« PreviousContinue »
LADY JANE GRAY.
TO-NIGHT the noblest subject swells our scene,
For these she fell, while, with too weak a hand,
SENT BY AN UNKNOWN HAND.
When waking terrors rouse the guilty breast, A brave contempt of life, and grandeur lost : And fatal visions break the murderer's rest; Such glorious toils a female name can boast.
vengeance does ambition's fate decree, Our author draws not beau*v's heavenly smile, And tyrants bleed, to set whole nations free; T'invite our wishes, and our hearts beguile; Though the muse saddens each distressed scene, No soft enchantments languish in her eye, Unmov'd is ev'ry breast, and ev'ry face serene:
No blossoms fade, nor sick’ning roses die. The mournful lines no tender heart subdue; A nobler passion ev'ry breast must move, Compassion is to suff'ring goodness due. Than youthful raptures, or the joys of love, The poet your attention begs once more, A mind unchang'd, superior to a crown, T'atone for characters here drawn before; Bravely defies the angry tyrant's frown; No royal mistress sighs through ev'ry page,
The same, if fortune sinks, or mounts on high, And breathes her dying sorrows on the stage: Or if the world's extended ruins lie: No lovely fair, by soft persuasion won,
With gen’rous scorn she lays the sceptre down; Lays down the load of life, when honour's gone. Great souls shine brightest by misfortunes shewn. Nobly to bear the changes of our state, With patient courage she sustains the blow, To stand unmov'd against the storms of fate, And triumphs o'er variety of woe.
Gates. Is there no help in all the healing art, SCENE I.-The Court.
No potent juice or drug to save a life
So precious, and prevent a nation's fate? Enter the Duke of NORTHUMBERLAND, Duke
North. What has been left untried, that art of SUFFOLK, and Sir John Gates.
could do? North. 'Tis all in vain ; Heaven has required The hoary wrinkled leech has watched and toiled, its pledge,
Tried every health-restoring herb and gum, And he must die.
And wearied out his painful skill in vain. Suff. Is there an honest heart,
Close, like a dragon folded in his den, That loves our England, does not mourn for Ed- Some secret venom preys upon his heart; ward?
A stubborn and unconquerable flame The genius of our isle is shook with sorrow; Creeps in his veins, and drinks the streams of life; He bows his venerable head with pain,
His youthful sinews are unstrung; cold sweats And labours with the sickness of his lord. And deadly paleness sit upon his visage; Religion melts in every holy eye;
And every gasp we look shall be his last. All comfortless, afflicted, and forlorn,
Gates. Doubt not, your graces, but the Popish She sits on earth, and weeps upon her cross,
faction Weary of man, and his detested ways :
Will at this juncture urge their utmost force. Even now she seems to meditate her flight, All on the princess Mary turn their eyes, And waft her angels to the thrones above. Well hoping she shall build again their altars, North. Ay, there, my lord, you touch our hea- And bring their idol-worship back in triumph. viest loss.
Good Heaven, ordain some better fate With him our holy faith is doomed to suffer ;
for England ! With him our church shall veil her sacred front, Suff
. What better can we hope, if she should. That late from heaps of Gothic ruins rose,
reign? In her first native simple majesty;
I know her well; a blinded zealot is she; The toil of saints, and price of martyrs' blood, A gloomy nature, sullen and severe; Shall fail with Edward, and again old Rome Nurtured by proud presuming Romish priests, Shall spread her banners; and her monkish host, Taught to believe they only cannot err, Pride, ignorance, and rapine, shall return; Because they cannot er ; bred up in scorn Blind bloody zeal, and cruel priestly power, Of reason, and the whole lay world; instructed Shall scourge the land for ten dark ages more. To hate whoe'er dissent from what they teach;
To purge the world from heresy by blood; The great Alcides of our state, is present.
Whatever dangers menace prince or people,
Nor need a second in the glorious task ; Bow down before these holy purple tyrants, Equal yourself to all the toils of empire. And bid them tread upon our slavish necks? Norih. No; as I honour virtue, I have tried, No; let this faithful free-born English hand And know my strength too well; nor can the First dig my grave in liberty and honour;
voice And though I found but one more thus resolved, Of friendly flattery, like yours, deceive me. That honest man and I would die together. I know my temper liable to passions, Suff. Doubt not, there are ten thousand and And all the frailties common to our nature; ten thousand,
Blind to events, too easy of persuasion, To own a cause so just,
And often, too, too often, have I erred : Gates. The list I gave
Much therefore have I need of some good man, Into your grace's band last night, declares Some wise and honest heart, whose friendly aid My power and friends at full. [To North. Might guide my treading through our present North. Be it your care,
dangers; Good Sir John Gates, to see your friends ap- And, by the honour of my name I swear, pointed,
I know not one of all our English peers, And ready for the occasion. Haste this instant; Whom I would choose for that best friend, like Lose not a moment's time.
Pembroke. Gates. I go, my lord. (Erit GATES. Pem. What shall I answer to a trust so noble, North. Your grace's princely daughter, lady This prodigality of praise and honour? Jane,
Were not your grace too generous of soul, Is she yet come to court ?
