The Jew of Malta

The Jew of Malta

by Christopher Marlowe

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Prejudice, the intricacies of Mediterranean politics, and Machiavellian strategy abound in this masterpiece of Elizabethan theater. The eponymous character in this suspenseful drama, a prototype for Shakespeare's Shylock, schemes desperately against Christian and Moslem hostility to cling to his wealth, his status, and his daughter.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486153742
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 05/14/2012
Series: Dover Thrift Editions
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 80
Sales rank: 741,821
File size: 631 KB
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

LLOYD EDWARD KERMODE is Professor of English at California State University, Long Beach. He edited Three Renaissance Usury Plays for the Revels Companion series (2009) and coedited Tudor Drama before Shakespeare (2004) and the collection “Space and Place in Early Modern Drama” for the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (2013). He is the author of Aliens and Englishness in Elizabethan Drama (2009), and of a number of essays on cultural identity in literature and on the theory and experience of space in early modern England.

Read an Excerpt

The Jew of Malta

By Christopher Marlowe, T. N. R. ROGERS

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2003 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-15374-2



Scene I.

Barabas discovered in his counting-house, with heaps of gold before him.

Bar. So that of thus much that return was made:
And of the third part of the Persian ships,
There was the venture summed and satisfied.
As for those Sabans, and the men of Uz,
That bought my Spanish oils and wines of Greece
Here have I purst their paltry silverlings.
Fie; what a trouble 'tis to count this trash
Well fare the Arabians, who so richly pay
The things they traffic for with wedge of gold,
Whereof a man may easily in a day
Tell that which may maintain him all his life.
The needy groom that never fingered groat,
Would make a miracle of thus much coin:
But he whose steel-barred coffers are crammed full,
And all his lifetime hath been tired,
Wearying his fingers' ends with telling it,
Would in his age be loth to labour so,
And for a pound to sweat himself to death.
Give me the merchants of the Indian mines,
That trade in metal of the purest mould;
The wealthy Moor, that in the eastern rocks
Without control can pick his riches up,
And in his house heap pearls like pebble-stones,
Receive them free, and sell them by the weight;
Bags of fiery opals, sapphires, amethysts,
Jacinths, hard topaz, grass-green emeralds,
Beauteous rubies, sparkling diamonds,
And seld-seen costly stones of so great price,
As one of them indifferently rated,
And of a carat of this quantity,
May serve in peril of calamity
To ransom great kings from captivity.
This is the ware wherein consists my wealth;
And thus methinks should men of judgment frame
Their means of traffic from the vulgar trade,
And as their wealth increaseth, so inclose
Infinite riches in a little room.
But now how stands the wind?
Into what corner peers my halcyon's bill?
Ha! to the east? yes: see, how stand the vanes?
East and by south: why then I hope my ships
I sent for Egypt and the bordering isles
Are gotten up by Nilus' winding banks:
Mine argosy from Alexandria,
Loaden with spice and silks, now under sail,
Are smoothly gliding down by Candy shore

To Malta, through our Mediterranean sea.
But who comes here?

Enter a Merchant.

How now?
Merch. Barabas, thy ships are safe,
Riding in Malta-road: and all the merchants With other merchandise are safe arrived,
And have sent me to know whether yourself
Will come and custom them.

Bar. The ships are safe thou say'st, and richly fraught.

Merch. They are.

Bar. Why then go bid them come ashore,
And bring with them their bills of entry:
I hope our credit in the custom-house
Will serve as well as I were present there.
Go send 'em threescore camels, thirty mules,
And twenty waggons to bring up the ware.
But art thou master in a ship of mine,
And is thy credit not enough for that?

Merch. The very custom barely comes to more
Than many merchants of the town are worth,
And therefore far exceeds my credit, sir.

Bar. Go tell 'em the Jew of Malta sent thee, man:
Tush! who amongst 'em knows not Barabas?

Merch. I go.

Bar. So then, there's somewhat come.
Sirrah, which of my ships art thou master of?

Merch. Of the Speranza, sir.

Bar. And saw'st thou not
Mine argosy at Alexandria?
Thou could'st not come from Egypt, or by Caire,
But at the entry there into the sea,
Where Nilus pays his tribute to the main,
Thou needs must sail by Alexandria.

Merch. I neither saw them, nor inquired of them:
But this we heard some of our seamen say,
They wondered how you durst with so much wealth
Trust such a crazèd vessel, and so far.

Bar. Tush, they are wise! I know her and her strength.
But go, go thou thy ways, discharge thy ship,
And bid my factor bring his loading in. [Exit Merch.
And yet I wonder at this argosy.

Enter a second Merchant.

2nd Merch. Thine argosy from Alexandria,
Know, Barabas, doth ride in Malta-road,
Laden with riches, and exceeding store
Of Persian silks, of gold, and orient pearl.

