his imprisonment in the Tower, from which place he had issued under his present name. He claimed to be a member of the scattered family of La Marche, of royal lineage, but driven by the fury of the civil wars of France to remain an exile from that country.

His recitals of the wrongs suffered by his father, 53 and the obstacles that impeded his own return to the land of his nativity, were confused when, at times, he became communicative over his cups. In sober moments a veil, impenetrable as steel, concealed from chance companions even the events of the yesterday of the man; and chance companions were all that he associated with. He had no followers, no local habitation, and was looked upon as an adventurer.

His constant disappearances from one haunt for months, and then reappearances, without word of departure, notice of expected return, or disclosure of the place and purpose of his absence, naturally made him an object of suspicion. Once he had been thrown into the Tower, and, after languishing for two years under a charge that fell to pieces when the attention of the body in authority was turned to it he was liberated, but not without a warning for him to keep himself in retirement. It was because of this warning that he had adopted the name of Frazer.

On this evening the two actors and Frazer had been thrown together in the tap-room. One of the former and Frazer had met before, so that, from their first calls for ale, there was enough of good-fellowship between them to keep the cup circling. Besides the mugs upon the table, was another article that seemed strangely out of place. It was the naked sword of the so-called Count, with its basket hilt close in front of the owner. It lay there glistening under the light of the lamps like a menace 54 to good cheer and humor. The handle of the sword and the handle of the mug were constantly encountering each other, as the owner, at intervals, reached for, quaffed from, and reset the latter.

Its presence had raised no comment, until the red-headed tapster, in placing a re-filled mug upon the table, spilt some of the contents upon the glistening steel. In doing this he had reached across Frazer’s knees and before he could withdraw his arm and fully recover his balance, a strong hand caught him by the shoulder and flung him backwards upon the floor.

Dodsman turned from the window, as he heard the fall, and the clatter of an empty mug. He circled around the sprawling man and approached the group, which was laughing boisterously at the tapster’s mishap. Mine host, concealing his anger with the policy of one who knew that the dents in his silverware could only be offset by the fund which must follow from the carousal, simply said:

“How now, fellow? Curses upon thy clumsiness,” to his man, and then looked inquiringly at the Count.

“He’s wet the blade which only blood should stain,” said its owner, drawing it across his knee. Again they laughed.

“And why is it drawn except in defense of honor, or the Queen?” asked Dodsman.

Frazer scowled, but the host with his white beard, red cheeks and pleasant eyes was no mean 55 appearing person, and the former felt called upon to say:

“When death stalks so close to one as he has for the past two weeks in London streets, it is well to have thy weapon drawn at all times.”

“A ready reply,” returned Dodsman, “but of no great weight.”

“Well,” said the other, “if straight answer you must have, I had drawn it to exhibit it. It is seldom that a blade of this character falls into the hands of any one save a peer of the realm. Look at it closely, mine host,” he exclaimed, holding it aloft in the direction of Dodsman, and wielding it with the ease and grace of one accustomed to its use.

“Dost see its variegated watered appearance?” he continued, “like those of Damascus make. Such it might be deemed to be, but here it bears the stamp of Andrea de Ferrara. How many two-edged blades of Toledo didst thou ever see drawn?”

“Few, good Count, but the less the better. This is a quiet house. I aim for the entertainment of those, whom, whilst they here talk war and duels, go elsewhere to engage in them.”

Several loud knocks at the outer door now resounded through the room. The tapster, who meanwhile had raised himself from the floor, shot back a bolt and drew in one wing of the two massy doors. The darkness of the night could not conceal the mud-set stones of the pavement, for the lights of the room streamed upon them. A man stood there, 56 with cloak wrapped close to his form and as high as his eyes, apparently to keep from his face the increasing fog of the night. He held the bridle of a horse in one hand and handing this to the serving man, he strode into the room. As he swung back his cloak, the face was disclosed of the man who had ridden with Tabbard from Finbury Fields.

One of the two actors recognized him at once and cried out:

“Welcome, Kit. Thy tankard is ready.”

He turned from noticing that the time by the clock was only a few minutes past eight, and with a remark to Dodsman to see to it that his horse was properly fed and bedded, went over to the party of three men.

“Already lodged near Sayes Court?” He spoke interrogatively.

“Yes,” rejoined one of the others. “You know the Count?”

“Most assuredly,” he answered.

Frazer nodded his head with the remark: “I remember the one occasion.”

“In the tireing room at the Curtain, last winter, when between the acts in Tamburlaine, you showed me the counter parades in quarte and tierce. I have since put the lesson to good use, and have brought the house down by its exhibition. Didst thou ever see him fence, Bartol?” he inquired of the actor who was seated opposite himself.

“Not I,” answered Bartol. 57

“It would do your heart good unless the encounter were in real earnest and thyself an actor in it. And then thy life would not be worth a tuppence. How ready lies thy blade for an occasion of that kind,” he added, noticing the sword still laid across the table.

“Your praise is high,” said Frazer. “As for the sword, the hilt, when in its place, interferes with my elbow when I drink.”

“Three reasons now for its drawing,” murmured the landlord to himself, as, near at hand, he had been quietly listening to the conversation. “The fourth reason will undoubtedly be the true one.”

“And when did you leave the city?” asked Bartol.

“Nearer seven than six by the clock in the tower at the Southwark end of the London Bridge,” answered the late comer.

“Did you pass the morris-dancers?”

“Will Kemp and his company?”

“Yes, they left here late in the day. His taborer and two pretty dancers were with him,” said Bartol.

“They were performing on the bridge as I rode across it. I reined in my horse near the center of the bridge before the chapel of St. Thomas. There they danced in the narrow way, with nearly every inhabitant of the bridge either standing crowded in a circle around them or looking out of 58 the windows of their darksome shops. It delayed me long.”

“But not against thy will, I am sure,” remarked Frazer, looking searchingly at the speaker, over his raised cup.

“And why so?”

“Were the fair dancers no attraction? If they were not, there must have been something pulling thee strongly in this direction. Perhaps it is a fairer lady.”

He seemed to speak advisedly.

“True,” chuckled the landlord to himself, “and I wonder does he know that she who was once the sweet maid of Canterbury lieth here?”

“If so,” returned Marlowe with some irritation caused by the tones of Frazer, “it is not a matter either for mention or discussion.”

“We will drink to her,” interrupted Bartol, “be she fair or plain, maid or spouse, young or old. Here is to thy loadstone, Kit.”

“Not without mention of her name,” said Frazer, coldly.

“You will drink to her unknown or not at all,” responded Marlowe, with considerable animation.

“Then not at all,” returned Frazer.

The two men stared at each other as though the breath of a coming quarrel had touched their faces.

“Come,” exclaimed the actor, who thus far had remained silent. “This is a raw gust that bloweth. If the gentleman knoweth a lady, I warrant she is 59 sweet enough for all glasses to be emptied in her praise and honor. But he has not said that he knoweth any. And, on the other hand, if the other gentleman hath some one in mind, whom he would not pledge in reckless sort, is that not good reason to let his lips go dry? Come, Dodsman, hast thou a box and dice?”

“Tug, the box,” said the landlord to the tapster.

“Is it to be at hazard?” asked Bartol.

“What you will,” answered the other.

“Set down thy mug,” he thundered to Marlowe, who seemed wrapped in other thoughts.

“And Count,” said the landlord, “I will set thy sword here against the wall.”

“Well, enough,” smoothly remarked the one addressed, who, adventurer as he was, at mention of the dice let all his thoughts of quarrel slip.

“You three play,” said Marlowe, “I will look on.”

“As usual——” began Bartol.

“With only the dregs of a once full bottle,” muttered Marlowe, finishing his friend’s remark. 60


I know, sir, what it is to kill a man;
It works remorse of conscience in me;
I take no pleasure to be murderous,
Nor care for blood when wine will quench my thirst.
II Tamburlaine, iv.
Though in the trade of war I have slain men,
Yet do I hold it very stuff of conscience
To do no contrived murder. I lack iniquity
Sometimes to do me service.
Othello, i, 2.

The excitement of watching the game of hazard, in which Frazer and the two actors had become engaged, was not sufficient to absorb the thoughts of the man who was simply an observer. At each lucky throw of the dice, he longed to become a participator in the game; and at length, smothering his early fears of being left penniless, he placed a sum of money upon the table, and was soon rising and sinking with the vicissitudes of chance.

His one angel rapidly grew into a brace of gold pieces, and with the increase of his success the stakes were raised in proportion. Still sweet fortune breathed her hot breath upon his cheeks and the other players muttered morosely and swore savagely at each rattle of the cup and roll of the cubes.

The business of the tapster had not been stayed 61 by reason of the excitement of the play, but on the contrary it led him back and forth from the bar, to the round table under the lit lamps, with movements which were scarcely interrupted by an interval of rest. All of this was quietly observed by Dodsman, who, having lighted a pipe of long-leaf and ensconced himself, with almost closed eyes, in a tilted chair near at hand, kept repeating to himself the lines:

“Now let them drink, till they nod and wink,
Even as good fellows should do,
They shall not miss to have the bliss
Good ale doth bring men to.”

Bartol had at length offered to pledge his long cloak, and after a haggle about the sum to be raised, in which the repetition of the drinking lines was interrupted, Dodsman had advanced the owner ten shillings upon the article. Again the play went on, and the copper clock had struck the hour of nine. Its strokes had been unnoted even by the man who upon his late arrival had marked that hour as one of joyful summons. There were hot heads, at that time, at the table, and no sounds except those arising upon its upper surface and close around its edges were noticed.

The door opposite to the outer entrance opened and a serving man entered. He looked sharply at the four men at the table, and then, limping across the floor, touched the man in scarlet doublet on the shoulder. The latter turned his head and the menial said: 62

“A word with you, sir.”

It required no words for Marlowe to understand the nature of the proposed communication; for the interruption had brought him to the realization of matters outside of the circle he had just broken. But in order to learn the exact import of the words tendered him, he withdrew with the man to one side.

“I come to tell you,” said the servant, in a whisper, “that you are expected.”


“At once.”

“At the door——”

“With the carved panels,” muttered the serving man, as Marlowe placed a silver piece in his hand.

The rattle of the dice still continued.

“Take my place at the table,” said Marlowe, approaching the landlord, and then he added to the players, “I will return immediately.”

He had no reason to believe that he would make a prompt return, but as most of the money which had been wagered lay in his own pockets, he felt it incumbent upon him to avoid any remonstrance by making this statement. If he had noticed the changing color of the Count’s face, and the determined expression that gathered upon it at this moment, it might have caused him to have paused at some point along the line of his proposed venture to ascertain the reason of this apparent solicitude; but it had escaped his observation.

A moment after his departure from the tap-room 63 he was hurriedly ascending the stairway in the Golden Hind. His haste, although like that of one pursued, was occasioned wholly by the force of attraction. He had no cause to believe his time limited, nor that any one might be enough interested in, or disturbed by, his presence there to attempt to thwart him.

It was true that Tabbard had spoken of some one, who that day had caused the lady to cut short her message for him; but such person may have been merely a friend whom she did not desire to know of her converse with the serving-man.

In his haste he had not stopped to make any inquiry of Dodsman concerning the lady’s friend or friends at the tavern. If he had considered for a moment, he would have remembered that both Manuel Crossford and his daughter had been well known to the landlord, and the occasion of her presence here could have been easily ascertained. He had thought of making such inquiry prior to his entrance, but the three men, and later the game of hazard, had diverted his mind. Besides these diversions, the many cups of ale which he had drained were not conducive to quick wit or sober thought. However, his failure to learn more of his surroundings occurred to him as he climbed the stairs, but no lover at the last step to the tryst ever yet turned back for an answer which in any case could not have swerved him from his course.

“I suppose I shall run into the arms of her 64 morose and irascible sire, before I catch a glimpse of her face,” he thought.

He reached the second story, passed along the hall a short distance and then halted. The door that stood before him was emblazoned with a shield lying flat against two spears. They were carved on the center panel, which occupied nearly the whole space between the posts. There was no other portal displaying elaborate decoration. The walls and ceiling of the passage were timbered with chestnut, without finish and in striking contrast to the door. This was undoubtedly the entrance to the room into which, as told by Tabbard, the woman had so hurriedly disappeared. It stood ajar, as though speaking an invitation to enter without knocking. Without hesitation he pushed it open.

The room revealed was at one end of the tavern and its two latticed windows overlooked a side street. The walls were unrelieved except for a red arras hanging against the center of one, a black chimney-mouth breaking the dead surface of another, and the two windows setting deep in the wall furthest from the door. The few pieces of furniture were of antique manufacture, and a carpet—an unusual article for houses at that period, except city inns and private mansions—lay upon the floor. A table stood near the chimney, and on it was a candelabrum. All of its lights were burning.

If the fact of the existence of these general outlines 65 of the room and its intimate belongings, were conveyed to the brain of the intruder, he was unconscious of the same, for their projection upon his retina was destroyed by the sight of one sole object. At the creak of the hinges, a woman, seated on a chair beside the table, raised her eyes. It was this living figure that rushed into his vision with a violence productive of slight symptoms of syncope.

The eyes which caught and returned the glance of his own would have glorified a face of even the meanest features, so wonderfully brilliant were they, so tender in their expression; but the countenance that they illumined was perfect in outline, and not dependent upon the eyes to win the admiration of the dullest observer. The curve of her dark and finely-pointed eyebrows could have successfully eluded the imitation of a painter, and their color was in striking contrast with the wealth of golden hair which crowned her low and broad forehead. If the chin and nose gave evidence of determination and ability to control, they did not detract one iota from the beauty of the whole. But the mouth was as much the mirror of the soul as were the eyes. The pink lips bespoke the keenest sensibilities, and their delicate contour proclaimed even in repose that they were ready torches to convey the fiercest blaze of passion.

While she remained seated, it could not be determined whether her figure was in keeping with the beauty of her face. But that such was the case 66 could be assumed from the queenly poise of her head, supported on a neck, which, if in marble, would have been attributed to the execution of a Greek chisel. The latter was exposed, for the high ruff, invariably worn at that period by ladies, had been removed for the sake of comfort. This assumption of grace of proportion was confirmed into absolute knowledge, when upon seeing the figure of a man in full view upon the threshold, she rose from her chair.

It was her movements, perhaps, more than her figure that would have drawn the concentrated gaze of a crowded drawing-room upon her. The perfect symmetry of her form and rich eastern look, however, would have held attention long after the magnetism created by the grace of her carriage had lost its spell. If her movements, entirely aimless so far as concerned an ordinary observer, could have exerted such influence upon the latter, it would be difficult to imagine, much less describe, the effect upon the one who unconsciously was the magnet that attracted this veritable Cleopatra.

He may have trembled with emotion; a mist may have gathered in his eyes; his dreams of eternal fame now assuming a definite mould may have been shaken into mere figments of the brain in the presence of this, to him, the only reality of life, of time, of eternity. But whatever were his sensations, or their outward expressions, they were drowned and 67 hidden in the tumult of his passion as the woman threw herself into his arms.

No words needed to be spoken in this sacred communion of minds. Even a whisper would have jarred the perfect communication of thought and feeling. Amid more auspicious surroundings, no disturbing element could have intruded; but even in the faintness produced in the woman by his impetuous assault upon her lips, she shook with apprehension of coming evil.

“Cease, cease,” she gasped, endeavoring to disengage herself from his arms. “Ah, you know not our unsteadfast footing.”

He did not release her, but the sound of her voice broke down the floodgates of his long voiceless thoughts. They came in a torrent.

“Why are you here? Why have you been silent? Didst thou not love me? What is the meaning of thy splendid dress, thy demeanor that showeth contact with more luxurious modes of life than those to which you were late accustomed?”

“O, Marlowe, Marlowe!” she exclaimed in answer, “my life has been cast amid rapids upon whose surface I have been as helpless as the drift. Through all, thy image has been before me; but apparently with face unresponsive to my silent appeals. The reconciliation for which I prayed has come at length, but, ah, too late.”

“How? I do not understand. Why do you so speak? Too late? How is thy situation changed? My love for thee is still the same as of old. And 68 I were dull of comprehension not to interpret this exhibition of feeling on thy part as a symbol that the old love, which you once bore toward me, remains.”

“Yes,” she answered, “but hopeless.”

“Why hopeless? Speak, speak!” he demanded.

“There is no safety,” she protested. “Danger lurks about us. Even now we may be trifling with death. Frazer departed only an hour since to see a friend on a vessel that lies at the wharf in the town. He contemplates a voyage to Italy.”

“Frazer?” questioned Kit, still embracing her, not yet realizing the real condition of affairs.

“Yes, the Count,” she answered.

And at that moment, as though in answer to his name so faintly spoken, the Count appeared at the open doorway.

While sudden had been the passage of Marlowe from the lower room to the one in which he now stood; while his pausing at the door and his greeting of the woman had consumed but an additional moment, enough time had passed for the so-called Count also to withdraw from the tap-room, and make the same passage. It had taken longer, for he had attempted to make it noiseless. His following of Marlowe had not been occasioned by groundless suspicions of the latter’s purpose in withdrawing from the tap-room. Although he had never had cause to suspect his wife of infidelity, he was convinced when he noticed the departure of the actor that a meeting was about to take place in 69 which he, himself, had a vital interest. This conviction was the result of his having accidentally heard the words which his wife had spoken at noon that day to Tabbard. This request of hers for a meeting with some one, coming close, as it had, on the heels of a quarrel, concerning the contemplated voyage to the continent, made him suspect an elopement. With whom it was to be attempted he had obtained no knowledge. Soon after their marriage, Anne had realized the intensely jealous nature of the Count, and this had kept her from any mention of her old lover. At the meeting between husband and wife, immediately after his overhearing her words to Tabbard, the Count had kept his own counsel. As night came on he had lulled all fears of discovery which she might hate entertained, by departing with the announcement that he was going aboard the “Petrel” and would return near midnight. He went no further than the tap-room, where, awaiting developments, with the calmness of one who knowingly holds a winning hand, he had met and watched the three actors. It was not until Marlowe arose at the summons of the serving-man that the Count’s suspicions became centered, and as the lower door closed on the former’s withdrawal, the latter with hasty remarks of disinclination to continue the game, also strode from the room. He had not even paused to sheathe his sword, and with it held in tense grasp pointing before him, with one, foot advanced into the apartment and the other 70 on the threshold, he stood a spectator of the ardent meeting of the lovers.

It might be thought that the vitality of the mind’s picture of a scene from human life depends upon the peculiarity or vigor in action of the original. But that the duration and strength of existence of such a picture is not to be measured by this criterion is shown in our evanescent remembrance of even the most thrilling plays. Upon what principle is it that a scene is perpetually held in unfading colors in the shifting gallery of the mind? How is it that one particular spectacle in the vast panorama of daily vision is alone singled out, and swept into our dreams forever? It is never our voluntary selection, for it is frequently a scene of direst woe, or horror almost indescribable, all of which we would willingly forget.

In determining these questions we turn our thoughts from the object to the recipient, and we find that the secret lies in the condition of sensitiveness of the latter at the moment of impression. Thus, if at that moment, the soul is at the point of supreme exaltation, or in the lowest depths of despair, the object that brings about a sudden and absolute change of feeling becomes one of the undying pictures of the mind.

This explains why it was that Anne’s view of the Count in the doorway, at the moment of her surrender to Marlowe, shot every feature, every line, every shade of the face of the former, as he then appeared to her, into the chambers of her 71 brain and fastened them there forever. Even at her dying hour, obscuring the visions of the then wished-for countenances of those she loved, was that face with its gleaming eyes, its air of desperation and insolent command, its cheeks on which the flush of wine and the pallor of suppressed rage contended for exhibition, its nostrils expanded into a sneer, and its lips expressive of determined violence. It was the picture of an avenger gloating over the assured prospect of the near fulfillment of a murderous vow.

The woman in her fright had disengaged herself from the embrace, and with the apprehension of coming disaster written plainly on her face, stood at one side gazing at the two men. As she did so, she could not restrain an exclamation of wonder at the striking resemblance between them. They were of much the same height and figure; both faces were devoid of beard; their features seemed to have been cast in the same mold; their flashing eyes of somewhat similar color, and the dark hair of each hung heavy and luxuriantly. She had thought of this resemblance before, and it was the first attraction she had discovered in Frazer, and the last that had continued to bind her to him. But at no time had she considered this resemblance so pronounced as this meeting proved it to be. They seemed like two brothers in appearance, and the impending combat was like a horrible travesty of life furnished solely to excite her commiseration. 72

Marlowe had turned and half drawn his rapier, while his cloak, hurriedly unclasped at his throat, had fallen to the floor. It was the Count who first broke the oppressive silence.

“My suspicions were right,” he said, looking at the woman. “And thou,” he hissed, glaring at the man, “draw thy sword. I could kill thee like a rat, but the boldness of thy entry here entitles thee to more consideration. Thou art not a coward in every sense of the word.”

He deliberately turned like one who had a grave, but not a dangerous task on hand, shut the door and bolted it. As he turned he calmly rolled back the ruff from his sword hand, and threw his hat whirling from his head.

Marlowe, in the meantime, with his eyes glancing from one to the other of the two persons thus confined with himself, had drawn his weapon. Not yet did he understand the cause of the woman’s alarm, nor why this man with rude intrusion and with an air of injured dignity and violence, faced and threatened him at the sword’s point. His face was blanched, his hand trembled and he involuntarily retreated for a step or two. He knew the expertness of the man before him in handling a foil, and he could not prevent the knowledge of his critical situation from displaying itself by outward symbols.

Frazer smiled at his evident distress.

“You fear me,” he said.

The other did not respond, but he made a 73 further effort to conceal his anxiety, and more attentively observed every movement of the man who was thus forcing him to mortal combat. From what he had previously seen of Frazer he had not been impressed with the idea that he was possessed of a superabundance of courage, and he could not but entertain the opinion that the confidence and bravery now displayed arose from the fact that his own inexpertness was thoroughly known. He is probably a coward at heart, he thought, and with this he regained confidence in himself.

“I did not know,” again said the Count, “which one of the three was expected here. The exhibition of my trusty sword was no warning, it seems.”

“You must hold the characters of those with whom you come into contact in light consideration, if you think that merely the showing of a sword would keep one in awe,” retorted Marlowe, ruffled by the remark.

“What! I thought you had swallowed your tongue in your fright!” exclaimed the other, with a sneer.

“Look to it that yours is not wagging its last,” returned Marlowe, sternly.

The lights of the candelabrum on the table burned as steadily as those of a death-chamber. They threw the shadow of the Count against the red arras, behind which, in the alcove, stood the bed for the apartment; and more darkly projected the figure of his antagonist upon the white wall between 74 the latticed windows. They showed the colorless face of the woman which, with its sad expression, was of such striking beauty, that in the momentary glimpse afforded at the point of non-action, one would have scarcely noted the grace of her carriage or the elegance of her attire.

“By what pretended infringement of any rights of thine do you force this duel?” asked Marlowe.

“Pretended!” sneered Frazer. “Is not your presence here a violation of all the sacred rights of a home?”

“What, are you this lady’s husband?” asked Marlowe, and with amazement he looked at the woman, who did not endeavor to return an answer.

“Your question is ill-timed,” exclaimed Frazer, advancing. “Defend yourself!”

He lunged forward, but Marlowe had thrown himself on guard, and the thrust was skillfully parried. The blades rang sharply, and it seemed that the candles blazed upward with a fiercer light. The Count assumed the aggressive from the first; but if his demeanor indicated his real feelings, it was that of an executioner rather than an avenger. He was cool and deliberate, showing neither passion nor fury. As contrasted with this, his opponent fought with the strength of despair. Whether it was that the woman read these expressions, or that the moves of the combatants interpreted to her the situation and its probable final issue, she felt that nothing but a miracle could avert the impending calamity. She saw, as in a 75 glass darkly, the bleeding body of her lover, and with a cry she fell forward on her knees at Frazer’s feet.

“Spare him, Count,” she moaned.

She had clasped his knee; but never taking his eyes from those of the man before him, he rudely shook her off.

“So, it is I you would see slain,” he muttered, savagely.

His opponent was showing greater skill than he had anticipated, and his face grew graver in its expression. Clash, clash, clash, rang the blades, and the stamp of feet upon the checkered carpet grew quicker and heavier. Still the actor retreated in curves around the room, and still the Count pressed him.

Suddenly the unforeseen happened. The Count found his foot entangled in the folds of the cloak which Marlowe had let fall upon the floor. He endeavored to kick it aside but lost his equilibrium. The other became the aggressor, and with a desperate lunge, as the Count stumbled, he thrust his rapier blade deep into the eye and brain of the latter. The stricken swordsman gave utterance to a savage but suppressed cry of pain. The temporary check to his fall only increased its impetus when the rapier was wrenched from its lodgment, and with a crash he descended to the floor.

All sounds lay hushed with the fall. The living man looked speechlessly at his antagonist outstretched with face downward on the carpet, and 76 still retaining a dying clutch upon the hilt of his sword. The end had come so unexpectedly that for a moment the survivor did not grasp the full extent of his victory nor the consequences of the deed. He leaned over the unfortunate man and turned him on his back. He saw that he was beyond the aid of earthly power. He heard him breathe in gasps, and then, trembling like an aspen, he dropped his own rapier upon the floor and leaned back against the wall. 77


Come death and with thy fingers close my eyes,
Or if I live, let me forget myself:
Edward the Second, v, 1.
Oh God!—Horatio, what a wounded name,
Things standing thus unknown, shall leave behind me!
Hamlet, v, 2.

The termination of the combat awakened feelings in the woman varied in their character and following one another with the speed of successive thoughts. She was stunned with the suddenness of the close; horror-stricken with the violence of the catastrophe; elated with the escape of Marlowe, find tremulous with sympathy for the unfortunate slain. In her silent prayer for the deliverance of Marlowe, she had only thought of it through deliberate truce, or interference from without. No idea of his escape through the death of his antagonist had occurred to her. She could not have prayed for such catastrophe, and even the wish was foreign to her mind. All the confidence that Fraser had displayed had been impressed upon her, and there had been nothing in the prolonged, though skillful, resistance of Marlowe that had raised a doubt over the dreaded outcome.

Faint with her loss of hope for mercy on the part of Frazer, she had crept to the door with the 78 idea of throwing it open and alarming the house. With one hand on the bolt and the other on the knob she had turned her face for a last look at the combatants. It was at this moment that the coup de grace was given. She turned about and started forward with a low cry, partly of relief, partly of anguish, partly of horror.

There was something in the agonized face of the wounded man, that, while it awakened her pity, repelled her. He was still clutching his sword as though to thrust it at his unseen adversary, and the point of the trembling blade danced on the carpet. Her impulse had been to afford him succor, but the sight of his dying struggles, and the weakness of her limbs prevented. She sank on a couch before one of the walls, and, as though fascinated by the scene that had rendered her momentarily powerless, she continued to gaze upon it.

The morbid curiosity that controls an observer of the strongest agonies appears to give the lie to the belief that man is naturally humane; or why does resistance against impending death attract more than beauty or the peacefully sublime? Our resistance against observation availeth not, until the issue is no longer in doubt. Is it not because the glow and fire of intense action is communicated from the actor to the spectator? for even frailty of physical body, or purity of mind can not close the eyes at that point where in the supreme struggle neither life nor death appears to have complete mastery? But when the horror has reached its 79 climax, interest fails with the cessation of action, and if death hath prevailed, then at length we hide our faces.

Thus it was that the woman was controlled; thus it was that, speechless and with straining vision, she caught every move of the man before her. His struggles grew less; his gaspings more prolonged and choked, until with a last effort he partly raised himself and then fell back motionless. The death-rattle escaped from his lips, and from the ensuing silence, the woman knew that the body upon the floor was lifeless; but she saw it not. She had long desired a separation from this man, but not at such sacrifice. She thought not of it then, even with the old love returned and every obstacle apparently swept aside. It was the thought of murder done that surged in and out, and in and out, of her mind.

And Marlowe, still against the wall, seemed reeling with the burden of his thoughts. He saw not the woman with terror-stricken face before him; he saw not the flaring candles, the fallen chairs, the naked swords upon the floor, the bleeding body near his feet. All these objects were before his open eyes, but the horror of the scene had bred new and shifting phantoms. The spirit which in quiet meditation had bodied forth the good and evil angels of Faustus, the harnessed emperors of Tamburlaine and the dying Edward, now saw itself in body hounded by the officers of the law; saw 80 the impassive judge, the dull jury, and the shadow of the gallows.

He saw the honors of Cambridge blotted with stains indelible; the averted face of Walsingham, his patron; the sad countenance of Manwood, under whose flattering praise and financial aid he had pursued his studies. And, closer still, he saw the troubled and pallid face of that one woman, who, with steadfast faith in his genius and undying hope in his ultimately glorious career, prayed ever for him under the home-roof in Canterbury. Was she—his mother—to hear of his trial, and death under sentence of the law? And Marlowe, what of thyself?

In the train of these dark presentiments of what the material life promised, came now the heavy clouds wrought through consideration of the aspect of his ideal world. The treble darkness of night was about him. The dreams with which he had nursed his ambition vanished. And that ambition how deplorably annihilated. He who had written: “Virtue solely is the sum of glory,
And fashions men with true nobility,”
required no posthumous lines to point his place among the immortals. What dramas stood on the same eminence with Faustus and Edward the Second? Were not the gates of the inner temple opening wide before him? Were not his fancy’s wings gathering strength for greater flights? The flush of youth at nine-and-twenty was upon him; 81 the fate of a murderer awaited him. Of reasoning faculty sublime, he shuddered at the thought of his name being eternally linked with crime.

In this agony, all thoughts of the original purpose of his presence in the room, all consideration of the woman, were buried as though beneath ice. It was the contrasted thoughts of the height from which he had fallen with the depth that he had reached that pervaded his mind. He blinded his eyes with his hand and staggered like a drunken man across the room toward the windows at the front, where he stood looking out through the lattice, back from which the heavy shutters had been swung. No objects met his gaze; no sounds arose. The woman heard his steps and aroused herself. It was Kit whom she saw, and the calmness resulting from her knowledge of freedom from hated ties came to her like fresh air through windows lately pent. The dead man escaped her eyes; she saw no one but the living, and raising herself from the couch she followed him across the room. Misapprehending the nature of his distress, she whispered encouragingly:

“There is chance for escape.”

He did not answer her, and this utter disregard of her presence and of her voice provoked an involuntary tremor.

“Kit, Kit, Kit,” she said, prolonging the name with each utterance, “do you not hear me? No alarm has been given. We can escape.”

But still he gave no sign of hearing, and she 82 shook his shoulder desperately and turned his face so that his eyes could not but dwell upon her face. Again she spoke sympathizingly:

“At worst, ’twas done in self-defense. The combat was forced upon you. And was not the fatal stroke an accident? Come, come, we can not remain here.”

“Self-defense?” he repeated, questioningly, as though the idea was a new one generated wholly through his own deliberations. “’Twas a duel, and a death in such event is murder,” he added, observing her apparently for the first time.

“Thou couldst not avoid the deed,” she said in remonstrance.

“True, but what of that? Did not Hopton, Renow, and Dalton seek refuge under such a plea without avail? The outcome of a tavern brawl will not be handled by a judge with gloves on. The jury, it is true, can speak but only under the direction of the court.” He seemed talking to himself, but aloud so that she heard him. “The killing of another in a duel is murder on the part of the survivor. And then the infamy of such a trial!”

“But,” she exclaimed, “you may avoid arrest. And as for infamy, the disgrace would be mine. My husband killed by thee and in my apartments.”

At these latter thoughts the look of distress deepened on her face, and the weakness exhibited was in striking contrast with the strength she had displayed in her endeavor to afford him solace. 83 His apparent coldness had also chilled and repelled her, and not understanding the nature of a despair in which he could not give some faint expression of love for her, she sank helpless at his feet.

This movement shook him from his brooding over the far-reaching and distant effect of the fatal stroke, to a consideration of the living reality. The tide of his feelings rose in its proper channel; he bent over her compassionately and raised her from the floor.

“Anne, Anne,” he said with returning fervor, “forgive me for my selfishness. I have been so blinded by the darkness that I thought I walked alone. And what is my misery compared with thine?”

He held her closely in his arms. It was not strange that a relaxation of mind should follow with the knowledge that she was not standing wholly alone. With her realisation that his past indifference had been but a temporary condition, her emotions became too strong to control, and the flood of tears that welled from her eyes gave evidence of the recent strain to which her feelings had been subjected. He did not attempt to subdue this exhibition of sensitiveness except with words of hope and assurance of his love, while he continued to hold her to him. The emotion had at length spent its force, and a calmness that seemed unnatural in the presence of the dead pervaded her. Releasing herself from his embrace 84 she went over and kneeled down beside the body of Frazer. She touched the face compassionately, at the same time shocked with the sense that life was wholly extinct. The face was turned back so that the wound was on the side toward the floor. Half of the horribleness of the object was thus hidden, and viewing the profile she was again struck with its likeness to Marlowe’s.

“Look,” she said to her companion, who stood near her, “how like he is to thee.”

“So?” he asked, quickly.

“Yes, do you not see? Is there not a striking similarity in form? Is not the nose the same as thine? The face clean shaven; the hair of like color?”

“But his dress.”

He spoke as though to change her opinion, and then added, “Dost thou mean that there is enough resemblance for the one to be taken for the other?”

This time his anxiety for an affirmative answer could have been read by the veriest tyro.

“Like? Yes, much like, and when you met here I was startled by the resemblance,” she answered decidedly; and in a strain like that of one whose mind has dwelt long and intensely upon the subject, she continued, “I could not fail to comment on it when I met him shortly after I last saw you and when I believed we were done with each other for ever. It was this that drew my attention to him, and prevailed upon by his apparently sincere professions of love, I became his wife.” 85

“When was this marriage, Anne?” he interrupted.

“Had you not heard of it?”

“No,” he answered, “nor even entertained a suspicion that you had so soon forgotten me.”

“Nay, do not say that,” she remonstrated, “it was seven months since, but——”

“Why was this? Did I not love thee?” he interposed.

“Yes, yes; will you listen to the whole story? Ah——”

He interrupted her. “This is no place for such confession. Later, Anne; I cannot listen now.”

“Ah, see how he bleeds, Kit, and so cold.”

She had touched the hand of the dead man, and then as she noticed the glittering and unstained brand she shuddered at the thought of how much more deplorable would have been her situation had the sword reached the mark for which she had lately seen it wielded.

