Thrilling Play by Tutor of Shakespeare (June 1)
Thrilling Play by Tutor of Shakespeare
For the best blank verse in English, read "Dr. Faustus," the masterpiece
of Marlowe, who gave Shakespeare lessons in playwriting.
This genius knew the secret of gripping drama.
(Marlowe died ]une 1, 1593.)
Read from Marlowe’s DR. FAUSTUS Vol. 19, pp. 241-250
[SCENE XII.—The Court of the Duke of Vanholt.]
Enter the DUKE [of VANHOLT], the DUCHESS, FAUSTUS, and
Duke. Believe me, Master Doctor, this merriment hath much
Faust. My gracious lord, I am glad it contents you so well.—But
it may be, madam, you take no delight in this. I have heard that
242 CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE
great-bellied women do long for some dainties or other. What is
it, madam? Tell me, and you shall have it.
Duchess. Thanks, good Master Doctor; and for I see your courteous
intent to pleasure me, I will not hide from you the thing my
heart desires; and were it now summer, as it is January and the
dead time of the winter, I would desire no better meat than a dish
of ripe grapes.
Faust. Alas, madam, that’s nothing! Mephistophilis, begone.
(Exit MEPHISTOPHILIS. ) Were it a greater thing than this, so it would
content you, you should have it.
Re-enter MEPHISTOPHILIS with the grapes
Here they be, madam; wilt please you taste on them?
Duke. Believe me, Master Doctor, this makes me wonder above
the rest, that being in the dead time of winter, and in the month
of January, how you should come by these grapes.
Faust. If it like your Grace, the year is divided into two circles
over the whole world, that, when it is here winter with us, in the
contrary circle it is summer with them, as in India, Saba, and farther
countries in the East; and by means of a swift spirit that I have I
had them brought hither, as ye see.—How do you like them,
madam; be they good?
Duchess. Believe me, Master Doctor, they be the best grapes that
I e’er tasted in my life before.
Faust. I am glad they content you so, madam.
Duke. Come, madam, let us in, where you must well reward this
learned man for the great kindness he hath show’d to you.
Duchess. And so I will, my lord; and, whilst I live, rest beholding
for this courtesy.
Faust. I humbly thank your Grace.
Duke. Come, Master Doctor, follow us and receive your reward.
DR. FAUSTUS 243
[SCENE XIII.—A room in Faustus’s House.]
Wag. I think my master shortly means to die,
For he hath given to me all his goods;
And yet, methinks, if that death were so near,
He would not banquet and carouse and swill
Amongst the students, as even now he doth,
Who are at supper with such belly-cheer
As Wagner ne’er beheld in all his life.
See where they come! Belike the feast is ended.
Enter FAUSTUS, with two or three SCHOLARS [and
1st Schol. Master Doctor Faustus, since our conference about fair
ladies, which was the beautifullest in all the world, we have determined
with ourselves that Helen of Greece was the admirablest
lady that ever lived: therefore, Master Doctor, if you will do us that
favour, as to let us see that peerless dame of Greece, whom all the
world admires for majesty, we should think ourselves much beholding
For that I know your friendship is unfeigned,
And Faustus’ custom is not to deny
The just requests of those that wish him well,
You shall behold that peerless dame of Greece,
No otherways for pomp and majesty
Than when Sir Paris cross’d the seas with her,
And brought the spoils to rich Dardania.
Be silent, then, for danger is in words.
Music sounds, and HELEN passetk over the stage.
2nd Schol. Too simple is my wit to tell her praise,
Whom all the world admires for majesty.
3rd Schol. N o marvel though the angry Greeks pursued
With ten years’ war the rape of such a queen,
Whose heavenly beauty passeth all compare.
244 CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE
ist Schol. Since we have seen the pride of Nature’s works,
And only paragon of excellence,
Let us depart; and for this glorious deed
Happy and blest be Faustus evermore.
Faustus. Gendemen, farewell—the same I wish to you.
Exeunt SCHOLARS [and WAGNER].
Enter an OLD MAN
Old Man. Ah, Doctor Faustus, that I might prevail
To guide thy steps unto the way of life,
By which sweet path thou may’st attain the goal
That shall conduct thee to celestial rest!
Break heart, drop blood, and mingle it with tears,
Tears falling from repentant heaviness
Of thy most vile and loathsome filthiness,
The stench whereof corrupts the inward soul
With such flagitious crimes of heinous sins
As no commiseration may expel,
But mercy, Faustus, of thy Saviour sweet,
Whose blood alone must wash away thy guilt.
Faust. Where art thou, Faustus? Wretch, what hast thou done?
Damn’d art thou, Faustus, damn’d; despair and die!
Hell calls for right, and with a roaring voice
Says "Faustus! come! thine hour is [almost] come!"
And Faustus [now] will come to do the right.
