Queen Mary

Act V

Scene II

Alfred Tennyson

A Room in the Palace.

MARY, sitting: a rose in her hand. LADY CLARENCE. ALICE in the background.

Look! I have play’d with this poor rose so long
I have broken off the head.

Your Grace hath been
More merciful to many a rebel head
That should have fallen, and may rise again.

There were not many hang’d for Wyatt’s rising.

Nay, not two hundred.

                                    I could weep for them
And her, and mine own self and all the world.

For her? for whom, your Grace?

Enter USHER.

The Cardinal.

Enter CARDINAL POLE. (MARY rises.)

Reginald Pole, what news hath plagued thy heart?
What makes thy favour like the bloodless head
Fall’n on the block, and held up by the hair?

        No, Philip is as warm in life
As ever.

        Ay, and then as cold as ever.
Is Calais taken?

                        Cousin, there hath chanced
A sharper harm to England and to Rome,
Than Calais taken. Julius the Third
Was ever just, and mild, and father-like;
But this new Pope Caraffa, Paul the Fourth,
Not only reft me of that legateship
Which Julius gave me, and the legateship
Annex’d to Canterbury—nay, but worse—
And yet I must obey the Holy Father,
And so must you, good cousin;—worse than all,
A passing bell toll’d in a dying ear—
He hath cited me to Rome, for heresy,
Before his Inquisition.

                        I knew it, cousin,
But held from you all papers sent by Rome,
That you might rest among us, till the Pope,
To compass which I wrote myself to Rome,
Reversed his doom, and that you might not seem
To disobey his Holiness.

                        He hates Philip;
He is all Italian, and he hates the Spaniard;
He cannot dream that I advised the war;
He strikes thro’ me at Philip and yourself.
Nay, but I know it of old, he hates me too;
So brands me in the stare of Christendom
A heretic!
Now, even now, when bow’d before my time,
The house half-ruin’d ere the lease be out;
When I should guide the Church in peace at home,
After my twenty years of banishment,
And all my lifelong labour to uphold
The primacy—a heretic. Long ago,
When I was ruler in the patrimony,
I was too lenient to the Lutheran,
And I and learned friends among ourselves
Would freely canvass certain Lutheranisms.
What then, he knew I was no Lutheran.
A heretic!
He drew this shaft against me to the head,
When it was thought I might be chosen Pope,
But then withdrew it. In full consistory,
When I was made Archbishop, he approved me.
And how should he have sent me Legate hither,
Deeming me heretic? and what heresy since?
But he was evermore mine enemy,
And hates the Spaniard—fiery-choleric,
A drinker of black, strong, volcanic wines,
That ever make him fierier. I, a heretic?
Your Highness knows that in pursuing heresy
I have gone beyond your late Lord Chancellor,—
He cried Enough! enough! before his death.—
Gone beyond him and mine own natural man
(It was God’s cause); so far they call me now,
The scourge and butcher of their English church.

Have courage, your reward is Heaven itself.

They groan amen; they swarm into the fire
Like flies—for what? no dogma. They know nothing;
They burn for nothing.

                        You have done your best.

Have done my best, and as a faithful son,
That all day long hath wrought his father’s work,
When back he comes at evening hath the door
Shut on him by the father whom he loved,
His early follies cast into his teeth,
And the poor son turn’d out into the street
To sleep, to die—I shall die of it, cousin.

I pray you be not so disconsolate;
I still will do mine utmost with the Pope.
Poor cousin!
Have not I been the fast friend of your life
Since mine began, and it was thought we two
Might make one flesh, and cleave unto each other
As man and wife?

                    Ah, cousin, I remember
How I would dandle you upon my knee
At lisping-age. I watch’d you dancing once
With your huge father; he look’d the Great Harry,
You but his cockboat; prettily you did it,
And innocently. No—we were not made
One flesh in happiness, no happiness here;
But now we are made one flesh in misery;
Our bridemaids are not lovely—Disappointment,
Ingratitude, Injustice, Evil-tongue,

                    Surely, not all in vain.
Peace, cousin, peace! I am sad at heart myself.

Our altar is a mound of dead men’s clay,
Dug from the grave that yawns for us beyond;
And there is one Death stands behind the Groom,
And there is one Death stands behind the Bride—

Have you been looking at the ‘Dance of Death’?

No; but these libellous papers which I found
Strewn in your palace. Look you here—the Pope
Pointing at me with ‘Pole, the heretic,
Thou hast burnt others, do thou burn thyself,
Or I will burn thee;’ and this other; see!—
‘We pray continually for the death
Of our accursed Queen and Cardinal Pole.’
This last—I dare not read it her.        [Aside.

Why do you bring me these?
I thought you knew better. I never read,
I tear them; they come back upon my dreams.
The hands that write them should be burnt clean off
As Cranmer’s, and the fiends that utter them
Tongue-torn with pincers, lash’d to death, or lie
Famishing in black cells, while famish’d rats
Eat them alive. Why do they bring me these?
Do you mean to drive me mad?

                                I had forgotten
How these poor libels trouble you. Your pardon,
Sweet cousin, and farewell! ‘O bubble world,
Whose colours in a moment break and fly!’
Why, who said that? I know not—true enough!

