Thomas Thorpe's Letter to Edward Blount
The following is a full transcription of the dedicatory letter by Thomas Thorpe1 to publisher Edward Blount2 that prefaced the publication of the tranlation of Lucan's First Book in 1600, which had Marlowe's name on the title page.
Blount: I purpose to be blunt with you, and out of my dullnesse to encounter you with a Dedication in the memory of that pure Elementall wit, Chr. Marlow; whose ghoast or Genius is to be seene walke the Churchyard3 in (at the least) three or foure sheets. Me thinks you should presently looke wilde now, and grow humourously frantique upon the tast of it. Well, least you should, let mee tell you.
This spirit was sometime a familiar of your own. Lucans first booke translated; which (in regard of your old right in it) I have rais'd in the circle of your Patronage. But stay now, Edward (if I mistake not) you are to accommodate your selfe with some fewe instructions, touching the property of a Patron that you are not yet possest of; and to study them for your better grace as our Gallants do fashions. First, you must be proud and thinke you have merit inough in you, though you are ne're so emptie; then when I bring you the booke take physicke. and keepe state, assigne me a time by your man to come againer and afore the day, be sure to have chang'd your lodging; in the meane time sleepe little, and sweat with the invention of some pittiful dry jest or two which you may happen to utter, with some litle (or not at al) marking of your friends when you have found a place for them to come in at; or if by chance something has dropt from you worth the taking up weary all that come to you with the often repetition of it; Censure scorne-fully inough, and somewhat like a travailer: commend nothing least you discredit your (that which you would seeme to have) judgemenl. These things if you can mould your self to them Ned I make no question but they will not become you. One speciall vertue in our Patrons of these daies I have promist my selfe you shall fit excellently, which is to give nothing: Yet, thy love I will challenge as my peculiar Object both in this, and (I hope) manie more succeeding offices: Farewell, I affect not the world should measure my thoughts to thee by a scale of this Nature: leave to thinke good of me when I fall from thee.
Thine in all rites of perfect friendship,
Return to Christopher Marlowe: An Encomium.
- Note 1: Thomas Thorpe (c.1570-1635?) - publisher. Most famous for publishing Shake-speare's Sonnets in 1609 with its much pored-over dedication to the mysterious "Mr W.H." He also published works by Ben Jonson and George Chapman, and later jointly held the rights to Hero and Leander with Blount. Back to Text
- Note 2: Edward Blount (1565-1632) - publisher and book-seller. Most famous for publishing Shakespeare's First Folio in 1623 together with the Jaggards. Blount also published Marlowe's Hero and Leander in 1598, in which he wrote a dedication to Sir Thomas Walsingham. Back to Text
- Note 3: St Paul's Churchyard, where the stalls of the book-sellers were to be found. Back to Text