To speak a language differing from your heart, Suff. Not yet arrived,
How might I think you could not mean this But with the soonest I expect her here.
goodness I know her duty to the dying king,
To one, whom his ill fortune has ordained
North. No more ; I scorn a thought
So much below the dignity of virtue.
But, on a point like this, when equal merit Suff. Upon the instant
Stands forth to make its bold appeal to honour, Your grace shall be obeyed, I go to summon her. And calls to have the balance held in justice ;
[Exit SUFFOLK. Away with all the fondnesses of nature ! North. What trivial influences hold dominion I judge of Pembroke and my son alike. O’er wise men's counsels,' and the fate of em Pem. I ask no more to bind me to your ser
vice. The greatest schemes that human wit can forge, North. The realm is now at hazard, and bold Or bold ambition dares to put in practice,
factions Depend upon our husbanding a moment, Threaten change, tumult, and disastrous days. And the light lasting of a woman's will ; These fears drive out the gentler thoughts of joy, As if the Lord of Nature should delight Of courtship, and of love. Grant, Heaven, the To hang this ponderous globe upon a hair,
state And bid it dance before a breath of wind. To fix in peace and safety once again ; She must be here, and lodged in Guilford's arms, Then speak your passion to the princely maid, Ere Edward dies, or all we have done is marred. And fair success attend you. For myself, Ha! Pembroke ! that's a bar which thwarts my My voice shall go as far for you, my lord,
As for my son ; and beauty be the umpire. His fiery temper brooks not opposition,
But now a heavier matter calls upon us; And must be met with soft and supple arts, The king, with life just labouring; and, I fear, With crouching courtesy, and honeyed words, The council grow impatient at our stay. Such as assuage the fierce, and bend the strong. Pem. One moment's pause, and I attend your
(Exit North. Enter the Earl of PEMBROKE.
Old Winchester cries to me oft, Beware Good morrow, noble Pembroke: we have staid Of proud Northumberland. The testy prelate, The meeting of the council for your presence. Froward with age, with disappointed hopes, Pem. For mine, my lord ! you mock your And zealous for old Rome, rails on the duke, servant, sure,
Suspecting him to favour the new teachers : To say that I am wanted, where yourself, Yet even in that, if I judge right, he errs.
But were it so, what are these monkish quarrels, | Like all thou canst imagine wild and furious, These wordy wars of proud ill-mannered school. Now drive me headlong on, now whirl me back men,
And hurl my unstable flitting soul
Enter Sir JOHN GATES.
Gates. The lords of council The noblest youth our England has to boast of, Wait with impatience. Has made me long the partner of his breast. Pem. I attend their pleasure. Nay, when he found, in spite of the resistance This only, and no more, then. Whatsoever My struggling heart had made to do him justice, Fortune decrees, still let us call to mind That I was grown his rival, he strove hard, Our friendship and our honour. And since love And would not turn me forth from out his bosom, Condemns us to be rivals for one prize, But called me still his friend. And see! He Let us contend, as friends and brave men ought,
With openness and justice to each other;
That he, who wins the fair one to his arms, Enter Lord GUILFORD.
May take her as the crown of great desert; Oh, Guilford ! just as thou wert entering here,
And if the wretched loser does repine, My thought was running all thy virtues over, His own heart and the world may all condemn And wondering how thy soul could choose a
(Erit Pem. partner,
Guil. How cross the ways of life lie! While So much unlike itself.
we think Guil. How could my tongue
We travel on direct in one high road, Take pleasure and be lavish in thy praise ! And have our journey's end opposed in view, How could I speak thy nobleness of nature,
A thousand thwarting paths break in upon us, Thy open manly heart, thy courage, constancy, To puzzle and perplex our wandering steps; And in-born truth, unknowing to dissemble ! Love, friendship, hatred, in their turns, mislead Thou art the man in whom my soul delights ; And every passion has its separate interest: In whom, next Heaven, I trust.
Where is that piercing foresight can unfold Pem. Oh, generous youth !
Where all this mazy error will have end, What can a heart, stubborn and fierce, like mine, And tell the doom reserved for me and PemReturn to all thy sweetness ?-Yet I would,
broke? I would be grateful.-Oh, my cruel fortune! There is but one end certain, that is death : Would I had never seen her, never cast
Yet even that certainty is still uncertain. Mine eyes on Suffolk's daughter !
For of these several tracks, which lie before us, Guil. So would I !
We know that one leads certainly to death, Since 'twas my fate to see and love her first. But know not which that one is. 'Tis in vain, Pem. Oh! Why should she, that universal This blind divining ; let me think no more on't: goodness,
And see the mistress of our fate appear!
Enter Lady JANE GRAY. Attendants. And threaten it with ruin?
Hail, princely maid! who, with auspicious beauty, Guil. Heaven forbid !
