Studies In The Renaissance

26 January



Presentation: The Atheist Threat, 1475-1640


Presentation: [critical essay, tba]



God 2 Timothy 3.1-7 (KJV, 1611) [Y2K; or, Some Things Never Change]

God Luke 12.45-46 (KJV, 1611) [Party Boys and Atheists]

A. Askew fr. The Examinations (1546; ed. DWF 1999)

C. Marlowe Tamburlaine, part 1 (ca. 1587, pub. 1590; ed. DWF, 1999)


J. Donne fr. "The First Anniversary" (1611), lines 191-218

A. Gardyne "A Bad Man, or Atheist. [Character] 27." fr. Characters and Essayes (1625; ed. DWF, 1999)


W. Livingston "Bessie Clarkson" (1628; ed. DWF, 1999)


The Readings:

[Y2K; or, Some Things Never Change]

fr. Apostle Paul, 2 Timothy 3.1-7:

1. This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3. Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4. Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7. Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

[Party Boys and Atheists]

Gospel of Luke 12.45-46:

45. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; 46. The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers....




Anne Askew, The Examinations (1545-6)

"He answered that I was a woman, and that he was nothynge deceyved in me." &endash; from The First Examination



In the 16th Century, polemicists for the Roman Catholic church tested to use the epithet, "atheist," for any Christian rejecting the authority of the Pope. Anne Askew (1521-1546), though no atheist, represented a threat to papal authority not only on religitous grounds but as a woman. When her husband, Thomas Kyme, evicted her, Askew (taking back her maiden name) removed to London where she petitioned (unsuccessfully) for divorce. While in London, Askew became active with a group of Protestant Reformers, a circle that included Catherine Parr, Henry VIII's sixth wife. Henry's break with Rome had not entailed significant departures from Catholic doctrine. In 1539 the Act of Six Articles decreed severe punishments for denying the doctrines of transubstantiation, clerical celibacy, private masses and the sacrament of confession to a priest. Following complaints about her public preachments, Askew was twice examined for heresy in 1545-6 and twice released, for insufficient evidence, then imprisoned, tortured on the rack, and burned at the stake. She was 25 years old.

1 Like as the armèd knight appointed to the field,

With this world will I fight &emdash; and faith shall be my shield. . . .

I am not she that list my anchor to let fall

For every drizzling mist. My ship’s substantìal.

Not oft use I to write in prose, nor yet in rhyme &emdash;

20 Yet will I shew one sight that I saw in my time:

I saw a royal throne where justice should have set &emdash;

But in her stead was one of moody, cruel wit.

Absorbed was rightwisness, as of the raging flood.

Satan, in his excess, sucked up the guiltless blood.

25 Then thought I, "Jesus, Lord, when thou shalt judge us all,

Hard is it to record on these men what will fall!"

Yet, Lord, I thee desire: for that they do to me,

Let them not taste the hire of their iniquity.

&emdash; From "The Ballad which Anne Askew Made

and Sang When She Was in Newgate [Prison]"


The First Examination

To satisfy your expectation, good people, this was my first examination, in the year of our Lord 1545, and in the month of March. First Christopher Dare examined me at Sadler’s Hall, being one of the quest, and asked if I did not believe that the sacrament hanging over the altar was the very body of Christ really. Then I demanded this question of him, wherefore St. Stephen was stoned to death? And he said he could not tell. Then I answered that no more would I assoil his vain question.

Secondly, he said that there was a woman which did testify that I should read how God was not in temples made with hands. Then I showed him the seventh and the seventeenth chapter of the Apostles’ Acts, what Stephen and Paul had said therein &emdash; whereupon he asked me how I took those sentences. I answered that I would not throw pearls among swine, for acorns were good enough.

Thirdly, he asked me wherefore I said that I had rather to read five lines in the Bible than to hear five masses in the temple. I confessed that I said no less &emdash; not for the dispraise of either the epistle or gospel, but because the one did greatly edify me, and the other nothing at all; as Saint Paul doth witness in the fourteenth chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthes, where as he doth say, "If the trump giveth an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself to the battle?"

Fourthly, he laid unto my charge that I should say if an ill priest minist’red, it was the devil and not God. My answer was that I never spake such thing; but this was my saying, that whatsoever he were which minist’red unto me, his ill conditions could not hurt my faith; but in spirit I received, nevertheless, the body and blood of Christ.

[5] Fifthly, he asked me what I said concerning confession. I answered him my meaning, which was as St. James saith, that every man ought to acknowledge his faults to other, and the one to pray for the other.

Sixthly, he asked me what I said to the king’s book. And I answered him that I could say nothing to it, because I never saw it.

Seventhly, he asked me if I had the spirit of God in me. I answered, if I had not, I was but a reprobate or castaway. Then he said he had sent for a priest to examine me, which was there at hand. The priest asked me what I said to the sacrament of the altar, and required much to know therein my meaning. But I desired him again to hold me excused concerning that matter. None other answer would I make him, because I perceived him a papist.

Eighthly, he asked me if I did not think that private masses did help souls departed. And I said it was great idolatry to believe more in them than in the death which Christ died for us.

Then they had me from thence unto my lord mayor. And he examined me as they had before, and I answered him directly in all things, as I answered the quest afore.

[10] Besides this, my lord mayor laid one thing unto my charge which was never spoken of me, but of them &emdash; and that was, whether a mouse eating the host received God, or no? This question did I never ask; but, indeed, they asked it of me, whereunto I made them no answer, but smiled.

Then the bishop’s chancellor rebuked me &emdash; and said that I was much to blame for uttering the Scriptures: for St. Paul (he said) forbode women to speak or to talk of the Word of God. I answered him that I knew Paul’s meaning so well as he, which is (1 Cor. 14) that a woman ought not to speak in the congregation by the way of teaching. And then I asked him how many women he had seen go into the pulpit and preach. He said he never saw none. Then I said he ought to find no fault in poor women, except they had offended the law.

Then my lord mayor commaunded me to ward. I asked him if sureties would not serve me. And he made me short answer, that he would take none. Then was I had to the counter, and there remained twelve days, no friend admitted to speak with me.


But in the meantime, there was a priest sent to me which said that he was commaunded of the bishop to examine me and to give me good counsel (which he did not). But first he asked me for what cause I was put in the counter. And I told him I could not tell. Then he said it was great pity that I should be there without cause, and concluded that he was very sorry for me. Secondly, he said it was told him that I should deny the sacrament of the altar. And I answered him again, that that I had said, I had said. Thirdly, he asked me if I were shriven. I told him no. Then he said he would bring one to me for to shrive me. And I told him, so that I might have one of these three, that is to say, Dr. Crome, Sir Gillam, or Huntington, I was contented, because I knew them to be men of wisdom: "As for you or any other, I will not dispraise, because I know ye not." Then he said, "I would not have you think but that I or another that shall be brought you shall be as honest as they; for if we were not, ye may be sure the king would not suffer us to preach." Then I answered by the saying of Solomon, "By communing with the wise I may learn wisdom; but by talking with a fool I shall take scathe" (Prov. 1). Fourthly, he asked me if the host should fall, and a beast did eat it, whether the beast did receive God or no? I answered, "Seeing ye have taken the pains to ask this question, I desire you also to take so much pain more as to assoil it yourself; for I will not do it, because I perceive ye come to tempt me. And he said it was against the order of schools that he which asked the question should answer it. I told him I was but a woman, and knew not the course of schools. Fifthly, he asked me if I intended to receive the sacrament at Easter, or no? I answered, that else I were no Christen woman, and that I did rejoice that the time was so near at hand. And then he departed thence, with many fair words.

And the twenty-third day of March my cousin Britain came into the counter to me, and asked there whether I might be put to bail, or no? Then went he immediately unto my lord mayor, desiring of him to be so good lord unto me, that I might be bailed. My lord answered him and said that he would be glad to do the best that in him lay; howbeit, he could not bail me without the consent of a spiritual officer &emdash; so requiring him to go and speak with the chancellor of London &emdash; for, he said, like as he could not commit me to prison without the consent of a spiritual officer, no more could he bail me without consent of the same.

[15] So, upon that, he went to the chancellor, requiring of him as he did afore of my lord mayor. He answered him that the matter was so heinous, that he durst not of himself do it, without my lord of London were made privy thereunto; but he said he would speak unto my lord in it, and bade him repair unto him the next morrow and he should well know my lord’s pleasure.

And upon the morrow after, he came thither and spake both with the chancellor and with my lord bishop of London. My lord declared unto him that he was very well contented that I should come forth to a communication, and appointed me to appear afore him the next day after, at three of the clock at afternoon. Moreover he said unto him that he would there should be at that examination such learnèd men as I was affectioned to, that they might see and also make report that I was handled with no rigor. He answered him that he knew no man that I had more affection to than other. Then said the bishop, "Yes, as I understand, she is affectioned to Dr. Crome, Sir Gillam, Whitehead, and Huntington, that they might hear the matter, for she did know them to be learnèd and of a godly judgment."

Also he required my cousin Britain that he should earnestly persuade me to utter even the very bottom of my heart. And he sware by his fidelity that no man should take any advauntage of my words, neither yet would he lay aught to my charge for anything that I should there speak; but if I said any manner of thing amiss, he, with other more, would be glad to reform me therein with most godly counsel.

On the morrow after, my lord of London sent for me at one of the clock, his hour being appointed at three. And as I came before him, he said he was very sorry of my trouble, and desired to know my opinion in such matters as were laid against me. He required me also in any wise boldly to utter the secrets of my heart, bidding me not to fear in any point; for whatsoever I did say within his house, no man should hurt me for it. I answered, "Forsomuch as your lordship appointed three of the clock, and my friends shall not come till that hour, I desire you to pardon me of giving answer till they come."

Then said he that he thought it meet to send for those four men which were afore named and appointed. Then I desired him not to put them to the pain, for it should not need, because the two gentlemen which were my friends were able enough to testify that I should say. Anon, after, he went into his gallery with Master Spilman and willed him in any wise that he should exhort me to utter all that I thought.

[20] In the meanwhile he commaunded his archdeacon to commune with me, who said unto me, "Mastress, wherefore are ye accused?" I answered, "Ask my accusers, for I know not as yet." Then took he my book out of my hand and said, "Such books as this is hath brought you to the trouble ye are in. Beware," saith he, "beware &emdash; for he that made it was brent in Smithfield." Then I asked him if he were sure that it was true that he had spoken. And he said he knew well the book was of John Frith’s making. Then I asked him if he were not ashamed for to judge of the book before he saw it within, or yet knew the truth thereof. I said also that such unadvised and hasty judgment is a token apparent of a very slender wit. Then I opened the book and showed it him. He said he thought it had been another (for he could find no fault therein). Then I desired him no more to be so swift in judgment till he throughly knew the truth; and so he departed.

Immediately after came my cousin Britain in, with divers other, as Master Hall of Gray’s Inn, and such other like. Then my lord of London persuaded my cousin Britain as he had done oft before, which was that I should utter the bottom of my heart in any wise.

My lord said (after that) unto me that he would I should credit the counsel of my friends in his behalf, which was that I should utter all things that burdened my conscience. For he ensured me that I should not need to stand in doubt to say anything; for like as he promised them, he said, he promised me, and would perform it &emdash; which was that neither he, nor any man for him, should take me at advauntage of any word I should speak. And therefore he bade me say my mind without fear. I answered him that I had nought to say; for my conscience, I thanked God, was burdened with nothing.

Then brought he forth this unsavory similitude, that if a man had a wound, no wise surgeon would minister help unto it before he had seen it uncovered. "In like case," saith he, "can I give you no good counsel unless I know wherewith your conscience is burdened." I answered that my conscience was clear in all things, and for to lay a plaster unto the whole skin, it might appear much folly.

"Then ye drive me," saith he, "to lay to your charge your own report, which is this: Ye did say, ‘He that doth receive the sacrament by the hands of an ill priest, or a sinner, he receiveth the devil and not God.’" To that I answered that I never spake such words; but as I said afore, both to the quest and to my lord mayor, so say I now again, that the wickedness of the priest should not hurt me, but in spirit and in faith I received no less the body and blood of Christ. Then said the bishop unto me, "What a saying is this! ‘In spirit’! I will not take you at that advauntage!" Then I answered, "My lord, without faith and spirit I cannot receive him worthily." Then he laid unto me that I should say that the sacrament remaining in the pyx was but bread. I answered that "I never said so, but indeed the quest asked me such question &emdash; whereunto I would not answer," I said, "till such time as they had assoiled me this question of mine, wherefore Stephen was stoned to death? They said they knew not. Then I said again, no more would I tell them what it was."

[25] Then laid it my lord unto me that I had alleged a certain text of the Scripture. I answered that I alleged none other but St. Paul’s own saying to the Athenians in the seventeenth chapter of the Apostles’ Acts, that God dwelleth not in temples made with hands. Then asked he me what my faith and belief was in that matter. I answered him, "I believe as the Scripture doth teach me." Then inquired he of me, "What if the Scripture doth say that it is the body of Christ?" "I believe," said I, "like as the Scripture doth teach me." Then asked he again, "What if the Scripture doth say that it is not the body of Christ?" My answer was still, "I believe as the Scripture informeth me." And upon this argument he tarried a great while, to have driven me to make him an answer to his mind. Howbeit, I would not, but concluded thus with him, that I believed therein, and in all other things, as Christ and his holy apostles did leave them.

Then he asked me why I had so few words. And I answered, "God has given me the gift of knowledge, but not of utterance. And Solomon saith that ‘A woman of few words is a gift of God’" (Prov. 19).

Thirdly, my lord laid unto my charge that I should say that the mass was idolatry. I answered him, "No, I said not so. Howbeit," I said, "the quest did ask me whether private masses did relieve souls departed, or no. Unto whom then I answered, ‘O Lord, what idolatry is this, that we should rather believe in private masses, than in the healthsome death of the dear Son of God!’" Then said my lord again, "What an answer was that!" "Though it were but mean," said I, "yet was it good enough for the question."

Then I told my lord that there was a priest which did hear what I said there before my lord mayor and them. With that the chancellor answered, "Which was the same priest?" "So &emdash; she spake it in very deed," saith he, "before my lord the mayor and me." Then there were certain priests, as Dr. Standish and other, which tempted me much to know my mind. And I answered them always thus, "That that I have said to my lord of London, I have said."

And then Dr. Standish desired my lord to bid me say my mind concerning the same text of St. Paul. I answered that it was against St. Paul’s learning, that I, being a woman, should interpret the Scriptures, specially where so many wise learnèd men were.

[30] Then my lord of London said he was informed that one should ask of me if I would receive the sacrament at Easter, and I made a mock of it. Then I desired that mine accuser might come forth, which my lord would not. But he said again unto me, "I sent one to give you good counsel, and at the first word ye called him papist." That I denied not, for I perceived he was no less (yet made I none answer unto it).

Then he rebuked me, and said that I should report that there were bent against me threescore priests at Lincoln. "Indeed," quoth I, "I said so: for my friends told me, if I did come to Lincoln, the priests would assault me and put me to great trouble, as thereof they had made their boast. And when I heard it, I went thither indeed, not being afraid, because I knew my matter to be good. Moreover, I remained there six days, to see what would be said unto me. And as I was in the minster, reading upon the Bible, they resorted unto me, by two and by two, by five and by six, minding to have spoken to me; yet went they their ways again, without words speaking."

Then my lord asked if there were not one that did speak unto me. I told him yes, that there was one of them at the last which did speak to me indeed. And my lord then asked me what he said. And I told him his words were of so small effect, that I did not now remember them.

Then said my lord, "There are many that read and know the Scripture, and yet do not follow it nor live thereafter." I said again, "My lord, I would wish that all men knew my conversation and living in all points; for I am so sure of myself this hour, that there are none able to prove any dishonesty by me. If you know any that can do it, I pray you, bring them forth."

Then my lord went away and said he would entitle somewhat of my meaning. And so he writ a great circumstance; but what it was, I have not all in memory, for he would not suffer me to have the copy thereof. Only do I remember this small portion of it: "Be it known," saith he, "of all men, that I, Anne Askew, do confess this to be my faith and belief, notwithstanding any reports made afore to the contrary: I believe that they which are houseled at the hands of a priest, whether his conversation be good or not, do receive the body and blood of Christ in substance really. Also I do believe it after the consecration, whether it be received or reserved, to be no less than the very body and blood of Christ in substance. Finally, I do believe in this, and in all other sacraments of holy church, in all points according to the old catholic faith of the same. In witness whereof I, the said Anne, have subscribed my name." There was somewhat more in it, which, because I had not the copy, I cannot now remember.

[35] Then he read it to me and asked me if I did agree to it. And I said again, "I believe so much thereof as the holy Scripture doth agree to. Wherefore I desire you that you will add that thereunto." Then he answered that I should not teach him what he should write. With that, he went forth into his great chamber and read the same bill afore the audience, which inveigled and willed me to set to my hand, saying also that I had favor showed me.

Then said the bishop I might thank other, and not myself, of the favor I found at his hand; for he considered, he said, that I had good friends, and also that I was come of a worshipful stock. Then answered one Christopher (a servant to Master Denny), "Rather ought ye, my lord, to have done it in such a case for God’s sake than for man’s."

Then my lord sat down and took me the writing to set thereto my hand, and I writ after this manner: "I, Anne Askew, do believe all manner things contained in the faith of the catholic church." Then, because I did add unto it "the catholic church," he flung into his chamber in a great fury. With that my cousin Britain followed him, desiring him for God’s sake to be good lord unto me. He answered that I was a woman, and that he was nothing deceived in me. Then my cousin Britain desired him to take me as a woman, and not to set my weak woman’s wit to his lordship’s very great wisdom.

Then went in unto him Doctor Weston and said that the cause why I did write there "the catholic church" was that I understood not "the church" written afore. So with much ado they persuaded my lord to come out again, and to take my name with the names of my sureties (which were my cousin Britain and Master Spilman of Gray’s Inn).

This being done, we thought that I should have been put to bail immediately, according to the order of the law. Howbeit, he would not so suffer it, but committed me from thence to prison again, until the next morrow. And then he willed me to appear in the Guildhall; and so I did. Notwithstanding, they would not put me to bail there neither, but read the bishop’s writing unto me, as before, and so commaunded me again to prison.

[40] Then were my sureties appointed to come before them on the next morrow in Paul’s church; which did so indeed. Notwithstanding, they would once again have broken off with them, because they would not be bound also for another woman, at their pleasure, whom they knew not; nor yet what matter was laid unto her charge. Notwithstanding, at the last, after much ado, and reasoning to and fro, they took a bond of them of recognisance for my forthcoming. And thus I was, at the last, delivered.

Written by me, Anne Askew



From The Latter Examination



The Sum of my Examination afore the King’s Council at Greenwich

Your request, as concerning my prison fellows, I am not hable to satisfy, because I heard not their examinations. But the effect of mine was this: I, being before the council, was asked of Master Kyme. I answered that my lord chancellor knew already my mind in that matter. They with that answer were not contented, but said it was the king’s pleasure that I should open the matter to them. I answered them plainly that I would not so do, but, if it were the king’s pleasure to hear me, I would show him the truth. Then they said it was not meet for the king with me to be troubled. I answered that Solomon was reckoned the wisest king that ever lived, yet misliked not he to hear two poor common women &emdash; much more his grace a simple woman and his faithful subject. So, in conclusion, I made them none other answer in that matter.

Then my lord chancellor asked me of my opinion in the sacrament. My answer was this: "I believe that so oft as I, in a Christen congregation, do receive the bread, in remembrance of Christ’s death and with thanksgiving, according to his holy institution, I receive therewith the fruits also of his most glorious passion." The bishop of Winchester bade me make a direct answer. I said I would not sing a new song to the Lord in a strange land.

