Thursday, September 1, 2011

Christopher Marlowe, The Dating Game, and Sir Walter Ralegh by Donna N. Murphy

The Dating Game is the name of U.S. television show that first aired in the 1960s, but I’ll use it to describe a game I believe Marlowe played with 17th century theater-goers. Alex Jack discovered an instance of the dating game in Hamlet’s first quarto.1 The gravedigger tells Hamlet that if it is not rotten, an ordinary body will last eight years, while “a tanner/ Will last you eight years full out, or nine” (the same numbers are provided in the First Folio version). The first quarto was registered in 1602, nine years after Marlowe’s “death” in 1593. Thus, this dating game has to do, I think, with inserting a clue about life/death and the number of years that have elapsed since Marlowe’s supposed demise. By the way, Hamlet was registered on July 26th, the day after St. Christopher’s Day, which fell on a Sunday that year.2

Instance #2: In Pericles, Prince of Tyre, a prince, through no fault of his own, must go on the run. He meets and marries a princess, but she is thought to die after childbirth during a tempest at sea. Her casket is tossed overboard and she is washed ashore, discovered to be alive, and becomes a priestess. Their baby daughter, Marina (abbreviated as Mar. in speech designations), is left on another shore to be raised by others, but just before her father returns to retrieve her, is thought to have been murdered. In reality, she is hauled off by pirates. Marina is able to retain her virtue and is reunited with her parents in a happy ending.

Fourteen years pass between the princess’ “death” and her rediscovery by Pericles; the family reunites when Marina is fourteen years old. Pericles was registered on the anniversary of Marlowe’s arrest, May 20, 1608, not quite fifteen years from the date of Marlowe’s “death,” and printed the following year.

Instance #3: A key source for The Winter’s Tale is Robert Greene’s Pandosto. In Greene’s version, a jealous king unjustifiably accuses his wife Bellaria of adultery, sets her newborn child to sea in a small boat, and sends emissaries to the Oracle at Delphos to verify his suspicions. The Oracle says Bellaria is innocent. As this news is delivered to the king, Bellaria drops dead and remains dead the rest of the story. The Bard changes the characters’ names, and Bellaria becomes Hermione. The name stems from antiquity: Hermione was of the daughter of King Menelaus and Helen of Troy. In the present case, however, it might denote self-identification: Her + Me = One.

In the Bard’s version, again there is a jealous king, again an unfairly accused wife, but their baby is renamed Perdita, from the Latin “perditus” or the Spanish “perdida,” meaning “lost”. Again the king launches the baby to sea in a small boat, and sends men to the Oracle of Delphos. As the Oracle’s pronouncement of innocence is read before the King, again his wife falls down “dead.”

But this time, unbeknownst to the king and everyone else, Hermione is not dead. Her servant Paulina spirits her away to a safe place until the time, sixteen years later, when Perdita is found. At that point, Paulina takes the remorseful king to see a statue of Hermione she has erected in her honor, a statue that comes to life before his eyes as his long-lost wife. The Winter’s Tale is thought to have been written in 1610 or 1611, but not registered or published until 1623. Adding sixteen years to the date of Marlowe’s “death” would entail composition between May 30, 1609 and May 29, 1610. The date ranges overlap.

It has been conjectured that the name “Paulina” was derived from St. Paul. It is interesting, though, that both Sir John Davies and Sir John Harington employed “Paul” as a nickname for Sir Walter Ralegh in their epigrams.3 Might Paulina represent Ralegh? In our discussions about who helped Marlowe escape in 1593, should we be considering Ralegh as another possibility?

“It is certain that Marlowe and Ralegh knew each other, but how well we do not know,” wrote Charles Nicholl.4 According to an anonymous informer, Richard Cholmeley said Marlowe “read the Atheist lecture” to Ralegh and others. The Baines Note reported that Marlowe said “Moses was but a juggler, and that one Heriots (Thomas Hariot) being Sir Walter Ralegh’s man can do more than he," while Thomas Kyd wrote that Marlowe conversed “with Harriot, Warner, Royden, and some stationers in Paul’s churchyard.”5 Like Marlowe, Ralegh was accused of atheism: Robert Person alleged that Ralegh presided over a school of atheism, and an ecclesiastical commission held an enquiry in 1594, but filed no charges against Ralegh. So far as we know, he was a conforming member of the Church of England who enjoyed discussions with intelligent, forward-looking people. On a lighter note, Ralegh wrote a poem about a nymph declining the offer to “come live with me and by my love” as requested in Marlowe’s A Passionate Shepherd to his Love. Most importantly, Ralegh famously had access to ships; Marlowe’s last known location, Deptford, was a port; and Marlowe would have needed to get away quickly. Might Ralegh have helped provide an escape vessel?

