Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, STRAFFORD; A TRAGEDY, by ROBERT BROWNING



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STRAFFORD; A TRAGEDY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I say, if he be here
Last Line: Straf. O god, I shall die first -- I shall die first!
Subject(s): Great Britain - History; Wentworth, Thomas. Earl Of Strafford; English History


A TRAGEDY

DEDICATED, IN ALL AFFECTIONATE ADMIRATION,

TO

WILLIAM C. MACREADY

PERSONS

CHARLES I.
Earl of HOLLAND.
Lord SAVILE.
Sir HENRY VANE.
WENTWORTH, Viscount WENTWORTH, Earl of STRAFFORD.
JOHN PYM.
JOHN HAMPDEN.
The younger VANE.
DENZIL HOLLIS.
BENJAMIN RUDYARD.
NATHANIEL FIENNES.
Earl of LOUDON.
MAXWELL, Usher of the Black Rod.
BALFOUR, Constable of the Tower.
A PURITAN.
Queen HENRIETTA.
LUCY PERCY, Countess of Carlisle.
Presbyterians, Scots Commissioners, Adherents of
Strafford, Secretaries, Officers of the Court, etc.
Two of Strafford's CHILDREN.

ACT I

SCENE I. A House near Whitehall. HAMPDEN, HOLLIS, the
younger VANE, RUDYARD, FIENNES and many of the Presbyterian
Party: LOUDON and other scotsCommissioners.

Vane. I say, if he be here --
Rudyard. (And he is here!) --
Hollis. For England's sake let every man be still
Nor speak of him, so much as say his name,
Till Pym rejoin us! Rudyard! Henry Vane!
One rash conclusion may decide our course
And with it England's fate -- think -- England's fate!
Hampden, for England's sake they should be still!
Vane. You say so, Hollis? Well, I must be still.
It is indeed too bitter that one man,
Any one man's mere presence, should suspend
England's combined endeavor: little need
To name him!
Rud. For you are his brother, Hollis!
Hampden. Shame on you, Rudyard! time to tell him that
When he forgets the Mother of us all.
Rud. Do I forget her?
Hamp. You talk idle hate
Against her foe: is that so strange a thing?
Is hating Wentworth all the help she needs?
A Puritan. The Philistine strode, cursing as he went:
But David -- five smooth pebbles from the brook
Within his scrip ...
Rud. Be you as still as David!
Fiennes. Here's Rudyard not ashamed to wag a tongue
Stiff with ten years' disuse of Parliaments;
Why, when the last sat, Wentworth sat with us!
Rud. Let's hope for news of them now he returns --
He that was safe in Ireland, as we thought!
-- But I'll abide Pym's coming.
Vane. Now, by Heaven,
Then may be cool who can, silent who will --
Some have a gift that way! Wentworth is here,
Here, and the King's safe closeted with him
Ere this. And when I think on all that's past
Since that man left us, how his single arm
Rolled the advancing good of England back
And set the woeful past up in its place,
Exalting Dagon where the Ark should be, --
How that man has made firm the fickle King
(Hampden, I will speak out!) -- in aught he feared
To venture on before; taught tyranny
Her dismal trade, the use of all her tools,
To ply the scourge yet screw the gag so close
That strangled agony bleeds mute to death --
How he turns Ireland to a private stage
For training infant villanies, new ways
Of wringing treasure out of tears and blood,
Unheard oppressions nourished in the dark
To try how much man's nature can endure
-- If he dies under it, what harm? if not,
Why, one more trick is added to the rest
Worth a king's knowing, and what Ireland bears
England may learn to bear: -- how all this while
That man has set himself to one dear task,
The bringing Charles to relish more and more
Power, power without law, power and blood too
-- Can I be still?
Hamp. For that you should be still.
Vane. Oh Hampden, then and now! The year he left us,
The People in full Parliament could wrest
The Bill of Rights from the reluctant King;
And now, he'll find in an obscure small room
A stealthy gathering of great-hearted men
That take up England's cause: England is here!
Hamp. And who despairs of England?
Rud. That do I,
If Wentworth comes to rule her. I am sick
To think her wretched masters, Hamilton,
The muck worm Cottington, the maniac Laud,
May yet be longed-for back again. I say,
I do despair.
Vane. And, Rudyard, I'll say this --
Which all true men say after me, not loud
But solemnly and as you'd say a prayer!
This King, who treads our England underfoot,
Has just so much ... it may be fear or craft,
As bids him pause at each fresh outrage: friends,
He needs some sterner hand to grasp his own,
Some voice to ask, "Why shrink? Am I not by?"
Now, one whom England loved for serving her,
Found in his heart to say, "I know where best
The iron heel shall bruise her, for she leans
Upon me when you trample." Witness, you!
So Wentworth heartened Charles, so England fell.
But inasmuch as life is hard to take
From England ...
Many Voices. Go on, Vane! 'T is well said, Vane!
Vane. Who has not so forgotten Runny-mede! --
Voices. 'T is well and bravely spoken, Vane! Go on!
Vane. There are some little signs of late she knows
The ground no place for her. She glances round,
Wentworth has dropped the hand, is gone his way
On other service: what if she arise?
No! the King beckons, and beside him stands
The same bad man once more, with the same smile
And the same gesture. Now shall England crouch,
Or catch at us and rise?
Voices. The Renegade!
Haman! Ahithophel!
Hamp. Gentlemen of the North,
It was not thus the night your claims were urged
And we pronounced the League and Covenant,
The cause of Scotland, England's cause as well:
Vane there, sat motionless the whole night through.
Vane. Hampden!
Fien. Stay, Vane!
Loudon. Be just and patient, Vane!
Vane. Mind how you counsel patience, Loudon! you
Have still a Parliament, and this your League
To back it; you are free in Scotland still:
While we are brothers, hope's for England yet.
But know you wherefore Wentworth comes? to quench
This last of hopes? that he brings war with him?
Know you the man's self? what he dares?
Lou. We know,
All know -- 't is nothing new.
Vane. And what's new, then,
In calling for his life? Why, Pym himself --
You must have heard -- ere Wentworth dropped our cause
He would see Pym first; there were many more
Strong on the people's side and friends of his,
Eliot that's dead, Rudyard and Hampden here,
But for these Wentworth cared not; only, Pym
He would see -- Pym and he were sworn, 't is said,
To live and die together; so, they met
At Greenwich. Wentworth, you are sure, was long,
Specious enough, the devil's argument
Lost nothing on his lips; he 'd have Pym own
A patriot could not play a purer part
Than follow in his track; they two combined
Might put down England. Well, Pym heard him out;
One glance -- you know Pym's eye -- one word was all:
"You leave us, Wentworth! while your head is on,
I'll not leave you."
Hamp. Has he left Wentworth, then?
Has England lost him? Will you let him speak,
Or put your crude surmises in his mouth?
Away with this! Will you have Pym or Vane?
Voices. Wait Pym's arrival! Pym shall speak.
Hamp. Meanwhile
Let Loudon read the Parliament's report
From Edinburgh: our last hope, as Vane says,
Is in the stand it makes. Loudon!
Vane. No, no!
Silent I can be: not indifferent!
Hamp. Then each keep silence, praying God to spare
His anger, cast not England quite away
In this her visitation!
A Puritan. Seven years long
The Midianite drove Israel into dens
And caves. Till God sent forth a mighty man,
(PYM enters.)
Even Gideon!
Pym. Wentworth's come: nor sickness, care,
The ravaged body nor the ruined soul,
More than the winds and waves that beat his ship,
Could keep him from the King. He has not reached
Whitehall: they've hurried up a Council there
To lose no time and find him work enough.
Where's Loudon? your Scots' Parliament ...
Lou. Holds firm:
We were about to read reports.
Pym. The King
Has just dissolved your Parliament.
Lou. and other Scots. Great God!
An oath-breaker! Stand by us, England, then!
Pym. The King's too sanguine; doubtless Wentworth's here;
But still some little form might be kept up.
Hamp. Now speak, Vane! Rudyard, you had much to say!
Hol. The rumor's false, then ...
Pym. Ay, the Court gives out
His own concerns have brought him back: I know
'T is the King calls him. Wentworth supersedes
The tribe of Cottingtons and Hamiltons
Whose part is played; there's talk enough, by this, --
Merciful talk, the King thinks: time is now
To turn the record's last and bloody leaf
Which, chronicling a nation's great despair,
Tells they were long rebellious, and their lord
Indulgent, till, all kind expedients tried,
He drew the sword on them and reigned in peace.
Laud's laying his religion on the Scots
Was the last gentle entry: the new page
Shall run, the King thinks, "Wentworth thrust it down
At the sword's point."
A Puritan. I'll do your bidding, Pym,
England's and God's -- one blow!
Pym. A goodly thing --
We all say, friends, it is a goodly thing
To right that England. Heaven grows dark above:
Let's snatch one moment ere the thunder fall,
To say how well the English spirit comes out
Beneath it! All have done their best, indeed,
From lion Eliot, that grand Englishman,
To the least here: and who, the least one here,
When she is saved (for her redemption dawns
Dimly, most dimly, but it dawns -- it dawns)
Who'd give at any price his hope away
Of being named along with the Great Men?
We would not -- no, we would not give that up!
Hamp. And one name shall be dearer than all names,
When children, yet unborn, are taught that name
After their fathers', -- taught what matchless man ...
Pym.... Saved England? What if Wentworth's should be still
That name?
Rud. and others. We have just said it, Pym! His death
Saves her! We said it -- there's no way beside!
I'll do God's bidding, Pym! They struck down Joab
And purged the land.
Vane. No villanous striking-down!
Rud. No, a calm vengeance: let the whole land rise
And shout for it. No Feltons!
Pym. Rudyard, no!
England rejects all Feltons; most of all
Since Wentworth ... Hampden, say the trust again
Of England in her servants -- but I'll think
You know me, all of you. Then, I believe,
Spite of the past, Wentworth rejoins you, friends!
Vane and others. Wentworth? Apostate! Judas! Double-dyed
A traitor! Is it Pym, indeed ...
Pym. ... Who says
Vane never knew that Wentworth, loved that man,
Was used to stroll with him, arm locked in arm,
Along the streets to see the people pass,
And read in every island-countenance
Fresh argument for God against the King, --
Never sat down, say, in the very house
Where Eliot's brow grew broad with noble thoughts,
(You've joined us, Hampden -- Hollis, you as well,)
And then left talking over Gracchus's death ..
Vane. To frame, we know it well, the choicest clause
In the Petition of Right: he framed such clause
One month before he took at the King's hand
His Northern Presidency, which that Bill
Denounced.
Pym. Too true! Never more, never more
Walked we together! Most alone I went.
I have had friends -- all here are fast my friends --
But I shall never quite forget that friend.
And yet it could not but be real in him!
You, Vane, -- you, Rudyard, have no right to trust
To Wentworth: but can no one hope with me?
Hampden, will Wentworth dare shed English blood
Like water?
Hamp. Ireland is Aceldama.
Pym. Will he turn Scotland to a hunting-ground
To please the King, now that he knows the King?
The People or the King? and that King, Charles!
Hamp. Pym, all here know you: you'll not set your heart
On any baseless dream. But say one deed
Of Wentworth's, since he left us ... [Shouting without.
Vane. There! he comes,
And they shout for him! Wentworth's at Whitehall,
The King embracing him, now, as we speak,
And he, to be his match in courtesies,
Taking the whole war's risk upon himself,
Now, while you tell us here how changed he is!
Hear you?
Pym. And yet if 't is a dream, no more,
That Wentworth chose their side, and brought the King
To love it as though Laud had loved it first,
And the Queen after; that he led their cause
Calm to success, and kept it spotless through,
So that our very eyes could look upon
The travail of our souls, and close content
That violence, which something mars even right
Which sanctions it, had taken off no grace
From its serene regard. Only a dream!
Hamp. We meet here to accomplish certain good
By obvious means, and keep tradition up
Of free assemblages, else obsolete,
In this poor chamber: nor without effect
Has friend met friend to counsel and confirm,
As, listening to the beats of England's heart,
We spoke its wants to Scotland's prompt reply
By these her delegates. Remains alone
That word grow deed, as with God's help it shall --
But with the devil's hindrance, who doubts too?
Looked we or no that tyranny should turn
Her engines of oppression to their use?
Whereof, suppose the worst be Wentworth here --
Shall we break off the tactics which succeed
In drawing out our formidablest foe,
Let bickering and disunion take their place?
Or count his presence as our conquest's proof,
And keep the old arms at their steady play?
Proceed to England's work! Fiennes, read the list!
Fien. Ship-money is refused or fiercely paid
In every county, save the northern parts
Where Wentworth's influence ... [Shouting.
Vane. I, in England's name,
Declare her work, this day, at end! Till now,
Up to this moment, peaceful strife was best.
We English had free leave to think; till now,
We had a shadow of a Parliament
In Scotland. But all's changed: they change the first,
They try brute-force for law, they, first of all ...
Voices. Good! Talk enough! The old true hearts with Vane!
Vane. Till we crush Wentworth for her, there's no act
Serves England!
Voices. Vane for England!
Pym. Pym should be
Something to England. I seek Wentworth, friends.

