Friedrich Schiller.

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

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And yet I think you not. A curse on her
Who caus'd me all this anguish !

Leicester. She must die —

I now myself coiisent unto her death.
I formerly advis'd you to suspend
The sentence, till some arm should rise anew
On her behalf ; the case has happen 'd now,
And I demand her instant execution.

BcR. . . You give this counsel? You?

Leicester. Howe'er it wound

My feelings to be forc'd to this extreme,
Yet now I see most clearly, now I feel
That the Queen's welfare asks this bloody victim.
'Tis my proposal, therefore, that the writ
Be drawn at once, to fix the execution.

Burleigh {to the Queen).

Since then his lordship shows such earnest zeal,
Such loyalty, 'twere well, were he ajjpointed
To see the execution of the sentence.

Letc. . Who? I?

DuKLEiGH. Yes, you ; you surely ne'er could fhid

A better means to shake off the suspicion
Which rests upon you still, than to command
Her, whom 'tis said you love, to be beheaded.

Elizabeth {looking stedfastly at Leicester).
My Lord advises well. So be it then !

Leic. . It were but fit that my exalted rank

Should free me from so mournful a commissicu.
Which would indeed, in evry sense, become
A Burleigh better than the Earl of Leicester
The man who stands so near the royal person


Should have uo knowledge of such fatal scenes .
But yet, to prove my zeal, to satisfy
My Queen, I wave my charge's privilege,
And take upon myself this hateful duty.
Eliz. . Lord Burleigh shall partake this duty with you.


So be the warrant instantly prepared.

[Burleigh withdraws ; a tumult heard withcnt.

Scene VII.
The Queen, the Eabl of Kent.

Eliz. . How now, my Lord of Kent ? What uproar s this,
I hear without ?

Kent. . My Queen, it is thy people,

Who, round the palace rang'd, impatiently
Demand to see their sov'reign.

Elizabeth. What 's their wish ?

Kent. . A panic terror has already spread

Through London, that thy life has been attempted ;

That murderers commission'd from the Pope

Beset thee ; that the Catholics have sworn

To rescue from her prison Mary Stuart,

And to proclaim her Queen. Thy loyal people

Believe it, and are mad — her head alone

Can quiet them — this day must be her last.

Eliz. How ! Will they force me then ?

Kent. They are resoWd —

Scene VIII.
Enter Burleigh and Davison, with a paper.
Eliz. . Well; Davison?
Dav. . {approaches earnestly).

Your orders are obey'd,
My Queen —
E'^.TZABETii. What orders, Sir ?

\_As she is about to take the paper, she shuddei*
and starts hack,

OGod! -
Burleigh. Oboy

Thy people's voice ; it is the voice of God.
Elizabeth {irresolute, as if in contest ivith herself).
my good Lord, who will assure me now

so. DC.] MARY STTJART. 290

That what I hear is my whole people's voice,
The voice of all the world ! Ah ! much I fear.
That, if I now should listen to the wish
Of the \vild multitude, a diffrent voice
Might soon be heard ; — and that the very men,
Who now by force oblige me to this step,
May, when 'tis taken, heavily condemn me !

Scene IX.

Enter the Earl of Shrewsbury {who enters with great emotion)
Hold fast, my Queen, they wish to hurry thee ;

[Seeing Davison with the paper
Be firm — Or is it then decided? — is it
Indeed decided ? I behold a paper
Of ominous appearance in his hand ;
Let it not at this moment meet thy eyes,
My Queen ! —

Eliz. . Good Shrewsbury! I am constrain 'd —

Shrew. "Who can constrain thee? Thou art Queen of England,
Here must thy Majesty assert its rights :
Command those savage voices to be silent.
Who take upon themselves to put constraint
Upon thy royal will, to rule thy judgment.
Fear only, blind conjecture, moves thy people ;
Thou art thyself beside thyself; thy wrath
Is grievously provok'd : thou art but mortal,
And canst not thus ascend the judgment seat.

BnR. . Judgment has long been past. It is not now
The time to speak, but execute the sentence.

