have not unnaturally been taken to mean that the piece was the first venture of the author; but on investigation this will be seen to be impossible, since the constant reminiscence of Marlowe in the construction of the verse points to 1588 or at earliest to 1587 as the date. Mr. Fleay’s suggestion of 1589-90 may be accepted as the earliest likely date. To my mind it would need external proof of an unusually cogent description to render plausible the theory that the year, say, of the Shepherd’s Calender saw the appearance of such lines as:
What lack I now but an imperiall
And Ariadnaes star-lyght Diadem? (II. i.)
O Stesias, what a heavenly
love hast thou!
A love as chaste as is Apolloes tree,
As modest as a vestall Virgins eye,
And yet as bright as Glow wormes in the night,
With which the morning decks her lovers hayre; (IV. i.)
or yet again:
When will the sun go downe?
flye Phoebus flye!
O, that thy steeds were wingd with my swift thoughts:
Now shouldst thou fall in Thetis azure armes,
And now would I fall in Pandoraes lap. (IV. i.)
Nor are these isolated passages; from the opening lines of the prologue to the final speech of Nature the verse has the appearance of being the work of a graceful if not very strong hand writing in imitation of Marlowe’s early style. We must, therefore, it seems to me, take the words of the prologue as signifying not that the play was the first work of the author, but that it was his earliest adventure in verse.
The plan of the work is as follows. The shepherds of Utopia come to dame Nature and beg her to make a woman for them. She consents and fashions Pandora, whom she dowers with the virtues of the several Planets. These, however, are offended at not being consulted in the matter, and determine to use their influence to the bane of the newly created woman. Under the reign of Saturn she turns sullen; when Jupiter is in the ascendant he falls in love with her, but she has grown proud and scorns him; under Mars she becomes a vixen; under Sol she in her turn falls in love, and turns wanton under Venus; she learns deceit of Mercury when he is dominant, and runs mad under the influence of Luna. At length, since the shepherds will no longer have anything to do with the lady, Nature determines to place her in the heavens. Her beauty makes each planet desire her as companion. Nature gives her the choice:
Speake, my Pandora;
where wilt thou be?
Pandora. Not with old Saturne for he lookes like death;
Nor yet with Jupiter, lest Juno storme;
Nor with thee Mars, for Venus is thy love;
Nor with thee Sol, thou hast two Parramours,
The sea borne Thetis and the rudy morne;
Nor with thee Venus, lest I be in love
With blindfold Cupid or young Joculus;