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ACT IV, SCENE i
AMYAS, THE STUART, PHYSICIAN, CHORUS
AM. Since you have been advised to prepare yourself, finally to repent your deeds and to admit your crimes, and yet, unmoved, you have refused the priests granted you, the queen commands you set aside your royal dress, and you must abandon that veil, a symbol of rank, since you have been cast down from your pinnacle of dignity.
STU. Who would deprive anointed sovereigns of their foremost authority, persons who are all-powerful by a private right customarily and properly denied to other men, which they possess by the laws of kingship? You forbid me to return to God alone, together with my life, that which He has granted me by His great right? Does your sovereign, her Privy Council, and the other Peers of the realm, or judges non-Catholic judges have any jurisdiction over me? Whether they like it or not, I am determined to die a queen, I shall die as a queen. And whether they like it or not, I shall always be such, and they will oppress me by no other authority than wild bandits attacking a fine sovereign in a dark forest. Meanwhile I trust the at when I leave this light, having been commanded to die, God, that Avenger of right and wrong and Father of kings, will make no delay in wreaking His vengeance on this ungrateful nation. I shall die. Killing kings is no new things. I, Mary, shall imitate Canute. I shall imitate Richard.
AM. You should suffer our queen’s commands.
STU. What more can your queen do against me by her command than a thief lurking for his victims in a forest? Nothing prevents him from killing them but the laws of humanity.
AM. Why waste our time with talking? Be quick and remove that royal veil, servants. Why are you delaying? Strip away anything regal that remains.
PHYS. Are you her nation, the world, and God, that you despoil her of the goods which show she is worthy of a better court? Do you want me to take off the ornament of her reverend head? With what boldness, with what hand could I dare such a great thing? Sooner will the Northern Star fall out of the sky, sooner will I and my companions suffer death, and sooner, Amyas, will you learn to be gentle.
AM. Here, here, my henchman. Like this, tear this piece of cloth, this mark of royal dignity, from its high round frame. For our captive’s final day is about to dawn. While we await it, you jailor, be vigilant and join me in seeing how the prisoner can be kept more closely. If she is kept under a loose watch and should attempt some evil, as when her fireplace just blazed up because of her deceit, I command you to have your sword ready in the event of a rescue, and to kill them all at swordpoint, and also her.
CHORUS What are you doing, you villain? Don’t you see that heaven’s vengeance is impending? Is it not punishment enough for you to have us as perpetual slaves on English soil? And Father, you Whose terrible lightning is feared by our profane enemies, You who drive away the thick clouds and rule the universe, in Your justice do not You not witness this servitude with anger? When will You send Your missiles from a cloudy sky, or for what purpose is Your consuming fire stored up, if the weather is now fair? Why, Father, is Your hand stayed? Do You hesitate to destroy the persons of these savage hosts with heavenly fire, Father, Champion of kings? You who so often strike the innocent ridges of white cliffs rather should vengefully aim at their people. Throw pitchy balls of fire, from every cloud-covered quarter angrily thunder and shoot Your lightning. Shoot with all the strength of Your hand. At every strike You will hit a sinful person, impious and dire, heedless of Your power and of such a great Father. And, if You do not think otherwise, You may involve us in the same catastrophe, though we will be freed, dear God, as Your Samson was from blasphemers when You commanded the Philistines’ downfall.
AM. Since this hour forbids all your refreshment, this table should be removed. There’s no need of it.
STU. Thank God. From the time this table was commanded to be set, it has given me no refreshment from my sorrow, which has troubled me well enough, thanks to you.
CHORUS Alas, what are we doing, you beings of heaven? Can your favor and her piety intervene? Elizabeth, that artist of deceits and crimes, has forgotten her decorum and royal name, an object of reverence to all men such as breathe the life-giving air of high heaven, and she has begun to do violence to the great sovereigns of other nations, deciding they can all be violated with an equal death — and you continue to spare her? She scarcely fears heaven’s beings or our just God, that Avenger of crimes, even as He warns her once again, nor does she feel reverence for kinship and family, or so many titles and badges of royal blood, or their common sex.
STU. At least have pity on your family and on kingship, sister. That with you would have sought for yourself had you suffered this same misfortune, you should not deny to be just and pious for your equal. The little king on my throne asks this, I ask it, as does a throng of good men. Do not repudiate good men.