While Anne was thus momentarily occupied, her companion was possessed with new and entirely different thoughts than those which had lately disturbed him. In his late reflections concerning his future the question of escape had cut no prominent figure, for even though he might forever successfully baffle the officers of the law, none the less this dark chapter of his life would sully his fame. But the woman’s words of his resemblance to the dead man had lifted the heaviest of the clouds of darkness; and in the succeeding mental illumination, 86 he felt a transport that urged him to immediate action. His mind, fertile in plot, had developed a cover for his fame. He saw the passing away of his old life, and, in the transition, read the promise of a new one; it might be in obscurity, but without obloquy.

There was no time to be spent in aught but the furtherance of his design, but first he felt the need of his companion’s assurance of absolute secrecy concerning the tragedy. His own future might now be subjected to so many vicissitudes, that a separation between himself and Anne might be inevitable. Who could tell what influences might be brought to bear upon her years hence? The seal of secrecy must never be broken.

“Anne,” he said, abruptly, “this deed may bring trouble to both of us. Can I rely upon thee absolutely and forever, in whatever situation thou art placed, whether apart from me or with me, to let no whisper of my name come from thy lips so far as the events of this night are concerned? I know it is asking much, but I have more than my personal safety at heart. I can not explain to thee. I can only implore——”

“Stop,” she exclaimed, passionately, as though the doubt in her implied by the question had cut her to the quick. “Why should you ask?”

“But we know not,” he resumed, “to what test thy love, thy constancy may be put. I do not doubt thee nor thy strength.”

“Say no more,” she again interrupted. “No persuasion, 87 no promises, no threats, no torture shall ever prevail upon me to lisp one syllable of thy name as connected with this death. You can trust me in that.”

“Even though I should die to-morrow?” he asked.

“Yes,” she answered.

“And such answer might be of advantage to thee?”

“Yes,” again came the firm reply.

Her assurance was of a character calculated to press him forward in his hastily formulated scheme of concealment.

“I trust you implicitly,” he said, “and now you must lose no time in flight.”

“And then?” came the quick inquiry.

“I shall go, too, but it must be by a different way. You know the exits from this tavern even better than I do.”

“Yes, yes,” she returned, “the stairway, hall and every outer door.”

“And the inn-yard?”

“Yes, and the stall where my horse is standing.”

She hurried into the alcove and returned with a cape thrown over her shoulders, in the hood of which she was hastily arranging her hair.

“See,” she said, pointing towards the arras, “the filled saddle bags are there. You must bring them with thee. And where am I to meet thee?”

“At the gnarled oak,” he answered, “a half mile from here at the point where the road turns downward 88 to the little bridge. You will wait for me there.”

“But why do you not go with me?”

“I wish to hide the crime,” he whispered, and as she looked inquiringly at him, he added, “Nay, do not ask how.”

And with these words he cautiously unbolted and opened the door wide enough to admit of her exit. The hall lamps had been extinguished.

“It is very dark,” he whispered as though hesitating at the thought of her departure alone.

“I only fear for thy safety,” she said, bravely.

“Have no fears of that,” he returned, “hasten, we have no time to spare.”

No further words were spoken, but hurriedly embracing each other as though years instead of minutes was to be their term of separation, she disappeared into the darkness.

He closed the door and bolted it again. Then he knelt beside the dead. His hands trembled in spite of the determination with which he set himself to accomplish his project. The excitement, apprehension of discovery, and the horror of the scene, almost unnerved him; but he covered his eyes with one of his hands for a moment, shook off the feeling of weakness, and then moved the body to one side, to clear it of the pool of blood. He unbuttoned the buff doublet of the corpse, and drew it off. Next he stripped it of the jerkin, belt and scabbard, then the shoes, hose and trunks and shirt. A naked body lay before him under the 89 flickering light of the candles. Heavy footsteps in an adjoining room startled him, and he glanced at one of the corners beside the great chimney as though expecting a form to come forth. But immediately the source of the noise became apparent, and the chorus of a bacchanal song jarred him with its unfitness:

“O for a bowl of fat Canary,
Rich Palermo, sparkling sherry,
Some nectars else from Juno’s dairy,
O these draughts would make us merry.”

This song of John Lilly, one which he had sung many times with riotous companions, could not but cause him to add, in the momentary relaxation afforded:

And if the tapster does not bring
The draughts for which you’re clamoring,
Come drain with me the bitter bowl
I drink at passing of a soul.

They were lines provoked half in jest half in earnest; and again as quietness prevailed, he relapsed into his previous condition of profound melancholy. His task was but half completed; he unbuckled his own sword belt, and his fingers, which had again begun to tremble, let the scabbard fall clattering at his feet. He shook himself as though his body were the unruly instrument of a prompting and immovable mind. If this action had any result whatever it did not prevent his hands from wrenching several buttons from the front of his scarlet doublet, as he stripped it off. Still he proceeded in his task.

One by one his rich but rough-used vestments 90 were thrown off, until the living was as the dead. The work was now bringing the calm which afforded speed to his movements, so that in an interval he had dressed the corpse in his garments, leaving it just as it had fallen on the floor. He next retreated to the alcove and washed himself clear of blood.

The buff coat was stained and spotted by the life-current of the dead man. He cast it to one side. The rest of the garments were free of any traces of the catastrophe. In these he dressed himself; buckled the belt around his waist; picked up the long murderous-looking blade of Ferrera and sheathed the same in its scabbard against his puffed upper hose. From a hook upon the wall, in the alcove, he took a long dark cloak with white silk lining and silver buckle at the collar. This he threw over his shoulders so that the absence of a coat or doublet was not perceptible.

The papers from his own pockets, with his name written upon several of them, he had dropped near one of the out-stretched hands upon the carpet. There seemed no possibility for the body to be buried under any name but that of Christopher Marlowe. He readjusted the misfitting hat, extinguished the candles, opened the door, and closing it after him, stepped into the hall.

The old life had closed. So far as the world should know the first adventurous pilot upon the ocean of English blank verse [note 17], the mighty Marlowe, was among the immortal dead. 91


Was that the face that launched a thousand ships
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Faustus, by Marlowe, Scene xiv.
Why she is a pearl
Whose price hath launched above a thousand ships
And turned crowned kings to merchants.
Troilus and Cressida, ii, 2.

Eighteen years before the date fixed for the beginning of this narrative, a daughter of Manuel Crossford, alderman and mercer, was born in the town of Canterbury. This child was christened Anne, and, as the sole offspring of the house and only companion of the father, whose wife had soon after joined the silent majority, her welfare became his chief concern. At sixteen years of age she had developed into a girl of such beauty that Christopher Marlowe, son of the clerk of “St. Maries” of Canterbury, a graduate of Cambridge, and resident of London, had fallen desperately in love with her. It was during a temporary visit to his native town that this occurred.

Well authenticated stories of Marlowe’s five years of dissipation in London, after the termination of his scholarship at Cambridge, caused Manuel Crossford to look with disfavor upon his attentions. There was the chapter in which he figured as a 92 common player of interludes, or, in other words, as a vagrant actor, forming part of the unwritten biography of the suitor; and the father of the maiden could not forget the account of Marlowe’s having broken “his leg in one lewd scene, when in his early age,” as was expressed some time later by a malignant rhymster.19

This latter report had been clearly disproved, but it had raised a prejudice which could not be overturned. Then again, Crossford was a devout Brownist, and it was too well known to admit of doubt that Marlowe was an avowed freethinker. Had he not written in one of his plays:

“I count religion but a childish toy,
And hold there is no crime but ignorance”?20

If a man did not entertain such opinions himself he would not allow them to be mouthed by any speaker before an assemblage, thought Crossford. It was true that he had written passages that glowed with the fervor of his worship of the All-creating Soul of the Universe, but this did not prevent him from abjuring the Trinity. There were suspicions that he had committed this ecclesiastical crime.

Crossford was not familiar with Marlowe’s works, but he had heard the clerk of “St. Maries” enthusiastically repeat the lines written by his distinguished son: 93

“Our souls, whose faculties can comprehend
The wonderous architecture of the world,
And measure every wandering planet’s course,
Still climbing after knowledge infinite,
And always moving as the restless spheres,
Will us to wear ourselves, and never rest,
Until we reach the ripest fruit of all.”

And at their recital he, Crossford, had nodded approval, and then shook his head as he thought of the eternal fires already prepared for the irreverent young man. The predicted fame of the latter had no weight in the other side of the scales held by the non-compromising Brownist [note 30].

At length matters reached such a crisis that in 1592, the alderman determined that his daughter should be placed under more strict surveillance than he was capable of maintaining. In considering the matter his thoughts had turned in the direction of his sister’s house in London. The chances were fair for the close confinement there of the maiden until time should have worn away the image of her lover. For the moment, the Protestant actually wished for the restoration of the dissolved nunneries. Like the Jew of Malta, who had placed his daughter within the walls of a priory, the stiff-necked Brownist could have smothered his religious prejudices when the interests lying next to his heart were at stake. But half a century had elapsed since the sisters of the convents, with only their clothes upon their backs, had been rudely forced into secular life, and their abodes confiscated by the crown.

The sister of Crossford was the wife of Richard 94 Bame. Living childless, she had long since pleaded for the adoption of her niece, but Crossford had turned a deaf ear toward all such entreaties. Her home was a “faire dwelling” amid spacious and walled grounds, the bequest of her father. As she was a woman of advanced education for the times, and a strict disciplinarian, it was no wonder that Manuel Crossford turned toward her in what he deemed was his extremity. Without notice given his daughter of their destination or his intentions, the alderman started with her on the journey toward the great metropolis.

They traveled by the way of Deptford, and knowing Dodsman intimately from an early day, they stayed for several days at the Golden Hind. Before their sojourn at the latter place had ended, Marlowe had heard of their presence there and forthwith appeared at the tavern. A stormy interview took place between the father and the suitor; a misunderstanding arose, and a bitter quarrel followed between the lovers, and apparently the meeting was but an episode in the journey.

Anne was soon afterward received into the house of Mistress Bame, where studies were begun and assiduously maintained. Any tears which she might have shed over what she supposed was the termination of the affair with Marlowe, were soon followed by a condition of mind giving evidence of its freedom from regret and melancholy, by clarity of countenance. But this peaceful condition of mind was more in the nature of a reflection 95 of the new, and, at first, pleasant surroundings. The extent to which her affection had become involved was not at that time known to herself. It required another revolution of the kaleidoscope of her life to show the contrasting pictures of light and gloom, traced by her first love in ineffaceable colors. This revolution was not to be long delayed. It required another’s devotion; the paling of the fire of attraction and the second advent of Marlowe.

Anne had not been wholly restricted to the grounds within the walls of the residence of Bame; but upon all her departures therefrom she was accompanied by the watchful mistress. Upon one of these occasions they became separated from each other by the waves of a great crowd rushing through Fenchurch Street. It was an insurrection raised by the apprentices of the city against the alien workingmen; and although neither riotous nor destructive at the point where the younger woman became lost from the older, it was sufficiently threatening to cause the closing and barricading of all shops and houses along that ancient thoroughfare. Anne became extricated from the mob through the efforts of a young man, who proved to be Francis Frazer. He had noticed her upon a previous occasion. He had the grace of a courtier and his apparel was in keeping with his apparent rank.

Her beauty had flashed upon him and fixed his attention. On his part, it was love at first sight. 96 Upon her part, she was attracted by his distinguished appearance, and visibly affected by his immediate protestations of affection. Unfortunately for both, as the sequel proved, he escorted her to her home.

Frequent occasions for meetings between the two followed, despite the vigilance of the aunt, and gradually the restraints of home life became irksome beyond the limit of endurance. The interest of the girl in her admirer increased in like proportion, and he, at an early period of their acquaintance, discovered that his feelings toward her were founded upon something more than temporary passion. With all the ardor of his impetuous nature he prevailed upon her to accept his hand in marriage; and the safeguards which Manuel Crossford had erected to keep his daughter fancy free, until he might arrange a suitable marriage, trembled at the assault and then fell to pieces. In confidence that the Count would fulfill his promise of marriage, the girl fled from the home of Bame leaving no clue from which to ascertain the cause of her flight or the place of her concealment. She was married to Francis Frazer at St. Peter’s Church on Cornhill.

Suspicions were by Crossford directed against Marlowe, for he knew nothing of the new suitor, and although he was quietly shadowed on several occasions, the fruitless result had not yet been sufficient to satisfy the father that Marlowe was not holding the girl in some secure hiding-place. At 97 Canterbury and elsewhere Marlowe had been unable to learn anything concerning the girl since her departure from her father’s house. Not even a rumor of her marriage had reached his ears, and more than a year had passed since their last meeting when, beside the dead body of the Count, she told him of it.

This marriage had proved to be an unhappy one, partially due to the excessive and unwarranted jealousy of her husband. During the few months of their married life, they had wandered through various quarters of London and its vicinity, and at length had reached the Golden Hind a few days prior to the eventful night of June the first, 1593.

Here Frazer sojourned while making arrangements for leaving with his wife for the continent. A vessel then lay at the wharf of Deptford upon which he designed to make the voyage. Against this contemplated move the wife had remonstrated with such vigor and persistency that despite her protestations to the effect that her objections arose from a dread of entering an unknown world, and a desire to become reconciled with her father, the Count became suspicious that she had plotted to desert him or at least to thwart his plans.

It was shortly after one of the most violent scenes between them that Anne saw Tabbard in the hall, as related, and heard his welcome announcement that the one whom she believed had passed forever out of her life was not only anxious to see her, but was within call. Upon 98 that sudden and unexpected communication, if she had had time to consider she might have formulated a different answer, but with the remembrances which the mention of Marlowe’s name awakened, her heart rushed to her lips, and at the instant she caught a glimpse of Frazer, she gave expression to her longing. It was like an outcry of one in distress, but founded upon no idea that through her old lover lay deliverance.

As already stated Frazer had accidentally heard the few words she had uttered, and it was his actions resulting from his suspicions of a contemplated elopement that brought about the tragedy at the tavern. With this digression, explanatory of the events leading up to the tragedy of that night, we will now return to the point where the door was closed upon the retreat of Anne.

The hall into which the woman entered, lighted, as it was momentarily, by the rays from the room faced by the carved panels, became black as night as she heard the door shut behind her. She found the balustrade, pushed her hand along its smooth top and at length reached the head of the stairs. Even then, as her eyes stared into the lower depths, no amelioration of the darkness appeared. Step by step she descended, crossing the middle landing, still holding to the balustrade. She had reached the foot and stood there for the moment trembling over thoughts of the scene from which she had just fled and apprehensive of present evil. The way was known to her as clearly as a father’s 99 house to children. Straight ahead led the hall without a turn to the narrow door into the inn-yard. Her hand fell from the balustrade, but as it did so it was caught by another hand, and she felt bungling fingers run across her face. In vain she attempted to control her terror, but the brain, already overtaxed, went to pieces like a glass let fall on marble pavements. She uttered one scream and fainted.

A quiet, like that of a country church at high noon on week days had been for some time pervading the tap-room of the Golden Hind. The party at the center table had scattered; the landlord rubbing his eyes, had disappeared through the door above which hung the cracked painting of the host in red coat and face betokening welcome; the line of decanters and bezzling glasses on the shelf, under the long mirror behind the bar, appeared ready for the dust of at least one quiet half-night to settle upon it; while outstretched on two chairs, with his drowsy head leaning on the arm of one of them, lay the tapster, the only human occupant of the room. The cat had crawled under his arm, and, in his half sleep, he was mechanically stroking her. Out of this condition he was aroused by startling sounds in the hall.

He quickly rose to his feet and rushed to the door. The light fell full upon two persons, a woman lying unconscious at the base of the stairs, and a drunken actor leaning over her. The latter exhibited 100 a stupefied countenance, either as the result of a light being flashed so suddenly upon him, or from the discovery of what lay at his feet. He had hardly realized that he had clasped a hand or fumbled a face, or at least nothing more than that of some serving woman of the place, and when he saw a woman with features of almost transcendent beauty, and of attire fit for a lady of rank, lying at his feet, he cowered in the light as one might when apprehended in the commission of a heinous crime.

“Zounds,” exclaimed the tapster, “what’s this snarling about?”

“Good God, man, is she killed?” exclaimed the other leaning over and attempting to raise the recumbent body at his feet.

Blood was flowing from a gash cut in the woman’s head by the sharp edge of the stair. The two men picked her up and carried her into the tap-room, where they placed her in one of the widest chairs. The tapster recognized her as the lady who had arrived there a few days previously with the Count, and looked suspiciously at the actor; but, without asking any questions of the latter, he began bathing her face in cold water and binding a cloth around her head to stop the flow of blood. Its current darkly streaked the mass of golden hair which, having been liberated from the confinement of the hood, fell disheveled around the high white ruff, in which the lower part of her face was concealed, and upon the puffed 101 shoulders terminating the tight, slashed sleeves of vari-colored silk. Her hooded cape of showy fabric lay upon the floor. Her full gown of blue silk with front embroidered from the collar down the long pointed doublet and dress front, comfortably filled the chair. The lamps directly overhead had been extinguished, and it was the light from the still blazing candles at the angle of the chimney that flared upon her pallid face.

Several minutes had passed and all attempts at her restoration had been unavailing. A serious expression had gathered on the face of the tapster, and the actor looked to have been shaken into sobriety. Suddenly the two men heard light footsteps in the hallway. The door had been left open. They looked toward it, and at that moment the figure of a man passed across the seam of light and was immediately swallowed by the darkness that lay on the further edge. As the light struck him he had looked towards its source, but if he recognized any member of the group or realized the character of the scene which he had momentarily disturbed, it did not cause him to pause. The sound of the closing of the door into the inn-yard immediately afterwards echoed through the hall.

“That was her husband, the Count,” whispered the actor, looking with amazement at his companion.

“You are wrong. It was Marlowe,” remarked the tapster.

“Nay,” said the actor, “Marlowe was not so attired. 102 It is her husband. You had better follow him with word of her condition.”

“If I thought you were right,” returned the tapster with considerable feeling, “I would not stir a step, for I am not anxious to serve the ruffian. The blow he felled me with was none to my liking. I would do anything for the lady, but what she needs is what he is now doing. We will stop him, whoever he is, as he returns.” 103


Might first made kings, and laws were then most sure
When like the Draco’s they were writ in blood.
Jew of Malta, i, 1.
The bloody book of law,
You shall yourself read, in the bitter letter,
After your own sense.
Othello, i, 3.

On the night of the murder in the old Deptford tavern the man who was to profit most from the false shadows thrown by the crime and its concealment was at the Boar’s Head in London. This man was William Shakespere. Without his volition and unknown to himself the crown of immortality was being set upon his brows. Just as unconsciously moved the hands that placed it there. Had the placing of it been designed; had the person who has worn it all these centuries felt its presence and coveted it, possibly all cloud that has since obscured his title might have been removed; but the actors were only puppets in the hands of the blind goddess of Mischance. The vital flaws remain, and have been pointed out by the searchers. Their genuineness has been demonstrated, but the source of title has been misapprehended. The falsifying of the record of the crime at Deptford being discovered, the tracing of the title through a deep channel to its true fountain head is a task 104 easy of accomplishment. It leads to Christopher Marlowe.

With Shakespere were two others, whose lives were inseparably interwoven with that of his own and with Marlowe’s. One was George Peele, the dramatist, the other was Christopher Tamworth, the lawyer of Gray’s Inn.

The Eastcheap tavern, while frequently the gathering place for roysterers, was also a known resort for strolling players, pamphleteers, dramatists and other men of genius and ambition, who were looked upon with suspicion by a government that imagined greater danger from a middle class with intellect and ability of expression than from a powerful nobility, or an ignorant multitude of serfs.

At times, crowds in bacchanalian riot burnt out the hours of the night; again the peace of a cloister pervaded there, and from the lower bay, and higher dormer windows the lights of workers’ candles gleamed. Eastcheap Street might rattle with tumbrils, carts and horses’ hoofs, and the air be shattered by the cries of costard mongers, tooting of hautboys, or the ringing of bellmen, still the thick walls of the Boar’s Head enticed within them those who worked out their deliverance in solitary effort and meditation.

The three men were in a spacious room at the rear corner of one of the upper stories of the famous tavern. One window opening through the thick stone wall, faced the church-yard of St. 105 Michaels with its drooping trees, its tenants of near three hundred years of burial, and its stately edifice wherein the fishmongers and butchers from near shops and stalls congregated. Clambering vines rooted in rich soil, framed this deep and narrow window in green; and in breezy hours sent to the ears of indwellers a rustle sweetly suggestive of the far distant woods of Kent or Surrey. In the wall facing Crooked Lane another window overlooked a traveled way so narrow that hands outstretched from facing windows on either side could clasp each other. On the pavement below, a foot passer might squeeze by a costard monger’s cart, but two carts abreast could not pass. Projecting platforms, under fronting doors with narrow stairs descending to the street, and boards thrust out from windows whereon hung linen drying, or boxed plants, assisted in obscuring the light.

The room was the living apartment of George Peele, and for several years during his separation from his wife, had been the retreat of that genius, where in intervals between mad dissipations he had written “The Famous Chronicle History of King Edward the First.” The innate taste of this individual, as displayed in the richness of the imagery that characterized his plays, could not but reveal itself in the external surroundings over which he had control. His purse had never been sufficiently distended for him to contract for luxurious apartments, or at least distended long enough for him to pause in the wild revel which always 106 followed close on the heels of the receipt of money for a play, to consider any question of comfort in the near future, consequently both in seasons of poverty and moments of affluence this one room at the Boar’s Head was his permanent headquarters.

The blackened ceiling remained as he had found it; the ground work of dingy wall on all sides had not been changed except by the articles hung against it, and these were as varied as a prodigal hand could gather. A magnificent piece of tapestry from the looms of Flanders, bearing upon its blue groundwork the red figure of a horse and crowned rider, covered one entire side of the room. It was said to have been the gift of Queen Elizabeth, for whom, in 1584, Peele had written the comedy of “The Arraignment of Paris,” and had been bestowed after her hearing of the poet’s fancy for the hanging as he had first seen it in the banqueting house of the royal palace at Whitehall. On low stands before it were two black Greek vases of great value.

Against another wall were two long halbards, crossed just below their heads, whose bright steel flashed back the light of the lamp. The ends of their poles touched the floor, and between them was a long Norman hauberk of trellised plate and a kite-shaped shield as rusty as six centuries could make them. The chimney place was narrow, deep and black. Great brass firedogs was all that it contained at that season. Above it the shelf, 107 formed by the receding of the chimney, was crowded with bronze and white marble statuettes, among which, one of the queen overtopped the others of more ancient sculpture.

The low iron bedstead of rude manufacture, almost concealed in the recess formed by the projecting chimney, was evidently a fixture. Of the same category were the chairs and the table. Over the latter a lamp designed to aid a scholar in his lucubrations, burned steadily from a bracket in the wall.

Books and papers were scattered on this table with inkhorn and quills, and a score of volumes on the uncarpeted floor. A copy of Homer’s Iliad lay open, with printed pages touching the wooden surface of the table, and its embossed cover displayed. Besides this were two volumes of Cicero, an English translation of the tragedies of Seneca, and of Jocaste of Euripides, of the edition of 1577. Half a dozen other Greek and Latin classics, in the costly bindings of John Reynes, were heaped so that the light of the lamp displayed them to advantage. In meaner bindings, Holinshed’s Chronicles lay open on the floor with the Mirror of Magistrates piled upon it, and in the same heap were several other volumes of cotemporary dramatists. Bundles of manuscript dramas were on one end of the table, and scattered papers bore on their faces the work of the master of the den.

It was late at night, and the three friends, for such they were, had been together in the room for 108 several hours. The play upon which Peele was then engaged, was designed by the writer for performance by Lord Pembroke’s actors of which Shakespere was then a member.21 He had been reading it for their appreciation and suggestion, and now, having finished, they were conversing upon other topics. Tobacco smoke from the pipe of Tamworth rose in clouds, and in a wide arm-chair against the tapestry, Shakespere, also smoking, was listening to the lawyer’s remarks.

“The crime,” said he, “is blasphemy and not apostasy.”

“How do you distinguish them?” inquired Peele.

“The last is renouncing one’s religion after having professed it; the other is reviling the Father, Son, or Holy Ghost.”

“Aye, and the crime of blasphemy he has committed.”

“No question of that.”

“Have you a copy of the paper?” asked Shakespere, addressing Peele.

“Yes, the same that was sent to the Queen.” [Note 31.]

He drew from his inner pocket a folded paper, and holding it so that the light struck full upon it he read: “The first beginnynge of religion was only to keep men in awe.”

“There may be some truth in that,” interrupted Tamworth.

“But wait,” continued Peele, “here is the sentence 109 that sticks and perhaps gives ground for the charge, ‘if the Jews among whom he was born did crucify him they best knew him and whence he came.’”

“Truly that is blasphemous,” remarked Tamworth, “but I do not believe that he wrote it. Doth it profess on its face to be his?”

“No, they are simply charges made against him by Richard Bame, and he is an obscure person; but the Queen hath considered it seriously and a warrant hath been issued by one of the justices for his arrest.”

“Whose, Bame’s?”

“No, Marlowe’s.”

“What is the punishment upon conviction?” asked Shakespere.

“You need not add the words ‘upon conviction,’ for that followeth an arrest as surely as night followeth day. It is declared by law to be fine and imprisonment, and other infamous corporal punishment,” answered Tamworth.

“Of what nature is such punishment?”

“Slitting the nose; cutting off an ear; a seat in the pillory, and the like,” answered Peele before the lawyer could speak.

“Thou knoweth the law, too, Peele, like a solicitor. Hast thou ever been a student and lodged at Clement’s Inn?” asked Tamworth with a smile.

“Nay, but in one play I had put blasphemous words in the mouth of a dissolute character, and, before its presentation, the same was pointed out 110 to me by the actor whose part it was to read it, and forthwith we went to the Temple and there learned the definition of the offense and the penalty.”

“And on this opinion of one who has read no better lines than those to be found in Justinian or Littleton, and made no professions of ability to criticise, thou expurgated what to me seemed the most stirring passages of the play. Wilt thou let the light of thy torch be blanketed so that only black smoke can roll forth? Fie upon thee, man!” said Shakespere with animation.

“You know not of what you speak,” exclaimed Tamworth. “The corporal punishment may be more severe than as defined by Peele. His definition is correct, but the judges have often stretched the words to a greater extent. What if they saw fit to apply such infamous punishment that death would necessarily result?”

“Could they do that?”

“Aye, and they have. Death for blasphemy maketh one smile at the laws of Draco, but such hath been and only four years since.”

“You speak of Kett,” remarked Peele.

“Yes, Francis Kett.”

“And what of him?” asked Shakespere.

“He was burnt,” said Tamworth, solemnly.

“At the stake?”

“True, at Norwich in February, 1589, for questioning the Divinity of Christ, and giving utterance to other unorthodox views.”22 111

“O Diabole!” muttered Peele.

“Is there any safety in any occupation?” inquired Shakespere.

“Well, there is certainly little in your profession, my good fellow, unless you are licensed, or enrolled.23 The penalty of being apprehended as a strolling player, or as a common actor of interludes, is probably known to thee, and to thee, too, Peele.”

“Yes; whipping, and burning with a hot iron through the gristle of the right ear,”24 interrupted Peele, “for I saw the like punishment administered to Endermon, who is now with Henslowe at the Rose.”25

“And,” continued Tamworth, “it is because of this act of Elizabeth that you, Shakespere, are enrolled as a servant of Lord Pembroke.”

“A sorry wretch you are,” laughed Peele, looking at Shakespere, “so miserably considered that in order to gain the plaudits of the pit you must attach yourself to a licensed company.”

“And in what better condition are you?” asked Tamworth, with a smile. ou not know that in the law a dramatist is classed with vagrants? That any line of what you, Peele, write, may be interpreted as blasphemy or treason; and that as the judge before whom you may be dragged passes upon the meaning, force or effect of the 112 questionable writing,26 you are virtually deprived of a trial by jury? And upon what slender thread your liberty would hang! Aye, e’en your life. Moreover, the judge pompously declares that he looks into the spirit instead of the letter, and thus between the lines he reads an avowal of popery and pronounces you a Papist.”

“Aye, then the sentence comes ‘To the Tower,’” exclaimed Shakespere.

“The rats’ dungeon!” he said, solemnly.

“And is not the pious poet, Robert Southwell, there now on the same charge, popery?”27 asked Peele.

“True,” said Shakespere.

“And hath he not,” continued Peele, “in cankering languishment written:

“‘I often look upon my face
Most ugly, grisly, bare and thin;
I often view the hollow place
Where eyes and nose had sometime been;
I see the bones across that lie,
Yet little think that I must die.’”

“Is anything more wanting to restrain one in the flourish of one’s pen?”

“Next we shall hear of prizes for stupidity,” ejaculated Shakespere, replacing his pipe between his lips, from where it had been withdrawn during the interval of legal discussion. “My wonder 113 is,” he continued, “that you ever write a line beyond God save the Queen and damn the Pope. Praise God, that my temporary calling is licensed, and that not yet have I been tempted into fields where pitfalls lie concealed, and all else is open to the blazing sky.” [Note 29.]

“Well said, friend Will, but let once the honied praise for children of thy brain melt into thy being, and no threat or dread of bodily ill can keep thee wholly from the permanent expression of thy thoughts. And now it is my livelihood,” returned Peele.

“For one of thy calling it would be safer to live in obscurity,” remarked Tamworth.

“Yes, as though dead,” the dramatist answered in a whisper, as though there were others who might overhear his words.

A knock sounded at the door. The two visitors looked at Peele inquiringly. He said “Come in,” but the door did not open, and again the knock sounded.

“The fellow is like a beggar for coin who refuses a purse without looking into it,” remarked Peele, arising and going to the door.

“More like a lady who wishes to know who is within before venturing,” said Shakespere significantly.

Peele had opened the door. A man stood there in the passage and raised his finger warningly. Peele paused in the greeting he was about to utter, and then, moving his head slightly backward in 114 gesture, said in a low voice: “Shakespere and Tamworth.”

“And none other?” asked the man.


He stepped within, but did not seem to notice Peele’s extended hand.

“Lock the door,” he said.

“Right,” said Peele, “the warrant is already out.”

“What, so soon?” exclaimed the other, throwing his hand to his face, which grew ghastly as he stared at his friend.

“Marlowe,” exclaimed Shakespere in greeting, “even now we were talking about you.”

The man addressed continued, gazing speechlessly at Peele, who said, “Well ’twas no more than we were apprehensive of when last we met.”

“You talk in riddles,” gasped the other, “’Tis only two hours since his death. A warrant already issued: You know it? My God! do I dream?”

Peele now displayed a questioning face; “Riddles; two hours since his death?” he asked, and then after a short pause, continued: “I mean the charge of blasphemy. That warrant is out. Of what do you speak?”

Marlowe’s visage cleared to some extent.

“Ah! I understand,” he murmured.

He removed his hat, and sank as though in exhaustion into a cushioned chair close before the 115 chimney. Tamworth and Shakespere were already up, and the three had gathered before him.

Shakespere spoke sympathizingly: “They are not likely to search in this quarter. To-morrow I will intercede with the Queen, for she has already given me recognition—”

“And the offense is only of an ecclesiastical nature,” continued Tamworth.

“In the eyes of the law it is considered murder,” said Marlowe.

The three looked questioningly at each other, while Marlowe, throwing off the last trace of qualm, continued:

“I have just fled from the place of its commission, and thy first utterance, Peele, unnerved me. I killed the man and he lies dead at the Golden Hind in Deptford. It was in duel forced upon me. Francis Frazer, the Count, they call him. I say that he lies dead, but others will say that it is I. You look at me as though there were more riddles and there are. You see the clothes I wear? Well, they are none of mine. Mine are at the Golden Hind and on the dead. You see it was this way. He came upon me when I was with the woman, his wife, it seems. He demanded that I draw and defend myself. I did, and well, and then thrust home. He fell. Here I have come. What way is clear?”

“A duel,” exclaimed Shakespere, admiringly, “and you killed him? Bravo!”

“Wherein lies the offense?” interrupted Peele. 116

“You do not understand; the combat was in his apartments where I had intruded. There were no witnesses save his wife. She sides with me, but what a cloud would be cast upon me before the Court, with the woman swearing in my favor as against the dead husband? I say that death would be the penalty.”

“But you say that you stripped the dead,” said Tamworth, “and whether it was a vindictive murder, a duel, or done in self defense, such fact must weigh heavily against thee. Art thou crazy, Kit? Why this garb? I do not understand it.”

He had finished his questions with visible excitement, and with it Marlowe arose.

“You are my friends,” he said, “the occasion calls for staunch ones. Come, I need the aid of all.”

Instinctively they drew about the table as though closeness begat confidence and strength. The light shown upon a true brotherhood of souls united by common interests both for advancement and preservation. Peele with clear and thoughtful eyes, and face still displaying wonderment; Shakespere with the smooth-shaven visage of an actor, and open, generous countenance; Tamworth with clear-cut features, cold eyes and bearded chin and lip—all sat silent as their companion vividly narrated the events of the night at the Deptford tavern. At its close he paused, and then in the ensuing silence resumed:

“The past hath ended in a grave. You all see 117 that. No broad road of the life of yesterday is open to me. Henceforth darkness and obscurity is my sole store. And wherein lies solace for such continuance of life? Aye,” and his voice rang with the intensity of his feelings, “even a livelihood is debarred me unless a mask conceals my workings.”

Again for an interval no words were spoken. Outside the fog had lifted and a midnight rain was falling on the roof and beating against the windows. Its patter pervaded the room. The Greek vases seemed waiting to be filled; the red king on the arras appeared listening expectantly for words of deliverance; the halberds glittered defiantly, as though raised by hands ready in defense. 118


I see an angel hovers o’er thy head,
And with a vial full of precious grace,
Offers to pour the same into thy soul.
Faustus, scene xiv.
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mixed in him, that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, “This was a man:”
Julius Cæsar, v, 5.

The Gloom that pervaded the great city during the prevalence of the plague was a figure of changing size that at times came with a rush, and again grew into place beside the hearth-stone, slowly and almost imperceptibly, and then at length assumed such dreadful proportions that the affrighted watchers buried their sad faces in trembling hands, as if to drown the vision. A pall covered him from head to foot, and his face was unseen; but there was a suspicion that it was fleshless, and whether he came to the open stall or closed shop, before or after, the visit there of the plague, his presence numbed the hands of toil, and then either folded them in prayer, or dropped them in stolid apathy. He pervaded almost every dwelling; he was where the morning orisons arose in churches and cathedrals; he walked the open streets even in the sunlight; he sat with the judge upon the bench; he knelt with the bride at the 119 altar, and even where full cups were lifted high, with nods indicative of good health and peace, he came and went like a restless spirit.

