The First Part Of Tamburlaine The Great - Scene I.

Enter the GOVERNOR OF DAMASCUS<241> 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 wilful overthrow, And make us desperate of our threaten'd lives. We see his tents have now been altered With terrors to the last and cruel'st hue; His coal-black colours, every where advanc'd, 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<242> Will never be dispens'd with till our deaths. Therefore, for these our harmless virgins' sakes,<243> Whose honours and whose lives rely on him, Let us have hope that their unspotted prayers, Their blubber'd<244> cheeks, and hearty humble moans, Will melt his fury into some remorse, And use us like a loving conqueror.<245>

FIRST VIRGIN. If humble suite or imprecations (Utter'd 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<246> of our securities Whiles 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<247> as we.

GOVERNOR. Well, lovely virgins, think our country's care, Our love of honour, loath to be enthrall'd To foreign powers and rough imperious yokes, Would not with too much cowardice or<248> fear, Before all hope of rescue were denied, Submit yourselves and us to servitude. Therefore, in that your safeties and our own, Your honours, liberties, and lives were weigh'd In equal care and balance with our own, Endure as we the malice of our stars, The wrath of Tamburlaine and power<249> of wars; Or be the means the overweighing heavens Have kept to qualify these hot extremes, And bring us pardon in your cheerful looks.

SECOND VIRGIN. Then here, before the Majesty of Heaven And holy patrons of Aegyptia, 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 all except the VIRGINS.]

Enter TAMBURLAINE, all in black and very melancholy, TECHELLES, THERIDAMAS, USUMCASANE, with others.

TAMBURLAINE. What, are the turtles fray'd out of their nests? Alas, poor fools, must you be first shall feel The sworn destruction of Damascus? They knew<250> 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, Reflexed<251> them on their<252> disdainful eyes, As<253> now when fury and incensed hate Flings slaughtering terror from my coal-black tents,<254> And tells for truth submission<255> comes too late?

FIRST VIRGIN. Most happy king and emperor of the earth, Image of honour and nobility, For whom the powers divine have made the world, And on whose throne the holy Graces sit; In whose sweet person is compris'd the sum Of Nature's skill and heavenly majesty; Pity our plights! O, pity poor Damascus! Pity old age, within whose silver hairs Honour and reverence evermore have reign'd! Pity the marriage-bed, where many a lord, In prime and glory of his loving joy, Embraceth now with tears of ruth and<256> blood The jealous body of his fearful wife, Whose cheeks and hearts, so punish'd with conceit,<257> 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 wither'd to the death, As well for grief our ruthless governor Hath<258> thus refus'd the mercy of thy hand, (Whose sceptre angels kiss and Furies dread,) As for their liberties, their loves, or lives! O, then, for these, and such as we ourselves, For us, for infants, and for all our bloods, That never nourish'd<259> 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 wish'd,<260> as worthy subjects, happy means To be investers of thy royal brows Even with the true Egyptian diadem!

TAMBURLAINE. Virgins, in vain you labour to prevent That which mine honour swears shall be perform'd. Behold my sword; what see you at the point?

FIRST VIRGIN. Nothing but fear and fatal steel, my lord.

TAMBURLAINE. Your fearful minds are thick and misty, then, For there sits Death; there sits imperious<261> Death, Keeping his circuit by the slicing edge. But I am pleas'd 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 shew my servant Death, Sitting in scarlet on their armed spears.

VIRGINS. O, pity us!

TAMBURLAINE. Away with them, I say, and shew them Death! [The VIRGINS are taken out by TECHELLES and others.] 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 refus'd the offer of their lives, And know my customs are as peremptory As wrathful planets, death, or destiny. Re-enter TECHELLES. What, have your horsemen shown the virgins Death?

TECHELLES. They have, my lord, and on Damascus' walls Have hoisted up their slaughter'd carcasses.

