Queen Mary

Act I

Scene IV

Alfred Tennyson

London. A Room in the Palace.


So yet am I,
Unless my friends and mirrors lie to me,
A goodlier-looking fellow than this Philip.
The Queen is ill advised: shall I turn traitor?
They’ve almost talked me into it: yet the word
Affrights me somewhat: to be such a one
As Harry Bolingbroke hath a lure in it.
Good now, my Lady Queen, tho’ by your age,
And by your looks you are not worth the having,
Yet by your crown you are.

                                The Princess there?
If I tried her and la—she’s amorous.
Have we not heard of her in Edward’s time,
Her freaks and frolics with the late Lord Admiral?
I do believe she’d yield. I should be still
A party in the state; and then, who knows—

What are you musing on, my Lord of Devon?

Has not the Queen—

                        Done what, Sir?

                                —made you follow
The Lady Suffolk and the Lady Lennox?—
The heir presumptive.

                        Why do you ask? you know it.

You needs must bear it hardly.

                                No, indeed!
I am utterly submissive to the Queen.

Well, I was musing upon that; the Queen
Is both my foe and yours: we should be friends.

My Lord, the hatred of another to us
Is no true bond of friendship.

                                Might it not
Be the rough preface of some closer bond?

My Lord, you late were loosed from out the Tower,
Where, like a butterfly in a chrysalis,
You spent your life; that broken, out you flutter
Thro’ the new world, go zigzag, now would settle
Upon this flower, now that; but all things here
At court are known; you have solicited
The Queen, and been rejected.

                                Flower, she!
Half faded! but you, cousin, are fresh and sweet
As the first flower no bee has ever tried.

Are you the bee to try me? why, but now
I called you butterfly.

                        You did me wrong,
I love not to be called a butterfly:
Why do you call me butterfly?

Why do you go so gay then?

                                        Velvet and gold.
This dress was made me as the Earl of Devon
To take my seat in; looks it not right royal?

So royal that the Queen forbad you wearing it.

I wear it then to spite her.

                                        My Lord, my Lord;
I see you in the Tower again. Her Majesty
Hears you affect the Prince—prelates kneel to you.—

I am the noblest blood in Europe, Madam,
A Courtenay of Devon, and her cousin.

She hears you make your boast that after all
She means to wed you. Folly, my good Lord.

How folly? a great party in the state
Wills me to wed her.

                        Failing her, my Lord,
Doth not as great a party in the state
Will you to wed me?

                        Even so, fair lady.

You know to flatter ladies.

                                                Nay, I meant
True matters of the heart.

                                My heart, my Lord,
Is no great party in the state as yet.

Great, said you? nay, you shall be great. I love you,
Lay my life in your hands. Can you be close?

Can you, my Lord?

                        Close as a miser’s casket.
The King of France, Noailles the Ambassador,
The Duke of Suffolk and Sir Peter Carew,
Sir Thomas Wyatt, I myself, some others,
Have sworn this Spanish marriage shall not be.
If Mary will not hear us—well—conjecture—
Were I in Devon with my wedded bride,
The people there so worship me—Your ear;
You shall be Queen.

                You speak too low, my Lord;
I cannot hear you.

                I’ll repeat it.

Stand further off, or you may lose your head.

I have a head to lose for your sweet sake.

Have you, my Lord? Best keep it for your own.
Nay, pout not, cousin.
Not many friends are mine, except indeed
Among the many. I believe you mine;
And so you may continue mine, farewell,
And that at once.

Enter MARY, behind.

Whispering—leagued together
To bar me from my Philip.


    ELIZABETH (seeing the QUEEN).
Well, that’s a noble horse of yours, my Lord.
I trust that he will carry you well to-day,
And heal your headache.

                                You are wild; what headache?
Heartache, perchance; not headache.

Are you blind?

                [COURTENAY sees the QUEEN and exit. Exit MARY.


Was that my Lord of Devon? do not you
Be seen in corners with my Lord of Devon.
He hath fallen out of favour with the Queen.
She fears the Lords may side with you and him
Against her marriage; therefore is he dangerous.
And if this Prince of fluff and feather come
To woo you, niece, he is dangerous everyway.

Not very dangerous that way, my good uncle.

But your own state is full of danger here.
The disaffected, heretics, reformers,
Look to you as the one to crown their ends.
Mix not yourself with any plot I pray you;
Nay, if by chance you hear of any such,
Speak not thereof—no, not to your best friend,
Lest you should be confounded with it. Still—
Perinde ac cadaver—as the priest says,
You know your Latin—quiet as a dead body.
What was my Lord of Devon telling you?

Whether he told me anything or not,
I follow your good counsel, gracious uncle.
Quiet as a dead body.

                        You do right well.
I do not care to know; but this I charge you,
Tell Courtenay nothing. The Lord Chancellor
(I count it as a kind of virtue in him,
He hath not many), as a mastiff dog
May love a puppy cur for no more reason
Than that the twain have been tied up together,
Thus Gardiner—for the two were fellow-prisoners
So many years in yon accursed Tower—
Hath taken to this Courtenay. Look to it, niece,
He hath no fence when Gardiner questions him;
All oozes out; yet him—because they know him
The last White Rose, the last Plantagenet
(Nay, there is Cardinal Pole, too), the people
Claim as their natural leader—ay, some say,
That you shall marry him, make him King belike.

Do they say so, good uncle?

                                        Ay, good niece!
You should be plain and open with me, niece.
You should not play upon me.

                                No, good uncle.


The Queen would see your Grace upon the moment.

Why, my lord Bishop?

I think she means to counsel your withdrawing
To Ashridge, or some other country house.

Why, my lord Bishop?

I do but bring the message, know no more.
Your Grace will hear her reasons from herself.

’Tis mine own wish fulfill’d before the word
Was spoken, for in truth I had meant to crave
Permission of her Highness to retire
To Ashridge, and pursue my studies there.

Madam, to have the wish before the word
Is man’s good Fairy—and the Queen is yours.
I left her with rich jewels in her hand,
Whereof ’tis like enough she means to make
A farewell present to your Grace.

                                        My Lord,
I have the jewel of a loyal heart.

I doubt it not, Madam, most loyal.

[Bows low and exit.

This comes of parleying with my Lord of Devon.
Well, well, you must obey; and I myself
Believe it will be better for your welfare.
Your time will come.

                        I think my time will come.
I am of sovereign nature, that I know,
Not to be quell’d; and I have felt within me
Stirrings of some great doom when God’s just hour
Peals—but this fierce old Gardiner—his big baldness,
That irritable forelock which he rubs,
His buzzard beak and deep-incavern’d eyes
Half fright me.

                        You’ve a bold heart; keep it so.
He cannot touch you save that you turn traitor;
And so take heed I pray you—you are one
Who love that men should smile upon you, niece.
They’d smile you into treason—some of them.

I spy the rock beneath the smiling sea.
But if this Philip, the proud Catholic prince,
And this bald priest, and she that hates me, seek
In that lone house, to practise on my life,
By poison, fire, shot, stab—

They will not, niece.
Mine is the fleet and all the power at sea—
Or will be in a moment. If they dared
To harm you, I would blow this Philip and all
Your trouble to the dogstar and the devil.

To the Pleiads, uncle; they have lost a sister.

But why say that? what have you done to lose her?
Come, come, I will go with you to the Queen.


Queen Mary - Contents     |     Act I - Scene V

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