Kent [who, on Shrewsbury's entry, had retired, comes hack).
The tumult gains apace ; there are no means
To moderate the people

Elizabeth [to Shrewsbury). See, my Lord,

How they press on.

Shrewsbury. I only ask a respite ;

A single word trac'd by thy hand decides
The peace, the happiness of all thy life !
Thou hast for years consider'd, let not then
A moment rul'd by passion huny thee —
But a short respite — recollect thyself !
Wait for a moment of tranquillity.


Burleigh [violently).

Wait for it — pause — de.ay — till flames of fire
Consume the realm ; until the fifth attempt
Of murder be successful ! God, indeed,
Hath thrice deliver'd thee ; thy late escape
Was marvellous, and to expect again
A miracle, would be to tempt thy God !

Shrew. That God, whose potent hand hath thrice preser\.\l
Who lent my aged feeble arm the strength
To overcome the madman : — he deserves
Thy confidence. I will not raise the voice
Of justice now, for now is not the time ;
Thou canst not hear it in this storm of passion.
Yet listen but to this ! Thou tremblest now
Before this living Mary — tremble rather
Before the murdcr'd, the beheaded Maiy
She will arise, and quit her grave, will range
A fiend of discord, an avenging ghost
Around thy realm, and turn thy people's hearts
From their allegiance. For as yet the Britons
Hate her, because they fear her ; but most surely
Will they avenge her, when she is no more.
They will no more behold the enemy
Of their belief, they will but see in her
The much-lamented issue of theii kings
A sacrifice to jealousy and hate.
Theii quickly shalt thuu see the sudden change
When thou hast done the bloody deed ; then go
Through London, seek thy people, which till now
Around thee swarm'd delighted ; thou shalt see
Another England, and another people ;
For then no more the godlike dignity
Of justice, which subdued thy subjects' hearts,
Will beam around thee. Fear, the dread ally
Of tyranny, will shudd'ring march before thee,
And make a wilderness in ev'ry street —
The last, extremest crime thou hast committed.
What head is safe, if the anointed fall?

Eliz. . Ah ! Shrewsbury, you sav'd my life, you tum'd
The murd rous steel aside ; why let you not

SC. IX.] MAitr STUART 301

The dagger take its course ? then all these broils
Would have been ended ; then, relcas'd from doubt,
And free from blame, I should be now at rest
In my still peaceful grave. In very sooth,
I'm weary of my life, and of my crown.
If Heav'n decree that one of us two Queens
Must polish, to secure the other's life —
And sure it must be so — why should not I
Be she who yields ? My people must decide ;
I give them back the Sovereignty they gave.
God is my witness, that I have not liv'd
For my own sake, but for my people's welfare.
If they expect from this false, fa^^^ling Stuart.
The younger sovereign, more happy days,
I will descend with pleasure from the throne,
Again repair to Woodstock's quiet bowers,
Where once I spent my unambitious youth ;
Where far remov'd from all the vanities
Of earthly power, I found within myself
True Majesty. I am not made to rule —
A ruler should be miade of sterner stuff :
My heart is soft and tender. I have goveni'd
These many years, this kingdom happily.
But then I only needed to make happy :
Now, comes my first important regal duty,
And now I feel how weaJi a thing I am.
Bob. . Now by mine honour, when I hear my Queen,
My royal liege, speak such unroyal words,
I should betray my office, should betray
My country, were I longer to be silent.
You say you love your people "bovo yourself.
Now prove it. Choose not peace for your own heait,
And leave your kingdom to the storms of discord.
Think on the church. Shall, with this Papist Queoa
The ancient superstition be renew'd ?
The monk resume his sway, the Roman legate
In pomp march hither ; lock our churches up.
Dethrone our monarchs ? I demand of you
The souls of all your subjects — as you now
Shall act, they all are sav'd, or all are lost !
Here is no time for mercy ; — to promote
Your people's welfare is your highest duty.


If Shrewsbury has sav'd your life, then T
Will save both you, and England — that is more !
Euz. . 1 would be left alone. No consolation,

No counsel, can be di'awn from human aid
In this conjuncture : — I will lay my doubts
Before the Judge of all: — I am resolv'd
To act as He shall teach. Withdraw, my Lords.