Bar. How chance you came not with those other ships
That sailed by Egypt?

2nd Merch. Sir, we saw 'em not.

Bar. Belike they coasted round by Candy shore
About their oils, or other businesses.
But 'twas ill done of you to come so far
Without the aid or conduct of their ships.

2nd Merch. Sir, we were wafted by a Spanish fleet,
That never left us till within a league,
That had the galleys of the Turk in chase.

Bar. O!—they were going up to Sicily:—
Well, go,
And bid the merchants and my men despatch
And come ashore, and see the fraught discharged.

2nd Merch. I go. [Exit.

Bar. Thus trowls our fortune in by land and sea,
And thus are we on every side enriched:
These are the blessings promised to the Jews,
And herein was old Abram's happiness:
What more may Heaven do for earthly man
Than thus to pour out plenty in their laps,
Ripping the bowels of the earth for them,
Making the seas their servants, and the winds
To drive their substance with successful blasts?
Who hateth me but for my happiness?
Or who is honoured now but for his wealth?
Rather had I a Jew be hated thus,
Than pitied in a Christian poverty:
For I can see no fruits in all their faith,
But malice, falsehood, and excessive pride,
Which methinks fits not their profession.
Haply some hapless man hath conscience,
And for his conscience lives in beggary.
They say we are a scattered nation:
I cannot tell, but we have scambled up
More wealth by far than those that brag of faith.
There's Kirriah Jairim, the great Jew of Greece,
Obed in Bairseth, Nones in Portugal,
Myself in Malta, some in Italy,
Many in France, and wealthy every one;
Ay, wealthier far than any Christian.
I must confess we come not to be kings;
That's not our fault: alas, our number's few,
And crowns come either by succession,
Or urged by force; and nothing violent
Oft have I heard tell, can be permanent.
Give us a peaceful rule, make Christians kings,
That thirst so much for principality.
I have no charge, nor many children,
But one sole daughter, whom I hold as dear
As Agamemnon did his Iphigen:
And all I have is hers. But who comes here?

Enter three Jews.

1st Jew. Tush, tell me not; 'twas done of policy.

2nd Jew. Come, therefore, let us go to Barabas,
For he can counsel best in these affairs;
And here he comes.

Bar. Why, how now, countrymen!
Why flock you thus to me in multitudes?
What accident's betided to the Jews?

1st Jew. A fleet of warlike galleys, Barabas,
Are come from Turkey, and lie in our road:
And they this day sit in the council-house
To entertain them and their embassy.

Bar. Why, let 'em come, so they come not to war;
Or let 'em war, so we be conquerors—
Nay, let 'em combat, conquer, and kill all!
So they spare me, my daughter, and my wealth. [Aside.

1st Jew. Were it for confirmation of a league,
They would not come in warlike manner thus.

2nd Jew. I fear their coming will afflict us all.

Bar. Fond men! what dream you of their multitudes.
What need they treat of peace that are in league?
The Turks and those of Malta are in league.
Tut, tut, there is some other matter in't.

1st Jew. Why, Barabas, they come for peace or war.

Bar. Haply for neither, but to pass along
Towards Venice by the Adriatic Sea;
With whom they have attempted many times,
But never could effect their stratagem.

3rd Jew. And very wisely said. It may be so.

2nd Jew. But there's a meeting in the senate-house,
And all the Jews in Malta must be there.

Bar. Hum; all the Jews in Malta must be there?
Ay, like enough, why then let every man
Provide him, and be there for fashion-sake.
If anything shall there concern our state,
Assure yourselves I'll look—unto myself. [Aside.

1st Jew. I know you will. Well, brethren, let us go.

2nd Jew. Let's take our leaves. Farewell, good Barabas.

Bar. Farewell, Zaareth; farewell, Temainte. [Exeunt Jews.
And, Barabas, now search this secret out;
Summon thy senses, call thy wits together:
These silly men mistake the matter clean.
Long to the Turk did Malta contribute;
Which tribute, all in policy I fear,
The Turk has let increase to such a sum
As all the wealth of Malta cannot pay;
And now by that advantage thinks belike
To seize upon the town: ay, that he seeks.
Howe'er the world go, I'll make sure for one,
And seek in time to intercept the worst,
Warily guarding that which I ha' got.
Ego mihimet sum semper proximus.
Why, let 'em enter, let 'em take the town. [Exit.

Scene II.

Enter Ferneze, Governor of Malta, Knights, and Officers; met by Calymath and Bassoes of the Turk.

Fern. Now, Bassoes, what demand you at our hands?

1st Bas. Know, Knights of Malta, that we came from Rhodes,
From Cyprus, Candy, and those other Isles
That lie betwixt the Mediterranean seas.

Fern. What's Cyprus, Candy, and those other Isles
To us, or Malta? What at our hands demand ye?

