Marlowe and Peele; a further note on the final scholar scene in the Doctor Faustus B text
Robert A H Smith. Notes and Queries. London: Mar 2000.Vol. 47, Iss. 1; pg. 40, 3 pgs

I ATTEMPTED some years ago1 to demonstrate that the Faustus B text's concluding scene, the discovery of Faustus' dissevered limbs, almost certainly predated the 1602 revisions by William Birde and Samuel Rowley, and most likely formed part of the original play, although it is just possible that the scene may have been cut from the final acting version, or was added at a time when Faustus was revived, before 1602. Notable similarities between lines in this scene and others in Thomas Lodge's The Wounds of Civil War (acted in the 1580s; printed 1594), together with similarities between this and the other original Faustus scholar scenes, suggested strongly that the former, possibly with some slight later revision in or after 1602, was part of the original play. Other lines, however, found in a play by another of Marlowe's contemporaries, now give added weight to the thesis that this Faustus scene was part of Marlowe's original play.

The Battel of Alcazar, by George Peele (probably 1588-9; printed 1594), is remembered today, if at all, mainly for its bombastic speeches. The play was popular. Edward Alleyn, the noted tragedian, took the part of the Moor, Muly Mahamet, noted for highflown speeches, but there were many other passages of rant. Among such passages are lines given to the Presenter of the play's dumb shows, some of which are very close to the style of the final Faustus scholar scene; two such lines have some words in common as well:2

The dreadfull shrikes and clamors that resound, . . . And fearful ecchos of these grieved ghosts, . . .

(Alcazar, 285, 300)

Such fearefull shrikes, and cries, were never heard, . . . With dreadfull horror of these damned fiends.

(Faustus, V.iii.1986, 1994)3

There is no suggestion that Peele was Marlowe's original Faustus collaborator. The parallel noted here must be the result of borrowing, conscious or unconscious. As usual it is impossible to say who was the borrower. Marlowe, like others of his contemporaries, did borrow from the works of others. The two Faustus lines above, and the intervening lines, do appear to be slightly more bombastic than others in the other Faustus scholar scenes, and this may indicate that Marlowe or his collaborator was the borrower. On the other hand, the Alcazar passage may well be corrupt; the words `grieved ghost' appear again in the same Alcazar speech (294) and so Peele or a printer/editor might be responsible for the echo. Yoklavitch, moreover, has shown (2256) that Peele drew heavily on Tamburlaine when writing Edward I; Peele was also clearly influenced by Tamburlaine when writing Al(cazar - in fact Tamburlaine is mentioned in the latter play (222, 224). Peele could well have been influenced also by Faustus when working on Alcazar. (This of course has implications for another matter of dispute, the date of composition for Faustus.)

To complicate matters further, moreover, there is also a little evidence that could at first sight be interpreted as support for a late date for this last Faustus scene: there are good grounds for believing that the Admiral's Men were planning to revive The Battel of Alcazar in about 1598-9; a surviving plot for the play appears to date from these years.4 Perhaps Birde and Rowley drew unconsciously on a recent memory of Peele's play, very likely a popular production, when revising Faustus for the same company.

In fact the Faustus final scholar scene shows only minor evidence of possible late revision, and contains no verse or speech peculiarities characteristic of the revisions elsewhere by Birde and Rowley except possibly for the words `The Doctor'; these words, and perhaps the phrase `Pray Heaven' - possibly a substitution by a printer or prompt-book reviser seeking to eliminate blasphemy from the play - seem to be the limits of the reworking of this scene; in fact, as has been stated, it seems to be otherwise in the style of the earlier scholar passages.

Moreover, other links between the two plays exist; to the scholars in both Faustus versions, Helen of Troy is the `peareless Dame of Greece whom all the world admires for majesty'; Peele in a brief reference to Sebastian's marriage plans in Alcazar, speaks of `the peerless dame whom we adore, . . .' (795). Furthermore, another Alcazar passage parallel to one in Faustus can be found, in a section of Faustus normally ascribed to Marlowe and so clearly part of the original work:

Before thou raigne sole king of thy desire.

(Alcazar, 467)

And raigne sole King of all our Provinces.

(Faustus, 1194)

These two further parallels add to the evidence in favour of a link between the two works, for an early date for the Faustus passage in Act Viii, and so for the whole last Faustus scholar scene. Marlowe goes on in fact to speak, in line 121 of the same Faustus scene, of `Indian Moores' obeying their `Spanish Lords', and it is tempting to conclude that Li.94 was therefore the result of Marlowe's borrowing. Peele, however, could just as easily have drawn unconsciously on Marlowe's line when working on a similar theme. The existence of lines 94 and 121, and of lines similar to others in Lodge's Wounds of Civil War, however, do make it likely that the lines parallel to the Alcazar pasage in the Last Faustus scholar scene, now found only in the B text, are original. They were thus written at the same time as the original text, most likely by a collaborator, and were subject to only to light revision in the Birde/Rowley recasting of 1602. The scene was probably omitted from the 1604 text because at some stage it had been dropped, presumably because of dramatic or casting problems, either from the original London performances or when the cuts found in the Faustus 1604 A text were made.


British Library

1 See ' "Faustus' End" and The Wounds of Civil War, N&Q, ccxxx (1985), 117.

2 Using John Yoklavich's edn, in F. S. Hook and J. Yoklavich, The Dramatic Works of George Peele, vol. 2 (1961 ).
3 Using Fredson S. Bowers, The Complete Works of Christopher Marlowe, 2 vols (1981), II,

4 British Library, Add. MS 10449, fo. 3. Reproduced in F. S. Hook and J. Yoklavich, op. cit., opposite p. 280.