Then the bishop said I spake in parables. I answered it was best for him: "&emdash;for if I show the open truth," quoth I, "ye will not accept it." Then he said I was a parrot. I told him again I was ready to suffer all things at his hands &emdash; not only his rebukes, but all that should follow besides, yea, and that gladly. Then had I divers rebukes of the council because I would not express my mind in all things as they would have me. But they were not in the mean time unanswered, for all that &emdash; which now to rehearse were too much, for I was with them there above five hours. Then the clerk of the Council conveyed me from thence to my Lady Garnish.

. . . . . . . .


The Sum of the Condempnation of me, Anne Askew, at Guildhall

They said to me there that I was an heretic, and condempnèd by the law if I would stand in my opinion. I answered that I was no heretic, neither yet deserved I any death by the law of God; but as concerning the faith which I uttered and wrote to the council, I would not, I said, deny it, because I knew it true. Then would they needs know if I would deny the sacrament to be Christ’s body and blood. I said, "Yea, for the same Son of God that was born of the Virgin Mary is now glorious in heaven and ‘will come again from thence at the latter day, like as he went up’ (Acts 1.12). And as for that ye call your God, is but a piece of bread. For a more proof thereof (mark it when ye list) let it lie in the box but three months, and it will be moldy, and so turn to nothing that is good. Whereupon I am persuaded that it cannot be God."

After that they willed me to have a priest, and then I smiled. Then they asked me if it were not good. I said I would confess my faults to God, for I was sure that he would hear me with favor. And so we were condempnèd, without a quest.

. . . . . . . . .



The Effect of My Examination and Handling

since My Departure from Newgate

On Tuesday I was sent from Newgate to the sign of the Crown, where as Master Rich and the bishop of London with all their power and flattering words went about to persuade me from God; but I did not esteem their glozing pretenses. Then came there to me Nicholas Shaxton, and counseled me to recant (as he had done). Then I said to him that it had been good for him never to have been born; with many other like words.

Then Master Rich sent me to the Tower, where I remained till three of the clock. Then came Rich and one of the council, charging me upon my obedience to show unto them if I knew man or woman of my sect. My answer was that I knew none. Then they asked me of my lady of Southfolk, my lady of Sussex, my lady of Hertford, my lady Denny, and my lady Fitzwilliams. I said, if I should pronounce anything against them, that I were not hable to prove it.

Then said they unto me that the king was informed that I could name, if I would, a great number of my sect. Then I answered that the king was as well deceived in that behalf as dissembled with in other matters.

Then commaunded they me to show how I was maintained in the counter, and who willed me to stick by my opinion. I said that there was no creature that therein did strengthen me. And as for the help that I had in the counter, it was by the means of my maid &emdash; for as she went abroad in the streets, she made to the ’prentices, and they by her did send me money. But who they were, I never knew.

[5] Then they said that there were divers gentlewomen that gave me money. But I knew not their names. Then they said that there were divers ladies which had sent me money. I answered that there was a man in a blue coat which delivered me ten shillings, and said that my lady of Hertford sent it me, and another in a violet coat did give me eight shillings, and said that my lady Denny sent it me. Whether it were true, or no, I cannot tell; for I am not sure who sent it me, but as the men did say.

Then they said there were of the council that did maintain me. And I said no. Then they did put me on the rack, because I confessed no ladies nor gentlewomen to be of my opinion &emdash; and thereon they kept me a long time; and because I lay still and did not cry, my lord chancellor and Master Rich took pains to rack me with their own hands till I was nigh dead.

Then the lieftenant caused me to be loosed from the rack. Incontinently I swoonded, and then they recovered me again. After that I sat two long hours reasoning with my lord chancellor, upon the bare floor, where as he with many flattering words persuaded me to leave my opinion. But my Lord God (I thank his everlasting goodness) gave me grace to perséver, and will do (I hope) to the very end.

Then was I brought to an house and laid in a bed, with as weary and painful bones as ever had patient Job (I thank my Lord God thereof). Then my lord chancellor sent me word: if I would leave my opinion, I should want nothing; if I would not, I should forth to Newgate, and so be burned. I sent him again word that I would rather die than to break my faith. Thus the Lord open the eyes of their blind hearts, that the truth may take place! Farewell, my dear friend, and pray, pray, pray. . . .

By me, Anne Askew.





Tamburlaine, part 1

by Christopher Marlowe (ca. 1587, pub. 1590)

TAMBURLAINE THE GREAT: who, from a Scythian shepherd, by his rare and wonderful conquests, became a most puissant and mighty monarch and (for his tyranny, and terror in war) was termed the scourge of God.

The Two Tragical Discourses of Mighty Tamburlaine, the Scythian Shepherd, etc.


The Prologue.

From jigging veins of rhyming mother wits,

And such conceits as clownage keeps in pay,

We'll lead you to the stately tent of war,

Where you shall hear the Scythian Tamburlaine

Threatening the world with high astounding terms

And scourging kingdoms with his conquering sword.

View but his picture in this tragic glass,

And then applaud his fortunes as you please.



Actus 1. Scaena 1.

Mycetes, Cosroe, Meander, Theridamas,

Ortygius, Ceneus, with others.


Mycetes. Brother Cosroe, I find myself aggrieved,

Yet insufficient to express the same,

For it requires a great and thundering speech.

Good brother, tell the cause unto my lords &emdash;

I know you have a better wit than I.



Cosroe. Unhappy Persia, that in former age

Hast been the seat of mighty conquerors,

That in their prowess and their policies

Have triumphed over Afric and the bounds

Of Europe, where the Sun dares scarce appear

For freezing meteors and congealed cold,

Now to be ruled and governed by a man

At whose birthday Cynthia with Saturn joined,

And Jove, the Sun, and Mercury denied

To shed their influence in his fickle brain!

Now Turks and Tartars shake their swords at thee,

Meaning to mangle all thy Provinces.


Mycetes. Brother, I see your meaning well enough,

And through your Planets I perceive you think

I am not wise enough to be a king.

But I refer me to my noblemen

That know my wit, and can be witnesses.

I might command you to be slain for this.

Meander, might I not?



Meander. Not for so small a fault, my sovereign Lord.


Mycetes. I mean it not, but yet I know I might.

Yet live; yea live; Mycetes wills it so.

Meander, thou, my faithful Counselor,

Declare the cause of my conceived grief,

Which is, (God knows), about that Tamburlaine,

That, like a Fox in midst of harvest time,

Doth prey upon my flocks of Passengers,

And, as I hear, doth mean to pull my plumes.

Therefore 'tis good and meet for to be wise.



Meander. Oft have I heard your Majesty complain

Of Tamburlaine, that sturdy Scythian thief

That robs your merchants of Persepolis,

Treading by land unto the Western Isles,

And in your confines with his lawless train

Daily commits incivil outrages,

Hoping (misled by dreaming prophecies)

To reign in Asia, and with barbarous Arms

To make himself the Monarch of the East.

But ere he march in Asia or display

His vagrant Ensign in the Persian fields,

Your Grace hath taken order by Theridamas,

Charged with a thousand horse, to apprehend

And bring him Captive to your Highness' throne.


Mycetes. Full true thou speak'st, and like thyself, my lord,

Whom I may term a Damon for thy love.

Therefore 'tis best, if so it like you all,

To send my thousand horse incontinent

To apprehend that paltry Scythian.

How like you this, my honorable Lords?

Is it not a kingly resolution?



Cosroe. It cannot choose, because it comes from you.


Mycetes. Then hear thy charge, valiant Theridamas,

The chiefest Captain of Mycetes' host,

The hope of Persia, and the very legs

Whereon our state doth lean, as on a staff

That holds us up and foils our neighbor foes.

Thou shalt be leader of this thousand horse,

Whose foaming gall, with rage and high disdain,

Have sworn the death of wicked Tamburlaine.

Go frowning forth, but come thou smiling home,

As did Sir Paris with the Grecian Dame.

Return with speed; time passeth swift away.

Our life is frail, and we may die today.



Theridamas. Before the Moon renew her borrowed light,

Doubt not, my Lord and gracious Sovereign,

But Tamburlaine and that Tartarian rout

Shall either perish by our warlike hands

Or plead for mercy at your highness' feet.


Mycetes. Go, stout Theridamas; thy words are swords,

And with thy looks thou conquerest all thy foes.

I long to see thee back return from thence,

That I may view these milk-white steeds of mine

All laden with the heads of killed men,

And from their knees even to their hoofs below

Besmeared with blood; that makes a dainty show.



Theridamas. Then now, my lord, I humbly take my leave.


Mycetes. Theridamas, farewell ten thousand times.


Ah, Menaphon, why stay'st thou thus behind

When other men press forward for renown?

Go, Menaphon, go into Scythia,

And foot by foot follow Theridamas.



Cosroe. Nay, pray you let him stay. a greater (task)

Fits Menaphon than warring with a Thief.

Create him Prorex of Africa,

That he may win the Babylonians' hearts,

Which will revolt from Persian government

Unless they have a wiser king than you.


Mycetes. Unless they have a wiser king than you?

These are his words; Meander, set them down.



Cosroe. And add this to them: that all Asia

Lament to see the folly of their King.


Mycetes. Well, here I swear by this my royal seat...



Cosroe. You may do well to kiss it then.


Mycetes. Embossed with silk as best beseems my state,

To be revenged for these contemptuous words.

O, where is duty and allegiance now?

Fled to the Caspian or the Ocean main?

What, shall I call thee brother? No, a foe,

Monster of NNture, shame unto thy stock,

That dar'st presume thy Sovereign for to mock.

Meander come. I am abused, Meander. (Exit.

Manent Cosroe and Menaphon.



Menaphon. How now, my lord? what, mated and amazed

To hear the king thus threaten like himself?



Cosroe. Ah, Menaphon, I pass not for his threats.

The plot is laid by Persian Noblemen

And Captains of the Medean garrisons

To crown me Emperor of Asia.

But this it is that doth excruciate

The very substance of my vexed soul:

To see our neighbors that were wont to quake

And tremble at the Persian Monarch's name

Now sit and laugh our regiment to scorn;

And that which might resolve me into tears,

Men from the farthest Equinoctial line

Have swarmed in troops into the Eastern India,

Lading their ships with gold and precious stones,

And made their spoils from all our provinces.



Menaphon. This should entreat your highness to rejoice,

Since Fortune gives you opportunity

To gain the title of a Conqueror

By curing of this maimed Empery.

Afric and Europe bordering on your land

And continent to your Dominions,

How easily may you with a mighty host

Pass into Graecia, as did Cyrus once,

And cause them to withdraw their forces home,

Lest you subdue the pride of Christendom.



Cosroe. But, Menaphon, what means this trumpet's sound?



Menaphon. Behold, my lord, Ortygius and the rest

Bringing the Crown to make you Emperor!


Enter Ortygius and Ceneus bearing a Crown with others.




Ortygius. Magnificent and mighty Prince Cosroe,

We, in the name of other Persian states

And commons of this mighty Monarchy,

Present thee with th' Imperial Diadem.



Ceneus. The warlike Soldiers and the Gentlemen,

That heretofore have filled Persepolis

With Afric Captains taken in the field,

Whose ransom made them march in coats of gold,

With costly jewels hanging at their ears

And shining stones upon their lofty Crests,

Now living idle in the walled towns,

Wanting both pay and martial discipline,

Begin in troops to threaten civil war

And openly exclaim against the King.

Therefore, to stay all sudden mutinies,

We will invest your Highness Emperor,

Whereat the Soldiers will conceive more joy

Than did the Macedonians at the spoil

Of great Darius and his wealthy host.



Cosroe. Well, since I see the state of Persia droop

And languish in my brother's government,

I willingly receive th' imperial crown

And vow to wear it for my country's good,

In spite of them shall malice my estate.



Ortygius. And in assurance of desired success,

We here do crown thee Monarch of the East,

Emperor of Asia and Persia,

Great lord of Medea and Armenia,

Duke of Africa and Albania

Mesopotamia and of Parthia,

East India and the late discovered Isles,

Chief Lord of all the wide, vast Euxine sea,

And of the ever-raging Caspian Lake.

Long live Cosroe, mighty Emperor!



Cosroe. And Jove may never let me longer live

Than I may seek to gratify your love,

And cause the soldiers that thus honor me

To triumph over many Provinces;

By whose desires of discipline in Arms

I doubt not shortly but to reign sole king,

And with the Army of Theridamas,

Whither we presently will fly, (my Lords,)

To rest secure against my brother's force.



Ortygius. We knew, my lord, before we brought the crown,

Intending your investion so near

The residence of your despised brother,

The Lords would not be too exasperate

To injure or suppress your worthy title.

Or if they would, there are in readiness

Ten thousand horse to carry you from hence

In spite of all suspected enemies.



Cosroe. I know it well, my Lord, and thank you all.



Ortygius. Sound up the trumpets, then. God save the Ling!


Actus 1. Scaena 2.


Tamburlaine leading Zenocrate, Techelles, Usumcasane, other Lords, and Soldiers laden with treasure.

Tambur. Come lady, let not this appall your thoughts;

The jewels and the treasure we have ta'en

Shall be reserved, and you in better state

Than if you were arrived in Syria,

Even in the circle of your father's Arms,

The mighty Soldan of Egyptia.



Zenocrate. Ah, Shepherd, pity my distressed plight

(If, as thou seem'st, thou art so mean a man,)

And seek not to enrich thy followers

By lawless rapine from a silly maid,

Who, traveling with these Medean Lords

To Memphis from my uncle's country of Medea,

Where all my youth I have been governed,

Have passed the army of the mighty Turk,

Bearing his privy signet and his hand

To safe conduct us through Africa.



Magnetes. And since we have arrived in Scythia,

Besides rich presents from the puissant Cham,

We have his highness' letters to command

Aid and assistance if we stand in need.



Tambur. But now you see these letters and commands

Are countermanded by a greater man,

And through my provinces you must expect

Letters of conduct from my mightiness,

If you intend to keep your treasure safe,

But since I love to live at liberty,

As easily may you get the Soldan's crown

As any prizes out of my precinct.

For they are friends that help to wean my state,

Till men and kingdoms help to strengthen it,

And must maintain my life exempt from servitude.

But tell me, Madam, is your grace betrothed?



Zenocrate. I am, my Lord, for so you do import.



Tambur. I am a Lord, for so my deeds shall prove,

And yet a shepherd by my Parentage.

But, Lady, this fair face and heavenly hue

Must grace his bed that conquers Asia

And means to be a terror to the world,

Measuring the limits of his empery

By East and west, as Phoebus doth his course.

Lie here, ye weeds that I disdain to wear!

This complete armor and this curtle-axe

Are adjuncts more beseeming Tamburlaine.

And Madam, whatsoever you esteem

Of this success, and loss unvalued,

Both may invest you Empress of the East.

And these, that seem but silly country Swains,

May have the leading of so great an host

As with their weight shall make the mountains quake,

Even as when windy exhalations,

Fighting for passage, tilt within the earth.



Techelles. As princely Lions when they rouse themselves,

Stretching their paws and threatening herds of beasts,

So in his Armor looketh Tamburlaine.

Methinks I see kings kneeling at his feet,

And he with frowning brows and fiery looks

Spurning their crowns from off their captive heads.



Usumcasane. And making thee and me, Techelles, kings,

That even to death will follow Tamburlaine.



Tambur. Nobly resolved, sweet friends and followers!

These Lords perhaps do scorn our estimates,

And think we prattle with distempered spirits,

But since they measure our deserts so mean,

That in conceit bear Empires on our spears,

Affecting thoughts coequal with the clouds,

They shall be kept our forced followers,

Till with their eyes they view us Emperors.



Zenocrate. The Gods, defenders of the innocent,

Will never prosper your intended drifts,

That thus oppress poor friendless passengers.

Therefore at least admit us liberty,

Even as thou hop'st to be eternized

By living Asia's mighty Emperor.



Agydas. I hope our Lady's treasure and our own

May serve for ransom to our liberties.

Return our Mules and empty Camels back,

That we may travel into Syria,

Where her betrothed Lord, Alcidamus,

Expects th' arrival of her highness' person.



Magnetes. And wheresoever we repose ourselves,

We will report but well of Tamburlaine.



Tambur. Disdains Zenocrate to live with me?

Or you, my Lords, to be my followers?

Think you I weigh this treasure more than you?

Not all the Gold in India's wealthy arms

Shall buy the meanest soldier in my train.

Zenocrate, lovelier than the Love of Jove,

Brighter than is the silver Rhodope,

Fairer than whitest snow on Scythian hills,

Thy person is more worth to Tamburlaine

Than the possession of the Persian Crown,

Which gracious stars have promised at my birth.

A hundred Tartars shall attend on thee,

Mounted on Steeds swifter than Pegasus.

Thy Garments shall be made of Medean silk,

Enchased with precious jewels of mine own,

More rich and valurous than Zenocrate's.

With milk-white Harts upon an Ivory sled

Thou shalt be drawn amidst the frozen Pools,

And scale the icy mountains' lofty tops,

Which with thy beauty will be soon resolved.

My martial prizes, with five hundred men

Won on the fifty-headed Volga's waves,

Shall all we offer to Zenocrate,

And then myself to fair Zenocrate.



Techelles. What now? in love?



Tambur. Techelles, women must be flattered.

But this is she with whom I am in love.

Enter a Soldier.



Soldier. News, news!



Tambur. How now? what's the matter?



Soldier. A thousand Persian horsemen are at hand,

Sent from the King to overcome us all.



Tambur. How now, my Lords of Egypt and Zenocrate?

Now must your jewels be restored again,

And I that triumphed so be overcome?

How say you, Lordlings? is not this your hope?



Agydas. We hope yourself will willingly restore them.



Tambur. Such hope, such fortune, have the thousand horse.

Soft ye, my Lords, and sweet Zenocrate,

You must be forced from me ere you go.

A thousand horsemen! We five hundred foot!

An odds too great for us to stand against.

But are they rich? And is their armor good?



Soldier. Their plumed helms are wrought with beaten gold,

Their swords enameled, and about their necks

Hang massy chains of gold down to the waist,

In every part exceeding brave and rich.



Tambur. Then shall we fight courageously with them,

Or look you I should play the Orator?



Techelles. No; cowards and fainthearted runaways

Look for orations when the foe is near.

Our swords shall play the Orators for us.



Usumcasane. Come, let us meet them at the mountain foot,

And with a sudden and an hot alarm

Drive all their horses headlong down the hill.



Techelles. Come, let us march.



Tambur. Stay, Techelles; ask a parley first.

The Soldiers enter.

Open the Mails; yet guard the treasure sure.

Lay out our golden wedges to the view,

That their reflections may amaze the Persians,

And look we friendly on them when they come.

But if they offer word or violence,

We'll fight, five hundred men-at-arms to one,

Before we part with our possession.

And 'gainst the General we will lift our swords,

And either lance his greedy thirsting throat,

Or take him prisoner, and his chain shall serve

For Manacles till he be ransomed home.



Techelles. I hear them come. shall we encounter them?



Tambur. Keep all your standings, and not stir a foot:

Myself will bide the danger of the brunt.

Enter Theridamas, with others.



Theridamas. Where is this Scythian, Tamburlaine?



Tambur. Whom seek'st thou, Persian? I am Tamburlaine.



Theridamas. Tamburlaine! A Scythian shepherd so embellished

With Nature's pride and richest furniture!

His looks do menace heaven and dare the Gods.

His fiery eyes are fixed upon the earth

As if he now devised some Stratagem,

Or meant to pierce Avernus' darksome vaults

To pull the triple-headed dog from hell.



Tambur. Noble and mild this Persian seems to be,

If outward habit judge the inward man.



Techelles. His deep affections make him passionate.



Tambur. With what a majesty he rears his looks!

In thee, thou valiant man of Persia,

I see the folly of thy Emperor.

Art thou but Captain of a thousand horse,

That by Characters graven in thy brows,

And by thy martial face and stout aspect,

Deserv'st to have the leading of an host?

Forsake thy king and do but join with me,

And we will triumph over all the world.

