1607
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Whore of Babylon.

The Whore of Babylon. As it was acted by the Princes Servants. Written by Thomas Dekker.

Thomas Dekker


The dramatis personae include "Titania, the Fairie Queene: under whom is figured our late Queene Elizabeth," Florimell, Paridell, Satyrane, etc. Thomas Dekker advocates Protestant intervention on the Continent.

Gerard Langbaine: "The design of this Play is under feign'd Names to set forth the admirable Virtues of Queen Elizabeth, and the Dangers which she escap'd, by the happy discovery of those Designs against her Sacred Person by the Jesuites, and other Biggoted Papists. The Queen is shadow'd under the Title of Titania; Rome under that of Babylon; Campian the Jesuite is represented by the Name of Campeius; Dr. Parry by Parridel, &c." in Account of the English Dramatick Poets (1691) 124-25.

C. H. Timperley: "Thomas Dekker exceeds most of his contemporaries in whimsical drollery; but yet in the midst of all his humour, glances at the deepest and most touching of human emotions. He was satirized by Ben Jonson in his Poetaster, under the name of Crispanus, but Dekker retorted in Satyromastix; or, Untrussing of the Humourous Poet. He died in 1638" Encyclopaedia of Literary and Typographical Anecdote (1842) 2:482.

E. Felix Schelling: Dekker "sought to probe more deeply into into recent political events, and to do so presented the story of the completed reign in the guise of an elaborate allegory constructed out of the popular notions concerning Elizabeth's struggles in diplomacy and warfare. There is something so preposterous to our present way of thinking in the cloaking of Burghley and Leicester under the names of Fideli and Parthenophil, and in King Henry VIII as Oberon, that we find it difficult to conceive of the possible satisfaction which such a production may have afforded men to whom the allegory of The Faery Queen had a living significance. The cant phrase of extreme Puritanism which gives to this play its forbidding title is indicative of the violent political and religious partisanship which it exhibits throughout, and doubtless faithfully enough representative of the popular contemporary attitude of the lower classes of English towards Spain and Rome" Elizabethan Drama (1908) 1:289.

W. J. Courthope: "For nearly forty years he gained his bread by such employment as he could obtain from stage managers and booksellers, and, like the later inhabitants of Grub Street, he was well acquainted with the inside of London prisons. Oldys says that he was in King's Bench Prison from 1613 to 1616, and a letter of his own, written from that place in the latter year, shows that he was receiving charity from the generous actor, Edward Alleyn" History of English Poetry (1895-1910) 4:219.

George R. Price: "Among the borrowings are these: England imaged as a fairy land; the gathering of the knights at Titania's court; the frustrating of a conjuror's attempted enchantment of the Queen; Falsehood masquerading as Truth; and the names 'Paridel' and 'Satyrane,' though the persons have nothing in common with Spenser's. (Incidentally, Dekker uses no archaism of language.) But the pervasive influence of Spenser is shown in Dekker's endeavor to idealize both Elizabeth's character and the glories of England in her reign" Thomas Dekker (1969) 73.

David Norbrook: "In his play, 'The Whore of Babylon,' (c. 1605), a dramatization of Elizabeth's reign which utilized Spenser's 'faerie' imagery, Thomas Dekker made a character praise the Dutch as 'the nation, | With whom our Fairies enterchange commerce, | And by negotiation growne so like us, | That halfe of them are Fayries'" Poetry and Politics (1984) 136.

Dekker alludes to "Braggadochio-vices" in "A Straunge Horse-Race" (1613); see Wells, Spenser Allusions (1972) 130.



EMPRESSE OF BABYLON: HER CANOPIE SUPPORTED BY FOUR CARDINALS: TWO PERSONS IN PONTIFICALL ROABES ON EITHER HAND, THE ONE BEARING A SWORD, THE OTHER THE KEIES: BEFORE HER 3. KINGS CROWNED, BEHINDE HER FRIERS, &c.

EMPRESSE.
That we, in pompe, in peace, in god-like splendor,
With adoration of all dazeled eies,
Should breath thus long, and grow so full of daies,
Be fruitfull as the Vine, in sonnes and daughters,
(All Emperors, Kings, and Queenes) that (like to Cedars
Uprising from the breast of Lybanus,
Or Olives nurst up by Jerusalem)
Heightened our glories, whilst we held up them:
That this vast Globe Terrestriall should be cantled,
And almost three parts ours, and that the nations,
Who suspiration draw out of this aire,
With universall Aves, showtes, and cries,
Should us acknowledge to be head supreame
To this great body (for a world of yeares:)
Yet now, when we had made our Crowne compleat,
And clos'd it strongly with a triple arch,
And had inrich'd it with those pretious jewels
Few Princes ever see (white haires) even now
Our greatnesse hangs in ballance, and the stampe
Of our true Soveraignty, clips, and abas'd.

1. KING.
By whom dread Empresse?

EMPRESSE.
Aske those our out-cast sonnes: a throne usurped
Our chaire is counted, all our titles stolne.

