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that popular stage-plays were the very Pompes of the Divell,' and that the profession of Play-poets, of Stage-players; together with the penning, acting, and frequenting of Stage-playes are unlawfull, infamous, and misbeseeming Christians'; are, indeed, as unlawful as ‘Dancing, Dicing, Health-drinking,' and such other disgusting proceedings. This being the confirmed opinion of many of the leading citizens, it is not surprising to find that the civic authorities took very stringent measures to prevent their city being contaminated by the presence of actors within its precincts.
In consequence of certain players about this period having been accused of referring to 'matters of Divinity and State, without judgment or decorum,' and contrary to the Queen's commandment that neither matters of religion nor of the governaunce of the estate of the commonweale shalbe handled or treated,' Edward Tylney, Master of the Revels, wrote to Lord Burleigh, 'that he utterly mislikes all plays within the city. Thereupon Lord Burleigh informed the Lord Mayor of Mr. Tylney's displeasure with the companies of players in the service of the Lord Admiral and of Lord Strange, and enjoined him to stay them,' which his civic lordship gladly availed himself of the long-desired opportunity to do. He'sent for both companies and gave them strict charge to forbear playing till further orders. The Lord Admiral's players obeyed; but the Lord Strange's, in a contemptuous manner, went to the Cross Keyes' (in Gracechurch Street) 'and played that afternoon. Upon which the Mayor committed two of them to the Compter, and prohibited all playing for the future, till the’ (Lord) •Treasurer's pleasure was further known.'96
This proceeding on the part of the Lord Mayor? shows what power the city authorities exercised within their own jurisdiction, and should throw some light upon an affair in which Marlowe himself bore' a principal part. Meanwhile, in explanation if not in extenuation of the autocratic method exercised by those in authority of dealing with both authors and actors of dramas in those days, it should be pointed out what power, for good or evil, was then exercised by the Stage. At that time the Stage, to a great extent, possessed the influence which in a later age passed to the Press. Having no daily journals or other accessible means of rapid and general communication on topics of common interest, the public looked to and found what it wanted in the Stage. The play supplied references to the political, religious, and social events of the day. Writers and players found their profit in responding to the popular feeling of their audience, and although many times fine and imprisonment rewarded their attempt to meddle with matters of state, they persisted in their efforts. "Statesmen wanted the Stage to be a mere amusement,' said Richard Simpson,
to beguile the attention of the hearers from graver matters; the English stage-poets felt they had a
higher mission ... they preached a varied body of philosophy, such as no other pulpit ever equalled.'
In 1591 Sir John Harrington said, with reference to The Play of the Cards, 'when some advised it be forbidden, because it was too plain : “They which do that they should not, should hear that they would not." Few men in authority had opinions coincid. ing with Sir John, and nearly all the dramatists, not excluding Shakespeare, had to cut and mutilate and modify their productions to satisfy the requirements of state or civic officials. No man was so bold in his utterances nor so regardless of danger in those days as was Marlowe, and even he was compelled to submit to the power of might.
It is a fair commentary on the light in which the citizens regarded the influence and teaching of the dramatists to cite what Stowe, in his Survey of London, records with respect to the corporation's action, some few years earlier than the incident about to be referred to with respect to Marlowe. It being believed that young people, especially the children of well-to-do tradesfolks, were 'inveigled and allured'
to listen in playhouses where they heard 'publicly , uttered popular and seditious matters, unchaste, un
comely, and unshamfaced speeches,' it was determined to put a stop to such horrors. An Act was accordingly passed by the Common Council wherein it was ordained that no play should be acted till first perused and allowed by the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen; with many other restrictions. ... But these orders were not so well observed as they should be; the lewd matters of plays encreased, and they were thought dangerous to religion, the state, honesty of manners, and also for infection in that time of sickness. Wherfore they were afterwards for some time totally suppressed.
• But upon application to the Queen and the Councel they were again tolerated, under the following restrictions: that no plays be acted on Sundays at all, nor on any other holidays till after eveningprayer. That no playing be in the dark, nor continue any such time, but as any of the auditors may return to their dwellings in London before sunset, or at least before it be dark. That the Queen's players only be tolerated, and of them their number and certain names to be notified in the Lord Treasurer's letters to the Lord Mayor, and to the Justices of Middlesex and Surrey. And those her players not to divide themselves in several companies. And that for breaking any of these orders, their toleration cease. But all these prescriptions were not sufficient to keep them within due bounds, but their plays so abusive oftentimes of virtue, or particular persons, gave great offence, and occasioned many disturbances, whence they were now and then stopped and prohibited.'97
In view of these various enactments, and many others of a similar character, it is not difficult to comprehend that Marlowe became liable, by the infringement of one of these civic laws, for all kinds
of pains and penalties. He may have rendered himself suspected on account of the language of his dramatis persona, or he may have attempted to uphold the right of the actors to perform, and have even incited them to do so, in spite of the Lord Mayor's attempt to stay them. Be the cause whatever it may have been, the result was that Marlowe, who was now writing for Lord Strange's company, had to go before the Recorder, and enter into recognisances to appear personally at the next Sessions at Newgate. The following is a translation of the official record of these proceedings, according to the legal Latin of the Middlesex Session Roll.
* Memoranda. *That this first day of October in the thirty-first year of the reign of our sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth, Richard Kytchine, of Clifforde Inn, gentleman, and Humphry Rowland, of East Smithfield, in the aforesaid county, horner, appeared before William Fletewode, Sergeant at Law and Recorder of the City of London, one of the Justices of the Queen, in the aforesaid county, to assign and to become surety for Christopher Marley of London, gentleman, each in the sum of twenty pounds, and the said Christopher Marley, entered into recognisances, under a penalty of forty pounds to be levied on his goods, chattels, lands, and tenements, to appear personally at the next Sessions at Newgate, to answer