I hold the Fates bound fast in iron chains,

And with my hand turn Fortune's wheel about,

And sooner shall the Sun fall from his Sphere

Than Tamburlaine be slain or overcome.

Draw forth thy sword, thou mighty man-at-arms,

Intending but to raze my charmed skin,

And Jove himself will stretch his hand from heaven

To ward the blow and shield me safe from harm.

See how he rains down heaps of gold in showers,

As if he meant to give my Soldiers pay;

And as a sure and grounded argument

That I shall be the Monarch of the East,

He sends this Soldan's daughter, rich and brave,

To be my Queen and portly Empress.

If thou wilt stay with me, renowned man,

And lead thy thousand horse with my conduct,

Besides thy share of this Egyptian prize,

Those thousand horse shall sweat with martial spoil

Of conquered kingdoms and of Cities sacked.

Both we will walk upon the lofty cliffs,

And Christian Merchants, that with Russian stems

Plow up huge furrows in the Caspian sea,

Shall vail to us as Lords of all the Lake.

Both we will reign as Consuls of the earth,

And mighty kings shall be our Senators.

Jove sometimes masked in a Shepherd's weed,

And by those steps that he hath scaled the heavens,

May we become immortal like the Gods.

Join with me now in this my mean estate,

(I call it mean because, being yet obscure,

The Nations far removed admire me not,)

And when my name and honor shall be spread

As far as Boreas claps his brazen wings,

Or fair Bootes sends his cheerful light,

Then shalt thou be Competitor with me,

And sit with Tamburlaine in all his majesty.



Theridamas. Not Hermes, Prolocutor to the Gods,

Could use persuasions more pathetical.



Tambur. Nor are Apollo's Oracles more true

Than thou shalt find my vaunts substantial.



Techelles. We are his friends, and if the Persian king

Should offer present Dukedoms to our state,

We think it loss to make exchange for that

We are assured of by our friend's success.



Usumcasane. And kingdoms at the least we all expect,

Besides the honor in assured conquests,

Where kings shall crouch unto our conquering swords

And hosts of soldiers stand amazed at us,

When with their fearful tongues they shall confess

These are the men that all the world admires.



Theridamas. What strong enchantments tice my yielding soul!

Ah, these resolved noble Scythians!

But shall I prove a Traitor to my King?



Tambur. No, but the trusty friend of Tamburlaine.



Theridamas. Won with thy words, and conquered with thy looks,

I yield myself, my men, and horse to thee,

To be partaker of thy good or ill,

As long as life maintains Theridamas.



Tambur. Theridamas, my friend, take here my hand,

Which is as much as if I swore by heaven

And called the Gods to witness of my vow.

Thus shall my heart be still combined with thine,

Until our bodies turn to Elements,

And both our souls aspire celestial thrones.

Techelles and Casane, welcome him.



Techelles. Welcome, renowned Persian, to us all.



Usumcasane. Long may Theridamas remain with us.



Tambur. These are my friends in whom I more rejoice

Than doth the King of Persia in his Crown;

And by the love of Pylades and Orestes,

Whose statues we adore in Scythia,

Thyself and them shall never part from me

Before I crown you kings in Asia.

Make much of them , gentle Theridamas,

And they will never leave thee till the death.



Theridamas. Nor thee, nor them, thrice noble Tamburlaine,

Shall want my heart to be with gladness pierced,

To do you honor and security.



Tambur. A thousand thanks, worthy Theridamas.

And now, fair Madam, and my noble Lords,

If you will willingly remain with me,

You shall have honors as your merits be,

Or else you shall be forced with slavery.



Agydas. We yield unto thee, happy Tamburlaine.



Tambur. For you then, Madam, I am out of doubt.



Zenocrate. I must be pleased perforce, wretched Zenocrate!



Actus 2. Scaena 1.

Cosroe, Menaphon, Ortygius, Ceneus, with other Soldiers.



Cosroe. Thus far are we towards Theridamas

And valiant Tamburlaine, the man of fame,

The man that in the forehead of his fortune

Bears figures of renown and miracle.

But tell me, that hast seen him, Menaphon,

What stature wields he, and what personage?



Menaphon. Of stature tall, and straightly fashioned,

Like his desire, lift upwards and divine,

So large of limbs, his joints so strongly knit,

Such breadth of shoulders as might mainly bear

Old Atlas' burden. 'twixt his manly pitch,

A pearl more worth than all the world is placed,

Wherein by curious sovereignty of Art

Are fixed his piercing instruments of sight,

Whose fiery circles bear encompassed

A heaven of heavenly bodies in their Spheres,

That guides his steps and actions to the throne

Where honor sits invested royally.

Pale of complexion, wrought in him with passion,

Thirsting with sovereignty, with love of arms,

His lofty brows in folds do figure death,

And in their smoothness amity and life.

About them hangs a knot of Amber hair,

Wrapped in curls, as fierce Achilles' was,

On which the breath of heaven delights to play,

Making it dance with wanton majesty.

His arms and fingers, long and sinewy,

Betokening valor and excess of strength --

In every part proportioned like the man

Should make the world subdued to Tamburlaine.



Cosroe. Well hast thou portrayed in thy terms of life

The face and personage of a wondrous man.

Nature doth strive with Fortune and his stars

To make him famous in accomplished worth,

And well his merits show him to be made

His Fortune's master and the king of men,

That could persuade, at such a sudden pinch,

With reasons of his valor and his life,

A thousand sworn and overmatching foes.

Then, when our powers in points of swords are joined,

And closed in compass of the killing bullet,

Though strait the passage and the port be made

That leads to Palace of my brother's life,

Proud is his fortune if we pierce it not.

And when the princely Persian Diadem

Shall overweigh his weary witless head

And fall, like mellowed fruit, with shakes of death,

In fair Persia noble Tamburlaine

Shall be my Regent and remain as King.



Ortygius. In happy hour we have set the Crown

Upon your kingly head, that seeks our honor

In joining with the man ordained by heaven

To further every action to the best.



Ceneus. He that with Shepherds and a little spoil

Durst, in disdain of wrong and tyranny,

Defend his freedom 'gainst a Monarchy,

What will he do supported by a king,

Leading a troop of Gentlemen and Lords,

And stuffed with treasure for his highest thoughts?



Cosroe. And such shall wait on worthy Tamburlaine.

Our army will be forty thousand strong,

When Tamburlaine and brave Theridamas

Have met us by the river Araris;

And all conjoined to meet the witless King

That now is marching near to Parthia,

And with unwilling soldiers faintly armed,

To seek revenge on me and Tamburlaine,

To whom, sweet Menaphon, direct me straight.



Menaphon. I will, my Lord. (Exeunt.

Actus 2. Scaena 2.

Mycetes, Meander, with other Lords and Soldiers.

Mycetes. Come, my Meander, let us to this gear.

I tell you true, my heart is swollen with wrath

On this same thievish villain, Tamburlaine,

And of that false Cosroe, my traitorous brother.

Would it not grieve a King to be so abused

And have a thousand horsemen ta'en away?

And, which is worse, to have his Diadem

Sought for by such scald knaves as love him not?

I think it would. Well then, by heavens I swear,

Aurora shall not peep out of her doors,

But I will have Cosroe by the head

And kill proud Tamburlaine with point of sword.

Tell you the rest, Meander; I have said.



Meander. Then, having passed Armenian deserts now,

And pitched our tents under the Georgian hills,

Whose tops are covered with Tartarian thieves

That lie in ambush, waiting for a prey,

What should we do but bid them battle straight

And rid the world of those detested troops,

Lest, if we let them linger here a while,

They gather strength by power of fresh supplies.

This country swarms with vile outrageous men

That live by rapine and by lawless spoil,

Fit Soldiers for the wicked Tamburlaine.

And he that could with gifts and promises

Inveigle him that led a thousand horse,

And make him false his faith unto his King,

Will quickly win such as are like himself.

Therefore cheer up your minds; prepare to fight.

He that can take or slaughter Tamburlaine

Shall rule the Province of Albania.

Who brings that Traitor's head, Theridamas,

Shall have a government in Medea,

Beside the spoil of him and all his train.

But if Cosroe (as our Spials say,

And as we know) remains with Tamburlaine,

His Highness' pleasure is that he should live

And be reclaimed with princely lenity.

Spy. An hundred horsemen of my company,

Scouting abroad upon these champion plains,

Have viewed the army of the Scythians,

Which make reports it far exceeds the King's.



Meander. Suppose they be in number infinite,

Yet being void of Martial discipline,

All running headlong after greedy spoils,

And more regarding gain than victory,

Like to the cruel brothers of the earth,

Sprung of the teeth of Dragons venomous,

Their careless swords shall lance their fellows' throats

And make us triumph in their overthrow.


Mycetes. Was there such brethren, sweet Meander, say,

That sprung of teeth of Dragons venomous?



Meander. So Poets say, my Lord.


Mycetes. And 'tis a pretty toy to be a Poet.

Well, well, Meander, thou art deeply read,

And having thee, I have a jewel sure.

Go on, my Lord, and give your charge, I say.

Thy wit will make us Conquerors today.



Meander. Then, noble soldiers, to entrap these thieves

That live confounded in disordered troops,

If wealth or riches may prevail with them,

We have our Camels laden all with gold,

Which you that be but common soldiers

Shall fling in every corner of the field,

And while the baseborn Tartars take it up,

You, fighting more for honor than for gold,

Shall massacre those greedy-minded slaves;

And when their scattered army is subdued,

And you march on their slaughtered carcasses,

Share equally the gold that bought their lives,

And live like Gentlemen in Persia.

Strike up the Drum and march courageously.

Fortune herself doth sit upon our Crests.


Mycetes. He tells you true, my masters; so he does.

Drums, why sound ye not when Meander speaks?


Actus 2. Scaena 3.

Cosroe, Tamburlaine, Theridamas, Techelles, Usumcasane, Ortygius, with others.



Cosroe. Now, worthy Tamburlaine, have I reposed

In thy approved Fortunes all my hope.

What think'st thou, man, shall come of our attempts?

For even as from assured oracle,

I take thy doom for satisfaction.



Tambur. And so mistake you not a whit, my lord,

For Fates and Oracles of heaven have sworn

To royalize the deeds of Tamburlaine,

And make them blest that share in his attempts.

And doubt you not but, if you favor me

And let my Fortunes and my valor sway

To some direction in your martial deeds,

The world will strive with hosts of men-at-arms

To swarm unto the Ensign I support.

The hosts of Xerxes, which by fame is said

To drink the mighty Parthian Araris,

Was but a handful to that we will have.

Our quivering Lances shaking in the air

And bullets like Jove's dreadful Thunderbolts,

Enrolled in flames and fiery smoldering mists,

Shall threat the Gods more than Cyclopian wars;

And with our Sun-bright armor, as we march

We'll chase the Stars from heaven and dim their eyes

That stand and muse at our admired arms.



Theridamas. You see, my Lord, what working words he hath,

But when you see his actions top his speech,

Your speech will stay, or so extol his worth

As I shall be commended and excused

For turning my poor charge to his direction.

And these, his two renowned friends, my Lord,

Would make one thrust and strive to be retained

In such a great degree of amity.



Techelles. With duty and with amity we yield

Our utmost service to the fair Cosroe.



Cosroe. Which I esteem as portion of my crown.

Usumcasane and Techelles both,

When she that rules in Rhamnis' golden gates

And makes a passage for all prosperous Arms

Shall make me solely Emperor of Asia,

Then shall your meeds and valors be advanced

To rooms of honor and Nobility.



Tambur. Then haste, Cosroe, to be king alone,

That I with these my friends and all my men

May triumph in our long expected Fate.

The King, your Brother, is now hard at hand;

Meet with the fool, and rid your royal shoulders

Of such a burden as outweighs the sands

And all the craggy rocks of Caspia.

Mes. My lord, we have discovered the enemy

Ready to charge you with a mighty army.



Cosroe. Come, Tamburlaine, now whet thy winged sword,

And lift thy lofty arm into the clouds,

That it may reach the King of Persia's crown

And set it safe on my victorious head.



Tambur. See where it is, the keenest Curtle-axe

That e'er made passage through Persian Arms.

These are the wings shall make it fly as swift

As doth the lightning or the breath of heaven,

And kill as sure as it swiftly flies.



Cosroe. Thy words assure me of kind success.

Go, valiant Soldier, go before and charge

The fainting army of that foolish King.



Tambur. Usumcasane and Techelles, come.

We are enough to scare the enemy,

And more than needs to make an emperor.

To the battle and Mycetes comes out alone with

his Crown in his hand, offering to hide it.



Mycetes. Accursed be he that first invented war!

They knew not, ah, they knew not, simple men,

How those were hit by pelting Cannon shot

Stand staggering like a quivering Aspen leaf

Fearing the force of Boreas' boisterous blasts.

In what a lamentable case were I,

If Nature had not given me wisdom's lore,

For Kings are clouts that every man shoots at,

Our Crown the pin that thousands seek to cleave.

Therefore in policy I think it good

To hide it close -- a goodly Stratagem,

And far from any man that is a fool.

So shall not I be known, or if I be,

They cannot take away my crown from me.

Here will I hide it in this simple hole.

Enter Tamburlaine.



Tambur. What, fearful coward! straggling from the camp,

When Kings themselves are present in the field?


Mycetes. Thou liest.



Tambur. Base villain, dar'st thou give the lie?


Mycetes. Away! I am the King. go! touch me not!

Thou break'st the law of Arms, unless thou kneel

And cry me, "mercy, noble King!"



Tambur. Are you the witty King of Persia?


Mycetes. Ay, marry, am I. have you any suit to me?



Tambur. I would entreat you to speak but three wise words.


Mycetes. So I can, when I see my time.



Tambur. Is this your Crown?


Mycetes. Ay. Didst thou ever see a fairer?



Tambur. You will not sell it, will ye?


Mycetes. Such another word, and I will have thee executed.

Come, give it me.



Tambur. No; I took it prisoner.


Mycetes. You lie; I gave it you.



Tambur. Then 'tis mine.


Mycetes. No; I mean, I let you keep it.



Tambur. Well, I mean you shall have it again.

Here, take it for a while; I lend it thee

Till I may see thee hemmed with armed men.

Then shalt thou see me pull it from thy head;

Thou art no match for mighty Tamburlaine.


Mycetes. O Gods, is this Tamburlaine the thief?

I marvel much he stole it not away.

Sound trumpets to the battle, and he runs in.

Cosroe, Tamburlaine, Theridamas, Menaphon, Meander,

Ortygius, Techelles, Usumcasane, with others.



Tambur. Hold thee, Cosroe; wear two imperial Crowns.

Think thee invested now as royally,

Even by the mighty hand of Tamburlaine,

As if as many kings as could encompass thee

With greatest pomp, had crowned thee Emperor.



Cosroe. So do I, thrice renowned man-at-arms,

And none shall keep the crown but Tamburlaine.

Thee do I make my Regent of Persia

And General Lieutenant of my Armies.

Meander, you that were our brother's Guide,

And chiefest Counselor in all his acts,

Since he is yielded to the stroke of War,

On your submission we with thanks excuse

And give you equal place in our affairs.



Meander. Most happy emperor, in humblest terms

I vow my service to your Majesty,

With utmost virtue of my faith and duty.



Cosroe. Thanks, good Meander. then, Cosroe, reign

And govern Persia in her former pomp.

Now send Embassage to thy neighbor Kings,

And let them know the Persian King is changed

From one that knew not what a King should do

To one that can command what 'longs thereto.

And now we will to fair Persepolis

With twenty thousand expert soldiers.

The Lords and Captains of my brother's camp

With little slaughter take Meander's course,

And gladly yield them to my gracious rule.

Ortygius and Menaphon, my trusty friends,

Now will I gratify your former good

And grace your calling with a greater sway.



Ortygius. And as we ever aimed at your behoof,

And sought your state all honor it deserved,

So will we with our powers and our lives

Endeavor to preserve and prosper it.



Cosroe. I will not thank thee, sweet Ortygius;

Better replies shall prove my purposes.

And now, Lord Tamburlaine, my brother's Camp

I leave to thee and to Theridamas,

To follow me to fair Persepolis.

Then will we march to all those Indian Mines

My witless brother to the Christians lost,

And ransom them with fame and usury.

And till thou overtake me, Tamburlaine,

(Staying to order all the scattered troops,)

Farewell, Lord Regent and his happy friends.

I long to sit upon my brother's throne.



Meander. Your Majesty shall shortly have your wish,

And ride in triumph through Persepolis. (Exeunt.

Manent Tamburlaine, Techelles, Theridamas,




Tambur. And ride in triumph through Persepolis!

Is it not brave to be a King, Techelles?

Usumcasane and Theridamas,

Is it not passing brave to be a King,

And ride in triumph through Persepolis?



Techelles. O, my Lord, 'tis sweet and full of pomp.



Usumcasane. To be a King is half to be a God.



Theridamas. A god is not so glorious as a King.

I think the pleasure they enjoy in heaven

Cannot compare with kingly joys in earth:

To wear a Crown enchased with pearl and gold,

Whose virtues carry with it life and death;

To ask and have, command and be obeyed;

When looks breed love, with looks to gain the prize,

Such power attractive shines in princes' eyes.



Tambur. Why, say, Theridamas, wilt thou be a king?



Theridamas. Nay: though I praise it, I can live without it.



Tambur. What say my other friends? will you be kings?



Techelles. Ay, if I could, with all my heart, my Lord.



Tambur. Why, that's well said, Techelles: so would I.

And so would you, my masters, would you not?



Usumcasane. What then, my Lord?



Tambur. Why then, Casane, shall we wish for aught

The world affords in greatest novelty

And rest attemptless, faint and destitute?

Methinks we should not. I am strongly moved,

That if I should desire the Persian Crown,

I could attain it with a wondrous ease;

And would not all our soldiers soon consent,

If we should aim at such a dignity?



Theridamas. I know they would with our persuasions.



Tambur. Why, then, Theridamas, I'll first assay

To get the Persian Kingdom to myself;

Then thou for Parthia; they for Scythia and Medea;

And if I prosper, all shall be as sure

As if the Turk, the Pope, Afric, and Greece

Came creeping to us with their crowns apace.



Techelles. Then shall we send to this triumphing King,

And bid him battle for his novel Crown?



Usumcasane. Nay, quickly then, before his room be hot.



Tambur. 'Twill prove a pretty jest, in faith, my friends.



Theridamas. A jest to charge on twenty thousand men?

I judge the purchase more important far.



Tambur. Judge by thyself, Theridamas, not me,

For presently Techelles here shall haste

To bid him battle ere he pass too far

And lose more labor than the gain will quite.

Then shalt thou see the Scythian Tamburlaine

Make but a jest to win the Persian crown.

Techelles, take a thousand horse with thee,

And bid him turn him back to war with us,

That only made him King to make us sport.

We will not steal upon him cowardly,

But give him warning and more warriors.

Haste thee, Techelles; we will follow thee.

What saith Theridamas?



Theridamas. Go on, for me. (Exeunt.


Actus 2. Scaena 6.

Cosroe, Meander, Ortygius, Menaphon, with other soldiers.



Cosroe. What means this devilish shepherd to aspire

With such a Giantly presumption,

To cast up hills against the face of heaven,

And dare the force of angry Jupiter?

But as he thrust them underneath the hills,

And pressed out fire from their burning jaws,

So will I send this monstrous slave to hell,

Where flames shall ever feed upon his soul.



Meander. Some powers divine, or else infernal, mixed

Their angry seeds at his conception,

For he was never sprung of human race,

Since with the spirit of his fearful pride,

He dares so doubtlessly resolve of rule,

And by profession be ambitious.



Ortygius. What God, or Fiend, or spirit of the earth,

Or Monster turned to a manly shape,

Or of what mold or mettle he be made,

What star or state soever govern him,

Let us put on our meet encountering minds,

And in detesting such a devilish Thief,

In love of honor and defense of right

Be armed against the hate of such a foe,

Whether from earth, or hell, or heaven he grow.



