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MoBT. She lives no more, as soon as you command it.

Eliz . 0, Sir ! I thought I saw my labour "s end,
And I am come no farther than at first.
I wish'd to let the laws of England act.
And keep my own hands pure from blood's defile-
ment.



254 MARY STUART. [ACT U.

The sentence is pronounc'd — what gain J by it?

It must be executed, Mortimer,

And I must authorize the execution,

The blame will ever light on me, I must

Avow it, nor can save appearances.

That is the worst —
Mortimer. But can appearances

Disturb your conscience where the cause is just?
Ei.[Z. . You are unpractis'd in the world, Sir Knight ;

What we appear, is subject to the judgment

Of all mankind, and what we are, of no man.

No one will be convinc'd that I am right :

I must take care that my connivance in

Her death be wrapp'd in everlasting doubt.

In deeds of such uncertain double visage

Safety lies only in obscurity.

Those measures are the worst that stand avow'd,

What 's not abandon'd, is not wholly lost.
Mortimer (seeking to learn her meaning).

Then it perhaps were best —
Elizabeth [qvick). Ay, surely 'twere

The best ; 0, Sir, my better angel speaks

Through you ;— go on then, worthy Sir, conclude ;

You are in earnest, you examine deep,

Have quite a different spirit from your uncle.
Mortimer [surprised).

Have you impai-ted then your wishes to him ?
Eliz. . I am sorry that I have.
Mortimer. Excuse his age,

The old man is grown scrupulous ; such bold

Adventures ask the enterprising heart

Of youth—
Ei.ijubeth. And may I venture then on you —

MoRT. My hand I'll lend thee ; save then as thou caiist

Thy reputation —
Elizabeth. Yes, Sir ; if you could

But, waken me some morning wiih this riews—

"Maria Stuart, your Llood-thirsty foe,

Breath'd yesternight her last" —
Mortimer Depend on me-

Euz. . When shall my head lie calmly down to sleep?



MARY STUART. 256

MoRT. Tlie next new moon will terminate thy fears.

Eoz. . And be the selfsame happy day the dawn

Of your preferment — so God speed you, Sir ;
And be not hurt, if, chance, my thankfulness
Should wear the mask of darloiess. — Silence is
The happy suitor's god. — The closest bonds,
The dearest, are the work of secrecy. [Ent

Scene VI.
Mortimer [alone).

Go, false deceitful Queen ! As thou deludest

The world, e'en so I cozen thee ; 'tis right,

Thus to betray thee ; 'tis a worthy deed.

Look I then like a murd'rer ? Hast thou read

Upon my brow such base dexterity ?

Trust only to my aiTa, and keep thine own

Conceal'd — assume the pious outward show

Of mercy 'fore the world, while reckoning

In secret on my murd'rous aid ; and thus

By gaining time we shall ensure her rescue.

Thou wilt exalt me ! — show'st me from afar

The costly recompense : but even were

Thyself the prize, and all thy woman's favour,

what art thou, poor one, and what canst thou proffer?

I scorn ambition's avaricious strife.

With her alone is all the chaiTU of life.

O'er her, in rounds of endless glor}-, hover

Spirits with grace, and youth eternal bless'd ,

Celestial joy is thron'd upon her breast.

Thou hast but earthly, mortal goods to offer —

That sov'reign good, for which all else be slighted.

^\Tien heart in heart, delighting and delighted :

Together flow in sweet forgetfulness ; —

Ne'er didst thou woman's ftiirest crown possess,

Ne'er hast thou with thy hand a lover's heart requited

— I must attend Lord Leicester, and deliver

Her letter to him — 'tis a hateful charge —

I have no confidence in this court puppet —

7 can effect her rescue, I alone ;

Bf danger, honour, and the prize my owir.

lAs he is going, Paulet ineeta him.



256 MABY STUART. [aCT U.



Scene VII
Mortimer, Paulet

Paul. . What said the Queen to you? —

MoRTiiiER 'Twas nothing, Sir;

Nothing of consequence —

Paulet (looking at him earnestly). Hear, Mortimer !
It is a false and slipp'ry ground on which
You tread. The grace of princes is alluring,
Youth loves ambition — let not yours betray you.

