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ACT II, SCENE i
THE STUART with her physician
STU. How vain are rulers’ pretensions of glory as they are worshipped by their subjects on bended knee and in their dignity seem to be the equal of the dwellers of heaven, formidable by land and by the great sea! God has never given a greater example of this than in my misfortunes, He has never done more to teach that rulers cannot place their reigns on a sure foundation than He has now, when I am overthrown by changing fortune, banished, humble, alone, a prisoner, and afflicted on all sides. I trace my lineage from a hundred king who have bridled all Scotland, beginning at that place where the Caledonian forest lifts its foliage to the sky. Whatever Father Ocean, that begetter of monsters, separates from the rest of the world by his lengthy channel, has until now been ruled by my forefathers, and whatever human habitations are watered by the swift Loire, the Garonne, and whatever drinks from the Seine, all the way to the Scheldt, all this was governed by my consort, the King of France. Meanwhile, as the matron of the royal house, amidst the Guises, famed for their arms and power, I happily praised my lofty splendor, until I lost my husband and father-in-law (oh happiness, never long-lasting, and the uneasy peace of a noble throne!), and sailed back to my homeland, a realm ruined by the doctrines of impious men. Then suitors sought my hand in marriage, before you were able to occupy my bed, unlucky Darnley, and make me your mother, my son James. I greatly fear for you. I fear what you might suffer at the hands of the murderous hands of those men in power, by whom the crown you wear was wrenched from my head, you king in empty name. Those commanders of kings are governing everything according to their whims. I swear by God, Who is rightfully not well-disposed towards me now that Scottish chapels are lying idle, their Saints despised, I swear by the ashes of my murdered husband’s funeral pyre, whom a sudden fire killed in his house at Edinburgh, your father, James, and my darling, this dread I feel is nothing new. For I feared for you when you did not yet exist, when I was terrified by the murder of my David and came close to miscarrying the babe which was the Scotsmen’s due. As your mother I suffered so many misfortunes, on your behalf, whether I was confronted by a third marriage and my bed was seized by a murderer, who had lately been begging for it, whether I endured bondage by command of that bastard, only awaiting the moment of my bloody murder, or whether, amidst the treacherous arms of my enemies I sought to manage my cities in goodly peace and place your person on our ancestral throne. Oh you child, now the sole remaining hope of the Scots, being of my blood, may the Fates grant that all things go with better success than they did for your mother!
The day would run its heavenly course before I could summarize the evils I have suffered. For who could recount the wickedness of my criminal brother, the Lairds, and the devotees of long-standing evil, who encompassed my deposition and sought innovation in religion? Oh the evil mercy of a gentle sovereign! For I should not have elevated this bastard, born of the same father, consecrated to God, a prelate dedicated to the cloisters, to join me at the pinnacle of government, but rather to have imprisoned him in the way that I am now, as long as I might be safe. I should not have suffered so many reversals, so often convicted by false testimony, so often driven where the fierce madness of the cruel people and Lairds would have me go and (oh hear me, exiled Justice) the lying evidence of my treacherous kinsman. If I am speaking of past evils and my present misfortune and fresh grief do not come to mind, now the sun will wander his way around the Zodiac in its twentieth circle since the reins of state have been ripped from my hand and vanished. Amidst the slaughter of my supporters, I foolishly fled into the embrace of the English and gave myself to those lying men. After I could not tolerate the massacre of my followers I departed, and afterwards, by the saints, Rome itself did not endure as many imprisonments and chains, not as many genuine terrors and wars, when the son-and-law and father-in-law waged their civil war.
