Friedrich Schiller.

The works of Frederick Schiller, translated from the German (Volume 3) online

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The hot impatience of his heart would not

Permit him to remain at Paris ; he

At Amiens awaits the joyful tidings ;

And thence to Calais reach his posts, to bring


With winged softness to his tranced ear
The sweet consent which, still we humbly hope,
Your royal lips will graciously pronounce.
Eijz Press me no further now. Count Bellievre,
It is not now a time, I must repeat,
To kindle here the joyful marriage torch.
The heav'ns iow'r black and heavy o'er this land ;
And weeds of mourning would become me better
Than the magnificence of bridal robes.
A fatal blow is aim'd against my heart ;
A blow which threatens to oppress my House
Bel. . We only ask your Majesty to promise

Your royal hand when brighter days shall come
Eii.iz ]Monarchs ai'e but the slaves of their condition ;
They dare not hear the dictates of their hearts
My wish was ever to remain unmarried,
And I had plac'd my greatest pride in this,
That men hereafter on my tomb might read
" Here rests the \'irgin Queen." But my good subjects
Are not content that this should be : they think.
E'en now they often think, upon the time
When I shall be no more. Tis not enough
That blessings now are shower'd upon this land ;
They ask a sacrifice for future welfare,
And I must offer up my liberty,
My virgin liberty, my greatest good,
To satisfy my people. Thus they'd force
A lord and master on me. Tis by this
I see that I am nothing but a woman
In their regard ; and yet methought that I
Had govern'd like a man, and like a kmg.
Well wot I that it is not serving God.
To quit the laws of nature ; and that those
Who here have ruVd before me merit praise.
That they have op"d the cloister gates, and giv'n
Thousands of victims of ill-taught devotion,
Back to the duties of humanity.
But yet a Queen, who hath not spent her days
In fruitless, idle contemplation ; who,
Without a murmur, indefatigably,
Performs the hardest of all duties ; slie


Should be exempted, from that natural law
Which doth ordain one half of human kind
Shall ever be subservient to the other.

AcB . Great Queen, you have upon your throne done houcul
To ev'ry \artue ; nothing now remains,
Eut to the sex, whose greatest boast you are,
To be the leading star, and give the great
Example of its most consistent duties.
'Tis true, the man exists not who desen-es
That you to him should sacrifice your freedom ;
Yet if a hero's soul, descent, and rank,
And manly beauty can make mortal man
Deserving of this honour —

Eli;:abeth. Without doubt.

My Lord Ambassador, a marriage union
With France's royal son would do me honour:
Yes, I acknowledge it without disguise,
If it must be, if I cannot prevent it.
If I must yield unto my people's prayei-s.
And much I fear they will o'erpower me,
I do not know, in Europe, any prince
To whom with less reluctance I would yield
My greatest treasure, my dear liberty.
Let this confession satisfy your master.

Bel. . It gives the fairest hope, and yet it gives

Nothing hut hope ; my master wishes more.

Eliz. . What wishes he ?

[She takes a ring from her finger, and thoughtfnlhj
examines it.

In this a Queen has not
One privilege above all other women.
This common token marks one common duty.
One common semtude ; the ring denotes
Marriage ; and 'tis of rings a chain is form'd.
Convey this present to his Highness : 'tis
As vet no chain, it binds me not as vet.
But out of it may grow a liniv to bind me.

Beluevre {kneeling).

This present, in his name, upon my knees,
I do receive, great Queen, and press the kisis


Of homage ou the hand of her who is
Henceforth my princess.
Elizabeth [to the Earl of Leicester, whom she, during tJu
last speeches, had continually regarded).