MEPHISTOPHILIS gives him a dagger.
Old Man. A h stay, good Faustus, stay thy desperate steps!
I see an angel hovers o’er thy head,
And, with a vial full of precious grace,
Offers to pour the same into thy soul:
Then call for mercy, and avoid despair.
Faust. Ah, my sweet friend, I feel
Thy words do comfort my distressed soul.
Leave me a while to ponder on my sins.
Old Man. I go, sweet Faustus, but with heavy cheer,
Fearing the ruin of thy hopeless soul. [Exit.]
DR. FAUSTUS 245
Faust. Accursed Faustus, where is mercy now?
I do repent; and yet I do despair;
Hell strives with grace for conquest in my breast:
What shall I do to shun the snares of death ?
Meph. Thou traitor, Faustus, I arrest thy soul
For disobedience to my sovereign lord;
Revolt, or I’ll in piecemeal tear thy flesh.
Faust. Sweet Mephistophilis, entreat thy lord
To pardon my unjust presumption.
And with my blood again I will confirm
My former vow I made to Lucifer.
Meph. Do it then quickly, with unfeigned heart,
Lest greater danger do attend thy drift.
[FAUSTUS stabs his arm and writes on a paper with his blood.]
Faust. Torment, sweet friend, that base and crooked age,1
That durst dissuade me from my Lucifer,
With greatest torments that our hell affords.
Meph. His faith is great, I cannot touch his soul;
But what I may afflict his body with
I will attempt, which is but little worth.
Faust. One thing, good servant, let me crave of thee,
To glut the longing of my heart’s desire,—
That I might have unto my paramour
That heavenly Helen, which I saw of late,
Whose sweet embracings may extinguish clean
These thoughts that do dissuade me from my vow,
And keep mine oath I made to Lucifer.
Meph. Faustus, this or what else thou shalt desire
Shall be perform’d in twinkling of an eye.
Faust. Was this the face that launched a thousand ships
And burnt the topless1 towers of Ilium?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss. [Kisses her.]
Her lips suck forth my soul; see where it flies!—
1 Old man. ! Unsurpassed in height.
246 CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE
Enter OLD MAN .
Come, Helen, come, give me my soul again.
Here will I dwell, for Heaven is in these lips,
And all is dross that is not Helena.
I will be Paris, and for love of thee,
Instead of Troy, shall Wittenberg be sack’d;
And I will combat with weak Menelaus,
And wear thy colours on my plumed crest;
Yea, I will wound Achilles in the heel,
And then return to Helen for a kiss.
Oh, thou art fairer than the evening air
Clad in the beauty of a thousand stars;
Brighter art thou than flaming Jupiter
When he appear’d to hapless Semele:
More lovely than the monarch of the sky
In wanton Arethusa’s azured arms:
And none but thou shalt be my paramour.
Old Man. Accursed Faustus, miserable man,
That from thy soul exclud’st the grace of Heaven,
And fly’st the throne of his tribunal seat I
Satan begins to sift me with his pride:
As in this furnace God shall try my faith,
My faith, vile hell, shall triumph over thee.
Ambitious fiends! see how the heavens smiles
At your repulse, and laughs your state to scorn!
Hence, hell! for hence I fly unto my God.
Exeunt [on one side DEVILS, on the other, OLD MAN] .
[SCENE XIV.—The Same.]
Enter FAUSTUS with SCHOLARS
Faust. Ah , gentlemen!
ist Schol. What ails Faustus?
Faust. Ah, my sweet chamber-fellow, had I lived with thee, then
had I lived still! but now I die eternally. Look, comes he not, comes
DR. FAUSTUS 247
2nd Schol. What means Faustus?
yd Schol. Belike he is grown into some sickness by being over
1st Schol. If it be so, we’ll have physicians to cure him. ‘Tis but a
surfeit. Never fear, man.
Faust. A surfeit of deadly sin that hath damn’d both body and
2nd Schol. Yet, Faustus, look up to Heaven; remember God’s
mercies are infinite.
Faust. But Faustus’ offenses can never be pardoned: the serpent
that tempted Eve may be sav’d, but not Faustus. Ah, gentlemen,
hear me with patience, and tremble not at my speeches! Though my
heart pants and quivers to remember that I have been a student here
these thirty years, oh, would I had never seen Wittenberg, never read
book! And what wonders I have done, all Germany can witness,
yea, the world; for which Faustus hath lost both Germany and the
world, yea Heaven itself, Heaven, the seat of God, the throne of
the blessed, the kingdom of joy; and must remain in hell for ever,
hell, ah, hell, for ever! Sweet friends! what shall become of Faustus
being in hell for ever?
yd Schol. Yet, Faustus, call on God.
