Mary Stuart
Category: Verse
Level 9.65 3:47 h 102.7 mb
Mary Stuart is a verse play by Friedrich Schiller that depicts the last days of Mary, Queen of Scots. The play consists of five acts, each divided into several scenes. This book is an English translation by Joseph Charles Mellish.

Mary Stuart

A Tragedy

Friedrich Schiller

Translated by Joseph Charles Mellish

Mary Stuart

Dramatis Personae

ELIZABETH, Queen of England.
MARY STUART, Queen of Scots, a Prisoner in England.
ROBERT DUDLEY, Earl of Leicester.
GEORGE TALBOT, Earl of Shrewsbury.
WILLIAM CECIL, Lord Burleigh, Lord High Treasurer.
SIR WILLIAM DAVISON, Secretary of State.
COUNT L’AUBESPINE, the French Ambassador.
O’KELLY, Mortimer’s Friend.
COUNT BELLIEVRE, Envoy Extraordinary from France.
SIR DRUE DRURY, another Keeper of MARY.
SIR ANDREW MELVIL, her House Steward.
BURGOYNE, her Physician.
MARGARET CURL, her Attendant.
Sheriff of the County.
Officer of the Guard.
French and English Lords.
Servants of State belonging to ELIZABETH.
Servants and Female Attendants of the Queen of Scots.

Act I

Scene I

A common apartment in the Castle of Fotheringay.

HANNAH KENNEDY, contending violently with PAULET, who is about to break open a closet; DRURY with an iron crown.

How now, sir? what fresh outrage have we here?
Back from that cabinet!

Whence came the jewel?
I know ‘twas from an upper chamber thrown;
And you would bribe the gardener with your trinkets.
A curse on woman’s wiles! In spite of all
My strict precaution and my active search,
Still treasures here, still costly gems concealed!
And doubtless there are more where this lay hid.

[Advancing towards the cabinet.]

Intruder, back! here lie my lady’s secrets.

Exactly what I seek.
[Drawing forth papers.]

Mere trifling papers;
The amusements only of an idle pen,
To cheat the dreary tedium of a dungeon.

In idle hours the evil mind is busy.

Those writings are in French.

So much the worse!
That tongue betokens England’s enemy.

Sketches of letters to the Queen of England.

I’ll be their bearer. Ha! what glitters here?

[He touches a secret spring, and draws out jewels from a private drawer.]

A royal diadem enriched with stones,
And studded with the fleur-de-lis of France.

[He hands it to his assistant.]

Here, take it, Drury; lay it with the rest.

[Exit DRURY.]

[And ye have found the means to hide from us
Such costly things, and screen them, until now,
From our inquiring eyes?]

Oh, insolent
And tyrant power, to which we must submit.

She can work ill as long as she hath treasures;
For all things turn to weapons in her hands.

KENNEDY (supplicating).
Oh, sir! be merciful; deprive us not
Of the last jewel that adorns our life!
‘Tis my poor lady’s only joy to view
This symbol of her former majesty;
Your hands long since have robbed us of the rest.

‘Tis in safe custody; in proper time
‘Twill be restored to you with scrupulous care.

Who that beholds these naked walls could say
That majesty dwelt here? Where is the throne?
Where the imperial canopy of state?
Must she not set her tender foot, still used
To softest treading, on the rugged ground?
With common pewter, which the lowliest dame
Would scorn, they furnish forth her homely table.

Thus did she treat her spouse at Stirling once;
And pledged, the while, her paramour in gold.

Even the mirror’s trifling aid withheld.

The contemplation of her own vain image
Incites to hope, and prompts to daring deeds.

Books are denied her to divert her mind.

The Bible still is left to mend her heart.

Even of her very lute she is deprived!

Because she tuned it to her wanton airs.

Is this a fate for her, the gentle born,
Who in her very cradle was a queen?
Who, reared in Catherine’s luxurious court,
Enjoyed the fulness of each earthly pleasure?
Was’t not enough to rob her of her power,
Must ye then envy her its paltry tinsel?
A noble heart in time resigns itself
To great calamities with fortitude;
But yet it cuts one to the soul to part
At once with all life’s little outward trappings!