Cosroe. Nobly resolved, my good Ortygius,

And since we all have sucked one wholesome air,

And with the same proportion of Elements

Resolve, I hope we are resembled,

Vowing our loves to equal death and life.

Let's cheer our soldiers to encounter him,

That grievous image of ingratitude,

That fiery thirster after Sovereignty,

And burn him in the fury of that flame

That none can quench but blood and Empery.

Resolve, my Lords and loving soldiers, now

To save your King and country from decay.

Then strike up, Drum; and all the Stars that make

The loathsome Circle of my dated life,

Direct my weapon to his barbarous heart,

That thus opposeth him against the Gods,

And scorns the Powers that govern Persia.


Enter to the Battle, and after the battle, enter Cosroe wounded, Theridamas, Tamburlaine, Techelles, Usumcasane, with others.

Cosroe. Barbarous and bloody Tamburlaine,

Thus to deprive me of my crown and life!

Treacherous and false Theridamas,

Even at the morning of my happy state,

Scarce being seated in my royal throne,

To work my downfall and untimely end!

An uncouth pain torments my grieved soul,

And death arrests the organ of my voice,

Who, entering at the breach thy sword hath made,

Sacks every vein and artery of my heart.

Bloody and insatiate Tamburlaine!



Tambur. The thirst of reign and sweetness of a crown,

That caused the eldest son of heavenly Ops

To thrust his doting father from his chair,

And place himself in the Empyreal heaven,

Moved me to manage arms against thy state.

What better precedent than mighty Jove?

Nature, that framed us of four Elements

Warring within our breasts for regiment,

Doth teach us all to have aspiring minds.

Our souls, whose faculties can comprehend

The wondrous Architecture of the world

And measure every wandering planet's course,

Still climbing after knowledge infinite,

And always moving as the restless Spheres,

Will us to wear ourselves and never rest,

Until we reach the ripest fruit of all,

That perfect bliss and sole felicity,

The sweet fruition of an earthly crown.



Theridamas. And that made me to join with Tamburlaine,

For he is gross and like the massy earth

That moves not upwards, nor by princely deeds

Doth mean to soar above the highest sort.



Techelles. And that made us, the friends of Tamburlaine,

To lift our swords against the Persian King.



Usumcasane. For as when Jove did thrust old Saturn down,

Neptune and Dis gained each of them a Crown,

So do we hope to reign in Asia,

If Tamburlaine be placed in Persia.



Cosroe. The strangest men that ever nature made!

I know not how to take their tyrannies.

My bloodless body waxeth chill and cold,

And with my blood my life slides through my wound;

My soul begins to take her flight to hell

And summons all my senses to depart.

The heat and moisture which did feed each other,

For want of nourishment to feed them both,

Are dry and cold; and now doth ghastly death

With greedy talons gripe my bleeding heart

And like a Harpy tires on my life.

Theridamas and Tamburlaine, I die --

And fearful vengeance light upon you both!


Tamburlaine takes the Crown, and puts it on.

Tambur. Not all the curses which the furies breathe

Shall make me leave so rich a prize as this.

Theridamas, Techelles, and the rest,

Who think you now is king of Persia?

All. Tamburlaine! Tamburlaine!



Tambur. Though Mars himself, the angry god of arms,

And all the earthly Potentates conspire

To dispossess me of this Diadem,

Yet will I wear it in despite of them,

As great commander of this Eastern world,

If you but say that Tamburlaine shall reign.

All. Long live Tamburlaine, and reign in Asia!



Tambur. So; now it is more surer on my head

Than if the Gods had held a Parliament,

And all pronounced me king of Persia.


Finis Actus 2.

Actus 3. Scaena 1.

Bajazeth, the kings of Fez, Morocco, and Argier, with others, in great pomp.

Bajazeth. Great Kings of Barbary and my portly Bassoes,

We hear the Tartars and the Eastern thieves,

Under the conduct of one Tamburlaine,

Presume a bickering with your Emperor,

And think to rouse us from our dreadful siege

Of the famous Grecian Constantinople.

You know our Army is invincible;

As many circumcised Turks we have,

And warlike bands of Christians renied,

As hath the Ocean or the Terrene sea

Small drops of water when the Moon begins

To join in one her semicircled horns.

Yet would we not be braved with foreign power,

Nor raise our siege before the Grecians yield

Or breathless lie before the city walls.



King of Fez. Renowned Emperor and mighty General,

What if you sent the Bassoes of your guard

To charge him to remain in Asia,

Or else to threaten death and deadly arms

As from the mouth of mighty Bajazeth?



Bajazeth. Hie thee, my Basso, fast to Persia.

Tell him thy Lord, the Turkish Emperor,

Dread Lord of Afric, Europe, and Asia,

Great king and conqueror of Graecia,

The Ocean, Terrene, and the coal-black sea,

The high and highest Monarch of the world,

Wills and commands, (for say not, I entreat,)

Not once to set his foot in Africa,

Or spread his colors in Graecia,

Lest he incur the fury of my wrath.

Tell him I am content to take a truce,

Because I hear he bears a valiant mind;

But if, presuming on his silly power,

He be so mad to manage Arms with me,

Then stay thou with him, - say, I bid thee so --

And if, before the Sun save measured heaven

With triple circuit, thou regreet us not,

We mean to take his morning's next arise

For messenger he will not be reclaimed,

And mean to fetch thee in despite of him.



Basso. Most great and puissant Monarch of the earth,

Your Basso will accomplish your behest

And show your pleasure to the Persian,

As fits the Legate of the stately Turk.

(Exit Basso.



K.of.Arg. They say he is the king of Persia;

But if he dare attempt to stir your siege,

'Twere requisite he should be ten times more,

For all flesh quakes at your magnificence.



Bajazeth. True, Argier, and trembles at my looks.



Kg of Morocco. The spring is hindered by your smothering host,

For neither rain can fall upon the earth,

Nor Sun reflex his virtuous beams thereon,

The ground is mantled with such multitudes.



Bajazeth. All this is true as holy Mahomet,

And all the trees are blasted with our breaths.



King of Fez. What thinks your greatness best to be achieved

In pursuit of the City's overthrow?



Bajazeth. I will the captive Pioners of Argier

Cut off the water that by leaden pipes

Runs to the city from the mountain Carnon.

Two thousand horse shall forage up and down,

That no relief or succor come by Land,

And all the sea my Galleys countermand.

Then shall our footmen lie within the trench,

And with their Cannons mouthed like Orcus' gulf,

Batter the walls, and we will enter in;

And thus the Grecians shall be conquered. (Exeunt.


Actus 3. Scaena 2.

Agidas, Zenocrate, Anippe, with others.

Agydas. Madam Zenocrate, may I presume

To know the cause of these unquiet fits

That work such trouble to your wonted rest?

'tis more than pity such a heavenly face

Should by heart's sorrow wax so wan and pale,

When your offensive rape by Tamburlaine,

(Which of your whole displeasures should be most)

Hath seemed to be digested long ago.



Zenocrate. Although it be digested long ago,

As his exceeding favors have deserved,

And might content the Queen of heaven as well

As it hath changed my first-conceived disdain;

Yet, since a farther passion feeds my thoughts

With ceaseless and disconsolate conceits.

Which dyes my looks so lifeless as they are,

And might, if my extremes had full events,

Make me the ghastly counterfeit of death.



Agydas. Eternal heaven sooner be dissolved,

And all that pierceth Phoebe's silver eye,

Before such hap fall to Zenocrate!



Zenocrate. Ah, life and soul, still hover in his Breast,

And leave my body senseless as the earth,

Or else unite you to his life and soul,

That I may live and die with Tamburlaine!


Enter Tamburlaine, with Techelles, and others.

Agydas. With Tamburlaine? Ah, fair Zenocrate,

Let not a man so vile and barbarous,

That holds you from your father in despite

And keeps you from the honors of a Queen,

(Being supposed his worthless Concubine,)

Be honored with your love, but for necessity.

So, now the mighty Soldan hears of you,

Your Highness needs not doubt but in short time

He will, with Tamburlaine's destruction,

Redeem you from this deadly servitude.



Zenocrate. Leave to wound me with these words,

And speak of Tamburlaine as he deserves.

The entertainment we have had of him

Is far from villainy or servitude,

And might in noble minds be counted princely.



Agydas. How can you fancy one that looks so fierce,

Only disposed to martial Stratagems?

Who, when he shall embrace you in his arms,

Will tell how many thousand men he slew,

And, when you look for amorous discourse,

Will rattle forth his facts of war and blood,

Too harsh a subject for your dainty ears.



Zenocrate. As looks the sun through Nilus' flowing stream,

Or when the morning holds him in her arms,

So looks my Lordly love, fair Tamburlaine;

His talk much sweeter than the Muses' song

They sung for honor 'gainst Pierides,

Or when Minerva did with Neptune strive;

And higher would I rear my estimate

Than Juno, sister to the highest God,

If I were matched with mighty Tamburlaine.



Agydas. Yet be not so inconstant in your love,

But let the young Arabian live in hope,

After your rescue to enjoy his choice.

You see, though first the King of Persia,

Being a Shepherd, seemed to love you much,

Now, in his majesty, he leaves those looks,

Those words of favor, and those comfortings,

And gives no more than common courtesies.



Zenocrate. Thence rise the tears that so distain my cheeks,

Fearing his love through my unworthiness.


Tamburlaine goes to her, and takes her away lovingly by the hand, looking wrathfully on Agydas, and says nothing.

Agydas. Betrayed by fortune and suspicious love,

Threatened with frowning wrath and jealousy,

Surprised with fear of hideous revenge,

I stand aghast; but most astonied

To see his choler shut in secret thoughts,

And wrapt in silence of his angry soul.

Upon his brows was portrayed ugly death,

And in his eyes the fury of his heart,

That shine as Comets, menacing revenge,

And cast a pale complexion on his cheeks.

As when the Seaman sees the Hyades

Gather an army of Cimmerian clouds,

(Auster and Aquilon with winged Steeds,

All sweating, tilt about the watery heavens,

With shivering spears enforcing thunderclaps,

And from their shields strike flames of lightning)

All fearful folds his sails and sounds the main,

Lifting his prayers to the heavens for aid

Against the terror of the winds and waves,

So fares Agydas for the late-felt frowns

That sent a tempest to my daunted thoughts

And make my soul divine her overthrow.


Enter Techelles with a naked dagger.

Techelles. See you, Agydas, how the King salutes you.

He bids you prophesy what it imports. (Exit.



Agydas. I prophesied before, and now I prove

The killing frowns of jealousy and love.

He needed not with words confirm my fear,

For words are vain where working tools present

The naked action of my threatened end.

It says, Agydas, thou shalt surely die,

And of extremities elect the least.

More honor and less pain it may procure,

To die by this resolved hand of thine

Than stay the torments he and heaven have sworn.

Then haste, Agydas, and prevent the plagues

Which thy prolonged Fates may draw on thee.

Go wander free from fear of Tyrant's rage,

Removed from the Torments and the hell

Wherewith he may excruciate thy soul,

And let Agydas by Agydas die,

And with this stab slumber eternally.



Techelles. Usumcasane see, how right the man

Hath hit the meaning of my Lord and King.



Usumcasane. Faith, and Techelles, it was manly done;

And, since he was so wise and honorable,

Let us afford him now the bearing hence,

And crave his triple-worthy burial.



Techelles. Agreed, Casane; we will honor him.

Act 3. Scaena 3.

Tamburlaine, Techelles, Usumcasane, Theridamas, Basso, Zenocrate, with others.

Tambur. Basso, by this thy Lord and master knows

I mean to meet him in Bithynia.

See, how he comes! Tush, Turks are full of brags

And menace more than they can well perform.

He meet me in the field and fetch thee hence!

Alas, poor Turk, his fortune is too weak

T' encounter with the strength of Tamburlaine.

View well my Camp, and speak indifferently:

Do not my captains and my soldiers look

As if they meant to conquer Africa?



Basso. Your men are valiant, but their number few,

And cannot terrify his mighty host.

My lord, the great Commander of the world,

Besides fifteen contributory kings,

Hath now in arms ten thousand Janizaries,

Mounted on lusty Mauritanian Steeds,

Brought to the war by men of Tripoli;

Two hundred thousand footmen that have served

In two set battles fought in Graecia;

And for the expedition of this war,

If he think good, can from his garrisons

Withdraw as many more to follow him.



Techelles. The more he brings, the greater is the spoil,

For when they perish by our warlike hands,

We mean to set our footmen on their Steeds

And rifle all those stately Janizars.



Tambur. But will those Kings accompany your Lord?



Basso. Such as his Highness please; but some must stay

To rule the provinces he late subdued.



Tambur. Then fight courageously; their crowns are yours.

This hand shall set them on your conquering heads,

That made me Emperor of Asia.



Usumcasane. Let him bring millions infinite of men,

Unpeopling Western Africa and Greece,

Yet we assure us of the victory.



Theridamas. Even he, that in a trice vanquished two kings

More mighty than the Turkish Emperor,

Shall rouse him out of Europe and pursue

His scattered army till they yield or die.



Tambur. Well said, Theridamas! speak in that mood,

For 'Will' and 'Shall' best fitteth Tamburlaine,

Whose smiling stars give him assured hope

Of martial triumph, ere he meet his foes.

I that am termed the Scourge and Wrath of God,

The only fear and terror of the world,

Will first subdue the Turk, and then enlarge

Those Christian Captives which you keep as slaves,

Burdening their bodies with your heavy chains,

And feeding them with thin and slender fare,

That naked row about the Terrene sea,

And, when they chance to breathe and rest a space,

Are punished with Bastones so grievously

That they lie panting on the Galley's side,

And strive for life at every stroke they give.

These are the cruel pirates of Argier,

That damned train, the scum of Africa,

Inhabited with straggling Runagates,

That make quick havoc of the Christian blood.

But, as I live, that town shall curse the time

That Tamburlaine set foot in Africa.

Enter Bajazeth with his Bassoes and contributory




Bajazeth. Bassoes and Janizaries of my Guard,

Attend upon the person of your Lord,

The greatest Potentate of Africa.



Tambur. Techelles and the rest, prepare your swords;

I mean t' encounter with that Bajazeth.



Bajazeth. Kings of Fez, Morocco, and Argier,

He calls me Bajazeth, whom you call Lord!

Note the presumption of this Scythian slave!

I tell thee, villain, those that lead my horse

Have to their names titles of dignity,

And dar'st thou bluntly call me Bajazeth?



Tambur. And know thou, Turk, that those which lead my horse

Shall lead thee Captive through Africa,

And dar'st thou bluntly call me Tamburlaine?



Bajazeth. By Mahomet my Kinsman's sepulcher,

And by the holy Alcoran I swear,

He shall be made a chaste and lustless Eunuch,

And in my Sarell tend my Concubines;

And all his Captains, that thus stoutly stand,

Shall draw the chariot of my Empress,

Whom I have brought to see their overthrow.



Tambur. By this my sword that conquered Persia,

Thy fall shall make me famous through the world.

I will not tell thee how I'll handle thee,

But every common soldier of my Camp

Shall smile to see thy miserable state.



King of Fez. What means the mighty Turkish emperor

To talk with one so base as Tamburlaine?



Kg of Morocco. Ye Moors and valiant men of Barbary,

How can ye suffer these indignities?



K.of.Arg. Leave words, and let them feel your

lances' points,

Which glided through the bowels of the Greeks.



Bajazeth. Well said, my stout contributory kings.

Your threefold army and my hugy host

Shall swallow up these baseborn Persians.



Techelles. Puissant, renowned, and mighty Tamburlaine,

Why stay we thus prolonging all their lives?



Theridamas. I long to see those crowns won by our swords,

That we may reign as kings of Africa.



Usumcasane. What Coward would not fight for such a prize?



Tambur. Fight all courageously, and be you kings.

I speak it, and my words are oracles.



Bajazeth. Zabina, mother of three braver boys

Than Hercules, that in his infancy

Did pash the jaws of Serpents venomous,

Whose hands are made to gripe a warlike Lance,

Their shoulders broad, for complete armor fit,

Their limbs more large and of a bigger size

Than all the brats y-sprung from Typhon's loins,

Who, when they come unto their father's age,

Will batter Turrets with their manly fists --

Sit here upon this royal chair of state,

And on thy head wear my Imperial crown,

Until I bring this sturdy Tamburlaine

And all his Captains bound in captive chains.



Zabina. Such good success happen to Bajazeth!



Tambur. Zenocrate, the loveliest Maid alive,

Fairer than rocks of pearl and precious stone,

The only Paragon of Tamburlaine,

Whose eyes are brighter than the Lamps of heaven

And speech more pleasant than sweet harmony,

That with thy looks canst clear the darkened Sky

And calm the rage of thundering Jupiter --

Sit down by her, adorned with my Crown,

As if thou wert the Empress of the world.

Stir not, Zenocrate, until thou see

Me march victoriously with all my men,

Triumphing over him and these his kings,

Which I will bring as Vassals to thy feet.

Till then, take thou my crown, vaunt of my worth,

And manage words with her, as we will arms.



Zenocrate. And may my Love, the king of Persia,

Return with victory and free from wound!



Bajazeth. Now shalt thou feel the force of Turkish arms,

Which lately made all Europe quake for fear.

I have of Turks, Arabians, Moors, and Jews,

Enough to cover all Bithynia.

Let thousands die! their slaughtered Carcasses

Shall serve for walls and bulwarks to the rest;

And as the heads of Hydra, so my power,

Subdued, shall stand as mighty as before.

If they should yield their necks unto the sword,

Thy soldiers' arms could not endure to strike

So many blows as I have heads for thee.

Thou know'st not, (foolish hardy Tamburlaine,)

What 'tis to meet me in the open field,

That leave no ground for thee to march upon.



Tambur. Our conquering swords shall marshal us the way

We use to march upon the slaughtered foe,

Trampling their bowels with our horses' hoofs,

Brave horses bred on the white Tartarian hills.

My Camp is like to Julius Caesar's Host,

That never fought but had the victory;

Nor in Pharsalia was there such hot war

As these, my followers, willingly would have.

Legions of Spirits, fleeting in the air,

Direct our Bullets and our weapons' points,

And make your strokes to wound the senseless air;

And when she sees our bloody Colors spread,

Then Victory begins to take her flight,

Resting herself upon my milk-white Tent.

But come, my Lords, to weapons let us fall;

The field is ours, the Turk, his wife, and all.

(Exit with his followers.

Bajazeth. Come, Kings and Bassoes, let us glut our swords,

That thirst to drink the feeble Persians' blood.

(Exit with his followers.

Zabina. Base Concubine, must thou be placed by me

That am the Empress of the mighty Turk?



Zenocrate. Disdainful Turkess, and unreverend Boss,

Call'st thou me Concubine, that am betrothed

Unto the great and mighty Tamburlaine?



Zabina. To Tamburlaine, the great Tartarian thief!



Zenocrate. Thou wilt repent these lavish words of thine

When thy great Basso-master and thyself

Must plead for mercy at his kingly feet,

And sue to me to be your Advocate.



Zabina. And sue to thee? I tell thee, shameless girl,

Thou shalt be Laundress to my waiting maid.

How lik'st thou her, Ebea? will she serve?

Ebea. Madam, she thinks perhaps she is too fine,

But I shall turn her into other weeds

And make her dainty fingers fall to work.



Zenocrate. Hear'st thou, Anippe, how thy drudge doth talk,

And how my slave, her mistress, menaceth?

Both for their sauciness shall be employed

To dress the common soldiers' meat and drink,

For we will scorn they should come near ourselves.



Anippe. Yet sometimes let your highness send for them

To do the work my chambermaid disdains.

They sound the battle within, and stay.



Zenocrate. Ye gods and powers that govern Persia,

And made my lordly Love her worthy King,

Now strengthen him against the Turkish Bajazeth,

And let his foes, like flocks of fearful Roes

Pursued by hunters, fly his angry looks,

That I may see him issue Conqueror.