© Donna N. Murphy, August 2011

Donna N. Murphy is the co-winner of the 2010 Calvin and Rose G. Hoffman Prize for a Distinguished Publication on Christopher Marlowe. She is only the third person to do so for a work which supports the view that Marlowe wrote Shakespeare (the others being Peter Farey and Michael Rubbo). Her two most recent articles, both in the June 2011 issue of Notes and Queries, are "'The Repentance of Robert Greene,' 'Greene's Groatsworth of Wit,' and Robert Greene," and "'Two Dangerous Comets' and Thomas Nashe."

1Hamlet. By Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare, ed. Alex Jack, Vol. 2 (Becket, MA: Amber Waves, 2005), 256.
2John Baker reported the St. Christopher’s Day association on his now-defunct website.
3Charles Nicholl, “‘At Middleborough’: Some Reflections on Marlowe’s Visit to the Low Countries in 1592,” Christopher Marlowe and English Renaissance Culture, ed. Darryll Grantley and Peter Roberts (Aldershot, Hants, England: Scolar Press, 1996), 43.
4Charles Nicholl, The Reckoning (London: Vintage, 2002), 233.
5Park Honan, Christopher Marlowe. Poet & Spy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 237, 235. Emmerich Anonymous

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Isabel Gortazar said...

I am very much aware of Shakespeare's possible numerical clues to Marlowe: I'll give you a couple of examples.

Hamlet: In my opinion the most important numerical clue is the fact that, in the 2Q and FF, Hamlet is thirty years of age, which he was not in the 1Q. This is one of the many reasons I believe the 1Q was originally written even before 1593.

Winters Tale: The original title of this play, such as it appears in the Revels Accounts in November 1611, was "A Winter Night's Tale."
When Dr Forman saw this play at the Globe in May 1610 he wrote a report of over twenty lines, explaining the plot. In such report, the statue is not mentioned at all. The statue and its "resurrection" must have been added at a later (safer?) time. Hermione comes back to life 16 years after Perdita is found:
1593 + 16 = 1609.

In 1609 a book of Tales entitled "Winter Nights" by Antonio de Eslava, was published in Spain (Brussels 1610); no translations to any language appeared until late in the 17th Century.

Among Eslava's Tales there is one about a Magician King, dethroned by an enemy, who fled in a boat with his little daughter and took refuge at the bottom of the sea, from where he controlled a storm, etc. There is no known classical source for this "tale".

In the Revels Accounts,in November 1611, both "The Tempest" and "A Winter Nights Tale" were performed at Court, one after the other.

As for "Pauline", I agree she may be named after St Paul(a Roman by birth), meaning perhaps that Hermione was kept secretly alive under cover/care of the Roman Catholic Church.

Peter Farey said...

There's no doubt in my mind that Isabel is correct, and that Eslava's tale was a source of The Tempest.

This is what Herbert E. Greene, had to say in September, 1913.

"Source of the Plot. - No indubitable source of The Tempest is known, - a statement that can be made in regard to only one or two other plays by Shakespeare. Long and careful search for sources has resulted in the discovery of two analogues, one a Spanish tale, the other a German play. In 1885, again in 1902, and more fully in 1907, attention was called to a collection of stories, Winter Nights, by Antonio de Eslava; this collection was published at Pamplona and at Barcelona in 1609, at Brussels in 1610. These somewhat elaborately-wrought
tales were translated (with omissions) into German as early as 1666. There follows a brief summary of a recent translation of the fourth of these tales by Gustav Becker (Shakespeare Jahrbuch).

Good King Dardano, of Bulgaria, though he had magic power, was dispossessed of his kingdom by Niciphoro, the proud emperor of Greece. Accompanied by his daughter Serafina, King Dardano guided a well-built ship into the middle of the Adriatic Sea. There he struck with his wand the water, which parted and let the ship down to the bottom of the sea, where a marvelous and richly-adorned palace received them. After they have lived for two years in this magic palace, Serafina reminds her father that all created beings feel the promptings of love, and asks him to provide for her a companion of her own rank and age. Meantime the haughty emperor Niciphoro had died, after disinheriting his gentle, older son, Valentiniano, and leaving his power to his younger son, Juliano. In his wanderings in search of help the disinherited prince came to the Adriatic Sea, where he found a little boat, guided by a frail old man who invited him to come on board. This aged pilot was King Dardano, who again struck the sea with his magic wand, so that they sank into the magic palace. As soon as he saw the Infanta Serafina, Prince Valentiniano rejoiced at his good fortune, and entreated the old man to give him Serafina as wife. By magic art the royal wedding is celebrated, and is attended by many princes and kings with their fair ladies who dwell in all the islands of the ocean.