As Tabbard and Gyves slowly crossed the street from the office of the Justice, a cart delayed their steps for a moment. Their breasts were almost against its heavy wheels as it passed, and their eyes were on a level with the top of its box, which was filled above its edges. The jolting of the stones shook the contents so that the man in black beside the driver, through fear of losing part of the load, kept his eyes fixed upon the rear end-board of the cart.

“Ugh!” exclaimed Gyves, drawing back with a shudder, “’Tis the death cart. See, they have piled them in like dead mutton.”

“Look at that stiff beggar with fallen chops hanging over the wheel,” remarked Tabbard, with face wrinkling in his disgust.

“They are in too great haste to keep them properly covered. And this is the earliest load I have seen hurried through the streets.”

“Don’t they carry at all times?” inquired Tabbard.

“Nay, only after sundown and just before sunup.”

“The plague must be growing worse,” remarked Tabbard, for the moment longing for the fresh, sweet air of Kent, and heartily wishing that he was out of that foggy street, which had suddenly grown as melancholy as a church-yard of new-made 120 graves. He almost forgot to limp, or lean heavily on the constable as they reached the opposite walk.

“God save you, sir. It is breathing in every ward both north and south of Holborn, Cheapside and Fenchurch, and as far west as Gray’s Inn and Temple Bar. Red paint has gone up in price, I hear, for nearly every house owner has had to buy some to daub the cross on his door. I saw one man fall on Coleman street to-day, and in less than an hour he was dead in the alley where they had moved him. Oh, man! it would be well for you, if you had never ventured in from the fields; for I see that you have the healthful looking face and air of a countryman.”

“Does one die quickly?” asked Tabbard, with a quaver in his voice.

“Too quickly to send either for doctor, or priest, in some cases,” replied Gyves.

“And is there no help?”

“Little before and none after the black spots appear.”

“And do many die?”


“Near here?” inquired Tabbard, shuddering as he looked at the gloomy buildings around him.

“Nay, mostly in the dwellings and tenements. With one death in the family, you can count that every member will follow. Ah! here is the Windmill.”

They turned from the sidewalk to mount the steps leading to the tavern. The building was a 121 quaint structure built by the Jews at least three hundred years before. Once a synagogue, next a dwelling and then a tavern, it had, despite all these changes in its use, maintained some of the characteristics of each. Like a minister, who had become a soldier and then deserted for some safer but less honorable calling, it had retained an outward expression of sanctity in the narrow, pointed lancet-windows in its front and its six-columned portico; while, as evidence of its passage through an intermediate period, oriel windows jutted out from what might be second and third stories. The painting of a windmill, hanging between the two middle columns of the portico, published the present purposes of the place with as loud a flourish as trumpets might announce.

Into what was once the inner narthex of the synagogue, they passed. A stone floor was under foot, while a low vaulted ceiling rose overhead, its base being supported by attached columns with decorated capitals and elaborately carved corbels. Here, where devout Hebrews had once paused to arrange their gabardines, or stamp thoughts of usury for one short session from their minds before entering the body of the church, the sacrilegious Gentile had set his snares of destruction. It had become the tap-room of the tavern.

Near the foot of the rood-stair, which once led to the gallery, stood a brilliantly lighted bar, with a range of butts of Malmsey, kegs of beer and sack, deep in the recess behind it; and on the near 122 shelves, against a bastard wall, was a glittering line of decanters, mugs and tankards.

The heavy round tables were encircled by many persons drinking under suspended lamps, and several groups of men were standing here and there on the sanded floor. A quietness, except for the low buzz of conversation and an occasional laugh, pervaded the room, thus speaking well for the sobriety of the inmates and the respectability of the tavern; still the crowd was as mixed as could be found anywhere except in the middle aisle of St. Paul’s. There, in the nave of that famous cathedral, dedicated to pious uses, in the aisles, before the ambries, and beside the font, during intervals between divine service, horsemen, usurers, cut-throats, beggars, bargainers of all kinds, doctors, lawyers and noblemen, plied their avocations, held their meetings, hatched their conspiracies and settled accounts.

Here there were no beggars, such being barred entrance; but their tatters could be seen on the portico whenever the door swung open. But men, in apparel fit for noblemen, walked in and out; others, with the hardened visages of men who dreamt continually of the gallows and shuddered at every flash of light across their paths, drank at the bar, or gathered under some of the isolated columns.

At one table was a country squire in dun-colored serge coat, with full bearded face, bending over a trencher filled with a half devoured pheasant. Before 123 him was his city cousin, in velvet cap, with a lovelock suspended from under the green rim down across his ruffled collar. Decorated with pointed mustachios and framed in powdered periwig and high ruff, he was typical of the dandy of the period.

If the raw-boned, ungainly young man, with repellant features, who monopolized the conversation at another table, was not Ben Jonson [note 33], then Gyves, who pointed him out to Tabbard, had selected some one who looked enough like that genius, just rising to eminence, to be confounded with him.

“He is an actor,” said Gyves, “who lately returned from the Low Countries with the company of soldiers of which he was a volunteer, a most companionable man: can drink deeper and swear louder than any one around him.”

“Doth he make no choice of companions?” questioned Tabbard, noticing that some of the group looked misplaced anywhere but dangling from a gibbet’s arm.

“Not he,” said Gyves, “according to his stories, he has messed with the worst of the cut-throats of the Straits, kept by the side of clapperdoggers on their rounds, learned all the slang of the purlieus of Cheapside, and would as lief hobnob with a ruffler as with a nobleman or parish priest.”

“Hath he good sense?”

“The very best, I think, for I heard the Justice say that he wrote plays of the people, and must mingle with them to learn their ways.” 124

By this time they had approached a vacant table, and as Tabbard seated himself with pretended difficulty, he said, “Now sit you there; my friend, and have one cup with me before you venture out.”

Gyves required no second invitation.

“’Tis a bad night to hunt the highways for clapperdoggers,” said he, as he dropped into a chair, and pulling his whiskers glanced around the room with an air of familiarity as great as that of a chained mastiff in his own kennel.

“Is it a beggar you are after?” asked Tabbard with a forced air of unconcern.

“Not exactly, and I correct my expression,” returned Gyves, “but one even less harmful.”

“Some poor devil who has failed to attend church for a Sunday or two, eh?” [note 34.]

“Nay, I took in two on such complaints this morning, but to-night I shall hail in a blasphemer.”

“Hardly to-night,” thought Tabbard, and then he added aloud, “Doth not thy conscience prick thee at times for dragging such men to jail?”

“I am but an instrument of the law,” replied the constable in deep tones, at the same time striking his chest with his fingers evidently in imitation of the voice and action of the Lord High Sheriff. “The man who should have cold sweats is the accuser, the public informer.”

“Are there many of such curs?”

“Enough to keep us busy,” answered Gyves.

“And who has held thy nose to the hot scent?” 125

“Out cow-herd! I like not thy terms of address,” exclaimed Gyves, bringing his fist down with a ring upon the table, “A hot scent with a nose upon it raises the figure of a dog. It takes no keen wit to see that. And as thou hast called it my nose, then forsooth, I am the dog.”

“Nay, nay!” exclaimed Tabbard, “I meant no offense. Here, I clink glasses with thee as evidence of good-fellowship.”

They raised the glasses of wine which the drawer had set before them.

“Who was the accuser of the man you bear a warrant for?”

“Bame,” said the constable, lowering his voice. “He is one of the prime movers against Papists and scoffers of religion.”

“Of the established church, eh?”

“Nay, a sour, morose Brownist, who strikes at all but his own sect.”

“A gad fly,” said Tabbard.

“An asp, more like; a carrion-eating swine!” exclaimed Gyves, as though the words were the froth of bitter recollections.

“Is his rope long?”

“As long as the laws under which he acts.”

“And who is the accused in this case?”


He checked himself and then continued:

“’Sdeath! When I get the reviler where liberty is a sweet memory only, I will if I choose call aloud his name in every quarter but St. Paul’s.” 126

“And why not there?”

“He hath attacked the church, ’tis said.”

“Canst thou not recollect his name, over this second glass?” inquired Tabbard, smoothly.

“I said nothing of my recollection being faulty.”

“Hast thou the warrant? If thou hast let me see it,” said Tabbard, with the air and tone of one in command. “Here, some more of that best Rheinish wine,” he thundered to the drawer.

Gyves had never encountered so reckless a spendthrift. His admiration was rising as every glass was lowered. He was in no hurry to go on his quest. The foggy night, and the dark miles between the Windmill and the Roman Wall caused him to embrace the glittering present. The tap-room of the Windmill never appeared so enchanting. Tabbard, despite his rusticity, was growing into a prince. The cultivated caution of the constable oozed away, and he placed the warrant in Tabbard’s hands. Just at that moment Bame walked into the tap-room and came hurriedly toward the table. Tabbard had caught sight of him out of the corner of his eye. He thrust the warrant in his pocket, at the same time giving a significant glance at Gyves, who, with at first a motion that he would retake the paper, subsided on noticing Bame. The latter said, as he reached the table, “How now, Gyves, has the arrest been made?”

“Shortly, sir, shortly,” exclaimed Gyves, scarcely able to conceal his surprise at seeing the sanctimonious-looking 127 Brownist beside him in the tap-room.

“Good faith, man! Get thee out quick, or the fellow will be fled. Thou hast already squandered an hour here. Come, stir thyself!”

The tones were peremptory and husky with suppressed anger. Gyves knew Bame’s power. He felt that temporary action was necessary to preserve his office. True, he could not act without the warrant, and he dared not expose to Bame his folly by demanding its return. So, hoping that he could see Tabbard later, and, having procured the warrant, make the arrest, he arose.

“I am off at once—” he said.

“Odds end!” exclaimed Bame savagely, “Don’t stop to mouth words. Push along.”

“And where will you lodge?” asked the constable of Tabbard, who, rejoicing over the complete relief he had secured for his friend Kit, sat there apparently unconcerned.

“Here,” answered Tabbard.

Gyves turned and walked away from them. In going, Bame’s back was toward him, but he saw the smiling face of Tabbard, and striking his own breast, he made a motion with his hand as though to say, “The warrant you have in your pocket deliver to me a little later.”

Tabbard nodded his head understandingly, and the troubled arm of the law passed out of the old Jewry entrance.

Bame scrutinized the late companion of the constable 128 for an interval without changing his position. Tabbard stared back at him with an expression of contempt and hatred, which changed to a smile of triumph as he thought with what exultation he could tear the warrant into shreds before Bame’s eyes. He itched to do it on the instant; but the other man wheeled round and sought a table in a retired corner, from where he continued his scrutiny of Tabbard. There was something about the latter man which jarred a chord in Bame’s memory, and suddenly he recognized him as the person who had been with Marlowe at the Dolphin. This recognition, connected with the fact of the lately interrupted meeting between Gyves and Tabbard, raised his suspicions, and his watching became like that of a hawk.

Tabbard took out the warrant. He opened it curiously and examined the seal. It was the only portion of the paper that assured him of the legal character of the writ. Words in Greek could have conveyed as much meaning as those printed and written on the paper. If he had been convicted of felony, Tabbard would have suffered the severe penalty; for the benefit of clergy would not have availed him. He could not read the Lord’s Prayer in English print.

He folded the paper and then began tearing it into small bits. These he scattered around him, feeling like a life convict taking the first breath of air outside the broken wall of the prison. As he ground the last pieces into the sand under his 129 feet, he lifted his glass of Rheinish wine and threw his head back to drain the contents. The thought of “Sir Kit” was in his mind, a smile played upon his lips.

Could death strike us at the moment of accomplishing good for a friend or for the human race, we might not parley but pass with glorified faces into a peace assuredly in keeping with the joy kindled by the generous act. With few the end comes so gloriously. To the soldier, the martyr, the mother, such passing of the spirit is oft vouchsafed; the first, falling at the head of the victorious forces on the captured battlements; the second, amid flames at the stake; the last, with the first breath of her infant upon her lips already damp with the dew of dissolution.

In the position assumed by Tabbard for his last draught, the bright flame of a suspended lamp flared in his eyes. To him it appeared to swing in a circle, although in fact it was stationary; and the vaulted ceiling seemed rising in air higher and higher, until he looked into the darkness of absolute night. It was his head that swayed instead of the lamp; it was the gradual failure of his eye-sight that raised the phenomenon of the fading ceiling. A violent nausea seized him, so that every fiber of his body shook and his glass fell shivered upon the floor. He groaned so loudly that every one in the room turned his face in his direction. And thus, before staring and startled faces, the quivering man rolled from his chair to the sanded 130 floor. A whisper rose from every lip, except from the pair which grew white in distress. The words were the same from all:

“The plague!”

The stricken man may have heard the two words, but it could have conveyed no new tidings to his mind. Even the shiver of his frame from a draught of cold air would have sprung the belief that the first symptom of the Black Death had appeared. But there was no mistaking the pang that shot through him, like an arrow from a long bow. Could he have seen his face a few moments afterward as Bame saw it, turned upward on the floor, he would have died more suddenly from fright; hæmorrhagic spots discolored it—the unmistakable symbol of internal dissolution. They looked like the black imprints of the fingers of a hand that had been thrust with violence against it.

“Tell him he is safe,” came the broken words from lips moved by a wandering mind.

“Who?” asked Bame, leaning over him.

The dying man did not answer, but the words “Deptford” and the “Earl’s actors” were uttered in his rambling speech. 131


Jove sometimes masked in a shepherd’s weed,
And by those steps, that he hath scaled the heavens,
May we become immortal like the gods.
I Tamburlaine, i, 2.
Conceal me what I am, and be my aid
For such disguise as haply may become
The form of my intent.
Twelfth Night, i, 2.

The silence in Peele’s chamber at the Boar’s Head had continued many minutes. The three hearers of Marlowe’s vivid recital looked at each other expectantly; but as all had quaffed his cup of misery, silence was alone the fit expression of their depth of feeling and interest. The intense personality of the man had aroused in them sentiments like those he entertained. They recognized his genius [note 18 to 24], the height from which he had fallen, the deplorableness of his situation. It was as though his intellect had unseated theirs and mounted on the thrones thus vacated. Thus the boon companion of their riotous follies, the good fellow, the well-beloved and revel-loving Kit, had in a thrice vanished in thin air, and a veritable king of men assumed his place.

He had simply summoned the power that he knew was lodged within him, deep in the inexhaustible fountain from which he had drawn his lines of fire and figures of immortal mold. 132

“Let us calmly consider your situation,” at length said Tamworth, looking feelingly at Marlowe, “Against thyself lieth now an accusation of blasphemy upon which a warrant hath been issued. Even now, undoubtedly, with this in hand, the officers shadow thy customary haunts. During their search, news will soon come of thy death at Deptford; for, from what thou sayeth of the unfortunate Frazer’s resemblance to thee, he will be buried under thy name. The warrant will be returned; the information pigeonholed, and thou wilt have little to fear from that source.”

“Unless he goes abroad among those who know him,” ejaculated Peele.

“That can not be,” whispered Marlowe.

“Then we will take it, that, as Marlowe, thou art like one dead beyond all resurrection,” continued the lawyer with emphasis.

“It can not be otherwise,” rejoined the subject of these comments, “unless in some retreat of assured safety, and at some future time, I reveal myself.”

“As the slayer of the Count?” was asked.

“There’s the rub,” whispered Marlowe, shaking his head.

“Well that is for later consideration,” said Tamworth calmly. “Let me continue. On the morrow a hue and cry will be raised for the arrest of Francis Frazer. The character which you have assumed for the last few hours cannot avail thee 133 further. It has answered its purpose. Thou hast kept thy name from being sullied with the crime of murder. But as the Count, or Francis Frazer, thou canst not walk forth.”

“Assuredly not,” said Peele.

“An arrest before noon would follow,” interrupted Shakespere, “and then, thy trial, in which, perchance, the true situation of affairs would come to light.”

“Wherein lieth safety?” asked Marlowe, raising his eyes and glancing from one face to the other of his friends.

“A life of obscurity,” answered Tamworth, “is all I can see for thee, unless thine efforts at concealment are undone; you deliver yourself up and stand trial. I cannot guarantee an acquittal, but it is not going too far to place firm hope in one.”

“No,” exclaimed Marlowe, “rather the concealment and obscurity than such course. The die has been cast; so far it worketh well, and even with an acquittal, this untried charge of blasphemy would stick in the burr. What is it? How far doth it reach? Hast thou a copy of the accusation?”

“I have,” said Peele, again producing the paper and handing it to Marlowe.

“The severity and falsity of the charges appall me,” exclaimed Marlowe, “nothing could be blacker. Are there no means to vindicate my name?”

“Your memory,” suggested Shakespere. 134

“True, that is all the world hath of me, but in all seriousness can not this false swearer, Bame, be punished?”

“He can, if you desire it,” answered Tamworth.

“Desire it? What man would not demand it?”

“I know of none.”

“Much of it is too vile for utterance, and that I knew one Poole in Newgate, and intended coining English shillings is as false as Hell. When shall his prosecution be pushed?”

“At once,” answered Tamworth.

“On what charge?”


“The penalty is what?”

“He can be tried either under the statute or the common law. Under the latter, the punishment is death.”

“Let it be the latter,” said Peele and Shakespere before Marlowe could answer.

“But to return to the suggestion of your concealment,” said Peele, “How can you remain concealed for any length of time?”

“No one will look for me. All who know me will hear the account of my death at Deptford.”

“But someone besides us and the wife of Frazer will doubtless encounter thee.”

“Can I not lie safely housed until passage can be secured for the continent?”

“But in what quarter?”

“Far from the old familiar places, Peele,” 135 answered Marlowe. “Not at the Black Bull, nor at Gerard’s Hall; nor at the Mermaid Tavern. And are these names to be but memories? Why, it is not two weeks since we secretly played Tancred and Gismund to the crowded galleries in the Bull; and then the dance around the fir-pole in the high-roofed hall at Gerard’s! That was not a month since, Peele. And verily my lips have not yet dried from the last glasses of fine old wine drank with thee, Nash, Jonson and the other merry wags at the round table within the bow-window at the Mermaid.”

Peele rocked backward and forward without speaking.

“Ah well, such frivolity should have ended long ago,” Marlowe went on, in a tone growing sterner with every word. “When mine enemy, Greene, dying of his surfeit of Rheinish wine and pickled herring, besought his friends in his Groat’s Worth of Wit [note 35] to abandon dissolute companions and in solitude nourish their spirit’s fire, why should I, despite his attack upon me, have not listened to his warning voice addressed to others, and not have waited for a finger dipped in blood to write, ‘Here endeth thy career?’”

A pause followed in which no one spoke, and again he continued: “’Tis well that this has happened. Without it what could have stayed me from wasting the hours which henceforth can be spent only in intellectual effort? Now the 136 devil is chained. I can not even sell my soul to him. The world with its temptations lieth as distant as the fields of Trasymene. Is it not a subject for congratulation? What campaigns may I not enter; what conquests may I not gain?”

With the egotism of a god, knowing himself, and the source from which he drew his inspiration, he continued his torrent of words:

“Tamburlaine was written with the collar of the university about my neck; Faustus, while my hatred of the existing laws designed to chain one’s belief, prevented a just appreciation of true religion; the Massacre of Paris, with my mind disturbed from the effects of continuous dissipation; Hero and Leander, while deep in Love’s young dream; and so on with the list. But now what is there to clog or muddy the fountains? Is my mind not broader; are not the impediments to studious application and undisturbed contemplation removed? For twenty, thirty, yea forty or fifty years, what is before me but the opportunity to produce immortal and transcendent work? Nay, give me ten years in solitude, O thou dread force, and under my hand all form, all thought, shall find expression in written words!”

He fell forward on the table with outstretched arms and clenched hands. Shakespere lifted him up; pityingly brushed back the hair from his 137 face, and said: “Forget the matter for a moment.”

No other words were spoken; still the rain pattered on the window opening towards St. Michael’s, and no sounds came up from the narrow walks in Crooked Lane.

At length Tamworth broke the silence. “I do not doubt, dear Kit, that whatever may be thy aim, thy arrow will reach. But life can not be maintained without capital or revenue. Your design being linked with an ambition for personal immortality precludes the publication of thy productions till after thy death or when hope of life is gone. Now, where will come the fund for thy maintenance?”

“Thou canst not appear as an actor,” suggested Shakespere.

“And neither can the works you may produce be sold as thine,” said Peele.

“Could they not be sold under some one else’s name?” asked Marlowe. “At the proper time their authorship could be confessed and established.”

“But in whose name?” queried Peele.

“Why not thine; at least temporarily?”

“Bah,” ejaculated Peele, “I could not pass thy dramas off as mine. The style, my dear fellow, the style. Henslowe would at once say, ‘What Peele, this thy drama? Marry, and where didst thou steal this new fire? Off with thee. It is none of thine. Leave it. I will look up the 138 older dramatists, Greek and Latin, from which I ween thou hast taken its entire,’”

“Then why not as thine, Shakespere?”

“Mine,” exclaimed Shakespere, shaking with laughter which he could not control, “Greater objections than those stated by Peele would arise. Only a few years ago I held horses before the Curtain and Theater. I write a play; Ho! Ho!”

He laughed so heartily that Tamworth joined with him.

“Stop,” said Peele, endeavoring to interrupt the sudden mirth, “The suggestion is a good one. What does Henslowe know of your horseholding, friend Will?”

“But,” answered Shakespere, “he knoweth that I came from the miserable village of Stratford-on-Avon only six years ago, where there are few books and nothing better than a grammar school. [note 36] Although I can say ‘Stipendium peccati mors est,’ as being learned from thy Faustus, Marlowe, I would die in the attempt to give its meaning.”

“He surely will not question thee about thy Latin or thy Greek,” said Tamworth, joining in with the scheme, “and as thou hast never turned a hand at such work, there are not, as in Peele’s case, fair-skinned children of earlier birth to give the lie to the paternity of the later ones of different complexion.”

“And am I to claim them as mine?” asked Shakespere. 139

“Only as may be necessary for the sale to theatrical managers,” answered Marlowe.

“And perchance grow famous; for we know the depth and strength of thy work.”

“Only for a time,” said Marlowe, impressively, “In the end all will be clear.”

“So be it then,” said Shakespere.

“But thy handwriting, Marlowe, is too well known. Still,” continued Tamworth, “the manuscript may be copied, and as I write a clear hand I would gladly aid thee.”

“But where are you to live, Kit?”

“At Southwark?” questioned the latter.

“Nay,” exclaimed Tamworth, “the Rose is there, with many players who know thee, and its numerous hangers-on. The heart of this city is far better. I know of a retreat. No hunted deer ever found so secure a covert. It is the building known as the Prince’s Wardrobe on the Old Jewry. Its corridors are unfrequented except by the few tenants who, through the benevolence of the present keeper, dwell in some of the chambers. Its demolition, begun many years ago, has been stayed. Once vacated because of notice of its contemplated razing, it is again being occupied through the apparent inertness of its owners. But this inaction is due to other causes—”

“I have heard of secret chambers there,” interrupted Peele.

“There are,” continued Tamworth, “It was once used as a palace, but its early history is lost. 140 Some of its stone walls are down, and above the cleared ruins at one end, divers lordly buildings have been reared; but the half portion towards St. Olave is intact. A question concerning its title being now unsettled in the courts, no progress can be made either in its repair or its destruction. Years may pass before the question is finally determined. The receiver appointed by the courts is a descendant of Sir Anthony Cope, who purchased the property from the crown in 1548, and, due to my acquaintance with him, and late services rendered, I now have a furnished chamber therein. The way out, or in, may be easy of discovery, and my quarters are occasionally visited by friends, but to me alone is known an inner room where you can dwell in perfect safety.”

“Thy words are of good cheer,” exclaimed Marlowe, “and no delay must be incurred.”

“Did you encounter no one upon entering here?” asked Peele.

“No; I came in at the side entrance. It was open. Crooked Lane was deserted as far as I could see.”

“And on the road from Deptford?”

“No one who knew me appeared upon the road. At the Golden Hind as I passed the tap-room door I caught a glimpse of the drawer, one of the actors who had been with me early in the evening, and the wife of Frazer.”

“Ah; she has not escaped then?” exclaimed 141 Tamworth. “This is serious. She may be held until after the discovery of the deed.”

“Undoubtedly she has been,” answered Marlowe, “I could not catch the occasion of her resting in the tap-room, neither could I pause, for discovery would have been certain.”

“Did she see thee?”

“I think not, for the drawer stood before her, so that only a portion of her gown was visible to me. I mounted hurriedly in the inn-yard and riding to the gnarled oak I waited under it, and in the thick fog for at least an hour. She did not come.”

“She will testify against thee.”

“Never,” exclaimed Marlowe.

“Ah,” said Tamworth, prolonging the word and opening wide his eyes.

“Have no fears of that,” continued Marlowe, firmly, and then as though to turn their thoughts into another channel, he continued: “The ride over that country road was lonely beyond all comparison. I slunk by the lights at Redriffe like one unarmed passing by the known lair of a sleeping lion. At the moment they struck my face I could have fallen from the saddle. But no eye of careless watcher was apparently following their seams into the darkness; for no haloo broke the night. The wood of oak and elm fencing the road this side the half-way house was resonant with swaying limbs. A wind was coming from the river, and the fog was like rain.” 142

“Was it dark?”

“So dark I could not see the ground.”

“Thy horse found the way and reached the bridge?”

“No, I turned not in towards it; but passing Bataille’s Inn, I rode down to a waterman’s house close by the river’s bank. There I dismounted, tied my horse and found the waterman. He was tying his wherry at the foot of the landing. With much persuasion, I induced him to row me across and, reaching the stone steps somewhere near the Swan, I came here with all haste.”

“And when were you last at your quarters in Coward Lane?”

“Just before starting for Deptford.”

“Whatever is there must be left.”

“Nay,” exclaimed Marlowe, “I have much unfinished work there.”

“Doth not Nash lodge in the same tenement?”

“Yes, in the room adjoining.”

“Doth he know of these writings?”

“All about them. He is engaged with me in writing the tragedy of Dido. I read him the two sestiads of Hero and Leander only two nights since.”

“Well then such things can not be taken unless Nash is numbered with us.”

“’Twould not be well,” said Tamworth, “the lesser the number holding the secret, the less fear of discovery.”

“Thy judgment is sound, Tamworth,” said Marlowe, 143 “let Nash finish the tragedy, and have him place the poem of Hero and Leander in the hands of Chapman with word that it was my dying request that he complete it [note 37].”

“Good,” exclaimed Peele, “and perchance embodying within it some golden lines touching thy unfortunate demise.”

“Most excellent,” said Marlowe, smiling at the thought of reading of his own death and the estimate of his own worth expressed in the poetic language of a loving friend.

“These matters,” said Tamworth, “will be attended to as strictly as bequests should be by an executor. We must at once reach my lodgings.”

“Leave the Count’s cloak and take this of mine,” said Peele, taking down a short mantle from a hook against the wall. 144


If ever sun stained heaven with bloody clouds,
And made it look with terror on the world:
If ever day were turned to ugly night
And night made semblance of the hue of hell, etc.
The Massacre at Paris, scene 2.
Oh! I have passed a miserable night,
So full of ugly sights, of ghastly dreams,
That as I am a Christian, faithful man,
I would not spend another such a night,
Though ’twere to buy a world of happy days.
King Richard III, i, 4.

The human sea of London was at the period of its deepest calm. The noisy idle white-caps of the night had been laid at rest, and not yet had the strong billows of the trade current begun their steady roll. The sun might already have lifted his rim slightly above the Langdon Hills, but no evidence of his coming was as yet visible in the labyrinth of London streets. One might have turned one’s face upward in the drizzling rain and noticed the clouds with faint glow suffused, but whether it was moonlight filtering through broken ranks of driving vapor, or the gray of the dawn, could not for a time have been determined.

It was at this hour that two men were passing into that ancient street of the city known as the Old Jewry. Their heads were muffled in their 145 cloaks or capes; their nearer arms locked as they walked abreast, and their steps were as swift as it was possible to take in the darkness. They stumbled along without a link light or a lanthorn to show the holes in the broken pavements, the turns of streets and other impediments and intricacies of the way. It was not only unusual but a matter to excite suspicion, for any person with even the weight of an untattered coat on his back to venture thus through the quarters from which these two men had come. Here and there, a lanthorn in the hands of a bellman of the night blinked and wavered; and directly before them, the flaring torch of a link-boy shot a shifting light along black, dripping shop fronts and displayed the figure, close following in its wake, of a solitary horseman.

No part of the city was deemed safe after the candles, burning in the horn receptacles before the dwellings and shops, were extinguished. The hour for such extinguishment was nine; and close following it, on moonless and foggy nights, bludgeon-bearing thieves issued from reeking alleys into the public streets, and assaulted belated passers. The bellman, with his formidable halberd, might rush where he heard the cry of the person assaulted, but long before he reached the spot his lanthorn had warned the assaulter, and naught but the bleeding victim, with rifled pockets, would meet his gaze.

But the solitary thief, or skulking pairs of 146 rufflers, were not the only menace against night walks. Bodies, numbering sometimes a hundred men, having assembled in some obscure den, would sally forth at midnight and rob the houses of whomsoever were reported to have money or treasure. Murder at such times, either of defenseless citizens in night robes within their houses, or inoffensive unfortunates stumbling into the ranks of the lawless crews, was a crime of frequent occurrence.

The neighborhood of the junction of Poultry street and the street of the Old Jewry was a favorite rendezvous of these thieves; for the majority of the persons stirring late at night in that locality was of the class wearing jewels or carrying coin, and the situation was favorable for robbing without hazard. At the corner of the two streets one could command a vision for many blocks in several directions. The moving lights of the guardians of the night could thus be watched without fear of the unexpected approach of the latter. While one thief might be thus occupied, his fellows could halt, assault and rob the incautious passer. The lofty buildings rendered the shadows deep upon the pavements on all nights, and the wide portico of St. Olave, with its great columns, made an excellent ambush. Behind this church ran Cutthroat Lane—a narrow and never-lighted alley, into which one, with but a few feet of separation from a pursuing officer, could enter and vanish as though swallowed by 147 the sea. It was a row of shackly tenements, facing one side of this alley, that thus gave friendly aid. Their doors were always ajar, even when winter storms prevailed; and stairs, ascending to intricate upper halls, and descending into connecting cellars, soon baffled all panting pursuers. Even the cautious police who, in daytime, attempted to thread the ways through which some desperado had eluded pursuit, were confused with blind passages and daunted by a darkness and silence that imported evil.

On this particular night, five thieves were hanging like trembling shadows about the portico of St. Olave. The night was almost spent and not one groat had they raised. All the passing groups of men had comprised too many members to warrant any attack and the one sole traveler, whom they had seized at the mouth of Cutthroat Lane proved to be a beggar. His unconscious body now lay face downward in the mud of that lane. The chance of his recovery from the blow of one of the disappointed robbers was a question for the doctors.

What business had beggars to be abroad at the hour when gentlemen were returning from nightly revels? Who could distinguish a ragged cloak from one edged with gold in such darkness? Gentlemen thieves were not to be lightly imposed upon. A varlet who has no angels in his pockets should be abed at dark. For such the sleep that knows no waking is a blessing. This was the 148 argument of the men who had halted the beggar.

As the two men, whose steps we have been following, entered the Old Jewry, their approach was a matter of notice, and as they reached a spot directly before the church, three of the thieves sprang out of the shadows of its projecting entrance. The attack came so unexpectedly that the two men had no chance for flight, and safety seemed to lie only in such effort. In the first grapple, the taller man’s cloak was torn from him, but this was of fortunate occurrence, for it enabled him to draw his sword. His companion had been felled to his knees, but, avoiding another blow aimed at his head, he rose to his feet and staggered to one side. The drawn sword of his friend swung through the air. It cut a face wide open in its career, and was again wielded in like manner, but without effect. Then the wounded robber seized the knees of the swordsman, only to be thrust through and through, as the latter stumbled and fell in the embrace.

In the meantime, the other man assailed, tugging at the hilt of his own sword which was kept from handy withdrawal by the folds of his cloak, retreated backward into the middle of the street. Approaching him was the robber who had delivered the first ineffectual blow. In the tussle he had dropped his bludgeon, and he was now trusting to his own strength to overpower this man before him. Suddenly another sword was out of its scabbard. There was a quick thrust at 149 the dark body between outstretched hands which had almost grasped the swordsman’s neck. A groan escaped from agonized lips, and the wielder of the sword felt warm blood upon his sword hand. His victim had fallen heavily against him, but he pushed him off like so much dead weight, and at that moment he heard his friend’s voice:

“Run, Kit, for thy life!”

“I am with you,” came the answer.

He saw that two other shadows had joined the decimated group. These two had been drowsing on the portico, and at length, aroused by the cries, had come forth. He saw his companion turn and run, and he followed him.

The lights of the windmill tavern streamed across the way, for its doors were open. They reached the fronting pillars of its portico, as though a haven, and then paused. Both of them knew that they could not venture in, and fortunately their assailants had given up the chase.

In the gloom, behind one of the columns, they stood panting. Near them stood a man also in the shadows. Their swift approach had been observed by him; but if he had apprehended the cause, it had not shaken him from his intent to remain concealed. He might have heard the retreating footsteps of their now baffled pursuers, and this should have disturbed him; for the cause of the men who had almost brushed against him was his cause. It was his duty to pursue the assailants; but there are times when the public 150 weal is forgotten—blotted out by thoughts of one’s private welfare. And so it was with the man in the darkness of the portico. The continuance of his ability to act for the public, nay, possibly his existence, depended on different service than the arrest of midnight marauders.

This man was Gyves, the constable, and he was waiting to see Bame leave the tavern so that he might venture in, find Tabbard, and obtain by persuasion or violence the warrant for the arrest of Marlowe. He had waited there for hours, through the mist which had drifted across the portico, and then later, while the drizzling rain had beaten in his face and set him shivering. He had yet no knowledge of the destruction of the writ, and no whisper of the sudden visit of the plague had touched his ears. So it was that the paper, upon which he dreamed his welfare hung, and the man whom he had for the past eight hours yearned most to see, were both beyond power of production to him. But despite all this, the arrest of Marlowe, which was his ultimate object, required at that moment neither the departure of Bame nor his possession of the writ. And furthermore no long weary walk nor tiresome search in an unfamiliar quarter would have been necessary. He could have reached out his hand and have arrested the two men under the neighboring column for a disturbance of the peace. Even then a sword was being sheathed by one of them, and Gyves had heard the late outcry 151 which of itself was sufficient to have justified him in taking them into custody to await further investigation. One of the men was Christopher Marlowe.