Zabina. Now, Mahomet, solicit God himself,

And make him rain down murdering shot from heaven

To dash the Scythians' brains, and strike them dead

That dare to manage arms with him

That offered jewels to thy sacred shrine

When first he warred against the Christians.

To the battle again.



Zenocrate. By this the Turks lie weltering in their blood,

And Tamburlaine is Lord of Africa.



Zabina. Thou art deceived. I heard the Trumpets sound

As when my Emperor overthrew the Greeks

And led them Captive into Africa.

Straight will I use thee as thy pride deserves;

Prepare thyself to live and die my slave.



Zenocrate. If Mahomet should come from heaven and swear

My royal Lord is slain or conquered,

Yet should he not persuade me otherwise

But that he lives and will be Conqueror.

Bajazeth flies, and he pursues him. The battle

short, and they enter. Bajazeth is overcome.



Tambur. Now, king of bassoes, who is Conqueror?



Bajazeth. Thou, by the fortune of this damned foil.



Tambur. Where are your stout contributory kings?

Enter Techelles, Theridamas, Usumcasane.



Techelles. We have their crowns; their bodies strow the field.



Tambur. Each man a crown? why, kingly fought, i' faith.

Deliver them into my treasury.



Zenocrate. Now let me offer to my gracious lord

His royal Crown again, so highly won.



Tambur. Nay, take the Turkish Crown from her, Zenocrate,

And crown me Emperor of Africa.



Zabina. No, Tamburlaine; though now thou gat the best,

Thou shalt not yet be Lord of Africa.



Theridamas. Give her the Crown, Turkess, you were best.

He takes it from her, and gives it Zenocrate.



Zabina. Injurious villains, thieves, runagates,

How dare you thus abuse my Majesty?



Theridamas. Here, Madam, you are Empress; she is none.



Tambur. Not now, Theridamas; her time is past.

The pillars that have bolstered up those terms

Are fallen in clusters at my conquering feet.



Zabina. Though he be prisoner, he may be ransomed.



Tambur. Not all the world shall ransom Bajazeth.



Bajazeth. Ah, fair Zabina, we have lost the field,

And never had the Turkish Emperor

So great a foil by any foreign foe.

Now will the Christian miscreants be glad,

Ringing with joy their superstitious bells,

And making bonfires for my overthrow.

But ere I die, those foul Idolaters

Shall make me bonfires with their filthy bones,

For though the glory of this day be lost,

Afric and Greece have garrisons enough

To make me Sovereign of the earth again.



Tambur. Those walled garrisons will I subdue,

And write myself great Lord of Africa.

So from the East unto the furthest West

Shall Tamburlaine extend his puissant arm.

The Galleys and those pilling Brigandines,

That yearly sail to the Venetian gulf

And hover in the straits for Christians' wrack,

Shall lie at anchor in the Isle Asant,

Until the Persian Fleet and men of war,

Sailing along the Oriental sea,

Have fetched about the Indian continent,

Even from Persepolis to Mexico,

And thence unto the straits of Gibraltar,

Where they shall meet and join their force in one,

Keeping in awe the Bay of Portingale

And all the Ocean by the British shore;

And by this means I'll win the world at last.



Bajazeth. Yet set a ransom on me, Tamburlaine.



Tambur. What, think'st thou Tamburlaine esteems thy gold?

I'll make the kings of India, ere I die,

Offer their mines to sue for peace to me.

And dig for treasure to appease my wrath.

Come, bind them both, and one lead in the Turk;

The Turkess let my Love's maid lead away.

They bind them.

Bajazeth. Ah, villains, dare you touch my sacred arms?

O Mahomet! Oh sleepy Mahomet!



Zabina. O cursed Mahomet, that mak'st us thus

The slaves to Scythians rude and barbarous!



Tambur. Come, bring them in, and for this happy conquest

Triumph, and solemnize a martial feast.

(Exeunt. Finis actus tertii.

Actus 4. Scaena 1.

Soldan of Egypt with three or four Lords, Capolin.



Soldier. Awake, ye men of Memphis! hear the clang

Of Scythian trumpets! hear the Basilisks,

That roaring shake Damascus' turrets down!

The rogue of Volga holds Zenocrate,

The Soldan's daughter, for his Concubine,

And with a troop of thieves and vagabonds,

Hath spread his colors to our high disgrace,

While you, fainthearted base Egyptians,

Lie slumbering on the flowery banks of Nile,

As Crocodiles that unaffrighted rest

While thundering Cannons rattle on their Skins.

Mess. Nay, mighty Soldan, did your greatness see

The frowning looks of fiery Tamburlaine,

That with his terror and imperious eyes

Commands the hearts of his associates,

It might amaze your royal majesty.



Soldier. Villain, I tell thee, were that Tamburlaine

As monstrous as Gorgon, prince of Hell,

The Soldan would not start a foot from him.

But speak, what power hath he?

Mess. Mighty Lord,

Three hundred thousand men in armor clad,

Upon their prancing Steeds, disdainfully

With wanton paces trampling on the ground;

Five hundred thousand footmen threatening shot,

Shaking their swords, their spears, and iron bills,

Environing their Standard round, that stood

As bristle-pointed as a thorny wood;

Their warlike Engines and munition

Exceed the forces of their martial men.



Soldier. Nay, could their numbers countervail the stars,

Or ever drizzling drops of April showers,

Or withered leaves that Autumn shaketh down,

Yet would the Soldan by his conquering power

So scatter and consume them in his rage,

That not a man should live to rue their fall.



Capolin. So might your highness, had you time to sort

Your fighting men, and raise your royal host,

But Tamburlaine by expedition

Advantage takes of your unreadiness.



Soldier. Let him take all th' advantages he can.

Were all the world conspired to fight for him,

Nay, were he Devil, as he is no man,

Yet in revenge of fair Zenocrate,

Whom he detaineth in despite of us,

This arm should send him down to Erebus,

To shroud his shame in darkness of the night.



Messenger. Pleaseth your mightiness to understand,

His resolution far exdeedeth all.

The first day when he pitcheth down his tents,

White is their hue, and on his silver crest,

A snowy Feather spangled white he bears,

To signify the mildness of his mind

That, satiate with spoil, refuseth blood;

But when Aurora mounts the second time,

As red as scarlet is his furniture;

Then must his kindled wrath be quenched with blood,

Not sparing any that can manage arms;

But if these threats move not submission,

Black are his colors, black Pavilion;

His spear, his shield, his horse, his armor, plumes,

And Jetty Feathers menace death and hell;

Without respect of Sex, degree, or age,

He razeth all his foes with fire and sword.



Soldier. Merciless villain, Peasant ignorant

Of lawful arms or martial discipline!

Pillage and murder are his usual trades.

The slave usurps the glorious name of war.

See Capolin, the fair Arabian king,

That hath been disappointed by this slave

Of my fair daughter and his princely Love,

May have fresh warning to go war with us,

And be revenged for her disparagement.

Actus 4. scaena 2.

Tamburlaine, Techelles, Theridamas, Usumcasane,

Zenocrate, Anippe, two Moors drawing Bajazeth in

his cage, and his wife following him.



Tambur. Bring out my footstool.


They take him out of the cage.

Bajazeth. Ye holy Priests of heavenly Mahomet,

That, sacrificing, slice and cut your flesh,

Staining his Altars with your purple blood,

Make heaven to frown and every fixed star

To suck up poison from the Moorish fens,

And pour it in this glorious Tyrant's throat!



Tambur. The chiefest God, first mover of that Sphere

Enchased with thousands ever-shining lamps,

Will sooner burn the glorious frame of Heaven

Than it should so conspire my overthrow.

But, Villain, thou that wishest this to me,

Fall prostrate on the low disdainful earth,

And be the footstool of great Tamburlaine,

That I may rise into my royal throne.



Bajazeth. First shalt thou rip my bowels with thy sword

And sacrifice my heart to death and hell,

Before I yield to such a slavery.



Tambur. Base villain, vassal, slave to Tamburlaine,

Unworthy to embrace or touch the ground

That bears the honor of my royal weight,

Stoop, villain, stoop! stoop, for so he bids

That may command thee piecemeal to be torn,

Or scattered like the lofty Cedar trees

Strook with the voice of thundering Jupiter.



Bajazeth. Then, as I look down to the damned Fiends,

Fiends, look on me; and thou, dread God of hell,

With Ebon Scepter strike this hateful earth,

And make it swallow both of us at once!


He gets up upon him to his chair.



Tambur. Now clear the triple region of the air,

And let the majesty of heaven behold

Their Scourge and Terror tread on Emperors.

Smile Stars that reigned at my nativity,

And dim the brightness of their neighbor Lamps;

Disdain to borrow light of Cynthia,

For I, the chiefest Lamp of all the earth,

First rising in the East with mild aspect,

But fixed now in the Meridian line,

Will send up fire to your turning Spheres

And cause the Sun to borrow light of you.

My sword struck fire from his coat of steel,

Even in Bithynia, when I took this Turk,

As when a fiery exhalation,

Wrapped in the bowels of a freezing cloud,

Fighting for passage, makes the Welkin crack

And casts a flash of lightning to the earth.

But ere I march to wealthy Persia,

Or leave Damascus and th' Egyptian fields,

As was the fame of Clymene's brainsick son

That almost brent the Axletree of heaven,

So shall our swords, our lances, and our shot

Fill all the air with fiery meteors.

Then, when the Sky shall wax as red as blood,

It shall be said I made it red myself,

To make me think of nought but blood and war.



Zabina. Unworthy king, that by thy cruelty

Unlawfully usurp'st the Persian seat,

Dar'st thou, that never saw an Emperor

Before thou met my husband in the field,

Being thy Captive, thus abuse his state,

Keeping his kingly body in a Cage,

That roofs of gold and sun-bright Palaces

Should have prepared to entertain his Grace?

And treading him beneath thy loathsome feet,

Whose feet the kings of Africa have kissed?



Techelles. You must devise some torment worse, my Lord

To make these captives rein their lavish tongues.



Tambur. Zenocrate, look better to your slave.



Zenocrate. She is my Handmaid's slave, and she shall look

That these abuses flow not from her tongue.

Chide her, Anippe.



Anippe. Let these be warnings for you then, my slave,

How you abuse the person of the king;

Or else I swear to have you whipped stark naked.



Bajazeth. Great Tamburlaine, great in my overthrow,

Ambitious pride shall make thee fall as low,

For treading on the back of Bajazeth,

That should be horsed on four mighty kings.



Tambur. Thy names and titles and thy dignities

Are fled from Bajazeth and remain with me,

That will maintain it against a world of kings.

Put him in again.



Bajazeth. Is this a place for mighty Bajazeth?

Confusion light on him that helps thee thus.



Tambur. There, while he lives, shall Bajazeth be kept,

And where I go be thus in triumph drawn;

And thou, his wife, shall feed him with the scraps

My servitors shall bring thee from my board,

For he that gives him other food than this

Shall sit by him and starve to death himself.

This is my mind, and I will have it so.

Not all the Kings and Emperors of the Earth,

If they would lay their crowns before my feet,

Shall ransom him or take him from his cage.

The ages that shall talk of Tamburlaine,

Even from this day to Plato's wondrous year,

Shall talk how I have handled Bajazeth.

These Moors, that drew him from Bithynia

To fair Damascus, where we now remain,

Shall lead him with us whereso'er we go.

Techelles, and my loving followers,

Now may we see Damascus' lofty towers,

Like to the shadows of Pyramides

That with their beauties grace the Memphian fields.

The golden stature of their feathered bird,

That spreads her wings upon the city walls,

Shall not defend it from our battering shot.

The townsmen mask in silk and cloth of gold,

And every house is as a treasury;

The men, the treasure, and the town are ours.



Theridamas. Your tents of white now pitched before the gates,

And gentle flags of amity displayed,

I doubt not but the Governor will yield,

Offering Damascus to your Majesty.



Tambur. So shall he have his life, and all the rest.

But if he stay until the bloody flag

Be once advanced on my vermilion Tent,

He dies, and those that kept us out so long.

And when they see me march in black array,

With mournful streamers hanging down their heads,

Were in that city all the world contained,

Not one should 'scape, but perish by our swords.



Zenocrate. Yet would you have some pity for my sake,

Because it is my country's and my Father's.



Tambur. Not for the world, Zenocrate, if I have sworn.

Come, bring in the Turk. (Exeunt.

Actus 4. Scaena 3.

Soldan, Arabia, Capolin, with streaming

colors and Soldiers.

Soldier. Methinks we march as Meleager did,

Environed with brave Argolian knights,

To chase the savage Calydonian Boar,

Or Cephalus, with lusty Theban youths,

Against the Wolf that angry Themis sent

To waste and spoil the sweet Aonian fields.

A monster of five hundred thousand heads,

Compact of Rapine, Piracy, and spoil,

The Scum of men, the hate and Scourge of God,

Raves in Egyptia, and annoyeth us.

My Lord, it is the bloody Tamburlaine,

A sturdy Felon, and a base-bred Thief,

By murder raised to the Persian Crown,

That dares control us in our Territories.

To tame the pride of this presumptuous beast,

Join your Arabians with the Soldan's power;

Let us unite our royal bands in one

And hasten to remove Damascus' siege.

It is a blemish to the Majesty

And high estate of mighty Emperors,

That such a base usurping vagabond

Should brave a king, or wear a princely crown.



Kg of Argiers. Renowned Soldan, have ye lately heard

The overthrow of mighty Bajazeth

About the confines of Bithynia?

The slavery wherewith he persecutes

The noble Turk and his great Empress?



Soldier. I have, and sorrow for his bad success.

But, noble Lord of great Arabia,

Be so persuaded that the Soldan is

No more dismayed with tidings of his fall,

Than in the haven when the Pilot stands,

And views a stranger's ship rent in the winds

And shivered against a craggy rock.

Yet in compassion to his wretched state,

A sacred vow to heaven and him I make,

Confirming it with Ibis' holy name,

That Tamburlaine shall rue the day, the hour,

Wherein he wrought such ignominious wrong

Unto the hallowed person of a prince,

Or kept the fair Zenocrate so long,

As Concubine, I fear, to feed his lust.



Kg of Argiers. Let grief and fury hasten on revenge.

Let Tamburlaine for his offenses feel

Such plagues as heaven and we can pour on him.

I long to break my spear upon his crest

And prove the weight of his victorious arm;

For Fame, I fear, hath been too prodigal

In sounding through the world his partial praise.



Soldier. Capolin, hast thou surveyed our powers?

Capol. Great Emperors of Egypt and Arabia,

The number of your hosts united is

A hundred and fifty thousand horse,

Two hundred thousand foot, brave men-at-arms,

Courageous and full of hardiness,

As frolic as the hunters in the chase

Of savage beasts amid the desert woods.



Kg of Argiers. My mind presageth fortunate success,

And, Tamburlaine, my spirit doth foresee

The utter ruin of thy men and thee.



Soldier. Then rear your standards; let your sounding Drums

Direct our Soldiers to Damascus' walls.

Now, Tamburlaine, the mighty Soldan comes

And leads with him the great Arabian King

To dim thy baseness and obscurity,

Famous for nothing but for theft and spoil;

To raze and scatter thy inglorious crew

Of Scythians and slavish Persians. (Exeunt.


Actus 4. Scaena 4.

The Banquet, and to it cometh Tamburlaine all in scarlet, Theridamas, Techelles, Usumcasane, the Turk, with others.

Tambur. Now hang our bloody colors by Damascus,

Reflexing hues of blood upon their heads,

While they walk quivering on their city walls,

Half dead for fear before they feel my wrath.

Then let us freely banquet and carouse

Full bowls of wine unto the God of war,

That means to fill your helmets full of gold,

And make Damascus' spoils as rich to you

As was to Jason Colcho's golden fleece.

And now, Bajazeth, hast thou any stomach?



Bajazeth. Ay, such a stomach, (cruel Tamburlaine), as I could

willingly feed upon thy blood raw heart.



Tambur. Nay, thine own is easier to come by.

Pluck out that,

And 'twill serve thee and thy wife. Well, Zenocrate,

Techelles, and the rest, fall to your victuals.



Bajazeth. Fall to, and never may your meat digest!

Ye Furies, that can mask invisible,

Dive to the bottom of Avernus' pool,

And in your hands bring hellish poison up,

And squeeze it in the cup of Tamburlaine!

Or, winged snakes of Lerna, cast your stings,

And leave your venoms in this Tyrant's dish!



Zabina. And may this banquet prove as ominous

As Progne's to th' adulterous Thracian King

That fed upon the substance of his child.



Zenocrate. My Lord, how can you suffer these

Outrageous curses by these slaves of yours?



Tambur. To let them see, (divine Zenocrate),

I glory in the curses of my foes,

Having the power from the Empyreal heaven

To turn them all upon their proper heads.



Techelles. I pray you, give them leave, Madam; this speech is a goodly refreshing to them.



Theridamas. But, if his highness would let them be fed, it

would do them more good.



Tambur. Sirrah, why fall you not to? are you so daintily brought up, you cannot eat you own flesh?



Bajazeth. First, legions of devils shall tear thee in pieces.



Usumcasane. Villain, knowest thou to whom thou speakest?



Tambur. O, let him alone. here; eat, sir; take it from my sword's point, or I'll thrust it to thy heart.


He takes it and stamps upon it.



Theridamas. He stamps it under his feet, my Lord.



Tambur. Take it up, Villain, and eat it; or I will make thee slice the brawns of thy arms into carbonadoes and eat them.



Usumcasane. Nay, 'twere better he killed his wife, and then she shall be sure not to be starved, and he be provided for a month's victual beforehand.



Tambur. Here is my dagger. dispatch her while she is fat, for if she live but a while longer, she will fall into a consumption with fretting, and then she will not be worth the eating.



Theridamas. Dost thou think that Mahomet will suffer this?



Techelles. 'Tis like he will, when he cannot let it.



Tambur. Go to; fall to your meat. what, not a bit? belike he hath not been watered today: give him some drink.


They give him water to drink, and he flings it on the ground.

Fast, and welcome, sir, while hunger make you eat. How now, Zenocrate, doth not the Turk and his wife make a goodly show at a banquet?



Zenocrate. Yes, my Lord.



Theridamas. Methinks 'tis a great deal better than a consort of music.



Tambur. Yet music would do well to cheer up Zenocrate. pray thee tell, why art thou so sad? If thou wilt have a song, the Turk shall strain his voice. but why is it?



Zenocrate. My lord, to see my father's town besieged,

The country wasted, where myself was born,

How can it but afflict my very soul?

If any love remain in you, my Lord,

Or if my love unto your majesty

May merit favor at your highness' hands,

Then raise your siege from fair Damascus' walls,

And with my father take a friendly truce.



Tambur. Zenocrate, were Egypt Jove's own land,

Yet would I with my sword make Jove to stoop.

I will confute those blind Geographers

That make a triple region in the world,

Excluding Regions which I mean to trace,

And with this pen reduce them to a Map,

Calling the Provinces, Cities, and towns,

After my name and thine, Zenocrate.

Here at Damascus will I make the Point

That shall begin the Perpendicular.

And wouldst thou have me buy thy Father's love

With such a loss? Tell me, Zenocrate.



Zenocrate. Honor still wait on happy Tamburlaine;

Yet give me leave to plead for him, my Lord.



Tambur. Content thyself: his person shall be safe,

And all the friends of fair Zenocrate,

If with their lives they will be pleased to yield,

Or may be forced to make me Emperor;

For Egypt and Arabia must be mine.

Feed, you slave; thou mayst think thyself happy to be fed from my trencher.



Bajazeth. My empty stomach, full of idle heat,

Draws bloody humors from my feeble parts,

Preserving life by hasting cruel death.

My veins are pale, my sinews hard and dry,

My joints benumbed; unless I eat, I die.