ACT IV, SCENE ii
SHREWSBURY, THE STUART, AMYAS
SHREW. Mary, the supreme ruler of the lands of France, Ireland and England, having consideration for the peace of Christians and the supreme honor of the beings of heaven, has decided that the sentence passed against you by the nation’s leading men, met in full assembly, must at last be carried out. And behold a man from London who has brought the warrant authorizing these things, that when tomorrow’s sun brings the eighth day of the month, we must proceed to carry out her every instruction regarding you. For you have lately undertaken the ruin and destruction of her England by summoning foreigners, who would be heedless of the authority of the Fathers and return the English to the Roman faith, subordinating them to the Pope, of whom you are the principal follower, and who you would compel each of your subjects to follow. You are the reason why genuine worship might not be offered up to our supreme Father, you are always the obstinate pillar of the House of Guise, the single bane of restored piety.
STU. This is her pledge? This is her grace, the way she keeps her agreement? My sister did not promise to be such to me, she made no such promise when she saw my miseries and those of Scotland, took pity, and gave me her promises together with a golden pledge of her faith, a message of her love, and in exchange received a diamond token of my affection. I never thought she would come to such a pass that she would agree to kill a woman joined to her by a similar condition of family and royalty, yet I could imagine this from the time I was banished from my land. This is not way my ancestor received Henry when he had been ejected from his country. But, my Lords, I thank you for announcing what I ought to have feared but not fled. I express my thanks to God our Judge, He Who placed me in my sister’s power will grant me to suffer this with fortitude. For three months I have been sporting with death, a means to escape the evil of captivity and to become far removed from the yoke of servitude, so that I might be given over to a truer life.
SHREW. Behold two Bishops of the Church of England have been fetched for your consolation.
STU. What is the manner of their lives? What is their faith?
SHREW. Our grandfathers’, as established by the grave statutes of great Henry.
STU. So God’s favor will be my sole consolation, nor will He abandon me in the extremity of my peril, since in His goodness He has preserved me so many years, so I may gladly leave this light and mankind. But I must be warned a little while before hand, so that I will have time to write a testament in which I may make bequests to my followers, if any of my goods remain. I know that I am restricted from giving them enough to suit their merits.
SHREW. You must die soon, my Lady soon, when the appointed hour comes tomorrow, nor can your death be at all delayed.
STU. So return all my followers.
SHREW. You are granted any handmaiden you choose, together with your physician.
STU. And you should let me meet with my priest.
SHREW. You refuse ours, I won’t permit you yours.
STU. At least allowed me the noble steward of my household.
SHREW. He will be allowed.
AM. Meanwhile let the execution-place be readied, a platform two feet high and twelve long, surrounded by a railing. And let it be covered round about with a sad black hanging. Let a chair be placed in the center for the condemned, covered with cushions. [Exeunt Shrewsbury and Amyas.]
ACT IV, SCENE iii
CHORUS, THE STUART
CHORUS Oh holy piety! Oh Ruler of heaven! Oh bearer of nourishing light, world’s brilliance, what have you heard? What will you see in the morning? What will Albion witness? And who will cannot deny what is being readied here? Thoas, who scorned hospitality?
Are your lamentations ceasing, oh throng of my captive mistress? Strike your breasts with your hands, wail, perform your mistress’ funeral rites. Let this fatal jail resound, the dire house of her guardian Amyas. For, you band, it is no new thing that I am bidding you to bewail with unskilled tears. You have done this for ten years, and then for another ten. From the time we have come to the bosom of the English, the shores of inhospitable Albion, as sheep to the maws of wolves, no day has lacked sorrow and complaint. Address yourselves to your plaints. Oh sea! Oh heaven! Oh earth!