Being a refugee from my heritage, what was I to do but seek asylum there? When I had long clung to his knees the priest (a person close to the saints and Christ on high) embraced me and urged me to abstain from that disloyal man, and henceforth Hamilton championed my cause. Our treaty, my sister’s invitation, and the previous pledge I had returned to my friend when I landed on English shore asking for her help led me to imagine that I could find some quiet place in her realm. But she, far, far more unbending than a crag which the sea beats upon to no avail, denied me a conference, denied me her protection. Rather, not otherwise than those agents of murder and the bastard would have it, she committed me to barbaric men like a common housewife tainted by guilt, giving me first to Knollys, whose excessive barbarity led to his dismissal, then to Shrewsbury and to Amyas, who easily surpassed the other two. Ah wretched woman, you incautiously entrusted yourselves to wolves, although for a long time lying report told the English that you lacked such keepers. For wolves of this kind are always cruel to sacred guests, and with impunity. Yet after all these years they have not yet had the satisfaction of my death, mine and my followers whose suspect writing have obliged to suffer unjust imprisonment. And now for nearly twenty years I have been dragged to and fro thanks to the crimes invented by these gentlemen, who have no more understanding of the meaning of right and law than does an idle owl when he sees sunlight. Ancient Albion, where is your honesty now? Oh piety, defeated by the broken faith of your freely-given promises concerning my royal right, as you gave me a token, sister (if such you like to be called) — you who are unmoved by our kinship and reverence for our common blood to grant even a single interview to this accused woman, a woman whom you should have protected at your faithful hearth when she was a suppliant, but whom you so often trouble with new imprisonment, and command to be troubled as she is frequently handed over to new wardens, ridden with illnesses caused by her weariness of suffering. Where are my accusers? Or what am I said to have done that requires expiation? Why continue daily to produce false accusations against my faithful self, first that I murdered my husband, and then that I tried to subject the English scepter to the Scots, and then that I have urged Christian sovereigns to revenge myself? Am I not to expect my death? What does not portend that? Lately a Scotsman was hanged in my sight for having professed the doctrine of the Roman faith. If it is a crime to maintain the faith one had pledged to our Roman Father and adhere to the teaching of the ancient Fathers, and no other felony holds one in bondage, I am unconcerned about imprisonment. Nor do I care if you order me to die, your equal in sex, rank, and family — but only in obedience to the will of God.
PHYS. You speak of things that move my mind, my lady, the things which you have suffered, and what you have experienced after your marriage-bed was polluted by murder most foul. But your secrets are better lamented at home, if you desire to give further vent to your sorrow. Cease your complaints, shroud your care in silence in your discourse, lest you aggravate your illness.
STU. As a friend, why bid me go to my obscure dwelling? All of my silver and gold have been taken away and made impossible for me to use, as have the collars that adorn my neck, the heavy jewels and necklaces adorned with pearls, my bracelets and the rings of my fingers. Next they took away my bundles of letters and documents, all my records, writings and books.
PHYS. Pray quickly turn your mind to happier thoughts, my lady. Be hopeful for yourself and your followers. From heaven a friendly God, for Whom nothing is impossible, will look down on you in your affliction.
STU. Nothing can be invented against my person which would suffice to condemn me to death as if I were a sovereign subject to the laws. This is painful for my judges, corrupted by fraud, and for the Queen of England. I am preserved among the living, since I have no true guilt, nor can any be invented.
You Who shake heaven’s highest precincts with Your thunder, Father, turn Your face to my catastrophe and preserve Mary, a widow of kings, just as once You preserved Joseph from wicked slanders of adultery and rescued Susanna from her judges. [Exit.]
PHYS. And if You do not yet hate humanity, oh You who govern the guilty emotions of the powerful, eternal ruler of the Saints and author of our race, use Your divinity to turn these things for the better. Soften Elizabeth’s heart and give her a good mind. In the name of the crown, that badge of kingship she prizes so highly, in the name of the right of hospitality, let her change her counsels, let their common blood, their shared blood, and her enduring sense of shame move her, let her not place her trust in a false accusation. For since she rules, she is easily gripped by terrors, and her unreasonable fear is most costly to her guests. Those who lie about her crimes, so they might prove that this wife, possessed of reverend virtues, is deserving of death, would kill the mother, the sister, and the daughter of kings.
ACT II, SCENE ii
AMYAS, THE STUART
AM. Day by day the grounds for your death grow clearer, and the truth, though always denied in the past, now comes to light.
STU. Can truth exist concerning nonexistent things?
AM. You make your denial in vain, since you stand revealed. The evil Furies lying deep within your heart contradict you greatly.
STU. While living in your house, governor, I have done no evil requiring expiation. I see this well enough. God, Who has wholly been admitted into this house, sees it well enough.
AM. You are destroying the English.
STU. Yet I wish them to be my subjects?
AM. So why furtively marry Norfolk?
STU. Assuredly, I have never sought for any unwitnessed marriage.
AM. So who witnessed this one?
STU. Any man who bore witness to our marriage, including Moray the bastard, that plague upon my reign.
AM. How can you produce a dead man as a witness?
STU. He was never a reliable one even in life.
AM. Wasn’t this marriage made without your sister’s knowledge?
STU. Who did not know him to be a man of no counsel? Let the public records be inspected, you will read the names of those involved, where each one added his signature of witness.
AM. So why did Howard die in the Tower of London?
STU. Someday our avenging God will show whether he died rightfully.
AM. The law decrees death for all who deny our national Church and marry an enemy of religion.
STU. So am I an enemy of religion?
AM. You follow the Pope of Rome.
STU. And I admit that I do.
AM. So you criminally favor different laws than ours.
STU. It is praiseworthy to adhere to the teachings of our ancestors.
