Queen Mary

Act I

Scene II

Alfred Tennyson

A Room in Lambeth Palace.

To Strasburg, Antwerp, Frankfort, Zurich, Worms,
Geneva, Basle—our Bishops from their sees
Or fled, they say, or flying—Poinet, Barlow,
Bale, Scory, Coverdale; besides the Deans
Of Christchurch, Durham, Exeter, and Wells—
Ailmer and Bullingham, and hundreds more;
So they report: I shall be left alone.
No: Hooper, Ridley, Latimer will not fly.


Fly, Cranmer! were there nothing else, your name
Stands first of those who sign’d the Letters Patent
That gave her royal crown to Lady Jane.

Stand first it may, but it was written last:
Those that are now her Privy Council, sign’d
Before me: nay, the Judges had pronounced
That our young Edward might bequeath the crown
Of England, putting by his father’s will.
Yet I stood out, till Edward sent for me.
The wan boy-king, with his fast-fading eyes
Fixt hard on mine, his frail transparent hand,
Damp with the sweat of death, and griping mine,
Whisper’d me, if I loved him, not to yield
His Church of England to the Papal wolf
And Mary; then I could no more—I sign’d.
Nay, for bare shame of inconsistency,
She cannot pass her traitor council by,
To make me headless.

                            That might be forgiven.
I tell you, fly, my Lord. You do not own
The bodily presence in the Eucharist,
Their wafer and perpetual sacrifice:
Your creed will be your death.

                                        Step after step,
Thro’ many voices crying right and left,
Have I climb’d back into the primal church,
And stand within the porch, and Christ with me:
My flight were such a scandal to the faith,
The downfall of so many simple souls,
I dare not leave my post.

                                        But you divorced
Queen Catharine and her father; hence, her hate
Will burn till you are burn’d.

                                        I cannot help it.
The Canonists and Schoolmen were with me.
‘Thou shalt not wed thy brother’s wife.’—’Tis written,
‘They shall be childless.’ True, Mary was born,
But France would not accept her for a bride
As being born from incest; and this wrought
Upon the king; and child by child, you know,
Were momentary sparkles out as quick
Almost as kindled; and he brought his doubts
And fears to me. Peter, I’ll swear for him
He did believe the bond incestuous.
But wherefore am I trenching on the time
That should already have seen your steps a mile
From me and Lambeth? God be with you! Go.

Ah, but how fierce a letter you wrote against
Their superstition when they slander’d you
For setting up a mass at Canterbury
To please the Queen.

                   It was a wheedling monk
Set up the mass.

                I know it, my good Lord.
But you so bubbled over with hot terms
Of Satan, liars, blasphemy, Antichrist,
She never will forgive you. Fly, my Lord, fly!

I wrote it, and God grant me power to burn!

They have given me a safe conduct: for all that
I dare not stay. I fear, I fear, I see you,
Dear friend, for the last time; farewell, and fly.

Fly and farewell, and let me die the death.

[Exit Peter Martyr.

O, kind and gentle master, the Queen’s Officers
Are here in force to take you to the Tower.

Ay, gentle friend, admit them. I will go.
I thank my God it is too late to fly.


Queen Mary - Contents     |     Act I - Scene III

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