By yoiii' leave, my Lord.
[She takes the blue riband from his necn, ^, and
invests Bellievre with it.
Invest his Highness with this ornament,
As I invest you with it, and receive you
Into the duties of my gallant order.
And, " Honi soit qui mal y pense." Thus perish
All jealousy between our several realms,
And let the bond of confidence unite.
Henceforth, the crowns of Britain and of France
Bel. . Most sovreign Queen, this is a day of joy ;

that it could be so for all, and no
Afflicted heart -Ritliin this island moiuTi.
See I mercy beams upon thy radiant brow ;
Let the reflection of its cheering light
Fall on a wretched princess, who concerns
Britain and France alike.

Elizabeth No further. Count!

Let us not mix two inconsistent things ;

If France be truly anxious for my hand,

It must partake my interests, and renounce

Alliance with my foes.
AuBESPiNE. In thine o^vn eyes

Would she not seem to act imworthily,

If in this joyous treaty, she forgot

This hapless Queen, the widow of her king ;

In whose behalf, her honour and her faith

Are bound to plead for grace.
Elizabeth. Thus urged, I know

To rate this intercession at its worth ;

France has discharged her duties as a friend,

1 will fulfil my own as England's Queen.

[She bows to the French Ambassadors, icho, with
the other Gentlemen, retire respectfully.

* Till the time of Charles the First, the Knights of the Grart"* wore th«


Scene III.

tenter Bubleigh, Leicester, and Talbot. The Queen takes

her seat.

Bur. . Illustrious sovereign, thou cro"wn'st to clay
The fervent wishes of thy people : now
We can rejoice in the propitious days
Which thou bestow'st upon us ; and we look
No more with fear and trembling tow'rds the time
Which, charg'd \^ith storms, futurity presented
Xow, but one only care disturbs this land ;
It is a sacrifice which every voice
Demands ; I grant but this, and England's peace
Will be establish'd now and evermore.

Eliz. . What wish they still, my Lord? Speak.

Burleigh. They demand

The Stuart's head. If to thy people thou
Wouldst now secure the precious Boon of freedom.
And the fair light of truth so dearly won,
Then she must die : if we are not to live
In endless terror for thy precious life,
The enemy must fall : for well thou know'st,
That all thy Biitons are not true alike :
Romish idolatry has still its friends
In secret, in this island, who foment
The hatred of our enemies. Their hearts
All turn towards this Stuart ; they are leagu'd
With the two plotting brothers of Lorrain,
The foes invet'rate of thy house and name.
"Gainst thee this raging faction hath declai''d
A war of desolation, which they wage
With the deceitful instniments of hell.
At Rheims, the Cardinal Archbishop's see,
There is the arsenal, from which they dart
These lightnings ; there the school of regicide ;
Tlience, in a thousand shapes disguis'd, are sent
Their secret missionaries to this isle ;

blue riband with the George, about their necks, as they still do the collars,
on great davs. — Translator.

B d


Their bold and daring zealots ; for from thence.

Have we not seen the third assussiu come ?

And inexhausted is the direfid breed

Of secret enemies in this abyss.

While in her castle sits, at Fotheringay,

The Ate * of this everlasting war,

Who, with the torch of love, spreads flames around ;

For her who slieds delusive hopes on all,

Youth dedicates itself to certain death ;

To set her free is the pretence — the aim

Is to establish her upon the throne.

For this accursed House of Guise denies

Thy sacred right ; and in their mouths thou art

A robber of the throne, whom chance has crown 'd.

By them this thoughtless woman was deluded,

Proudly to style herself the Queen of England :

No peace can be with her, and with her house ;

Q Their hatred is too bloody, and their crimes

Too great ;^ thou must resolve to strike, or suffer ; —

Her life is death to thee, her death thy life.

Eus. My Lord, you bear a melancholy office :

I know the purity which guides your zeal,
The solid wisdom which informs your speech :
And yet I hate this wisdom, when it calls
For blood, I hate it in my inmost soul.
Think of a milder counsel — Good, my Lord
Of Shi'ewsbury, we crave your judgment here.

