Scene I.

Enter the GOVERNOR OF BABYLON, MAXIMUS, and others, upon the walls.

What saith Maximus?

My lord, the breach the enemy hath made
Gives such assurance of our overthrow,
That little hope is left to save our lives,
Or hold our city from the conqueror's hands.
Then hang out flags, my lord, of humble truce,
And satisfy the people's general prayers,
That Tamburlaine's intolerable wrath
May be suppress'd by our submission.

Villain, respect'st thou more thy slavish life
Than honour of thy country or thy name?
Is not my life and state as dear to me,
The city and my native country's weal,
As any thing of price with thy conceit?
Have we not hope, for all our batter'd walls,
To live secure and keep his forces out,
When this our famous lake of Limnasphaltis
Makes walls a-fresh with every thing that falls
Into the liquid substance of his stream,
More strong than are the gates of death or hell?
What faintness should dismay our courages,
When we are thus defenc'd against our foe,
And have no terror but his threatening looks?

Enter, above, a CITIZEN, who kneels to the GOVERNOR.

My lord, if ever you did deed of ruth,
And now will work a refuge to our lives,
Offer submission, hang up flags of truce,
That Tamburlaine may pity our distress,
And use us like a loving conqueror.
Though this be held his last day's dreadful siege,
Wherein he spareth neither man nor child,
Yet are there Christians of Georgia here,
Whose state he ever pitied and reliev'd,
Will get his pardon, if your grace would send.

How is my soul environed!
And this eterniz'd city Babylon
Fill'd with a pack of faint-heart fugitives
That thus entreat their shame and servitude!

Enter, above, a SECOND CITIZEN.

My lord, if ever you will win our hearts,
Yield up the town, and save our wives and children;
For I will cast myself from off these walls,
Or die some death of quickest violence,
Before I bide the wrath of Tamburlaine.

Villains, cowards, traitors to our state!
Fall to the earth, and pierce the pit of hell,
That legions of tormenting spirits may vex
Your slavish bosoms with continual pains!
I care not, nor the town will never yield
As long as any life is in my breast.


Thou desperate governor of Babylon,
To save thy life, and us a little labour,
Yield speedily the city to our hands,
Or else be sure thou shalt be forc'd with pains
More exquisite than ever traitor felt.

Tyrant, I turn the traitor in thy throat,
And will defend it in despite of thee.--
Call up the soldiers to defend these walls.

Yield, foolish governor; we offer more
Than ever yet we did to such proud slaves
As durst resist us till our third day's siege.
Thou seest us prest to give the last assault,
And that shall bide no more regard of parle.

Assault and spare not; we will never yield.

[Alarms: and they scale the walls.]

Enter TAMBURLAINE, drawn in his chariot (as before) by the KINGS OF TREBIZON and SORIA; AMYRAS, CELEBINUS, USUMCASANE; ORCANES king of Natolia, and the KING OF JERUSALEM, led by SOLDIERS; and others.

The stately buildings of fair Babylon,
Whose lofty pillars, higher than the clouds,
Were wont to guide the seaman in the deep,
Being carried thither by the cannon's force,
Now fill the mouth of Limnasphaltis' lake,
And make a bridge unto the batter'd walls.
Where Belus, Ninus, and great Alexander
Have rode in triumph, triumphs Tamburlaine,
Whose chariot-wheels have burst th' Assyrians' bones,
Drawn with these kings on heaps of carcasses.
Now in the place, where fair Semiramis,
Courted by kings and peers of Asia,
Hath trod the measures, do my soldiers march;
And in the streets, where brave Assyrian dames
Have rid in pomp like rich Saturnia,
With furious words and frowning visages
My horsemen brandish their unruly blades.


Who have ye there, my lords?

The sturdy governor of Babylon,
That made us all the labour for the town,
And us'd such slender reckoning of your majesty.

Go, bind the villain; he shall hang in chains
Upon the ruins of this conquer'd town.--
Sirrah, the view of our vermilion tents
(Which threaten'd more than if the region
Next underneath the element of fire
Were full of comets and of blazing stars,
Whose flaming trains should reach down to the earth)
Could not affright you; no, nor I myself,
The wrathful messenger of mighty Jove,
That with his sword hath quail'd all earthly kings,
Could not persuade you to submission,
But still the ports were shut: villain, I say,
Should I but touch the rusty gates of hell,
The triple-headed Cerberus would howl,
And make black Jove to crouch and kneel to me;
But I have sent volleys of shot to you,
Yet could not enter till the breach was made.

Nor, if my body could have stopt the breach,
Shouldst thou have enter'd, cruel Tamburlaine.
'Tis not thy bloody tents can make me yield,
Nor yet thyself, the anger of the Highest;
For, though thy cannon shook the city-walls,
My heart did never quake, or courage faint.

Well, now I'll make it quake.--Go draw him up,
Hang him in chains upon the city-walls,
And let my soldiers shoot the slave to death.