These are the things that turn the human heart
To vanity, which should collect itself
In penitence; for a lewd, vicious life,
Want and abasement are the only penance.

If youthful blood has led her into error,
With her own heart and God she must account:
There is no judge in England over her.

She shall have judgment where she hath transgressed.

Her narrow bonds restrain her from transgression.

And yet she found the means to stretch her arm
Into the world, from out these narrow bonds,
And, with the torch of civil war, inflame
This realm against our queen (whom God preserve).
And arm assassin bands. Did she not rouse
From out these walls the malefactor Parry,
And Babington, to the detested crime
Of regicide? And did this iron grate
Prevent her from decoying to her toils
The virtuous heart of Norfolk? Saw we not
The first, best head in all this island fall
A sacrifice for her upon the block?
[The noble house of Howard fell with him.]
And did this sad example terrify
These mad adventurers, whose rival zeal
Plunges for her into this deep abyss?
The bloody scaffold bends beneath the weight
Of her new daily victims; and we ne’er
Shall see an end till she herself, of all
The guiltiest, be offered up upon it.
Oh! curses on the day when England took
This Helen to its hospitable arms.

Did England then receive her hospitably?
Oh, hapless queen! who, since that fatal day
When first she set her foot within this realm,
And, as a suppliant — a fugitive —
Came to implore protection from her sister,
Has been condemned, despite the law of nations,
And royal privilege, to weep away
The fairest years of youth in prison walls.
And now, when she hath suffered everything
Which in imprisonment is hard and bitter,
Is like a felon summoned to the bar,
Foully accused, and though herself a queen,
Constrained to plead for honor and for life.

She came amongst us as a murderess,
Chased by her very subjects from a throne
Which she had oft by vilest deeds disgraced.
Sworn against England’s welfare came she hither,
To call the times of bloody Mary back,
Betray our church to Romish tyranny,
And sell our dear-bought liberties to France.
Say, why disdained she to subscribe the treaty
Of Edinborough — to resign her claim
To England’s crown — and with one single word,
Traced by her pen, throw wide her prison gates?
No: — she had rather live in vile confinement,
And see herself ill-treated, than renounce
The empty honors of her barren title.
Why acts she thus? Because she trusts to wiles,
And treacherous arts of base conspiracy;
And, hourly plotting schemes of mischief, hopes
To conquer, from her prison, all this isle.

You mock us, sir, and edge your cruelty
With words of bitter scorn: — that she should form
Such projects; she, who’s here immured alive,
To whom no sound of comfort, not a voice
Of friendship comes from her beloved home;
Who hath so long no human face beheld,
Save her stern gaoler’s unrelenting brows;
Till now, of late, in your uncourteous cousin
She sees a second keeper, and beholds
Fresh bolts and bars against her multiplied.

No iron-grate is proof against her wiles.
How do I know these bars are not filed through?
How that this floor, these walls, that seem so strong
Without, may not be hollow from within,
And let in felon treachery when I sleep?
Accursed office, that’s intrusted to me,
To guard this cunning mother of all ill!
Fear scares me from my sleep; and in the night
I, like a troubled spirit, roam and try
The strength of every bolt, and put to proof
Each guard’s fidelity: — I see, with fear,
The dawning of each morn, which may confirm
My apprehensions: — yet, thank God, there’s hope
That all my fears will soon be at an end;
For rather would I at the gates of hell
Stand sentinel, and guard the devilish host
Of damned souls, than this deceitful queen.

Here comes the queen.

Christ’s image in her hand.
Pride, and all worldly lusts within her heart.

Scene II

The same. Enter MARY, veiled, a crucifix in her hand.

KENNEDY (hastening toward her).
O gracious queen! they tread us under foot;
No end of tyranny and base oppression;
Each coming day heaps fresh indignities,
New sufferings on thy royal head.

Be calm —
Say, what has happened?

See! thy cabinet
Is forced — thy papers — and thy only treasure,
Which with such pains we had secured, the last
Poor remnant of thy bridal ornaments
From France, is in his hands — naught now remains
Of royal state — thou art indeed bereft!

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