[To Davison, ivho lays the paper on the table.
You, Sir, remain in waiting — close at hand.

[The Liords withdraiv ; Shrewsbury n^ow« stands
for a feic moments before the Queen, regards
her significantly, then ivithdraws slowly, and
with an expression of the deepest anguish.

Scene X.
Elizabeth alone.

! servitude of popularity !
Disgraceful slavery ! How weary am I
Of flattering this idol, which my soul
Despises in its inmost depth ! ! when
Shall I once more be free upon this throne ?

1 rLust respect the people's voice, and strive
To win the favour of the multitude,

And please the fancies of a mob, whom nought
But jugglers' tricks delight. call not him
A king, who needs must please the world : 'tis he
Alone, who in his actions does not heed
The fickle approbation of mankind
Have I then practis'd justice, all my life
Shunn'd each despotic deed ; have I done this.
Only to bind my hands against this first,
i This necessary act of violence '?


My own example now condemns myself !
Had I but been a tyrant, like my sister,
My predecessor, I could fearless then
Have shed this royal blood : — but am I now
Just by my own free choice ? No — I was forc'd
By stem necessity to use this virtue;
Necessity, which binds e'en monarchs" wills.
Surrounded by my foes, my people's love
Aione supports me on my envied throne.
All Europe's pow'rs confederate to destroy mo ;

SC. X.l MARi STtrAK-p. 303

The Pope's inveterate decree declai-es me

Accurst and excommunicated. France

Betrays me with a kiss, and Spain prepares

At sea a fierce exterminathig war ;

Thus stand I, in contention with ths world,

A poor defenceless woman : I must seek

To veil the spot in my imperial birth,

By which my father cast disgrace upon me :

In vain with princely virtues would I hide it ;

The envious hatred of my enemies

Uncovers it, and places Mary Stuart

A threat 'ning fiend before me evermore !

[Walking uj) and down, with quick and agitated steps

no ! this fear must end. Her head must fall !

1 will have peace. She is the very fuiy
Of my existence ; a tormenting demon,
Which destiny has fasten 'd on my soul.
Wherevei I had planted me a comfort,

A fiatt'ring hope, my way was ever cross 'd

By this infernal v-iper ! She has torn

My fav'rite, and my destined bridegroom from me.

The hated name of ev'rj^ ill I feel

Is Mary Stuart — were but she no more

On earth, I should be free as mountain air.

[Standing stilL
With what disdain did she look down on me,
As if her eye should blast me like the lightning !
Poor feeble wretch ! I bear far other arms,
Their touch is mortal, and thou art no more.

[Advancing to the table hastily, and taking the pen.
I am a bastard am I ? Hapless wretch,
I am but so the while thou liv'st and breath'st.
[ Thy death will make my birth legitimate.]
The moment I destroy thee, is the doubt
Destroy 'd, which hangs o'er my imperial right.
As soon as England has no other choice.
My mother's honour and my birthright triumphs '.
[She signs with resolution; lets her pen then fall, and

steps back with an expression of terror. — After

« pause she rings.



Scene XI.
Elizabeth, Davison.

Eliz. . Where are their Lordships ?

Davison They are gone to quell

The tumult of the people. The alarm
Was instantly appeas'd, when they beheld
The Earl of Shrewsbury. That s he ! exclaim'd
A hundred voices — that 's the man — he sav'd
The Queen; hear 7i/m — the bravest man in England!
And now began the gallant Talbot, blam'd
In gentle words the people's violence,
And used such strong, persuasive eloquence,
That all were pacified, and silently
Thejr slunk away.

Elizabeth. The fickle multitude !

Which turas with ev'iy wind. Unhappy he

Who leans upon this reed ! 'Tis well, Sir William ;

You may retire again —

[.4s he is goinrj toirards the door
And, Sir, this paper,
Receive it back; I place it in your hands.

Davison (casts a look upon the paper, and starts back).

My gracious Queen — thy name ! — 'tis then decided.

