London. A Room in the Palace.
LORD PETRE and LORD WILLIAM HOWARD.
You cannot see the Queen. Renard denied her,
Ev’n now to me.
Their Flemish go-between
And all-in-all. I came to thank her Majesty
For freeing my friend Bagenhall from the Tower;
A grace to me! Mercy, that herb-of-grace,
Flowers now but seldom.
Only now perhaps.
Because the Queen hath been three days in tears
For Philip’s going—like the wild hedge-rose
Of a soft winter, possible, not probable,
However you have prov’n it.
I must see her.
My Lords, you cannot see her Majesty.
Why then the King! for I would have him bring it
Home to the leisure wisdom of his Queen,
Before he go, that since these statutes past,
Gardiner out-Gardiners Gardiner in his heat,
Bonner cannot out-Bonner his own self—
Beast!—but they play with fire as children do,
And burn the house. I know that these are breeding
A fierce resolve and fixt heart-hate in men
Against the King, the Queen, the Holy Father,
The faith itself. Can I not see him?
And in all this, my Lord, her Majesty
Is flint of flint, you may strike fire from her,
Not hope to melt her. I will give your message.
[Exeunt Petre and Howard.
Enter PHILIP (musing)
She will not have Prince Philibert of Savoy,
I talk’d with her in vain—says she will live
And die true maid—a goodly creature too.
Would she had been the Queen! yet she must have him;
She troubles England: that she breathes in England
Is life and lungs to every rebel birth
That passes out of embryo.
This Howard, whom they fear, what was he saying?
What your imperial father said, my liege,
To deal with heresy gentlier. Gardiner burns,
And Bonner burns; and it would seem this people
Care more for our brief life in their wet land,
Than yours in happier Spain. I told my Lord
He should not vex her Highness; she would say
These are the means God works with, that His church
Ay, sir, but in statesmanship
To strike too soon is oft to miss the blow.
Thou knowest I bad my chaplain, Castro, preach
Against these burnings.
And the Emperor
Approved you, and when last he wrote, declared
His comfort in your Grace that you were bland
And affable to men of all estates,
In hope to charm them from their hate of Spain.
In hope to crush all heresy under Spain.
But, Renard, I am sicker staying here
Than any sea could make me passing hence,
Tho’ I be ever deadly sick at sea.
So sick am I with biding for this child.
Is it the fashion in this clime for women
To go twelve months in bearing of a child?
The nurses yawn’d, the cradle gaped, they led
Processions, chanted litanies, clash’d their bells,
Shot off their lying cannon, and her priests
Have preach’d, the fools, of this fair prince to come;
Till, by St. James, I find myself the fool.
Why do you lift your eyebrow at me thus?
I never saw your Highness moved till now.
So weary am I of this wet land of theirs,
And every soul of man that breathes therein.
My liege, we must not drop the mask before
The masquerade is over—
—Have I dropt it?
I have but shown a loathing face to you,
Who knew it from the first.
With Renard. Still
Parleying with Renard, all the day with Renard,
And scarce a greeting all the day for me—
And goes to-morrow.
PHILIP (to RENARD, who advances to him).
Well, sir, is there more?
RENARD (who has perceived the QUEEN).
May Simon Renard speak a single word?
And be forgiven for it?
Knows me too well to speak a single word
That could not be forgiven.
Well, my liege,
Your Grace hath a most chaste and loving wife.
Why not? The Queen of Philip should be chaste.
Ay, but, my Lord, you know what Virgil sings,
Woman is various and most mutable.
She play the harlot! never.
No, sire, no,
Not dream’d of by the rabidest gospeller.
There was a paper thrown into the palace,
‘The King hath wearied of his barren bride.’
She came upon it, read it, and then rent it,
With all the rage of one who hates a truth
He cannot but allow. Sire, I would have you—
What should I say, I cannot pick my words—
Be somewhat less—majestic to your Queen.
Am I to change my manners, Simon Renard,
Because these islanders are brutal beasts?
Or would you have me turn a sonneteer,
And warble those brief-sighted eyes of hers?
Brief-sighted tho’ they be, I have seen them, sire,
When you perchance were trifling royally
With some fair dame of court, suddenly fill
With such fierce fire—had it been fire indeed
It would have burnt both speakers.
Ay, and then?
Sire, might it not be policy in some matter
Of small importance now and then to cede
A point to her demand?
Well, I am going.
For should her love when you are gone, my liege,
Witness these papers, there will not be wanting
Those that will urge her injury—should her love—
And I have known such women more than one—
Veer to the counterpoint, and jealousy
Hath in it an alchemic force to fuse
Almost into one metal love and hate,—
And she impress her wrongs upon her Council,
And these again upon her Parliament—
We are not loved here, and would be then perhaps
Not so well holpen in our wars with France,
As else we might be—here she comes.
Nay, must you go indeed?
Madam, I must.
The parting of a husband and a wife
Is like the cleaving of a heart; one half
Will flutter here, one there.
You say true, Madam.
The Holy Virgin will not have me yet
Lose the sweet hope that I may bear a prince.
If such a prince were born and you not here!
I should be here if such a prince were born.
But must you go?
Madam, you know my father,
Retiring into cloistral solitude
To yield the remnant of his years to heaven,
Will shift the yoke and weight of all the world
From off his neck to mine. We meet at Brussels.
But since mine absence will not be for long,
Your Majesty shall go to Dover with me,
And wait my coming back.
To Dover? no,
I am too feeble. I will go to Greenwich,
So you will have me with you; and there watch
All that is gracious in the breath of heaven
Draw with your sails from our poor land, and pass
And leave me, Philip, with my prayers for you.
And doubtless I shall profit by your prayers.
Methinks that would you tarry one day more
(The news was sudden) I could mould myself
To bear your going better; will you do it?
Madam, a day may sink or save a realm.
A day may save a heart from breaking too.
Well, Simon Renard, shall we stop a day?
Your Grace’s business will not suffer, sire,
For one day more, so far as I can tell.
Then one day more to please her Majesty.
The sunshine sweeps across my life again.
O if I knew you felt this parting, Philip,
As I do!
By St. James I do protest,
Upon the faith and honour of a Spaniard,
I am vastly grieved to leave your Majesty.
Simon, is supper ready?
Ay, my liege,
I saw the covers laying.
Let us have it.