Zabina. Eat, Bajazeth. Let us live in spite of them, looking some happy power will pity and enlarge us.



Tambur. Here, Turk; wilt thou have a clean trencher?



Bajazeth. Ay, Tyrant, and more meat.



Tambur. Soft, sir, you must be dieted; too much eating

will make you surfeit.



Theridamas. So it would, my lord, 'specially having so small a

walk and so little exercise.


Enter a second course of Crowns.



Tambur. Theridamas, Techelles, and Casane, here are the cates you desire to finger, are they not?



Theridamas. Ay, my Lord, but none save kings must feed with these.



Techelles. 'Tis enough for us to see them, and for Tamburlaine only to enjoy them.



Tambur. Well, here is now to the Soldan of Egypt, the King of Arabia, and the Governor of Damascus. Now, take these three crowns, and pledge me, my contributory Kings. I crown you here, Theridamas, King of Argier; Techelles, King of Fez; and Usumcasane, King of Morocco. How say you to this, Turk? these are not your contributory kings.



Bajazeth. Nor shall they long be thine, I warrant them.



Tambur. Kings of Argier, Morocco, and of Fez,

You that have marched with happy Tamburlaine

As far as from the frozen place of heaven

Unto the watery morning's ruddy bower,

And thence by land unto the Torrid Zone,

Deserve these titles I endow you with

By valor and by magnanimity.

Your births shall be no blemish to your fame,

For virtue is the fount whence honor springs,

And they are worthy she investeth kings.



Theridamas. And, since your highness hath so well vouchsafed,

If we deserve them not with higher meeds

Than erst our states and actions have retained,

Take them away again, and make us slaves.



Tambur. Well said, Theridamas. when holy fates

Shall 'stablish me in strong Egyptia,

We mean to travel to th' Antarctic Pole,

Conquering the people underneath our feet,

And be renowned as never Emperors were.

Zenocrate, I will not crown thee yet,

Until with greater honors I be graced.

Finis Actus quarti.

Actus 5. Scaena 1.


The Governor of Damascus with three or four Citizens, and four Virgins with branches of laurel in their hands.

Governor. Still doth this man, or rather God of war,

Batter our walls and beat our Turrets down;

And to resist with longer stubbornness

Or hope of rescue from the Soldan's power,

Were but to bring our willful overthrow,

And make us desperate of our threatened lives.

We see his tents have now been altered

With terrors to the last and cruel'st hue.

His coal-black colors, everywhere advanced,

Threaten our city with a general spoil;

And if we should with common rites of Arms

Offer our safeties to his clemency,

I fear the custom proper to his sword.

Which he observes as parcel of his fame,

Intending so to terrify the world,

By any innovation or remorse

Will never be dispensed with till our deaths.

Therefore, for these our harmless virgins' sakes,

Whose honors and whose lives rely on him,

Let us have hope that their unspotted prayers,

Their blubbered cheeks, and hearty humble moans

Will melt his fury into some remorse,

And use us like a loving Conqueror.

First.V. If humble suits or imprecations

(Uttered with tears of wretchedness and blood

Shed from the heads and hearts of all our Sex,

Some made your wives, and some your children,)

Might have entreated your obdurate breasts

To entertain some care of our securities

While only danger beat upon our walls,

These more than dangerous warrants of our death

Had never been erected as they be,

Nor you depend on such weak helps as we.

Governor. Well, lovely Virgins, think our country's care,

Our love of honor, loath to be enthralled

To foreign powers and rough imperious yokes,

Would not with too much cowardice or fear,

Before all hope of rescue were denied,

Submit yourselves and us to servitude.

Therefore, in that your safeties and our own,

Your honors, liberties, and lives were weighed

In equal care and balance with our own,

Endure as we the malice of our stars,

The wrath of Tamburlaine and power of wars,

Or be the means the overweighing heavens

Have kept to qualify these hot extremes,

And bring us pardon in your cheerful looks.


Sec.V. Then here, before the majesty of heaven

And holy Patrons of Egyptia,

With knees and hearts submissive we entreat

Grace to our words and pity to our looks

That this device may prove propitious,

And through the eyes and ears of Tamburlaine

Convey events of mercy to his heart.

Grant that these signs of victory we yield

May bind the temples of his conquering head

To hide the folded furrows of his brows,

And shadow his displeased countenance

With happy looks of ruth and lenity.

Leave us, my Lord, and loving countrymen.

What simple Virgins may persuade, we will.

Governor. Farewell, sweet Virgins, on whose safe return

Depends our city, liberty, and lives. (Exeunt.


Actus 5. Scaena 2.

Tamburlaine, Techelles, Theridamas, Usumcasane, with others; Tamburlaine, all in black and very melancholy.



Tambur. What, are the Turtles frayed out of their nests?

Alas, poor fools, must you be first shall feel

The sworn destruction of Damascus?

They know my custom; could they not as well

Have sent ye out when first my milk-white flags,

Through which sweet mercy threw her gentle beams,

Reflexing them on your disdainful eyes,

As now when fury and incensed hate

Flings slaughtering terror from my coal-black tents,

And tells for truth submission comes too late?


First.V. Most happy King and Emperor of the earth,

Image of Honor and Nobility,

For whom the Powers divine have made the world

And on whose throne the holy Graces sit,

In whose sweet person is comprised the Sum

Of nature's Skill and heavenly majesty,

Pity our plights! O, pity poor Damascus!

Pity old age, within whose silver hairs

Honor and reverence evermore have reigned.

Pity the marriage bed, where many a Lord,

In prime and glory of his loving joy,

Embraceth now with tears of ruth and blood

The jealous body of his fearful wife,

Whose cheeks and hearts, so punished with conceit

To think thy puissant never-stayed arm

Will part their bodies and prevent their souls

From heavens of comfort yet their age might bear,

Now wax all pale and withered to the death,

As well for grief our ruthless Governor

Hath thus refused the mercy of thy hand,

(whose scepter Angels kiss and Furies dread,)

As for their liberties, their loves, or lives.

Oh, then, for these, and such as we ourselves,

For us, for infants, and for all our bloods,

That never nourished thought against thy rule,

Pity, O pity, (sacred Emperor,)

The prostrate service of this wretched town;

And take in sign thereof this gilded wreath,

Whereto each man of rule hath given his hand,

And wished, as worthy subjects, happy means

To be investers of thy royal brows

Even with the true Egyptian Diadem.



Tambur. Virgins, in vain you labor to prevent

That which mine honor swears shall be performed.

Behold my sword; what see you at the point?


First.V. Nothing but fear and fatal steel, my Lord.



Tambur. Your fearful minds are thick and misty then,

For there sits Death; there sits imperious Death,

Keeping his circuit by the slicing edge.

But I am pleased you shall not see him there.

He now is seated on my horsemen's spears,

And on their points his fleshless body feeds.

Techelles, straight go charge a few of them

To charge these Dames and show my servant, death,

Sitting in scarlet on their armed spears.

All. O, pity us!



Tambur. Away with them, I say, and show them Death.

They take them away.

I will not spare these proud Egyptians,

Nor change my Martial observations

For all the wealth of Gihon's golden waves.

Or for the love of Venus, would she leave

The angry God of Arms and lie with me.

They have refused the offer of their lives

And know my customs are as peremptory

As wrathful Planets, death, or destiny.

Enter Techelles.

What, have your horsemen shown the virgins Death?



Techelles. They have, my Lord, and on Damascus' walls

Have hoisted up their slaughtered carcasses.



Tambur. A sight as baneful to their souls, I think,

As are Thessalian drugs or Mithridate:

But go, my Lords, put the rest to the sword.


Ah, fair Zenocrate! divine Zenocrate!

Fair is too foul an Epithet for thee,

That in thy passion for thy country's love,

And fear to see thy kingly Father's harm,

With hair dishevelled wip'st thy watery cheeks;

And, like to Flora in her morning's pride,

Shaking her silver tresses in the air,

Rain'st on the earth resolved pearl in showers,

And sprinklest Sapphires on thy shining face,

Where Beauty, mother to the Muses, sits,

And comments volumes with her Ivory pen,

Taking instructions from thy flowing eyes,

Eyes, when that Ebena steps to heaven,

In silence of thy solemn Evening's walk,

Making the mantle of the richest night,

The Moon, the Planets, and the Meteors, light.

There Angels in their crystal armors fight

A doubtful battle with my tempted thoughts

For Egypt's freedom and the Soldan's life,

His life that so consumes Zenocrate,

Whose sorrows lay more siege unto my soul

Than all my Army to Damascus' walls;

And neither Persia's Sovereign nor the Turk

Troubled my senses with conceit of foil

So much by much as doth Zenocrate.

What is beauty, saith my sufferings, then?

If all the pens that ever poets held

Had fed the feeling of their masters' thoughts,

And every sweetness that inspired their hearts,

Their minds, and muses on admired themes;

If all the heavenly Quintessence they still

From their immortal flowers of Poesy,

Wherein, as in a mirror, we perceive

The highest reaches of a human wit;

If these had made one Poem's period,

And all combined in Beauty's worthiness,

Yet should there hover in their restless heads

One thought, one grace, one wonder, at the least,

Which into words no virtue can digest.

But how unseemly is it for my Sex,

My discipline of arms and Chivalry,

My nature, and the terror of my name,

To harbor thoughts effeminate and faint!

Save only that in Beauty's just applause,

With whose instinct the soul of man is touched;

And every warrior that is rapt with love

Of fame, of valor, and of victory,

Must needs have beauty beat on his conceits.

I thus conceiving and subduing both,

That which hath stopped the tempest of the Gods,

Even from the fiery spangled veil of heaven,

To feel the lovely warmth of shepherds' flames

And march in cottages of strowed weeds,

Shall give the world to note, for all my birth,

That Virtue solely is the sum of glory,

And fashions men with true nobility.

Who's within there?


Enter two or three.

Hath Bajazeth been fed today?

Attend. Ay, my lord.



Tambur. Bring him forth; and let us know if the town be ransacked.


Enter Techelles, Theridamas, Usumcasane, and others.



Techelles. The town is ours, my Lord, and fresh supply

Of conquest and of spoil is offered us.



Tambur. That's well, Techelles. what's the news?



Techelles. The Soldan and the Arabian king together

March on us with such eager violence

As if there were no way but one with us.



Tambur. No more there is not, I warrant thee, Techelles.


They bring in the Turk.



Theridamas. We know the victory is ours, my Lord,

But let us save the reverend Soldan's life

For fair Zenocrate that so laments his state.



Tambur. That will we chiefly see unto, Theridamas,

For sweet Zenocrate, whose worthiness

Deserves a conquest over every heart.

And now, my footstool, if I lose the field,

You hope of liberty and restitution.

Here let him stay, my masters, from the tents,

Till we have made us ready for the field.

Pray for us, Bajazeth; we are going. (Exeunt.



Bajazeth. Go, never return with victory!

Millions of men encompass thee about,

And gore thy body with as many wounds!

Sharp forked arrows light upon thy horse!

Furies from the black Cocytus lake,

Break up the earth, and with their firebrands

Enforce thee run upon the baneful pikes!

Volleys of shot pierce through thy charmed Skin,

And every bullet dipped in poisoned drugs!

Or roaring Cannons sever all thy joints,

Making thee mount as high as Eagles soar!



Zabina. Let all the swords and Lances in the field

Stick in his breast as in their proper rooms!

At every pore let blood come dropping forth,

That lingering pains may massacre his heart

And madness send his damned soul to hell!



Bajazeth. Ah, fair Zabina! we may curse his power,

The heavens may frown, the earth for anger quake,

But such a Star hath influence in his sword

As rules the Skies and countermands the Gods

More than Cimmerian Styx or Destiny.

And then shall we in this detested guise,

With shame, with hunger, and with horror -- ay,

Griping our bowels with retorqued thoughts

And have no hope to end our ecstasies.



Zabina. Then is there left no Mahomet, no God,

No Fiend, no Fortune, nor no hope of end

To our infamous, monstrous slaveries?

Gape earth, and let the Fiends infernal view

A hell as hopeless and as full of fear

As are the blasted banks of Erebus,

Where shaking ghosts with ever howling groans

Hover about the ugly Ferryman

To get a passage to Elysium!

Why should we live? O, wretches, beggars, slaves!

Why live we, Bajazeth, and build up nests

So high within the region of the air,

By living long in this oppression,

That all the world will see and laugh to scorn

The former triumphs of our mightiness

In this obscure infernal servitude?



Bajazeth. O life, more loathsome to my vexed thoughts

Than noisome parbreak of the Stygian Snakes,

Which fills the nooks of Hell with standing air,

Infecting all the Ghosts with cureless griefs!

O dreary Engines of my loathed sight,

That see my crown, my honor, and my name

Thrust under yoke and thralldom of a thief,

Why feed ye still on day's accursed beams,

And sink not quite into my tortured soul?

You see my wife, my Queen, and Empress,

Brought up and propped by the hand of fame,

Queen of fifteen contributory Queens,

Now thrown to rooms of black abjection,

Smeared with blots of basest drudgery,

And Villainess to shame, disdain, and misery.

Accursed Bajazeth, whose words of ruth,

That would with pity cheer Zabina's heart,

And make our souls resolve in ceaseless tears,

Sharp hunger bites upon and gripes the root

From whence the issue of my thoughts do break.

O poor Zabina! O my Queen, my Queen!

Fetch me some water for my burning breast,

To cool and comfort me with longer date,

That in the shortened sequel of my life

I may pour forth my soul into thine arms

With words of love whose moaning intercourse

Hath hitherto been stayed with wrath and hate

Of our expressless banned inflictions.



Zabina. Sweet Bajazeth, I will prolong thy life

As long as any blood or spark of breath

Can quench or cool the torments of my grief.

She goes out.



Bajazeth. Now, Bajazeth, abridge thy baneful days,

And beat the brains out of thy conquered head,

Since other means are all forbidden me,

That may be ministers of my decay.

O highest Lamp of everliving Jove,

Accursed day, infected with my griefs,

Hide now thy stained face in endless night,

And shut the windows of the lightsome heavens.

Let ugly darkness with her rusty coach

Engirt with tempests, wrapped in pitchy clouds,

Smother the earth with never fading mists,

And let her horses from their nostrils breathe

Rebellious winds and dreadful thunderclaps,

That in this terror Tamburlaine may live,

And my pined soul, resolved in liquid air,

May still excruciate his tormented thoughts!

Then let the stony dart of senseless cold

Pierce through the center of my withered heart,

And make a passage for my loathed life!


He brains himself against the cage. Enter Zabina.



Zabina. What do mine eyes behold? my husband dead!

His Skull all riven in twain, his brains dashed out!

The brains of Bajazeth, my Lord and Sovereign!

O Bajazeth, my husband and my Lord!

O Bajazeth! O Turk! O Emperor!

Give him his liquor? Not I. bring milk and fire, and my blood I bring him again. tear me in pieces. give me the sword with a ball of wild fire upon it. Down with him! down with him! Go to, my child. Away, away, away! Ah, save that Infant! save him, save him! I, even I, speak to her. the Sun was down Streamers white, Red, Black. here, here, here! Fling the meat in his face! Tamburlaine, Tamburlaine! Let the soldiers be buried. Hell, death, Tamburlaine, Hell! make ready my Coach, my chair, my jewels. I come, I come, I come!


She runs against the Cage, and brains herself.

Zenocrate with Anippe.



Zenocrate. Wretched Zenocrate, that livest to see

Damascus' walls dyed with Egyptian blood,

Thy Father's subjects and thy countrymen;

The streets strowed with dissevered joints of men,

And wounded bodies gasping yet for life;

But most accursed, to see the Sun-bright troop

Of heavenly virgins and unspotted maids,

(Whose looks might make the angry God of arms

To break his sword and mildly treat of love)

On horsemen's Lances to be hoisted up,

And guiltlessly endure a cruel death.

For every fell and stout Tartarian Steed,

That stamped on others with their thundering hooves,

When all their riders charged their quivering spears,

Began to check the ground and rein themselves,

Gazing upon the beauty of their looks.

Ah, Tamburlaine, wert thou the cause of this,

That term'st Zenocrate thy dearest love?

Whose lives were dearer to Zenocrate

Than her own life, or aught save thine own love?

But see, another bloody spectacle!

Ah, wretched eyes, the enemies of my heart,

How are ye glutted with these grievous objects,

And tell my soul more tales of bleeding ruth!

See, see, Anippe, if they breathe or no.



Anippe. No breath, nor sense, nor motion, in them both.

Ah, Madam, this their slavery hath Enforced,

And ruthless cruelty of Tamburlaine!



Zenocrate. Earth, cast up fountains from thy entrails,

And wet thy cheeks for their untimely deaths.

Shake with their weight in sign of fear and grief.

Blush, heaven, that gave them honor at their birth

And let them die a death so barbarous.

Those that are proud of fickle Empery

And place their chiefest good in earthly pomp,

Behold the Turk and his great Empress!

Ah, Tamburlaine my love, sweet Tamburlaine,

That fights for Scepters and for slippery crowns,

Behold the Turk and his great Empress!

Thou, that in conduct of thy happy stars,

Sleep'st every night with conquest on thy brows,

And yet wouldst shun the wavering turns of war,

In fear and feeling of the like distress,

Behold the Turk and his great Empress!

Ah, mighty Jove and holy Mahomet,

Pardon my Love! oh, pardon his contempt

Of earthly fortune and respect of pity,

And let not conquest, ruthlessly pursued,

Be equally against his life incensed

In this great Turk and hapless Empress!

And pardon me that was not moved with ruth

To see them live so long in misery!

Ah, what may chance to thee, Zenocrate?



Anippe. Madam, content yourself, and be resolved,

Your Love hath fortune so at his command,

That she shall stay, and turn her wheel no more,

As long as life maintains his mighty arm

That fights for honor to adorn your head.

Enter a Messenger.



Zenocrate. What other heavy news now brings Philemus?



Philemus. Madam, your father, and th' Arabian king,

The first affecter of your excellence,

Come now, as Turnus 'gainst Aeneas did,

Armed with lance into the Egyptian fields,

Ready for battle 'gainst my Lord the King.



Zenocrate. Now shame and duty, love and fear present

A thousand sorrows to my martyred soul.

Whom should I wish the fatal victory,

When my poor pleasures are divided thus,

And racked by duty from my cursed heart?

My father and my first-betrothed love

Must fight against my life and present love,

Wherein the change I use condemns my faith

And makes my deeds infamous through the world.

But as the Gods, to end the Trojans' toil,

Prevented Turnus of Lavinia

And fatally enriched Aeneas' love,

So, for a final Issue to my griefs,

To pacify my country and my love,

Must Tamburlaine by their resistless powers,

With virtue of a gentle victory,

Conclude a league of honor to my hope;

Then, as the powers divine have preordained,

With happy safety of my father's life

Send like defense of fair Arabia.


They sound to the battle, And Tamburlaine

enjoys the victory; after, Arabia enters wounded.



Kg of Argiers. What cursed power guides the murdering hands

Of this infamous Tyrant's soldiers,

That no escape may save their enemies,

Nor fortune keep themselves from victory?

Lie down, Arabia, wounded to the death,

And let Zenocrate's fair eyes behold

That, as for her thou bear'st these wretched arms,

Even so for her thou diest in these arms,

Leaving thy blood for witness of thy love.



Zenocrate. Too dear a witness for such love, my Lord.

Behold Zenocrate, the cursed object

Whose fortunes never mastered her griefs.

Behold her wounded in conceit for thee,

As much as thy fair body is for me!



Kg of Argiers. Then shall I die with full contented heart,

Having beheld divine Zenocrate,

Whose sight with joy would take away my life,

As now it bringeth sweetness to my wound,

If I had not been wounded as I am.

Ah, that the deadly pangs I suffer now

Would lend an hour's license to my tongue,

To make discourse of some sweet accidents

Have chanced thy merits in this worthless bondage,

And that I might be privy to the state

Of thy deserved contentment and thy love.