Eliz. . I had but to subscribe it — I have done so —
A paper sure cannot decide — a name
Kills not —

Davison. Thy name, my Queen, beneath this paper,

Is most decisive— kills — 'tis like the lightning.
Which blastelh as it flies! This fatal scroll
Commands the Sheriff and Commissioners
To take departure straight for Fotheriugay,
And to the Queen of Scots announce her death.
Which must at dawn be put in execution.
There is no respite, no discretion, here —
As soon as I have parted with this writ,
Her race is run —

EuzABETH. Yes, Sir, the Lord has plac'd

This weighty bus'ness in your feeble hands ;
Seek him in pray'r, to light you with his wisdom ;
1 go— and leave you. Sir, to do your duty. [Going



D4.V . i<'o ; leave mo not, my Queen, till I have hearc*
Your will. The only -wisdom that I need
Is, word for word, to follow your commands.
Say, have you plac'd this warrant in my hands,
To see that it be speedily enforced ?

Ki.iz. . That you must do, as your own pnidence dictates

Davisok (interrupting her quickly, and alarmed).
Not mine — God forbid ! Obedience is
My only prudence here. No point must now
Be left to be decided by your sen'^ant.
A small mistake would here be regicide,
A monstrous crime, from w'hich my soul recoils I
Permit me, in this weighty act, to be
Your passive instrument, without a will ; —
Tell me in plain undoubted terms your pleasui'e,
What with the bloody maudate I should do.

Eliz. . Its name declares its meaning.

Davison Do you, then.

My Liege, command its instant execution ?

Eliz. . I said not that; I tremble but to think it.

Dav. . . Shall I retain it, then, 'till further orders?

Eliz. . Kt your own risk; you answer the event.

Dat. . . I ! — gi'acious Heavens ! — speak, my Queen, your
pleasure !

Eliz. . My pleasure is. that this imhappy bus'ness
Be no more mentiond to me ; that at last
I may be freed from it, and that for ever.

Dav. . . It costs you but a woi'd — determine then ;

"What shall I do with this mysterious scroll ?

Eliz. . I have declar'd it, plague me. Sir, no longer.

Dav. . You have declar'd it ? say you? 0, my Queen,

You have said nothing. Please my gracious mistress
But to remember —

Elizabeth (stamps on the ground).

Insupportable !

Day. . . O, be indulgent to me ! I have enter'd
Unwittingly, not many months ago.
Upon this office ; I know not the language
Of courts and kings. I ever have been re&r'd
In simple, open wise, a plain blunt man
lie patient with me ; nor deny your servant



A liglit to lead liim clearly to his duty.

[He approaches her in a suppUcatmg pof-Uire, siia
turns her back on him; he stands in despair;
then speaks uith a tone of resolution.
Take, take again this paper — take it back !
Within my hands, it is a glowing fire.
Select not me, my Queen ; select not me
To serve you, in this terrible conjuncture.
Ei.iz. Go, Sir ; — fulfil the duty of your office ! [Exit

Scene XII.
Davison, then Burleigh.

Dav. She goes! She leaves me doubting, and perplex 'd
With this dread paper ! How to act I know not ;
Should I retain it, should I forward it ?

[To Burleigh, xrho enters.
Oh ! I am glad that you are come, my Lord,
Tis you who have preferr'd me to this charge ;
Now free me from it, for I undertook it.
Unknowing how responsible it made me.
Let me t^ien seek again th' obscurity
In which you found me ; this is not my place.

BcR . . How now? Take courage, Sir ! Whereis the warrant ?
The Queen was with you.

Davison . She has quitted me

In bitter anger. advise me, help me,
Save me from this fell agony of doubt !
My Lord, here is the warrant : it is sign'd !

Bur. . . Indeed '? give it, give it me !

D.wisoN. I may not.

Bur. . . How !

Dav. . . She has not yet explain'd her final will.

Bur . . E.xplaiu'd ! She has subscrib'd it ; — give it me.

Dav. . I am to execute it, and I am not.

Great Heavens ! I know not what I am to do !

13 jRIj:igh {urging more violently)

It must be now, this moment, executed —
The warrant, Sir. You're lost if you delay.