To us, with our limited vision, what a comedy is life. Over what scenes of merriment could we not amuse ourselves were we robbed of hearts and consciences and there were added to our remaining faculties the power of unlimited sight alone; to see the struggles of one during a whole life for a result which required only a few days’ effort along another line than that pursued; to see the entanglement, in a single web, of many with worthy designs, and their struggles liberating only that one who as it appeared to us should have remained entangled; to see the life pursuit for a will-o’-the-wisp; to see genius strangled, and dullness triumphant. Perhaps the truth would then burst upon us, that we are but the pawns and knights of the chess-board, moved by an Omniscient hand toward the final victory of the whole.

As the three men held back in the shadows, three more men came forth from the portals of the tavern; but only two of them walked. The third was between the others, but instead of being like them, erect, he was in a horizontal position. He lay upon a stretcher which the two men bore. He was motionless, and a rough cloth covered his form.

Certain it was that the covering of the man 152 upon the stretcher should have concealed his face, but through some inadvertency it had rolled down upon his breast so that his face was revealed. It was expressionless and that of one from whom the soul had fled. A man with flaming torch now ran out of the doors, as though to lead the way, and as the light struck upon the form upon the stretcher, one of the two men who had escaped the murderous, bludgeons of the thieves, clutched his companion’s arm and gasped:

“My God! the dead man is Tabbard.”

Then, as the flaming torch illuminated the man in front, who, with back toward the corpse, bore the stretcher, Marlowe, for he was the speaker, sunk his fingers deep into the clutched arm, for at that moment he heard a voice near him whisper:

“And Bame, Richard Bame, carries him.”

A shadow, shifting with the wavering of the torch, fell across Marlowe’s face. The latter looked to ascertain its cause and also the source of the last words spoken, and saw the outline of a man in the coat of an officer slink from the portico into the rain and the darkness. The torch now revealed an object close to the edge of the pavement. It was a heavy cart with horses attached like the one which had passed Tabbard early that night. His body was being borne toward it. 153


But stay, what star shines yonder in the East?
Jew of Malta, ii, 1.
But soft: what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the East—
Romeo and Juliet, ii, 2.

Marlowe and Tamworth now followed the example of the constable and, having moved silently along the street, in a few moments were in the wide and dark hall of a large building near the church of St. Olave.

“Hold to my arm,” said Tamworth, “This is the Prince’s Wardrobe.”

“And entered without turning so much as a knob or lifting a latch,” responded Marlowe.

“Here we climb the King’s staircase,” said Tamworth, as one of his advancing feet struck against an obstacle.

The morn was breaking, but the interior of the building, although open and windswept, was wrapped in utter darkness. Nought could be distinguished of the broken columns down the long hall, the tesselated pavement under foot, the marred frescoes of the walls, the blackened stucco of the ceilings, the solid staircase with heavy stone balustrade ascending to a middle landing. Once the principal palace of King Henry VI, it 154 had long since been remodeled and adapted to plebeian uses. It has even survived its fitness for the latter shifts, and partially dismantled by man and ruined by time it stood simply as a landmark of the fourteenth century.

The few words of the lawyer set moving through the poet’s mind a vision of splendid pageantry. The great hall rose out of shadow, bright with the illumination of a thousand lamps, and across its shining floor and up and down the marble stairway moved figures resplendent in the pomp of royalty—men of magnificent mien in cloaks of cloth of gold and waving plumes; court sycophants with cringing shoulders under their rich mantles; clowns in cap and bells and spangles; fair ladies in regal robes, their faces beautiful in youth, or growing queenly with the marks of age. All were raised as at a masque under the signal of the Master of the Revels.

And this interior scene, from which kings, courtiers and the fairest and most womanly of women were to be drawn for all time, was not his only vision of the tumultuous past. Outside, again, Jack Cade, with his rebels, Kentish peasants, ragged mendicants and starvelings of the alleys, swept defiantly through the Old Jewry and halted with deafening uproar before the barricaded entrance. There at their head, he saw the “shag-haired crafty kerne” and, close pressing him, the leather-aproned smiths and hedge-born hinds, awkward soldiers of the day’s enlistment, 155 from whose base lips all the drolleries of the seamy side of life were to issue.

And he, the magic creator of forms more palpable and enduring than those of clay, groping in the darkness which might never be lifted, was thus beginning the conjuration of the everlasting.

“Marlowe,” exclaimed Tamworth, noticing the lack of pressure on his arm, and his friend’s faltering footsteps. “You drag your feet as though in sleep. See, the clouds are breaking and the gray of the dawn is about us.”

They were passing along an upper corridor, and at its end, through the glassless spaces between the mullions of a lancet window, a glow was spreading so that the rear gables of the row of houses on the Lothbury could be seen shaking themselves free of the murky air. Above their steaming roofs, slender columns of smoke were rising from the cold mouths of chimneys, and early fires made gleaming spots on many of the distant walls. The last wet gust of the storm had splashed upon the open casement through which now came, like a benison, the pure breath of morning.

Down the corridor they turned, and, at length halted, while Tamworth with a great key which he had taken from a sunken niche in the wall, unlocked and swung open a narrow door. Through this they entered an apartment whose single window did not yet admit enough light to 156 render distinctly visible the interior. The air was cold and damp, and for the moment the place seemed as gloomy as a vault. Tamworth hastily lighted a lamp, which at first flamed upward with black smoke, and as it did so Marlowe glancing around him, uttered an exclamation of surprise.

“You notice that something more than a mere vestige of past regal splendor remains here,” said Tamworth, smiling.

“Why, I should judge that the door had just closed upon the departure of the prince.”

“A hundred years ago,” answered Tamworth.

“And—” began his companion.

“Has remained vacant until I entered as its occupant.”

“Why this long disuse?”

“It is in a retired wing of the building. Only two keepers have had charge since the Crown parted with its title. The first, from what may have been an over-refined reverence for royalty, held this apartment locked and almost secret. His successor found no use for it until I solicited lodgment. He gave me possession five years since.”

“It is a wonder that the tapestries have not been removed,” said Marlowe, looking in admiration at one end of the room where hung two magnificent fabrics, still displaying in enduring colors scenes from the Apocalypse. They were drawn back from the middle line of the alcove before which 157 they hung; and, in the recess thus disclosed, the outlines of a bed, with gorgeous canopy overhanging it, could be seen. Other textiles of equally antique manufacture, at many points detached from the fastenings, hung here and there against the walls. Separate pieces of Oriental carpet lay over some spaces of the floor. The furniture was dark as ebony. A lamp of brass, with four projecting wings and blackened chains, suspended from the center of the ceiling. The deep and wide chimney-place was fit for a fire great enough to warm the banqueting hall of a castle. Its mantel was supported by elaborately carved columns standing half out from the front of the chimney-wall.

“And where does that stairway lead?” asked Marlowe, pointing at a dark opening in the floor beside one wall. It was guarded by a brass railing raised waist-high on a closely set balustrade, and at its foot could be seen a solid door held shut by an iron bar across its face.

“To an underground passageway.”

“For escape?”


“And ends where?”

“Under a marble slab which must be somewhere in the chancel of the church of St. Olave. I have passed along it measuring the distance.”

“But never issued at the other end?”

“No. The slab is closely set in its place, but it hath hinges on its lower side.” 158

“And on its upper side, I doubt not,” said Marlowe ironically, “are the words in fair letters ‘Touch not mine annointed’?”

“Possibly,” rejoined Tamworth.

“If the king ever rose from the grave,” said Marlowe, smiling, “I imagine that he took great pains to conceal it.”

“There is no tradition that this room was ever occupied by a king or a prince; but what I know of the life and character of the weak and unfortunate monarch, Henry the Sixth, taken in connection with the arrangement of this room and its adjoining secret chamber, convinces me that a crowned head once rested on the bed within the alcove.”

“Ah, the secret room is an oratory, is it?”

“You surprise me,” exclaimed Tamworth, “how could that have reached your ears?”

“I simply inferred it, for I certainly do not think that the secret tunnel into the chancel was for the purpose of easy attendance upon divine service.”

Tamworth smiled, and Marlowe continued speaking:

“I knew of the imbecility of that prince and the strength of his religious devotion; and naturally in my mind was raised the picture of a world-weary king in penitential cell.”

“You are right,” returned the lawyer. “See.”

He parted the heavy and worm-eaten hangings suspended from the ornamental cornice of the wall beside the painted window. The outline of 159 what appeared to be a walled window appeared. Its sill, like that of the one that was open and uncovered, was only a foot above the floor. He pressed on one of the mullions, which, although apparently blocked with stone on both sides, remained standing out from the surface of the wall. This surface rolled inward as he pressed. The opening was wide enough to admit the passing of a man in stooping posture.

“Come,” said Tamworth.

He stepped upon the stone sill, and as Marlowe, holding back the musty tapestry for a moment, pressed close in his wake, he entered a small room.

They were in what was certainly a devotional chamber. Before them in the center wall of a semi-circular recess, or exedra, was a gilded crucifix in bas-relief. A stone canopy extended from the top of this recess, and was still fringed with heavy black velvet. At the bottom of the recess was a platform slightly raised above the floor of the room. One could imagine that this low ambo bore the imprints of the knees of the royal penitent.

The ceiling was dome-shaped overhead, as severe in its smoothness and absence of tracery as the supporting walls, which without curvature, fronted each other with a space between of twenty feet in length and twelve in breadth. In the face of one wall, near the floor, was a dark cavity, with an iron basket within it, for the maintenance 160 of fire during prolonged self-communion. A leather-covered couch stood in one corner, and before it hung a lamp in rusty chains. An iron table, with legs covered with elaborate scrollwork, stood at the end of the room furthest from the couch. Upon its top was a great black-lettered Mazarin Bible, and beside it was a solid square-seated chair with high carved back. Above this table hung a lamp similar to the one near the couch; and in the smoky wall behind it was a square window covered with an iron lattice. The strips of the lattice were narrow, and not closely crossed, so that the entrance of daylight was little hindered. But no sunshine could enter, for two buttresses extended far beyond its exterior face, thus concealing it from the glance of vagrant eyes in the narrow church-yard of St. Olave. It looked upon that seldom-visited but thick-tenanted piece of burial-earth.

“So there the king prayed,” murmured Marlowe, pointing toward the crucifix, while Tamworth nodded.

“And there he rested?” continued Marlowe, turning his gaze toward the couch. No reply came from Tamworth, who, with sad expression on his face, remained a listener.

“And there he studied and meditated upon the mutability of worldly things,” added Tamworth, solemnly, as both glanced in the direction of the chair and Bible. 161

“Study, meditation, prayer, and slumber,” repeated Marlowe, as though to himself.

“Once the occupation of a king,” said Tamworth.

“And,” added the other, “mine also until death.”

Tamworth was aroused from a morning sleep by the pressure of a hand upon his shoulder. He was lying undressed upon the bed within the alcove where he had thrown himself after the inspection of the secret oratory. He had vainly endeavored to induce Marlowe to gain rest by slumber; but the latter had alternately walked the floor and occupied a chair before the window. His restlessness of mind was still beyond control. The faint figures of the angels on the tapestries, the scroll work on the chimney-columns, the dragon head from whose mouth came the lamp chains, and the green trees within the courtyard, attracted his attention only temporarily. Stronger than these objects presented to his bodily eyes were the mind’s pictures of the eventful night: his meeting with Anne, the sword combat, the stripping of the slain, the conference at the Boar’s Head, the dead face of Tabbard, and his future place of study. He could not shut them out; and with them were troubled thoughts concerning Anne. The hours passed; he watched the unbroken slumber of his friend, and, at length unable 162 to remain inactive, he shook the sleeper into consciousness.

“What will occur to-day at the Golden Hind?” he asked as soon as the lawyer was awake.

“Still brooding on that? You better sleep, Kit, and drown consciousness for a few hours.”

“No; answer me.”

“The inquest will be held at the tavern, and in the room where the body lies.”

“You must be there,” said Marlowe in a decided tone.

“For what purpose?”

“To see the woman.”

“Forget her,” said Tamworth.

“No; but more if she has been apprehended, she may need aid or advice.”

“Possibly,” answered Tamworth, and then after a moment’s thought he continued: “She may even need to be warned against a betrayal of the true situation of affairs.”

Marlowe was on the point of disputing this imputation of bad faith; but he held his peace, for he saw that this idea alone would cause the lawyer to hasten to the scene of the crime.

“I will go,” at length said Tamworth.

“And tell her where I am, and that she must keep me posted as to her whereabouts, and that I hope for final deliverance. Tell her that I think of her as of old. Tell her, that the future, though dark, may clear. Tell her to wait for me. My 163 God! can you not bring her back with you? Let no—”

“Hold! hold, man!” exclaimed Tamworth, “this matter is too fresh in the minds of those who surround her. They think that you are dead and that the slayer is her husband. Every movement of hers will be watched. A visit like that here would be fatal. I will do what I can, but nothing rash.”

“It rests with thee, then,” resumed Marlowe, pressing his friend’s hand, “you recognize the depth of my love. Do everything in thy power to prevent an everlasting separation between us. Do not increase my despair, I pray you. I may fence myself from the world. I may succeed in drowning the memory of my friends, their faces, their voices; I may so dwell that hope is a word of no import, and the future purposeless and empty; but still there is one link in life that must not be severed.”

“I understand,” said Tamworth, feelingly, “whatever can be done with safety shall be done. Rid thy mind of these morbid ideas, or every line you write be tinctured with them. There is much yet for you to live for. The future is not so dark as you picture.”

Marlowe shook his head without replying.

“Now,” continued Tamworth, “we will see what my purveyor has for us. It will be light to-day, but before to-morrow there shall be notice given of my increase of appetite.” 164

He threw open the richly paneled door of what appeared to be a mediæval portable wardrobe. A shelf in its interior slowly sank under pressure of his hand, and disappeared from view down a dark shaft.

“It is late for the morning meal, but good mistress Pickle will send up something for us. The keeper and his wife live directly below, and whenever I signal with the dumb waiter, it soon rises with the best the cupboard and fire-place afford.” 165


Weep, heavens, and vanish into liquid tears!
Fall, stars that govern his nativity,
And summon all the shining lamps of heaven
To cast their bootless fires to the earth.
II Tamburlaine, v, 3.
Hung be the heavens with black, yield day to night!
Comets, importing change of times and states,
Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky,
And with them scourge the bad, revolting stars.
First Part Henry VI, i, 1.

When Gyves, the constable, slunk away from the portico of the Windmill Tavern, where he had been exhausting his patience on protracted watch, his face was the composite picture of all the hopeless wretches whom he had arrested during his long term of office. He had waited for Tabbard, and—he had seen him. It was evident that no demand upon the latter could be responded to. What was he to do? To be without the warrant meant the loss of his office and perhaps heavy fine or severe punishment. It might be that the contents of Tabbard’s pockets had been removed before the body was taken from the tavern; but this was not likely. Every one feared contagion; and the dead, from plague, were not usually disturbed more than was necessary to move them to the death cart. A ray of hope scattered some of the gloom on his countenance, and the breaking light of the morning revealed it. He determined to 166 follow the cart, which was already passing down the Old Jewry. He started upon this spur, and at the corner of the Poultry overtook the cart, which, turning west, entered Cheapside. Gyves kept at a distance of thirty feet from the object that he followed, either to avoid raising suspicions of evil on the part of the living occupants of the cart, or to avoid close proximity to the victims of the plague.

The morning light was now strong enough for Gyves to see that the cart was only half full of bodies. His apprehension, that frequent halts would ensue before they reached the potters’ field, soon proved to be in part well founded. The first one occurred near the mouth of a side street or lane. Gloomy looking buildings stood at the corners, and close behind each, facing on the lane, were rows of small, miserable cottages. Despite the ordinance prohibiting the building of houses of frail and perishable material, these structures had been raised with fronts of wood and roofs of reeds. They were all of one story and arose from the edge of the muddy walk—low walls of upright planks, broken by narrow windows and spaces between doorposts. The reeds of the roofs never flourished in a locality more suitable for their rank growth than the lane below. It was deep with mud and water. Lights shone from some of the windows, but so faintly that the still dull glimmer of the morning seemed to mock the poverty of their rays. On several of the doors red 167 crosses were printed, and two watchmen were pacing to and fro before them, to see that these marked doors were kept closed except for the purpose of passing out the corpse of an inmate.

Sounds of lamentation came from the lane. These were somewhat smothered by the thin walls which only added to their mournfulness. The cart turned into the lane, and Gyves heard one of the watchmen say:

“Always late. Ten minutes more an’ it’ll be sun up, and we wouldn’t dare to pass another corpse to the cart. Why don’t you start earlier?”

“Always growling,” returned the driver. “How many are here?”

“Six,” answered the watchman.

“It’s growing worse.”

“Yes; only two yesterday morning.”

“Which dwellings this time?” asked the second man on the cart, who was known as a burier.

“There, there and there,” said the watchman, pointing with the head of his halberd.

“What! again?” exclaimed the driver, looking at the hovel nearest at hand.

“The last of the family,” added the watchman.

“Man or woman?”

“Neither; a ten-year-old girl.”

“Died alone?”

“Yes. A friend came early in the night to see her, but the law, you know, allows no one to go into and then come out of an infected house, except you buriers.” 168

“And this friend said he would want to come out.”

“Of course.”

“So he went away?”

“She did; it was a woman.”

“Then, the crying don’t come from that house.”

“No, from over there. They raised the window an hour ago, and a man said, ‘My son just died and my wife is now taken sick in the same way.’ He wanted to come out for medicine, but I couldn’t let him. You can hear him.”

“We’ll have trouble with him, likely.”

“Yes. He may want to go to the church-yard.”

Just then the window was raised and the white face of a man peered out over the sill. Even the hardened buriers felt sick at heart, as they caught the trembling tone of his voice and heard his words. He said:

“So you have come for them?”

“Then there’s seven instead of six,” whispered the watchman; “for I only counted on one here.”

“And everything is gone from me,” continued the man at the window.

“We can’t say nothing cheerful,” said the watchman, in low voice, to the two men near him, “so it’s best to keep quiet, except when necessary. Go in there first,” he added, pointing to the house wherein lay the dead girl.

While the two buriers went in and were carrying out the body, the watchman said to the man at the window: “Is your door locked?” 169

“They’re all dead,” he answered, “there’s no need coming in. You can’t help them any, and it’s better they remain here than be thrown into that black pit. I’ve seen it. I went out the night John Andrews died. They threw him in naked, and at least a hundred others were in the same great hole. It isn’t christian-like.”

“Come, open the door,” said the watchman.

“No,” returned the man. “They’re my dead.”

“He’s crazy,” whispered the watchman.

“And we have no time to spare,” suggested the driver.

“And you’ll have a load with the four over in that house,” said the watchman.

“To-morrow we’ll come for that pale face, too,” remarked the burier; and then they proceeded with their task at the other house.

Gyves nervously thought of his own family as he watched the proceedings in the lane. They lived in no better quarters, and although the plague had not yet visited his neighborhood, he could find little to cheer him in that fact.

The cart now began rolling through Cheapside. The sun, well cleared from the clouds along the horizon, was rapidly drinking up the dampness of streets and roof-tops. Gyves was reverent enough to bow his head, as, gleaming before his eyes, he saw the gilt cross in Cheap. It was an imposing object for the center of the thoroughfare, but the fact of it being an obstruction to the current of midday trade was not apparent at this early hour, 170 when only one vehicle was wheeling under one of its extended arms. This vehicle stopped for its living load to refresh itself at the stream of water pouring from the breast of the alabaster image of Diana that stood out from the tabernacle under the cross. During the interval Gyves’ eyes ranged from the muddy and broken pavement to the dangling signs of every conceivable trade, to the projecting galleries of the upper stories of great buildings, to the fronts of imposing churches, and then to the open and continuing space ahead into which Cheapside entered and ran on as Newgate street. It was into Newgate street that the cart was now driven. On it went in haste, for other travelers were beginning to thread the thoroughfares, and the Charter House burying ground was still at some distance, outside the city wall. No closed gates confronted them either at the city wall or at the cemetery, through whose open ways they passed.

Gyves was at length amid the tombs and the cypresses of the now long since abandoned necropolis, and was close enough to the cart to hear the crunching of its wheels on the freshly graveled road, and for the driver to notice him. He was taken for a mourner, and even the gruff sexton who looked from his window in the little house just within the wall, failed to come forth and warn him to keep outside the gate.

He idly watched the unloading of the vehicle; and with that task completed, the men, as though 171 exhausted with the night’s unpleasant work, immediately drove away without glancing at the solitary figure near the pile of corpses. The burden of the cart should have been cast immediately into a common grave, but one had just been entirely filled and a new one was not quite ready. This condition of things was most opportune for Gyves. He did not delay; but, taking hold of the shoulders of one body wrapped in a sheet, he was about to shove it off the pile, when he heard some one say in a tone of remonstrance:

“What are you doing there?”

The voice came from a grave-digger, who, having raised himself from a deep trench near at hand, now stood near the pile of corpses. He had been digging in the rain and the mud all night, and the morning light and the warmth of his own respiring body wrapped him in a steam. It arose, as though from a dung-hill, for he was plastered with black mud from head to foot. Gyves raised his head and stared at him. There was nothing to dread but the shovel, so, pulling two bodies apart, and rolling one over the rest, he said:

“Looking for a brother.”

“Got a permit?”

“No,” gruffly answered Gyves.

“What do you want of him? He’s, dead, ain’t he?”

“I want to identify him.”

“You’re taking a risk,” continued the grave digger. 172

“How so?”

“The plague.”

“Bah!” exclaimed Gyves.

“And, furthermore, it’s a crime.”

“Go back to your hole,” growled Gyves.

“For you are rifling the body of the dead,” continued the man, raising his voice.

Gyves had found the corpse of Tabbard; and, at the last loud words, he was thrusting his hands into the pockets of the dead man.

“Keep your clapper still,” sneered Gyves, contemptuously.

The man turned and ran toward the house near the open gate of the cemetery, yelling for help as he did so. Gyves had already completed his search; there was nothing in the pockets. As he clambered off the pile, he saw a man from the house meet the grave-digger. They came toward him. Their looks were menacing and the newcomer held a blunderbuss in his hands. Gyves could not retreat, so he confronted them.

“Give yourself up,” said the man with the blunderbuss. He was the sexton and spoke authoritatively; and the man with the shovel supported the order with the words: “It never misses fire.”

“What should I give myself up for?” asked Gyves.


“And robbing the dead,” added the grave digger. 173

“Drop your gun,” commanded Gyves, “I’m an officer.”

He pulled open his doublet exposing his badge of authority.

“And, moreover,” he continued, “I have taken nothing.”

The sexton looked inquiringly at his companion.

“I saw him search the pockets of one of those corpses.”

“For my papers and to identify him,” responded Gyves, “and found nothing. The paper I wanted was not there.”

The guardian of the place appeared satisfied. He lowered the muzzle of his blunderbuss, and the three walked toward the entrance. Gyves had been growing paler with every step taken by him. The result of his search for the warrant had staggered him much more than had the leveled shotgun. He feared that Bame had it. He had no idea of what prosecution might be instituted against him, or what punishment might be inflicted; but, knowing that thieves, found guilty of stealing above twelve pence, were hung, he had reason to fear a similar fate for his more grievous offense. By the time he reached the sexton’s house he was of the color of chalk and his knees gave way. The two men assisted him to the steps before the house.

“It is as I expected,” murmured the grave-digger.

“The plague?” queried the sexton, fixing his wide open eyes upon Gyves’ face. 174

“Why, yes,” answered the grave-digger.

“No,” panted Gyves in a low voice, “I’ll be better in a few minutes.”

Both men drew back and shook their heads. They waited, fearful of seeing him lose consciousness, rave and die; but much to their surprise his color came back; he staggered to his feet; he asked for water, which he received and drank; he uttered his thanks, strode down the road, and passed through the open gate.

When Gyves asserted his position as an officer to the two men in the cemetery, he had felt that it was about the last time he could take such a stand. Later, upon that day, he was removed from office at the instance of Bame, the charge being that he had parted with official papers; neglected his duties, and proved himself incompetent to perform them. He could not produce the warrant. Bame produced the fragment of the seal and portions of the caption and the body of the writ. It closed Gyves’ public career. He was plunged into abject poverty; in the wake of famine came the black destroyer, and his entire family was torn from him in a few hours.

It was not strange that he attributed all his misfortune to Bame. If at every curse he muttered against his accuser, he had drawn a poniard across a whetstone, the blade would have been as narrow as a lancet. He dogged Bame’s steps; he waited for him always with dark intentions; but like Hamlet, he deferred action. 175


What sight is this, my Lodovico slain!
These arms of mine shall be thy sepulchre.
Jew of Malta, iii, 2.
These arms of mine shall be thy winding sheet;
My heart, sweet boy, shall be thy sepulchre.
Third Part King Henry VI, ii, 5.

The morning was far advanced when Tamworth reached the bottom of the steps of the Old Swan. There, where the ebb and flow of the Thames had placed its mark upon the masonry, he embarked in a wherry and was soon passing under London Bridge. The hot rays of the June sun were for a few moments intercepted. The swift current bore them with the velocity of a mill-race under the arch beneath which the rower had directed the wherry’s prow. The stone-work and the thick road-bed of the bridge prevented him from hearing the rattle of carts and the movement of the tumultuous stream of foot passers overhead; but, as the boat issued into the sunshine, he could see the crowds approaching and pouring out of the north end. High overhead rose the close row of buildings which ran along the edge of the bridge, like a line of fortifications. There were but three breaks in this line from the London to the Southwark side. The great dingy buildings of four, five and six stories appeared as though hanging 176 tremulously on the verge of a precipice. The sharp steeple of the chapel of St. Thomas, arising above the tenth or central pier, together with the towers of a great structure beside it, added to the weirdness of the mid-air city, motionless above restless waters.

Now moving into mid stream, at the urging of his passenger, the wherryman plied his oars with such vigor that the walls of the Tower soon rose far in the background and the sharp bend of the river at the lower pool hid the city itself from view. The peace of wide and unbroken waters pervaded here, for no vessels were moving against the current, and the low hills fronting either bank were still crowned with virgin forests. At the Deptford wharf, Tamworth left the boat and hurriedly walked through the town; by the Globe, by the parish church of St. Nicholas, within whose churchyard was soon to be laid the body of Francis Frazer, and onward to the wayside tavern of the Golden Hind.

When Tamworth reached the place last mentioned, it was high noon. There were enough horses before the tavern front to give him the idea of a crowded tap-room within; but when he entered the latter place he found it deserted, except for the wife of the landlord, who, with anything but a pleasant countenance, walked back and forth before the bar.

“Good day, Mistress Dodsman,” said Tamworth, and then with the intention of conveying the idea 177 that he knew nothing of the murder, or the inquest, he continued: “A quiet house for this hour. Where are the riders of the horses that crowd this front?”

“The coroner’s inquest is being held,” she answered, and shaking her head excitedly, resumed: “Dodsman must needs be there, Tug and the serving man, and so I am left to hold and entertain the public.”

“What inquest?” inquired Tamworth.

“Over a murdered man.”


“I cannot swear who it is, for there is a question in my mind.”

“How so?”

“The murdered man and the murderer were alike as two peas, and I wouldn’t say whether the Count lies up there or the actor, until the Count’s wife speaks.”

“And what think others about this?”

“Well, the actor who encountered the Countess, says the dead man is Marlowe, and he ought to know something about it; but Tug says it is the Count, and as he has a keen eye for guests when living, some respect is due his opinion on a dead one.”

“And what says the coroner?”

“Well, I’ve heard him say nothing, but he talked first with the actor, and having got the impression from him that it was Marlowe who was killed, I 178 heard that he impaneled his jury to hold an inquest over Marlowe.”

“Ah,” said Tamworth, with a sigh of relief, thinking that the scheme had not wholly miscarried.

“Yes,” said the woman, “and with all my interest in the poor lady, who must face the coroner and tell what she knows of the murder, I am compelled to remain here.”

“Is she here?” calmly asked the lawyer.

“I think that she is in the room where the inquest is being held, or if not, she soon will be.”

“As a witness?”

“Yes, so I suppose. Poor thing, when I left her an hour ago, locked in the room where they had carried her last night in a dead swoon, she was so much disturbed by my refusal to say one word about who had brought her there, about the murder, or what was to take place to-day, that I pitied her from the bottom of my heart.”

“Did she know Marlowe was killed?” asked Tamworth.

“His name was not mentioned.”

“Did she say nothing about her husband?”

“No; she saw that I would say nothing; and after a why is this, and a why is that, and a shake of my head, she stopped asking.”

“Which is the room of the inquest?”

“At the head of the stairs.”

Tamworth waited for no further words. The door into the hall was open, and a moment after 179 he had entered the room to which he had been directed. A scene of peculiar interest was before him. The room was the one of the tragedy of the previous night. Its most conspicuous object was an antique bedstead with high oak head-board. It had been removed from the alcove, and now with its foot extended toward the center of the room, it stood before the red arras. On it was stretched the body of the dead man. It was still attired as Marlowe had left it, and in all its ghastly pallor, and unwashed of the blood which followed the fierce thrust of the rapier, it lay exposed to the morbid view of the vulgar. From where he stood Tamworth could not see the face of the corpse, but it was with a smile that he recognized the scarlet doublet and purple lower garments of his friend.

The sunlight coming from the direction of the Thames, streamed through the two windows. It fell upon the motley crowd of villagers packed close against them. The other portion of the intent audience held the space about the outer door. Across the center of the room from the bed’s foot was a table, along the further edge of which, with his back against the wall, was one whom it required no acuteness to single out as the coroner. He was a solemn looking man in a misfitting powdered periwig and damask cassock edged with fox-fur. The air of pomposity which he had assumed was apparent to the critical eye of Tamworth. The latter smiled, as he noticed an open book in 180 law French, lying on the table and recognized the text of Plowden. It was evident to him that this book, like the great periwig and the rich cassock, was used with the idea of filling the assemblage with awe; and Tamworth wagered a hundred pounds with himself that the man, who looked occasionally at the lines, could no more interpret their meaning than the landlord could who sat close beside him. The red cheeks of the landlord were a trifle paler than usual, and the serious expression on his face denoted that he felt that a full discovery of all the facts connected with the death of his guest should be obtained for the good name of his house.

Near these two personages were crowded together six men in the rough garb of husbandmen. They constituted the jury, and had been sworn for a true verdict. The actor was being examined when Tamworth entered. Closed in by the crowd, Tamworth was not noticed by the chief actors in the drama, and with interest he listened to the actor’s testimony. He gave a vivid picture of his encountering the woman in the dark hall and her fainting at the foot of the stairs. He told how he and the tapster had carried her into the tap-room, and attempted to revive her; of how she was dressed as though to leave the tavern; of how they had heard footsteps, and, passing along the hall before them, had seen Francis Frazer, who, although seeing his wife, had not paused. That his face was deathly pale, as he disappeared 181 through the door to the innyard. That, alarmed that the woman did not revive, and impatient over Frazer’s failure to return as they had anticipated, they carried the unconscious woman to her room. That there they had stumbled against the dead body, which he identified as Christopher Marlowe.

Then the witness went further. He had not been an intimate acquaintance of Marlowe, but he had long known him by repute as a prince of good-fellows. With such feeling had he mentioned this characteristic of the man, and discoursed on his genius as an actor, and writer, that the unlettered crowd, whose model for a hero conformed to these proportions, was ready to weep at the further mention of his name, or give its united efforts to the apprehension of the murderer. Already the vow was on all lips to join in the hue and cry until the pursued was run to earth. Each one in his imagination had noted some dark nook in wayside forest where possibly the murderer lay concealed; and still with breathless interest they hung upon the words of the tragic speaker.

In honest desire to see the deed avenged, the actor testified to what had transpired before the tragedy, and in vivid manner narrated the episode of the tap-room, from where the drawn sword had been first displayed, to the point where the Count had suddenly begged to be excused, and had quit the game of hazard. Did the Count know of Marlowe’s coming to the tavern? he asked dramatically. Had he formulated the murderous intent 182 at an hour long in advance of its execution? Had he cut him down in the dark and then dragged his body into this room?

A smothered cry of anguish arose from the crowd at the last fierce question of the speaker, and then, as in anticipation of further moving utterances, the silence that fell was oppressive. In it, the coroner glanced for the twentieth time at the blood-stained rapier that lay upon the table. He had noticed that it was from the scabbard belted to the waist of the dead man. Before the actor could resume he asked:

“Was that the sword drawn in the tap-room?”

The actor grasped it by the hilt and raised it before his face. A shudder went through the crowd; but no answer came from his lips. He looked at the blade in amazement, then said:

“This is not the sword.”

“Then,” said the coroner, “the Count must have been wounded.”

“Or,” suggested Dodsman, “Marlowe was killed with his own weapon.”

“Possibly,” said the actor, and with this evident refutation of his theory of an unforwarned attack in a dark passage, he closed his argumentative testimony. At the close of the actor’s examination, Tug was called. His testimony corroborated the actor’s, except that he insisted that the man who had passed through the hall and into the innyard was Marlowe. This statement created a sensation, but the witness being weak and vacillating, 183 under a fire of questions, lost his positive manner, and at length said that he might have been mistaken. However, his statement had raised the question of identity, and it required the testimony of at least another to clear the minds of the jury.

There was a movement near Tamworth, as some one in response to an order passed into the hall; and a moment later a lady entered the door and passed close beside him through the crowd. Her face was downcast and partially concealed in her handkerchief. She averted her face from the direction of the bedstead, and as hurriedly as it was possible to move, with so many pressing on all sides, she reached the chair opposite to and facing the coroner. Under his instruction she sat down. Her back was toward the bedstead. Its occupant could not be seen by her except by turning her head.

All information concerning the inquest to be held that day had been sedulously kept from her. The landlord, with no knowledge as to his duties either to his guest or to the Crown, and apprehensive that any move on his part might involve him in trouble, had determined to keep the wife in ignorance of all proceedings, and on no condition to allow the seal on her lips to be broken by any one except the coroner. Upon the discovery of the crime and while she still remained unconscious, she had been carried to an apartment adjoining her own, where, with the wife of the landlord, 184 she had been held awaiting the investigation by the authorities.