SCENE II. Whitehall.

Lady CARLISLE and WENTWORTH.

Wentworth. And the King?
Lady Carlisle. Wentworth, lean on me! Sit then!
I'll tell you all; this horrible fatigue
Will kill you.
Went. No; -- or, Lucy, just your arm;
I'll not sit till I've cleared this up with him:
After that, rest. The King?
Lady Car. Confides in you.
Went. Why? or, why now? -- They have kind throats, the knaves!
Shout for me -- they!
Lady Car. You come so strangely soon:
Yet we took measures to keep off the crowd --
Did they shout for you?
Went. Wherefore should they not?
Does the King take such measures for himself?
Beside, there's such a dearth of malcontents,
You say!
Lady Car. I said but few dared carp at you.
Went. At me? at us, I hope! The King and I!
He's surely not disposed to let me bear
The fame away from him of these late deeds
In Ireland? I am yet his instrument
Be it for well or ill? He trusts me. too
Lady Car. The King, dear Wentworth, purposes, I said,
To grant you, in the face of all the Court ...
Went. All the Court! Evermore the Court about us!
Savile and Holland, Hamilton and Vane
About us, -- then the King will grant me -- what?
That he for once put these aside and say --
"Tell me your whole mind, Wentworth!"
Lady Car. You professed
You would be calm.
Went. Lucy, and I am calm!
How else shall I do all I come to do,
Broken, as you may see, body and mind,
How shall I serve the King? Time wastes mean-while,
You have not told me half. His footstep! No,
Quick, then, before I meet him, -- I am calm --
Why does the King distrust me?
Lady Car. He does not
Distrust you.
Went. Lucy, you can help me; you
Have even seemed to care for me: one word!
Is it the Queen?
Lady Car. No, not the Queen: the party
That poisons the Queen's ear, Savile and Holland.
Went. I know, I know: old Vane, too, he's one too?
Go on -- and he's made Secretary. Well?
Or leave them out and go straight to the charge;
The charge!
Lady Car. Oh, there's no charge, no precise charge;
Only they sneer, make light of -- one may say,
Nibble at what you do.
Went. I know! but, Lucy,
I reckoned on you from the first! -- Go on!
-- Was sure could I once see this gentle friend
When I arrived, she'd throw an hour away
To help her ... what am I?
Lady Car. You thought of me,
Dear Wentworth?
Went. But go on! The party here!
Lady Car. They do not think your Irish government
Of that surpassing value ...
Went. The one thing
Of value! The one service that the crown
May count on! All that keeps these very Vanes
In power, to vex me -- not that they do vex,
Only it might vex some to hear that service
Decried, the sole support that's left the King!
Lady Car. So the Archbishop says.
Went. Ah? well, perhaps
The only hand held up in my defence
May be old Laud's! These Hollands then, these Saviles
Nibble? They nibble? -- that's the very word!
Lady Car. Your profit in the Customs, Bristol says,
Exceeds the due proportion: while the tax ...
Went. Enough! 't is too unworthy, -- I am not
So patient as I thought! What's Pym about?
Lady Car. Pym?
Went. Pym and the People.
Lady Car. Oh, the Faction!
Extinct -- of no account: there'll never be
Another Parliament.
Went. Tell Savile that!
You may know -- (ay, you do -- the creatures here
Never forget!) that in my earliest life
I was not ... much that I am now! The King
May take my word on points concerning Pym
Before Lord Savile's, Lucy, or if not,
I bid them ruin their wise selves, not me,
These Vanes and Hollands! I'll not be their tool
Who might be Pym's friend yet.
But there's the King!
Where is he?
Lady Car. Just apprised that you arrive.
Went. And why not here to meet me? I was told
He sent for me, nay, longed for me.
Lady Car. Because, --
He is now ... I think a Council's sitting now
About this Scots affair.
Went. A Council sits?
They have not taken a decided course
Without me in the matter?
Lady Car. I should say ...
Went. The war? They cannot have agreed to that?
Not the Scots' war? -- without consulting me --
Me, that am here to show how rash it is,
How easy to dispense with? -- Ah, you too
Against me! well, -- the King may take his time.
-- Forget it, Lucy! Cares make peevish: mine
Weigh me (but 't is a secret) to my grave.
Lady Car. For life or death I am your own, dear friend!
[Goes out.
Went. Heartless! but all are heartless here. Go now,
Forsake the People! I did not forsake
The People: they shall know it, when the King
Will trust me! -- who trusts all beside at once,
While I have not spoke Vane and Savile fair,
And am not trusted: have but saved the throne:
Have not picked up the Queen's glove prettily,
And am not trusted. But he'll see me now.
Weston is dead: the Queen's half English now --
More English: one decisive word will brush
These insects from ... the step I know so well!
The King! But now, to tell him ... no -- to ask
What's in me he distrusts: -- or, best begin
By proving that this frightful Scots affair
Is just what I foretold. So much to say,
And the flesh fails, now, and the time is come,
And one false step no way to be repaired.
You were avenged, Pym, could you look on me.
(PYM enters.)
Went. I little thought of you just then.
Pym. No? I
Think always of you, Wentworth.
Went. The old voice!
I wait the King, sir.
Pym. True -- you look so pale!
A Council sits within; when that breaks up
He'll see you.
Went. Sir, I thank you.
Pym. Oh, thank Laud
You know when Laud once gets on Church affairs
The case is desperate: he'll not be long
To-day: he only means to prove, to-day,
We English all are mad to have a hand
In butchering the Scots for serving God
After their fathers' fashion: only that!
Went. Sir, keep you jests for those who relish them!
(Does he enjoy their confidence?) 'T is kind
To tell me what the Council does.
Pym. You grudge
That I should know it had resolved on war
Before you came? no need: you shall have all
The credit, trust me!
Went. Have the Council dared --
They have not dared ... that is -- I know you not.
Farewell, sir: times are changed.
Pym. -- Since we two met
At Greenwich? Yes: poor patriots though we be,
You cut a figure, makes some slight return
For your exploits in Ireland! Changed indeed,
Could our friend Eliot look from out his grave!
Ah, Wentworth, one thing for acquaintance' sake,
Just to decide a question; have you, now,
Felt your old self since you forsook us?
Went. Sir!
Pym. Spare me the gesture! you misapprehend.
Think not I mean the advantage is with me.
I was about to say that, for my part,
I never quite held up my head since then --
Was quite myself since then: for first, you see,
I lost all credit after that event
With those who recollect how sure I was
Wentworth would outdo Eliot on our side.
Forgive me: Savile, old Vane, Holland here,
Eschew plain-speaking: 't is a trick I keep.
Went. How, when, where, Savile, Vane, and Holland speak,
Plainly or otherwise, would have my scorn,
All of my scorn, sir ...
Pym. ... Did not my poor thoughts
Claim somewhat?
Went. Keep your thoughts! believe the King
Mistrusts me for their prattle, all these Vanes
And Saviles! make your mind up, o' God's love,
That I am discontented with the King!
Pym. Why, you may be: I should be, that I know,
Were I like you.
Went. Like me?
Pym. I care not much
For titles: our friend Eliot died no lord,
Hampden's no lord, and Savile is a lord;
But you care, since you sold your soul for one.
I can't think, therefore, your soul's purchaser
Did well to laugh you to such utter scorn
When you twice prayed so humbly for its price,
The thirty silver pieces ... I should say,
The Earldom you expected, still expect,
And may. Your letters were the movingest!
Console yourself: I've borne him prayers just now
From Scotland not to be oppressed by Laud,
Words moving in their way: he'll pay, be sure
As much attention as to those you sent.
Went. False, sir! Who showed them you? Suppose it so,
The King did very well ... nay, I was glad
When it was shown me: I refused, the first!
John Pym, you were my friend -- forbear me once!
Pym. Oh, Wentworth, ancient brother of my soul,
That all should come to this!
Went. Leave me!
Pym. My friend,
Why should I leave you?
Went. To tell Rudyard this,
And Hampden this!
Pym. Whose faces once were bright
At my approach, now sad with doubt and fear,
Because I hope in you -- yes, Wentworth, you
Who never mean to ruin England -- you
Who shake off, with God's help, an obscene dream
In this Ezekiel chamber, where it crept
Upon you first, and wake, yourself, your true
And proper self, our Leader, England's Chief,
And Hampden's friend!
This is the proudest day!
Come, Wentworth! Do not even see the King!
The rough old room will seem itself again!
We'll both go in together: you've not seen
Hampden so long: come: and there's Fiennes: you'll have
To know young Vane. This is the proudest day!
[The KING enters. WENTWORTH lets fall PYM's hand.
Charles. Arrived, my lord? -- This gentleman, we know
Was your old friend.
The Scots shall be informed
What we determine for their happiness.
[PYM goes out.
You have made haste, my lord.
Went. Sir, I am come ...
Cha. To see an old familiar -- nay, 't is well;
Aid us with his experience: this Scots' League
And Covenant spreads too far, and we have proofs
That they intrigue with France: the Faction too,
Whereof your friend there is the head and front,
Abets them, -- as he boasted, very like.
Went. Sir, trust me! but for this once, trust me, sir!
Cha. What can you mean?
Went. That you should trust me, sir!
Oh -- not for my sake! but 't is sad, so sad
That for distrusting me, you suffer -- you
Whom I would die to serve: sir, do you think
That I would die to serve you?
Cha. But rise, Wentworth!
Went. What shall convince you? What does Savile do
To prove him ... Ah, one can't tear out one's heart
And show it, how sincere a thing it is!
Cha. Have I not trusted you?
Went. Say aught but that!
There is my comfort, mark you: all will be
So different when you trust me -- as you shall!
It has not been your fault, -- I was away,
Mistook, maligned, how was the King to know?
I am here, now -- he means to trust me, now --
All will go on so well!
Cha. Be sure I do --
I've heard that I should trust you: as you came,
Your friend, the Countess, told me ...
Went. No, -- hear nothing --
Be told nothing about me! -- you're not told
Your right-hand serves you, or your children love you!
Cha. You love me, Wentworth: rise!
Went. I can speak now.
I have no right to hide the truth. 'T is I
Can save you: only I. Sir, what must be?
Cha. Since Laud's assured (the minutes are within)
-- Loath as I am to spill my subjects' blood ...
Went. That is, he'll have a war: what's done is done!
Cha. They have intrigued with France; that's clear to Laud.
Went. Has Laud suggested any way to meet
The war's expense?
Cha. He'd not decide so far
Until you joined us.
Went. Most considerate!
He's certain they intrigue with France, these Scots?
The People would be with us.
Cha. Pym should know.
Went. The People for us -- were the People for us!
Sir, a great thought comes to reward your trust:
Summon a Parliament! in Ireland first,
Then, here.
Cha. In truth?
Went. That saves us! that puts off
The war, gives time to right their grievances --
To talk with Pym. I know the Faction -- Laud
So styles it -- tutors Scotland: all their plans
Suppose no Parliament: in calling one
You take them by surprise. Produce the proofs
Of Scotland's treason; then bid England help:
Even Pym will not refuse.
Cha. You would begin
With Ireland?
Went. Take no care for that: that's sure
To prosper.
Cha. You shall rule me. You were best
Return at once: but take this ere you go!
Now, do I trust you? You're an Earl: my Friend
Of Friends: yes, while ... You hear me not!
Went. Say it all o'er again -- but once again:
The first was for the music: once again!
Cha. Strafford, my friend, there may have been reports,
Vain rumors. Henceforth touching Strafford is
To touch the apple of my sight: why gaze
So earnestly?
Went. I am grown young again,
And foolish. What was it we spoke of?
Cha. Ireland,
The Parliament, --
Went. I may go when I will?
-- Now?
Cha. Are you tired so soon of us?
Went. My King!
But you will not so utterly abhor
A Parliament? I'd serve you any way.
Cha. You said just now this was the only way.
Went. Sir, I will serve you!
Cha. Strafford, spare yourself:
You are so sick, they tell me.
Went. 'T is my soul
That's well and prospers now.
This Parliament --
We'll summon it, the English one -- I'll care
For everything. You shall not need them much.
Cha. If they prove restive ...
Went. I shall be with you
Cha. Ere they assemble?
Went. I will come, or else
Deposit this infirm humanity
I' the dust. My whole heart stays with you, my King!
[As WENTWORTH goes out, the QUEEN enters.
Cha. That man must love me.
Queen. Is it over then?
Why, he looks yellower than ever! Well,
At least we shall not hear eternally
Of service -- services: he's paid at least.
Cha. Not done with: he engages to surpass
All yet performed in Ireland.
Queen. I had thought
Nothing beyond was ever to be done.
The war, Charles -- will he raise supplies enough?
Cha. We've hit on an expedient; ho ... that is,
I have advised ... we have decided on
The calling -- in Ireland -- of a Parliament.
Queen. O truly! You agree to that? Is that
The first-fruit of his counsel? But I guessed
As much.
Cha. This is too idle, Henriette!
I should know best. He will strain every nerve,
And once a precedent established ...
Queen. Notice
How sure he is of a long term of favor!
He'll see the next, and the next after that;
No end to Parliaments!
Cha. Well, it is done.
He talks it smoothly, doubtless. If, indeed,
The Commons here ...
Queen. Here! you will summon them
Here? Would I were in France again to see
A King!
Cha. But, Henriette ...
Queen. Oh, the Scots see clear!!
Why should they bear your rule?
Cha. But listen, sweet!
Queen. Let Wentworth listen -- you confide in him!
Cha. I do not, love, -- I do not so confide!
The Parliament shall never trouble us!
.. Nay, hear me! I have schemes, such schemes: we'll buy
The leaders off: without that, Wentworth's counsel
Had ne'er prevailed on me. Perhaps I call it
To have excuse for breaking it forever,
And whose will then the blame be? See you not?
Come, dearest! -- look, the little fairy, now,
That cannot reach my shoulder! Dearest, come!

