Queen Mary

Act V

Scene V

Alfred Tennyson

London. A room in the Palace.

A Gallery on one side. The moonlight streaming through a range of windows on the wall opposite. MARY, LADY CLARENCE, LADY MAGDALEN DACRES, ALICE. QUEEN pacing the Gallery. A writing table in front. QUEEN comes to the table and writes and goes again, pacing the Gallery.

Mine eyes are dim: what hath she written? read.

‘I am dying, Philip; come to me.’

There—up and down, poor lady, up and down.

And how her shadow crosses one by one
The moonlight casements pattern’d on the wall,
Following her like her sorrow. She turns again.

[Queen sits and writes, and goes again.

What hath she written now?

Nothing; but ‘come, come, come,’ and all awry,
And blotted by her tears. This cannot last.

[QUEEN returns.

I whistle to the bird has broken cage,
And all in vain.        [Sitting down.
Calais gone—Guisnes gone, too—and Philip gone!

Dear Madam, Philip is but at the wars;
I cannot doubt but that he comes again;
And he is with you in a measure still.
I never look’d upon so fair a likeness
As your great King in armour there, his hand
Upon his helmet.

[Pointing to the portrait of Philip on the wall.

                Doth he not look noble?
I had heard of him in battle over seas,
And I would have my warrior all in arms.
He said it was not courtly to stand helmeted
Before the Queen. He had his gracious moment,
Altho’ you’ll not believe me. How he smiles
As if he loved me yet!

                And so he does.

He never loved me—nay, he could not love me.
It was his father’s policy against France.
I am eleven years older than he,
Poor boy!        [Weeps.

That was a lusty boy of twenty-seven;        [Aside.
Poor enough in God’s grace!

                        —And all in vain!
The Queen of Scots is married to the Dauphin,
And Charles, the lord of this low world, is gone;
And all his wars and wisdoms past away:
And in a moment I shall follow him.

Nay, dearest Lady, see your good physician.

Drugs—but he knows they cannot help me—says
That rest is all—tells me I must not think—
That I must rest—I shall rest by and by.
Catch the wild cat, cage him, and when he springs
And maims himself against the bars, say ‘rest’:
Why, you must kill him if you would have him rest—
Dead or alive you cannot make him happy.

Your Majesty has lived so pure a life,
And done such mighty things by Holy Church,
I trust that God will make you happy yet.

What is the strange thing happiness? Sit down here:
Tell me thine happiest hour.

                        I will, if that
May make your Grace forget yourself a little.
There runs a shallow brook across our field
For twenty miles, where the black crow flies five,
And doth so bound and babble all the way
As if itself were happy. It was May-time,
And I was walking with the man I loved.
I loved him, but I thought I was not loved.
And both were silent, letting the wild brook
Speak for us—till he stoop’d and gather’d one
From out a bed of thick forget-me-nots,
Look’d hard and sweet at me, and gave it me.
I took it, tho’ I did not know I took it,
And put it in my bosom, and all at once
I felt his arms about me, and his lips—

O God! I have been too slack, too slack;
There are Hot Gospellers even among our guards—
Nobles we dared not touch. We have but burnt
The heretic priest, workmen, and women and children.
Wet, famine, ague, fever, storm, wreck, wrath,—
We have so play’d the coward; but by God’s grace,
We’ll follow Philip’s leading, and set up
The Holy Office here—garner the wheat,
And burn the tares with unquenchable fire!
Fie, what a savour! tell the cooks to close
The doors of all the offices below.
Sir, we are private with our women here—
Ever a rough, blunt, and uncourtly fellow—
Thou light a torch that never will go out!
’Tis out—mine flames. Women, the Holy Father
Has ta’en the legateship from our cousin Pole—
Was that well done? and poor Pole pines of it,
As I do, to the death. I am but a woman,
I have no power.—Ah, weak and meek old man,
Seven-fold dishonour’d even in the sight
Of thine own sectaries—No, no. No pardon!
Why that was false: there is the right hand still
Beckons me hence.
Sir, you were burnt for heresy, not for treason,
Remember that! ’twas I and Bonner did it,
And Pole; we are three to one—Have you found mercy there,
Grant it me here: and see, he smiles and goes,
Gentle as in life.

