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Of note scarce higher in her royal court This awful man again!-must we ne'er meet Than thou in England's-so, once more beware. But his appalling look, inscrutable
There is no price man's enemy will not pay Yet scrutinizing all, must cite to judgment
For one immortal soul. Now, the good AbbessEach passing thought, each word, each wish
Daughter, advance—how fares it with your charge!
Mark, Mark, Do any but the guilty dread the presence
Sir, longing for your presence, as the blind Of holiest men? He comes to visit here
For light: your holy words breathe deeper calmness
O'er all her frame, than medicine's opiate drugs; The mother of my youth, whose outcast age Hath none but me, of all our scatter'd convent,
Her only fear of death is lest she want To smooth her dying pillow, watch her wants ;
Your parting benediction. And none but Father Angelo t'attend her,
ANGELO. So constantly as though no soul but hers
In-I 'll follow.
Will he not warn me not to wing the air,
And shrivel into dust ?—To doubt his wisdom
Were to impeach man's general estimate;
T'arraign his charity would give the lie Last eve, I ask not, if the dangerous song
To a whole life of painful sanctity, Beseem'd a son of Holy Church-that sin
And slur th'anointed Priesthood with contempt. Be theirs, not thine.
Yet her-of her to speak, to think, t'imagine
Less than the purest, chastest, holiest, best-
An Angel, but without an Angel's wings,
Lest, weary of this tainting world, she fly
Had those Untimely to her native skies; and I, That take in charge th' eternal souls of men
A poor, unknown, a homeless, friendless borNo ways of knowledge to the vulgar eye
The more I think the wilder grow my thoughts, Inscrutable, our task were ill fulfill'd.
And every thought is stamp'd with her brig So tell me, youth, and look that thou speak truth, She is my world of fantasy, each sound Truth to the word, the letter, even the tone
Is as her voice, each gleam of light her look,
And midnight hath no vision but of her.
QUEEN and Ladies.
SIR HENRY NORREYS, Sir FRANCIS WESTON, Sis
Willias BRERETON, MARK SMEATON.
Your Majesty will grace the tilt today?
And so dishonest! Boy, look to't! Thy soul,
To hope that he, your Grace has deign'd to name
The deepest, darkest, most infuriate pit,
Th' abyss of all abysses, blackest blackness,
With direst, most remorseless expiation,
Howls out its drear eternity, arouse
As when the fleshly Luther, or the chief
To tread your furnace chambers !-Rise! prepare Our Mistress thus commanding, what true Knight
The throne of fire, the crown of eating flames ! Can fail or falter ?
She comes-the Queen, the fatal Queen, whose beauty
Hath been to England worse, more full of peril, QUEEN.
Than Helen's was to Troy, hath seal'd for death, Courteous words, Sir Francis ;
For death eternal, irremediable, But I mistake me or that name calls up
Whole generations of her godless sons, Another-and, in truth, a fairer lady.
And made her stately church a heap of ruin!
I am no heretic: why keep me thus
When slightest accidents
Not-as I live.
Take heed! false oath, false Knight: Enough of this,
We kiss your Highness' hands, And with this talisman of strength set forth.
QUEEN. Heaven prosper you!
(Mark SMEATON kneels also.
How now? thou 'rt over-hold:
Who questions it?
Why then behold-adore it!
A look suffices me.
Truth, noble Sirs,
Though, Heaven forgive me! when the trumpets blew,
And moved in troops or single, orderly
As youths and maidens in a village dance, As this May morning, with a heart as heavy
Or shot, like swooping hawks, in straight career; As dull November; to be thought the happiest,
The old Caraffa rose within my breastBe the most wretched of all womankind.
Struggled my soul with haughty recollections
Enamouring all the youth of Italy
With envy of my noble horsemanship.
But I rebuked myself, and thought how Heaven
And curb with salutary governance
Th' unmanaged souls of men. But to our purpose;
Even at the instant, when all spears were levellid,
A handkerchief was seen to fall; but while
Floating it dallied on the air, a Knight,
Sprang up, and callid to horse, while tumult wild Sate upon brows that turn'd aside to avoid me.
The menials are infected : not a groom,
As I descended from my litter, lent Something of this I augurd: as the King
His hand to aid me; and my ante-rooms Swept furious by, he beckond me; yet seem'd Are mute and empty, even as though the plague Too busied with his wrathful thoughts to heed Had tainted all the air. Well, what of this ! Whom thus he summond ; and I heard him mutter Oh, God of Grace! thou 'rt bounteous still! Fall of “The saucy groom !" and terms, which to repeat The cumbrous trappings and appendages Were not o'erfitting priestly lips, but coupled Of mine uneasy state, thou leavest me yet With the Queen's name most strangely. Seeing this, One far too old and one too young to change: I thought it in mine office to administer
My child, my Mother, and my Innocence, Grave ghostly admonition, mingled well
Shall make me up a blest society, With certain homily and pulpit phrases
An Empress girt about with handmaid-queens Of man's ingratitude, and gracious Kings
Might envy.—At her charge I left my Mother, Whose bounties are abused; the general looseness Her charge, whose joy renews her youth, and makes her Of the age. The more I spake, the more he madden'd, Like some fond nurse o'er her first-bornAs though my words were oil on fire.
"T was well, But must be better: I have further tidings.
Come, code, I pass'd the Tower, and saw Sir William Kingston, She sleeps—thyself, dear Anne, not half so lovely: Summond 't was said, with special haste, come forth Come sit by her, and gaze on her, for hours Among his archers.
For days: a violet on a bed of snow,
A pearl in ivory set, the brightest star
There's no similitude she doth not shame.
Her forehead arch'd by Heaven to fit a crown!