ACT II

SCENE I. (As in Act I. Scene 1.)

The same Party enters.

Rud. Twelve subsidies!
Vane. O Rudyard, do not laugh
At least!
Rud. True: Strafford called the Parliament --
'T is he should laugh!
A Puritan. Out of the serpent's root
Comes forth a cockatrice.
Fien. -- A stinging one,
If that's the Parliament: twelve subsidies!
A stinging one! but, brother, where's your word
For Strafford's other nest-egg, the Scots' war?
The Puritan. His fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.
Fien. Shall be? It chips the shell, man; peeps abroad.
Twelve subsidies! -- Why, how now, Vane?
Rud. Peace, Fiennes!
Fien. Ah? -- But he was not more a dupe than I,
Or you, or any here, the day that Pym
Returned with the good news. Look up, friend Vane!
We all believe that Strafford meant us well
In summoning the Parliament.
(HAMPDEN enters.)
Vane. Now, Hampden,
Clear me! I would have leave to sleep again:
I'd look the People in the face again:
Clear me from having, from the first, hoped, dreamed
Better of Strafford!
Hamp. You may grow one day
A steadfast light to England, Henry Vane!
Rud. Meantime, by flashes I make shift to see
Strafford revived our Parliaments; before,
War was but talked of; there's an army, now:
Still, we've a Parliament! Poor Ireland bears
Another wrench (she dies the hardest death!) --
Why, speak of it in Parliament! and lo,
'T is spoken, so console yourselves!
Fien. The jest!
We clamored, I suppose, thus long, to win
The privilege of laying on our backs
A sorer burden than the King dares lay.
Rud. Mark now: we meet at length, complaints pour in
From every county, all the land cries out
On loans and levies, curses ship-money,
Calls vengeance on the Star Chamber; we lend
An ear. "Ay, lend them all the ears you have!"
Puts in the King; "my subjects, as you find,
Are fretful, and conceive great things of you.
Just listen to them, friends; you'll sanction me
The measures they most wince at, make them yours,
Instead of mine, I know: and, to begin,
They say my levies pinch them, -- raise me straight
Twelve subsidies!"
Fien. All England cannot furnish
Twelve subsidies!
Hol. But Strafford, just returned
From Ireland -- what has he to do with that?
How could he speak his mind? He left before
The Parliament assembled. Pym, who knows
Strafford ...
Rud. Would I were sure we know ourselves!
What is for good, what, bad -- who friend, who foe!
Hol. Do you count Parliaments no gain?
Rud. A gain?
While the King's creatures overbalance us?
-- There's going on, beside, among ourselves
A quiet, slow, but most effectual course
Of buying over, sapping, leavening
The lump till all is leaven. Glanville's gone.
I'll put a case; had not the Court declared
That no sum short of just twelve subsidies
Will be accepted by the King -- our House,
I say, would have consented to that offer
To let us buy off ship-money!
Hol. Most like,
If, say, six subsidies will buy it off,
The House ...
Rud. Will grant them! Hampden, do you hear?
Congratulate with me! the King's the king,
And gains his point at last -- our own assent
To that detested tax! All's over, then
There's no more taking refuge in this room,
Protesting, "Let the King do what he will,
We, England, are no party to our shame:
Our day will come!" Congratulate with me!
(PYM enters.)
Vane. Pym, Strafford called this Parliament you say,
But we'll not have our Parliaments like those
In Ireland, Pym!
Rud. Let him stand forth, your friend!
One doubtful act hides far too many sins;
It can be stretched no more, and, to my mind,
Begins to drop from those it covered.
Other Voices. Good!
Let him avow himself! No fitter time!
We wait thus long for you.
Rud. Perhaps, too long!
Since nothing but the madness of the Court,
In thus unmasking its designs at once,
Has saved us from betraying England. Stay
This Parliament is Strafford's: let us vote
Our list of Grievances too black by far
To suffer talk of subsidies: or best,
That ship-money's disposed of long ago
By England: any vote that's broad enough:
And then let Strafford, for the love of it,
Support his Parliament!
Vane. And vote as well
No war to be with Scotland! Hear you, Pym?
We'll vote, no war! No part nor lot in it
For England!
Many Voices. Vote, no war! Stop the new levies!
No Bishops' war! At once! When next we meet!
Pym. Much more when next we meet! Friends, which of you
Since first the course of Strafford was in doubt,
Has fallen the most away in soul from me?
Vane. I sat apart, even now under God's eye,
Pondering the words that should denounce you, Pam,
In presence of us all, as one at league
With England's enemy.
Pym. You are a good
And gallant spirit, Henry. Take my hand
And say you pardon me for all the pain
Till now! Strafford is wholly ours.
Many Voices. Sure? sure?
Pym. Most sure: for Charles dissolves the Parliament
While I speak here.
-- And I must speak, friends, now!
Strafford is ours. The King detects the change,
Casts Strafford off forever, and resumes
His ancient path: no Parliament for us,
No Strafford for the King!
Come, all of you,
To bid the King farewell, predict success
To his Scots' expedition, and receive
Strafford, our comrade now. The next will be
Indeed a Parliament!
Vane. Forgive me, Pym!
Voices. This looks like truth: Strafford can have, indeed,
No choice.
Pym. Friends, follow me! He's with the King.
Come, Hampden, and come, Rudyard, and come, Vane!
This is no sullen day for England, sirs!
Strafford shall tell you!
Voices. To Whitehall then! Come!

SCENE II. Whitehall.

CHARLES and STRAFFORD.