It was in this uncertainty as to what was required of her, and as to what had become of Marlowe, that she entered the room of the inquest. She at once recognized the judicial character of the proceeding, and concluded that it was the inquest being held over her husband. It was then her mental comment that Marlowe had failed in the concealment of the deed.

The coroner asked:

“Your name is—?”

“Anne Frazer.”

“The Countess,” came the whisper of a third voice.

“How long have you been at this tavern?”

“Four days.”

“Were you in this room at any time before twelve o’clock last night?”

“I was.”

“For how long?”

“From early in the day until near that hour.”

“Did you witness the death of this man?”

“I did.”

“Was any one else present?”

“There was.”


There was a prolonged silence after this question. When no answer came, the nervousness of the landlord displayed itself by the drumming of his fingers on the table, and in a score of rapid 185 glances, first at the witness and then at the coroner. In striking contrast with Dodsman’s anxiety was the witness. She sat directly before the coroner on the opposite side of the table. She had answered clearly and to the point, until the direct question came as to who was present besides herself. Then she sat mute.

Tamworth could not but gaze in admiration at this witness. Her face showed traces of a night of unrest and intense thought and worry. If there was any disturbance of mind from the ordeal, it did not prevent the manifestation of a resolution that was almost heroic. She steadily returned the gaze of the coroner and remained as silent as a sphinx. It was this attitude of determination and self reliance, that, even more than her beauty, awakened the admiration of the lawyer. He was not a man with heart wholly unresponsive to the magnetism of brilliant eyes; but his natural susceptibility had been so toned by years of experience, that it was the exhibition of strength of soul in another that set the strings of his being in vibration.

“What is your answer?”

“I can not answer,” said the witness, decidedly.

It was her tone that caused the coroner to forbear pressing the question; and with the idea of reverting to it, he started on a new tack.

“Was any one injured except the dead man?” he inquired, casting his eyes upon the rapier.

“No,” she answered.

He nodded significantly to the actor, and at the 186 same time Dodsman touched his shoulder, whispering, “My theory is right; Marlowe was slain with his own weapon.”

“Was there a combat?”

“There was.”

“But wait,” said the coroner, “I forgot to ask if you were legally—I mean when were you married?”

“On last All Saints’ day at the church of St. Peter’s on Cornhill in London.”

“To the man with whom you came to this tavern?”

“Yes, my Lord.”

“Now you say there was a combat. Did both contestants draw their swords?”

“They did.”

“How was it that this man was killed with his own weapon?”

“I do not think that I understand your question,” answered the witness, looking at the coroner with a surprised expression on her face.

The curtain that hid the truth trembled; the slightest breath would have raised it, and Tamworth alone grasped the whole situation. It came to him like a flash. The woman as yet evidently knew nothing of the change that had been made in the apparel of the two men. As she knew that it was her husband that had been slain, she had no reason to think that this fact was not known to every one present. She was testifying, as she supposed, at an inquiry over the death of 187 Francis Frazer. The situation was critical; for under a skillful examination, incited by her answer that the dead man was not slain by his own sword, suspicions might be aroused and the true facts revealed. But the suddenness with which the lawyer had apprehended the situation, had not shaken his keen wit. The means to avert such a catastrophe occurred to him, and before the coroner could repeat the question, he said in clear tones which rang through the room:

“You can not ask her further concerning this matter. The law in no case alloweth the wife to testify against her husband.”

The entrance of the murderer himself would have created little more excitement. All eyes were turned in the direction from which the voice came. They saw a man standing prominent amid the crowd near the door. He was of distinguished appearance. His soft black hat, with high crown, had the wide rim at its front upturned so that the broad forehead of the owner was fully revealed. Below this feature of the face, penetrating eyes looked forth with an expression of unconquerable will power. His thick luxuriant short beard was trimmed in the style then worn by lawyers. The latter adornment of his face, and the flowing locks which concealed his ears, rested on a high ruff which turned broadly outward with lace-fringed edge. His richly embroidered doublet, with full sleeves corded with white silk, was of black lustrous taffeta. 188

He raised neither his hat nor his hand, as the coroner glanced at him; but returned the latter’s gaze with so steady a look, that no words of remonstrance for the interruption came forth. That he was a person of weight and authority required no announcement. The coroner’s expression softened; and in the way cleared for him by the wondering crowd, he pushed forward.

“I am Tamworth, of Gray’s Inn,” he said, in lower voice, “and appear as a friend of the court.”

He was standing beside the table, as these words were spoken; and the obsequious Dodsman arose from his chair, and waved his hand for him to be seated beside the coroner, who could not refrain from bowing as graciously as he knew how.

“As the proceeding is in behalf of the Crown,” continued the lawyer, before taking the proffered chair, “it should be conducted in strict accordance with law.”

“Is it not being so conducted?” asked the coroner, in a voice which was soft and low with respect.

“Yes; except where the answers of the witness may tend to criminate her husband.”

“True,” returned the coroner, assuming an air of wisdom; then after a moment’s thought, he said: “But as we have not learned how many persons were present, and as the sword is evidently not the Count’s, I am certainly at liberty to exhaust that line of examination.”

“Undoubtedly,” returned Tamworth. 189

“How many persons were present when this deed occurred?” asked the coroner.

“Three,” said the witness.

“Your husband was one?”

Before Tamworth could interpose an objection, the witness answered by a question, “Why ask so foolish a question?”

Tamworth smiled, and although he knew the occasion of the witness’ inquiry, he looked at the coroner and said: “See, she knoweth the rights of a wife and will not answer. There is no law to compel her.”

Anne looked thankfully at her champion; and, although she could not perceive how any answers could in any way affect her dead husband, she could see that the coroner considered the lawyer’s admonitions seriously. To know that she was not wholly alone in her extremity, gave her additional strength. The words of Marlowe, “Canst thou keep this secret?” rang in her ears. They had steeled her against disclosure of his name and the account of the combat.

Now came the question, “Do you know the dead man, Christopher Marlowe?”

The witness started at the name. It was the first time it had been mentioned. But it was not so much that fact as the way in which it was coupled. Marlowe! the dead man! She stared at the coroner with curious expression. It was one of wonder growing into terror.

“I do not understand you,” she said, with trembling 190 voice. “The dead man, Christopher Marlowe?”

“Yes, he who was murdered by—”

“Dead, murdered, when?” she interrupted, grasping the arms of the chair and leaning forward.

“’Tis well acted,” whispered the landlord.

“Madam, this ill becomes you,” sternly said the coroner. “This inquest is over Marlowe. Your husband, as we suspect, killed him. The law in its wisdom prevents you testifying against the murderer, but there is no occasion for this display on your part. Answer me.”

The witness had arisen from her chair and turned her head. She saw the figure on the bed, and started, for at the first glimpse she thought the coroner’s words were true. She recognized the scarlet doublet, vest of the same color, and the rest of the attire as that in which Marlowe had appeared. The face—yes, that was also his, but—no, it was not. She sank back in her chair, and, in full flood, light burst upon her. Marlowe had concealed the crime.

“I know the dead man,” she said firmly, “It is Christopher Marlowe.” 191


And tell him that I labor all in vain,
To ease his grief and work his liberty;
And bear him this as witness of my love.
Edward II, v, 2.
O! give thyself the thanks, if aught in me
Worthy perusal stand against thy sight;
For who’s so dumb that cannot write to thee.
Sonnet, xxxviii.

At the close of Anne’s testimony and while the coroner’s jury was in deliberation, Tamworth had had an opportunity to speak to her. He stated that Marlowe was secreted in the heart of London, but where he would not disclose; that an early meeting was devoutly prayed for, and that the main purpose of his presence at the inquest was to arrange for it; that the church of St. Olave in the Old Jewry was deemed the most convenient place; that she was to be at its entrance upon the following Sabbath night at ten o’clock. This was as much as could be communicated in the short space of time allowed. A ready assent was given by her, and with this, Tamworth left the tavern and returned to London. His departure had been too hasty; for with a delay of a few moments he would have discovered the frustration of his plans for the meeting. By the light of such discovery another tryst might have been arranged but it 192 was darkness that ensued. Anne never appeared before the church of St. Olave.

Tamworth had been careful to avoid raising suspicions that he had anything more than a passing interest in the wife of Francis Frazer. It was this that caused him to leave before the hour which he thought would mark her departure. If he had at any moment entertained the idea that the coroner would bind her over to attend before the Grand Jury, or in Court, he had dismissed such idea with the thought that sureties for her attendance would be readily secured. The coroner did bind her over despite Tamworth’s recent exposition of the law concerning the wife’s incompetency to testify against her husband. She was unable to secure bail.

While Anne was testifying before the coroner in such manner as to secure the peace of Marlowe, Bame was as zealously working for an exactly contrary object. If we should here announce that at length the efforts of Anne became perverted and joined those of the man who worked for destruction, it would seem that this narration was descending to a travesty of life; but such a concatenation of events followed, and it arose as a natural sequence. While Tabbard, with only temporary concern and that mainly of pecuniary character, had brought about the meeting of the lovers, and circumvented the police to his own destruction, she, whose heartstrings were interlaced with those of the man whom the rustic Tabbard had aided, had 193 involved him in an affair which was to eclipse his ascending star, and was to place him in the hands of his arch enemy. When, in the Windmill tavern, Bame had recognized Tabbard and imagined evil from the hobnobbing of the latter with the constable, his fear of a miscarriage of his plot of destruction had been increased by seeing the exultant expression on Tabbard’s face as he destroyed the warrant. At that moment the character of the scattered paper was unknown to him. All that had transpired in the Windmill forced him to the conclusion that he had been outwitted. He had only reached this stage of mind when Tabbard’s glass fell from his hand and the stricken man rolled to the floor. Bame was the first one to reach the victim. He heard his words, and then picked up the largest pieces of the warrant. His apprehensions were verified; Marlowe had escaped him.

That night he held a vigil over the dying Tabbard, who had been removed to a bed chamber of the tavern, a cramped room in a corner of the building, with a round window looking down in the Old Jewry. Until the end came, Bame remained beside the dying man, not in the spirit of a ministering angel, but to gain information of the whereabouts of Marlowe. Tabbard’s disconnected utterances about Deptford and some one whose interest he held at heart, conveyed no absolute assurance that Marlowe could be found in the locality mentioned; but it was a straw at which 194 the hearer grasped. The armorial device of the house of Surrey upon the hilt of Tabbard’s short sword proclaimed the wearer’s dependency upon the Duke of that name. Bame knew of Sayes Court, the country place of the Duke at Deptford, and at once in mind he placed the actor there. Had not the theaters closed for the season? Had not the Duke withdrawn to Sayes Court during the prevalence of the plague in London? Was it not more than probable that the company of actors, of which Marlowe was a member, was gathering at Deptford for the entertainment of royalty? These were the mental questions of the Brownist, and carried affirmative answers with them.

After taking the corpse of Tabbard to the death-cart, Bame, first taking care to see that no member of his sect was within sight, had re-entered the tavern, braced himself up with a glass of charnico, and fallen asleep at one of the lap-room tables. It was but a short doze, for the morning stir began early. He partook of breakfast where he sat, then full of his intent to see Gyves punished, and Marlowe apprehended, he passed into the street. Shop blinds were being taken down, and the street criers beginning their day-long noise. The latter shook him uncomfortably, for the night had given him no rest, and there was naught that appealed to his wants in the cries of “rushes green” and “hot sheep’s feet.” He required no rushes for the floors of his dwelling and his hunger had been appeased. 195 The citterns played by some barbers close at the corner, where he paused to consider whether he should go first to his home or to the Justice, was not unpleasant music, but it grated harshly on his Puritanical ears; and reviving his thoughts of playhouses and their orchestras, it started him toward the Justice’s office. Tabbard’s horse, still standing at the corner of St. Olave, attracted his attention as he waited for the Justice to dress himself and come below. It was a strange place for a horse to be tied. The church was closed and there were no open windows near at hand into which the rider could have vanished. Tabbard’s spurs had raised the query as to where the dead man had left his horse, and in this forlorn-looking steed he read the answer. He determined to put him to use as soon as a proper lapse of time gave additional assurance that he was right in attributing ownership to Tabbard.

In the stuffy den of the Justice, he spread the proof of Gyves’ offense upon the table, and swore to a complaint against him for a misdemeanor in allowing an accused person to escape. Then he applied for an alias warrant on the old charge of blasphemy against Marlowe, but as it appeared that the latter had fled the country, the Justice declined to act further until he had assurance that the accused was within reach of his process. Bame insisted, but the Justice shook his whole heavy body with the violence of his negatives.

“What can be done?” demanded Bame. 196

“See the public prosecutor.”

“Can you not advise for the sake of the church?”

“Lay the charge before the higher authorities.”

“What, before the Queen? That has been done.”

“For what purpose, when your charge was made here?”

“To give it greater publicity.”

“Was it made strong?” questioned the Justice.

“All that was necessary was to quote from his writings, and to pound into the ears of the Queen the quotation from Marlowe’s ‘Jew of Malta’:

‘Many will talk of title to a crown:
What right had Caesar to the empery?
Might first made kings, and laws were then most sure
When like the Draco’s they were writ in blood.’”

“Good,” said the Justice, “you were equal to your task, but you should have made it even more bitter; for if the Queen is not moved by your first accusation, she will not be by anything later.”

“It showed that he reviled religion; that he persuaded one man to become an atheist; that he meant to utter false money of the kingdom.”

“’Tis the same charge you made and swore to here. Is it wholly true?”

“Can any crime be too heinous to attribute to an atheist?” asked Bame with a vicious expression on his face.

“Then such judicial process may issue from the King’s Bench to bring him in from any county in England wherever he may be found. You must await the action of that higher court.” 197

“’Tis a grave public duty,” said Bame, solemnly, “and I now go to Deptford to locate him in case the Queen should move the King’s Bench to action.”

Bame met with many delays before he rode Tabbard’s horse across London Bridge. The verdict of the coroner’s jury had been returned, and the body of the slain man was being followed to its resting place in the churchyard of St. Nicholas when Bame overtook the small funeral cortege just beyond the Golden Hind. The majority of the train were actors and they bore the rough board coffin on their shoulders. In answer to his query, they had honestly but not correctly stated that the deceased was Marlowe, and Bame, feeling that the object of his wrath had forever escaped him, abruptly reined in his horse.

“Where are you taking the body?” he asked.

“To St. Nicholas,” came the answer.

“’Tis unfit for Christian burial,” he exclaimed.

He was about to say more, but glances from several members of the group froze his utterance. The glances meant violence. They came from the eyes of men who recognized him as a member of the sect which not only cursed their profession but was endeavoring to crush them out of existence. He swung his horse’s head around and dug his heels in the animal’s flanks. For his own good, his flight had been well timed, for all that reached him were their merited execrations.

At the Golden Hind he learned of the events 198 of the past twenty-four hours, and as he talked in the tap-room, through the center came the coroner. Anne was with him. She was to accompany the officer to the house of the sheriff. The meeting between uncle and niece was not without an exhibition on her part of something approaching filial affection. In his own household he had ever presented himself as devoid of all the sterner and harsher traits which made him an object of dislike and hatred in the outer world, and great sympathy and love had existed between them. Her elopement had shaken these sentiments in him, but this meeting had revived them. They conferred apart while the good natured coroner attempted to drown the heat of his late exciting session by many deep bowls with Dodsman and several obsequious and admiring loungers.

Many were the questions with which Bame plied his niece. Whom had she married? How came she here? Where had her husband fled? All were answered except the last, she maintaining even with Bame that Marlowe was the dead man.

At the conference between Bame and Anne, it was decided that he should journey at once to Canterbury and inform her father of her unfortunate situation. There appeared no other plan by which she could be released. Bame and Crossford should stand as sureties for her future appearance. The former agreed to bring about a reconciliation. But then there was a matter which to her seemed of more pressing importance. She required a courier 199 for the opposite direction, that is, toward London. It took some deliberation to formulate her story and as much more to determine whether it were safe to convey even this story to Bame. The question of safety concerned Marlowe only. Her road for the meeting on the following Sunday evening at the church of St. Olave was blocked as effectually as though prison bars held her in. The promise for her appearance there had gone from her freely. Neither she, nor Tamworth, had suggested any means or method for further communication between herself and Marlowe, should their meeting, as proposed, be prevented. The thought of his being a fugitive from justice had appalled her as to its far reaching consequences to herself. It was only in some foreign country, unknown to herself, that she had pictured him. Tamworth’s communication had scattered her fears. The order of the coroner for her detention had again plunged her into a deeper pit of despair. Here was the opportunity to convey the reason of her inability to meet him as promised, and to post him of her future. She realized that it was a dangerous matter to run anyone into contact with Marlowe, but here she apprehended no danger. Up to the time of her departure from Bame’s house, she knew that Bame was a stranger to the man in question. It was not only unlikely but highly improbable that he, a devout Brownist, should know the licensed player, and unlicensed 200 writer. Thus reasoning, she placed the man she loved into the hands of his most implacable enemy.

It was one of her husband’s friends, she said, who would be at the entrance of the parish church of St. Olave at ten o’clock on the evening of June —. The meeting had been arranged before the duel at the tavern. It concerned his departure from England. His flight, she continued, would prevent the meeting. It was a matter of great concern, and at the moment of the separation between herself and husband she had promised to meet the man who would be in waiting for him. Would Bame act in her behalf? The statement was plausible, but Bame saw more in it than her words conveyed. However, whether the meeting was of her own concertion, with a nameless man or with her husband, whom Bame had never seen, did not seem of importance. What message was he to bear?

She wrote, in few words, of her predicament and prospects; she sealed it, and delivered it to Bame. The missive ran thus: “I have word of thy present safety and rejoice; for my situation had made me fearful of thine own. To thy request for me to meet thee, I returned my promise; but now the hope of compliance hath vanished. I am held as a witness. If the termination of my imprisonment is dependent upon thy arrest, I pray that I may never be at liberty. However, I have hope of an early release, and of going to my father’s house in Canterbury. In the meantime be content, I 201 pray thee, with the assurance of my love. The bearer is to be trusted. He is my uncle and will return here with thy answer. Let it be of where I can find thee later. Sealed with my love. Anne.”

It has taken many pages to narrate events covering only a full day in space of time; but in comparison with the vast harvests of literature that have been gleaned from the sowing of the night of June 1, 1593, this sole noting of the steps of the husbandmen who scattered the seed, is but a single sheaf. And now with the coroner’s verdict in, Francis Frazer buried under the name of Christopher Marlowe, the latter darkly brooding in obscure safety, and the world so cony-catched that only after an interval of 300 years doth it see clearly, we will trace the dark events leading up to the darker ending of Bame.

Richard Bame was hung at Tyburn on the 6th of December, 1594. That event is historical, and it is well to fix it in the mind of the reader before drawing his attention to a narration of what may have been the reasons for this tragedy. In this connection it is also well to emphasize a few other historical facts. The accusation against Marlowe for blasphemy was actually placed before the Queen [note 31]. If Marlowe’s death followed so closely on the heels of this proposed vigorous prosecution of him for that ecclesiastical crime, it was a remarkable coincidence. Conviction would have been certain. It required no reading between 202 the lines of Faustus and the Jew of Malta. Flight, or concealment, was the only escape for him. What was better calculated to stay a search and avert apprehension, than a report of death? The reports, many and contradictory, appeared [notes 9-13].

But why was his accuser hung? Was it due to revengeful influences working for Marlowe, that Bame, wearing the cockade of the condemned, passed through crowds down Tyburn-road on his last earthly ride? Or was this horrible culmination of his days due wholly to his own misapplied zeal and a catastrophe of criminal character? 203


What God, or fiend, or spirit of the earth,
Or monster turned to a manly shape,
Or of what mould or metal be he made,
Let us put on our meet encountering minds.
I Tamburlaine, ii, 6.
What art thou that ursurp’st this time of night
Together with that fair and warlike form
In which the majesty of buried Denmark
Did sometimes march?
Hamlet, i, 1.

A storm of almost unprecedented fury had prevailed in London from early evening on June —, 1593. The wind, coming strong from the northeast, increased in violence as the hours passed, and out of heavy black clouds the rain fell in torrents. It was a night for everyone in Middlesex to be well housed and forgetful of the sea. Again and again, the sole inmate of the oratory in the Prince’s Wardrobe had looked out into the night. He could not see beyond the flying buttresses at the edges of the window, except when an occasional flash of lightning seared the darkness. Under these flashes the near churchyard appeared as fleeting and as sorrowful as the face of the fallen angel in our dreams; and the venerable walls of St. Olave looked even more venerable and gloomy as they stood forth with startling distinctness. 204 Every cranny became a marked feature of its visible side and the long windows from their deep setting showed the thickness of the masonry and the rankness of the century-growth of vines that clustered around them.

It was the night on which Marlowe expected meeting Anne, and the storm made him apprehensive that their plans might be frustrated. This uneasiness caused him to leave the oratory long before the appointed hour. Tamworth was not in his apartment as Marlowe entered it, and with lighted candle descended the stairs into the underground passage leading to the church. He reached its end with hasty steps, and having on a previous night succeeded in putting in working order the hinges on the slab that had blocked further passage, he entered the chancel of the church. A darkness as absolute as that of the night prevailed in the church, except where, at the distance of a hundred feet, the lights from the chantry shone across a strip of benches or rude pews. He crept cautiously to the open door of this chantry to see that no one was in it and then retraced his steps to the chancel where he lowered the raised slab to its place, taking care to feel its distance from the rail near at hand. He then passed through the body of the church, and having reached the middle door at the front, he unbolted it and stepped without. He felt across every step of the wide entrance, and finding that he was alone, he took 205 up his station near the door which he had loosely closed.

It was about this time that Bame left his house and started for St. Olave. Before doing so he had taken off his conventional garb and donned his shabbiest suit. Bame was not accustomed to carry any weapon, but the storm and the darkness prompted him to belt a sword to his waist. It was with difficulty that he made any progress in the storm, and at length reached the steps of the church. Here he stood for a moment in the meager shelter afforded by one of the columns of the portico, and then began moving with extended hands toward the entrance. He could see nothing, and for some time in his measured progress he encountered nothing but open space or the stone wall. Suddenly a flash of lightning illuminated the portico. In it he saw a man in loose cloak standing beside him. Neither had realized the presence of the other until the flash revealed it; but in it Bame caught no glimpse of Marlowe’s face.

“Hold!” he said, as the cloaked figure stepped backward and again was entirely enveloped by the darkness. If there were any answer to this command, it was drowned by the roll of thunder which followed the lightning.

“You await a lady here, do you not?” continued Bame, proceeding on the theory that the man was Francis Frazer, “Well, I come with word from her.” 206

Still no answer came. Bame reached forward and touched the shoulder of the silent figure, saying as he did so, “I come from Anne.”

“So, what is the message?”

“She is held in custody by the coroner.”

“For what purpose?”

“As a witness before the grand jury.”

“When did you see her?”

“On the day of the inquest.”

“Who are you?”

There was something in the voice that struck Bame peculiarly. He had heard it before, but somehow it created a feeling of awe, and an involuntary shudder passed through him. The reason of this feeling was not apparent. He was anxious to determine its cause. He answered the last question by one like it.

“Who are you?”

“What is the purpose of your query? Are you not satisfied that I am the person whom you seek? You came from one at Deptford. Is that not sufficient to assure you? If she did not tell you who I am, there is no occasion for your knowing.”

Bame felt impelled to say that the reason of his asking was because he thought he knew the speaker, or at least the voice was familiar; but his natural caution restrained him. He said with ill reason:

“Before I delivered the message I wished to be 207 assured that you were the one for whom it was intended.”

“Out upon you,” said the other, “If she gave you no name, my telling it could give you no assurance; but this talk is idle while gusts of rain blow in upon us. You have found me. Have done with words. What is the message?”

“It is written,” said Bame.

“Well, give it me,” exclaimed the other impatiently.

“There is an answer expected.”

“And you are to bear it?”

“Yes; where can you read while I wait?”

“Within the church. A light burns in the chantry.”

Bame fumbled in the pocket of his doublet, and then he said: “I can not distinguish it from other papers. I require a light to find it. Let us step to the nearest tavern.”

“Nay, ’twould be a waste of time. Follow me.”

He pushed on the door behind him, and Bame heard hinges creak, but all about him was still wrapped in darkness.

“Into the church?” he faltered.

“Aye. Not a word.”

His hand was grasped and he followed. He felt his entrance to be a sacrilege and his awe concerning his companion increased his trepidation. When at length the entrance to the body of the church was reached, a faint glow of light could 208 be seen from a narrow space in one wall. Toward this they moved up the dark aisle, feeling the unseen pews as they passed. Upon facing this glowing space, they perceived the chantry. It was so small that it hardly merited the name; but, rising from the marble floor, was the low, richly-carved tomb of the founder of the church, with raised font before it, and, in niches in the wall behind it, six blazing candles. Its walls were of solid stone and no other door or windows opened from it. The arched ceiling rose scarcely eight feet overhead and bore no tracery nor stucco work upon its surface. Into this chantry they entered. Bame, forgetting to make a pretended search in his pocket for the message, hastily handed it to Marlowe. And now the lights were near and strong enough to show clearly the faces of the two men. Bame’s eyes and mouth bespoke an astonishment that almost robbed him of the power of speech. He recognized the man beside him, but the latter without even a glance at his companion, nervously broke the seal of the letter, and passing around the tomb, held it so that the rays from the candles fell upon it. Bame had noticed that Marlowe was without a sword, and before the second line of the message had been read he interrupted the reading with the words:

“I thought thou wast dead.”

Marlowe raised his eyes and glared in wonder at the speaker, who continued:

“Thou art Christopher Marlowe.” 209

Marlowe leaned back against the wall with his hands so tightly clenched that their nails almost entered his palms. The scowl grew deep on his face, but no words came from his lips. It seemed no occasion for speech, and action on his part was forestalled; for Bame had drawn his short sword.

“I am Richard Bame. You have undoubtedly heard of me as the uncle of Anne.”

“And as the swearer of false and vile charges against the man of whom you speak,” said Marlowe, his voice impetuously breaking forth.

“Against yourself,” interrupted Bame, “but not as a false accuser. Listen to me.”

“But why should I; and why have you drawn a weapon? You see that I am defenseless. You came in the character of a bearer of good tidings; why do you now assume a violent front? Is it not enough that I am the friend of the one from whom you come—your niece? Have I ever wronged you? Put down your sword! even though the time were opportune for murder, the sanctity of the place should stay your hand. Doth not its holiness appeal to thee?”

Bame began with the echo of the last word:

“You speak well, but to no purpose. You have rendered me no personal injury, but you have attacked not only my church, but all churches, all faith, all religions. No,” he continued, shaking his sword in his fervor as Marlowe was about to reply, “Let me go on. Nothing is sacred in thine eyes——” 210

“Cease,” exclaimed Marlowe, “You know little of what you speak. Blinded by a fanaticism, narrow, violent and perverted, you can see nothing good in aught that promotes pleasure and breaks the chrysalis of joy. You would tear down the playhouses, and on the spot where laughter has chased the gloom from the face of grief and apathy, and where new generations are being educated in the history of the past and in the polished manners of the higher classes, a school, wide, noble and elevating, you would erect houses for wailing and for the blind worship of an unknown God. And I, whom you deem the head and front of atheism, you wished burned at the stake, and now would take upon thyself what your religion deems an unpardonable crime, that of sending my soul unprepared before its Maker.”

“Maker!”, sneered Bame, “Maker, Thou hast denied the existence of the Trinity.”

“Such denial,” began Marlowe, undisturbed by the accusation, “is not inconsistent with the belief in the existence of a supreme intellectual force of which my soul is part. Thy mind is too narrow to comprehend the impersonal and omniscient intellect that rules by unswerving laws. Clinging to the disgusting belief of a resurrection of the body, you bury it with pomp and lamentation; waste over it your tears, and dream of its reinhabitation as the temple of the soul. Out upon thee. The tenure of thy faith is most precarious. Under the dark wings of death, nought but the longing for 211 eternal rest will pervade thee, like it has pervaded and ever will pervade all manner of men, whether with or without creed or belief. But such longing contains no assurance of its attainment, but is only the reconcilement of the soul to its coming change of existence without the trammels of the flesh. And this, I tell thee, blind apostle of a worn-out creed, this world is governed by a force that worketh ever toward perfection; the perfection of the material is in beauty; of the spiritual, in wisdom. And both matter and spirit are eternal. Immortality is not a dream but a demonstrable fact. Do not the waters of the stream break in silver spray, or become mirrors for the face of nature, or, being lifted by the sun, form the clouds whose glorious colors flame and fade at twilight? Do not even the dull boulders at length present glassy faces, or, crumbling, form the powdered soil on which flourishes and, aye, is part of, the wild flowers? Do not the brilliant stars rise from the nebula that strews the floor of heaven; thus struggling through a thousand changes toward ideal beauty in form, never losing one atom of substance? And now what of the mind of man? It grows with years and attains its utmost perfection as the bodily forces fail. Then comes the disintegration of the body for new forms as the ages roll. If the material cannot be lost, how can the spirit, the ego that knows, and is as superior to the clay as the living face of woman is to the clod under foot? It must continue under the 212 force that raised it, and in its just line of aspiration. It is against the nature of all things, material and spiritual, that the mind with its accumulated knowledge from years of life should pass into oblivion.”

The eloquence of the poet in the delivery of his sermon of the soul had stilled the voluble Bame. Marlowe appeared, for the moment, in Bame’s mind as a martyr of persecution. He could have chewed the accusation and swallowed it if he had had it. In the transport of these friendly feelings he felt tempted to sheath his sword, but at that moment the sounds of footsteps attracted their attention, and they became intent auditors. Low voices reached their ears, and the noise created by the stumbling movements of many persons in the darkness came with shocking distinctness. Bame stood nearest the folding doors of the chantry.

“Close them,” whispered Marlowe, pointing.

Bame turned in instant response, and pushed to the narrow doors, bolting them. But circular openings were in their fronts, and seeing this, Marlowe hastily extinguished the burning candles. The voices came nearer, and the footsteps now sounded in the aisles.

“It cannot be the watchmen, for they are many.”

“And bear no lanterns.”

“It may be a band of thieves.”

“Did you not bar the entrance door?”

“No, I did not even close it.”

“Hush!” murmured Bame, “and see——” 213

A faint light flared up in one of the aisles, and then another and another. Each increased in volume of flame until several torches were blazing here and there in the body of the church. They were borne aloft over moving heads, and the two men in the chantry saw villainous faces and ragged forms. It was a score of the most desperate thieves of the Straits, who, having found the loosely closed door of the church opened wide by a furious blast of the storm, had entered like water into the broken hold of a vessel. The fierce desire for plunder had robbed them of caution, and they had become emboldened by their numbers. Possibly they had not thought that the exterior appearance of the lighted church would cause alarm, and it is questionable whether such thought would have stayed them. Then began a scene of spoliation which, in splendor of setting and fierceness of its moving figures, beggars description.

Seldom, if ever, had a house of worship blazed with like illumination. Black smoke arose from the wavering torches, but it was lost in the great space intervening between the spots where it took flight and the groined ceiling, so that nothing obscured the painted windows, the flamboyant tracery above them, and the great arch over the chancel and the altar, except the shadows thrown by intercepting columns. The brilliant colored faces of the saints upon the lancet windows appeared to look down in wonder upon the vandals, whose glances in turn directed upward to these 214 rows of costly panes were the extreme of covetousness. It was only the insurmountable space that kept these pictured saints inviolate. But there were other treasures which held no positions of safety against unholy and unlawful onslaught, and it was toward them that the robbers now directed attention. They began stripping the gilt trappings from the altar and the pulpit, tearing down the purple tapestry before the sacristry, gathering up the chalices, books and vestments, and even wrenching the brass balusters from the winding rood stair to the choir. It may have been their intense action or the awfulness of the surroundings, that closed all lips from the moment that, with eyes feasting on the splendors of the church, they began its desecration. However that may have been, no sound of human voice accompanied the furious workings of the robbers. Still, silence did not prevail. There were blows of solid substances together, rasping of metals, tearings of cloth, and their echoes prolonged by a construction of dome, walls and galleries calculated to keep every sound alive.

Toward the closed chantry, two robbers at length turned. One thrust his torch through a circular window of the door, and the two men within sunk on the marble floor close by the tomb of the founder. The eyes of the thief should have followed the torch, but at that moment a cry attracted his attention, and he saw the tapestry hanging 215 against the wall behind the pulpit wrapped in fierce flames.

It had been kindled by the careless handling of one of the torches, and bid fair to supplement the night’s work with total destruction. While that sight first drew attention, another sight and the sound of shrill voices immediately caused diversion. New figures had suddenly appeared at the wide entrances to the body of the church, and a new fear ran like wildfire through the scattered mob of thieves. There was no outlet except where the alarmed and hastily gathered watchmen were standing. The blazing tapestry forced the robbers forward. None of their spoils were dropped. Having grouped together for an instant, they rushed recklessly toward the entrances held by the watchmen, who could not repel the onslaught. Excepting three who stumbled and fell, the thieves poured forth into the street.

Marlowe was first upon his feet after the withdrawal of the searching torch. He saw the blazing tapestry and the mad rush of the cornered robbers. He unbolted the door, flung it open and without a glance behind him, ran down the aisle and entered the chancel. The light aided him in his rapid survey. He recognized the tomb by which he had ascended, and, lifting the slab, he crawled under into the passage made for the king. In the oratory, a few moments later, he searched his clothes nervously for the still unread message from Anne. It was not to be found, and the meeting 216 of the night had resulted in nought but perplexity and misfortune.

It was not until Marlowe had mysteriously disappeared, that Bame gathered himself for action. He thought of no chance for escape except through the way he had entered. He attempted it, and, having traversed with expedition the aisles and narthex of the church now brilliantly lighted by the flames of the burning tapestry and its supports, he ran into the arms of the watchman in the portico to which the latter had withdrawn. His protestations were of no avail. In vain he pleaded that he had just come up from the sidewalk. Three officers had seen him issue from the church entrance. As one of the thieves he was taken into custody. 217


These looks of thine can harbor nought but death!
I see my tragedy written in thy brow.
Yet stay, awhile forbear thy bloody hand.
Edward II, v, 5.
No doubt the murderous knife was dull and blunt,
Till it was whetted on thy stone-hard heart,
To revel in the entrails of my lambs.
King Richard III, iv, 4.

It could be stated in one sentence that Richard Bame was tried at the Old Bailey for felony, found guilty, and hung at Tyburn; but what pictures would that present of the tragedy? The session-hall of the old court and the straggling road to Tyburn would be less to the mind than the substance of the vaguest dream; and he, who endeavored to cover with eternal infamy our eldest and greatest master of the drama, would steal away like a thief in the night, unnoticed and soon forgotten. It is not my purpose to close the chapter of the miscreant’s life in so summary a manner.