[Puts up the papers, all but the last, which falls.

If Cranmer’s spirit were a mocking one,
And heard these two, there might be sport for him.        [Aside.

Clarence, they hate me; even while I speak
There lurks a silent dagger, listening
In some dark closet, some long gallery, drawn,
And panting for my blood as I go by.

Nay, Madam, there be loyal papers too,
And I have often found them.

                                Find me one!

Ay, Madam; but Sir Nicholas Heath, the Chancellor,
Would see your Highness.

                                Wherefore should I see him?

Well, Madam, he may bring you news from Philip.

So, Clarence.

                Let me first put up your hair;
It tumbles all abroad.

                        And the gray dawn
Of an old age that never will be mine
Is all the clearer seen. No, no; what matters?
Forlorn I am, and let me look forlorn.


I bring your Majesty such grievous news
I grieve to bring it. Madam, Calais is taken.

What traitor spoke? Here, let my cousin Pole
Seize him and burn him for a Lutheran.

Her Highness is unwell. I will retire.

Madam, your Chancellor, Sir Nicholas Heath.

Sir Nicholas! I am stunn’d—Nicholas Heath?
Methought some traitor smote me on the head.
What said you, my good Lord, that our brave English
Had sallied out from Calais and driven back
The Frenchmen from their trenches?

                                Alas! no.
That gateway to the mainland over which
Our flag hath floated for two hundred years
Is France again.

                        So; but it is not lost—
Not yet. Send out: let England as of old
Rise lionlike, strike hard and deep into
The prey they are rending from her—ay, and rend
The renders too. Send out, send out, and make
Musters in all the counties; gather all
From sixteen years to sixty; collect the fleet;
Let every craft that carries sail and gun
Steer toward Calais. Guisnes is not taken yet?

Guisnes is not taken yet.

                                There yet is hope.

Ah, Madam, but your people are so cold;
I do much fear that England will not care.
Methinks there is no manhood left among us.

Send out; I am too weak to stir abroad:
Tell my mind to the Council—to the Parliament:
Proclaim it to the winds. Thou art cold thyself
To babble of their coldness. O would I were
My father for an hour! Away now—Quick!

[Exit Heath.
I hoped I had served God with all my might!
It seems I have not. Ah! much heresy
Shelter’d in Calais. Saints, I have rebuilt
Your shrines, set up your broken images;
Be comfortable to me. Suffer not
That my brief reign in England be defamed
Thro’ all her angry chronicles hereafter
By loss of Calais. Grant me Calais. Philip,
We have made war upon the Holy Father
All for your sake: what good could come of that?

No, Madam, not against the Holy Father;
You did but help King Philip’s war with France,
Your troops were never down in Italy.

I am a byword. Heretic and rebel
Point at me and make merry. Philip gone!
And Calais gone! Time that I were gone too!

Nay, if the fetid gutter had a voice
And cried I was not clean, what should I care?
Or you, for heretic cries? And I believe,
Spite of your melancholy Sir Nicholas,
Your England is as loyal as myself.

    MARY (seeing the paper draft by POLE).
There! there! another paper! Said you not
Many of these were loyal? Shall I try
If this be one of such?

                Let it be, let it be.
God pardon me! I have never yet found one.        [Aside.

    MARY (reads).
‘Your people hate you as your husband hates you.’
Clarence, Clarence, what have I done? what sin
Beyond all grace, all pardon? Mother of God,
Thou knowest never woman meant so well,
And fared so ill in this disastrous world.
My people hate me and desire my death.

No, Madam, no.

My husband hates me, and desires my death.

No, Madam; these are libels.

I hate myself, and I desire my death.

Long live your Majesty! Shall Alice sing you
One of her pleasant songs? Alice, my child,
Bring us your lute (Alice goes). They say the gloom of Saul
Was lighten’d by young David’s harp.

                                Too young!
And never knew a Philip.

Re-enter ALICE.

                        Give me the lute. He hates me!

(She sings.)

Hapless doom of woman happy in betrothing!
Beauty passes like a breath and love is lost in loathing:
Low, my lute; speak low, my lute, but say the world is nothing—
Low, lute, low!

Love will hover round the flowers when they first awaken;
Love will fly the fallen leaf, and not be overtaken;
Low, my lute! oh low, my lute! we fade and are forsaken—
Low, dear lute, low!

Take it away! not low enough for me!

Your Grace hath a low voice.

                                How dare you say it?
Even for that he hates me. A low voice
Lost in a wilderness where none can hear!
A voice of shipwreck on a shoreless sea!
A low voice from the dust and from the grave

(Sitting on the ground).
There, am I low enough now?

Good Lord! how grim and ghastly looks her Grace,
With both her knees drawn upward to her chin.
There was an old-world tomb beside my father’s,
And this was open’d, and the dead were found
Sitting, and in this fashion; she looks a corpse.


Madam, the Count de Feria waits without,
In hopes to see your Highness.

    LADY CLARENCE (pointing to MARY).
Wait he must—
Her trance again. She neither sees nor hears,
And may not speak for hours.

Of Queens and wives and women!