IMoRT. Was it not yourself that brought me to the Court ?

Paul. 0, would to God I had not done as much !
The honour of our house was never reap'd
In courts — stand fast my nephew — purchase not
Too dear, nor stain your conscience with a crime.

I\Iort. What are these fears ? What are you dreaming of ?

Paul. . How high soe'er the Queen may pledge herself
To raise you, tnist not her alluring words.
[^ The spirit of the world's a lying spirit,
And vice is a deceitful, treach'rous friend.J
She Avill deny you. if you listen to her ;
And, to preserve her own good name, will punish
The bloody deed, which she herself enjoin 'd.

MoKT. The bloody deed ! —

Paulet. Away, dissimulation I —

I know the deed the Queen propos'd to you.
She hopes that your ambitious youth will prove
More docile than my rigid age. But say.
Have you then pledg'd your promise, have you ? —

MoRT. Uncle 1

Paul. . If you have done so, I abandon you.
And lay my curse upon you —

Leicester {entering). Worthy Sir!

I with your nephew wish a word. — The Quee*'
Is graciously inclin'd to him ; she wills
That to his custody the Scottish Queen
Be with full powers entrusted. She relies
On his fidelity.

Paulet. Fielies! — 'tis well—

Leic. . "\^1iat say you, Sir?



[SC. VI JI. MARY STUAKT. 257

Paulet Her Majesty relies

On him ; and I, my noble Lord, rely
Upon myself, and my two open eyes. [Exit

Scene YIII
Leicester, Mortimer

Leicester {surprised). What ailed the Knight?

Mortimer. My Lord, I cannot lell

"What angers him : — the confidence, perhaps,
The Queen so suddenly confers on me.

Leic. Are you deserving then of confidence ?

MoRT. . This would I ask of you. my Lord of Leicester.

Leic, . You said you wish'd to speak with me in private

MoRT. . Assure me first that I may safely venture.

Leic. . W^ho gives me an assurance on your side ?
Let not my want of confidence offend you ;
I see you. Sir, exhibit at tliis court
Two diff 'rent aspects ; one of them Jiiu.st be
A borrow'd one ; but which of them is real ?

MoRT. . The selfsame doubts I have conceniing you.

Leic . Which, then, shall pave the v/ay to confidence ?

MoRT. . He who, by doing it, is least in danger

Leic. . Well, that are you —

Mortimer. No, you ; — the evidence

Of such a weighty, powerful peer as you
Can overwhelm my voice. My accusation
Is weak against your rank and influence.

Leic . Sir, you mistake. In ev'rything but this

I'm pow'rful here ; but in this tender point.
Which I am call'd upon to tnist you with,
I am the weakest man of all the Court,
The poorest testimony can undo me.

MoRT. If the all-pow'rful Earl of Leicester deign
To stoop so low to meet me, and to make
Such a confession to me, I may venture
To think a little better of myself,
And lead the way in magnanimity.

Leic. . Lead you the way of confidence, I'll follow.

Mortimer (producing suddenly the letter).

Here is a letter from the Queen of Scotland



258



MAEY STUART. [aCT II.



Leicester {alarmed, catches hastily at the letter).

Speak softly, Sir ! — what see I ? — Oh, it is
Her picture ! —

[Kisses and examines it with speechless joy — a
pause.
Mortimer (ivho has watched him closely the whole time).

Now, my Lord, I can believe you.
Leicester (liaving hastily run through the letter).

You know the purport of this letter. Sir ?
MORT. . Not I. —

Leicester. Indeed ! She surely hath inform'd you —

MoRT. . Nothing hath she inform'd me of. She said

You would explain this riddle to me — 'tis

To me a riddle, that the Earl of Leicester,

The far-fam'd fav'rite of Elizabeth,

The open, bitter enemy of Mary,

And one of those who spoke her mortal sentence,

Should be the man from whom the Queen expects

Deliv "ranee from her woes ; and yet it must be ;

Your eyes express too plainly, what your heart

Feels for the hapless lady. —
Leicester. Tell me, Sir,

First, how it comes that you should take so warm

An int'rest in her fate ; and what it was

Gain'd you her confidence? —
Mortimer. My Lord, I can,

And in few words, explain this mystery.