While from the window of the oratory, Marlowe had seen the church consumed to ashes no news of the arrest and impending trial of Bame had reached his ears. It was during the progress of the conflagration that he had told Tamworth of the startling events of the night, and the recital 218 had greatly disturbed the lawyer. He saw in the fact of Bame’s recognition of his friend, a menace against the safety of Marlowe, for the prying Bame might endeavor to unravel the mystery concerning the burial of the dramatist and his later appearance in bodily form. This apprehension, however, was soon quieted. Tamworth learned of Bame’s arrest, and then that he was about to be brought to trial.

All this information was sedulously kept from Marlowe, for Tamworth knew not what Marlowe might do to save the accused, not that his hatred had abated, but he might have scruples against one being hung for an offense of which one was innocent. In the mind of the lawyer, Bame deserved the severest punishment known in the law for his false charges against the dramatist. Marlowe could do nothing except with peril to his own safety. He could swear that Bame was not in the church for any unlawful purpose, but to appear as a witness would be to deliver his own body into the hands of the executioner. The disclosure was, therefore, delayed until some time after the fatal day of December 6th, 1594.

It was at one of the sessions of the Old Bailey, during a time when human life was at the lowest estimate it ever reached in England, that Richard Bame was brought to trial for the burglary of the church of St. Olave. Pento and Badly, two of the arrested robbers, had preceded him in the dock, and having been found guilty of the same crime 219 of which he was accused, had received the death sentence. In anticipation of the coming of the Brownist, the gallery which projected from one side of the square hall, was filled. The lower benches were also occupied, and here and there amid the forms of the ordinary lookers-on, could be seen gray-coated Puritans. Their numbers excited comment, and it began to be whispered that the man to be tried was one of the dissenters. Some of them were there to testify to his previous good character, others were there from curiosity. Bame was well known among the congregations from the Tribulation of Tower Hill and the Lime House, not particularly as a shining example of devotion, but as a tireless worker for their interests. It was a grave question whether the fire of persecution that burned within him was kept alive by wild and extravagant notions of what man’s duties were to God, or whether he was simply a tool in the hands of some strong and unscrupulous man who had private wrongs to redress. He was blind and emotional enough for a fanatic, but while he expended this frenzy upon apostates and non-observers in the lower ranks of life, his small courage appeared unequal for an attack upon those capable of defense. So, when the attack upon Marlowe was known, the belief arose that he was being prompted and upheld by some one high in authority [note 38]. The truth of the matter can never be known. However, Bame conducted himself upon his trial like one who had 220 friends powerful enough to hold the wheels of the prosecution. This conduct may have arisen from his innocence of the charge on which he was tried.

With firm steps he crossed the uncovered Newgate yard from his temporary cell, and as he entered the Old Bailey with like movement the crowd noticed with murmured approval his air of a martyr. Boldness of demeanor is always the subject of admiration with the people; but, again, a miserable exterior may create a counter wave of feeling. So it was in this case. As soon as Bame reached the dock, and with face from the audience, displayed only his ragged garments and unkempt locks the enthusiasm vanished. He now presented a woeful appearance. He was still attired in the discarded garments which he had donned on the night of the storm, and there was nothing to distinguish him from an ordinary vagabond. His wife had brought his customary street suit—the gray garb of the Puritan—to the jail, but the turnkey had roughly ordered her away with it, expressing himself as being averse to allowing jail birds to impose with fine feathers on the court or the jury. Thus Bame was on a footing with the ruffians who had preceded him at the bar on a like charge.

One warning had been impressed upon him before entering the hall, by the felons in the adjoining cells, who had said:

“A gilded sword, with point upward, is suspended 221 against the crimson-padded wall behind the judge. You will see it when you go in, but mind you this: Turn your eyes from the sword as soon as the judge begins his charge, and keep from gazing upon it until the jury returns with its verdict.”

“Why so?” Bame had asked.

“It is the sword of justice, and it will fall upon you. We were found guilty. We looked upon the sword.”

The jailer had overheard this conversation and said with an expressive smile: “The records show that 99 out of 100 look upon the sword and the hundredth man never returns here to tell whether he looked upon it or not. It must be true.”

This superstition of the jails had so impressed Bame, that the sword was the first thing he noticed as he faced the judge’s bench, the jury-box and the bar. There it hung under the square canopy and against the crimson drapery on the wall. It was a more striking object to Bame than the judge himself. He determined to keep his eyes fixed on the bar and jury during his ordeal. Moreover, the judge’s face was not attractive; it was so unemotional, and his lips seemed unready to move with any words or tones except those as harsh as the jury’s verdict of “guilty.”

Bame’s counsel, Thomas Eliot, was within the bar. He was a consequential barrister with long flowing robe and powdered periwig. He condescended to recognize the prisoner, and to confer 222 with him. A loud buzz of conversation filled the room, stilled at intervals by the bailiff, who looked as dried and shriveled as though he had been cut down alive from the Tyburn tree after having hung there in hot winds for several weeks. He was the only object in the room that caused Bame to smile.

The day outside was hot, and here the heat was increased by the respiration of the great crowd, and the sunshine pouring through the three windows looking toward the prison. However, the dingy walls of the court-room appeared as cold as the face of the judge. They had been in position to hear too many convulsive cries, following the announcements of verdicts, to grow warm under any circumstances.

The clerk read the indictment in sonorous voice. None of it was understood by the audience; for the Anglo-Saxon words were so thoroughly shaken up with words in Law French and phrases in Latin that it seemed like a recital entirely in a foreign language. None of the lawyers interpreted it as read, for the clerk’s pronunciation was villainous; and as for Bame, he looked stupidly at the clerk until he finished, and the plea of not guilty was entered.

“You might have stood mute,” said the barrister afterwards, “but you would have been taken to the rack or the thumbscrews.”

The attorney for the Crown made no opening statement to the jury. Time was too precious for 223 that; for Newgate was running over with the scum of human life, all of which must find evaporation through this gloomy hall.

The watchman who had made the arrest stated that the prisoner had run into his arms before the first cloud of smoke had poured from the church. He (the witness) was then standing on the edge of the portico, and was positive that the prisoner had come from the church. There could be no mistake about it, for he was coughing as though stifled with the smoke. He had nothing in his hands or arms, and on finding that he was in custody, he immediately protested that he had come up with the crowd from the street. These protestations had been laughed at, for others had seen him. The others were called—two more watchmen, and their testimony was of like effect. The defense failed to shake them on cross-examination, and then a witness named Pence was brought from his cell in the prison. He was one of the arrested robbers,—a ragged, coatless, barefooted boy of sixteen years. Not only the misery of his own brief existence, but of the unknown line of which he was a descendent, had so moulded his face that there was no line nor feature of it but what was debased and expressive of low cunning and viciousness. His trial had not taken place, but being accused and confined as one of the participants in the crime, it was in irons that he entered the Old Bailey. His testimony might be of little weight, but it had been decided to put 224 it in for what it was worth. He was sworn and after prompt answers to preliminary questions, he drifted into a narrative of the night’s work. Cleared of verbiage and the cant of the Straits and translated into modern English, it read:

“The rain had driven me upon the portico of St. Olave. I lay in a recess near one of the doors, and was asleep when the conversation of two men awoke me. I heard them speak of entering the church, and finding the door partially opened, I followed them in.”

“To steal the first thing you could find, eh?” interjected the counsel Eliot for the prisoner. The witness looked fearlessly at the speaker and said:

“Never. I would no more dare steal from a church than I would rob a grave at night. I was curious to learn what they were going to do.”

“Let the witness proceed without interruption,” demanded the public prosecutor. At this the boy continued:

“I saw them pass into the lighted chantry, and, being barefooted, I reached the place without noise and looked in. That man was there.” He pointed one of his manacled hands at Bame. “The other man was reading a paper. He was behind the tomb, close by the lighted candles. They said nothing for a few moments, and then the prisoner drew a sword as though to kill the other man.”

“What!” exclaimed the prosecutor. The exclamation 225 aroused the judge from a revery that was more pleasant than listening to the rambling account of a witness. The witness repeated: “The prisoner drew his sword.”

“Where was this?” asked the judge.

“In the chantry of the church of St. Olave.”

“Ah,” said the judge sternly; for as a high churchman he looked unfavorably upon the dissenters, and never let a complaint against them grow stale for lack of investigation. “See to it, Mr. Attorney, that if the prisoner escapes this trial, that he be brought here again for drawing a weapon in the church.”

“We object,” said Bame’s counsel, rising, “to further remarks of this character. They are prejudicial to the prisoner. The jury should not be impressed with the idea that my client is guilty of other crimes. He is on trial for the burglary of the church, not for an affray for which excommunication and the loss of his ears is the penalty. It is too much the habit of juries to find a man guilty upon the general principle that he is an unfit member of society, and therefore a fit subject for judicial murder.”

“Hold!” thundered the judge, his ears tingling with the remarks, and noticing how every whisper had been stilled by the barrister’s bold speech. “Your interest in your client is carrying you beyond the limits allowed here for argument. Sit down, or you will provoke more than a reprimand. Let the witness proceed.” 226

The barrister knew the rigorous character of the judge, and saw something more than a serene judicial expression on his pale face. The barrister interpreted it as a fine for himself, if he continued his remarks, and at the close of the trial a charge to the jury which would be virtually a command to convict. Realizing that his fervor had carried him beyond the bounds of discretion, but unable to formulate an apology for remarks which he knew were justifiable, he reseated himself amid the murmurs of the audience. These murmurs were of approval of the stand he had taken against the court, and he felt that the jurors were with the masses from which they came.

“Well, what was done when Bame drew his sword?”

“The other man looked frightened, and when Bame said ‘I thought you were dead,’ he staggered as though struck. Then they talked.”

“Well, what did they say?”

“I can’t remember it all. It was about some false charges. The prisoner said that his name was Richard Bame, and he called the other by name, but I have forgotten it. He was a handsome man in black cloak, and he seemed much distressed. The lights showed his face well, which was smooth, and he had a white feather in his cap. I think the prisoner would have killed—”

“Never mind what you thought,” interposed Eliot.

“You were interrupted,” said the judge, in the 227 pause which followed, “because you are not allowed to express your opinions. State only what you did, what others did and what was said.”

“I was so afraid that the prisoner would kill the other man,” continued the witness, “that I crept away out of the church. I wanted to find a watchman, but I saw no lights. I ran around the corner of the church, and at the mouth of the alley bumped into a man. A score of other men were with him and these were the thieves, but I didn’t know it. I said, ‘A man is about to be killed in this church.’ And the one who held my arm asked, ‘How do you know’? And I said, ‘I have just come out.’ Then said he, ‘Are the doors open?’ ‘Yes,’ I answered; and at that he whispered to those nearest, ‘Come on. The church is open. We can sack it.’ At that they hurried me along, and we passed into the church with much noise. The man to whom I had spoken still held my arm and was at the head. I looked for the lights of the chantry, but saw none, and someone said, ‘The boy has lied. No one is here,’ and they let go my arm. And when they had lighted torches, I ran toward the chantry. The doors were closed and no lights shone.”

“Is that all?” asked the judge, and as the witness made no answer, he continued: “This testimony corroborates the testimony of the officers that the prisoner came out of the church despite his statements to them to the contrary, but it appears that he was in no way connected with the 228 burglary. He was not an associate of the two robbers tried yesterday, nor of the boy.”

At this the boy suddenly inquired: “Have Pento and Badly been tried?”

“Yes, and found guilty. What of it?”

The boy collected his faculties. To secure his own liberty, the prisoner must be convicted. So far he had stuck to the truth, but he was ready to add fiction. The turnkey of his ward in Newgate had intimated that if he turned state’s evidence he might possibly go free. So it seemed that the two other robbers had been tried and found guilty without his appearance as a witness. This he had not suspected. So there would be no chance for him to tell how he had seen Pento light the first torch, and Badly tugging and wrenching at the ornaments about the altar. They were already under sentence of death. If he said nothing more about the man at the bar, the latter would be acquitted, and the Tyburn rope would be around his own neck. Had he been of the order of dangerous reasoners, who consider no act wrong so long as the prosperity of the State is secured or advanced by it, he might have felt that the perjured testimony he was about to give was justifiable because the prisoner should be hung on the general principles spoken of by his attorney. But this was not his incentive. If he were to say anything, he must say it quickly, for all eyes were upon him, and again no whispers were heard in the great hall. His life experience, in which he 229 had had to use falsehood, bravado and cunning against human foes and starvation, stood him in good stead. He spoke, but his voice was scarcely above a whisper, and he kept looking at his manacles:

“That is not all.”

“Go on then.”

“The door of the chantry opened before all the torches were lighted, and the prisoner came out.”

“He lies!” exclaimed Bame.

“Let the prisoner remain quiet,” said the judge. “The witness must not be intimidated.”

Bame had arisen with his own exclamation and looked as though he intended jumping from the dock. The ready testimony and coolness of the perjuring witness had startled him; and he recognized his own peril. The boy looked upward at the judge, and then his eyes followed a narrow strip of sunlight to the windows through which it came. There was a streak of blue sky visible, and from it the boy let his eyes fall upon the manacles around his wrists. The distressed look that came into his pinched face was followed by a determined expression; and then, although he knew there was nothing to fear from Bame at that moment, he cunningly said:

“You will not let him harm me if I tell the truth? In the church he made me swear to tell no one. He came out alone with his sword in his hand. It was red with blood.”

“Stop!” exclaimed the excited prisoner, rising 230 from his chair. “The boy is giving perjured—”

“Sit down,” thundered the judge. Eliot remonstrated with the prisoner, and the prosecutor asked: “Could you see it?”

“Yes, your Honor, for I was on the floor close before the chantry, and he paused there to wipe his sword on a black cloak which he had dragged out with him. The other man did not come out with him and the chantry was too dark for me to see within it. One of the ruffians recognized the prisoner, and they entered the sacristry together. I saw them both come out with vestments in their arms.”

“You did not so testify upon your preliminary examination,” said the judge.

“No, your Honor, I did not think it necessary.”

“Why do you now? Do you bear him ill will?”


“Have any promises been made you, if the prisoner should be found guilty?”

The witness hesitated, and then said: “No, your Honor.”

“Take the witness,” said the prosecutor to Eliot.

Pence wondered where he was to be taken. He hoped that it was not to be back to his cell. “However,” he thought, “I am not to go yet.”

“Where were you just brought from?” asked Eliot.

“A cell in the prison.”

“What were you doing there?”

“Confined to await my trial.” 231

“For what?”

“Burglary of St. Olave.”

“By what means do you live?”

“Begging, I suppose.”

“And what else?”


“Where have you been living?”

“Anywhere. Wherever night found me.”

“Ever been arrested before?”


“How often?”


“For what?”


“Why weren’t you hung?”

“The judge pitied my youth, and knew that I could not take advantage of the benefit of clergy and so must hang if he sentenced me. I could not con the neck verse” [note 39].

And so the questioning went on through every phase of the boy’s life to the night of the crime. Then he was drawn back and forth, in and out, through every sentence he had uttered, but all to no purpose. Every answer he made only served to strengthen his story. Bame felt that his fate was sealed unless his own testimony could offset the boy’s perjury. The case was closed for the prosecution, and the prisoner took the stand. He told of the events of the night the church was sacked and burnt, but he carefully refrained from stating 232 that the man with him at the church was Marlowe, although he was still of that opinion.

From his first consultation with his client, Eliot had rejected this opinion; for against it was the reported coroner’s verdict of Marlowe’s death. Was it not possible that this unknown man was the suspected murderer? Anne had stated to Bame that the person whom he was to meet that night was a friend of her husband. It was more than probable, thought Eliot, that this man was the husband himself, and as Bame did not know him by sight, his confounding him with Marlowe was natural. An inquiry was instituted for Anne, but she had escaped from the sheriff’s house. The identity of this witness lay with her, and possibly the knowledge of his whereabouts; but her whereabouts could not be ascertained. Thus stood the case when called for trial. Therefore Eliot advised that a statement according to the prisoner’s opinion would cast a doubt upon the narrative. The rumor of Marlowe’s death at a time prior to the burning of St. Olave was already public, and it would be said: “The prisoner is a self-convicted perjurer, if nothing more. He depends for proof of his innocence upon one who was dead before the night of the fire. This is his only witness, and besides, the boy Pence says that the man who was with the prisoner in the chantry remained there after Bame came out with dripping sword.”

So Bame testified that the man was a stranger, and had undoubtedly met his death in the flames. 233 It was a vile falsehood that he had harmed this man, as Pence had sworn. No one had seen such a person coming from the church. In all other particulars Bame held to the truth. The jury believed him, but the judge did not. Five brethren from the Lime House swore to his good character. Then Mr. Attorney General and Mr. Barrister Eliot thundered for one short hour at the jury, and during their arguments the audience and the jurors wept and applauded in turns; but the judge held scales that were moved no more on the side of justice than his own heart, or his own face.

In those good old days, it was seldom that an accused person, placed on trial at the bar of the Old Bailey, escaped conviction. Even though the jury might fail to discover his guilt, they were such puppets in the hands of the judge that his will was their will; and as he charged both as to the facts and the law they found as he instructed. There had been cases where they had returned verdicts of acquittal, but in many of these they had been ordered to retire and again deliberate. Such deliberation always brought about the desired change. As Bame’s trial drew to a close, the prisoner had reason to tremble, for contumely had been heaped upon him at every point by the judge, whose hatred of dissenters was well known. Here it had been so violently expressed that two of the jurymen, who were Presbyterians, felt as though on trial for their own lives. It was upon these two men that Bame placed his faint hope of an 234 acquittal. But they were the last men to run counter to the wishes of the court. They feared that all his wrath would be directed against them, and a confiscation of their estates might follow [note 40].

The judge charged in the same spirit in which he had ruled during the taking of testimony. Bame had showed himself a liar; he was given to ruining innocent men with false charges; he had entered the church without permission and probably with force; he had drawn a weapon in the church; it was possible that he had killed a man there, and then joined the lawless crew of thieves. The jury must not be influenced because he was a devout Brownist. That sect was to be despised. It was already growing too strong in the community, and the members merited a rebuke. He would have instructed the jury to bring in a verdict of guilty, but he saw that it was unnecessary. He proved himself a shining example for the later Jeffreys, and raised a precedent for the latter to follow in the bloody assizes. The jury were faithful to his charge, not their own, and returned a verdict of guilty. 235


O what a world of profit and delight,
Of power, of honor, of omnipotence
Is promised to the studious artisan.
Faustus, i.
Knowing I loved my books, he furnished me,
From my own library, with volumes that
I prize above my dukedom.
Tempest, i, 2.

The secret oratory of the king held no shadows within its square walls on a most memorable night several months after the trial of Bame. The lamp near the iron-latticed window was burning, and a fire blazed in the chimney-basket. Besides the light, other late additions to the room, contributed to dispel its inborn air of austereness. One of the tapestries from the main chamber had been removed from its hangings, and lay here upon the floor, a violent appropriation to rude uses of a trapping of royalty. Two of the easiest chairs, which had added to the luxuriousness of the same chamber, had also been brought in. But the articles which rendered most assistance in changing the room from a cell to a study, were the books shelved below the square window. These had been contributed, one at a time, by Tamworth and Peele, until a goodly library of Greek and Latin, 236 English, French and Italian books stood against the wall.

For more than a year, in voluntary exclusion from the world, Marlowe had pursued the occupation which he had years since adopted, but in which fate now compelled him to render exclusive and unwavering service. Although he was drinking from the inexhaustible wells of inspired masters in all the provinces of thought, it was the jealous muse of dramatic poetry that alone sat beside him and commanded his powers. The alternating spaces of light and darkness in the flight of time had cut no figure in his moods for work and rest; and thus while the night had fallen upon a day of unflagging industry, he still continued working at his table. While thus engaged, a narrow space of the wall opposite the exedra swung inward, and a familiar face showed itself in the dark opening. It was that of Peele, the dramatist, and with a hearty salutation he entered, closely followed by Shakespere.

“Thou art doubly welcome,” said Marlowe, rising and grasping the outstretched hands of his unexpected visitors.

“So?” questioned Peele, “but I fear that before you hear the news and I advise with thee, this welcome may be thought inappropriate.”

“Never while I am of enough concern to bring thee here,” said Marlowe, feelingly.

“And I, on my part, am here with a message of no pleasing import,” said Shakespere, seriously. 237

“What! croaking ravens, both of thee?” exclaimed Marlowe, with a smile which in no way tended to scatter their apparent gloom.

“Is the landlord of the Boar’s Head pressing thee, Peele, for two pence for thy last draughts of Malmsey; and has thy absent wife demanded thy immediate return to the foul alleys of Stratford-on-Avon, Shakespere? Or if not, why these sad presaging countenances, more like those of the worshipers at the Tribulation than of honest and fearless men? Would you bring blue devils into this glorious place of mirth to provoke moaning where nothing but laughter prevails? Am I—”

“Come, come,” interrupted Shakespere, “withhold thy attempts at sarcasm. We are not here to get thee to condole with us.”

“But to give thee friendly advice,” continued Peele.

“It is for thy interest,” added Shakespere.

“Ah!” said Marlowe, “why not then begin it with a song?”

“Of course singing is out of the question,” responded Peele, “and song without wine is like meat without salt, so we can have neither, for the nonce at least. But now let me ask: what progress have you made since I was here?”

“I am deep in the third act,” answered Marlowe, picking up a page of the manuscript of Romeo and Juliet, which lay scattered over the top of the table “And what think you of this as the speech of a love-lorn maiden? 238

Gallop apace you fiery-footed steeds
Toward Phoebus’ mansion; such a waggoner
As Phaeton would whip you to the West,
And-bring in cloudy night immediately.”

He would have continued, but Peele interrupted: “Hold! you have put similar language in the mouth of Edward II, descriptive of his desire for the shortening of time before battle. I recollect it well; thus:

‘Gallop apace, bright Phoebus, through the sky;
And dusky night in rusty iron car,
Between you both shorten the time, I pray,
That I may see that most desired day.’”

“Well?” exclaimed Marlowe.

“You must change it,” said Shakespere.

“Why should I?” retorted Marlowe, “a man cannot commit plagiary on his own writings; and, although the style of composition is similar, and the figure is used in both places to rail against the slowness of time, you must acknowledge that they are both appropriate in their places.”

“Now this has brought me to the very subject which I came here to talk over with you,” responded Peele.

“Ah, so you are the first one to draw the sword? Has the presentment of my latest drama at the Rose awakened thy unfavorable opinion? Was the fault with the players or with myself?”

“Your work improves with every line you write,” said Peele, enthusiastically, “but still with all the increase of learning displayed, the growing 239 compactness of expression, the sustained fire, the maturity of thought, the diverseness of opinion, the wondrous expanse of human horizon disclosed,—thy style is stamped indisputably upon every passage.”

“So! I have labored to change it.”

“Marry, but thou hast not” [note 41].

“Then it is like my skin, a part of me.”

“No more to be changed than thy countenance, it seems, which with age and experience may get new lines and grow wiser looking, but still shows the old familiar expressions with every change of feeling.”

“Then there is no help.”

“But thou must change thy methods of treatment of some subjects.”

“Again I ask, why should I?”

Peele surveyed him like a father might his recreant son, and Shakespere slowly shook his head as though the case were one beyond all cure, exclaiming as he did so: “Why, man, for thine own safety.”

“Is that in danger?”

“It will be,” continued Peele, “Gabriel Harvey and George Chapman were in my hearing discussing the drama of Titus Andronicus as presented by the Earl of Sussex’ actors at the Rose, a week since; and, although the play was sold to Henslowe, as one written by Shakespere, Harvey swore it must be thine.” 240

“And what said Chapman,” interrupted Marlowe.

“He said, ‘Most damnably like Marlowe’s, but certain it is that it was not among his posthumous effects, and it was never presented under his name, nor before his death.’”

“And what said Harvey?”

“He said truly that if thou didst not write it, then this fellow Shakespere had caught thy very trick of hand.”

At this remark, Shakespere laughed so heartily that even the others had to join with him.

“Apt critics, these,” said Marlowe, “’tis strange that they should see resemblances between that play and any of my acknowledged works.”

“Bah,” returned Peele, “no one so blind as a mother to the faults of her child. Strange? Why that play is full of thine old spirit. Here, give me thy copy of it, and of thy Jew of Malta.”

Marlowe turned to a chest beside his table and drew forth two rolls of manuscript. He handed them to Peele, who opened the Jew of Malta at the second act, and read:

“As for myself I walk abroad o’ nights
And kill sick people groaning under walls:
Sometimes I go about and poison wells:
* * * * *
And always kept the sexton’s arms in ure
With digging graves and ringing dead men’s knells:
* * * * *
And every moon made some or other mad,
And now and then one hang himself for grief.
Pinning upon his breast a long great scroll
How I with interest tormented him.”

“And now,” he continued, “see how thou hast imitated thy early and immature work almost to an echo.”

He unrolled the manuscript of Titus Andronicus at the fifth act, and read:

“Oft have I digged up dead men from their graves
And set them upright at their dear friends’ doors,
Even when their sorrows almost were forgot;
And on their skins as on the bark of trees,
Have with my knife carved in Roman letters,
‘Let not your sorrow die though I am dead.’
Tut! I have done a thousand dreadful things,
As willingly as one would kill a fly.”

“Now in this same play, thou hast given us the very echo of Tamburlaine and his queen Zenocrate. The scene where Tamora first appears to the emperor is couched in identical language with the one where Zenocrate is given the crown by the king; and again in the first act of the first part of Henry VI you treat the death of Joan in the same manner as you do the death of Zenocrate. No servile imitator could have more carefully copied his master.”

“His very trick of hand,” drawled Shakespere.

Marlowe did not reply, but continued a rapt listener while his friend went on with increasing ardor:

“In act II of Titus Andronicus you write of the golden sun galloping ‘the zodiac in his glistening coach,’ as though in your ears still rattled ‘ugly darkness with her rusty coach,’ as you have described the night in act V of the first part of Tamburlaine 242 and again in Edward II. If thou must take the most striking passages of thy Tamburlaine, and cut from them scraps and pieces upon which to pad out these later dramas, thou should be more circumspect in their use. If thou art not, one of two things will surely follow, thy friend here, who stands as thy mask, will be dubbed a plagiarist of vilest sort, or all these plays will be proclaimed thine.”

“Save me from such a calumny,” exclaimed Shakespere, “and Peele speaks truth, for a tempest has already begun to brew. But that is my story, and I must not break the thread of Peele’s argument.”

“Well! And what if the plays are proclaimed mine as you mention?” asked Marlowe.

“Why, thy existence will be discovered, for both Chapman and Nash know the full list of your works. Perhaps more know it. The report of thy death is loose and has not been widely circulated. Harvey attributed it to the plague.”

“Yes,” said Shakespere, “he wrote that ‘gogle-eyed sonnet’ about you in September, 1593, containing the line, ‘He and the plague contended for the game,’ and how the ‘graund disease’ smiled at your ‘Tamburlaine contempt,’ and ‘sternly struck home.’”

“Enough of that!” exclaimed Marlowe, impatiently, “I shall yet get even with that villainous sonneteer.”

“But to return to that description of night in 243 act V of the first part of Tamburlaine,” said Peele, “there, the horses that drag the night, ‘from their nostrils breathe rebellious winds and dreadful thunder claps;’ while in the second part of Henry VI, the same old horses ‘from their misty jaws breathe foul contagious darkness in the air.’ The method of description and the figures of speech are the same, and you personify the same objects.”

“Well, it is a favorite description of mine for night, and as my attention is called to it, I now remember that in my Hero and Leander, ‘the night * * * heaved up her head and breathed darkness forth.’28 This is the last time that I shall use the figure.”

“Well, that passage from Henry VI,” resumed Peele, “that I have just alluded to is also like another in Tamburlaine, beginning: ‘Black is the beauty of the brightest day’” [note 42].

“Possibly they are open to criticism. I shall revise, and in future labor toward perfection in word condensation,” said Marlowe, “but I cannot destroy all the well turned lines. For instance, there is the same spirit breathing through the verses for the friar Laurence, beginning ‘The grey-eyed morn smiles on the frowning light;’ but how can I curtail, how remodel with hope of preserving their beauty? You may assert that such lines echo with the music of Hero and Leander, and with them draw a close parallel to the passage in 244 the latter, where Apollo’s golden harp aroused Hesperus, but I shall not change them. The critics may have food for thought and they may grow strong enough upon it to be formidable, but so long as I write of love, the lines must be cast in the purest mould that I am capable of using.”

“Then destroy thy Ovid and Homer, and go back to Seneca; read Plutarch and Holinshed. Thou hast written love tragedies and historical plays; take thy Faustus for the model of a drama of stern and darkened life.”

“Shall it be tragedy?”

“Yes, the darkest picture of thy mind.”

“My own bitter experiences.”

“Have it so if thou wilt,” returned Peele, “it is only he who has drained the cup of deepest sorrow and felt the tooth of adversity, that can draw such a picture.”

And so the figure of the melancholy Dane arose, the perfect embodiment at that period of the oppressed writer. Not at one stroke did it rise into its present almost palpable form, but under the labor of years in which the less intense plays were produced.

It was now suggested that the remainder of the evening be spent in Tamworth’s room, and as it then appeared too late for any of the lawyer’s friends to seek admittance, the three men passed into the king’s chamber. It was empty, but the burning lamp showed that Tamworth had withdrawn for a short time only. After having admitted 245 Peele and Shakespere, he had gone to a neighboring ordinary for a late repast. The fire had smoldered to ashes on the hearth, but its recent blaze had so cut the chill of the room that it was on an even temperature with that of the fire-lighted oratory. They gathered around the black table below the suspended lamp.

“Now,” said Marlowe, addressing Shakespere, “what is thy report from Henslowe upon the two acts of Romeo and Juliet and its proposed completion?”

“Unfavorable,” answered Shakespere, “he has flatly refused to accept it.”

“Why, ’tis surely stronger and more dramatic than Titus Andronicus, for which he paid us ten pounds, and that has now been on the boards of the Rose for two months. It must be that Henslowe is not only losing the little ability of criticism he once possessed, but his business sense as well. What has brought about the change? Hast thou any idea?”

“I went in to him, as heretofore,” began Shakespere, “and in great easy chairs, where full the blazing light of a crackling chimney-fire fell upon them, sat Henslowe and the late strolling-player, Jonson. I know not by what means Jonson hath the ear, and aye, the heart, of the manager of the Rose; but clear proof of it was shown. Henslowe waved me to a chair, but Jonson ignored my presence.” ‘Mr. Shakespere,’ said Henslowe, nodding to Jonson, and then the latter said, ‘I have heard 246 of him,’ and I, ‘Ben Jonson, late returned from the Low Countries,’ and at that Jonson glared at me as though my presence were scarcely sufferable and my voice intolerable.

“‘Prut!’ exclaimed Henslowe, noticing the ill manner of his companion and showing disapproval. Then turning his attention to the servant, he said, ‘Fill one more. Our friend must crush a cup of wine with us.’ This the servant did from a bottle of finest canary from the sideboard which blazed with gilded, silver and gold ware.

“Henslowe had a cup of yellow wine close beside him, and so had Jonson. The face of the former appeared unusually complacent; and nothing, through the medium of his eyes alone could have disturbed his supreme felicity, for thou knoweth the richness of the tapestries of that pleasing den of the opulent manager of the Rose; the works of art upon its walls; the grand display of his costly libraries of unread books; the softness of its Turkish carpets and of its upholstered furniture. The insidious workings of canary wine were for peace and rest.

“I would fain have withdrawn, but being there on thy behalf, I put on a face of unconcern, and sat with back toward Jonson. Methinks the wine had stirred his wits and made him keen for controversy.”

“And fairly gifted he is in such line.”

“As I soon discovered, for before I had time to say to Henslowe the words, ‘To thy good health,’ 247 as I drank, Jonson said, ‘And what cares he for blood when wine will quench his thirst.’ Thus beginning with a sly sneer at Tamburlaine.”

“He evidently considers Shakespere an imitator of the dead Marlowe,” said Peele, looking at Marlowe.

“Not necessarily,” remarked Marlowe, “I hardly think that the passage from Tamburlaine was in his mind. He had evidently just read the first scene of Romeo and Juliet, where the prince rebukes his subjects for quenching their rage ‘With purple fountains issuing from your veins.’”29

“Ah! there it is again,” exclaimed Peele.

“Well, I paid no attention to Jonson, but addressed myself to Henslowe. The upshot of the matter was that he wanted no more plays with plots laid in foreign lands.”

“You are right,” interrupted Marlowe, “he is under Jonson’s influence.”

“Jonson had much to say in the conversation. At one time he asked me if I did not think I was following too closely the ‘mighty lines’ of Marlowe to ever be deemed anything more than a mere imitator, and he whipped out this paper, which he said I might keep for future reference, and as a warning that his eyes were open. He 248 either knew that what he had read of Romeo and Juliet was written by thee, Marlowe, or he wanted no thefts to be made from his own plays. This is his arraignment:

‘If love be blind, love cannot hit the mark.’
—Romeo and Juliet, ii, 1.
Love moderately, long love doth so.
—Romeo and Juliet, ii, 6.
Love goes toward love.
—Romeo and Juliet, ii, 2.
And what love can do, that dares love attempt.
—Romeo and Juliet, ii, 2.
Whoever loved that loved not at first sight.
—Hero and Leander.
Love me little, love me long.
—Jew of Malta, iv.
With love and patience let your true love die.
—II Tamburlaine, ii, 4.
‘Poor Poet-Ape, that would be thought our chief,
Whose works are e’en the frippery of wit,
From brockage is become so bold a thief,
As we, the robbed, leave rage, and pity it.’
* * * * *
He marks not whose ’twas first; and after-times
May judge it to be his, as well as ours.
Fool! as if half eyes will not know a fleece
From locks of wool, or shreds from the whole piece!
—Ben. Jonson.”

“Then following this exhibition, Jonson said, ’Thou hast not yet begun to put thyself forward publicly as a dramatist, Mr. Shakespere, for I notice that Titus Andronicus has been printed with no name of author on the title page. Art thou afraid of acknowledging it? Edward II is also 249 out, but Marlowe’s name is on it’ [notes 27 and 28]. At this I turned upon him and said, ‘I like not thy insinuations; and thy questions are impertinent. It is too plain that this rejection of my play is due to your influence. Some one is blind to his own interests, and that is you, Henslowe.’ The latter did not stir, and I continued, ‘I know what enormous profits have been reaped upon plays of this character, and there are other theatrical managers, thank God! in London.’”

“Good,” exclaimed Peele.

“And what manager hadst thou in mind,” asked Marlowe.

“Myself,” said Shakespere, quietly.

“Thou!” exclaimed the others.

“Yes. I shall at once lease the Green Curtaine that is now closed, and produce thy plays there, Marlowe. A fortune can soon be reaped from such venture” [note 43].

At this moment the sound of a key turning in the lock of the door came to their ears. It was Tamworth returning, they thought. Then, the door swung back, and the figures of four men appeared at the open threshold and crowded into the room. 250


Go, wander, free from fear of tyrant’s rage,
Removed from the torments and the hell,
Wherewith he may excruciate thy soul.
I Tamburlaine, iii, 3.
Go cross the seas,
And live with Richmond from the reach of hell.
Go, hie thee, hie thee, from this slaughter house
Lest thou increase the number of the dead.
Richard III, iv, 1.

Although the jury had decided against Bame, their verdict had not swayed his counsel, Eliot, in his opinion that the prisoner was innocent and that there was still an avenue of escape. But this avenue must be opened. The key would undoubtedly be found in newly discovered evidence. None could be produced except that of the mysterious man who was in the chantry with Bame. It might be that he had lost his life amid the flames of the church, but Eliot was hopeful of the contrary.

As narrated, the barrister had sought this absent witness before the trial, but without avail. Now, having procured a stay of the execution of the sentence, pending proceedings for a new trial, he began an exhaustive search. The sexton of the church stated that the door to the burial plot had been locked on the night of the fire, and so had the front entrance on the Old Jewry. There 251 had been no other outer doors. The windows had been too high for entrance and most difficult for exit. Had there been any other passage way? The sexton knew of none. A search was instituted for the body of the missing man. None was discovered in the chantry, whose marble floor still remained intact. Here the matter rested for a short time. What the searching party failed to discover, a blundering workman brought to light. In clearing the ruins, he broke, with a blow of his pick, a marble slab into a hundred pieces. This was in the chancel and was the slab covering the passage to the Prince’s wardrobe. Eliot was at once informed of the discovery, and he succeeded in keeping the matter quiet while he placed a sleepless watcher at the further end of the passage. The report was soon made to Eliot that some stranger inhabited with Tamworth the apartments wherein the passageway terminated. The reason of this stranger’s seclusion was not apparent; but Eliot became fixed in his idea that the witness for Bame was within reach. He laid his plans accordingly, and one evening he entered the Red Lion ordinary on Cattes street, where he had been informed that Tamworth was eating a late supper. Presuming upon a slight acquaintance, Eliot accosted him and accepted his invitation to sit and drink. Two men, who had closely followed him in, seated themselves at a table at some distance directly behind him.

The barristers had been talking for some time 252 on town and state topics, and Tamworth had nearly finished his repast, when Eliot suddenly dropped their discussion over a late rigorous enactment of Parliament, and said:

“Who is the man who lives with you in the Prince’s Wardrobe?”

If a cocked pistol had been presented at the head of Tamworth by this man who sat opposite him across the narrow table, it would have created in his mind little, if any, more commotion. He lost his grasp on his knife and fork and gazed fixedly at his fellow barrister. The latter’s frame was joggled by a low explosion of satisfaction which sounded like “Huh!”

He returned Tamworth’s gaze, and asked: “Well?”

“Pardon me,” said Tamworth, “I failed to hear your remark or question. I just noticed the Duke of Essex drive by in his imported carriage. Hark the cries you now hear are from workingmen cursing the patronage of foreign manufacturers.”

“Are you sure it was not my question that disconcerted you?” asked Eliot, with a smile.

“You are amusing,” returned Tamworth. “Do you not notice the open door behind you? Look, and you will see the link lights borne above the passing carriage.”

“That is of no importance,” responded Eliot. “There is little need to ask again who is with thee at the wardrobe, for thy face shows that the subject is of much concern.” 253

“There is no one with me there except on occasions when friends drop in,” answered Tamworth, who had not recovered from the effect of Eliot’s startling question. Then he asked with composure:

“Why do you ask?”

“Have you ever heard of Richard Bame?” returned Eliot.

“Yes,” answered Tamworth, feeling as though the table were sinking under his elbows, “as I have heard of his late trial in the Old Bailey. In what way is that name connected with the subject of our conversation?”

“I am his counsel,” answered Eliot.

“And!—” ejaculated Tamworth.

“As such I am looking for the sole witness who can testify to his innocence.”

“From the report of the trial,” said Tamworth, “I suppose that the man you seek is the one who was within the lighted chantry, as seen by the boy witness. Is it not more than probable that he did not escape from the burning church?”

“He did escape,” interrupted Eliot, and with a face upon which a knowing expression was displayed, he continued looking at Tamworth.

“Then why did the police not capture him?” inquired Tamworth, as though the question were a poser.

“He did not pass out by the front entrance,” said Eliot. 254

“Ah, by a window, then? Or by the door into the church-yard.”

“Nay,” said Eliot, “his escape could possibly have been by such means of exit, but there was another avenue for flight and he used it.”

“So,” exclaimed Tamworth, “this is interesting; go on!”

“Not as interesting as the recital would be to the ignorant,” said Eliot, with voice which did not, like his expanded nostrils, give evidence of his superior position in the discussion.

“What do you mean?” demanded Tamworth, indignantly.

“I have already gone too far,” answered Eliot. “May I accompany you to your lodgings?”

Excellent actor though he was, Tamworth could not prevent his face displaying the disconcertion of his mind. A pallid hue spread over his forehead and cheeks. It was evident to him that either the keepers of the building, of which he was a tenant, had been gossiping concerning their suspicions that he was not alone in the chamber of the king, or the workmen amid the ruins of the leveled church had discovered the secret passage. In either case, was Eliot talking upon actual knowledge that Marlowe was within the Prince’s Wardrobe, or was he seeking for such knowledge? There was no doubt that Eliot had well founded suspicions. In this state of mind, Tamworth answered:

“You say you have proceeded too far. If you 255 mean in talk, it is idle to dispute such assertion, for there is nothing yet to talk about; if, on the contrary, you refer to the distance that you have come from your home to this ordinary, there is still no answer necessary, for in the latter case you speak truth.”

Eliot returned no answer, but looking over his shoulder, motioned to the two men who had followed him in and were seated at a distant table. They seemed on the alert for this signal, for they immediately arose and came toward him. They were attired in the garb of the police, or watchmen, only upon this occasion they wore short swords instead of carrying halberds, and a heavy pistol was strapped to the waist of each. Tamworth saw them approach, and attempting a smile, he asked Eliot:

“What does this mean?”

“Oh, not for thee, most assuredly,” answered Eliot. “I asked if I might go with you to your quarters. The purpose is to find the man who was with Bame in the church of St. Olave. The secret passageway was discovered a few days ago, and it has been explored to the heavy door which closes it, and which I have ascertained is directly below your windows. I also know that a man answering to Bame’s description of his companion on that eventful night is one of the occupants of the king’s ancient chamber. We have fair information as to just how the corridors run and the rooms 256 are located, and could proceed without thee. You will come with us, will you not?”

During this recital Tamworth’s face became the picture of despair, and at the close he exclaimed, decidedly, “Not one step!”

“Then we go alone, and shall use force if necessary.”

“At your peril,” responded Tamworth, “I do not propose to have my home ransacked on such frivolous pretext. And, again, you have no warrant for such proposed outrage.”

“Here is the search warrant,” said one of the officers, displaying the writ.

At this exhibition, Tamworth was taken aback. “So,” he said, losing his repellent front, and speaking lower, “You have armed yourselves, have you? Well, we will go.”

There was still a chance that the search would not reveal the presence of Marlowe. The clock marked the hour of eleven. It was more than probable that his friend would be securely shut in the oratory, the existence of which was surely not yet suspected. In any case there was but one course to avert suspicion, and Tamworth arose and passed out of the ordinary with the three men. The distance between the Red Lion and the Prince’s Wardrobe was soon covered. A few moments after, they had traversed the long upper corridor of the ancient building, and were standing at the closed entrance to the king’s chamber. A round autumn moon was riding through the 257 heavens, and its bright light poured through the near window of the corridor.

Tamworth unlocked the door and threw it open. The brass lamp under the dragon’s head shed its radiance into every corner of the inviting room. The three strangers gazed in amazement at the unexpected display of richness and splendor. Tamworth threw his open hands forcibly against his head and shut his eyes with their palms, to hide a vision that filled him with direct apprehension of evil. Peele, Shakespere and Marlowe were seated under the great lamp and about the massive center table!

The disturbed occupants of the apartment had arisen at sight of the strangers, and gazed in astonishment at Tamworth, who now entered in advance of the others. He said calmly, but distinctly enough for every one to hear: “These men have forced themselves upon me and into this room for the purpose of learning if the man is here who entered the church of St. Olave on the night of its destruction.”

“And there he is,” exclaimed Eliot, pointing at Marlowe.

Several voices gave utterance to conflicting statements, so that it was impossible to distinguish their substance or force; and then Marlowe asked: “And what is wanted of me, if I am the man?”

Tamworth turned about, and, reaching the door, slammed it shut. Eliot regarded this movement with suspicion, and noticing it, Tamworth said: 258 “This disturbance should be confined to closed walls.”

“There is to be none,” responded Eliot.

“And so I pray,” answered Tamworth; “for is not the purpose of thy entrance accomplished?”

“Not fully,” answered Eliot, and then addressing Marlowe: “I must have thy written and sworn statement of the events of the night you stood with Bame in the chantry of the church.”

“For what purpose?” demanded Marlowe.

“To save an innocent man from the gallows.”

“Of whom dost thou speak?”

“Of Bame,” answered Eliot.

“Never!” came the response of several voices.

“Nay, nay!” exclaimed Marlowe, “if one unjustly accused may be saved by such simple means, I will give it. Is this all?”

“For the present,” answered Eliot. “Thy affidavit is sufficient for my immediate purpose; but later thou must appear as a witness upon a new trial of Bame, if the same shall be granted.”

“And for what has he been tried?” asked Marlowe.

“For the burglary of the church.”

“A false accusation,” exclaimed Marlowe.

“Good!” responded Eliot.

“And who here has authority to take the oath which must be affixed to the statement of thy proposed witness?” inquired Tamworth.

“That is a matter easily attended to,” answered Eliot. “A justice is not far distant. We can attend 259 before him; or if you prefer, send one of your friends for him. Here is the statement.”

Throwing back his heavy cloak with these words, the barrister drew from his pocket a white roll. He then thrust his gloves under his belt, and spread out the paper upon the table.

“Have you a quill and ink here?” he asked.

“I have,” answered Tamworth, “but what is the character of this written statement?”

“See for thyself; and you,” he continued, directing his eyes upon Peele, “can you not go to the justice at the corner of this street and the Poultry, and bring him here, or if he refuses to stir abroad at this late hour, demand that he light his candle and wait our presence?”

“You are in haste,” remarked Tamworth, “and not at all diffident in making requests of strangers.”

“There is occasion for it.”

“We certainly prefer the justice to attend here,” said Peele, “but why not send one of these watchmen?”

“They may not be as persuasive as a man of dignified bearing,” returned Eliot, bowing slightly.

“Well, Peele,” said Tamworth, “a word with you.”

He drew him and Shakespere into the distant alcove.

“Is the situation serious?” asked Peele.

“Not so far as immediate results are concerned, unless the justice knows and recognizes Marlowe. 260 It is evident that Eliot never saw him before, but thinks he fills Bame’s description of the man who was with him in St. Olave. All that he can demand now is an affidavit. They have no power to take him into custody.”

“Unless by unlawful force,” suggested Peele.

“True,” answered Tamworth, “but the danger lies in the future. The order, upon Eliot’s motion for a new trial, may be made to-morrow, and Marlowe would be detained as a witness. Further concealment here, except for the night, is hopeless. There is no safety for him in London. He must leave for the continent before twenty-four hours have passed over his head.”

“And now, what?” asked Peele.

“There is no occasion for either of you remaining here, and you must leave as though in answer to Eliot’s request to call the justice, whom we do not want here. His presence might be fatal. If you do not depart on this pretense, a watchman may be sent. In the tedious delay which will ensue, I shall find time to outwit this presumptuous barrister and his watchmen. Repair to Shakespere’s quarters and there await our coming.”

The three came forth from behind the portieres.

“Well,” remarked Eliot, quietly, “what is the result of this uncalled-for conference?”

His manner of looking at Tamworth, more than his words, showed that their withdrawal had raised his suspicions. 261

“Peele will go for the justice,” said Tamworth.

“And I with him,” continued Shakespere.

“So,” said Eliot, “I have no desire to break up this family meeting; but if you will have it that way, it is well.”

“Midnight is not an early hour for departure,” said one of the group.

The two men had departed when Tamworth began reading aloud for his own and Marlowe’s benefit the paper unrolled upon the table. At the head was the customary title of court and cause with venue following. Then came the pronoun “I,” with a blank space for the insertion of a name. It was evident that Eliot had not placed any faith in Bame’s statement that this man was Christopher Marlowe. Cases of mistaken identity were not of infrequent occurrence, and this was evidently one; but whatever his name might be, he was none the less the witness upon whom Bame’s cause depended. Such had been the reasoning of the barrister while drawing the paper. Tamworth finished his reading. It was the true recital of the night’s events, but Tamworth shook his head impressively and then asked:

“Upon this you hope for a re-trial?”

“Most assuredly,” answered Eliot.

“And upon such trial, expect my noble friend to appear?”

“How else could it be accomplished?” answered the other, in amazement, and then, as though a seed of fear had grown into gigantic form within him, 262 he straightened himself up and said, sententiously: “And I demand thy assurance of his presence when required—thy assurance as a lawyer—or he must be taken into custody.”

“Thy closing threat is a mockery of law,” said Tamworth quietly. “With neither the warrant for his seizure, nor the justifiable ground of a crime committed in the presence of an officer, we may laugh at thy proposed action.”

“Laugh or not,” said Eliot, in measured tones, “we will await the coming of the justice.” And then, looking at Marlowe, he suddenly asked: “And now what is thy name?”

“We will wait for the justice, as you suggest,” interrupted Tamworth, apparently not noticing the question. Then he nodded to Marlowe, who was showing signs of agitation, and the two moved to the wall beyond which lay the secret oratory.

“We must strike at once,” whispered Tamworth.

“Aye,” murmured Marlowe, “but how?”

“The oratory is thine only refuge for the present. Later I will tell my plans.”

“The ink!” demanded Eliot, in loud voice, and then almost inaudibly he spoke to one of the watchmen: “Guard the stairs. Stand there near the railing.”

Tamworth whispered once more in the ear of his friend: “Remain here ready to act.”

At the same time he pointed to the spot where, behind the tapestry, the entrance to the oratory was concealed. Marlowe nodded his head, and 263 then Tamworth crossed the room to a desk in the alcove. He returned with an inkhorn. His plan of action had been clearly conceived and he was about to attempt its execution. He and his companion could have adopted violent means, for with their swords they were more than a match for Eliot and the watchmen; but in the train of such violence, complete and irretrievable disaster might follow. Such attack was not to be made unless all other efforts failed.

As Tamworth handed the inkhorn to Eliot, he stepped upon a chair beside him and then on the table. The movement was so sudden that none understood his purpose, until he had raised the lamp bodily from its suspended basket. He was about to extinguish its flame but before it could be accomplished, Eliot, who was still sitting beside the table, grabbed with both arms the legs which stood before him. The attempt to extinguish the flame failed; Tamworth, with a cry, lost his balance, and as he fell he threw his blazing burden toward the empty fire-place. A wave of black smoke followed its course across the room and then—darkness. Not a spark of light shone anywhere. Marlowe would fain have waited to learn the culmination of the train of action thus set in motion, but he knew that every move had been for his benefit; and so, as darkness enveloped him, he drew back the tapestry and pressed upon a mullion of the walled window. It was not the one he wanted. He felt again and ran his hands 264 across the entire surface. Ah! he had it, and the wall moved; but at that instant, which was but the second instant in the flight of time since darkness had descended, a sword of light flashed upward from the chimney-place, and instantaneously a violent explosion shook the room. Flaming oil shot outward from the chimney for a distance of twenty feet. It ran like snakes with flashing and darting tongues along every exposed seam of the ancient floor. It curled around the splendid supports of the mantel. It fastened its destroying fangs in the scattered pieces of oriental carpet, and crawled over and fed upon the unconscious form of the man who had met his death in his efforts to save his friend. There he lay where he had fallen with face upward on the hearth-stone. How the black smoke was rising from the burning oil! Everything inanimate and unconscious within the king’s chamber, nay, within the ancient palace, was doomed.

Eliot and the watchman fled through the open door and the smoke followed them, as though thus seeing an exit for its increasing volume. Marlowe, still holding to the folds of the tapestry, which he had grasped as the explosion swayed his body, cried loudly, “Tamworth, Tamworth!”

There was no answer. He staggered from his place, reached the center table, circled it, and the flames leaped at his feet and drove him backward. His heel struck the raised marble of the first of the descended steps of the stairway, and the heat 265 filled his nostrils. He turned and, hiding his face in his hands, groped his way down the secret stairway, threw open its narrow door and passed into the darkness.

On that night a despondent and sorrowful man demanded by loud blows admittance to a room at the Boar’s Head which overlooked Crooked Lane and the churchyard of St. Michael. But the regular occupant, who was none less than George Peele, was not then within to hear the summons. Late, on the following morning, soon after Peele had reached his room, another knock, this time by a stranger, sounded. Immediately the door was opened, and a man, whose apparel and hands bespoke contact with wherries and fish, handed in a sealed letter. Peele broke it open and read the following:

“My Dear Peele: Tamworth’s and my apartments were destroyed by fire last night, and he, while striving for my safety, perished in the flames. Of this I shall write you more fully when time is afforded me, and travel has somewhat dispelled the present oppressive gloom. I sought entrance at thy door last night to announce my intention of departing, but no one answered my knocking. I can no longer risk the safety of my few remaining friends, and, knowing of no refuge under a government whose hand would be raised against me if my existence were known, I leave for Venice to-night. I shall continue writing, but, as of late, it must be under the name of Shakespere. Vale. Faustus.” 266

The reading finished, he asked of the man who still stood at the door: “Where is the person who sent this?”

“On the Thames; aboard ship bound seaward.”

“When did you leave him?”

“Not long since, for I rowed directly up the river after putting him aboard that ship in midstream. When ashore I came directly here.”

“That is all,” said Peele, and as the door was closed by the departing wherry man, he continued in audible voice, but solely for his own ear: “Poor Tamworth! and how much better off are the living? Poor Marlowe! but still this change is for thy best interests. Thy Jew of Malta is strong, but the crudeness of detail arises from unfamiliarity with the scenes where it is laid. The fire burning within thee, O noble friend and fellow dramatist, must blaze clearer and brighter from new fuel now to be furnished thee. Barabbas is great, but a greater Jew will arise from out thy meditations in the City of the Sea. This is the language of prophecy.” 267


—“And where didst meet him?
Upon mine own freehold within forty feet of the gallows, conning his neck verse.
Jew of Malta.
—“Who doth (Time) gallop withal?
With a thief to the gallows; for though he goeth as softly as foot can fall, he thinks himself too soon there.
As You Like It.

At the house of the sheriff in Deptford, Anne waited many long days for Bame to appear with her father. No news of Bame’s arrest reached her ears, and no answer came to her message to Marlowe. At length an opportunity arose to send another messenger to Canterbury, this time by no circuitous route; but, despite its delivery, Manuel Crossford did not appear to secure her liberation. The wished-for reconciliation between father and daughter did not take place until many months later; but before the month of June had passed, the aid which Anne had sought from those nearest to her through blood and family ties, came in the person of a maid in the house of the sheriff. This maid had been deputized to attend upon the fair prisoner. As might have been expected she was easily won over, and on a dark night an escape was effected through unbolted doors, and a boat which lay ready on the Thames. The maid had 268 enlisted the services of a lad who would have crossed the sea at her bidding, and by him they were conveyed up the river to London, where, in a quarter at some distance from her former home with her aunt, and in ignorance of what was transpiring with Bame and Marlowe, we must leave her and return to those characters who had become involved in a web from which there was no possible extrication.

The boy Pence had been set at liberty. His companions, Pento and Badly, had suffered capital punishment. Bame would have immediately met the same fate, but an extra effort was made in his behalf.

Eliot’s attempts to learn something of Tamworth, and of his companion whose name was still unknown, proved fruitless. With their disappearance, all hope of a new trial for Bame was extinguished. But a writ of error was taken, and the case, after swinging back and forth between the courts, was finally determined adversely to the appellant. Bame was resentenced, and the day fixed was December 6th, 1594. It had at length dawned in the streets of London.

Bame saw the morning only through bars never gilded by sunlight, and this was the last daybreak he would ever witness. It had not aroused him from sleep, for he had walked the cell for eighteen hours without an intermission of rest, except as he had paused for a bite at the bread or for a swallow of water handed in by the turnkey. No death 269 watch had been in the corridor; for prisoners awaiting execution in those days were too numerous to command any particular attention. Thus his meditations had been undisturbed, except by the hourly passing by the guard, whose footsteps only diverted his thoughts of the approaching last hour, to the momentary apprehension that it was at hand. At such times he would pause in his walk; glance at the window to see if the night had passed, and failing to recognize any difference between the gloom within and the gloom without the bars, would brush the sudden beads of perspiration from his brow and await the dying away of the disturbing footsteps.

Amid all the thoughts of the coming ordeal, there was one consolation that remained. It was in the mode of his prescribed death. The victims, of whose untimely fates he had been the prime spring, had met death in bitter agony at the stake; he was to be hung. While he had not gloated over the tortures of the condemned free-thinkers, he had deemed these tortures merited, and, as a late witness of the agonies of martyrs, he had at times fairly smiled at his own sentence.

There was one man amid the dense crowd, thronging the front of Newgate on that morning, who waited with something more than vulgar curiosity to see the condemned felon come forth. At an early hour, this man had mounted the stone block which stood on the edge of the street directly before the gates of the prison; and neither 270 the threats of the approaching storm, nor its furious presence had driven him under shelter. Under the livid colored clouds, which still obscured the sky after the passing of the tempest, he maintained his position of vantage. It gave him a commanding view on all sides, and likewise made him a conspicuous figure. The tumbril bearing Bame would pass close before him. He could not fail in his accost of the condemned to secure his attention, and for this purpose he held this position. What was his ultimate design could not be read in the expression of his face or his demeanor. It might be that he intended by the fervor of devout utterance to strengthen the tried soul of the man entering the valley of shadow, or, on the contrary, to exhibit to the latter a gloating visage and hurl an execration in his face.

Whoever in the idle crowd questioned the design of this heavy man in leathern doublet who stood above them, remained only a short time in ignorance. The heavy gates swung open, and three men flourishing halberds cleared the way for a horse and open cart. Behind the cart came four armed riders, and the hangman in rough cassock and black hat. The cart bore two men. One was the driver. The other was a man in manacles who stood erect for the moment while the wheels run over the smooth pavement. As evidence of innocence, he wore a white cockade in his hat, and an expression of forced resignation appeared on his face. The crowd was silent for a moment, and 271 then cheered him as they noticed his erect posture and the white cockade.

The horse had been reined in at the edge of the street for a moment while the crowd was being thrust back by the guard. Bame silenced the cheering by his effort to be heard above this demonstration. He repeated his words twice, and then they heard him.

“I have committed no crime,” he cried, “My death will be a judicial murder.”

Contrary to his expectations, the words did not revive the applause that had preceded them. This was occasioned by another voice that rang out in clear and louder accents:

“The dog lies. He should be strangled before he reaches the gallows. A public accuser! a public informer!”

Bame turned his head, and on his elevated perch he saw Gyves, the ex-constable. The crowd saw him too, and in its fickleness cheered him and then hooted and threw mud and stones at Bame. The latter was knocked into a sitting posture by the missiles where he remained trembling from fear of a more violent assault being made. Up to that moment he had prayed for death in any form, except at the hands of the hangman; but in the sudden and unexpected presence of mob violence, fierce and strong enough to crush out all life, he forgot the incentive of his prayers.

The driver’s hat had been knocked from his head, and this angered him so that he swore loudly 272 and called vile names even at the man who picked the fallen hat from the ground and threw it into the cart. At the same time he sent the long lash of his whip cracking and smarting into the faces of the front row of the crowd. They fell back, jeering at him.

“Kill him, too!” they yelled.

“A fit mate for the felon!”

“He handles his reins like Tyburn hemp!”

“An apprentice for the hangman!”

“Take that!”

“And that!”

Another volley of stones and mud followed. Bame lay flat in the cart and escaped injury, but the driver fell back stunned, with the reins in his nerveless hands. Then there was a discharge of firearms. The guards had leveled their blunderbusses and puffs of smoke curled upwards from the wide mouths. The mob turned and broke away precipitately on all sides, leaving two who had fallen with the report of the firearms, and now lay outstretched on the stone pavement. One of them was Gyves. His late prominence and appearance as the leading spirit of the mob had made him the mark for more than one of the guards, and his body was riddled with balls. Thus was the beginning of the ride marked with death, and the end was to be no less a tragedy.

While London was under the rule of the Plantagenets, the penalty pronounced against capital offenders was inflicted amid the elms 273 in Smithfield; but under the piteous eyes of children from the windows of the encroaching dwellings of a rapidly increasing populace, the executioner bungled so badly in his frequent task, that early in the reign of the Tudors, the distant bank of the Tyburn was selected as a more suitable spot for carrying the death sentence into effect. Here, for a few years following, the surrounding fields remained open, and none but the constant mob from Faringdon ward looked upon the unsightly object under the “Tyburn tree.” This mob followed the cart of the condemned in all seasons and under all skies. On dry roads it was enveloped in dust; the mud was beaten down by its untiring feet in stormy seasons, and while it was compact in body upon leaving Newgate it was a scattered procession in its retreat from Tyburn.

The Tyburn road started amid thick clustering buildings, but soon shaking itself free from these, it ran on, wide and firm, by bordering dwellings, tippling houses and inns, into the open country, where it straggled and seemed aimless in its purpose. But this seeming was only to quiet the thousands of wretches who were carried over its surface on their last ride. For them there were three miles of hard travel, and at the end of each intermediate mile, hope could kindle in their breasts that the ride might be only the beginning of a journey into exile. In summer they saw broad fields of grain; felt the cool shade of forests; 274 heard the songs of birds; or, in the dead season of the year, reaped from the vision of white hills a temporary respite from brooding melancholy.

The crowd that followed the cart bearing Bame was boisterous to a degree suggestive of immediate violence. They had, with blanched faces, seen the death meted out to two of their members; and while this scene had for a time appalled and silenced them, as they drew away from the close buildings in the outer ward of the city, their ill will against the guard and its prisoner became manifest through their murmurs and demeanor. They did not blame the guard so much as they did the prisoner. The guard had done its duty, undoubtedly; it was a mere instrument, but Bame had been the cause. The result lay at his door. The driver must press forward speedily, and the hangman must be unusually expeditious if the crowd was to be pacified.

Bame realized the situation, and contrary to the usual desire of Tyburn passengers, prayed for a speedy ride. There was the inn of the White Ox on ahead. Would it ever be reached? The wheels of the cart sunk so deep in the mud that it seemed as though at every yard they would stop turning. The guard flourished its weapons at the restless mob behind it, and still the procession moved. Here was the White Ox at last, and there at the front edge of its wide porch stood the man who had actually counted seven hundred and four condemned felons ride by the White Ox during 275 that year. He thought that he had marked them on the inner edge of the white railing against which he was leaning, but he had missed at least two score driven by on several early hours while he was sleeping off the effect of some late-at-night potations. He had reason to count, for he was the tapster, and here the executioner always stopped for a drink. It was not to steady his nerves, for apparently he had none. The tapster had it ready when the cart stopped.

The man in the cassock and black hat rode close to the edge of the railing and took the glass from the tapster’s hand. As he raised it to his lips, he bowed in mock cheer to the sad-faced man in the tumbril as though to say, “This is to your good health.” However, he said nothing, except to the driver whom he admonished to drive more rapidly.

About three miles from the west wall of London, on what is now Oxford street, close at the foot of a small declivity, there stood at the time of our narrative a solitary building of two stories. Near this structure was a cluster of elm trees, and from them the place had received the title of “The Elms.” The building had been designed for an inn, but the locality was in such ill favor that very few occasions arose for its landlord to welcome the coming, and speed the parting guest. One side of the steep mossed roof sloped toward the muddy road; the other side touched the top of a lofty board fence. This fence surrounded the “triple 276 tree of Tyburn,” as the gallows was called. The obnoxious structure whereon felonies were expiated was invisible to all travelers except those coming down the hill from where the bourne of Tye found its source; but the enclosing fence was such a subject of notice and inquiry, that strangers, as well as neighboring farmers, were glad to pass quickly by it. The tenant of the Elms, however, did not depend for livelihood upon the profits of the inn bar, its table or its beds. The key to the great gates of the fence hung within the tap-room, and there was revenue to the landlord for being its custodian. In the enclosure were raised seats and on “state” occasions these were in demand at fair prices, all of which were collected and retained by the keeper. This keeper was a woman, nicknamed Mother Peter.

As usual, Mother Peter had the gates open long before the procession arrived; and so, without a pause, into the enclosure passed the stern, compact and mounted body, representative of order, and after it the loose and disorderly mob. The latter filled the space between the widely separated gate posts as it poured in, a body of ill-clad flesh, of all ages and of both sexes, with brutal and repulsive faces, and audible from jeers, curses and loud laughter.

The enclosure was one of three acres with a flat open space in the center around whose edges rose tiers of seats sloping upward and backward to the fence’s top. In the center was a triangular platform, 277 raised twenty feet above the ground, and having at each of its three corners an upright post each with a beam extending horizontally from its top. Broad steps led up to this platform, and on it was a bench and a table. On the table was an earthen jug and beside it an earthen bowl. In the table was a Bible. From the three horizontal arms, black ropes suspended, and every breeze swayed them.

The tumbril had stopped at the foot of the broad steps. Its footboard was let down and Bame descended from it. He stood there with a guard on each side, and the crowd drawn backward to standing places on the encircling seats. A feeling of weakness pervaded him as he glanced upward at the posts and their suspended ropes so ominous of evil to himself. He partially recovered his control while the guard and executioner were attending to their horses, and then, with them, he ascended the steps to the platform.

From the raised platform Bame could see across the top of the gates of the enclosure toward London. He looked absently in that direction, and at first saw nothing because of the tumult in his mind. Suddenly the scene swept into his field of consciousness, and under a dark canopy of smoke and cloud, he saw the distant city. No sunlight lay upon the myriad of walls that formed the picture. No gilded dome, nor window in visible towers, flashed to him a welcome or a warning. In the gloom, it seemed a city of death or sleep, 278 and he felt it to be a vision, impalpable and evanescent. The broken steeple of St. Paul, the crumbling Roman wall, the fronts of familiar buildings, brought a rush of tender memories and a flood of tears. He could not brush this evidence of weakness aside, for his hands were bound; and so with outer vision blurred, the inner, or spiritual, became the real. The fields of morning appeared, and he passed through them as with the rapid wings of an angel, catching their scents and a sweetness of life like that known only to the barefooted boy when the grass is green and the day perfect and no duties confront him. Then the fire of the period of ambition filled him, and he saw his home, the deserted bench at which he once labored, the patient face of his wife and then the figure of Marlowe as he appeared to him under the blazing lights of the chantry. Ah! was it he? Yes. “And are not the charges false?” rises the question from a thousand voices.

He recognizes them all, and he attempts to say, “Yes, and let it be so recorded!” but he finds himself without voice. There is a darkness that is never to be lifted about him. He has a faint comprehension of the reason, but it grows into no verity. Verities are beyond him, so is the world with all its falseness. There is a close cloth over his face which stifles him. He feels bungling fingers about his neck, then the scraping of a rough substance in the same place. He imagines he cries: 279

“Unloose! Air, air! My God, save me!”

But in fact he had said nothing, and with these unuttered words upon his burning lips, he feels a terrific jar that seems an explosion in his own brain. All the world is aflame. Was there ever such an illumination? But, O God! what thrust was that through the center of life itself? This is pain in its purity. But, wait, hold but a moment, O ye fires! It groweth dark and darker. An absolute blackness is gathering with a swiftness incomprehensible; and a roar, as mighty and continuous as the ocean at steep headlands, fills his ears, increases and then dies utterly.

Bame was hanging under the Tyburn gallows. 280


No bounds, but heaven, shall bound his empery,
Whose azured gates, enchased with his name,
Shall make the Morning haste her grey uprise
To feed her eyes with his engraven fame.
Dido, i.
Methinks ’tis pride enough to be his son.
See how the morning opes her golden gates,
And takes her farewell of the glorious sun.
Third Part of Henry VI, ii, 1.

In 1597 the Privy Council commanded that the playhouses in Finbury Fields be leveled to their foundations, but the command had not been executed. It is one thing to decree, it is another to enforce. The indignant spirit of reform that prevailed upon the administrative body appeared to have exhausted its power with the procurance of the mandate, for even on the Sabbath, the annunciatory trumpets before the Curtain and Theater continued to proclaim the daily stage performance.

The last trumpet for the day had blown before the Curtain on a winter afternoon in 1598, and a packed audience already filled its pit and galleries, when a solitary foot traveler, leaving the Shore-ditch highway, entered the narrow lane leading toward the fields. The air was cold and frosty, and that may have caused the traveler to keep the 281 cape of his cloak raised high around his face. At any rate, on such a day, there was nothing in the fact that the low-drawn hat and high-raised cape left visible only a pair of eyes, to raise suspicion that the man desired to avoid identification.

A heavy snow had fallen during the previous night, but a wide, firmly-beaten path led over it across the fields. As he noted this condition of the way, he calculated that several thousand people had preceded him. Was it to hear Alleyn at the Theater, or Burbage at the Curtain? He thought that it was to hear Burbage, and possibly his knowledge of what that great actor was to perform forced this conclusion. The play of Hamlet had already been performed at White Hall before the Queen, but this was to be its first presentation before the public. The praise bestowed upon it by the titled few who had assembled in the banqueting house at the palace had reached the public ear, and its effect was here demonstrated. It was the prospect of seeing this play that led this man across the fields which he had not entered for several years.

If he had been at all interested in his surroundings, he would have noticed that in the short space of time which had elapsed since the last day he had passed through the break in the field wall, many changes had taken place. The ruins of the old church of Holywell (demolished in the reign of Henry VIII) had been removed, or appropriated for the walls of dwellings arising above the 282 ancient foundations. Much solid ground had been made where the sedge had sprung from shallow marsh water, and houses here and there dotted the white expanse. An assembly house for the worship of Brownists stood within the brick boundary wall of the fields. Although a low structure, it covered a large area and appeared a menace against the playhouses. These theaters, of height equivalent to three stories, were resplendent with lively-colored fronts and painted windows. A single red flag fluttered above the top of each. There had been no changes in their exteriors since the observer last saw them. Hundreds of horses, many richly caparisoned, and others bearing rude saddles only, stood in groups before both houses, while shivering boys and men held them. Only a few of the dismounted riders were standing at the entrances of the theaters.

The late comer passed around one of these groups, and at the entrance of the Curtain presented a letter to the doorkeeper, who, without betraying his inability to read, passed it into a square window, within which was a room with cheerful fire and a man who broke open the letter and read it, saying:

“It is the man for whom a box has been reserved.”

“Who is he?” asked the other.

“The note sayeth not.”

“Strange that a whole box should have been 283 reserved for one person on such a day,” growled the doorkeeper.

“Well, those were Shakespere’s orders, and as he holds much of the stock of the company, his request must be respected. The note is signed by him. Admit him to box 4.”

The man passed in and followed a boy up a winding flight of stairs to the lower gallery. It was a small compartment at one end of, and overlooking, the stage. The boy unlocked it [note 44]. Although the round pit, into which one could look from this box, was open to the clear sky, the floor of the upper gallery projected so far over this box that the light was dim within it; and heavy curtains at its front, although drawn apart, augmented its constant dimness. The boy started to light a lamp in a wall bracket, but the man stopped him and directed him as he left to lock the frail door. There was room for ten people in the box, and as the boy turned the key upon his temporary prisoner, and wormed his way through the packed gallery, he wondered how one could be so selfish as to appropriate an entire box for one’s sole use.

Finding himself alone, the man threw off his hat and cloak; but immediately the chill of the winter day penetrated his doublet and he replaced the discarded garments. The interval in which his head, countenance and shoulders were uncovered was scarcely a minute; but it was quite long enough to reveal that his beard and hair were 284 false, and the doublet so arranged as to misrepresent the form beneath it. Having seated himself so as to be out of the view of the audience, he peered through the space between the wall and the edge of one of the curtains. A pleased expression showed on his face as he noticed the immensity of the audience.

There was no standing room in the pit, which was so clamorous for the play to begin that the orchestra, in its box within the center wall above the stage, could scarcely be heard above the tumult. The front row of standing spectators was crowded so close to the stage that their chins rested upon it; and the press was so great that several of the more active groundlings had crawled up and lay upon the rushes at the feet of the favored portion of the audience which occupied every chair upon the ends of the stage. There were black hangings upon all the posts and the lofty canopy above the boards was of like color, indicating that the play to be presented was a tragedy. A sign bearing the word “Denmark” hung close to the canopy, and was an announcement of the place where the scenes of the drama were laid. Neither curtain nor foot-lights graced the stage, but the rude painting of a castle partially concealed the barn-like wall. A raised platform at the back showed that there was to be a play within a play.

The music of the orchestra died away, and the groundlings and scaffolders held breath. Francisco had taken his post, and Bernardo entered. It 285 seemed that the first question, “Who’s there?” was uttered by the man in Box 4, for at that moment the door to the box was burst open with a crash, and several persons pushed in. The gross-looking man, whose broad shoulders had been used to force an entrance, was in the lead. He whispered so that the quiet man against the railing heard him, “Beg your pardon, but it was either this forcible intrusion, or the sweat of the mob for us and these ladies, and no sight of the play. You can’t blame us.”

The man to whom the words were addressed disdained to turn his head, but sunk it lower within his ruff and kept his eyes on the stage, but it is not likely that he saw it any more than he did the intruders. He kept his peace, but his face was white from rage or fright. He had recognized the speaker as Ben Jonson, and the voice of one of the other two men with him had sounded so familiar that even before the ghost stalked across the stage, he knew that one of his companions was Nash. Feminine voices proclaimed that at least two of the fair sex were of the party. Their whispers conveyed no further intelligence to him. He again became absorbed in the play, while the intruders took possession of the chairs behind him. They thought him a dull boor; he either should have shown enough spirit to resent their rude entrance with fierce words or a drawn sword; or, with resignation to the inevitable, have murmured a welcome at least to the ladies. Thus ran their 286 thoughts; but he had forgotten the disturbance and his situation. Even at the close of the act, the ecstasy of his mind continued as his eyes swept over the audience, and from pleased countenances gleaned the opinion of a favorable reception of the play. Why did this please him?

The conversation behind him caught his ears. It was between Jonson and Nash and ran on uninterrupted for an interval. It held his attention.

“Who plays the ghost?”

“Shakespere” [note 45].

“’Tis said he wrote the play.”

“I question it.”

“Why so?”

“He knoweth little Latin.”

“We have heard no Latin.”

“True; but the speech of Horatio is descriptive of the events preceding Cæsar’s death as set forth in Lucan’s Pharsalia” [note 46].

“Doth no translation of the Pharsalia exist?” [note 47]

“Yes, but only in manuscript.”

“Perchance he hath had access to the manuscript.”

“There is but one copy, and that is in my possession.”

“Translated by thyself?”


“By whom?”


“And the description of the tenantless graves, 287 the sheeted dead gibbering in the streets of Rome and the stars with trains of fire is like Marlowe’s translation?”

“The one is drawn from the other; for in Marlowe’s translation ‘Sylla’s ghost was seen to walk singing sad oracles:’ ‘Souls quiet and appeased sighed from their graves;’ ‘and ghosts encountered men;’ and ‘sundry fiery meteors blazed in Heaven.’”

“’Tis strange.”

“Most strange!”

“And how do you account for such a coincidence?”

“Wait; the play goes on.”

The second scene of Act I was in progress, and at its close Nash, who appeared to be the better posted, said:

“Didst ever hear Marlowe’s play of Edward II?”

“Yes, years ago at this theater.”

“Dost thou remember the character of Spencer?”

“I do,” answered Jonson.

“Where he says:

‘’Tis not a black coat and a little band,
A velvet caped cloak faced before with serge?’”

“And what of that?” interrupted the other.

“What! why have you not just heard Hamlet say:

‘’Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black’?”

“Examine at thy leisure the entire passages.”

“’Tis plagiarism!” ejaculated Jonson, ever ready to decry the works of another.

“Or—” began Nash.

“Hamlet was written by Marlowe,” interrupted Jonson.

“True,” answered Nash, nodding his head excitedly, “And much additional evidence exists confirmatory of your hastily given statement; but this time is all too short to compare the precepts of Polonius with Spencer’s ‘to stab when occasion serves,’ or with the meditations of Barabbas; or to note how Marlowe’s metaphysical musings concerning ‘This frail and transitory flesh,’ ‘the aspiring mind,’ ‘the incorporeal spirit,’ ‘the buzzing fear’ of what comes after death, have been joined and compacted in this play of Hamlet. Note in your study how smoothly the polished lines of Marlowe’s acknowledged works can be run in between the lines of this play without the slightest jar or impairment; note how many of the speeches wind up with the last two lines rhyming; note the tendency in all toward bombast where excess of passion is expressed.”

This conversation, while it pleased and amused the listener, awakened in him a fear of no trifling character. He would have made his exit from the box, but he dared not arise and pass before the eyes of those behind him. They might recognize him, and such recognition was to be avoided. Act III was in progress, and Burbage, as Hamlet, held 289 the audience spell-bound. Ophelia, played by the boy, Thomas Deak, of the children of the Chapel, had awakened the sympathy of every auditor; and in praise and honor of the creative genius of the drama an inexhaustible cup was filling for the lips of all his lovers through the coming centuries.

No sooner had the act closed than the conversation was resumed between the two dramatists who had carried on the former discussion:

“‘The undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns,’” whispered Nash, “is much like the expression of Mortimer, who, upon contemplation of death, says, in Edward II:

‘Weep not for Mortimer,
That scorns the world, and, as a traveler,
Goes to discover countries yet unknown.’”

“An apt parallelism,” remarked Jonson, and then slyly added, “But what think you of the lines put in the mouths of the players?”

“In Scene II of Act II, of this Hamlet?” inquired Nash.

“Yes, Æneas’ tale to Dido.”

“I know not what to think of them.”

“Did not Marlowe begin the drama of Dido?”

“He did.”

“And you completed it, did you not?” questioned Jonson.

“I did,” answered Nash [note 37].

“Now, is not this speech of the players in ridicule of thy work?” 290

“Possibly,” answered Nash, somewhat nettled by the question. “I had no love for the subject and pushed the work without inspiration; but no one but Marlowe, methinks, would have taken offense at my weak closing of his strong and poetic opening.”

“And the story of Troy was a fond one of his.”

“True, the famous Helen is the subject of conjuration in Faustus and is spoken of in Tamburlaine.”

“And is not the same fondness displayed in Titus Andronicus, The Merchant of Venice, King Henry IV, King Henry VI, Troilus and Cressida, and the Tempest?”

“It is.”

“Well, then if thy supposition is correct that Marlowe instead of Shakespere wrote this play of Hamlet, why is not my theory correct that he is holding up thy extravagant lines in Dido to ridicule?” [note 48]

“But, how can that be possible?” retorted Nash, “while I may be inclined to believe that Marlowe wrote this play, it could not have been since I completed his unfinished drama of Dido; for did he not die in 1593?”

“Is there not good reason to dispute that death?”

“By what?”

“The internal evidence of this play.”

“And by what else?”

“The contradictory reports of his death.” 291

“And to what conclusion does all this tend?”

“That Marlowe still lives, an outcast, a fugitive from justice.”

“But why an outcast; why a fugitive?”

“What else would cause him to keep concealed?”

“Thou hast not answered the question.”

“Did he not offend the church? Were not direct charges made against him? Was not the Queen apprised? Was not this but three days before his disappearance? You know the charge?”

“Aye, blasphemy.”

“And see what the play reveals, bitter remembrances, personal griefs and doubts, misanthropy in strongest sort. ‘The suits of woe,’ the ‘weary, stale, flat and unprofitable uses of this world,’ ‘contagious blastments,’ the losing of ‘all mirth,’ ‘we fools of nature,’ ‘the sleep of death,’ ‘the blister on the forehead of the once innocent love,’ These are but the outpourings of one sick of the vanities of life, hopeless of fame, bereft of all joys, and unsolaced by religion.”

“Bah! one in love can write of murder and madness.”

“True, as it may fit the story that he writes; but this is a drama in which the light and dark could well mingle to the interest of the auditors; but no, ’tis heavy with the fruit of gloomy philosophical meditations provoked in a sensitive mind 292 from brooding over some crime more dark than that of blasphemy.”

“So! and possibly what?” asked Nash.

“The slaying of a human being,” answered Jonson.

“Murder by Marlowe?” ejaculated Nash.

A feminine cry arose in the box. It was stifled instantly, but it stopped the conversation. The man at the front of the box shuddered, and covered his face with his hands. He had almost turned his head at this outcry, but he restrained himself for the moment. This inclination to turn had been induced solely by the effect upon his ears, but following it came a force to turn him that was irresistible. The cry had shaken a chord that had been vibrated before, it seemed by the same voice in similar outcry. It did not immediately flash upon him where or under what circumstances he had heard it. No words had risen from the lips of this woman, as yet to him unseen, to give character to the cry she had just uttered, or to explain its occasion. But the one chord that it vibrated within him trembled until the surrounding network of memory became animated, and the tavern duel scene at the point where Anne had thrown herself at the feet of her combative husband arose in the mind of the man at the box’s edge. The woman behind him was Anne! His head turned involuntarily with the thought. He saw her; and she, with gaze centered upon his face, recognized him as Marlowe despite the change he 293 had effected in his natural appearance. He also saw the eyes of Nash and Jonson fastened upon him, and in self preservation he resumed the position which he had been faithfully maintaining until this late moment.

The outcry had been induced by two causes, one was the climax reached in the conversation of the two men which had been running on disjointedly during the progress of the play, and the other was the wounding of Laertes by Hamlet in the duel scene. They had occurred simultaneously. She had caught the name of Marlowe in the conversation near her and knew that the talk was of him; the contest with foils between the two actors on the stage had absorbed her so that again she seemed the helpless spectator of a duel to death. It was the old scene over again in all its vivid reality. Laertes, of kindlier aspect than Burbage, as Hamlet, had awakened her sympathies, and she saw him as an embodied Marlowe. Then came the struggle, the exchange of rapiers and the thrust through the doublet of Laertes that staggered him. At the same time she heard the final words of Nash, and the cry had passed her lips.

It is a wonder that a second cry had not escaped her when, closely following this exhibition, the man in front had fastened his eyes upon her, and she recognized the person whom for five years she had sought, until, with heart fairly eaten out with the changeless subject of her thoughts and the dejection of an apparently fruitless quest, she 294 had numbered him among the voiceless unreturning. But the vision of his face seemed but the natural concomitant of what had just transpired. Why should the Fates drag any other visage within the field either of reality or illusion? If God worketh for a purpose, what else could all the events transpiring within the Curtain on that day lead up to, except the meeting of the lovers?

Controlled by an irresistible impulse, Anne left her chair, and coming forward to where Marlowe was seated, fell on her knees beside him. The closing peal of ordnance had sounded, and amid the prolonged applause of the great house, the play had ended. The enthusiasm continued, despite the recognition of it by the leading actors, who bowed again and again from the stage’s front. It was more than this acknowledgment of its demonstrative praise that the audience wanted. Only a portion of the applause was for the actors, the rest was for the genius who had raised the tremendous tragedy.

“Where is the author?”

“Let him come forth!”

Such were the cries that arose. But no one answered the appeal. From his place behind one wing of the stage, Shakespere looked out upon the tumult, and then his eyes wandered to the box wherein sat the unknown creator of the drama. Was the latter not impelled toward public recognition of the multitude’s applause?

He, Marlowe, was possessed with temporary 295 elation over the enthusiasm of the audience, and with the further knowledge that the one whom he loved was now beside him. In his ecstasy, it seemed that he mingled with the gods. The darkness in which he dwelt, and the mighty world, voiceless as to himself and his merit, were as naught. The same spirit that had filled and fired him in the production of the eternal drama, again possessed him, and for once, but not again, he felt the crown of laurel about his brows. 296 297


1 “A second Shakespere, not only because he rose like him from an actor to be a maker of plays, * * * but also because * * * he seems to have a resemblance to that clear unsophisticated wit that is natural to that incomparable poet.”

—Phillips in Theatrum Poetarum, p. 24, Ed. 1680.

2 “Collier considers that Marlowe would in this case (i. e. had he lived) have become a formidable rival to Shakespere.”

—Gervinus’ Shakespere Commentaries, p. 78.

3 “But the department of tragedy was dominated by a writer of superb genius, Christopher Marlowe. Shakespere, whose powers ripened slowly, may at the time when he wrote the ‘Comedy of Errors’ and ‘Love’s Labor Lost,’ have well hesitated to dispute with Marlowe his special province. Imitators and disciples had crowded around the master.”

—Edward Dowden.

4 “If Marlowe had lived to finish his ‘Hero and Leander’ he might perhaps have contested the palm with Shakespere in his ‘Venus and Adonis’ and ‘Rape of Lucrece.’”


5 “In his first stage Shakespere had dropped his plummet no deeper into the sea of the spirit of man than Marlowe had sounded before him, and in the channel of simple emotion no poet could cast surer line with steadier hand than he.”

—Swinburne’s “A Study of Shakespere,” p. 77.

“It [Richard III] is doubtless a better piece of work than Marlowe ever did; I dare not say than Marlowe ever could have done. It is not for any man to measure * * * what it is that Christopher Marlowe could not have done; but dying as he did and when he did, etc.”

—“A Study of Shakespere,” Swinburne 43.

6 “For my own part, I feel a strong persuasion, that with added years and well directed efforts, he would have made a much nearer approach to Shakespere than has yet been made by any of his countrymen.”

—Dyce’s Marlowe, p. 55.

7 Raise cavalieros higher than the clouds,
And with the cannon break the frame of heaven;
Batter the shining palace of the sun,
And shiver all the starry firmament.
—Second Part Tamburlaine II, 4.
“Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead,
Till of this flat a mountain you have made,
To o’ertop old Pelion, or the skyish head
Of blue Olympus.”
—Hamlet III, 3.
“Streams of blood
As vast and deep as Euphrates or Nile.”
—Tamburlaine V, 2.
“Not tomb enough and continent
To hide the slain.”
—Hamlet IV, 4.
8 “Weep Powles, thy Tamburlaine voutsafes to dye.
* * * * * * * * *
He and the plague contended for the game.
* * * * * * * * *
The graund disease disdained his Toade Conceit
And smiling at his Tamburlaine contempt
Sternly struck home the peremptory stroke.”
—Harvey’s New Letter, September, 1593.

9 “It so fell out that in London streets, as he (Marlowe) proposed to stab one, whom he owed a grudge unto, with his dagger, * * * he stabbed his owne dagger into his owne head, etc.”

—Thomas Beard’s “Theater of God’s Judgments,”
Edition First, 1597.

10 “As the poet Lycophron was shot to death by a certain rivall of his, so Christopher Marlow was stabbed to death by a bawdy servingman, a rivall of his in his lewde love.”

—Meres “Palladis Tamia,” etc., 1598.

11 “Not inferior to these was one Christopher Marlow, by profession a playmaker, who, as it is reported, about 14 years ago wrote a book against the Trinitie. It so happened that at Deptford, a little village about 3 miles from London, as he meant to stab with his ponyard one named Ingram, etc.”

—Vaughan’s Golden Grove, etc., 1600.

12 “As for the Worthies on his hoste’s wall,
He knows three worthy drunkards pass them all;
The first of them in many a tavern tried,
At last subdued by Aquavitæ died.”
—Sam’l Rowland (published 1600).

13 “He (Ben Jonson) killed Mr. Marlow, ye poet, on Bunhill, coming from the Green Curtain play house.”

—Aubrey’s “Lives of Eminent Men,” citing
Sr. Ed. Sherburne, p. 415.

14 “Christopher Marlow, slaine by Francis Frazer; sep. 1 of June, 1593.” This entry from the burial register of the church of St. Nicholas, Deptford, was kindly furnished me by the present pastor, Rev. William Chandler. The surname “Frazer” had been given to the world by Dyce and others as “Archer” and is so printed in the Encyclopedia Britannica, but such is a misreading.

—The Author.

15 “Idiote art masters that intrude themselves to our ears as the alcumists of eloquence; who (mounted on the stage of arrogance) think to outbrave better pens with the swelling bumbast of a bragging blank verse.”

—Nash’s Introduction to Greene’s Menaphon,
1587 (Grosart’s Nashe I, XX).

“And he that cannot write true English without the help of clerks of parish churches, will needs make himself the father of interludes. O, ’tis a jolly matter when a man hath a familiar style, and can endite a whole year, and not be beholden to art.”

—Greene’s Farewell to Folly (1587).

“It’s a common practice now-a-days, amongst a sort of shifting companions, that run through every art and thrive at none, to leave the trade of noverint whereto they were born and busy themselves with the endeavors of art, that could scarcely Latinize their neck-verse, if they should have need. Yet English Seneca, read by candle light, yields many good sentences, etc.”

—Nash (1587).

16 “From jigging veins of rhyming mother wits,
And such conceits as clownage keeps in pay,
We’ll lead you to the stately tent of war.”
—Prologue to Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, Part First.


17 “Before him there was neither genuine blank verse nor a genuine tragedy in our language.”

—Article on Marlowe, Ency. Britannica,
vol. XV, p. 556.

“That fiery reformer who wrought on the old English stage no less a miracle than Hernani on the French stage in the days of our fathers.”

—Swinburne’s “Study of Shakespere,” p. 31.

18 “Quicke-sighted spirits,—this supposed Appolo,—
Conceit no other, but the admired Marlo;
Marlo admired, whose honney-flowing vein
No English writer can as yet attaine.”
—Henry Petowe, Second Part, “Hero and Leander,” 1598.
19 “Now (as swift as Time
Doth follow Motion) find th’ eternal clime
Of his free soul, whose living subject stood
Up to the chin in the Pierian flood,
And drunk to me half this Musean story
Inscribing it to deathless memory.”
—Chapman’s Third Sestiad to Marlowe’s Hero and Leander.
20 “Unhappy in thine end,
Marley, the Muses’ darling for thy verse,
Fit to write passions for the souls below,
If any wretched souls in passion speak.”
—George Peele “Prologue to the Honour of the Garter.”

21 “The impression of the man that hath been dear unto us, living an after life in our memory, etc.”

—Blunt’s Dedication of Hero and Leander, 1598.

22 “Is it a dream? or is the Highest minde
That ever haunted Pauls, or haunted winde
302 Bereft of that same sky-surmounting breath,
That breath that taught the Timpany to swell?”
—“Sonet Gorgon,” Gabriel Harvey, 1593.
23 “Dead Musæus’ gracious song.”
—Henry Chettle.
24 “Next Marlow, bathed in the Thespian springs,
Had in him those brave translunary things
That the first poets had; his raptures were
All air and fire which made his verses clear.”
—Michael Drayton’s Epistle, etc.

25 Ben Jonson’s commendatory verses prefixed to the Folio Edition of 1623, cannot be included among the contemporary notices. They were not written until seven years after Shakespere’s death. Ben Jonson failed to write aught about Shakespere while the latter lived. His sneers at the early “Shakespere plays,” as shown in the Prologue to “Every Man In His Humor” and his sonnet “On Poet-Ape,” are too well known to need quotation; and, being a “contemner and scorner of others,” one must look to self interest as being the motive for the production of those commendatory lines to his “beloved, the author, Master William Shakespere.” Was not this self interest a financial one in the Shakespere plays? Shakespere died in 1616. The first folio edition appeared in 1623. The address, therein, attributed by Malone and many other commentators, to Jonson, recited that the plays are now offered to “view cured and perfect of their limbs,” and “we have scarce received from him a blot in his papers.” If these statements were true of manuscripts, unmentioned in the will of Shakespere, and “collected” by Heminge and Condell from the playhouses, it must be that some master mind arranged, revised and recopied them during the seven years between Shakespere’s death and this publication. From the date of the death of Shakespere (1616) to 1625, 303 “Jonson did not write one line for the stage!” It was this revision that kept him silent, and as editor of the folio edition he sought for reimbursement for his labors in its sale. “But whatever you do, buy,” reads the address in that edition; and the commendatory verses are praise enough to excite purchases.

Quarto editions of what are now termed the genuine, and also of what are now termed the spurious plays, had been appearing for an interval of twenty-five years, with the announcement on their title pages of being “newly arranged by,” or “written by” William Shakespere. The claims announced on these title pages appear never to have been disputed by Shakespere. “A Yorkshire Tragedy,” “The London Prodigal,” and “The First Part of the Life of Sir John Oldcastle” were so published as his work. Then followed the collection of dramas in the edition of 1623. Jonson may, or may not, have known the real facts of the authorship. If he knew that some persons, other than Shakespere, were the authors, he went only a step further than he did in his address in “Sejanus,” where he fails to mention the name of the “happy genius” who wrote that tragedy with him; but his own molding of the play has not destroyed the trace of Marlowe’s elemental wit therein. We would rather attribute to Jonson ignorance of the authorship of the plays, and in this ignorance assigning them to the Manager of the Globe, than to place him on the level of the Archbishop who ordered Marlowe’s translation of the “Amores” burnt, or of Richard Bame, who wrote the accusation of blasphemy, or of those unknown and more powerful persons, either of Church or State, who labored to blot out of memory the daring and impious Marlowe.

The copy of the second folio edition (1632), containing emendations of the original text, as given to 304 the world by Mr. Collier, if genuine, contains evidence of my theory of Ben Jonson’s editing the earliest edition of the plays. This copy contained interlineations and corrections of text which could have been made only by an editor with the manuscript before him, or by a student deeply versed. The handwriting displayed in these emendations is a facsimile of Ben Jonson’s.

—The Author.

For comparison, a portion of a facsimile page of emendations in Collier’s volume, and some of the writing of Jonson, are here printed:

Enter Charles, Alanson, Burgundie, Bastard, and Pucell

Char. Had Yorke and Somerset brought rescue in,
We should have found a bloody day of this.

Bast. How the yong welpe of Talbots raging wood,
Did flesh his punie-sword in Frenchmens blood.

Puc. Once I encountred him, and thus I said:
Thou Maiden youth, be vanquisht by a Maide.
But with a proud Majesticall high scorne
He answer’d thus: Yong Talbot was not borne
To be the pillage of a Giglot Wench,
He left me proudly, as unworthy fight.

Bur. Doubtlesse he would have made a noble Knight:
See where he lyes inherced in armes
Of the most bloody Nursser of his harmes.

Hos ego versiculos feci.
Ben: Jonson.

26 “This view was embraced by Frederic Schlegel in his history of Literature. He perceived in Shakespere a nature deeply sensitive and austerely tragic, a disposition isolated, reserved and solitary.”

—Gervinus, 480.

27 Editions appeared during these years of Edward II, The Massacre of Paris, and Dido, all bearing the name of Marlowe on their title pages.

—Bullen’s Marlowe.

28 Titus Andronicus was published in 1594; Romeo and Juliet, 1597; Richard II, 1597; Richard III, 1597. No name of author was on their title pages.

—Fleay’s Life and Character of Shakespere.
Halliwell-Phillipps Outlines chap. “Life
Time Editions.”

29 The first published drama bearing Shakespere’s name was Love’s Labor Lost, 1598. “Newly corrected and augmented by W. Shakespere,” were the words on the title page.

—Fleay’s Life and Character of Shakespere.—Outlines,
chapter “Life Time Editions.”

30 “Like Sir Walter Raleigh, and a few less memorable men of the same generation, he was attacked in his own time, not merely as a free-thinker, but as a propagandist or apostle of atheism; nor was the irregularity of his life thought worthier of animadversion than the uncertainty of his livelihood.”

—Article “Marlowe,” Encyclopedia Britannica.

31 This accusation is among the Harleian MSS., 6853, fol. 320, and is entitled “A note containing the opinion of one Christopher Marlye, concerning his damnable opinions and judgment of relygion and scorne of God’s worde.” On it is also a memorandum that within three days after its delivery, Marlowe 306 “came to a soden and fearfull end of his life.” It is endorsed “Copy of Marlowes blasphenyes as sent to her Highness.” A great portion of it is too abominable to be printed.

—Dyce’s Marlowe.
—Bullen’s Marlowe.

32 There are only five known signatures of Wm. Shakespere, and no other written words or manuscript known to be by his hand. The scrawls are scarcely decipherable and strongly at variance with the statement made by Heminge and Condell in the First Folio Edition of the Plays: “His mind and hand went together, and what he thought he wrote with that easiness, that we have scarce received from him a blot in his papers.”

33 “His face was like a rotten russet apple when it is bruised,” and he was described by himself as remarkable for

“His mountain belly and his rocky face.”

He was “wont to wear a coat with slits under the armpits.”

—Knight’s London, vol. I, 367.

34 This Act of 1593 “enacted the penalty of imprisonment against any person above the age of 16 who should forbear for the space of one month to repair to some church, etc. Those who refused to submit to these conditions were to abjure the realm, and if they should return without the queen’s license, to suffer death as felons.”

—Hallam’s Constitutional History, vol. I, 215.
35 Elizabeth, c. 1.

35 All the commentators have taken it for an indisputable fact that Green in his Groatsworth of Wit meant Shakespere when he attacked some unnamed 307 dramatist as one whose “Tyger’s heart” was “wrapt in a player’s hide.” Dyce says that no one can hesitate to believe that Green was speaking of Shakespere. Then he demonstrates that the play wherein the above words first appeared (“The True Tragedie of Richard Duke of York”) was written by Marlowe, and so says Hallam; and even Halliwell-Phillipps asserts that the line above quoted has the true Marlowean ring. Taking that fact as proven, it is difficult to believe that the writer whom Green thus attacked as “able to bumbast out a blanke verse,” was any other than the dramatist whom Nashe, in his epistle in Greene’s Menaphone, attacked in 1587, for the “swelling bumbast of a bragging blank verse” (See note 15 herein). The trouble with all these commentators seems to be that, seeing the word “Shake-scene,” in Green’s lines, as descriptive of this bombastic writer, they are unable to understand why the syllable “Shake” should have been used unless Shakespere was meant. “Shakescene” means no more than an actor who “shook the stage,” and the complaint against him was the same as the earlier one of Nashe’s above alluded to. This earlier one appeared during the year that Shakespere, just arrived from his country home, was holding horses before the Green Curtaine theater. The commentators agree that the first attack [note 15] was directed against Marlowe. See Gervinus (p. 77), who speaks of the “general uproar of envy and ridicule raised” against Marlowe’s “drumming decasyllabons.” (Also see Bullen’s Marlowe, p. 17). I contend that the later attack was also upon Marlowe.

—The Author.

36 Stratford on Avon was in the time of Shakespere’s youth “a bookless neighborhood.”

—Halliwell-Phillipps Outlines, p. 88.
See also Id. p. 1 and 2.

37 “I consider myself bound to believe, till some positive proof be produced to the contrary, that Dido was completed for the stage by Nash after the decease of Marlowe.”

—Dyce’s Marlowe, p. 36.

“But Chapman had also been busy with a continuation of Marlowe’s ‘half-told tale.’”

—Dyce’s Marlowe, p. 42.

38. “It is a comfort to know that the ruffian who drew up the charges, a certain ‘Rychard Bame’, was hanged at Tyburn on 6th December, 1594. Doubtless Bame was backed by some person or persons of power and position. It was a deliberate attempt on the part of some fanatics to induce the public authorities to institute a prosecution for blasphemy against the poet.”

—Bullen’s Marlowe, p. 69.

39 The passage which, upon being read by the condemned, would entitle him to liberation. See Benefit of Clergy.

40 In Watts v. Brains, 2 Croke, 778, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty, but were sent back and brought in a verdict of guilty. The defendant was hanged and the jury fined.

41. For evidence of similarity in rhythm, diction and thought read the parallel passages at the heads of each chapter of this book.

42 “Black is the beauty of the brightest day;
The golden ball of Heaven’s eternal fire,
That danced with glory on the silver waves,
Now wants the fuel that inflamed his beams;
And all for faintness and for foul disgrace,
He blinds his temples with a frowning cloud,
Ready to darken earth with endless night.”
—II Tamburlaine, II, 5.
“The gaudy, babbling and remorseful day
Is crept into the bosom of the sea,
And now long howling wolves arouse the jades
That drag the tragic melancholy night;
Who with their drowsy slow and flagging wings
Clip dead men’s graves, and from their misty jaws
Breathe foul contagious darkness in the air.”
—Second Part Henry VI.

Aut Christopherus Marlowe, aut diabolus, “A study of Shakespere,” by Swinburne, p. 52.

43 “Mr. Fleay believes him [the writer of the plays] to have been a partner of Shakespere, whose name so far is undiscoverable.”

—Morgan’s “Shakespere In Fact and In Criticism,”
p. 18.

44 “There were tiers of galleries or scaffolds; beneath these, the boxes or rooms intended for persons of the higher class, and which at the private theaters were secured with locks, the keys being given to the individuals who engaged them.”

—Dyce’s Shakespere, p. 41.

45 “The top of his performance was the ghost in Hamlet.”

—Rowe’s Life of Shakespere.

46. “I wonder that the commentators should have overlooked so obvious an origin of this passage as Lucan’s description (Pharsalia lib. 1) of the prodigies which preceded the death of Cæsar.”

—Note in Furness’ Variorum, vol. 3, p. 17
(Hunter II, 214).

47 Marlowe’s translation of Lucan’s Pharsalia was first published in 1600. “Lucan’s First Booke Translated Line for Line by Chr. Marlow, at London, 1600.”

—Bullen’s Marlowe, vol. 3, p. 250.

48 “I hold then, that the object which Shakespere had in view in introducing this speech into Hamlet was to expose the weakness of his opponent Nash as a playwright.”

—Fleay, Macmillan’s Magazine, Dec., 1874.


1 “Study of Shakespere,” by Swinburne, p. 52.

2 Thomas Beard’s, the Puritan, Account of Marlowe’s Death in Bullen’s Marlowe, p. 63.

3 The performance commenced at 3 o’clock.—Dyce’s Shakespere, vol. 1, p. 45.

4 A nest of alleys near the bottom of St. Martin’s Lane, so called by Jonson.—Knight’s London, vol. 1, p. 369.

5 Stow’s Survey, Ed. 1633, p. 470.

6 Dyce’s Shakespere, vol. 1, p. 40.

7 Taine’s History of English Literature, Book II, chap. 2.

8 Induction to Cynthia’s Revels. Ben Jonson.

9 Dyce’s Shakespere, vol. 1, p. 40.

10 See note 15.

11 See note 15.

12 Swinburne’s Study of Shakespere, p. 24.

13 “He trod the stage with applause.”—Langbaine.

14 See notes 18 to 24.

15 Hallam and Lamb.

16 See note 35.

17 Dyce’s Marlowe, Bullen’s Marlowe.

18 “Doubtless Bame was backed by some person or persons of power and position.”—Bullen’s Marlowe, Introduction, lxix.

19 “The Atheist’s Tragedie,” vol. iii.—Bullen’s Marlowe.

20 Jew of Malta, Act. I.

21 Halliwell-Phillipp’s Outlines, 105.

22 Bullen’s Marlowe, Introduction, 58.

23 14 Eliz. c. 5 (1572).

24 Id.

25 “The earliest legitimate theater south of the Thames; opened early in 1592”—Halliwell-Phillipp’s Outlines, p. 79.

26 So held in the case of the Dean of Asaph as the law; but the doctrine was vigorously attacked by Erskine in his great speech on the “Rights on Juries.” See British Eloquence by Goodrich, pp. 655-683.

27 Chamber’s Enc. Eng. Lit., vol 1, 176.


And hell itself breathes out contagion to this world.
—Hamlet, ii, 2.


“Now could I drink hot blood.”
—Hamlet iii, 2.
“That you may drink your fill and quaff in blood.”
—Edward II., iii, 2.


Transcriber’s Note:

Obvious printer errors corrected silently.

Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation are as in the original.