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above a month in the year, and then only with leave; and the provisions of the University did not permit of a student being away from his college above one month in the year (during the half of which time only was he to have his allowance), without the special leave of the Master and Fellows.
Although this restriction, like so many others which the wisdom or experience of Founders had made, was gradually allowed to lapse or become obsolete, it is not probable that lads in the days of Marlowe had the power, even if they had the inclination, to disregard it. That he contrived to return home to Canterbury from year to year until he attained his first degree is almost certain, but it is equally certain that there is no record of his journey, or his home-coming, or of his reception in his native city. His sister Joan was married in 1583 to John Moore, who was in the same kind of business as her father, and in the same year John Marlowe took as a new apprentice Elnas (sic but perhaps Elias) Martyn or Marlyn. No further record of the family is discoverable for some few years. 69
At Cambridge Kit doubtless formed acquaintanceship with members of other colleges than his own. The suggestion that he then became friendly with Thomas Nashe, the subsequent bitter satirist, and with Robert Greene, the future author, has no evidence to support it; and although his name has so often been coupled with theirs, it will be seen later on that in all probability he never had any,
or only the slightest, personal acquaintance with either of them.
Hard as the living may have been, and dull the routine of college life in those days, there is plenty of evidence extant to prove that the students indulged occasionally in the fun and frolic natural to youth. Nashe, who took his B.A. degree at St. John's College, in 1584, doubtless referred to some real incident of University life, in which Gabriel Harvey, his long-time enemy, was concerned, when, after exclaiming in his characteristic manner, 'I have terms, if I be vext, laid in steep in aquafortis and gunpowder,' he proceeds to pour his corrosive flood of acrimonious verbosity over the head of the offending Harvey, that'son of a rope-maker,' as he loved to term him, for having 'had'st thy hood turned over thy ears when thou wert a Batchelor, for abusing of Aristotle, and setting him upon the school-gates painted with ass's ears on his head.'70
Robert Greene, also a contemporary at St. John's, avers that deeds of much darker hue were not infrequently committed by Cantabs in his days, and he confesses to having been one of the worst offenders himself, but his catchpenny confessions and trumpery tracts, scribbled off for the purpose of obtaining a few shillings for the temporary relief of his chronic necessities, do not deserve the notice or notoriety they have received. That many of the University decrees and college regulations were set at nought there is abundant testimony ; that in some colleges matters of costume were treated after the inclination or vanity of the wearer, instead of in accordance with rule, was self-evident; and that irregularities of many kinds were prevalent was notorious; but there is no proof that the criminalities hinted at by Robert Greene existed. Greene was so generally untruthful, and his descriptions so luridly coloured, that they need not be seriously regarded as typical pictures of University life. His statement that, after he had graduated B.A., he mixed with Wags as lewd as myself, with whom I consumed the flower of my youth,'need not be accepted as the behaviour of Cantabs in general, and still less of Marlowe in particular.
The greatest trouble and grief to the authorities was caused by theological differences. On the one hand, says a historian, all serious people complained that 'nicknaming and scoffing at religion and the power of godliness,' and 'debauched and atheistical' principles, prevailed to an extent that seemed
strange in a University of the Reformed Church'; whilst, on the other hand, the more zealous churchman had special cause of complaint in the increase of puritanical opinions and practices, more particularly in certain colleges, where the heads and senior members were puritanically inclined.
It was represented that upon Fridays and Fastdays, the victualling houses prepared a good store of meat for all scholars that will come or send unto them'; that in the churches, both on Sundays and
other days, there was little decency of behaviour, and the regular forms of prayer were in many cases avoided; 'instead whereof we have such private fancies and several prayers of every man's own making vented among us. . . that our young scholars are thereby taught to prefer the private spirit before the public, and their own invented and unapproved prayers before the Liturgy of the Church.' In Trinity College it was found that the scholars
lean or sit or kneel at prayers, every man in a several posture as he pleased; at the name of Jesus few will bow; and when the Creed is repeated, many of the boys, by some men's directions, turn to the west door.'72
In most of the colleges something was always discoverable by critical observers calling for animadversion. Some of the collegians were too puritanical and others too free-thinking. 'Atheist' was the favourite appellation to bestow upon every one whose theological views did not coincide with the speaker's, or the writer's, as the case might be. Roman Catholic so styled Protestant and Protestant termed Roman Catholic so, whilst all Dissenters from the Church as by State established, obtained the same cognomen. The result of all this was that the students who thought for themselves became Freethinkers, or Roman Catholics, or Puritans, as they were led by their natural instincts, or were influenced by their favourite authors or leaders.