I lately have at Rome abjur'd my creed, »

And stand in correspondence with the Guises

A letter from the Cardinal Archbishop

Was my credential with the Queen of Scots.
Leic I am acquainted, Sir, with your conversion ;

'Twas that which wak'd my confidence towards you.
[Each remnant of distrust be henceforth banish'd;]

Your hand, Sir, pardon me these idle doubts.

I cannot use too much precaution here.

Knowing how Walsingham and Burleigh hate me,

And, watching me, in secret spread their snares;

You might have been their instrument, their creature

To lure me to their toils.



BC. VIII.] MART stuar:i ti69

Mortimer How poor a part

Sc great a nobleman is forc'd to play

At court ! My Lord, I pity you.
Leicester. With joy

I rest upon the faithful breast of friendship,

Where I can ease me of this long constraint.

You seem surpris'd, Sir, that my heart is tum'd

So suddenly towards the captive Queen.

In truth, I never hated her ; — the times

Have forc'd me to appear her enemy.

She -was, as you well know, my destined bride,

Long since, ere she bestow'd her hand on Darnley,

While yet the beams of glory round her smil'd.

Coldly I then refused the proffered boon.

Now in confinement, at the gates of death,

I claim her, at the hazard of my life.
MoRT. . True magnanimity, my Lord —
Leicester. The state

Of circumstances, since that time, is chang'd

Ambition made me all insensible

To youth and beauty. — Mary's hand I held

Too insignificant for me ; — I hoped

To be the husband of the Queen of England
Mort. . It is well knowTi she gave you preference

Before all others.
Leicester So, indeed, it seem'd.

Now, after ten lost years of tedious courtship,

And hateful self-constraint — 0, Sir, my heart

Must ease itself of this long agony.

They call me happy! — Did they only know

What the chains are, for which they enry me !

When I had sacrificed ten bitter years

To the proud idol of her vanity ;

Submitted with a slave's humility

To ev'ry change of her despotic fancies ;

The plaything of each little wayward whim.

At times by seeming tenderness caressed.

As oft repulsed with proud and cold disdain ;

Alike tormented by her grace and rigour .

Wfiitcli'd like a pris'ner by the Argus-eyes

Of jealousy; examin'd like a school-boy,

s 2



260



MAEY STUAfrr.



[act II.



And rail'd at like a servant. — 0, no tongue
Can paint this hell —

Mortimer. My Lord, I feel for yoiL

Leic. . To lose, and at the very goal, the prize I
Another comes to roh me of the fruits
Of my so anxious wooing. I must lose
To her young blooming husband all those rights
Of which I was so long in full possession ;
And I must from the stage descend, where I
So long have play'd the most distinguish'd part.
'Tis not her hand alone this envious stranger
Threatens, he'd rob me of her favour too ;
She is a woman, and he form'd to please.

MoRT. He is the son of Cath'rine. He has leanit,
In a good school, the arts of flattery.

Leic. . Thus fall my hopes ; — I strove to seize a plank
To bear me in this shipwreck of my fortunes, •
And my eye tuni'd itself towards the hope
Of former days once more ; then Mary's image
Within me was renew'd, and youth and beauty
Once more asserted all their former rights.
Ko more 'twas cold ambition ; 'twas my heart
Which now compar'd, and with regret I felt
The value of the jewel I had lost.
With horror I beheld her in the depths
Of miseiy, cast down by my transgression ;
Then wak'd the hope in me, that I might still
Deliver and possess her ; I contriv'd
To send her, through a faithful hand, the news
Of my conversion to her interests ;
And in this letter which you brought me, she
Assures me that she pardons me. and offers
Herself as guerdon, if I rescue her.

MoRT. . But you attempted nothing for her rescue.
You let her be condemn'd without a word ;
You gave, yourself, your verdict for her death ;
A miracle must happen, and the light
Of truth must move me, we, her keeper's nephew
And Heav'n ust, in the Vatican at Rome,
Prepare for her an unexpected succour.
Else had sh=! never found the way to you.