Tal. . [Desire you but to know, most gracious Queen,]

" The picture of Ate, the Goddess of mischief, we are acquainted with from
Homer, II. v. 91. 130. 1. 501. She is a daughter of Jupiter, and eager to
prejudice every one, even the immortal gods. She counteracted Jupiter
himself, on which account he seized her by her beautiful hair, and hurled
her from heaven to the earth, where she now, striding over the heads of men,
excites them to evil, 'n ordei to involve them in calamity. — Herder.
Shakspere has, in Julius Cajsar, made a fine use of this image : —
" And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Ate by his side, come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines, with a monarch's voice,
Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of wpr."
I ueed not point out to the reader, the beautiful propriety of introducing
this evil spirit ou this cccasion. — Tran-slator.


|[ What is for your advautage, I caii adil

Nothing to ^vhat ray Lord High Treasurer

Has urged ; then, for your welfare, let the seut<3nco

Be now confirm'd — this much is prov'd already:

There is no surer method to avert

The danger from your head, and from the state.

Should you in this reject our true advice,

You can dismiss your council. We are plac'd

Here as your counsellors, but to consult

The welfare of this laud, and with our knowledge.

And our experience, we are bound to serve you !

But in what "s good and just, most gracious Queer

You have no need of counsellors, your conscience

Knows it full well, and it is wi'itten there.

Nay it were overstepping our commission

If we attempted to instruct you in it.

Eliz, . Yet speak, my worthy Lord of Shrewsbury,
'Tis not our understanding fails alone.
Our heart too feels it wants some sage advice.]

Tal. . Well did you praise the upright zeal which fires
Lord Burleigh"s loyal breast ; my bosom too,
Although my tongue be not so eloquent.
Beats with no weaker, no less faithful pulse.
Long may you live, my Queen, to be the joy
Of your delighted people, to prolong
Peace and its envied blessings in this realm.
Ne'er hath this isle beheld such happy days
Since it was govern 'd by its native kings.
O let it never buy its happiness
With its good name ; at least, may Talbot's eyes
Be clos'd in death, e'er this shall come to pass.

Eliz. . Forbid it, Heaven, that our good name be stain'd

Tal. . Then must you find some other way than this
To save thy kingdom, for the sentence pass'd
Of death against the Stuart is unjust.
You cannot upon her pronounce a sentence,
Who is not subject to you.

EuzABETH. Then, it seems,

My council and my parliament have err'd ;
Each bench of justice in the land is wrong.
Which did, with one accord, admit this right


Talbct {after a jmiise).

The proof of justice lies not in the voice

Of numbers ; England 's not the world, n^r is

Thy parliament the focus, whicli collects

The vast opinion of the human race.

This present England is no more the future,

Than 'tis the past; as inclination changes,

Thus ever ebbs and flows the unstable tide

Of public judgment. Say not then, that thoti

Must act as stem necessity compels,

That thou must yield to the importunate

Petitions of thy people ; ev'ry hour

Thou canst experience that thy will is free

Make trial, and declare, thou hatest blood,

And that thou wilt protect thy sister's life ;

Show those who wish to give thee other counsels,

That here thy royal anger is not feign'd,

And thou shalt see how stern necessity

Can vanish, and what once was titled justice

Into injustice be converted : thou

Thyself must pass the sentence, thou alone •—

Trust not to this unsteady, trembling reed.

But hear the gracious dictates of thy heart.

God hath not planted rigour in the frame

Of woman ; and the founders of this realm,

Who to the female hand have not denied

The reins of government, intend by this

To show that mercy, not severity.

Is the best virtue to adorn a crown.

Eliz. . Lord Shrewsb'iy is a fervent advocate

For mine, and England's enemy ; I must
Prefer those counsellors who wish mij welfare

Tal, . . Her advocates have an invidious task !

None will, by speaking in her favour, dare
To meet thy anger : suffer, then, an old
And faithful counsellor (whom nought on eartb
Can tempt, on the grave's brink) to exercise
The pious duty of humanity.
It never shall be said, that, in thy council.
Passion and interest could find a tongue,
While mercy's pleading voice alone was mute.


