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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: January ::
Bartolozzi Engravings
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0062  Friday, 9 January 2004

From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Thursday, 8 Jan 2004 17:46:25 -0000
Subject: 15.0046 Bartolozzi Engravings
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0046 Bartolozzi Engravings

 >"Marlowe was stabbed while reclining on a bed, not sitting at a table."
 >
 >Marlowe was stabbed neither whilst reclining on a bed or sitting at a
 >table. Kit was stabbed whilst he was trying to, literally, pommel Ingrim
 >Frizer.

This sounds a bit pedantic to me, and it isn't necessarily right either.
  According to the Coroner's report, Marlowe was stabbed after having
leant forward from the bed (where he was reclining) to hit Frizer, who
was seated next to him, over the head.  Assuming that he hadn't stood on
the bed, it sounds to me like Marlowe would still have been stretched out.

He certainly doesn't seem to have got off the bed, since Frizer and his
two companions were sitting in a row at the table with their backs to
the bed, with Frizer in the middle, and a table in front of them.
Marlowe could not have got off the bed to attack Frizer, since that
would have put one of the other men, or the table, between Marlowe and
Frizer.  Rather, Marlowe seems to have reached across from the bed to
take Frizer's dagger from his back, and then hit him over the head with
it, quite probably while still lying down.

The question of exactly what angle qualifies as "reclining" and exactly
how far Marlowe is likely to have sat up or leant forward to attack
Frizer seems extremely disputable.  Standing on the bed seems unlikely,
and "reclining" seems as good a term as "lying forward" or "sitting up"
or "kneeling" since we cannot be entirely certain that any of these
terms accurately describe what Marlowe was doing.

Since Marlowe was certainly reclining on the bed before the attack (the
inquest report describes Frizer with his "back towards the bed where the
said Christopher Morley was then lying") and could easily have stayed
lying back, largely recumbent, during the entire attack (which might be
why the wound on Frizer's head was not as serious as it could have
been), there seems no particular reason to quibble about the word
"reclining".  In any case, my point remains the same whether he was
reclining on the bed, standing on it, or dancing an Irish jig.  When
Marlowe was killed, he was on a bed, not seated at a table.  His death
therefore looked nothing like the Bartolozzi engravings.

Of course, the Coroner's report also says that Frizer struggled with
Marlowe to get his dagger, but since neither of the other men seem to
have had time or space to move or intervene (and if Marlowe had ever got
off the bed they would have been nearer to him than Frizer), this might
well have been little more than arm wrestling for the dagger, and
Marlowe could still have been lying down, or even pushed down onto the
bed by Frizer.  Since reclining just means lying down (usually
backwards) or leaning backwards against something, there is no way that
you can be sure that he was not technically "reclining" the whole time.
  Unless of course you have photographs from the scene, or sketches from
the witnesses, in which case I would very much like to see them.
Perhaps you could sell them on E-Bay?

Thomas Larque.
"Shakespeare and His Critics"       "British Shakespeare Association"
http://shakespearean.org.uk           http://britishshakespeare.ws

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