Dav. . . So am I also, if I act too rashly.

i>UB. . . What strange infatuation. Give it me.

[Siiatches the paper from him, and exit itith (t

^CT v., 8C. I ] MART STUART. 807

Dav. . . Wbat would you ? Hold ! You will be my destruc-

Scene 1.
The Scene the same as in the First Act.
Hanxah Kennedy in deep mourning, her eyes still red from
iceeping in great hut quiet anguish, is employed in scaling
letters and parcels. Her sorrow often interrupts her occupa-
tion, and she is seen at such intervals to })ray in silence
Paulet and Drury, also in mourning, enter, folloued by
many servants, ivho bear golden and silver vessels, mirrors,
paintings, and other valuables, and Jill the back part of the
stage with them: Paulet delivers to the Nurse a bo.v of
jewels and a pjaper, and seems to inform her by signs, that it
contains* the inventory of the effects the Queen had brought
with her. At the sight of these riches, the anguish of the
Nurse is renewed ; she sinks into a deep, gloomy melancholy,
during which Drury, Paulet, and the Servants, silently

Melvil enters.
Ke>"nedy {screams aloud, as soon as she observes him).

Melvil ! Is't you ? Behold I you agaiu ?
Mel. . Yes, faitliful Kennedy, we meet once more.
Ken. . After this long, long, painful separation I
Mel. . A most unhappy, bitter meeting, this !
Ken. . You come —
Melvil. To take an everlasting leave

Of my dear Queen — to bid a last farewell I
Ken. . And now at length, now on the fatal morn

WTiich brings her death, they grant our royal Lady
The presence of her friends. O, worthy Sir,
I \n\\ not question you, how you have far'd.
Nor tell you all the suff'rings we've endured,
Since you were torn away from us : — alas I
There will be time enough for that hereafter.
(), Melvil, Melvil, why was it our fate
To see the dawn of this unhappy day !
It XL. . Let us not melt each other with our grief.

Tlu'oughout my whole remaining life, as long
An ever it may be, I "11 sit and weep ;

X 9


A smile shall never more light up these cheeks.
Ne'er will I lay this sable garb aside,
But lead heuceforth a life of endless mourning.
Yet on this last sad day, I will be firm ;
Pledge me your word to moderate your grief ;
And when the rest, of comfort all bereft,
Abandon 'd to despair, wail round her, we
Will lead her with heroic resolution,
And be her staff upon the road to death !

Ken. . Melvil ! You are deceiv'd, if you suppose

The Queen has need of our support to meet
Her death with firmness. She it is, my friend.
Who will exhibit the undaunted heart.
O ! trust me, Mary Stuart will expire
As best becomes a Heroine and Queen!

Mel. . Receiv'd she firmly, then, the sad decree

Of death?— 'tis said, that she was not prepar'd.

Ken. . She was not ; yet they were far other terrors

Which made our Lady shudder : 'twas not death.

But her deliverer, which made her tremble.

Freedom was promis'd us ; this very night

Had Mortimer engag'd to bear us hence :

And thus the Queen, perplex'd 'twixt hope and fe<»r.

And doubting still if she should trust her honour

And royal person to th' advent'rous youth,

Sat waiting for the morning. On a sudden

We hear a boist'rous tumult in the castle ;

Our ears are startled by repeated blows

Of many hammers, and we think we hear

The approach of our deliv'rers : — hope salutes us,

And suddenly and unresisted, wakes

The sweet desire of life And now at once

The portals are thrown open — it is Paulet,

Who comes to tell us- -that — the carpenters

Erect beneath our feet Jie murd'rous scaffold !

[She turns aside, overpowered hy excessive anguish,

Mei,. God in Heav'n ! tell me then, how bore
The Queen this terrible vicissitude ?