Cha. Strafford!
Strafford. Is it a dream? my papers, here --
Thus, as I left them, all the plans you found
So happy -- (look! the track you pressed my hand
For pointing out) -- and in this very room,
Over these very plans, you tell me, sir,
With the same face, too -- tell me just one thing
That ruins them! How's this? What may this mean?
Sir, who has done this?
Cha. Strafford, who but I?
You bade me put the rest away: indeed
You are alone.
Straf. Alone, and like to be!
No fear, when some unworthy scheme grows ripe,
Of those, who hatched it, leaving me to loose
The mischief on the world! Laud hatches war,
Falls to his prayers, and leaves the rest to me,
And I'm alone.
Cha. At least, you knew as much
When first you undertook the war.
Straf. My liege,
Was this the way? I said, since Laud would lap
A little blood, 't were best to hurry over
The loathsome business, not to be whole months
At slaughter -- one blow, only one, then, peace,
Save for the dreams. I said, to please you both
I'd lead an Irish army to the West,
While in the South an English ... but you look
As though you had not told me fifty times
'T was a brave plan! My army is all raised,
I am prepared to joint it ...
Cha. Hear me, Strafford!
Straf.... When, for some little thing, my whole design
Is set aside -- (where is the wretched paper?)
I am to lead -- (ay, here it is) -- to lead
The English army: why? Northumberland,
That I appointed, chooses to be sick --
Is frightened: and, meanwhile, who answers for
The Irish Parliament? or army, either?
Is this my plan?
Cha. So disrespectful, sir?
Straf. My liege, do not believe it! I am yours,
Yours ever: 't is too late to think about:
To the death, yours. Elsewhere, this untoward step
Shall pass for mine; the world shall think it mine.
But here! But here! I am so seldom here,
Seldom with you, my King! I, soon to rush
Alone upon a giant in the dark!
Cha. My Strafford!
Straf. [Examines papers awhile.] "Seize the passes of the Tyne!"
But, sir, you see -- see all I say is true?
My plan was sure to prosper, so, no cause
To ask the Parliament for help; whereas
We need them frightfully.
Cha. Need the Parliament?
Straf. Now, for God's sake, sir, not one error more!
We can afford no error; we draw, now,
Upon our last resource: the Parliament
Must help us!
Cha. I've undone you, Strafford!
Straf. Nay --
Nay -- why despond, sir, 't is not come to that!
I have not hurt you? Sir, what have I said
To hurt you? I unsay it! Don't despond!
Sir, do you turn from me?
Cha. My friend of friends!
Straf. We'll make a shift. Leave me the Parliament!
Help they us ne'er so little and I'll make
Sufficient out of it. We'll speak them fair.
They're sitting, that's one great thing; that half gives
Their sanction to us; that's much: don't despond!
Why, let them keep their money, at the worst!
The reputation of the People's help
Is all we want: we'll make shift yet!
Cha. Good Strafford!
Straf. But meantime, let the sum be ne'er so small
They offer, we'll accept it: any sum --
For the look of it: the least grant tells the Scots
The Parliament is ours -- their stanch ally
Turned ours: that told, there's half the blow to strike!
What will the grant be? What does Glanville think?
Cha. Alas!
Straf. My liege?
Cha. Strafford!
Straf. But answer me!
Have they ... Oh surely not refused us half?
Half the twelve subsidies? We never looked
For all of them. How many do they give?
Cha. You have not heard ...
Straf. (What has he done?) -- Heard what?
But speak at once, sir, this grows terrible!
[The King continuing silent.
You have dissolved them! -- I'll not leave this man.
Cha. 'T was old Vane's ill-judged vehemence.
Straf. Old Vane?
Cha. He told them, just about to vote the half,
That nothing short of all twelve subsidies
Would serve our turn, or be accepted.
Straf. Vane!
Vane! Who, sir, promised me, that very Vane ...
O God, to have it gone, quite gone from me,
The one last hope -- I that despair, my hope --
That I should reach his heart one day, and cure
All bitterness one day, be proud again
And young again, care for the sunshine too,
And never think of Eliot any more, --
God, and to toil for this, go far for this,
Get nearer, and still nearer, reach this heart
And find Vane there!
[Suddenly taking up a paper, and continuing with a forced calmness.
Northumberland is sick:
Well, then, I take the army: Wilmot leads
The horse, and he, with Conway, must secure
The passes of the Tyne: Ormond supplies
My place in Ireland. Here, we'll try the City:
If they refuse a loan -- debase the coin
And seize the bullion! we've no other choice.
Herbert ...
And this while I am here! with you!
And there are hosts such, hosts like Vane! I go,
And, I once gone, they'll close around you, sir,
When the least pique, pettiest mistrust, is sure
To ruin me -- and you along with me!
Do you see that? And you along with me!
-- Sir, you'll not ever listen to these men,
And I away, fighting your battle? Sir,
If they -- if She -- charge me, no matter how --
Say you, "At any time when he returns
His head is mine!" Don't stop me there! You know
My head is yours, but never stop me there!
Cha. Too shameful, Strafford! You advised the war,
And ...
Straf. I! I! that was never spoken with
Till it was entered on! That loathe the war!
That say it is the maddest, wickedest ...
Do you know, sir, I think within my heart,
That you would say I did advise the war;
And if, through your own weakness, or, what's worse.
These Scots, with God to help them, drivo me back,
You will not step between the raging People
And me, to say ...
I knew it! from the first
I knew it! Never was so cold a heart!
Remember that I said it -- that I never
Believed you for a moment!
-- And, you loved me?
You thought your perfidy profoundly hid
Because I could not share the whisperings
With Vane, with Savile? What, the face was masked?
I had the heart to see, sir! Face of flesh,
But heart of stone -- of smooth cold frightful stone!
Ay, call them! Shall I call for you? The Scots
Goaded to madness? Or the English -- Pym --
Shall I call Pym, your subject? Oh, you think
I'll leave them in the dark about it all?
They shall not know you? Hampden, Pym shall not?
(PYM, HAMPDEN, VANE, etc., enter.)
[Dropping on his knee.] Thus favored with your gracious countenance
What shall a rebel League avail against
Your servant, utterly and ever yours?
So, gentlemen, the King's not even left
The privilege of bidding me farewell
Who haste to save the People -- that you style
Your People -- from the mercies of the Scots
And France their friend?
[To CHARLES.] Pym's grave gray eyes are fixed
Upon you, sir!
Your pleasure, gentlemen.
Hamp. The King dissolved us -- 't is the King we seek
And not Lord Strafford.
Straf. Strafford, guilty too
Of counselling the measure. [To CHARLES.]
(Hush ... you know --
You have forgotten -- sir, I counselled it)
A heinous matter, truly! But the King
Will yet see cause to thank me for a course
Which now, perchance ... (Sir, tell them so!) -- he blames.
Well, choose some fitter time to make your charge:
I shall be with the Scots, you understand?
Then yelp at me!
Meanwhile, your Majesty
Binds me, by this fresh token of your trust
[Under the pretence of an earnest farewell, STRAFFORD
conducts CHARLES to the door, in such a manner as to hide