Just at this time Juliano, the new emperor of Greece and Bulgaria, was returning from Rome, where he had married the daughter of the emperor. As his fleet came over the magic palace where King Dardano was celebrating the wedding of his daughter, a tremendous storm arose, and destroyed all of the ships except the four which were carrying the Emperor Juliano and his wife and their attendants. By his magic power King Dardano rises above the waves, and sternly rebukes the haughty emperor. Soon after reaching home the emperor died, and, shortly after, his bride. The great men of Greece unanimously agreed to search far and wide for Prince Valentiniano, and to offer him the power that justly belonged to him. King Dardano destroyed his magic palace, and sailed with his daughter and his son-in-law for Greece, where they were received with joy. Valentiniano and Serafino reigned for thirty-two years, twice as long as his father had ruled as a tyrant. Old King Dardano relinquished his kingdom in favor of his son-in-law; and, to fulfill his oath that he would dwell no more on dry land, he caused to be built upon five ships a suitable palace, connecting with the royal palace of his son-in-law. Thus he lived for two years, and left the reputation of a just and peace-loving prince.

This tale can hardly be the immediate source of The Tempest. There is no reason for supposing that Shakespeare could have made use of a Spanish source ; and it is not at all probable that a translation was made within a year of the publication in Spain."

Of course not! But Oxfordians Roger Stritmatter and Lynne Kositski should perhaps deal with this in their arguments for a date earlier than 1604 for The Tempest?


Peter Farey said...

I ran out of space, but I agree that, in The Winter's Tale, the gap between the finding of the infant they called Perdita and Camillo's "It is sixteen years since I saw my country. Though I have for the most part been aired abroad, I desire to lay my bones there" is just as relevant.

I'm not sure about Paulina as Sir Walter Raleigh (or St. Paul) though.


Isabel Gortazar said...

Thanks, Peter.
I dealt with Eslava’s Winter Nights Tales in my essay “Nor Oxford Either”, but it hasn’t helped much with the Oxfordians.

A few weeks ago, I commissioned a translation of the original, which I will send to Daryl for the IMSS website since it would be too long for the blog. The translation is not ready yet; I thought I would let a professional translator, outside the Marlovian/Shakespearian circle to do it.

As for Pauline, your doubts are fair enough. However, I suspect there are a lot of “religious” clues in WT, about which I hope to have time to write sometime.

Isabel Gortazar said...

Oops! Donna and Peter:
About WT:
Dr Forman saw the play in May 1611, not May 1610, which means Marlowe may have used the Brussels edition of 1610, rather than the Pamplona edition of 1609.

In Pandosto’s Tale, we are given Perdita/Fawnia’s age as she grows to be seven, ten and, finally, sixteen years. That is when her romance with Florizel/Dorastus begins, so either the “sixteen years” to Hermione’s resurrection are a coincidence, or the coincidence was too good to be overlooked.

In favor of my “religious clues”; Marlowe switches the kingdoms. In Pandosto’s story, Leontes/Pandosto is king of Bohemia, a “heretical”, Hussite, country, whereas in WT he is king of Sicily, a Spanish-Catholic territory. This switch may be another coincidence, or not...

Donna Murphy said...

If I am correct regarding "Doctor Faustus" being on the boards by March, 1588 due to a reference to it in Robert Greene’s "Perimedes the Blacke-Smith", then Marlowe used an English translation of an original that was first printed in German in 1587 (the date of the first printing of the English translation is unknown). He also employed as sources pre-publication manuscripts of Spenser’s "The Faerie Queene" and Paul Ive’s "The Practise of Fortification" in "Tamburlaine". He was well connected when it came to works either just after or even before they came hot off the presses.

Isabel Gortazar said...

I agree that Marlowe probably wrote Faustus late in 1588, based on the book by Johan Spies, “Faustbuch” (Historia von D. Johann Fausten) published in 1587.

As far as I can gather from Wikipedia (for what it is worth) there was an English translation possibly the same year, or, at least by 1588. I don’t know who was this translator.

I don’t remember the Perimedes ref, and I don’t know anything about Marlowe having read unpublished work by Spencer. Would love to hear more.

Will look in my Dr Faustus books to see if I can find anything else.

Alex Jack said...

Donna has contributed some valuable insights on dating.