                Madam, who goes? King Philip?

No, Philip comes and goes, but never goes.
Women, when I am dead,
Open my heart, and there you will find written
Two names, Philip and Calais; open his,—
So that he have one,—
You will find Philip only, policy, policy,—
Ay, worse than that—not one hour true to me!
Foul maggots crawling in a fester’d vice!
Adulterous to the very heart of Hell.
Hast thou a knife?

                Ay, Madam, but o’ God’s mercy—

Fool, think’st thou I would peril mine own soul
By slaughter of the body? I could not, girl,
Not this way—callous with a constant stripe,
Unwoundable. The knife!

                        Take heed, take heed!
The blade is keen as death.

                        This Philip shall not
Stare in upon me in my haggardness;
Old, miserable, diseased,
Incapable of children. Come thou down.

Cuts out the picture and throws it down.
Lie there. (Wails) O God, I have kill’d my Philip!

Madam, you have but cut the canvas out;
We can replace it.

                All is well then; rest—
I will to rest; he said, I must have rest.

[Cries of ‘ELIZABETHin the street.
A cry! What’s that? Elizabeth? revolt?
A new Northumberland, another Wyatt?
I’ll fight it on the threshold of the grave.

Madam, your royal sister comes to see you.

I will not see her.
Who knows if Boleyn’s daughter be my sister?
I will see none except the priest. Your arm.

O Saint of Aragon, with that sweet worn smile
Among thy patient wrinkles—Help me hence.


Good counsel yours—
                                No one in waiting? still,
As if the chamberlain were Death himself!
The room she sleeps in—is not this the way?
No, that way there are voices. Am I too late?
Cecil. . . . God guide me lest I lose the way.

[Exit Elizabeth.

Many points weather’d, many perilous ones,
At last a harbour opens; but therein
Sunk rocks—they need fine steering—much it is
To be nor mad, nor bigot—have a mind—
Nor let Priests’ talk, or dream of worlds to be,
Miscolour things about her—sudden touches
For him, or him—sunk rocks; no passionate faith—
But—if let be—balance and compromise;
Brave, wary, sane to the heart of her—a Tudor
School’d by the shadow of death—a Boleyn, too,
Glancing across the Tudor—not so well.

Enter ALICE.

How is the good Queen now?

                        Away from Philip.
Back in her childhood—prattling to her mother
Of her betrothal to the Emperor Charles,
And childlike—jealous of him again—and once
She thank’d her father sweetly for his book
Against that godless German. Ah, those days
Were happy. It was never merry world
In England, since the Bible came among us.

And who says that?

It is a saying among the Catholics.

It never will be merry world in England,
Till all men have their Bible, rich and poor.

The Queen is dying, or you dare not say it.


The Queen is dead.

Then here she stands! my homage.

She knew me, and acknowledged me her heir,
Pray’d me to pay her debts, and keep the Faith:
Then claspt the cross, and pass’d away in peace.
I left her lying still and beautiful,
More beautiful than in life. Why would you vex yourself,
Poor sister? Sir, I swear I have no heart
To be your Queen. To reign is restless fence,
Tierce, quart, and trickery. Peace is with the dead.
Her life was winter, for her spring was nipt:
And she loved much: pray God she be forgiven.

Peace with the dead, who never were at peace!
Yet she loved one so much—I needs must say—
That never English monarch dying left
England so little.

But with Cecil’s aid
And others, if our person be secured
From traitor stabs—we will make England great.


God save Elizabeth, the Queen of England!

God save the Crown! the Papacy is no more.

    PAGET (aside).
Are we so sure of that?

                God save the Queen!

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