his agitation from the rest: as the King disappears, they turn
as by one impulse to PYM, who has not changed his original
posture of surprise.
Hamp. Leave we this arrogant strong wicked man!
Vane and others. Hence, Pym! Come out of this unworthy place
To our old room again! He's gone.
[STRAFFORD, just about to follow the King, looks back
Pym. Not gone!
[To STRAFFORD.] Keep tryst! the old appoint ment's made anew:
Forget not we shall meet again!
Straf. So be it!
And if an army follows me?
Vane. His friends
Will entertain your army!
Pym. I'll not say
You have misreckoned, Strafford: time shows.
Perish
Body and spirit! Fool to feign a doubt,
Pretend the scrupulous and nice reserve
Of one whose prowess shall achieve the feat!
What share have I in it? Do I affect
To see no dismal sign above your head
When God suspends his ruinous thunder there?
Strafford is doomed. Touch him no one of you!
[PYM, HAMPDEN, etc., go out.
Straf. Pym, we shall meet again!
(Lady CARLISLE enters.)
You here, child?
Lady Car. Hush --
I know it all: hush, Strafford!
Straf. Ah! you know?
Well. I shall make a sorry soldier, Lucy!
All knights begin their enterprise, we read,
Under the best of auspices; 't is morn,
The Lady girds his sword upon the Youth
(He's always very young) -- the trumpets sound,
Cups pledge him, and, why, the King blesses him --
You need not turn a page of the romance
To learn the Dreadful Giant's fate. Indeed,
We've the fair Lady here; but she apart, --
A poor man, rarely having handled lance,
And rather old, weary, and far from sure
His Squires are not the Giant's friends. All's one:
Let us go forth!
Lady Car. Go forth?
Straf. What matters it?
We shall die gloriously -- as the book says.
Lady Car. To Scotland? not to Scotland?
Straf. Am I sick
Like your good brother, brave Northumberland?
Beside, these walls seem falling on me.
Lady Car. Strafford,
The wind that saps these walls can undermine
Your camp in Scotland, too. Whence creeps the wind?
Have you no eyes except for Pym? Look here!
A breed of silken creatures lurk and thrive
In your contempt. You'll vanquish Pym? Old Vane
Can vanquish you. And Vane you think to fly?
Rush on the Scots! Do nobly! Vane's slight sneer
Shall test success, adjust the praise, suggest
The faint result: Vane's sneer shall reach you there.
-- You do not listen!
Straf. Oh, -- I give that up!
There's fate in it: I give all here quite up.
Care not what old Vane does or Holland does
Against me! 'T is so idle to withstand!
In no case tell me what they do!
Lady Car. But, Strafford ...
Straf. I want a little strife, beside; real strife;
This petty palace-warfare does me harm:
I shall feel better, fairly out of it.
Lady Car. Why do you smile?
Straf. I got to fear them, child!
I could have torn his throat at first, old Vane's,
As he leered at me on his stealthy way
To the Queen's closet. Lord, one loses heart!
I often found it on my lips to say,
"Do not traduce me to her!"
Lady Car. But the King ...
Straf. The King stood there, 't is not so long ago,
-- There; and the whisper, Lucy, "Be my friend
Of friends!" -- My King! I would have ...
Lady Car. ... Died for him?
Straf. Sworn him true, Lucy: I can die for him.
Lady Car. But go not, Strafford! But you must renounce
This project on the Scots! Die, wherefore die?
Charles never loved you.
Straf. And he never will.
He's not of those who care the more for men
That they're unfortunate.
Lady Car. Then wherefore die
For such a master?
Straf. You that told me first
How good he was -- when I must leave true friends
To find a truer friend! -- that drew me here
From Ireland, -- "I had but to show myself,
And Charles would spurn Vane, Savile, and the rest" --
You, child, to ask me this?
Lady Car. (If he have set
His heart abidingly on Charles!)
Then, friend,
I shall not see you any more.
Straf. Yes, Lucy.
There's one man here I have to meet.
Lady Car. (The King!
What way to save him from the King?
My soul --
That lent from its own store the charmed disguise
Which clothes the King -- he shall behold my soul!)
Strafford, -- I shall speak best if you'll not gaze
Upon me: I had never thought, indeed,
To speak, but you would perish too, so sure!
Could you but know what 't is to bear, my friend,
One image stamped within you, turning blank
The else imperial brilliance of your mind, --
A weakness, but most precious, -- like a flaw
I' the diamond, which should shape forth some sweet face
Yet to create, and meanwhile treasured there
Lest nature lose her gracious thought forever!
Straf. When could it be? no! Yet ... was it the day
We waited in the anteroom, till Holland
Should leave the presence-chamber?
Lady Car. What?
Straf. -- That I
Described to you my love for Charles?
Lady Car. (Ah, no --
One must not lure him from a love like that!
Oh, let him love the King and die! 'T is past
I shall not serve him worse for that one brief
And passionate hope, silent forever now!)
And you are really bound for Scotland then?
I wish you well: you must be very sure
Of the King's faith, for Pym and all his crew
Will not be idle -- setting Vane aside!
Straf. If Pym is busy, -- you may write of Pym.
Lady Car. What need, since there's your King to take your part?
He may endure Vane's counsel; but for Pym --
Think you he'll suffer Pym to ...
Straf. Child, your hair
Is glossier than the Queen's!
Lady Car. Is that to ask
A curl of me?
Straf. Scotland -- the weary way!
Lady Car. Stay, let me fasten it.
-- A rival's, Strafford?
Straf. [showing the George.] He hung it there: twine
yours around it, child!
Lady Car. No -- no -- another time -- I trifle so!
And there's a masque on foot. Farewell. The Court
Is dull; do something to enliven us
In Scotland: we expect it at your hands.
Straf. I shall not fail in Scotland.
Lady Car. Prosper -- if
You'll think of me sometimes!
Straf. How think of him
And not of you? of you, the lingering streak
(A golden one) in my good fortune's eve.
Lady Car. Strafford ... Well, when the eve has its last streak
The night has its first star. [She goes out.
Straf. That voice of hers --
You'd think she had a heart sometimes! His voice
Is soft too.
Only God can save him now.
Be Thou about his bed, about his path!
His path! Where's England's path? Diverging wide,
And not to join again the track my foot
Must follow -- whither? All that forlorn way
Among the tombs! Far -- far -- till ... What, they do
Then join again, these paths? For, huge in the dusk,
There's -- Pym to face!
Why then, I have a foe
To close with, and a fight to fight at last
Worthy my soul! What, do they beard the King,
And shall the King want Strafford at his need?
Am I not here?
Not in the market-place,
Pressed on by the rough artisans, so proud
To catch a glance from Wentworth! They lie down
Hungry yet smile, "Why, it must end some day:
Is he not watching for our sake?" Not there!
But in Whitehall, the whited sepulchre,
The ...
Curse nothing to-night! Only one name
They'll curse in all those streets to-night. Whose fault?
Did I make kings? set up, the first, a man
To represent the multitude, receive
All love in right of them -- supplant them so,
Until you love the man and not the king --
The man with the mild voice and mournful eyes
Which send me forth.
-- To breast the bloody sea
That sweeps before me: with one star for guide.
Night has its first, supreme, forsaken star.