Vile monster, born of some infernal hag,
And sent from hell to tyrannize on earth,
Do all thy worst; nor death, nor Tamburlaine,
Torture, or pain, can daunt my dreadless mind.

Up with him, then! his body shall be scar'd.

But, Tamburlaine, in Limnasphaltis' lake
There lies more gold than Babylon is worth,
Which, when the city was besieg'd, I hid:
Save but my life, and I will give it thee.

Then, for all your valour, you would save your life?
Whereabout lies it?

Under a hollow bank, right opposite
Against the western gate of Babylon.

Go thither, some of you, and take his gold:--

[Exeunt some ATTENDANTS.]

The rest forward with execution.
Away with him hence, let him speak no more.--
I think I make your courage something quail.--


When this is done, we'll march from Babylon,
And make our greatest haste to Persia.
These jades are broken-winded and half-tir'd;
Unharness them, and let me have fresh horse.


So; now their best is done to honour me,
Take them and hang them both up presently.

Vile tyrant! barbarous bloody Tamburlaine!

Take them away, Theridamas; see them despatch'd.

I will, my lord.

[Exit with the KINGS or TREBIZON and SORIA.]

Come, Asian viceroys; to your tasks a while,
And take such fortune as your fellows felt.

First let thy Scythian horse tear both our limbs,
Rather than we should draw thy chariot,
And, like base slaves, abject our princely minds
To vile and ignominious servitude.

Rather lend me thy weapon, Tamburlaine,
That I may sheathe it in this breast of mine.
A thousand deaths could not torment our hearts
More than the thought of this doth vex our souls.

They will talk still, my lord, if you do not bridle them.

Bridle them, and let me to my coach.

[ATTENDANTS bridle ORCANES king of Natolia, and the KING OF JERUSALEM, and harness them to the chariot.-- The GOVERNOR OF BABYLON appears hanging in chains on the walls.--Re-enter THERIDAMAS.]

See, now, my lord, how brave the captain hangs!

'Tis brave indeed, my boy:--well done!--
Shoot first, my lord, and then the rest shall follow.

Then have at him, to begin withal.

[THERIDAMAS shoots at the GOVERNOR.]

Yet save my life, and let this wound appease
The mortal fury of great Tamburlaine!

No, though Asphaltis' lake were liquid gold,
And offer'd me as ransom for thy life,
Yet shouldst thou die.--Shoot at him all at once.

[They shoot.]

So, now he hangs like Bagdet's governor,
Having as many bullets in his flesh
As there be breaches in her batter'd wall.
Go now, and bind the burghers hand and foot,
And cast them headlong in the city's lake.
Tartars and Persians shall inhabit there;
And, to command the city, I will build
A citadel, that all Africa,
Which hath been subject to the Persian king,
Shall pay me tribute for in Babylon.

What shall be done with their wives and children, my lord?

Techelles, drown them all, man, woman, and child;
Leave not a Babylonian in the town.

I will about it straight.--Come, soldiers.

[Exit with SOLDIERS.]

Now, Casane, where's the Turkish Alcoran,
And all the heaps of superstitious books
Found in the temples of that Mahomet
Whom I have thought a god? they shall be burnt.

Here they are, my lord.

Well said! let there be a fire presently.

[They light a fire.]

In vain, I see, men worship Mahomet:
My sword hath sent millions of Turks to hell,
Slew all his priests, his kinsmen, and his friends,
And yet I live untouch'd by Mahomet.
There is a God, full of revenging wrath,
From whom the thunder and the lightning breaks,
Whose scourge I am, and him will I obey.
So, Casane; fling them in the fire.--

[They burn the books.]

Now, Mahomet, if thou have any power,
Come down thyself and work a miracle:
Thou art not worthy to be worshipped
That suffer'st flames of fire to burn the writ
Wherein the sum of thy religion rests:
Why send'st thou not a furious whirlwind down,
To blow thy Alcoran up to thy throne,
Where men report thou sitt'st by God himself?
Or vengeance on the head of Tamburlaine
That shakes his sword against thy majesty,
And spurns the abstracts of thy foolish laws?--
Well, soldiers, Mahomet remains in hell;
He cannot hear the voice of Tamburlaine:
Seek out another godhead to adore;
The God that sits in heaven, if any god,
For he is God alone, and none but he.


I have fulfill'd your highness' will, my lord:
Thousands of men, drown'd in Asphaltis' lake,
Have made the water swell above the banks,
And fishes, fed by human carcasses,
Amaz'd, swim up and down upon the waves,
As when they swallow assafoetida,
Which makes them fleet aloft and gape for air.

Well, then, my friendly lords, what now remains,
But that we leave sufficient garrison,
And presently depart to Persia,
To triumph after all our victories?

Ay, good my lord, let us in haste to Persia;
And let this captain be remov'd the walls
To some high hill about the city here.

Let it be so;--about it, soldiers;--
But stay; I feel myself distemper'd suddenly.

What is it dares distemper Tamburlaine?

Something, Techelles; but I know not what.--
But, forth, ye vassals! whatsoe'er it be,
Sickness or death can never conquer me.