But, making now a virtue of thy sight,

To drive all sorrow from my fainting soul,

Since Death denies me further cause of joy,

Deprived of care, my heart with comfort dies,

Since thy desired hand shall close mine eyes.


Enter Tamburlaine, leading the Soldan;

Techelles, Theridamas, Usumcasane, with others.



Tambur. Come, happy Father of Zenocrate,

A title higher than thy Soldan's name.

Though my right hand have thus enthralled thee,

Thy princely daughter here shall set thee free,

She that hath calmed the fury of my sword,

Which had ere this been bathed in streams of blood

As vast and deep as Euphrates or Nile.



Zenocrate. O sight thrice welcome to my joyful soul,

To see the king, my Father, issue safe

From dangerous battle of my conquering love!



Soldier. Well met, my only dear Zenocrate,

Though with the loss of Egypt and my Crown.



Tambur. 'Twas I, my lord, that gat the victory,

And therefore grieve not at your overthrow,

Since I shall render all into your hands,

And add more strength to your dominions

Than ever yet confirmed th' Egyptian Crown.

The God of war resigns his room to me,

Meaning to make me General of the world.

Jove, viewing me in arms, looks pale and wan,

Fearing my power should pull him from his throne.

Where'er I come the fatal sisters sweat,

And grisly death, by running to-and-fro

To do their ceaseless homage to my sword.

And here in Afric, where it seldom rains,

Since I arrived with my triumphant host,

Have swelling clouds, drawn from wide gasping wounds,

Been oft resolved in bloody purple showers,

A meteor that might terrify the earth,

And make it quake at every drop it drinks.

Millions of souls sit on the banks of Styx,

Waiting the back return of Charon's boat;

Hell and Elysium swarm with ghosts of men

That I have sent from sundry foughten fields

To spread my fame through hell and up to heaven.

And see, my Lord, a sight of strange import,

Emperors and kings lie breathless at my feet.

The Turk and his great Empress, as it seems,

Left to themselves while we were at the fight,

Have desperately dispatched their slavish lives:

With them Arabia, too, hath left his life;

All sights of power to grace my victory.

And such are objects fit for Tamburlaine,

Wherein, as in a mirror, may be seen

His honor, that consists in shedding blood

When men presume to manage arms with him.



Soldier. Mighty hath God and Mahomet made thy hand,

(Renowned Tamburlaine), to whom all kings

Of force must yield their crowns and Emperies;

And I am pleased with this my overthrow,

If, as beseems a person of thy state,

Thou hast with honor used Zenocrate.



Tambur. Her state and person want no pomp, you see,

And for all blot of foul inchastity,

I record heaven, her heavenly self is clear.

Then let me find no further time to grace

Her princely Temples with the Persian crown;

But here these kings that on my fortunes wait,

And have been crowned for proved worthiness

Even by this hand that shall establish them,

Shall now, adjoining all their hands with mine,

Invest her here the Queen of Persia.

What saith the noble Soldan and Zenocrate?



Soldier. I yield with thanks and protestations

Of endless honor to thee for her love.



Tambur. Then doubt I not but fair Zenocrate

Will soon consent to satisfy us both.



Zenocrate. Else should I much forget myself, my Lord.



Theridamas. Then let us set the crown upon her head,

That long hath lingered for so high a seat.



Techelles. My hand is ready to perform the deed,

For now her marriage time shall work us rest.



Usumcasane. And here's the crown, my Lord; help set it on.



Tambur. Then sit thou down, divine Zenocrate,

And here we crown thee Queen of Persia,

And all the kingdoms and dominions

That late the power of Tamburlaine subdued.

As Juno, when the Giants were suppressed,

That darted mountains at her brother Jove,

So looks my Love, shadowing in her brows

Triumphs and Trophies for my victories;

Or as Latona's daughter, bent to arms,

Adding more courage to my conquering mind.

To gratify thee, sweet Zenocrate,

Egyptians, Moors, and men of Asia,

From Barbary unto the Western Indie,

Shall pay a yearly tribute to thy Sire;

And from the bounds of Afric to the banks

Of Ganges shall his mighty arm extend.

And now, my Lords and loving followers,

That purchased kingdoms by your martial deeds,

Cast off your armor, put on scarlet robes,

Mount up your royal places of estate,

Environed with troops of noblemen,

And there make laws to rule your provinces.

Hang up your weapons on Alcides' post,

For Tamburlaine takes truce with all the world.

Thy first-betrothed Love, Arabia,

Shall we with honor, as beseems, entomb

With this great Turk and his fair Empress.

Then, after all these solemn Exequies,

We will our rites of marriage solemnize.



Finis ======================================================


from John Donne, "The First Anniversary" (1611), 191-218

Then as mankind, so is the world’s whole frame

Quite out of joint, almost created lame:

For, before God had made up all the rest,

Corruption entered, and depraved the best:

It seized the angels, and then first of all

The world did in her cradle take a fall,

And turned her brains, and took a general maim,

Wronging each joint of th' universal frame.

The noblest part, man, felt it first; and then

Both beasts and plants, curst in the curse of man,

So did the world from the first hour decay--

That evening was beginning of the day,

And now the springs and summers which we see,

Like sons of women after fifty be.

And new philosophy calls all in doubt,

The element of fire is quite put out;

The sun is lost, and th' earth, and no man’s wit

Can well direct him where to look for it.

And freely men confess that this world's spent,

When in the planets and the firmament

They seek so many new; they see that this

Is crumbled out again to his atomies.

'Tis all in pieces, all coherence gone;

All just supply, and all relation:

Prince, subject, father, son, are things forgot,

For every man alone thinks he hath got

To be a Phoenix, and that then can be

None of that kind, of which he is, but he.

This is the world’s condition now ...




Alexander Gardyne, "A Bad Man, or Atheist. [Character] 27." fr. Characters and Essayes (1625)

"A Bad Man, or Atheist. [Character] 27."

With GOD, with man, the world, himself, at war,

And what not, all he to damnation dare.

In nature like a dog; in wit, an ass,

And beast-like he doth in his passion pass.

Into his actions, which are always evil,

He is a corporal incarnate devil.

He maketh sin a mock; the Bible, a bauble,

GOD’s grace, an humor; and his truth, a fable:

And calls it cowardice for to keep peace,

For troubled times, he holds his happiness.

His castle he doth call his sword; and pride,

The horse whereon this hell-hound haunts to ride.

His purchase, pickery is; his language, lies;

His longing, lust; his punk, his paradise.

And with a whore, and a polluted punk,

His glory is to be deboshed and drunk.

He is the patron of impiety,

And deadly danger of society.

He virtue loathes, and loveth vanity,

And is the horror of humanity.

In bawdry and in barratry, h'abounds;

Till body, soul, and fame, he all confounds.

He boasts the good, and he upbraids them broadly,

And spites at all the gracious and godly.

His paunch is his prince; the tavern, his tower;

Mahound, his master; his mistress, a whore.

Oaths are his graces, and wounds are his badges:

Rebel, and rogue, and pick-purse, his pages.

He knows not GOD, nor goes where grace doth dwell;

But walks through the world, like a devil to Hell.

He treacherous is, and a truthless detractor,

The felon, the fool, the plend’s benefactor.

Untimely begotten, and backwardly borne:

Unworthily waxes, and liveth forlorn;

A monster to men, a fool to the wise;

In doubting, despair, and damned he dies.




W. Livingstone, "The Conflict in Conscience of Bessie Clarkson" (1628), ed. D.W. Foster


Bessie Clarkson (fl. 1621-1625)

"What availeth words when there is nothing within?"

&emdash; from The Conflict in Conscience, p. 17



For many years, Elizabeth "Bessie" Clarkson was a housewife in good standing in the parish church of Lanerk, Scotland. She attended the local worship service every Sunday with her husband and children, listened carefully, and meditated upon the lessons in Scripture. Bessie both trusted and obeyed the Word of God and cherished, as a key to salvation, the words of her minister, the Rev. William Livingston. Like most Scottish clergymen of the period, Rev. Livingston held to a vigorously Protestant view of the world. Week after week, he explained to his congregation that all humanity deserves eternal damnation in hell. By God’s grace (but through no merit of their own) a few sinners shall be saved from that terrible lake of fire in order to dwell eternally with their Maker in heaven. These chosen ones (including many first-century disciples of Jesus and, more recently, the followers of the reformer, John Calvin) were destined &emdash; even before the creation of the world &emdash; to receive God’s forgiveness for their sins. Those who are to be saved from everlasting punishment were selected according to God’s inscrutable and random grace: no man marked for salvation will be damned, however wicked he may seem to earthly eyes, nor can any woman marked for damnation be saved, no matter how virtuous. From Rev. Livingston’s Calvinistic point of view, one could hardly even presume to call oneself a "Christian," except by faith, for no one can be sure of salvation except insofar as one feels the grace of God within, this being an indication of the Lord’s forgiveness.

Taking Rev. Livingston at his word, Bessie Clerkson became worried, and finally convinced, that she was not among God’s elect &emdash; for she could not feel the inner assurance that God was said to give to those who are destined for grace. Bessie eventually confessed to her minister that she was beyond hope of salvation. This startling disclosure led to a series of interviews between Clerkson and Livingston in which the minister attempted to persuade Bessie of her salvation. Bessie was not easily persuaded. Soon, the elders of the local church, and indeed the entire com-munity, were enlisted in a campaign to help their beloved neighbor Bessie Clerkson to find divine assurance of her salvation.

Early on in these interviews, it occurred to Rev. Livingston that he had been chosen by God to record the spiritual conflict of this remarkable woman &emdash; even as Philip Stubbs, more than three decades earlier, had recorded the now-famous spiritual conflict of Katherine Stubbs. Rev. Livingston reports that he "found the words of this deare defunct of greater worth than that they should fall to the ground, and not to be gathered. So at last, as I visit[ed,] I wrote..." In recording his interviews with Bessie, Rev. Livingston looked forward to that blessed day when she could proclaim her ultimate victory over Satan, even as Katherine Stubbs had done from her deathbed so many years before.

While in the midst of this spiritual crisis, Bessie inadvertently found herself in a novel situation: almost overnight, she had become a local celebrity, the focus of an entire community. With that insight, her spiritual crisis deepened. Half astonished that she had been made "such a spectacle to the world by all others," Bessie at one point asked of her audience, "Heard you, read you, knew you ever one like me?" They had not.

As her audience grew larger and more attentive, Bessie became more insistent that her soul could not be redeemed. Her apostasy was in part a loss of faith in language. Unable to read or write, and unable to trust the reading of others, Bessie announced to the good people of Lanerk that her unbelief had drawn down "all the ill of the word," indeed, the ill of words themselves. She began speaking in hyperboles, borrowing from Rev. Livingston’s sermons whereby to illustrate her own irremediable damnation, and troping on his words with pun after pun, as if to expose the emptiness of words without referents. "[Y]ou book me," she observed, "and carries my name in many arts, but I cannot mend it."






The Conflict in Conscience of Bessie Clarkson


Minister. "Bessie, how are you?"

Bessie. "I find the wrath of an angry God, of a crabbèd God; and all the wrath that you preached, which come on me now. I find him daily coming against me."

Min. "Bessie, God will for good ends let his own dear children taste of his anger and wrestle with his wrath in this world, that they be not casten up in a dead sleep of fleshly security, and so perish in that great wrath that is to be revealed.... [T]he calm after the tempest may be the sweeter when it comes, and God’s glory the greater, and more manifest in that dealing&endash;in casting down and plunging in the hell, and heaving again to the heavens. And this sort of dealing drives atheism best out of the heart."

Bes. "I am not a devil to contemn God, and I cannot get faith to believe in God."

[5] Min. "It is a degree of faith to find the want of faith: it is a step to a greater growth."

When I was about to comfort her, she said, "Will ye speak to me as ye should &emdash; and say, ‘Thou wretched, sinful, and wicked woman!’ &emdash; and not tell me sweet words?"

I answered her, "No, Bessie, I must not measure you as ye do yourself by your own sense, but to teach you to hope above hope, and say with Job, ‘Lord, if thou will slay me I will trust in thee!’"

Bes. "O there was grace there, but there is a great dissension betwixt God and me. I am cast away! O, that this wakening had come twenty years since! &emdash; but now my time is lost. Many come to word and sacrament that knows not what they are doing. The morn when God’s people come to hear you, I cannot come. I am cast aside."

Min. "It is yet the acceptable time wherein the Lord may be found. He is yet on the throne of grace. Give no place to such suggestions of Satan and distrustful cogitations, arising of your corruption, and where ye cannot come to the Word…"

[10] When I pressed to persuade her that God in his own time would ease her and speak peace to her: "I cannot find that," said she.

Min. "Albeit ye feel it not, pray that the Lord would ‘Remember mercy in wrath,’ as [saith] the prophet"° (Habbakuk 3.2).

"Mercy in wrath!" said she. "O that is a strange word! O for absolution! O for a drop to cool my tormented soul! O that I could win a step nearer him!"

Min. "‘Blessed are they that hunger and thirst, for they shall be satisfied.’ It is the Lord who is our sufficiency, who works the will and the deed; it is he who wakens those desires in you, and he will work the work."

When I said the Lord dealt with her as he doth, to humble her: "To humble me!" said she. "And that I am &emdash; that cat that sits there is in better case nor I am. I shall beat down this carcase with bear-bread and water, but that doth not the turn."

[15] When her servant-woman said, "You were a good body," and began to commend her: "Cease," said she, "I am but a dog, and worse nor a dog. God’s wrath is on me, for my invisible sins, and if I were away, there would be none but Christians on the earth. I know Christ would go betwixt me and all my sins but one. I will not lain it, nor hide it: it is despair."

Min. "You are very sensible of your unbelief, and God will make you also sensible of a lively faith ere° all be done: ‘For a little while hath he forsaken you,’ as he saith (Isa. 54.7-10);° but with great compassion will he gather you. For a moment, in his anger, hath he hid his face from you, for a little season, but with everlasting mercy will he have compassion on you" (ibid., 10-11: "O thou afflicted and tossed with tempest!" etc.).

Bes. "Is it God that doth this to me? Can God spoil himself? I had faith and prayer! Now they are reft, couped and spoiled. Can God do it? Will God rob himself? Will he take away the matter of his own glory? I am ashamed to look any man in the face! I have lost the favor of God and man. O for a drop of grace! O for as much faith as a grain of mustard seed!"

Min. "Bessie, it is the Lord who deals with you, but not to rob your faith, which is his gift; and, once given, cometh never under revocation, … ."

And when I showed her that we walk by faith and not by feeling,° and must not measure ourselves, nor God’s goodness and love, by our sense, she answereth: "If faith do it not, I have done with it!"

[20] When one beside spake to her of God’s favor and presence, she said, "God! If I were as sure of it as you are! I have feet," said she, "hands, eyes, knees. I can do anything but one: I cannot believe. Well were the soul that ever it was ordained, that had faith! O, the great want of faith and love to God in these days! It was never less, and they will find out one day what it is to want it! One thing holds me from God: It is unbelief. God’s hand is sore on me. I would fain believe. Pray, pray, pray," said she, "&endash;ye that have faith."

…When I told her of God’s dealing with his own by diverse sorts of trouble in mind, body, and estate, she answereth, "No trouble, to the trouble in mind! I care not," said she, "for legs, arms, eyes, and all the rest, if I could get comfort in the blood of Jesus. I would not care [if]° my carcase lay lame, leper, sick, sore, so that my mind were pacified and at one with God. I care not for all Satan’s assaults if he were even standing there so that I could find God with me, and not against me."

"Wait on," said I. "The Lord will come."

She answereth, "He cometh daily &emdash; in wrath."

"But he will come in mercy," said I, "in his own time."

[25] She answereth, "Ever since this bred in me, you said that &emdash; but I can never find it. Would I willingly lose my soul if I could get faith? Well is the soul that ever it was ordained of God, that gets the comforts of the Holy Ghost."

Min. "Would you not, Bessie, be one of his?"

"Wally, Wally," said she. "To be one of his, to have one drop of grace from his finger-end! Who would not be one of his?" … . And after I had prayed for her, and pressed by some passages of scripture to comfort her, she said, "It is heavy to my heart to hear those sweet admonitions and prayers, and to get no part of them in my soul, and not to find him whom you seek." She sayeth again, "Whither shall I turn? Whither shall I go? What shall I do? Whither shall I run to seek God, to grip him? I cannot get grips fastened on him. Dear minister," said she, "tell me what sin hath procured this, that I am such a spectacle to the world by all others! Heard you, read you, knew you ever one like me? … I think if I ever had had faith I could not have lost it."

I answered, "You have not lost it. You desire &emdash; which God reputes for faith, and hath the same promise of satisfaction which faith hath made unto it."

She answereth, "I would be burnt quick to be sure of salvation. I live without faith. I live, and worship not God. I can find no comfort from God nor man. My life is miserable and comfortless… . I am the most miserable and wretched creature in the world, for my sins are hid to myself, and known to God!"

[30] … After I had prayed, she said, "If your prayers have a good ground and be according to God’s will, it’s the better: it will be the better heard."

"But that it is," said I. "I have a warrant to mourn with them that mourn, and to pity and pray for all that are in trouble, chiefly of my own flock."

"Your warrant were the better," said she, "if I were one of Christ’s flock. Happy were that soul that were one of those."

"But ye are one of these," said I.

"Ye have aye said that," said she, "but I can never find it."

[35] "You will find it," said I, "in the Lord’s time. Tarry his leisure &emdash; he will come with comfort."

"Tarry, must I?" said she. "Where shall I flee or flit! He cometh, ay, in due time &emdash; but he cometh to me in wrath!"

When I remembered her again of Job, who said, "if thou wilt slay me, I will believe in thee," she answereth, "Where will ye get the like of Job? No, not amongst you all that are ministers! Faithful was he, but I have none. No salvation for me."

Then, to try her, I said, "Will ye sell me your part of it, your title, right, and kindness? What shall I give you for it? If you have none, you may the better cheap quit it, and I will give you for it."

She answereth, "Why scorn ye me, a silly poor woman, and ye a wise man? I would buy and not sell! If I had ten thousand millions of gold &emdash; if I had a thousand worlds &emdash; if it were to be bought for money, I would give you all for it."

[40] Min. "I said not this to scorn you Bessie, but to draw out your desire by this demand &emdash; as it doth! &emdash; whereby it is easy to discern that ye have a sure title to that salvation, albeit it seem tint to your sense."

Bes. "I have no pleasure in anything, neither in husband nor child. I can do nothing but sin. My life is all sin. And it were to peel the bark of a kale castock and eat, I sin in the doing of it. Why live I then? I cannot die," said she; "I cannot live. They will bury a carcase [when]° they bury me, a carcase of sin: yea, sin itself."

When I sparred at her if she desired mercy, she answered, "O that his desire to me were as great as mine to him! O for a look of love!"

"Cry and pray," said I, "for the Lord hath said, ’seek and ye shall find. Knock and it shall be opened unto you.’ "

"My prayer," said she, "is repelled. My cry is not respected. It doth no good. I cannot have faith, except God give it. None hath any grace but from him. Happy are they that can bless him and call on his name."

[45] Min. "And happy are they, Bessie, that counts them happy, and would with all their hearts be of that number, as ye would.

Bes. "That stone in the wall hath as great appetite to any bodily comfort of meat, drink, clothes, or such like as I have, for I cannot get the comforts of the Holy Spirit."

When I prayed for that consolation to her, that solid comfort which is stronger nor tentation, tribulation, or death itself, she said, "Why wear ye your prayers on such a vile wretch? God hath counted the number, and gathered them &emdash; and I am one moe."

"I will not believe you," said I. "Bessie, albeit you believe the suggestions of Satan in your false heart, it is otherwise in the accompt of God. And I will pray for you, that it may be revealed to you &emdash; and pray ye with me."