A.11 circumstances have conspir'd against her ;

Thou ne'er hast seen her face, and nothing speaks

Within thy breast for one that 's stranger to thee.

I do not take the part of her misdeeds ;

They say "twas she who phmn'd her husband's murder:

'Tis true that she espous'd his murderer.

A grievous crime, no doubt ; but then it happeu'd

In darksome days of trouble and dismay,

In the stern agony of civil war,

When she, a woman, helpless and hemm'd m

By a rude crowd of rebel vassals, sought

Protection in a powerful chieftain's arms.

God knows what arts were used to overcome her !

For woman is a weak and fragile thing.

Eliz . Woman's not weak ; there are heroic souls
Among the se.x: ; and, in my presence, Sir,
I do forbid to speak of woman's weakness.

Tat-. Misfortune was for thee a rigid school ;

Thou wast not station'd on the sunny side

Of life ; thou saw'st no throne, from far, before thee ;

The grave was gaping for thee at thy feet.

At Woodstock, and in London's gloomy tower,

'Twas there the gracious father of this land

Taught thee to know thy duty, by misfortune.

No flatt'rer sought thee there : there learn'd thy soial,

Far from the noisy world and its distractions,

To commune with itself, to think apart.

And estimate the real goods of life.

No God protected this poor sufferer :

Transplanted in her early youtb to France,

The Court of levity and thoughtless joys,

There, in the round of constant dissipation,

She never heard the earnest voice of truth ;

She was deluded by the glare of vice,

And driven onward by the stream of ruin.

Hers was the vain possession of a face,

And she outshone all others of her sex

As far in beauty, as in noble birtli.

Eliz. . Collect yourself, my Lord of Shrewsbuiy ;
Bethink you we are met in solemn council.
Those charms must surely be without coraj>are


Which cau eiigeuder, in an elder's blood.
Such fire. My Lord of Leicester, you alone
Are silent; does the subject \Yhich has made
Him eloquent, deprive you of your speech ?

Leic. . Amazement ties my tongue, my Queen, to think
That they should fill thy soul with such alarms.
And that the idle tales, which, in the streets
Of London, terrify the people's ears.
Should reach th' enlighten'd circle of thy council.
And gravely occupy our statesmen's minds.
Astonisliment possesses me, I own,
To think this lackland Queen of Scotland, she
Who could not save her own poor throne, the jest
Of her own vassals, and her country's refuse,
I Who in her fairest days of freedom, was
But thy despised puppet,] should become
At once thy terror when a prisoner.
What, in Heaven's name, cau make her formidable '
Tliat she lays claim to England? that the Guises
Will not acknowledge thee as Queen '? TDid then
Thy people's loyal fealty await
These Guises' approbation ".'J Can these Guises
With their objections, ever shake the right
Which birth hath giv'n thee ; which, with one consent,
The votes of parliament have ratified?
And is not she, by Henry's will, pass'd o'er
In silence ? Is it probable that England,
As yet so bless'd in the new light's enjoyment^
Should 'throw itself into this papist's anns?
From thee, the sov'reign it adores, desert
To Darnley's murderess ? What will they then,
These restless men, who even in thy lifetime
Torment thee with a successor ; who cannot
Dispose of thee in marriage soon enough
To rescue church and state from fancied peril?
Stand'st thou not blooming there in youthful prime
While each step Isads her tow'rds th'expecting tomb ?
By Heavens, I hope thou wilt full many a year
W^alk o'er the Stuart's grave, and ne'er become
Thyself the instrument of her sad end.

Bl'R. . . Lord Leicester hath not always held this tone


Leic. . 'Tis true, I in the court of justice gave

My verdict for her death ; here, in the council,

I may consistently speak otherwise :

Here, right is not the question, but advantage

Is this a time to fear her power, when France,

Her only succour, has abandon'd her?