ACT III

SCENE I. Opposite Westminster Hall.

Sir HENRY VANE, LORD SAVILE, LORD HOLLAND and others of the Court.

Sir H. Vane. The Commons thrust you out?
Savile. And what kept you
From sharing their civility?
Vane. Kept me?
Fresh news from Scotland, sir! worse than the last,
If that may be. All's up with Strafford there:
Nothing to bar the mad Scots marching hither
Next Lord's-day morning. That detained me, sir!
Well now, before they thrust you out, -- go on, --
Their Speaker -- did the fellow Lenthal say
All we set down for him?
Holland. Not a word missed.
Ere he began, we entered, Savile, I
And Bristol and some more, with hope to breed
A wholesome awe in the new Parliament.
But such a gang of graceless ruffians, Vane,
As glared at us!
Vane. So many?
Sav. Not a bench
Without its complement of burly knaves;
Your hopeful son among them: Hampden leant
Upon his shoulder -- think of that!
Vane. I'd think
On Lenthal's speech, if I could get at it.
Urged he, I ask, how grateful they should prove
For this unlooked-for summons from the King?
Holl. Just as we drilled him.
Vane. That the Scots will march
On London?
Holl. All, and made so much of it,
A dozen subsidies at least seemed sure
To follow, when ...
Vane. Well?
Holl. 'T is a strange thing now
I've a vague memory of a sort of sound,
A voice, a kind of vast unnatural voice --
Pym, sir, was speaking! Savile, help me out
What was it all?
Sav. Something about "a matter" --
No, -- "work for England."
Holl. "England's great revenge"
He talked of.
Sav. However that may be,
More than yourselves?
Holl. However that may be,
'T was something with which we had naught to do,
For we were "strangers," and 't was "England's work" --
(All this while looking us straight in the face)
In other words, our presence night be spared.
So, in the twinkling of an eye, before
I settled to my mind what ugly brute
Was likest Pym just then, they yelled us out,
Locked the doors after us, and here are we.
Vane. Eliot's old method ...
Sav. Prithee, Vane, a truce
To Eliot and his times, and the great Duke,
And how to manage Parliaments! 'T was you
Advised the Queen to summon this: why, Strafford
(To do him justice) would not hear of it.
Vane. Say rather, you have done the best of turns
To Strafford: he's at York, we all know why.
I would you had not set the Scots on Strafford
Till Strafford put down Pym for us, my lord!
Sav. Was it I altered Strafford's plans? did I ...
(A Messenger enters.)
Mes. The Queen, my lords -- she sends me: follow me
At once; 't is very urgent! she requires
Your counsel: something perilous and strange
Occasions her command.
Sav. We follow, friend!
Now, Vane; -- your Pavliament will plague us all!
Vane. No Strafford here beside!
Sav. If you dare hint
I had a hand in his betrayal, sir ...
Holl. Nay, find a fitter time for quarrels -- Pym
Will overmatch the best of you; and, think,
The Queen!
Vane. Come on, then: understand, I loathe
Strafford as much as any -- but his use!
To keep off Pym, to screen a friend or two,
I would we had reserved him yet awhile.

SCENE II. Whitehall.

The QUEEN and Lady CARLISLE.