    ALICE (in the foreground with LADY MAGDALEN).
                                And all along
Of Philip.

Not so loud! Our Clarence there
Sees ever such an aureole round the Queen,
It gilds the greatest wronger of her peace,
Who stands the nearest to her.

                                Ay, this Philip;
I used to love the Queen with all my heart—
God help me, but methinks I love her less
For such a dotage upon such a man.
I would I were as tall and strong as you.

I seem half-shamed at times to be so tall.

You are the stateliest deer in all the herd—
Beyond his aim—but I am small and scandalous,
And love to hear bad tales of Philip.

I never heard him utter worse of you
Than that you were low-statured.

                                Does he think
Low stature is low nature, or all women’s
Low as his own?

There you strike in the nail.
This coarseness is a want of phantasy.
It is the low man thinks the woman low;
Sin is too dull to see beyond himself.

Ah, Magdalen, sin is bold as well as dull.
How dared he?

Stupid soldiers oft are bold.
Poor lads, they see not what the general sees,
A risk of utter ruin. I am not
Beyond his aim, or was not.

                                Who? Not you?
Tell, tell me; save my credit with myself.

I never breathed it to a bird in the eaves,
Would not for all the stars and maiden moon
Our drooping Queen should know! In Hampton Court
My window look’d upon the corridor;
And I was robing;—this poor throat of mine,
Barer than I should wish a man to see it,—
When he we speak of drove the window back,
And, like a thief, push’d in his royal hand;
But by God’s providence a good stout staff
Lay near me; and you know me strong of arm;
I do believe I lamed his Majesty’s
For a day or two, tho’, give the Devil his due,
I never found he bore me any spite.

I would she could have wedded that poor youth,
My Lord of Devon—light enough, God knows,
And mixt with Wyatt’s rising—and the boy
Not out of him—but neither cold, coarse, cruel,
And more than all—no Spaniard.

                        Not so loud.
Lord Devon, girls! what are you whispering here?

Probing an old state-secret—how it chanced
That this young Earl was sent on foreign travel,
Not lost his head.

        There was no proof against him.

Nay, Madam; did not Gardiner intercept
A letter which the Count de Noailles wrote
To that dead traitor Wyatt, with full proof
Of Courtenay’s treason? What became of that?

Some say that Gardiner, out of love for him,
Burnt it, and some relate that it was lost
When Wyatt sack’d the Chancellor’s house in Southwark.
Let dead things rest.

                        Ay, and with him who died
Alone in Italy.

Much changed, I hear,
Had put off levity and put graveness on.
The foreign courts report him in his manner
Noble as his young person and old shield.
It might be so—but all is over now;
He caught a chill in the lagoons of Venice,
And died in Padua.

    MARY (looking up suddenly).
                        Died in the true faith?

Ay, Madam, happily.

                                Happier he than I.

It seems her Highness hath awaken’d. Think you
That I might dare to tell her that the Count—

I will see no man hence for evermore,
Saving my confessor and my cousin Pole.

It is the Count de Feria, my dear lady.

What Count?

        The Count de Feria, from his Majesty
King Philip.

                Philip! quick! loop up my hair!
Throw cushions on that seat, and make it throne-like.
Arrange my dress—the gorgeous Indian shawl
That Philip brought me in our happy days!—
That covers all. So—am I somewhat Queenlike,
Bride of the mightiest sovereign upon earth?

Ay, so your Grace would bide a moment yet.

No, no, he brings a letter. I may die
Before I read it. Let me see him at once.

Enter COUNT DE FERIA (kneels).

I trust your Grace is well. (Aside) How her hand burns!

I am not well, but it will better me,
Sir Count, to read the letter which you bring.

Madam, I bring no letter.

                                How! no letter?

His Highness is so vex’d with strange affairs—

That his own wife is no affair of his.

Nay, Madam, nay! he sends his veriest love,
And says, he will come quickly.

                                Doth he, indeed?
You, sir, do you remember what you said
When last you came to England?

                                Madam, I brought
My King’s congratulations; it was hoped
Your Highness was once more in happy state
To give him an heir male.

                        Sir, you said more;
You said he would come quickly. I had horses
On all the road from Dover, day and night;
On all the road from Harwich, night and day;
But the child came not, and the husband came not;
And yet he will come quickly. . . . Thou hast learnt
Thy lesson, and I mine. There is no need
For Philip so to shame himself again.
And tell him that I know he comes no more.
Tell him at last I know his love is dead,
And that I am in state to bring forth death—
Thou art commission’d to Elizabeth,
And not to me!

                Mere compliments and wishes.
But shall I take some message from your Grace?

Tell her to come and close my dying eyes,
And wear my crown, and dance upon my grave.

Then I may say your Grace will see your sister?
Your Grace is too low-spirited. Air and sunshine.
I would we had you, Madam, in our warm Spain.
You droop in your dim London.

                                Have him away!
I sicken of his readiness.

                        My Lord Count,
Her Highness is too ill for colloquy.

    FERIA (kneels, and kisses her hand).
I wish her Highness better. (Aside) How her hand burns!


Queen Mary - Contents     |     Act V - Scene III

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