I've almost wish'd thou ne'er shouldst bear a boy, I left him
Dear Anne, to bar her from the throne she's born to Near the apartment of Jane Seymour.
Mother, I follow thee.
The above. KINGSTON and GUARD
Ha! in my chamber
Arm'd men! Sir William Kingston, thou 'rt o'erbold
To press unbidden on our privacy. What! jealous still? Then go thyself—be speedy.
By the King's special mandate, I attach
Stay, Sir, as you hope for mercy. When there is one hath damning evidence
My mother! she is old and fond-her heart At peril of his life?
Will break. Dear mother-back-go back-the King,
Willing to do your daughter honour, sends
Good Kingston and his guard. God pardon me!
The first untruth that e'er defiled my lips. Am I.-Thou seest, my Lord, thine all the glory,
Now, Sir, your message: the King's Grace, I heard, The gratitude for this great service-mine
In his displeasure for some weighty cause,
Your Majesty must hold yourself in readiness All that remains behind ; and, trust me, Brother,
T' embark on the instant for the Tower. Thou shalt have thy reward.
Oh, mother! mother! that the time should come
My child—that I should wish thee yet unborn ;-
Shall I find justice, Sir ? (3)
The meanest subject Was gathering blackness; and a silent pity
In all the realm would not impeach the equity
Of the King's Grace with such a dangerous doubt. Most true; yet know'st thou not the worst : the King Your Highness!
Has changed to such a deadly hate against her,
That she must die
Die! die! -No, Sir, no soul Laughter that hath no mirth—and such is mine. Will load itself with such a deep damnation : Lieutenant of the Tower, I tell thee this:
Earth would break out in execration, Heaven
The horrible sentence!
ANGELO. Shall blast the bosom of this land, the skies
Youth, I 'll trust thee farther. Shall be as brass, nor rain nor drop of dew
Come hither, close—thy love 10 thy lost mistress Shall moisten the adust and gaping earth.
Warrants my somewhat dangerous confidence:
She stands between the King and a new lustI would beseech your Highness to compose
He must be widow'd, e'er his guilty heart
Glut ils foul appetite.
Oh! reverend Father,
Does not thy flesh grow cold, thy holy heart
Sicken still more and more at this bad world?
For me, for me, she will so hallow death
She will so darken and make void this earth Shall ache and burst to see me. Now I'll kneel
At her departure-I and all true servants Behold me kneel!—and imprecate Heaven's vengeance
Will seek out our untimely graves, to attend, If I'm not guiltless. Come-away-away
Adore her, in a better world ; at least,
Not live in this, when sunless of her presence.
Now, as a heretic I love her not,
Where she must perish body and soul in hell;
I'd have her live-live on, in shame and sorrow;
For sorrow is the mother of true penitence.
Is there no way to save her?
A barren waste of sand, the fountain dried
Is it then true, Sir? That was its life and gladness.Is't possible? Thou art all truth, thou wilt not
ANGELO. Torture my heart with such a hideous falsehood.
None, but that There was a rude tall fellow with a halberd,
At which our nature shudders, which would damn Who spake of it, and with his villanous jests
The name to blackest branded infamy, And fiendish langhter tainted the Queen's name,
Would peril the eternal soul, would give Her snowy, spotless, air-embalming name!
The fiends such awful vantage, by a crime, I told him to his teeth he lied; and if
A wilful crime, so like th'accursed Judas, His scoffing fellows had not troop'd around him,
That good men would not stay to seek the cause, I'd struck bim to the earth.
But heap the head with merciless execration.
Where shall we find, in these degenerate days, Rash boy, beware! Devotion more than Roman ?-Who will risk This sounds like treason.
His fame, his soul, to save a woman's life,
And give a heretic time to pluck the brand
Wrap not thy speech in darkness. The fashion of this court, and the most favour'd
If the King,
Mark, 't is true Do admit none but foul adultery) The Queen is order'd prisoner to the Tower | Were but divorced-how long, how honourably 29*
Do with me as thou wilt-I 'll speak, I'll swear,
Lived the Imperial Catherine !-which were best-
E'en soTo bear a branded life, nor maid, nor widow, Nor wife; for who would wed a tainted outcast? She were beneath the lowest groom.
True, true. On, I beseech you, Sir.
Do we not force
Those that would fain Believe, are ne'er o'er-nice or scrupulous.
ANNE BOLEyn landing at the Tower.
KINGSTON (to the Guard). Advance your halberds.
Oh! Sir, pause-one look, One last long look, to satiate all my senses. Oh! thou blue cloudless canopy, just tinged With the faint amber of the setting sun, Where one by one steal forth the modest stars To diadem the sky :-thou noble river, Whose quiet ebb, not like my fortune, sinks With gentle downfall, and around the keels Of those thy myriad barks makest passing musie: Oh! thou great silent city, with thy spires And palaces, where I was once the greatest, The happiest-I, whose presence made a tumult In all your wondering streets and jocund marts :But most of all, thou cool and iwilight air, That art a rapture to the breath! The slave, The beggar, the most base down-irodden outcast, The plague-struck livid wreich, there's none so vile So abject, in your streets, that swarm with lifeThey may inhale the liquid joy Hearen breathesThey may behold the rosy evening skyThey may go rest their free limbs where they will: But I-but I, to whom this summer world Was all bright sunshine; I, whose time was noted But by succession of delights-Oh! Kingston, Thou dost remember, thou wert then Lieutenant, "T is now-how many years ?-my memory wanders Since I set forth from yon dark low-brow'd porch, A bride-a monarch's bride- King Henry's bride! Oh! the glad pomp, that burn'd upon the watersOh! the rich streams of music that kept time