Queen. It cannot be.
Lady Car. It is so.
Queen. Why, the House
Have hardly met.
Lady Car. They met for that.
Queen. No, no!
Meet to impeach Lord Strafford? 'T is a jest.
Lady Car. A bitter one.
Queen. Consider! 'T is the House
We summoned so reluctantly, which nothing
But the disastrous issue of the war
Persuaded us to summon. They'll wreak all
Their spite on us, no doubt; but the old way
Is to begin by talk of grievances:
They have their grievances to busy them.
Lady Car. Pym has begun his speech.
Queen. Where's Vane? -- That is,
Pym will impeach Lord Strafford if he leaves
His Presidency; he's at York, we know,
Since the Scots beat him: why should he leave York?
Lady Car. Because the King sent for him.
Queen. Ah -- but if
The King did send for him, he let him know
We had been forced to call a Parliament --
A step which Strafford, now I come to think,
Was vehement against.
Lady Car. The policy
Escaped him, of first striking Parliaments
To earth, then setting them upon their feet
And giving them a sword: but this is idle.
Did the King send for Strafford? He will come,
Queen. And what am I to do?
Lady Car. What do? Fail, madam!
Be ruined for his sake! what matters how,
So it but stand on record that you made
An effort, only one?
Queen. The King away
At Theobald's!
Lady Car. Send for him at once: he must
Dissolve the House.
Queen. Wait till Vane finds the truth
Of the report: then ...
Lady Car. -- It will matter little
What the King does. Strafford that lends his arm
And breaks his heart for you!
(Sir H. VANE enters.)
Vane. The Commons, madam,
Are sitting with closed doors. A huge debate,
No lack of noise; but nothing, I should guess,
Concerning Strafford: Pym has certainly
Not spoken yet.
Queen. [To Lady CARLISLE.] You hear?
Lady Car. I do not hear
That the King's sent for!
Vane. Savile will be able
To tell you more.
(HOLLAND enters.)
Queen. The last news, Holland?
Holl. Pym
Is raging like a fire. The whole House means
To follow him together to Whitehall
And force the King to give up Strafford.
Queen. Strafford?
Holl. If they content themselves with Strafford! Laud
Is talked of, Cottington and Windebank too.
Pym has not left out one of them -- I would
You heard Pym raging!
Queen. Vane, go find the King!
Tell the King, Vane, the People follow Pym
To brave us at Whitehall!
(SAVILE enters.)
Sav. Not to Whitehall --
'T is to the Lords they go: they seek redress
On Strafford from his peers -- the legal way,
They call it.
Queen. (Wait, Vane!)
Sav. But the adage gives
Long life to threatened men. Strafford can save
Himself so readily: at York, remember,
In his own county: what has he to fear?
The Commons only mean to frighten him
From leaving York. Surely, he will not come.
Queen. Lucy, he will not come!
Lady Car. Once more, the King
Has sent for Strafford. He will come.
Vane. Oh doubtless!
And bring destruction with him: that's his way.
What but his coming spoilt all Conway's plan?
The King must take his counsel, choose his friends,
Be wholly ruled by him! What's the result?
The North that was to rise, Ireland to help, --
What came of it? In my poor mind, a fright
Is no prodigious punishment.
Lady Car. A fright?
Pym will fail worse than Strafford if he thinks
To frighten him. [To the QUEEN.] You will not save him then?
Sav. When something like a charge is made, the King
Will best know how to save him: and 't is clear,
While Strafford suffers nothing by the matter,
The King may reap advantage: this in question,
No dinning you with ship-money complaints!
Queen. [To Lady CARLISLE.] If we dissolve them, who
will pay the army?
Protect us from the insolent Scots?
Lady Car. In truth,
I know not, madam. Strafford's fate concerns
Me little: you desired to learn what course
Would save him: I obey you.
Vane. Notice, too,
There can't be fairer ground for taking full
Revenge -- (Strafford's revengeful) -- than he'll have
Against his old friend Pym.
Queen. Why, he shall claim
Vengeance on Pym!
Vane. And Strafford, who is he
To 'scape unscathed amid the accidents
That harass all beside? I, for my part,
Should look for something of discomfiture
Had the King trusted me so thoroughly
And been so paid for it.
Holl. He'll keep at York:
All will blow over: he'll return no worse,
Humbled a little, thankful for a place
Under as good a man. Oh, we'll dispense
With seeing Strafford for a month or two!
(STRAFFORD enters.)
Queen. You here!
Straf. The King sends for me, madam.
Queen. Sir,
The King ...
Straf. An urgent matter that imports the King!
[To Lady CARLISLE.] Why, Lucy, what's in agitation now.
That all this muttering and shrugging, see,
Begins at me? They do not speak!
Lady Car. 'T is welcome!
For we are proud of you -- happy and proud
To have you with us, Strafford! You were stanch
At Durham: you did well there! Had you not
Been stayed, you might have ... we said, even now,
Our hope's in you!
Vane. [To Lady CARLISLE.] The Queen would speak with you.
Straf. Will one of you, his servants here, vouchsafe
To signify my presence to the King?
Sav. An urgent matter?
Straf. None that touches you,
Lord Savile! Say, it were some treacherous
Sly pitiful intriguing with the Scots --
You would go free, at least! (They half divine
My purpose!) Madam, shall I see the King?
The service I would render, much concerns
His welfare.
Queen. But his Majesty, my lord,
May not be here, may ...
Straf. Its importance, then,
Must plead excuse for this withdrawal, madam,
And for the grief it gives Lord Savile here.
Queen. [Who has been conversing with VANE and HOLLAND.]
The King will see you, sir!
[To Lady CARLISLE.] Mark me: Pym's worst
Is done by now: he has impeached the Earl,
Or found the Earl too strong for him, by now.
Let us not seem instructed! We should work
No good to Strafford, but deform ourselves
With shame in the world's eye. [To STRA FORD.] His Majesty
Has much to say with you.
Straf. Time fleeting, too!
[To Lady CARLISLE.] No means of getting them away? And She --
What does she whisper? Does she know my purpose?
What does she think of it? Get them away!
Queen. [To Lady CARLISLE.] He comes to baffle Pym -- he
thinks the danger
Far off: tell him no word of it! a time
For help will come; we'll not be wanting then.
Keep him in play, Lucy -- you, self-possessed
And calm! [To STRAFFORD.] To spare your lordship some delay
I will myself acquaint the King. [To LADY CARLISLE.] Beware!
[The QUEEN, VANE, HOLLAND, and SAVILE go out.
Straf. She knows it?
Lady Car. Tell me, Strafford!
Straf. Afterward!
This moment's the great moment of all time.
She knows my purpose?
Lady Car. Thoroughly: just now
She bade me hide it from you.
Straf. Quick, dear child,
The whole o' the scheme?
Lady Car. (Ah, he would learn if they
Connive at Pym's procedure! Could they but
Have once apprised the King! But there's no time
For falsehood, now.) Strafford, the whole is known.
Straf. Known and approved?
Lady Car. Hardly discountenanced.
Straf. And the King -- say, the King consents as well?
Lady Car. The King's not yet informed, but will not dare
To interpose.
Straf. What need to wait him, then?
He'll sanction it! I stayed, child, tell him, long!
It vexed me to the soul -- this waiting here.
You know him, there's no counting on the King.
Tell him I waited long!
Lady Car. (What can he mean?
Rejoice at the King's hollowness?)
Straf. I knew
They would be glad of it, -- all over once.
I knew they would be glad: but he'd contrive,
The Queen and he, to mar, by helping it,
An angel's making.
Lady Car. (Is he mad?) Dear Strafford,
You were not wont to look so happy.
Straf. Sweet,
I tried obedience thoroughly. I took
The King's wild plan: of course, ere I could reach
My army, Conway ruined it. I drew
The wrecks together, raised all heaven and earth,
And would have fought the Scots: the King at once
Made truce with them. Then, Lucy, then, dear child,
God put it in my mind to love, serve, die
For Charles, but never to obey him more!
While he endured their insolence at Ripon
I fell on them at Durham. But you'll tell
The King I waited? All the anteroom
Is filled with my adherents.
Lady Car. Strafford -- Strafford,
What daring act is this you hint?
Straf. No, no!
'T is here, not daring if you knew? all here!
[Drawing papers from his breast.
Full proof; see, ample proof -- does the Queen know
I have such damning proof? Bedford and Essex,
Brooke, Warwick, Savile (did you notice Savile?
The simper that I spoilt?), Saye, Mandeville --
Sold to the Scots, body and soul, by Pym!
Lady Car. Great heaven!
Straf. From Savile and his lords, to Pym
And his losels, crushed! -- Pym shall not ward the blow
Nor Savile creep aside from it! The Crew
And the Cabal -- I crush them!
Lady Car. And you go --
Strafford, -- and now you go? --
Straf. -- About no work
In the background, I promise you! I go
Straight to the House of Lords to claim these knaves.
Mainwaring!
Lady Car. Stay -- stay, Strafford!
Straf. She'll return,
The Queen -- some little project of her own!
No time to lose: the King takes fright perhaps.
Lady Car. Pym's strong, remember!
Straf. Very strong, as fits
The Faction's head -- with no offence to Hampden,
Vane, Rudyard, and my loving Hollis: one
And all they lodge within the Tower to-night
In just equality. Bryan! Mainwaring!
[Many of his Adherents enter.
The Peers debate just now (a lucky chance)
On the Scots' war; my visit's opportune.
When all is over, Bryan, you proceed
To Ireland: these dispatches, mark me, Bryan,
Are for the Deputy, and these for Ormond:
We want the army here -- my army, raised
At such a cost, that should have done such good,
And was inactive all the time! no matter,
We'll find a use for it. Willis ... or, no -- you!
You, friend, make haste to York: bear this, at once ...
Or, -- better stay for form's sake, see yourself
The news you carry. You remain with me
To execute the Parliament's command,
Mainwaring! Help to seize these lesser knaves
Take care there's no escaping at backdoors:
I'll not have one escape, mind me -- not one!
I seem revengeful, Lucy? Did you know
What these men dare!
Lady Car. It is so much they dare!
Straf. I proved that long ago; my turn is now.
Keep sharp watch, Goring, on the citizens!
Observe who harbors any of the brood
That scramble off: be sure they smart for it!
Our coffers are but lean.
And you, child, too,
Shall have your task; deliver this to Laud
Laud will not be the slowest in my praise:
"Thorough," he'll cry! -- Foolish, to be so glad!
This life is gay and glowing, after all:
'T is worth while, Lucy, having foes like mine
Just for the bliss of crushing them. To-day
Is worth the living for.
Lady Car. That reddening brow!
You seem ...
Straf. Well -- do I not? I would be well --
I could not but be well on such a day!
And, this day ended, 't is of slight import
How long the ravaged frame subjects the soul
In Strafford.
Lady Car. Noble Strafford!
Straf. No farewell!
I'll see you anon, to-morrow -- the first thing.
-- If She should come to stay me!
Lady Car. Go -- 't is nothing --
Only my heart that swells: it has been thus
Ere now: go, Strafford!
Straf. To-night, then, let it be.
I must see Him: you, the next after Him.
I'll tell you how Pym looked. Follow me, friends!
You, gentlemen, shall see a sight this hour
To talk of all your lives. Close after me!
"My friend of friends!"
[STRAFFORD and the rest go out.
Lady Car. The King -- ever the King!
No thought of one beside, whose little word
Unveils the King to him -- one word from me,
Which yet I do not breathe!
Ah, have I spared
Strafford a pang, and shall I seek reward
Beyond that memory? Surely too, some way
He is the better for my love. No, no --
He would not look so joyous -- I'll believe
His very eye would never sparkle thus,
Had I not prayed for him this long, long while.

SCENE III. The Antechamber of the House of Lords.

Many of the Presbyterian Party. The Adherents of
STRAFFORD, etc.