6C. VIII.] MABT STUART 261

Leic. 0, Sir ! it has tormented me enough !

About this time it was, that they remov'd her

From Talbot's castle, and deliver'd her

Up to your uncle's stricter custody.

Each way to her was shut. I was oblig'd,

Before the world, to persecute her still ;

But do not think that I would patiently

Have seen her led to death. No, Sir ; I hop'd,

And still I hope, to ward off all extremes.

Till I can find some certain means lo save her.
MoRT. These are already found : my Lord of Leicester,

Your geu'rous confidence in me deserves

A like return. I will deliver her.

That is my object here — my dispositions

Are made already, and your pow'rful aid,

Assures us of success in our attempt.
Leic. . What say you? — you alarm me — how? — you would—
MoRT. . I'll open forcibly her prison-gates : —

I have confederates, and all is ready.
Leic. . You have confederates, accomplices ?

Alas ! In what rash enterprise would you

Engage me? And these friends, know they mij secret?
!MoRT. . Fear not ; our plan was laid without your help.

Without your help it would have been accomplish 'd,

Had she not signified her resolution

To owe her liberty to you alone.
Leic. . And can you then, with certainty, assure me,

That in your plot my name has not been mention'd ?
MoRT. , You may depend upon it. How, my Lord,

So scrupulous when help is offer'd you ?

You wish to rescue Mary, and possess her ;

You find confed'rates ; sudden, unexpected.

The readiest means fall, as it were from Heav'n,

Yet you show more perplexity than joy
Leic. . We must avoid all violence ; it is

Too dangerous an enterprise.
Mortimer. Delay

Is also dangerous.
Leicester. I tell you, Sir,

'Tis not to be attempted —
Mortimer. my Lord,



262



MART STUAET



[act n



MORT.

Leic.

MoRT.

Leic.

MORT.

Leic.

MoRT.

Leic.

MoRT.

Leic.

MoRT.

Leic.



MoRT.



Too hazardous for ijou ■who wou'.d possess her;

Bat ice, who only wish to rescue her,

We are more bold.
Leicester. Young man, you are too hasty

In such a thorny, dangerous attempt.

And you too scrapulous in honour's cause.

I see the trammels that are spread around us.

And I feel courage to break through them all.

Fool-hardiness and madness, is this courage?

This prudence is not bravery, my Lord.

You surely wish to end like Babington.

Y''ou not to imitate great Norfolk's virtue.

Norfolk ne'er won the bride he woo'd so fondly.

But yet he prov'd how truly he deserved her.

If we are niin'd, she must fell with us.

If u-e risk nothing, she will ne'er be rescued.

You will not weigh the matter, will not hear ;

"With blind and hasty rashness you destroy

The plans which I so happily had framed.

And what were then the plans which you had fram'd ?

What have you done then to deliver her?

And how, if I were miscreant enough

To murder her, as was propos'd to me

This moment by Elizabeth, and which

She looks upon as certain ; only name

The measures you have taken to protect her ?

Did the Queen give you then this bloody order?

She was deceiv'd in me, as Mary is

In you.

Leicester. And have you promis'd it ; say, have you '

MoRT. . That she might not engage another's hand,

I offer'd mine.
Leicester. W^ell done, Sir, — that was right ;•—

This gives us leisure, for she rests secure

Upon your bloody service, and the sentence

Is mifulfill'd the while, and we gain time.
Mortimer [angrily).

No, we are losing time.
Leicester The Queen depends

On you, and will the readier make a show

Of mercy — and I may prevail on her



Leic.

MoRT



W. Vlll.] MARY STUART. 263

To give an audience to her adversary ;

And by this stratagem we tie her hands :

Yes ! 1 will make the attempt, strain ev'iy nerve.

