Christopher Marlowe and Richard Baines: Journeys through the Elizabethan Underground

By Roy Kendall | Go to book overview

2

"As in a Mirror”

IN AN ARTICLE WRITTEN BEFORE HIS AUTHORITATIVE BOOK ON MARlowe's thought, learning, and character, Paul Kocher had concluded that without

too wild a use of the imagination ... we may think of Marlowe as coming one day not long before his death into a company in which Baines is present. As the talk proceeds the dramatist "suddenly takes the occasion to slip out” a remark upon the subject uppermost in his thought. A discussion ensues. Marlowe, as a self-assertive man bent on convincing his hearers, is the positive and guiding force in the discussion. The ideas occur to him in somewhat the same words and in the same general order in which he has set them down in the tract he recently wrote. Comments by his audience lead to incidental digressions. Far from being convinced by the argument, Baines is alarmed and shortly afterwards makes from memory a report of what he has heard. 1

Writing this in 1940, thirty-six years before R. B. Wernham's discovery of Sir Robert Sidney's letter from Flushing, which states clearly that Marlowe was the "chamber fellow” of Richard Baines in early 1592—and in all likelihood in late 1591 as well—it is quite understandable that Kocher's imagination ran wild, despite his caution. 2 But the fallacy that Baines was "alarmed” by Marlowe's utterances has since gained scholastic acceptability, even among those scholars who have written since the discovery of the Sidney letter. 3 By attempting the first in-depth analysis of the recorded and written words of Richard Baines in Rheims in 1582 and 1583, and by making the first comparison between the written recantation, the oral confession (see below), and the Baines Note, I shall endeavor to show that if either Marlowe or Baines was shockable, it is more likely that Richard Baines first shocked Christopher Marlowe. 4


1

When one looks at Baines's written recantation of 1583 (see preceding chapter) more closely, hints of the Baines/Marlowe mirror

-36-

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