And after I had prayed, she said, "Sayings will not do it! You do your part, but if God work not, and he give not, I cannot have comfort. Can any have grace till God give it? Can that stone believe? … There is no friend to that soul that is under God’s seed! I am under God’s seed: and my husband, children, nor no other are friends to me. Nay, not myself is a friend to myself! As for my corpse, I care not [if] it were casten up to the heaven and kept on iron graps, so my soul had peace."

[50] Min. "Bessie, many hath peace with themselves that hath none with God, as secure sinners sleeping in sin, and crying ‘peace.’ And some hath peace with God that hath none with themselves. And as many have not the grace and faith which they think they have, so some have the grace and faith which they think they have not."

Bes. "I care not my own damnation, if God be glorified. What reck of me if he get his own glory?"

Min. "Bessie, assure yourself these are not the wishes and words of a castaway. And God’s glory be dear to you, you and your salvation are dear to him."

When I sparred if she took meat to refresh her body, she answered, "No, all craves that, both faithful and unfaithful &emdash; albeit the unfaithful be unworthy of it, for they cannot glorify that God who gives it."

When I desired her to pray, she answered, "I have no warrant, and hath many lets."

[55] "Will you say," said I, "‘God, be merciful to me for Jesus’ sake’?"

She said, "God be merciful to me for thy own sake &emdash; for Christ hath not redeemed all."

"Bessie," said I, "ye must seek in the name of Jesus, whom the Father hath sealed, in whom alone he is reconciled with us, and for whose sake he giveth grace and mercy. Lay your compt you will never come to the Father but by him… . Bessie, do ye not pray when ye are alone?"

She answered, "I will not commend myself." When one parting with her said, "God be with you, Bessie," she answered, "God forbid he were with you as he is with me! O there is a great change coming, a fearful alteration, a cup of wrath coming! We are conceived and born in sin, and what shall be the end of sin? … I know if the devil were chained there beside me, he cannot without God’s permission hurt an hair of mine head; but God being angry with me, he turns him louse and all his instruments against me."

Min. "Bessie, the Lord loosed him upon Job &emdash; but so many links only, that he won to his goods, children, body, but not to his life, far less to his soul. The Lord will not give the soul of his turtle to the beast. The good shepherd hath you in his hand, and none shall pluck you out of it, whatever be your fears, doubtings, or apprehensions under your trial and present desertion."

[60] When some standing by spake to her, she says, "Take all that to yourself, that ye say to me. Ye have no borrows, no assurance, more nor I &emdash; and knows not but ye may come in the like case!"

… I coming to her says, "Bessie, have ye gotten any comfort yet?"

She answered, When God sends it, I will get it."

"But seek ye it not?" said I.

She answereth, "What availeth words when there is nothing within?"

[65] When I was blessing the Lord, she doubled the word, and said, "Blessed be he, blessed be he! O that I could glorify him! O that I could get grips fastened on him!"

"I see, Bessie," said I, "albeit you pray not, yet you praise and bless God."

"I cannot," said she, "bless him. He is blessed in himself; and I never heard him blasphemed, but I was grieved at it. I had rather have heard the evil spirit named ten times nor him once blasphemed. Fie on them that cannot bless, and yet will blaspheme him."

When I earnestly prayed for her, she said, "Why take ye pains on such a vile wretched creature?"

"I would, Bessie," said I, "have God glorifying himself, in saving a lost soul, and magnifying his mercy on you who is miserable."

[70] "Ay," said she, "that is right good! God grant it, God grant it. O, there is little faith in the earth! &emdash; and love is grown cold… . I had the will of prayer, but who hath the spirit of prayer? God knows, well is the soul that is in Christ &emdash; but they that are founded on that old father Adam, fearful is their estate."

...When I was posing her with some questions about her inward estate, she said, "Why examine ye me so sore? Ye use a sharp examination, and yet ye will not be my judge."

"Bessie," said I, "I would know your constitution, that I may the better know how to deal with you! I am about to instruct and comfort you, to use the means and beg a blessing from God upon them &emdash; and I have seen, when ye were better content, that I conferred with you and prayed for you."

She answered, "It is a token that I get small comfort by them … . It were," said she, "a great comfort to me if I were persuaded of it; but I cannot be quit of infidelity and despair. Well is the soul that ever it came in the world, that can be freed of unbelief, and gets grace to believe. Lord, banish the devil, and I shall believe!"

And some gentlemen and others being with me, she directs her speech to them, saying, "Ye gentlemen and simple and all, let my casting-back be your forwardcoming. Well are ye that can believe and pray, but I have none. I have no wit in the world, either to bless God or benefit myself. Many thousands get grace and faith, and I would as fain have it as any of them."

[75] Min. "Bessie, God measureth his own by their unfeigned desire, and what you would be in an hearty affection, that you are in the accompt of God, and that secret seed of grace &emdash; which in this exercise, under the ashes of your corruption, lieth hidden and dead, as it were, like seed in the ground, or hot coals under ashes &emdash; shall hereafter in the mercy of God bud and break forth: for it may be discerned already in these divine desires, in your estimation of the blessedness of those that believe and affection to be in that number. …Bessie, is there any comfort come yet?"

She answereth, "If it were come, it would kith, it would bud forth. Oft and many a time have you said comfort was coming, but I cannot find it. Alas! I am an outlaw to God, I weep in the night when I should sleep, I mourn when others are merry. I am bound when they are free. I have a longsome lair, a fearful and sore lair here. When others go up and down, to and fro, I am a wonder to the world, and I am worthy to be so."

Min. "… We have, Bessie, brought you a drink of wine to comfort your spirit."

"Wine!" said she. "The worst water in the well is over-good for me. I will have no wine. Why should I have the benefit when it is neither blessed to me, neither can I bless him that gives it? I care not for outward bodily comforts, since I cannot get the inward and spiritual." °

Min. "… But say, ‘Jesus, intercede for me!"

[80] "I will not blaspheme him," said she, "nor be a liar. I am a liar great enough already, for to me to speak the words with my mouth without faith in my heart, what is that but to take his name in vain?"

Min. "Shall I pray for you, Bessie?"

"What good," said she, "can I get by your prayers, except I had a heart to pray for myself? I have many things to seek, if I could get faith to believe, and relief to my spirit, and what matter of saws then? When I see that I saw not, then shall I do that I did not. These three year I had not a faithful desire; indeed, I thought it came all from your own mouth, all the in-lack of my prayers."

Min. "Howso, Bessie? What heard you me say?"

"That prayers availed not," said she.

[85] Min. "I have oft complained of our prayers, as I had just cause, and that God might be angry against them (Psal. 81:9) and might repel them if he dealt in justice with us &emdash; but this was not to make us leave off prayers, but to repent and pray more fervently! But the time hath been when you delighted in prayer," said I.

She answered, "I found comfort then in prayer. I had no comfort but in prayer. I had many calamities, and whom-to should I seek but to God? And oft went I to him with a grieved heart. Had one God, what reck of all the world! What reck who be against them if he be with them? But if a soul be under God’s seed, what availeth friends, kin, jewels, and all the world? Oh and alas for ever, that I should want that blessing of his favor, which he bestows on so many! Alas, I have gotten the poor man’s answer: you will not be served."

Min. "Take not that answer, Bessie°… . I know God in his own time will give you comfort."

Bessie. "The knowledge is yours," said she, "but the sorrow is mine. Well is the soul that getteth the Holy Spirit, to seek grace and mercy at his hands. Well is the soul that getteth the benefit and the blessing with it&endash;but fie on them that counts° the ‘fore’ afore the glory, the fore of the earth before the glory of heaven. It is no ‘fore’ to them but a fearful curse. Alas, I have long to live, and a wretched life. I weary up, and I weary down. Sighs help not, sobs help not, groans help not, and prayer is faint. It is a fearful calamity, to have woe here and woe hereafter, to have hell here and hell hereafter forever. The matter is the less, they that gets a light life, a lightsome life, that they get woe hereafter&endash;and a lightsome life is the faith that many hath &emdash; but it is most woeful and doleful, to have woe here, and woe hereafter forever. I will tell you my testament: I have been in hell these many years, and I look never for another heaven. O wretch that I am! Alas for ever! There’s° a great fly coming, a fearful cup, and I will get my share of it&endash;and it is nothing I feel here, to that that I fear forever."

Min. "Bessie, the Lord corrects you here, that you perish not with the world for ever. He woundeth and he will heal again, albeit you can neither think it nor feel it, nor hope for it. Yet in his name I will assure you in his own time he will ease you and speak peace to you."

[90] "I cannot," said she, "find you a good speyman."

Min. "Yet if ever, Bessie, I spake truth, you will find it! I promise you, in the name of the Lord."

She answered, "The Lord’s lieutenant will be loath to lie. Well is his lieutenant."

"Whom call you," said I, "his lieutenant?"

"You," said she, "and such as you. Ye are ‘tenants&endash;and not masters. …What reck of words," said she, "since I cannot get mends to my inward parts?"

[95] "I am sure," said I, "if you should go to hell, Bessie, you would go to hell with love to God."

She answered, "What reck of my love to him, since he hath none to me? If he had love to me, all were well."

Min. "But he loves you, Bessie, before you love him&endash;for your love is the effect of his, and they whom he loveth can never perish."

"His own," said she, "shall never perish."

Min. "But you are one of those, Bessie, and hath right to his promise."

[100] She answered, "How shall I believe you who believeth not him who hath all power and is truth itself? I would fain seek God, but I feel many stops and lets, and my prayers are dung back. If any had had four and twenty hours, yea, a touch of that, under which I have lain these three years, they would think their case fearful, and would give a world (if they had it) for a blink of his reconciled face. But my calamity will make others run and cry for mercy. My grief and displeasure is your joy and gladness."

Min. "How so, Bessie? We take no pleasure in your grief!"

She answered, "The Christian that is sealed, seeing me, will fly to mercy like a bird &endash;but I want wings."

After I had prayed for her, she says, "If God would give me a heart to give you thanks for your good prayer, I would give it; and if I had a motion in the right way of salvation, O as I should run and fly to him like a bird!"

"God be blessed!" said I. "I see some forerunning tokens of his coming with comfort."

[105] She answered, "They are but sober and small tokens."

"Your words," said I, "smell sometimes of the spirit of grace and faith, and sometimes of the flesh, infidelity, and infirmity &emdash; for the prayers of the saints are oft like a fire, which at the first hath smoke and reek, without light or heat, but breaketh out ere all be done in a clear light and comfortable heat, as may be seen in sundry of David’s psalms; where he beginneth with heavy plaints, and endeth in heavenly praises and prayers ere all be done."

At another time I sparred if any comfort was yet come. She answered, dolor was come, but no comfort: "You are troubled with me in pulpit, and out of pulpit, and in coming unto me day after day. Will you make you quit of this cumber?"

"Bessie," said I, "I think no cumber of it. "It is the duty of my calling, and would God you got comfort by it! But how shall I free myself of it?"

She answered, "Cause&endash;cut me off!"

[110] "And wherefore," said I, "would you have me, or any, taking your blood on us, and sin on our souls?"

"Nay, no sin," said she, "for there is just cause."

"What cause?" said I. "What have you done deserving death?"

"Is not unbelief," said she, "the greatest sin in the world? And I am guilty of it!"

"We have," said I, "no warrant for that… . You are a sufferer in this against your will. You are spiritually oppressed, and groans to God under the bondage."

[115] Then she uttereth these words: "O that I could get that fountain of faith &emdash; astern of it! O as grace would grow! O for a blessed blink of the favorable face of the Father of the faithful! O to win to that holy fountain! I know he is ready to give, if I were ready to receive and seek. Glory pertaineth to him, and glorified shall he be."

Min. "I pray you, Bessie, seek on, and glorify him by encalling on his name. Pray him in Jesus’ name to be merciful to you and help your unbelief."

"I can," said she, "name Jesus, but he will not be pleased with words, except I had a warrant of faith in my heart to seek by. "

Min. "Yet will you say the words? I think there is none but you, but they will do this much for me."

"Many speaks them," said she, "with little faith. But I dare not, that I draw not down his punishments." °

[120] Min. "…But continue, and let me hear you and be a witness to it. Do this for my pleasure."

"It were my own pleasure and good," said she, "if I could do it rightly &emdash; it were my own weal &emdash; but God hath a work to work with me, that you never saw the like of it.° … O that I could welcome his send, how bitter soever, and reverence the sender! What recks of me, if he get his own glory? But alas, I have many wants, many woes, many wans, wan-grace, wan-chance, no weals. I am sorely shaken. A sore shake of wrath is come on my soul."

Min. "He shakes you, Bessie, to make you sure."

"If it were so," said she, "I would seek to him." °

"… Blessed be God for it!" said I. "Seek on, and I will pledge my soul for yours that you shall be safe."

[125] "Seek must I," said she, "and seek shall I, though he should ding me back to the bottom of the sea. And charge the whole family that they do the like, as you do me &emdash; for come weal, come woe, they will get a share of it."

"I will," said I, "for they have to concur with you."

The next time that I visited her, and demanded how she did, she answered, "The life of the body is not like to go out, and comfort is not like to come into the soul."

"Yet wait, Bessie, in hope, and give not over. It will come."

"I know," said she, "your tales and tidings, but cannot find them true. Alas that ever I came in the world! I am not booked, I am not baptized, I am not written in the book of life, I am not baptized with the right baptism, I cannot find the fruit of it."

[130] "Bessie," said I, "I am sorry that I find you not as I left you. Continued you not calling on God in Christ’s name, as you promised?"

She answered, "I was the worse of the words that you caused me to say! I am ever since a thousandfold more troubled than before."

"Bessie, the words have not the wit. It’s Satan that rageth before he be cast out..., Wherefore hearken not, Bessie, to Satan’s suggestions, that your heart be not bound up, that you pray not."

"That is," said she" "a true tale! Satan binds up my heart!"

"But pray," said I, "against it. Say the Lord’s prayer."

[135] "I can," said she, "say the words, but I have no warrant to pray it. I cannot call him ‘Father.’ He is the father of the faithful alone, but that privilege of children is not given me. I cannot find a warrant that I am his. Alas, that ever I was the cursed ground whereon the ill seed was sown… . I am not," said she, "worthy that he should give me any grace or mercy… . I cannot," said she, "speak the word can please you&endash;no, not them that came out of my bowels. How then can it please the Lord? Mine own mind and Satan lets me not believe, and my unbelief draweth down all the ill of the word. And you book me, and carries my name in many arts, but I cannot mend it."

Min. "Bessie, nothing to your prejudice carry I your name&endash;for why should not the saints know of your estate?"

Bes. "I pray you, tell me," said she, "how the people think of me, whether are they blithe or woe?"

Min. "I will assure you, Bessie, God’s people mourns with you, and bears a part of your burthen. As for myself I have five children sick of the fever. God, who knows my heart, is my witness that I would not so fain have them raised up in their bodies, as you comforted in spirit."

Bes. "You know your reward," said she.

[140] Min. "I look not to that. I seek mercy."

Bes. "But, said she, if I had spiritual grace and could, I would give you a reward. Will ever that day dawn that God will draw me, a wandering sheep, home to himself?"

Min. "Bessie, in God’s mercy I am assured of it."

Bes. "The God," said she, "who made heaven and earth, who hath all power, grant it in mercy. Well is them forever finds his favor, but woe is them that feels his seed! Had I hope, it would mitigate my sorrow… . Happy," said she, "are they who suffer for Christ’s sake, for righteousness’ sake. They will be comforted, now and then. But they that suffer for sin, without sense of his favor, comfortless is their condition. Will one go through the earth, up and down, to and fro&endash;where will they find a wearied wight, till they come to me? And you that hear me, with the pith of prayer that I can, I ask of God that ye never know the way that I am in. It is lack of faith that is my loss. Want of faith is my wrack. I lie under fearful weights, and wanteth faith to get the remission of them. I am fallen without° a resurrection. My judge is my party: I have no claim to his mercy. I have no ground of faith to fasten grips on him. I find not a spark of light, and I find no fruit of your prayers, albeit I hear them. No Christian should come near me… . Shall I seek hot water under cold ice? I have not come in the precise and blessed hour of grace. I am come behind &emdash; and where[fore] will you will me to pray? Wherefore serves the prayer that glorifieth not God?"

Min. "Bessie, it is yet the acceptable time, and he who is found of them that seek him not will much more reveal himself to them who seeketh. And as for prayer, by it you greatly glorify God… . and we have not only his command to pray, but also his promise to be heard."

[145] Bes. "Then all break his command, and chiefly I, and so will be seen on the whole swack."

After this, when I had read some comfortable places to her and prayed for her, she cried out and doubled it oft: "O blessed are they that have that spirit of prayer! O blessed are they!"

(1624/5 pub. 1631)



Rev. Livingston, as Lanerk’s representative to the provincial assembly, had to leave the village for a trip to Glasgow in April 1625. Bessie was by now a local celebrity, but "greatly extenuate and worn &emdash; what by heavy sickness on her body, what by this longsome and fearful exercise in her soul" (p. 41). Prior to his departure, Rev. Livingston assured his local flock that God’s comfort would yet kith and bud forth to Bessie Clerkson.

In the minister’s absence, Bessie’s condition worsened. A number of the church elders gathered about her bedside, to stand watch over Bessie’s soul and to await the denouement of her "conflict in conscience." They knew pretty much what to expect by the example of Katherine Stubbes, the now-famous woman who from her deathbed had fought a battle of words with the devil, and won. The "Most Wonderful Conflict" of Katherine Stubbes, recorded by Rev. Philip Stubbes and published in his Crystal Glass for Christian Women (1591) had become famous throughout the British Isles. Rev. Stubbes’s tract had provided the inspiration and model for Rev. Livingston in recording the "Conflict" of Bessie Clerkson.

Unfortunately, when Rev. Livingston returned from Glasgow, he was told that Bessie Clerkson was dead. Sadly, there had been no vocal sparring betwixt the devil and her soul. Her three-and-a-half year struggle with Satan had ended quietly. Rev. Livingston set aside his manuscript, deciding that "the words of this dear defunct" should not, after all, be "put out to the view of the world" as he had originally intended.

Five years later, however, an enterprising soul obtained a copy of Rev. Livingston’s interviews with Bessie Clerkson and published them. Bessie was thus "booked" by an Edinburgh stationer without Livingston’s knowledge or consent &emdash; and from a corrupt copytext in which many of Bessie’s speeches were assigned to Rev. Livingston, and vice versa. This was an unforeseen embarrassment. It seemed as if Bessie’s ghost had returned to taunt Rev. Livingston with her skeptical appraisal of the truth-value of words. Livingston therefore prepared a corrected text for the stationer, which was published in 1632 as The Conflict in Conscience of a Dear Christian (Edinburgh, 1632). Livingston, with an earnest wish "that you who reads it may make a profitable use of it," added a postcript to explain the final circumstances of her end, lest Bessie’s silent death be altogether misunderstood:


[D]eath on a suddainty dealt with her heart, that her words and speech failed her. But in presence of diverse witness, her hands and eyes were heaved to the heavens. And so, giving that sign of victory, she rendered her spirit. And although it pleased not our gracious God (who in his great wisdom worketh after diverse sorts with his own) to let us hear, out of her own mouth, of the glorious victory and unspeakable joys that he had given her inwardly in her soul, yet I am sure there is none that is illuminate from above and taught to discern spiritually that will any way doubt of her blessed deliverance (albeit no outward sign had been seen). Yea, it was a wonderful mercy that God so long, under such horrors, held her own hand out of her self. Which at last with her eyes she lifted up to the heavens, when her speech could not express her inward feeling of an unspeakable joy and victorious faith. (pp. 41-2, sig B11r-v).




Other texts of interest

Henry Smith, Gods Arrow against Atheists (1609) STC 22668

John Dove, A confutation of atheisme (1605), STC 7078.

Cyril Tourneur, The Atheist's Tragedie: or The Honest Man's Reuenge. (1611), STC 24146.