Another example from Hamlet: in the play-within-the-play, the Player King and Queen (representing Elder Hamlet and Gertrude) reveal that they have been married for thirty years. The length of time is repeated three times—“Full thirty times,” “thirty dozen Moons,” and “twelve thirties”—as if to underscore the importance of this figure. If Prince Hamlet was born nine months after their marriage, he would be twenty-nine years and three months old at the start of the play, the exact age of Marlowe at the time of his “death”: February 26, 1564 to May 30, 1593 = 29 years and 3 months. Outwardly, the Dumb Show is aimed at catching the conscience of the king. But its subtext alludes to the silencing of Marlowe and eloquently speaks his age,

A further age-related incident takes place in As You Like It in the scene between Touchstone and William. The jester asks him how old he is, and the youth replies “five and twenty.” Marlowe and Shakespeare, glanced at by these two characters, were both born in 1564. They would have been 25 years old in 1589. At that time, Marlowe was the most celebrated playwright in London following the success of Tamburlaine. Virtually nothing is known of Shakespeare between 1585 and 1594, when he is paid for some acting work with the Chamberlain’s Men. Hence, he has little claim on Audrey who, as most Marlovians hold, represents the auditors or theatrical audience. 1589 also coincides with the peak of the controversy surrounding Martin Marprelate (the arch foe of Archbishop Whitgift) whose irrepressible spirit permeates the Shakespearean canon and is alluded to several times in As You Like It, including mention of the bumbling country vicar, Martext, earlier in this scene.

Tragically, the Separatist preacher John Penry was executed for being Martin the day before Marlowe’s own fateful encounter in Deptford. If Penry’s body were substituted for Marlowe’s, as many Marlovians believe, it would help explain the clown’s comment to Prince Hamlet about his grave: “I do not lie in’t, yet it is mine.”


Isabel Gortazar said...

In the 1Q Hamlet, the Duke and Duchess Players have been married for forty years:

“Full forty years are past, their date is gone,
Since happy time joined both our hearts as one.”

Hamlet’s age –thirty years- appears for the first time on the 2Q of 1604, telling us that Marlowe disappeared when he was several months into his thirtieth year.

This can be no “cut”; there is no reason why any prompter or actor would find it easier to say “forty years” instead of “thirty”.

The author of the original 1Q does not seem to have been aiming at leaving many “Marlowe clues”, although he did leave some. If the 1Q of 1602 was the text performed in 1594 (Henslowe), such sort of precaution would be understandable.

However, by 1604, the Queen that had left Marlowe in the lurch was dead, and the new Monarch was showering favors on all of Essex friends, including very specially Southampton and Rutland.

As coincidences go, the 2Q Hamlet was published the year after the earl of Rutland, was sent with great pomp to Denmark (June to August 1603), on a special diplomatic mission. As an explanation of the changes in 2Q, some Stratfordians have suggested that "Shakespeare" went to Denmark with Rutland. Sounds very likely to me.

Edward Clybourn said...

The dating clues are interesting. I hoped to find a similar clue in The Tempest, in many ways the play that would best match Marlowe's biography if he survived 1593. But here the numbers of years do not match: Prospero tells his daughter it was 12 years before that he was exiled and thought dead, and The Tempest was written 17 or 18 years after 1593.

More about Ralegh: Nicholl's book The Reckoning also reports (p. 39) that Ralegh was the lone voice in the House of Commons to speak against the immigrant traders ("strangers"), who were also the target of the "Dutch Church libel" that referred to Marlowe's plays and got him in trouble with the authorities.

Marlowe may have had another friend in a high place in 1593: Cuthbert Buckle, the Lord Mayor of London! (Also on p. 39 of Nicholl's book is the reference to the Privy Council writing to Mayor Buckle about the investigation of the anti-immigrant placard.) The Buckle family happens to be linked to the 3rd Earl of Southampton via a letter Southampton wrote in December 1594, cited in Stopes' biography of the latter (p. 70). The letter mentions that a Christopher Buckle has been received at the Dogmersfield estate owned by Southampton. Christopher Buckle was the name of the 4-year-old orphan of Cuthbert Buckle and his wife, who both died in 1594.

So the Buckle family appears to have been on close terms with Southampton, and we know the relationship that the author of Venus & Adonis had with Southampton. If the Lord Mayor of London was a friend of Marlowe's, he would have been very helpful, to say the least, in facilitating a hideout or escape.

Donna Murphy said...

Alex and Isabel,

Fine observations regarding dating clues!

Isabel Gortazar said...