MoRx. . And what is gain'd by this ? When she discover
That I am cheating her, that Maiy lives ;
Ai'e we not where we were ? She never ^ill
Be free ; the mildest doom which can await her
At best, is but perpetual confinement
A daring deed must one day end the matter ;
Why will you not with such a deed begin ?
The pow'r is in your hands, would you but rouse
The might of your dependents round about
Your many castles, 'twere an host ; and still
Has Maiy many secret friends. The Howards
And Percies' noble houses, though their chiefs
Be falln, are rich in heroes ; they but wait
For the example of some potent lord.
Away with feigning — act an open part.
And, like a loyal knight, protect your fair ;
Fight a good fight for her ! You know you are
Lord of the person of the Queen of England,
Whene'er you will : in%ate her to your castle.
Oft hath she thither follow'd you — then show
That you're a man — then speak as master — keep hex
Confin'd till she release the Queen of Scots.

Leic. . I am astonish'd — I am terrified! —

Whei'e would your giddy madness hurry you?

Are you acquainted with this country ? Know you

The deeps and shallows of this court ? With wha

A potent spell this female sceptre binds

And rules men's spirits round her ? 'Tis in vain

You seek th' heroic energy which once

Was active in this laud ! — it is subdued, —

A woman holds it under lock and key.

And ev'ry spring of courage is relax 'd.

Follow my counsel — venture nothing rashly.

Some one approaches — go —

Mortimer. And Maiy hopes —

Shall I return to her with empty comfort"''

Lkic. . Bear her my vows of everlasting love



264 MARY STUART. [ACT II.

MoRT Bear them yourself ! I offer'd my assistance

As her deliv'rer, not your messenger. [Exit.

Scene IX.
Elizabeth, Leicester.

Eliz. Say who vras here ? I heard the sound of voices.

Leicester {turnmg quickly and perplexed round, on hearing

the Queen).
It was young Mortimer —

Elizabeth. How now, my Lord :

Why so confus'd ?

Leicester {collecting himself).

Your presence is the cause.
Ne'er did I see thy beauty so resplendent,
My sight is dazzled by thv heavenly charms.
Oh!—

Elizabeth. Whence this sigh ?

Leicester. Have I no reason, then,

To sigh ? When I behold you in your glory,
I feel anew, with pain unspeakable,
The loss which threatens me.

Elizabeth. What loss, my Lord .'

Leic. . Your heart — your own inestimable self: —
Soon will you feel yourself within the arms
Of your young ardent husband, highly bless'd •
He will possess your heart, \\ithout a rival.
He is of royal blood — that am not I.
Yet, spite of all the world can say, there lives not
One on this globe, who with such fervent zeal
Adores you, as the man who loses you.
Anjou hath never seen you. can but love
Your glory, and the splendour of your reign ; —
But 1 love you — and were you bom, of all
The peasant maids the poorest, I the first
Of kings, 1 would descend to your condition.
And lay my crowii and sceptre at your feet !

\\\AZ. Oh^jity me, my Dudley ; do not blame me —
I cannot ask mv heart. Oh, that had chosen
Far otherwise ! Ah, how I envy others



RC IX.] MARY STUART 265

Who can exalt the object of their love !
But I am not so blest : — 'tis not my fortune
To place upon the brows of him, the dearest
Of men to me, the royal ero\\ii of England.
The Queen of Scotland was allow'd to make
Her hand the token of her inclination ; —
She hath had ev'iy freedom, and hath drunk,
E'en to tlie very dregs, the cup of joy.

Leic. . And now she drinks the bitter cup of sorrow.

Eliz . She never did respect the world's opinion ; —
Life was to her a sport ; — she never courted
The yoke to which I bow'd my willing neck.
And yet, methinks, I had as just a claim
As she, to please myself, and taste the joys
Of life : — but I preferr'd the rigid duties
Which royalty imposed on me ; — yet she,
Sh£ was the favourite of all the men.
Because she only strove to be a woman ;
And youth and age became alike her suitors.
Thus are the men — voluptuaries all !
The willing slaves of le\-ity and pleasui'e ;
Value that least which claims their reverence.
And did not even Talbot, though grey-headed.
Grow young again, when speaking of her charms?

Leic. . Forgive him — for he was her keeper once,

And she has fool'd him vrith. her cunning \viles.

Eliz. . And is it really trae, that she's so fair?
So often have I been oblig'd to hear
The praises of this wonder — it were well
If I could leam on what I might depend :
Pictures are flattering, and descripti«i lies ; —
I will ti*ust nothing, but my own conviction.
Wliy gaze you at me thus ?

Lbjcester. I plac'd in thought

You and Maria Stuart, side by side.
Yes ! I confess, I oft have felt a wish,
If it could be but secretly contriv'd,
To see you placed beside the Scottish Queen.
TTien would you feel, and not till then, the full
Enjoyment of your triumph : — she desen-es
To be thus humbled ; she deserves to see.



266 MART STUART. [aCT II

With her own eyes, and envy's glance is keen,
Herself surpass'd, to feel herself o'ermatch'd,
As much by thee in form and princely grace,
As in each virtue that adorns the sex.

Eljz. . In years she has th' advantage —

Leicester. Has she so?

I never should have thought it. But her griefs.

Her sufferings, indeed ! 'tis possible.

Have brought down age upon her ere her time.

Yes, and 'twould mortify her more to see thee

As bride — she hath already turn'd her back

On each fair hope of life, and she would see thee

Advancing tow'rds the open arms of joy —

See thee as bride of France's royal son

She who hath always plumed herself so high

On her connection with the House of France,

And still depends upon its mighty aid.

Elizabeth {with a careless air).

I'm teaz'd to grant this interview.

Leicester, She asks it

As a favour ; grant it as a punishment.
For though you should conduct her to the block.
Yet would it less torment her, than to see
Herself extinguish'd by your beauty's splendour.
Thus can you murder her, as she hath wish'd
To murder you. When she beholds your beauty.
Guarded by modesty, and beaming bright,
In the clear glory of unspotted fame,
(Which she with thoughtless levity discarded.)
Exalted by the splendour of the crown,
And blooming now with tender bridal graces —
Then is the hour of her destruction come.
Yes — when I now behold you — you were never,
No, never were you so prepar'd to seal '
The triumph of your beauty. As but now
You enter'd the apartment, I was dazzled
As by a glorious vision from on high.
Could you but now, now as you are, appear
Before her, you could find no better moment.

Eliz. . Now? — no — not now — no Leicester — this must be
Maturely weigh 'd — I must with Burleigh —



so. IX.] MAEY STUART. 207

Leicester. Burleigh!

To him you are but Sov'reign, and aa such
Alone he seeks your welfare ; but your rights,
Deriv'd from womanhood, this tender point
Must be decided by your own tribunal,
Not by the statesman : — yet e'en policy
Demands that you should see her, and allure.
By such a gen'rous deed, the public voice.
You can hereafter act as it may please you,
To rid you of the hateful enemy.

Eliz. But would it then become me to behold
My kinswoman in infamy and want ?
They say she is not royally attended ;
Would not the sight of her distress reproach me ?

Leic. . You need not cross her threshold — hear my counsel : —
A fortunate conjuncture favours it.
The hunt you mean to honour vfith. your presence
Is in the neighbourhood of Fotheringay ;
Permission may be giv'n to Lady Stuart
To take the air ; you meet her in the park,
As if by accident ; it must not seem
To have been plann'd, and should you not incline,
You need not speak to her.

EuzABETH. If I am foolish,

Be yours the fault, not mine. I ■jvould not care

To-day to cross your wishes ; for to-day

I've griev'd you more than all my other subjects.

[Taiderly
Let it then be your fancy. Leicester, hence
You see the free obsequiousness of love,
Which suffers that which it cannot approve.

[Leicester prostrates himself before her, and the
curtain falls.



888 MARY STUART. [ACT 111,



ACT III.

Scene I.

In a Park. — In the foreground Trees ; in the background a

distant Prospect.

Mart advances, running from behind the Trees . Hannah

Kennedy follows slowly.
Ken. . You hasten on as if endow'd with wings—

I cannot follow you so swiftly — wait.
Mary. . Freedom returns ! let me enjoy it, —



Online LibraryFriedrich SchillerThe works of Frederick Schiller, translated from the German (Volume 3) → online text (page 16 of 37)