When thou preparest ^Yith thy hand to bless

The royal son of France, when the fair hope

Of a new, glorious stem of sovereigns

Begins again to blossom in this land?

Why hasten then her death? She's dead already.

Contempt and scorn are death to her ; take heed

Lest ill tim'd pity call her into life.

'Tis therefore my advice to leave the sentence.

By which her life is forfeit, in full force.

Let her live on ; but let her live beneath

The headsman's axe, and, from the very hour

One arm is lifted for hei', let it fall.

Ki.iZABETH [rises).

My Lords, I now have heard your sev'ral thoughts,
And give mv ardent thanks for tliis your zeal.
With God's assistance, who the hearts of kings
Hlumines, I will weigh your arguments.
And choose what best my judgment shall approve.

[To Burleigh
[[Lord Burleigh's honest fears, I know it well,
Are but the offspring of his faithful care ;
But yet. Lord Leicester has most truly said,
There is no need of haste ; our enemy
Hath lost already her most dangerous sting —
The mighty arm of France r the fear that she
Might quickly be the -s-ictim of their zeal
Will curb the blind impatience of her friends. ]

Scene IV.
Enter Sir Amias Paulet and Mortimer.

Emz There's Sir Amias Paulet; noble Sir,
What tidings bring you?

Paul. Gracious Sovereigu,

My nephew, who but lately is retuni'd
From foreign trav.l. kneels before thy feet.


And offers thee his first and earliest homage.
Grant him thy royal grace, and let him grow
And flourish in the sunshine of thy favour.

Mortimer {kneeling on one knee)

Long live my royal mistress ! Happiness
And glory form a crown to grace her brows !

Eliz. Arise, Sir Knight ; and welcome here in England ;
You've made, I hear, the tour, have heen in France
And Rome, and tarried too some time at Rheiuis ;
Tell me what plots our enemies are hatching ?

MoRT. May God confound them all ! And may the darts
Which they shall aim against my Sovereign,
Recoiling, strike their own perfidious breasts !

Eliz. Did you see Morgan, and the wily Bishop
Of Ross ?

MoRT. I saw, my Queen, all Scottish exiles

Who forge at Rheims their plots against this realm.
I stole into their confidence, in hopes
To learn some hint of their conspiracies.

Paul. Private despatches they entrusted to him,

In cyphers, for the Queen of Scots, which he.
With loyal hand, hath given up to us.

Eliz. Say, what are then their latest plans of treason ?

MoRT. It struck them all as 'twere a thunderbolt,

That France should leave them, and with England

This firm alliance ; now they t".rn their hopes
Tow'rds Spain

Elizabeth. This, V/alsingham hath written us

MoRT. Besides, a bull, which from the Vatican
Pope Sixtus lately levell'd at thy throne,
Arriv'd at Rheims, as I was leaving it :
With the next ship, we may expect it here.

Leic. . England no more is frighten'd by such arms.

Bdr. . They're always dangerous in bigots' hands.

Elizabeth {lookinrj stedfasthj at Mortimer).

Your enemies have said, that you frequented
The schools at Rheims, and have abjur'd your

MoRT So I pietended, that I must confess ;

Such was m^ anxious wish to serve my Queen


Elizabeth [to Paulet, uho presents papers to her).
What have you there ?

Paulet 'Tis from the Queen of Srots.

' Tis a petition, and to thee address "d.

BuKLEiGH (hastily catching at it).
Give me the paj)er.

Paulet {rjiving it to the Queen).

By your leave, my Lord
High Treasurer ; the Lady order'd me
Tu bring it to her Majesty's own hands.
She says, I am her enemy ; I am
The enemy of her offences only, •

And that which is consistent with my duty
I will, and readily, oblige her in.
■ [The Queen takes the letter : as she reads it, Mor-
timer and Leicester speak some words in

Burleigh {to Paulet).

What may the purport of the letter be?