Hi Edward:
As I wrote in my essay, published in the MSRJ (not yet online, awaiting revision) the Tempest contains several numerical clues, as long as one believes, as I do, that after April/May 1599, when Essex went to Ireland, Marlowe spent most of his life in the Continent passing off as a Catholic, in various “roles” and places, at least until 1611, probably longer. So these are some of the clues:

Harold Bloom has identified Prospero’s “island” with “Babylon”, because of Adrian’s comment:
“Adrian: It must needs be of subtle, tender and delicate temperance.”
“Isaiah, Chapter 47: Come down and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, (...) for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate.”

If Bloom is right about Isaiah, the “island”, Babylon, would be the RCC where Prosperus/Faustus has spent the last twelve years of his life: 1599 + 12 = 1611, the year of composition of the Tempest.

Twelve year since, Miranda, twelve year since,
Thy father was the Duke of Milan...

Marlowe uses the three "levels" of the Platonic Man (Plato: “Timeus”), to describe himself in the play:

The first level of the Platonic man represents his “reason”, so Prospero.
The second level represents his emotions, so Ariel.
The third level represents his baser instincts, so Caliban: All three characters represent a part of Marlowe.

Ariel was for eight years imprisoned in a tree by the witch Sycorax: “And then she died”. The Queen who was actually responsible for Marlowe’s “imprisonment” in the Continent, died in 1603 + 8 years =1611.

Merlin the Magician was supposed to have been imprisoned in a tree by a witch. Also, the “tree” is a well-known metaphors for Jesus’ cross.

The Tempest is full of information, and it is useful to look at it in conjunction with the main source for “Winter’s Tale”: R. Greene’s “Pandosto: The Triumph of Time, or Temporis Filia Veritas (Truth is the Daughter of Time), 1588.

As I have said before, Marlowe seems to have woven both plays with inter-related clues. I will put that Tempest essay up to date soon, but all the info above is already there, and a lot more, as well as in other essays.
Hope this helps,

Peter Farey said...

Before we get too carried away I think it might be worth noting that there are no fewer than 70 references to periods of "x years" in the First Folio, hardly any of which appear to be of any relevance at all to Marlowe-related events. And such a number must occasionally throw up an apparently deliberate match.


Isabel Gortazar said...

Before you start pulling the brake, I think it may also be worth noting that dates that apparently mean nothing, may turn out to mean a good deal once we apply them to a specific historical context. Edward could not see a match in the year-dates of The Tempest, but I can. There may be other similar cases. Who identified those 70 cases you speak of, Stratford or yourself?

The “dating game” that Donna has started in ref to Marlowe, would mean absolutely nothing to Stratfordians or Oxfordians, who will interpret the x-year-clues (and any other real or imagined clues) according to their theories, just as I do.

You will decide that a year-clue is meaningless when it doesn’t suit your scenario, and so will I when it doesn’t suit mine.

In this case, when one single play like The Tempest offers at least two "year-dates" that together with the "Merlin-in-the-tree" clue, support one specific theory, perhaps we should pay some attention to them.

Peter Farey said...


In determining the significance of any apparent hidden meaning it is necessary to assess the probability of it having happened just by chance. In doing this one must inevitably consider how many opportunities there have been for it to have happened as well as the number of times you think it actually has. Since no attempt had apparently been made to ascertain that figure, I did a rough count for you. It is of course entirely up to you whether you make any use of that information and, if so, how.


Isabel Gortazar said...

I realize what you are saying, even if I don't know which meaningless clues you may be referring to.

Getting back to The Tempest: As you know, on the basis of historical circumstances and socio-political probabilities, my opinion is that John Mathews, alias Christopherus Marlerus (later Marlor, later Marley, later Marlowe) was probably "our" Marlowe. This conjecture would be less clear to me if I could not explain –within my own scenario - his appearance on various records until December 1604.

As this individual entered the Royal English College of Valladolid on the 30th May 1599 (I know you think this date is also a coincidence, but I disagree), just at the time when Marlowe would have lost the protection and patronage of Essex and his network, I find his appearance in a Catholic network totally logical.

Although Marlowe could not have remained a “seminary priest” for long after 1604, if King James did not recall him and he had to return to the Continent, his best cover thereafter whether in France, Austria, Spain, Italy or Belgium would have been that of an “exiled Catholic”; someone like Thomas Shelton for example. In Protestant countries, an Englishman without papers would have been highly suspicious.

In view of all this, when I look at the possible clues in The Tempest and they happen to support my theory, it would be foolish of me not to take them into account. There are too many coincidences here to be just “meaningless”. But it is a long story ad this is just a comment.

Cynthia Morgan said...

My apologies to all. I forgot to resize the page images for Shakespeare: New Evidence, so you may have had problems getting the pages to download swiftly. The looked fine on my computer, but David More told me it took him 5 minutes just to get the cover to download. So I've taken care of that little problem. Again, you can see the book here: