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strong and weak alike with passionate feeling, and expressed with a turbulent magnificence of words and images, the fault of which is a very great want of temperance. It reflects his life and the lives of those with whom he lived.
Marlowe lived and died an irreligious, imaginative, tenderhearted, licentious poet.
Peele and Greene lived an even more riotous life and died as miserably, and they are examples of a crowd of other dramatists who passed their lives between the theatre, the wine-shop, and the prison. Their drama, in which we see the better side of the men, had all the marks of a wild youth. It was daring, full of strong but unequal life, romantic, sometimes savage, often tender, always exaggerated in its treatment and expression of the human passions. If it had no moderation, it had no tame dulness. If it was coarse, it was powerful, and it was above all national. It was a time full of strange contrasts, a time of fiery action and of sentimental contemplation; a time of fancy and chivalry, indelicacy and buffoonery; of great national adventure and private brawls; of literary quiet and polemic thought; of faith and infidelity-and the whole of it is painted with truth, but with too glaring colors, in the drama of these men."
From Marlowe's Edward II.*
Enter Matrevis, Gurney, and soldiers with King Edward.
K. Edv. Friends, whither must unhappy Edward go?
It is the chiefest mark they level at. * Ed. II., son of Ed. I. and father of Ed. III., was King of England, 1307-27. His character was weak, and his reign disastrous. He was deposed by his nobles. This extract from the play treats of his imprisonment in the dungeon of Kenilworth, his execution, and the feelings and doings of Ed. III. concerning his father's treatment.
Gur. Not so, my liege, the queen hath given this charge-
K. Edw. This usage makes my misery increase.
Mat. Why strive you thus? your labor is in vain.
K. Edw. The wren may strive against the lion's strength, But all in vain: so vainly do I strive To seek for mercy at a tyrant's hand. Immortal powers, that know the painful cares That wait upon my poor, distressèd soul, Oh, level all your looks upon these daring men That wrong their liege and sovereign, England's king! O Gaveston, it is for thee that I am wrong'd! For me both thou and both the Spensers died; And for your sakes a thousand wrongs I'll take. The Spensers' ghosts, wherever they remain, Wish well to mine; then, tush, for them I'll die.
Mat. 'Twixt theirs and yours shall be no enmity. Come, come, away! Now put the torches out, We'll enter in by darkness to Killingworth.
Enter the younger Mortimer and Lightborn.
Y. Mort. Art thou so resolute as thou wast?
Light. You shall not need to give instructions; 'Tis not the first time I have kill'd a man:
I learn’d in Naples how to poison flowers;
open his mouth, and pour quick-silver down. But yet I have a braver way than these.
[Exit. [Enters Killingworth prison.
K. Edw. Who's there? what light is that? Wherefore com'st thou?
Light. To comfort you, and bring you joyful news.
K. Edw. Small comfort finds poor Edward in thy looks.
Light. To murder you, my most gracious lord!
K. Edu. Weep’st thou already? list awhile to me,
Light. O villains!
K. Edw. And there, in mire and puddle, have I stood
Light. Oh, speak no more, my lord! this breaks my heart. Lie on this bed, and rest yourself awhile.
K. Edw. These looks of thine can harbor naught but death;
Light. What means your highness to mistrust me thus?
Light. These hands were never stain’d with innocent blood, Nor shall they now be tainted with a king's.
K. Edw. Forgive my thought for having such a thought. One jewel have I left; receive thou this.
[Giving jewel. Still fear I, and I know not what's the cause, But every joint shakes as I give it thee. Oh, if thou harborist murder in thy heart, Let this gift change thy mind, and save thy soul! Know that I am a king: Oh, at that name I feel a hell of grief! Where is my crown? Gone, gone! and do I still remain alive?
Light. You're overwatch’d, my lord; lie down and rest.
K. Edu. But that grief keeps me waking, I should sleep; For not these ten days have these eye-lids clos’d. Now, as I speak, they fall; and yet with fear Open again. Oh, wherefore sitt'st thou here?
Light. If you mistrust me, I'll be gone, my lord.
K. Edw. No, no; for, if thou mean'st to murder me, Thou wilt return again; and therefore stay.
K. Edw. Something still buzzeth in mine ears,
Enter Matrevis and Gurney.
Light. Run for the table,
K. Edw. Oh, spare me, or despatch me in a trice!
Light. So, lay the table down, and stamp on it, But not too hard, lest that you bruise his body.
Mat. I fear me that this cry will raise the town,
Light. Tell me, sirs, was it pot bravely done?
[Stabs Lightborn, who dies.
K. Edw. III. Think not that I am frighted with thy words! My father's murdered through thy treachery; And thou shal: die, and on his mournful hearse Thy hateful and accursèd head shall lie, To witness to the world that by thy means His kingly body was too soon interr'd.
Q. Isab. Weep not, sweet son!
K. Edw. III. Forbid not me to weep, he was my father;
Q. Isab. For my sake, sweet son, pity Mortimer!
Y. Mort. Madam, entreat not, I will rather die Than sue for life unto a paltry boy.
K. Edw. III Hence with the traitor! with the murderer!
Y. Mort. Base Fortune, now I see that in thy wheel