STU. Why do you weep for me, handmaids? Are you not yet wearied of my servitude? Alas, my poor little things, are you not yet exhausted, tired of my imprisonment and adversities, which you have long shared? Put off these tears, nor thus anticipate my death with your lamentable wailing. It wants no lamentation. I alone shall suffice for these evils, if evils they are, which have conquered all my fears. By this God is freeing me of those false joys in which I was first enmeshed, so that I should not stray far from Himself into the places of Hell that had been prepared for me. Why should I maintain my soul in this light any longer, or make delay? My soul is nothing than a light thing which I balance on my lips, although it is something greatly buffeted by evils. By a sure route, in a brief moment of time, and by an easy and often-sought death I depart to the precincts of the saints. Which of you begrudges me this? I shall die carefree, and now that I am on the point of dying nothing will make it harsher or over-swift, except that I am a poor, unlucky mistress, and shall be unable to recompense you in accordance with your merits. But you who see me being of good cheer and disposition in my final hours, be content to take the little left you in my testament, which will serve as evidence of my good will and mutual warmth of affection towards you, my followers. My misery prevents me from making; your happy. The rest of you must take these examples of my fortitude in place of a keepsake and memento, since I can give you nothing else.
Well then, Supreme among gods, now at length I follow where You lead me after my illness, I follow to the ending of so many evils, to Your repose by means of this dying day, appointed by You in Your goodness, and my wedding-day, which will transform my sorrows and pains into a new life and free me, undamaged, from the clutches of my enemies and give me to my Savior, my God, my Lord and everlasting Father.
Go now, deny that anything is perpetual. Realize, you trusting soul, that the scepters of the mighty experience the same alteration as the rest of mortals’ possessions, which Fortune refuses to let stand in one place. Steady happiness does not reside in goods, even if men are godlike in their virtue and noble for the brilliance of their pedigree, and imperiously dictate law to the people, let alone any harshly ruling master, even if if he does not constantly go too far in his exercise of power, compelling his equals, not subject to his laws, to undergo an impious punishment. Thus whatever wicked men wish fails, save for the dead weight of time. For the days flow by and kingdoms are turned on the whirling wheel of fortune. After Jerusalem had been destroyed, for how long a time did the people of Judah, placed, alas, under the yoke of Babylon, see on a foreign head the crown that should have been worn by their own sovereign? Do the the bondabge of Manassah and the reversals suffered by David not come to your mind? And does not what this queen suffered under Moray’s tyrannical rule, often exposed to grave danger for her life, alas, not just for her crown, and now subjected to barbaric imprisonment, sufficiently attest that the appearance of mortals’ happy lot is not enduring? Nor should you, who, relying on your English throne, are a terror to Christians and hold prisoner that sovereign who is your next of kin, expect any other outcome than Jezebel suffered after the death of Naboth and the priests, given to the dogs as food, thrown headlong from her royal chamber, or Herod, who polluted himself with the murder of Zacharias, or the royal fate written on the wall by the fingers of God’s hand. In the meantime may the greatest Judge of the world lighten our enemy’s power over our necks and, showing His favor towards our queen, may God bright her back to His kingdom, now that the sun in its great courses has witnessed her and ourselves banished from our national home for twenty years!
Thus far our queen has endured the heavy woes of exile, a captive in the kingdom of England, until hope of help came. But why does God, Who grants the sacred laws of hospitality, still enhance Elizabeth’s accursed person, responsible for such great crimes? A host has not always tolerated his guest as a bull grazing his pasture, but he has not savagely sacrificed his guests to his impious household gods, nor when his victims were joined to himself by the laws of blood-relationship; a host has banished his guest from his kingdom to a trackless forest as a Lycaon to be a friend to wolves, but without their kinship being damaged in his home, something for which no great personages should fall, as this glory of the Scots is dying in English territory by a death unfamiliar to sovereigns.
Oh savage craving for power, dire fears and a guilty consciousness of having scorned the law, how greatly you are a secret source of evil! Saul once hated David, banished from his kingdom, fearing destruction at the hands of an offended God, fearing to be driven off from his lofty throne, on which he perceived that Jesse’s son was being set. Stricken by the plague of the dire Sisters and overcome by black bile, he strove to pierce David with his sharp spear even as he was soothing his wrath with his lyre or carefully fleeing his rage. Not otherwise is her sister, having invited her, attempting to kill my mistress with her unjust steel, bloated with dark wrath, and heedless of laws, family, royal degree, and James, the boy who presides over his mother’s palace. Athalia was so minded when she inflicted a premature death on the children born to the noble race of Ochozias, a woman eager to gain power at Jerusalem. But quickly she received a very different reward, paying her due forfeit with death. Let this host make the same atonement for her sins, since she is committing the same crime.
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