Cal. The ten years' tribute that remains unpaid.

Fern. Alas! my lord, the sum is over-great,
I hope your highness will consider us.

Cal. I wish, grave governor, 'twere in my power
To favour you, but 'tis my father's cause,
Wherein I may not, nay, I dare not dally.

Fern. Then give us leave, great Selim Calymath.
[Consults apart with the Knights.

Cal. Stand all aside, and let the knights determine,
And send to keep our galleys under sail,
For happily we shall not tarry here;

194 Ego ... proximus] Misquoted from Terence's Andria, iv, I, 12. The words should be Proximus sum egomet mihi—"I am closest to myself." Now, governor, say, how are you resolved?

Fern. Thus: since your hard conditions are such
That you will needs have ten years' tribute past,
We may have time to make collection
Amongst the inhabitants of Malta for't.

1st Bas. That's more than is in our commission.

Cal. What, Callipine! a little courtesy.
Let's know their time, perhaps it is not long;
And 'tis more kingly to obtain by peace
Than to enforce conditions by constraint.
What respite ask you, governor?

Fern. But a month.

Cal. We grant a month, but see you keep your promise.
Now launch our galleys back again to sea,
Where we'll attend the respite you have ta'en,
And for the money send our messenger.
Farewell, great governor and brave Knights of Malta.

Fern. And all good fortune wait on Calymath!
[Exeunt Calymath and Bassoes.
Go one and call those Jews of Malta hither:
Were they not summoned to appear to-day?

Off. They were, my lord, and here they come.

Enter Barabas and three Jews.

1st Knight. Have you determined what to say to them?

Fern. Yes, give me leave:—and, Hebrews, now come near.
From the Emperor of Turkey is arrived
Great Selim Calymath, his highness' son,
To levy of us ten years' tribute past,
Now then, here know that it concerneth us—

Bar. Then, good my lord, to keep your quiet still,
Your lordship shall do well to let them have it.

Fern. Soft, Barabas, there's more 'longs to 't than so.
To what this ten years' tribute will amount,
That we have cast, but cannot compass it
By reason of the wars that robbed our store;
And therefore are we to request your aid.

Bar. Alas, my lord, we are no soldiers:
And what's our aid against so great a prince?

1st Knight. Tut, Jew, we know thou art no soldier;
Thou art a merchant and a moneyed man,
And 'tis thy money, Barabas, we seek.

Bar. How, my lord! my money?

Fern. Thine and the rest.
For, to be short, amongst you't must be had.

1st Jew. Alas, my lord, the most of us are poor.

Fern. Then let the rich increase your portions.

Bar. Are strangers with your tribute to be taxed?

2nd Knight. Have strangers leave with us to get their wealth?
Then let them with us contribute.

Bar. How! equally?

Fern. No, Jew, like infidels.
For through our sufferance of your hateful lives,
Who stand accursèd in the sight of Heaven,
These taxes and afflictions are befallen,
And therefore thus we are determinèd.
Read there the articles of our decrees.

Officer [Reads.] "First, the tribute-money of the Turks shall all be levied amongst the Jews, and each of them to pay one half of his estate."

Bar. How, half his estate? I hope you mean not mine. [Aside.

Fern. Read on.

Officer [Reading.] "Secondly, he that denies to pay shall straight become a Christian."

Bar. How! a Christian? Hum, what's here to do? [Aside.

Officer [Reading.] "Lastly, he that denies this shall absolutely lose all he has."

The Three Jews. O my lord, we will give half.

Bar. O earth-mettled villains, and no Hebrews born!
And will you basely thus submit yourselves
To leave your goods to their arbitrament?

Fern. Why, Barabas, wilt thou be christèned?

Bar. No, governor, I will be no convertite.

Fern. Then pay thy half.

Bar. Why, know you what you did by this device?
Half of my substance is a city's wealth.
Governor, it was not got so easily;
Nor will I part so slightly therewithal.

Fern. Sir, half is the penalty of our decree,
Either pay that, or we will seize on all.

Bar. Corpo di Dio! stay! you shall have the half;
Let me be used but as my brethren are.

Fern. No, Jew, thou hast denied the articles,
And now it cannot be recalled.
[Exeunt Officers, on a sign from Ferneze.

Bar. Will you then steal my goods?
Is theft the ground of your religion?

Fern. No, Jew, we take particularly thine
To save the ruin of a multitude:
And better one want for the common good
Than many perish for a private man:
Yet, Barabas, we will not banish thee,
But here in Malta, where thou gott'st thy wealth,
Live still; and, if thou canst, get more.

Bar. Christians, what or how can I multiply?
Of naught is nothing made.