Faust. O n God, whom Faustus hath abjur’d! on God, whom Faustus
hath blasphemed! Ah, my God, I would weep, but the Devil
draws in my tears. Gush forth blood instead of tears! Yea, life and
soul! Oh, he stays my tongue! I would lift up my hands, but see,
they hold them, they hold them!
All. Who, Faustus?
Faust. Lucifer and Mephistophilis. Ah, gendemen, I gave them
my soul for my cunning!
All. God forbid!
Faust. God forbade it indeed; but Faustus hath done it. For vain
pleasure of twenty-four years hath Faustus lost eternal joy and
felicity. I writ them a bill with mine own blood: the date is expired;
the time will come, and he will fetch me.
1st Schol. Why did not Faustus tell us of this before, that divines
might have pray’d for thee?
Faust. Oft have I thought to have done so; but the Devil threat’ned
248 CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE
to tear me in pieces if I nam’d God; to fetch both body and soul if I
once gave ear to divinity: and now ’tis too late. Gentlemen, away!
lest you perish with me.
2nd Schol. Oh, what shall we do to save Faustus?
Faust. T a l k not of me, but save yourselves, and depart.
yrd Schol. God will strengthen me. I will stay with Faustus.
ist Schol. Tempt not God, sweet friend; but let us into the next
room, and there pray for him.
Faust. Ay, pray for me, pray for me! and what noise soever ye
hear, come not unto me, for nothing can rescue me.
2nd Schol. Pray thou, and we will pray that God may have mercy
Faust. Gentlemen, farewell! If I live till morning I’ll visit you:
if not—Faustus is gone to hell.
All. Faustus, farewell!
Exeunt SCHOLARS. The clocks strikes eleven.
Faust. Ah, Faustus,
Now hast thou but one bare hour to live,
And then thou must be damn’d perpetually!
Stand still, you ever-moving spheres of Heaven,
That time may cease, and midnight never come;
Fair Nature’s eye, rise, rise again and make
Perpetual day; or let this hour be but
A year, a month, a week, a natural day,
That Faustus may repent and save his soul!
O lente, lente, curite noctis equi!1
The stars move still,1 time runs, the clock will strike,
The Devil will come, and Faustus must be damn’d.
O, I’ll leap up to my God! Who pulls me down?
See, see where Christ’s blood streams in the firmament!
One drop would save my soul—half a drop: ah, my Christ!
Ah, rend not my heart for naming of my Christ!
Yet will I call on him: O spare me, Lucifer!—
Where is it now? T i s gone; and see where God
Stretcheth out his arm, and bends his ireful brows!
1 "Run softly, softly, horses of the night"—Ovid’s Amores, i. 13.
1 Without ceasing.
DR. FAUSTUS 249
Mountain and hills come, come and fall on me,
And hide me from the heavy wrath of God!
Then will I headlong run into the earth;
Earth gape! O no, it will not harbour me!
You stars that reign’d at my nativity,
Whose influence hath alloted death and hell,
Now draw up Faustus like a foggy mist
Into the entrails of yon labouring clouds,
That when they vomit forth into the air,
My limbs may issue from their smoky mouths,
So that my soul may but ascend to Heaven.
The watch strikes [the half hour].
Ah, half the hour is past! ‘Twill all be past anon!
O God !
If thou wilt not have mercy on my soul,
Yet for Christ’s sake whose blood hath ransom’d me,
Impose some end to my incessant pain;
Let Faustus live in hell a thousand years—
A hundred thousand, and—at last—be sav’d!
O, no end is limited to damned souls!
Why wert thou not a creature wanting soul?
Or why is this immortal that thou hast?
Ah, Pythagoras’ metempsychosis! were that true,
This soul should fly from me, and I be chang’d
Unto some brutish beast! All beasts are happy,
For, when they die,
Their souls are soon dissolv’d in elements;
But mine must live, still to be plagu’d in hell.
Curst be the parents that engend’red me!
No, Faustus: curse thyself: curse Lucifer
That hath depriv’d thee of the joys of Heaven.
The cloc\ striketh twelve.
O, it strikes, it strikes! Now, body, turn to air,
Or Lucifer will bear thee quick to hell.
Thunder and lightning.
O soul, be chang’d into little water-drops,
25O CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE
And fall into the ocean—ne’er be found.
My God! my God! look not so fierce on me! Enter DEVILS.
Adders and serpents, let me breathe awhile!
Ugly hell, gape not! come not, Lucifer!
I’ll burn my books!—Ah Mephistophilis!
Exeunt DEVILS with FAUSTUS.
Cho. Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight,
And burned is Apollo’s laurel bough,
That sometime grew within this learned man.
Faustus is gone; regard his hellish fall,
Whose fiendful fortune may exhort the wise
Only to wonder at unlawful things,
Whose deepness doth entice such forward wits
To practise more than heavenly power permits. [Exit.]