Kennedy {after a pause, in which she has somewhat collected

Not by degrees can we relinquish life ;

so. IT,] MARY STUART. 309

Quick, sudden, in the twinkling of an eye
The separation must be made, the change
, From temporal, to eternal life ; — and God
Imparted to our mistress at this moment
His grace, to cast away each earthly hope.
And fii'm and full of faith to mount the skies.
No sign of pallid fear dishonoured her ;
No word of mourning, 'till she heard the tidinga
Of Leicester's shameful treach'ry, the sad fate
Of the deserving youth, who sacrificed
Himself for her: the deep, the bitter anguish
Of that old knight, who lost, through her, his last,
His only hope ; till then she shed no tear, — •
'Twas then her tears began to flow, 'twas not
Her own, but others' wo which wrung them from her

Af-EL. . Where is she now ? Can you not lead me to her ?

Ken. . She spent the last remainder of the night

In pray'r, and from her dearest friends she took
Her last farewell in writing : — then she wrote
Her will * with her own hand. She now enjoys
A moment of repose, the latest slumber
Refreshes her weak spirits.

Melvil Wlio attends her?

Ken, . None but her women and physician Burgoyn :
You seem to look around you with sui-prise ;
Your eyes appear to ask me what should mean
This show of splendour in the house of death.
O, Sir, while yet we lived we sufFer'd want;
But at our death plenty returns to us.

Scene II
Enter Margaret Curl.
Ken. , How, Madam, fares the Queen ? Is she awake ?
Curl {drying her tears). *■

She is already dressed — she asks for you.
Ken. . I go ; —

[To Melvil, ivho seems to ivish to accompany her
But follow not, until the Queen
Has been prepar'd to see you. [Exit

CuBi.. Melvil, sure,

The ancient steward ?

* The dorument is now in the British Museuia.


I Melvii. Yes, the same

i Curl. 0, Sir,

• This is a house -which needs no steward now I

Melv'il, YOU come from London ; can you give

No tidings of my husband ?
Melvil. It is said

He will be set at liberty, as soon —
Curl. . As soon as our dear Queen shall be no more.

0, the unworthy, the disgraceful traitor!

He is our Lady's murderer — 'tis said

It was his testimony which condemn'd her.
Mel. . 'Tis true
Curl. O, curse upon him ! — be his soul

Condemn'd for ever! — he has borne false witness -
Mel. . Think, Madam, what you say.
Curl. I will maintain it

With ev'iy sacred oath, before the court,

I will repeat it in his very face ;

The world shall hear of nothing else. I say

That she dies innocent !
Melvtl. God grant it true !

Scene TIL
Enter Hannah Kennedy.

Kennedy (to Curl).

Go, Madam, and require a cup of wine —
'Tis for our Lady.

Melvil. Is the Queen then sick?

Ken. . Slie thinks that she is strong; she is deceiv'd
By her heroic courage ; she believes
She has no need of noui'ishment ; yet still
A hard and painful task "s allotted her.
Her enemies shall not enjoy the triumph ;
They shall not say that fear hath blanch'd her cheeks,
When her fatigues have conquer'd human weakness.

M el. . May I approach her ?

Kennedy She will come herself.

Scene IV.

E/ifer Burgoyn; two women of the chamber follov him, weeping,
and in deep mourning.

Bubo. . 0, Melvil !


Melvil. 0, Burgoyn 1 [They embrace silently.

FiBST Woman {to the Nurse). She chose to be

Alone : — she wishes, at this awful moment,
For the last time, to commune with her God.

Scene V.
Enter Margaret Curl, hearinrj a golden cup of idne ; sh*
jjlaces it hastily upon the table, and leans, pale and trem-
bling, against a chair.
Mel. . How, Madam ! What has frighten'd you ?
Kennedy. God !

BcRG. . Speak, Madam.

Curl. What, alas ! have I beheld !

Mel. . Come to yourself, and say what you have seen I
Curl. . As I went down tlie staircase which conducts

To the great hall below, a door stood open ;

I look'd into the chamber, and I saw —

Heav'n !
Melvil. "VMiat saw you ?

Curl. All the walls were hung

With black ; a spacious scaffold too oerspread

With sable cloth, was rais'd above the floor,

And in the middle of the scaffold stood

A dreadful sable block ! upon it lay

Online LibraryFriedrich SchillerThe works of Frederick Schiller, translated from the German (Volume 3) → online text (page 19 of 37)