Queen Mary

Act II

Scene III

Alfred Tennyson

London Bridge


Brett, when the Duke of Norfolk moved against us
Thou cried’st ‘A Wyatt!’ and flying to our side
Left his all bare, for which I love thee, Brett.
Have for thine asking aught that I can give,
For thro’ thine help we are come to London Bridge;
But how to cross it balks me. I fear we cannot.

Nay, hardly, save by boat, swimming, or wings.

Last night I climb’d into the gate-house, Brett,
And scared the gray old porter and his wife.
And then I crept along the gloom and saw
They had hewn the drawbridge down into the river.
It roll’d as black as death; and that same tide
Which, coming with our coming, seem’d to smile
And sparkle like our fortune as thou saidest,
Ran sunless down, and moan’d against the piers.
But o’er the chasm I saw Lord William Howard
By torchlight, and his guard; four guns gaped at me,
Black, silent mouths: had Howard spied me there
And made them speak, as well he might have done,
Their voice had left me none to tell you this.
What shall we do?

                        On somehow. To go back
Were to lose all.

                        On over London Bridge
We cannot: stay we cannot; there is ordnance
On the White Tower and on the Devil’s Tower,
And pointed full at Southwark; we must round
By Kingston Bridge.

                        Ten miles about.

                                        Ev’n so.
But I have notice from our partisans
Within the city that they will stand by us
If Ludgate can be reach’d by dawn to-morrow.

Enter one of WYATT’S MEN.

Sir Thomas, I’ve found this paper; pray your worship read it; I know not my letters; the old priests taught me nothing.

    WYATT (reads).
‘Whosoever will apprehend the traitor Thomas Wyatt shall have a hundred pounds for reward.’

Is that it? That’s a big lot of money.

Ay, ay, my friend; not read it? ’Tis not written
Half plain enough. Give me a piece of paper!

[Writes ‘THOMAS WYATT’ large.
There, any man can read that.        [Sticks it in his cap.

But that’s foolhardy.

No! boldness, which will give my followers boldness.

Enter MAN with a prisoner.

We found him, your worship, a plundering o’ Bishop Winchester’s
house; he says he’s a poor gentleman.

Gentleman! a thief! Go hang him. Shall we make
Those that we come to serve our sharpest foes?

Sir Thomas—

                        Hang him, I say.

Wyatt, but now you promised me a boon.

Ay, and I warrant this fine fellow’s life.

Ev’n so; he was my neighbour once in Kent.
He’s poor enough, has drunk and gambled out
All that he had, and gentleman he was.
We have been glad together; let him live.

He has gambled for his life, and lost, he hangs.
No, no, my word’s my word. Take thy poor gentleman!
Gamble thyself at once out of my sight,
Or I will dig thee with my dagger. Away!
Women and children!

Enter a Crowd of WOMEN and CHILDREN.

O Sir Thomas, Sir Thomas, pray you go away, Sir Thomas, or you’ll make the White Tower a black ’un for us this blessed day. He’ll be the death on us; and you’ll set the Divil’s Tower a-spitting, and he’ll smash all our bits o’ things worse than Philip o’ Spain.

Don’t ye now go to think that we be for Philip o’ Spain.

No, we know that ye be come to kill the Queen, and we’ll pray for you all on our bended knees. But o’ God’s mercy don’t ye kill the Queen here, Sir Thomas; look ye, here’s little Dickon, and little Robin, and little Jenny—though she’s but a side-cousin—and all on our knees, we pray you to kill the Queen further off, Sir Thomas.

My friends, I have not come to kill the Queen
Or here or there: I come to save you all,
And I’ll go further off.

Thanks, Sir Thomas, we be beholden to you, and we’ll pray for you on our bended knees till our lives’ end.

Be happy, I am your friend. To Kingston, forward!


Queen Mary - Contents     |     Act II - Scene IV

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