A monologue from the play by Christopher Marlowe
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Masterpieces of the English Drama. Ed. William Lyon Phelps. New York: American Book Company, 1912.
DUKE OF GUISE: Now, Guise, begin those deep-engender’d thoughts
To burst abroad those never-dying flames
Which cannot be extinguished but by blood.
Oft have I levell’d, and at last have learn’d
That peril is the chiefest way to happiness,
And resolution honour’s fairest aim.
What glory is there in a common good,
That hangs for every peasant to achieve?
That like I best, that flies beyond my reach.
Set me to scale the high Pyramides,
And thereon set the diadem of France;
I’ll either rend it with my nails to naught,
Or mount the top with my aspiring wings,
Although my downfall be the deepest hell.
For this I wake, when others think I sleep;
For this I wait, that scorn attendance else;
For this, my quenchless thirst, whereon I build,
Hath often pleaded kindred to the king;
For this, this head, this heart, this hand, and sword,
Contrives, imagines, and fully executes,
Matters of import aimed at by many,
Yet understood by none;
For this, hath heaven engender’d me of earth;
For this, this earth sustains my body’s weight,
And with this weight I’ll counterpoise a crown,
Or with seditions weary all the world;
For this, from Spain the stately Catholics
Send Indian gold to coin me French ecues;
For this, have I a largess from the Pope,
A pension, and a dispensation too;
And by that privilege to work upon,
My policy hath fram’d religion.
Religion! O Diabole!
Fie, I am asham’d, however that I seem,
To think a word of such a simple sound,
Of so great matter should be made the ground!
The gentle king, whose pleasure uncontroll’d
Weakeneth his body, and will waste his realm,
If I repair not what he ruinates,–
Him, as a child, I daily win with words,
So that for proof he barely bears the name;
I execute, and he sustains the blame.
The Mother-Queen works wonders for my sake,
And in my love entombs the hope of France,
Rifling the bowels of her treasury,
To supply my wants and necessity.
Paris hath full five hundred colleges,
As monasteries, priories, abbeys, and halls,
Wherein are thirty thousand able men,
Besides a thousand sturdy student Catholics;
And more,–of my knowledge, in one cloister keep
Five hundred fat Franciscan friars and priests:
All this, and more, if more may be compris’d,
To bring the will of our desires to end.
Since thou hast all the cards within thy hands,
To shuffle or cut, take this as surest thing,
That, right or wrong, thou deal thyself a king.