SIR THOMAS WYATT.
I do not hear from Carew or the Duke
Of Suffolk, and till then I should not move.
The Duke hath gone to Leicester; Carew stirs
In Devon: that fine porcelain Courtenay,
Save that he fears he might be crack’d in using,
(I have known a semi-madman in my time
So fancy-ridd’n) should be in Devon too.
News abroad, William?
None so new, Sir Thomas, and none so old, Sir Thomas. No new news that Philip comes to wed Mary, no old news that all men hate it. Old Sir Thomas would have hated it. The bells are ringing at Maidstone. Doesn’t your worship hear?
Ay, for the Saints are come to reign again.
Most like it is a Saint’s-day. There’s no call
As yet for me; so in this pause, before
The mine be fired, it were a pious work
To string my father’s sonnets, left about
Like loosely-scatter’d jewels, in fair order,
And head them with a lamer rhyme of mine,
To grace his memory.
Ay, why not, Sir Thomas? He was a fine courtier, he; Queen Anne loved him. All the women loved him. I loved him, I was in Spain with him. I couldn’t eat in Spain, I couldn’t sleep in Spain. I hate Spain, Sir Thomas.
But thou could’st drink in Spain if I remember.
Sir Thomas, we may grant the wine. Old Sir Thomas always granted the wine.
Hand me the casket with my father’s sonnets.
Ay—sonnets—a fine courtier of the old Court, old Sir Thomas.
Courtier of many courts, he loved the more
His own gray towers, plain life and letter’d peace,
To read and rhyme in solitary fields,
The lark above, the nightingale below,
And answer them in song. The sire begets
Not half his likeness in the son. I fail
Where he was fullest: yet—to write it down.
There is news, there is news, and no call for sonnet-sorting now, nor for sonnet-making either, but ten thousand men on Penenden Heath all calling after your worship, and your worship’s name heard into Maidstone market, and your worship the first man in Kent and Christendom, for the Queen’s down, and the world’s up, and your worship a-top of it.
Inverted Æsop—mountain out of mouse.
Say for ten thousand ten—and pothouse knaves,
Brain-dizzied with a draught of morning ale.
Enter ANTONY KNYVETT.
Here’s Antony Knyvett.
Look you, Master Wyatt,
Tear up that woman’s work there.
No; not these,
Dumb children of my father, that will speak
When I and thou and all rebellions lie
Dead bodies without voice. Song flies you know
Tut, your sonnet’s a flying ant,
Wing’d for a moment.
Well, for mine own work,
[Tearing the paper.
It lies there in six pieces at your feet;
For all that I can carry it in my head.
If you can carry your head upon your shoulders.
I fear you come to carry it off my shoulders,
And sonnet-making’s safer.
Why, good Lord,
Write you as many sonnets as you will.
Ay, but not now; what, have you eyes, ears, brains?
This Philip and the black-faced swarms of Spain,
The hardest, cruellest people in the world,
Come locusting upon us, eat us up,
Confiscate lands, goods, money—Wyatt, Wyatt,
Wake, or the stout old island will become
A rotten limb of Spain. They roar for you
On Penenden Heath, a thousand of them—more—
All arm’d, waiting a leader; there’s no glory
Like his who saves his country: and you sit
Sing-songing here; but, if I’m any judge,
By God, you are as poor a poet, Wyatt,
As a good soldier.
You as poor a critic
As an honest friend: you stroke me on one cheek,
Buffet the other. Come, you bluster, Antony!
You know I know all this. I must not move
Until I hear from Carew and the Duke.
I fear the mine is fired before the time.
KNYVETT (showing a paper).
But here’s some Hebrew. Faith, I half forgot it.
Look; can you make it English? A strange youth
Suddenly thrust it on me, whisper’d, ‘Wyatt,’
And whisking round a corner, show’d his back
Before I read his face.
Ha! Courtenay’s cipher. [Reads.
‘Sir Peter Carew fled to France: it is thought the Duke will be taken.
I am with you still; but, for appearance sake, stay with the Queen.
Gardiner knows, but the Council are all at odds, and the Queen hath no
force for resistance. Move, if you move, at once.’
Is Peter Carew fled? Is the Duke taken?
Down scabbard, and out sword! and let Rebellion
Roar till throne rock, and crown fall. No; not that;
But we will teach Queen Mary how to reign.
Who are those that shout below there?
Why, some fifty
That follow’d me from Penenden Heath in hope
To hear you speak.
Open the window, Knyvett;
The mine is fired, and I will speak to them.
Men of Kent; England of England; you that have kept your old customs upright, while all the rest of England bow’d theirs to the Norman, the cause that hath brought us together is not the cause of a county or a shire, but of this England, in whose crown our Kent is the fairest jewel. Philip shall not wed Mary; and ye have called me to be your leader. I know Spain. I have been there with my father; I have seen them in their own land; have marked the haughtiness of their nobles; the cruelty of their priests. If this man marry our Queen, however the Council and the Commons may fence round his power with restriction, he will be King, King of England, my masters; and the Queen, and the laws, and the people, his slaves. What? shall we have Spain on the throne and in the parliament; Spain in the pulpit and on the law-bench; Spain in all the great offices of state; Spain in our ships, in our forts, in our houses, in our beds?
No! no! no Spain!
No Spain in our beds—that were worse than all. I have been there with old Sir Thomas, and the beds I know. I hate Spain.
But, Sir Thomas, must we levy war against the Queen’s
No, my friend; war for the Queen’s Grace—to save her from herself and Philip—war against Spain. And think not we shall be alone—thousands will flock to us. The Council, the Court itself, is on our side. The Lord Chancellor himself is on our side. The King of France is with us; the King of Denmark is with us; the world is with us—war against Spain! And if we move not now, yet it will be known that we have moved; and if Philip come to be King, O, my God! the rope, the rack, the thumbscrew, the stake, the fire. If we move not now, Spain moves, bribes our nobles with her gold, and creeps, creeps snake-like about our legs till we cannot move at all; and ye know, my masters, that wherever Spain hath ruled she hath wither’d all beneath her. Look at the New World—a paradise made hell; the red man, that good helpless creature, starved, maim’d, flogg’d, flay’d, burn’d, boil’d, buried alive, worried by dogs; and here, nearer home, the Netherlands, Sicily, Naples, Lombardy. I say no more—only this, their lot is yours. Forward to London with me! forward to London! If ye love your liberties or your skins, forward to London!
Forward to London! A Wyatt! a Wyatt!
But first to Rochester, to take the guns
From out the vessels lying in the river.
Ay, but I fear we be too few, Sir Thomas.
Not many yet. The world as yet, my friend,
Is not half-waked; but every parish tower
Shall clang and clash alarum as we pass,
And pour along the land, and swoll’n and fed
With indraughts and side-currents, in full force
Roll upon London.
A Wyatt! a Wyatt! Forward!
Wyatt, shall we proclaim Elizabeth?
I’ll think upon it, Knyvett.
Or Lady Jane?
No, poor soul; no.
Ah, gray old castle of Alington, green field
Beside the brimming Medway, it may chance
That I shall never look upon you more.
Come, now, you’re sonnetting again.
I’ll have my head set higher in the state;
Or—if the Lord God will it—on the stake.