Idle complaints, from which one ought to screen

The Queen's too tender heart

Paulet What it contains.

She did not hide from. me ; she asks a boon;
She begs to be admitted to the grace
Of speaking with the Queen.

Burleigh. It cannot be.

Tal. . Why not? Her supplication's not unjust.

Bur. . For her, the base encourager of murder ;

Her, who hath thirsted for our sov'reign's bloocl,

The privilege to see the royal presence

Is forfeited : a faithful counsellor

Can never give this treacherous advice.

Tal. And if the Queen is gracious. Sir, are you
The man to hinder pity's soft emotions ?

Bur . She is condemn 'd to death : her head is laid
Beneath the axe, and it would ill become
The Queen to see a death-devoted head.
The sentence cannot have its execution
If the Queen's Majesty approaches her,
For pardon still attends the royal presence,
As sickness flies the health-dispensing hand

252 MAItf STUARl. [act II.

Elizabeth [havmg read the letter, dries her tears').

O ! what is man ! What is the bliss of earth I
To what extremities is she reduc'd
Who with such proud and spiendid hopes begau i
Who, call'd to sit on the most ancient throne
Of Christendom, misled by vain ambition,
Hop'd with a triple crown to deck her browa !
How is her language alter'd, since the time
When she assum'd the arms of England's crown,
And by the flatt'rers of her Com't was styled
Sole monarch of the two Britannic isles !
Forgive me, Lords, my heart is cleft in twain.
Anguish possesses me, and my soul bleeds
To think that earthly goods are so unstable.
And that the dreadful fate which rules mankind
Should threaten mine own house, and scowl so n&ki
Tal. . . 0, Queen ! the God of mercy hath inform'd

Your heart ; ! hearken to this heav'nly guidance.
Most grievously, indeed, hath she aton'd
Her grievous crime, and it is time that now,
At last, her heavy penance have an end.
Stretch forth your hand, to raise this abject Queeu,
And, like the luminous vision of an angel,
Descetxd into her gaol's sepulchral night.
Bub. . . Be stedfast, mighty Queen ; let no emotion
Of seeming laudable humanity
Mislead thee ; take not from thyself the pow'r
Of acting as necessity commands.
Thou canst not pardon her. thou canst not save her:
Then heap not on thyself the odious blame,
That thou, mth cruel and contemptuous triumph.
Didst glut thyself with gazing on thy victim.
Leic. . Let us, my Lords, remain within our bounds ;

The Queen is wise, and doth not need our counsels,

To leao' her to the most becoming choice.

This meeting of the Queens hath nought in com

With the proceedings of the Court of Tastice
The law of England, not the monarch's will.
Condemns the Queen of Scotland, and 'twere worthy



Of the great soul of Queen Elizabeth,
To follow the soft dictates of her heart,
Though justice swerve not from its rigid path.
EiJZ. . Retire, my Lords. — We shall, perhaps, find means
To reconcile the tender claims of pity
"With what necessity imposes on us.
And now retire. —

[The Lords retire: she calls Sir Edwakl Mob-
TIMER back.

Sir Edward Mortimer !


Elizabeth, Mortimer.

Elizabeth (having measured him for some time, with her eye.i,

in silence).

You've shown a spirit of advent'rous courage.
And self-possession, far beyond your years.
He who has timely learnt to play so well
The difficult dissembler "s needful task
Becomes a perfect man before his time,
And shortens his probationary years.
Fate calls you to a lofty scene of action ;
I prophesy it, and can, happily
For you, fulfil, myself, my own prediction.

MoBT. Illustrious mistress, what I am, and all
I can accomplish, is devoted to you

Eliz. You've made acquaintance with the foes of England.
Their hate against me is implacable ;
Their fell designs are inexhaustible.
As yet, indeed. Almighty Providence
Hath shielded me ; but on my brows the crown
For ever trembles, while she lives who fans
Their bigot-zeal, and animates their hopes.

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