AM. Whatever peoples the North Star looks down on from the other side of the icy pole, guiding their fleets, commonly read of the felonies you have committed. While our realm contains you, what reproach does this lawless nation not experience?
STU. I am accused of anything you can imagine by that scandalous book you cite.
AM. The multitude of Christians which dwell in France, Germany, Flanders, and other lands continue to solicit Elizabeth with their frequent prayers, demanding your death. But she, refusing to sully the reputation of sovereigns with the blot of cruelty, has granted you your life.
STU. You credit her with granting what she does not take away? Should I not expect pardon from my sister, being of the same sex, rank and family? Do sovereigns have a judge? And yet, if she, my kinswoman, asserts any right to judge her peer, or if her love of the law commands her to do this, how has she ruled in favor of one party without giving the other a hearing?
AM. Hamilton has represented your case in the presence of judges duly gathered at court for this matter.
STU. And nobody heard the accused, condemned to servitude for twenty years?
AM. An assembly was sent here from the capital: Privy Councilors and Peers, learned men, senior men. Recently your case was given an abundant inquiry.
STU. What? A lesser person pass judgment on a sovereign?
AM. They were acting as representatives of Elizabeth, your judge.
STU. Have sovereigns any judge but God?
AM. You are a private person, a dependent of the Queen of England.
STU. According to what law am I subjected to the sovereign of England?
AM. She took you in and protected you as her own.
STU. Protected me? Oh, think of international law! Has she not lent an ear and incited those of my subjects who have dared to slander their sovereign, in despite of their sworn loyalty? In bygone years whoever heard of such a savage, dire crime? What should I complain of first? Your misfortune, my son James, who rule these people in the tender flower of your youth? Or your mother’s? Both equally, but first my own, whose entreaties were scorned by this haughty mistress, who perhaps is hastening to do away with your mother by an undeserved fate. Saints forbid! [Exeunt.]
CHORUS OF CAPTIVES
If ever that nation which observed the ancient rites where the waters of the Jordan glide, making offerings of bulls’ livers and incense, and which, having embraced God’s worship, duly renewed and improved by the original Law, sullied religion’s honor by adoring the idols of false gods or chasing after the deceitful teachings of newcomers, alas, what misfortunes and calamities it suffered! For once warlike Sisara, not then looking over his shoulder for a nail, and Eglon, that despiser of the Lord, and another time that Philistine fighting in cruel battle and the pugnacious Madianite horseman and the savage Amechelites were sent under the yoke by the people of Isaac, who routed their camps beneath Mt. Tabor, the Lebanon Mountains, and the ridges of Gelboa, after they bent their knees to idols and before manmade bulls, prostrating themselves in profane groves, ignorant of God’s commandments.
Who could employ a piteous enough voice in bewailing the fact that heaven had been closed like a bolted room, denying rains to the lands, and that mankind was widely killed off by famine? Who can grant me adequate tears for mourning Jerusalem, that mighty queen of peoples which overtops other cities as much as heaven does the clouds? After she had grown heedless of God’s threats and improperly worshipped images, immediately an Assyrian captain overthrew her walls and the old Temple of Solomon. Little boys were joined to old men in death, old men to little boys, matrons were slaughtered or led in slavery to the realm of the Syrian tyrant. Alas, alas for the captive, her two hands bound behind her back! Alas for Zedekiah, witnessing his people’s savage fate! Those were the evils familiar to ancient centuries, these belong to ours, as our previous religion has been altered and the throng of former believers has turned hostile towards the pious, an earnest supporter of errors both where Caledon strikes the lofty stars and where England offers ships harbors. Indeed, our heavenly King’s just wrath deservedly vexed us when Moray, that author of evil, had died by Hamilton’s avenging hand and Morton replaced him in Scotland. Under his auspices the Englishwoman sent her troops and her robbers to our lands, where there remain no shrines of the saints, where no treasure remains, nor any chapel retains its grace. For our churches lie leveled to the ground, or stand as godless structures, evilly resounding with sacrilegious voices. And so that nothing can be added to the heap of the calamities of the pious there, and there can be no hope left for good men, that glory, the queen of the Scottish nation, who can trace her descent from a line of kings, has now lived in exile for twenty years, a sovereign banished from her own land, and has had cause to dread the laws of England, up to this point unequal to such great woes. Alas this sight, this sight unworthy of a daughter-in-law of kings! Oh, this is a harsh misfortune for anyone, a misfortune that would justly deserve to be mitigated for any guilty convict, and yet thus far it vexes this innocent person with impunity! Oh the lawless calamities of humanity! We do not doubt the just saints are all-seeing.
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