Chear'st every drooping heart in this sad place; But tell me, Pembroke, is it not in virtue Who, like the silver regent of the night, To arm against this proud imperious passion ? Lift'st up thy sacred beams upon the land, Does holy friendship dwell so near to envy,
To bid the gloom look gay, dispel our horrors, She could not bear to see another happy? And make us less lament the setting sun. If blind mistaken chance, and partial beauty, L. J. Gray. Yes, Guilford; well dost thou Should join to favour Guilford
compare my presence Pem. Name it not !
To the faint comfort of the waning moon : My fiery spirits kindle at the thought,
Like her cold orb, a cheerless gleam I bring : And hurry me to rage.
Silence and heaviness of heart, with dews
To dress the face of nature all in tears,
Guil. He lives as yet,
But every moment cuts away a hope, · Pem. Ha ! Couldst thou bear it?
Adds to our fears, and gives the infant saint And yet perhaps thou mightst; thy gentle tem- Great prospect of his opening Heaven. per
L. J. Gray. Descend, ye choirs of angels, to Is formed with passions mixed with due propor
receive him! tion,
Tune your melodious harps to some high strain, Where no one overbears, nor plays the tyrant, And waft him upwards with a song of triumph; But join in nature's business, and thy happiness: A purer soul, and one more like yourselves, While mine, disdaining reason and her laws, Ne'er entered at the golden gates of bliss.
Oh, Guilford! what remains for wretched Eng-, Of this dear hand would kindle life anew. land,
But I obey, I dread that gathering frown; When he, our guardian angel, shall forsake us? And, oh! whene'er my bosom swells with pasFor whose dear sake Heaven spared a guilty land, sion, And scattered not its plagues while Edward And my full heart is pained with ardent love, reigned !
Allow me but to look on you, and sigh; Guil. I own my heart bleeds inward at the 'Tis all the humble joy that Guilford asks. thought,
L. J. Gray. Still wilt thou frame thy speech And rising horrors crowd the opening scene.
to this vain purpose, And yet, forgive me, thou, my native country, When the wan king of terrors stalks before us, Thou land of liberty, thou nurse of heroes, When universal ruin gathers round, Forgive me, if, in spite of all thy dangers, And no escape is left us? Are we not New springs of pleasure flow within my bosom, Like wretches in a storm, whom every moment When thus 'tis given me to behold those eyes, The greedy deep is gaping to devour ? Thus
gaze, and wonder, how excelling nature Around us see the pale despairing crew Can give each day new patterns of her skill, Wring their sad hands, and give their labour o'er; And yet at once surpass them.
The hope of life has every heart forsook, L. J. Gray. Oh, vain flattery !
And horror sits on each distracted look; Harsh and ill-sounding ever to my ear;
One solemn thought of death does all employ, But on a day like this, the raven's note
And cancels, like a dream, delight and joy; Strikes on my sense more sweetly. But no more; One sorrow streams from all their weeping eyes, I charge thee touch the ungrateful theme no more; And one consenting voice for mercy cries; Lead me to pay my duty to the king,
Trembling, they dread just Heaven's avenging To wet his pale cold hand with these last tears, power, And share the blessings of his parting breath. Mourn their past lives, and wait the fatal hour. Guil. Were I like dying Edward, sure a touch
What shall I say to bless you for this goodness? Enter the Duke of NORTHUMBERLAN D, and ih And all the business of my years to come,
Oh, gracious princess ! But my life is yours, Duke of SUFFOLK.
Is, to attend with humblest duty on you, Nor. Yer then be cheered, my heart, amidst And pay my vowed obedience at your feet. thy mourning
Duch. Suff. Yes, noble youth, I share in all Though tate bang heavy o'er us, though pale fear
thy joys, And wild distraction sit on every face;
In all the joys which this sad day can give. Though never day of grief was known like this, The dear delight I have to call thee son, Let me rejoice, and bless the hallowed light, Comes like a cordial to my drooping spirits ; Whose beans auspicious shine upon our union, It broods with gentle warmth upon my bosom, And bid me call the noble Suffolk brother. And melts that frost of death which hung about
Suti. I know not what my secret soul presages,
That we have been too hasty. For myself, Let thy tongue put on all its pleasing eloquence,
North. All desolate and drowned in flowing you, my noble brother, would prevail,
tears, And I have yielded to you.
By Edward's bed the pious princess sits; Nor. Doubt not any thing ;
Fast from her lifted eyes the pearly drops Nor hold the hour unlucky, that good Heaven, Fall trickling o'er her cheek, while holy ardour Who softens the corrections of his hand, And fervent zeal pour forth her labouring soul; And mixes still a comfort with afflictions, And every sigh is winged with prayers so Has given to-day a blessing in our children,
potent, To wipe away our tears for dying Edward. As strive with Heaven to save her dying lord. Sutf
. In that I trust. Good angels be our guard, Duch. Suff. From the first early days of infant And inake my fears prove vain! but see, my wife ! life, With her, your son, the generous Guilford comes; A gentle band of friendship grew betwixt them; She has informed him of our present purpose.
And while our royal uncle Henry reigned,
As brother and as sister bred together, Enter the Duchess of SUFFOLK, and Lord
Beneath one common parent's care they lived. GUILFORD.
North. A wondrous sympathy of souls conGuil, How shall I speak the fulness of my heart? spired