2. KING.
What blasphemy dare speake so?

EMPRESSE.
All our roabes,
Your vestments, (reverend, yet pontificall:)
This sword, these keyes, (that open kingdoms hearts
To let in sweet obedience) All, but borrowed.

3. KING.
What soule above the earth—

EMPRESSE.
Our royall signet,
With which, we, (in a mothers holy love)
Have sign'd so many pardons, is now counterfeit:
From our mouth flow risers of blasphemy
And lies; our Babylonian Sinagogues
Are counted Stewes, where Fornications
And all uncleannesse Sodomiticall,
(Whose leprosy touch'd us never) are now daily acted:
Our Image, which (like Romane Caesars) stamp'd
In gold, through the whole earth did currant passe;
Is now blanch'd copper, or but guilded brasse.

3. KING.
Can yonder roofe, thats naild so fast with starres,
Cover a head so impious, and not cracke?
That Sulphure boyling o're celestiall fires,
May drop in whizing flakes (with skalding vengeance)
On such a horrid sinne!

1. KING.
No mortall bosome
Is so unsanctified.

2. KING.
Who i'st bright Empresse,
That feeds so ulcerous, and so ranke a Spleene?

EMPRESSE.
A woman.

OMNES.
Woman! who?

EMPRESSE.
The Fairie Queene:
Five Summers have scarce drawn their glimmering nights
Through the Moons silver bowe, since the crowed heads
Of that adored beast, on which we ride,
Were strucke and wounded, but so heal'd againe,
The very scarres were hid. But now, a mortall,
An unrecoverable blow is taken,
And it must bleed to death.

3. KING.
Heaven cannot suffer it.

EMPRESSE.
Heaven suffers it, and sees it, and gives ayme,
Whilst even our Empires heart is cleft in sunder:
That strumpet, that inchantresse, (who, in robes
White as is innocence, and with an eye
Able to tempt stearne murther to her bed)
Calles her selfe Truth, has stolne faire Truths attire,
Her crowne, her sweet songs, counterfets her voyce,
And by prestigious tricks in sorcerie,
Ha's raiz'd a base impostor like Truths father:
This subtile Curtizan sets up againe,
Whom we but late banisht, to live in caves,
In rockes and desert mountaines.

2. KING.
Shee's but a shadow.

EMPRESSE.
O t'is a cunning Spider,
And in her nets so wraps the Fairie Queene,
That shee suckes even her breast: Sh'as writ a booke.
Which shee calles holy Spels.

3. KING.
Weele breake those spels.

EMPRESSE.
The poles of Heaven must first in sunder breake,
For from the Fairie shores this Witch hath driven
All such as are like these (our Sooth-Saiers)
And cal'd false Seers home, that of things past,
Sing wonders, and divine of things to come:
Through whose bewitching tongues runne golden chaines,
To which ten thousand eares so fast are bound,
As spirits are by spells; that all the Tones
Of harmony, that Babylon can sound,
Are charmes to Adders, and no more regarded,
Than are by him that's deafe, the sicke mans groanes.
Shee, they, Titania, and her Fairie Lords,
Yea even her vassaile elves, in publike scorne
Defame me, call me Whore of Babylon.

OMNES.
O unheard of prophanation!

EMPRESSE.
Give out I am common: that for lust, and hire
I prostitute this body: that to Kings
I quaffe full bowles of strong enchanting wines,
To make them dote on me.

OMNES.
Lets heare no more.

EMPRESSE.
And that all Potentates that tread on earth,
With our abhominations should be drunke,
And be by us undone.

OMNES.
Weele heare no more.

3. KING.
You have thrust Furies whips into our hands.

1. KING.
Say but the word, and weele turne home your wrongs,
In torne and bloody collours.

2. KING.
All her bowers,
Shall like burnt offerings purge away (in fire)
Her lands pollution.

OMNES.
Let's to armes.

EMPRESSE.
Stay: heare me:
Her kingdome weares a girdle wrought of waves,
Set thicke with pretious stones, that are so charm'd,
No rockes are of more force: her Fairies hearts,
Lie in inchanted towers (impregnable)
No engine scales them. Therefore goe you three,
Draw all your faces sweetly, let your browes
Be sleekd, your cheekes in dimples, give out smiles,
Your voyces string with silver, wooe (like lovers)
Sweare you have hils of pearle: shew her the world,
And say shee shall have all, so shee will kneele
And doe us reverence: but if shee grow nice,
Dissemble, flatter, stoope to licke the dust
Shee goes upon, and (like to serpents) creepe
Upon your bellies, in humilitie;
And beg shee would but with us joyne a league,
To wed her land to ours: our blessing, goe.

3. KING.
When mines are to be blowne up, men dig low.

ALL THREE.
And so will wee.

EMPRESSE.
Prosper: till this sunne set,
The beames that from us shoot, seeme counterfet.

EXEUNT.

[sigs A4-B1v (Act I sc.1)]