TAMBURLAINE. 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. [Exeunt all except TAMBURLAINE.] Ah, fair Zenocrate!--divine Zenocrate! Fair is too foul an epithet for thee,-- That in thy passion<262> for thy country's love, And fear to see thy kingly father's harm, With hair dishevell'd 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<263> 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,<264> 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 armours fight<265> 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<266> 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 inspir'd their hearts, Their minds, and muses on admired themes; If all the heavenly quintessence they still<267> 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 combin'd 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 harbour thoughts effeminate and faint! Save only that in beauty's just applause, With whose instinct the soul of man is touch'd; And every warrior that is rapt with love Of fame, of valour, and of victory, Must needs have beauty beat on his conceits: I thus conceiving,<268> and subduing both, That which hath stoop'd the chiefest of the gods, Even from the fiery-spangled veil of heaven, To feel the lovely warmth of shepherds' flames, And mask in cottages of strowed reeds, 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 ATTENDANTS. Hath Bajazeth been fed to-day?

ATTEND.<269> Ay, my lord.

TAMBURLAINE. Bring him forth; and let us know if the town be ransacked. [Exeunt ATTENDANTS.]


TECHELLES. The town is ours, my lord, and fresh supply Of conquest and of spoil is offer'd us.

TAMBURLAINE. That's well, Techelles. What's the news?

TECHELLES. The Soldan and the Arabian king together March on us with<270> such eager violence As if there were no way but one with us.<271>

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

ATTENDANTS bring in BAJAZETH in his cage, followed by ZABINA. Exeunt ATTENDANTS.

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.

TAMBURLAINE. 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 all except BAJAZETH and ZABINA.]

BAJAZETH. Go, never to 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 fire-brands Enforce thee run upon the baneful pikes! Vollies of shot pierce through thy charmed skin, And every bullet dipt in poison'd 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<272> 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<273> 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 stay,<274> Griping our bowels with retorqued<275> 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<276> 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!<277> 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<278> Than noisome parbreak<279> 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 honour, and my name Thrust under yoke and thraldom of a thief, Why feed ye still on day's accursed beams, And sink not quite into my tortur'd soul? You see my wife, my queen, and emperess, Brought up and propped by the hand of Fame, Queen of fifteen contributory queens, Now thrown to rooms of black abjection,<280> Smeared with blots of basest drudgery, And villainess<281> to shame, disdain, and misery. Accursed Bajazeth, whose words of ruth,<282> That would with pity cheer Zabina's heart, And make our souls resolve<283> in ceaseless tears, Sharp hunger bites upon and gripes the root From whence the issues 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 shorten'd sequel of my life, I may pour forth my soul into thine arms With words of love, whose moaning intercourse Hath hitherto been stay'd with wrath and hate Of our expressless bann'd<284> 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. [Exit.]

BAJAZETH. Now, Bajazeth, abridge thy baneful days, And beat the<285> brains out of thy conquer'd head, Since other means are all forbidden me, That may be ministers of my decay. O highest lamp of ever-living<286> 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, wrapt in pitchy clouds, Smother the earth with never-fading mists, And let her horses from their nostrils breathe Rebellious winds and dreadful thunder-claps, That in this terror Tamburlaine may live, And my pin'd soul, resolv'd in liquid air, May still excruciate his tormented thoughts! Then let the stony dart of senseless cold Pierce through the centre of my wither'd heart, And make a passage for my loathed life! [He brains himself against the cage.]

Re-enter ZABINA.

ZABINA. What do mine eyes behold? my husband dead! His skull all riven in twain! his brains dash'd 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<287> 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.<288>--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,<289> hell!--Make ready my coach,<290> my chair, my jewels.--I come, I come, I come!<291> [She runs against the cage, and brains herself.]


ZENOCRATE. Wretched Zenocrate! that liv'st to see Damascus' walls dy'd with Egyptians'<292> blood, Thy father's subjects and thy countrymen; The<293> streets strow'd with dissever'd joints of men, And wounded bodies gasping yet for life; But most accurs'd, 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 stamp'd on others with their thundering hoofs, When all their riders charg'd 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 enforc'd, And ruthless cruelty of Tamburlaine!

ZENOCRATE. Earth, cast up fountains from thy<294> entrails, And wet thy cheeks for their untimely deaths; Shake with their weight in sign of fear and grief! Blush, heaven, that gave them honour 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 emperess! Ah, Tamburlaine my love, sweet Tamburlaine, That fight'st for sceptres and for slippery crowns, Behold the Turk and his great emperess! 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,<295> In fear and feeling of the like distress Behold the Turk and his great emperess! Ah, mighty Jove and holy Mahomet, Pardon my love! O, pardon his contempt Of earthly fortune and respect of pity; And let not conquest, ruthlessly pursu'd, Be equally against his life incens'd In this great Turk and hapless emperess! And pardon me that was not mov'd with ruth To see them live so long in misery!-- Ah, what may chance to thee, Zenocrate?