1st Knight. From naught at first thou cam'st to little wealth,
From little unto more, from more to most:
If your first curse fall heavy on thy head,
And make thee poor and scorned of all the world,
'Tis not our fault, but thy inherent sin.

Bar. What, bring you Scripture to confirm your wrongs?
Preach me not out of my possessions.
Some Jews are wicked, as all Christians are:
But say the tribe that I descended of
Were all in general cast away for sin,
Shall I be tried by their transgression?
The man that dealeth righteously shall live:
And which of you can charge me otherwise?

Fern. Out, wretched Barabas!
Sham'st thou not thus to justify thyself,
As if we knew not thy profession?
If thou rely upon thy righteousness,
Be patient and thy riches will increase.
Excess of wealth is cause of covetousness:
And covetousness, O, 'tis a monstrous sin.

Bar. Ay, but theft is worse: tush! take not from me then,
For that is theft! and if you rob me thus,
I must be forced to steal and compass more.

1st Knight. Grave governor, listen not to his exclaims.
Convert his mansion to a nunnery;
His house will harbour many holy nuns.

Fern. It shall be so.

Re-enter Officers.

Now, officers, have you done?
Off. Ay, my lord, we have seized upon the goods
And wares of Barabas, which being valued,
Amount to more than all the wealth in Malta.
And of the other we have seizèd half.

Fern. Then we'll take order for the residue.


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All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents

Christopher Marlowe: A Brief Chronology of His Life and Times
A Note on the Text

The Jew of Malta

Appendix A: Jewishness in Marlowe’s England

  1. From John Foxe, Acts and Monuments (1610)
    1. [The destruction of the Jews in 73 CE]
    2. [Hugh of Lincoln and other stories]
  2. From Raphael Holinshed, The Third Volume of Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1587)
    1. [London Jews executed for counterfeiting and debasing coins in 1278]
    2. [The expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290]
  3. From Thomas Nashe, The Unfortunate Traveller (1594)
  4. From Geoffrey Chaucer, “The Prioress’s Tale,” The Canterbury Tales (1602)
  5. From “An homily for Good Friday, concerning the death and passion of our Saviour Jesus Christ,” in The Second Tome of Homilies (1563)
  6. From Robert Wilson, The Three Ladies of London (1584)
    1. [Mercadorus is confronted by Gerontus, to whom he owes money]
    2. [Arrested, Mercadorus is brought before the Judge of Turkey]
  7. From Sir Thomas Browne, “Of the Jews,” Pseudodoxia Epidemica (1646)

Appendix B: Rhodes, Malta, and European-Ottoman Relations

  1. From Nicholas Nicholay, The Navigations, peregrinations and voyages, made into Turkey by Nicholas Nicholay (1585)
  2. From Richard Knolles, The General History of the Turks (1603)
    1. [Preparation for the siege of Malta begins]
    2. [The Turks take Saint Elmo]
    3. [The Turkish forces leave Malta]
  3. From A Form to be used in Common prayer … to excite and stir all godly people to pray unto God for the preservation of those Christians and their Countries that are now invaded by the Turk in Hungary or elsewhere (1566)
  4. From Richard Hakluyt, The Principle Navigations, Voyages, and Discoveries of the English Nation (1589)
    1. [“The letters sent from the Imperial Musulmanlike highness of Sultan Murad Khan to the sacred regal Majesty of Elizabeth Queen of England”]
    2. [“The answer of her Majesty to the aforesaid letters of the Great Turk”]

Appendix C: Machiavellianism

  1. From Innocent Gentillet, A Discourse Upon the Means of Well Governing and Maintaining in Good Peace a Kingdom, or Other Principality … Against Nicholas Machiavel the Florentine (1602)
    1. [From “A Preface to the first Part”]
    2. [From Gentillet’s refutation of Machiavelli’s first maxim of religion]
    3. [From Gentillet’s refutation of Machiavelli’s twentyfirst maxim of policy]
    4. [The maxims]
  2. From Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince (1640)
    1. [Edward Dacres’s “Epistle to the Reader”]
    2. [Chapter XV, “Of those things in respect whereof men, and especially princes, are praised or dispraised”]
    3. [From Chapter XVIII, “In what manner princes ought to keep their words”]
    4. [Chapter XXV, “How great power Fortune hath in human affairs, and what means there is to resist it”]

Appendix D: Marlowe’s Reputation

  1. From Robert Greene, Perimedes the Blacksmith (1588) and A Groatsworth of Wit (1592)
    1. [From Perimedes the Blacksmith]
    2. [From A Groatsworth of Wit]
  2. Thomas Kyd’s letters to Sir John Puckering about Marlowe
  3. Richard Baines, “A note containing the opinion of Christopher Marlowe concerning his damnable Judgment of religion and scorn of God’s word”
  4. From Thomas Beard, The Theatre of God’s Judgements (1597)

Works Cited and Further Reading

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