ANIPPE. Madam, content yourself, and be resolv'd 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 honour to adorn your head.


ZENOCRATE. What other heavy news now brings Philemus?

PHILEMUS. Madam, your father, and the Arabian king, The first affecter of your excellence, Come<296> now, as Turnus 'gainst Aeneas did, Armed<297> with lance into the Aegyptian fields, Ready for battle 'gainst my lord the king.

ZENOCRATE. Now shame and duty, love and fear present A thousand sorrows to my martyr'd soul. Whom should I wish the fatal victory, When my poor pleasures are divided thus, And rack'd 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 enrich'd Aeneas' love, So, for a final<298> 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 honour to my hope; Then, as the powers divine have pre-ordain'd, With happy safety of my father's life Send like defence of fair Arabia [They sound to the battle within; and TAMBURLAINE enjoys the victory: after which, the KING OF ARABIA<299> enters wounded.]

KING OF ARABIA. 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<300> 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<301> for thee, As much as thy fair body is for me!

KING OF ARABIA. 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 licence to my tongue, To make discourse of some sweet accidents Have chanc'd thy merits in this worthless bondage, And that I might be privy to the state Of thy deserv'd 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, Depriv'd of care, my heart with comfort dies, Since thy desired hand shall close mine eyes. [Dies.]


TAMBURLAINE. Come, happy father of Zenocrate, A title higher than thy Soldan's name. Though my right hand have<302> thus enthralled thee, Thy princely daughter here shall set thee free; She that hath calm'd the fury of my sword, Which had ere this been bath'd in streams of blood As vast and deep as Euphrates<303> 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!

SOLDAN. Well met, my only dear Zenocrate, Though with the loss of Egypt and my crown!

TAMBURLAINE. '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 confirm'd 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<304> pull him from his throne: Where'er I come the Fatal Sisters sweat,<305> 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 arriv'd with my triumphant host, Have swelling clouds, drawn from wide-gaping<306> wounds, Been oft resolv'd<307> in bloody purple showers, A meteor that might terrify the earth, And make it quake at every drop it drinks: Millions<308> of souls sit on the banks of Styx, Waiting the back-return of Charon's boat; Hell and Elysium<309> 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 despatch'd 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 honour, that consists in shedding blood When men presume to manage arms with him.

SOLDAN. Mighty hath God and Mahomet made thy hand, Renowmed<310> Tamburlaine, to whom all kings Of force must yield their crowns and emperies; And I am pleas'd with this my overthrow, If, as beseems a person of thy state, Thou hast with honour us'd Zenocrate.

TAMBURLAINE. Her state and person want no pomp, you see; And for all blot of foul inchastity, I record<311> heaven, her heavenly self is clear: Then let me find no further time<312> to grace Her princely temples with the Persian crown; But here these kings that on my fortunes wait, And have been crown'd for proved worthiness Even by this hand that shall establish them, Shall now, adjoining all their hands with mine, Invest her here the<313> Queen of Persia What saith the noble Soldan, and Zenocrate?

SOLDAN. I yield with thanks and protestations Of endless honour to thee for her love.

TAMBURLAINE. Then doubt I not<314> but fair Zenocrate Will soon consent to satisfy us both.

ZENOCRATE. Else<315> should I much forget myself, my lord.

THERIDAMAS. Then let us set the crown upon her head, That long hath linger'd 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.<316>

TAMBURLAINE. 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 subdu'd. As Juno, when the giants were suppress'd, 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 the[e], sweet Zenocrate, Egyptians, Moors, and men of Asia, From Barbary unto the Western India, 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 purchas'd kingdoms by your martial deeds, Cast off your armour, 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[s]; For Tamburlaine takes truce with all the world.-- Thy first-betrothed love, Arabia, Shall we with honour, as beseems,<317> entomb With this great Turk and his fair emperess. Then, after all these solemn exequies, We will our rites<318> of marriage solemnize. [Exeunt.]