A Group of Presbyterians. --
1. I tell you he struck Maxwell: Maxwell sought
To stay the Earl: he struck him and passed on.
2. Fear as you may, keep a good countenance
Before these rufflers.
3. Strafford here the first,
With the great army at his back!
4. No doubt.
I would Pym had made haste: that's Bryan, hush --
The gallant pointing.
Strafford's Followers. -- 1. Mark these worthies, now!
2. A goodly gathering! "Where the carcass is
There shall the eagles" -- What's the rest?
3. For eagles
Say crows.
A Presbyterian. Stand back, sirs!
One of Strafford's Followers. Are we in Geneva?
A Presbyterian. No, nor in Ireland; we have leave to breathe.
One of Strafford's Followers. Truly? Behold how privileged we be
That serve "King Pym"! There's Some-one at Whitehall
Who skulks obscure; but Pym struts ...
The Presbyterian. Nearer.
A Follower of Strafford. Higher,
We look to see him. [To his Companions.] I'm to have St. John
In charge; was he among the knaves just now
That followed Pym within there?
Another. The gaunt man
Talking with Rudyard. Did the Earl expect
Pym at his heels so fast? I like it not.
(MAXWELL enters.)
Another. Why, man, they rush into the net!
Here's Maxwell --
Ha, Maxwell? How the brethren flock around
The fellow! Do you feel the Earl's hand yet
Upon your shoulder, Maxwell?
Maxwell. Gentlemen,
Stand back! a great thing passes here.
A Follower of Strafford. [To another.] The Earl
Is at his work! [To M.] Say, Maxwell, what great thing!
Speak out! [To a Presbyterian.] Friend, I've a kindness
for you! Friend,
I've seen you with St. John: O stockishness!
Wear such a ruff, and never call to mind
St. John's head in a charger? How, the plague,
Not laugh?
Another. Say, Maxwell, what great thing!
Another. Nay, wait:
The jest will be to wait.
First. And who's to bear
These demure hypocrites? You'd swear they came ...
Came ... just as we come!
[A Puritan enters hastily and without observing STRAFFORD'S Followers.
The Puritan. How goes on the work?
Has Pym ...
A Follower of Strafford. The secret's out at last. Aha,
The carrion's scented! Welcome, crow the first!
Gorge merrily, you with the blinking eye!
"King Pym has fallen!"
The Puritan. Pym?
A Strafford. Pym!
A Presbyterian. Only Pym?
Many of Strafford's Followers. No, brother, not Pym
only; Vane as well,
Rudyard as well, Hampden, St. John as well!
A Presbyterian. My mind misgives: can it be true?
Another. Lost! Lost!
A Strafford. Say we true, Maxwell?
The Puritan. Pride before destruction,
A haughty spirit goeth before a fall.
Many of Strafford's Followers. Ah now! The very thing!
A word in season!
A golden apple in a silver picture
To greet Pym as he passes!
[The doors at the back begin to open, noise and light issuing.
Max. Stand back, all!
Many of the Presbyterians. I hold with Pym!
And I!
Strafford's Followers. Now for the text!
He comes! Quick!
The Puritan. How hath the oppressor ceased!
The Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked!
The sceptre of the rulers, he who smote
The people in wrath with a continual stroke,
That ruled the nations in his anger -- he
Is persecuted and none hindereth!
[The doors open, and STRAFFORD issues in the greatest
disorder, and amid cries from within of "Void the House!"
Straf. Impeach me! Pym! I never struck, I think,
The felon on that calm insulting mouth
When it proclaimed -- Pym's mouth proclaimed me ... God!
Was it a word, only a word that held
The outrageous blood back on my heart -- which beats!
Which beats! Some one word -- "Traitor," did he say,
Bending that eye, brimful of bitter fire,
Upon me?
Max. In the Commons' name, their servant
Demands Lord Strafford's sword.
Straf. What did you say?
Max. The Commons bid me ask your lordship's sword.
Straf. Let us go forth: follow me, gentlemen!
Draw your swords too: cut any down that bar us.
On the King's service! Maxwell, clear the way!
[The Presbyterians prepare to dispute his passage.
Straf. I stay: the King himself shall see me here.
Your tablets, fellow!
[To MAINWARING.] Give that to the King!
Yes, Maxwell, for the next half-hour, let be!
Nay, you shall take my sword!
[MAXWELL advances to take it.
Or, no -- not that!
Their blood, perhaps, may wipe out all thus far
All up to that -- not that! Why, friend, you see
When the King lays your head beneath my foot
It will not pay for that. Go, all of you!
Max. I dare, my lord, to disobey: none stir!
Straf. This gentle Maxwell! -- Do not touch him, Bryan!
[To the Presbyterians.] Whichever cur of you will carry this
Escapes his fellow's fate. None saves his life?
None? [Cries from within of "STRAFFORD!"
Slingsby, I've loved you at least: make haste!
Stab me! I have not time to tell you why.
You then, my Bryan! Mainwaring, you then!
Is it because I spoke so hastily
At Allerton? The King had vexed me.
[To the Presbyterians.] You!
-- Not even you? If I live over this,
The King is sure to have your heads, you know!
But what if I can't live this minute through?
Pym, who is there with his pursuing smile!
[Louder cries of "STRAFFORD!"
The King! I troubled him, stood in the way
Of his negotiations, was the one
Great obstacle to peace, the Enemy
Of Scotland: and he sent for me, from York,
My safety guaranteed -- having prepared
A Parliament -- I see! And at Whitehall
The Queen was whispering with Vane -- I see
The trap! [Tearing off the George.
I tread a gewgaw underfoot,
And cast a memory from me. One stroke, now!
[His own Adherents disarm him. Renewed cries of "STRAFFORD!"
England! I see thy arm in this and yield.
Pray you now -- Pym awaits me -- pray you now!
[STRAFFORD reaches the doors: they open wide. Hampden
and a crowd discovered, and, at the bar, PYM standing apart.
As STRAFFORD kneels, the scene shuts.

ACT IV

SCENE I. Whitehall.

The KING, the QUEEN, HOLLIS, Lady CARLISLE.
[VANE, HOLLAND, SAVILE, in the background.)

Lady Car. Answer them, Hollis, for his sake! One word!
Cha. [TO HOLLIS.] You stand, silent and cold, as though I were
Deceiving you -- my friend, my playfellow
Of other times. What wonder after all?
Just so, I dreamed my People loved me.
Hol. Sir,
It is yourself that you deceive, not me.
You'll quit me comforted, your mind made up
That, since you've talked thus much and grieved thus much,
All you can do for Strafford has been done.
Queen. If you kill Strafford -- (come, we grant you leave.
Suppose) --
Hol. I may withdraw, sir?
Lady Car. Hear them out!
'T is the last chance for Strafford! Hear them out!
Hol. "If we kill Strafford" -- on the eighteenth day
Of Strafford's trial -- "We!"
Cha. Pym, my good Hollis --
Pym, I should say!
Hol. Ah, true -- sir, pardon me!
You witness our proceedings every day;
But the screened gallery, I might have guessed,
Admits of such a partial glimpse at us,
Pym takes up all the room, shuts out the view.
Still, on my honor, sir, the rest of the place
Is not unoccupied. The Commons sit
-- That's England; Ireland sends, and Scotland too,
Their representatives; the Peers that judge
Are easily distinguished; one remarks
The People here and there: but the close curtain
Must hide so much!
Queen. Acquaint your insolent crew,
This day the curtain shall be dashed aside!
It served a purpose.
Hol. Think! This very day?
Ere Strafford rises to defend himself?
Cha. I will defend him, sir! -- sanction the past
This day: it ever was my purpose. Rage
At me, not Strafford!
Lady Car. Nobly! -- will he not
Do nobly?
Hol. Sir, you will do honestly;
And, for that deed, I too would be a king.
Cha. Only, to do this now! -- "deaf" (in your style)
"To subjects' prayers," -- I must oppose them now!
It seems their will the trial should proceed, --
So palpably their will!
Hol. You peril much,
But it were no bright moment save for that.
Strafford, your prime support, the sole rooftree
Which props this quaking House of Privilege,
(Flood comes, winds beat, and see -- the treacherous sand!)
Doubtless, if the mere putting forth an arm
Could save him, you'd save Strafford.
Cha. And they dare
Consummate calmly this great wrong! No hope?
This ineffaceable wrong! No pity then?
Hol. No plague in store for perfidy? -- Farewell!
You call me, sir -- [To Lady CARLISLE.] You, lady, bade me come
To save the Earl: I came, thank God for it,
To learn how far such perfidy can go!
You, sir, concert with me on saving him
Who have just ruined Strafford!
Cha. I? -- and how?
Hol. Eighteen days long he throws, one after one,
Pym's charges back: a blind moth-eaten law!
-- He'll break from it at last: and whom to thank?
The mouse that gnawed the lion's net for him
Got a good friend, -- but he, the other mouse,
That looked on while the lion freed himself --
Fared he so well, does any fable say?
Cha. What can you mean?
Hol. Pym never could have proved
Strafford's design of bringing up the troops
To force this kingdom to obedience: Vane --
Your servant, not our friend, has proved it.
Cha. Vane?
Hol. This day. Did Vane deliver up or no
Those notes which, furnished by his son to Pym,
Seal Strafford's fate?
Cha. Sir, as I live, I know
Nothing that Vane has done! What treason next?
I wash my hands of it. Vane, speak the truth!
Ask Vane himself!
Hol. I will not speak to Vane,
Who speak to Pym and Hampden every day.
Queen. Speak to Vane's master then! What gain to him
Were Strafford's death?
Hol. Ha? Strafford cannot turn
As you, sir, sit there -- bid you forth, demand
If every hateful act were not set down
In his commission? -- whether you contrived
Or no, that all the violence should seem
His work, the gentle ways -- your own, -- his part,
To counteract the King's kind impulses --
While ... but you know what he could say! And then
He might produce -- mark, sir! -- a certain charge
To set the King's express command aside,
If need were, and be blameless. He might add ...
Cha. Enough!
Hol. -- Who bade him break the Parliament,
Find some pretence for setting up sword-law!
Queen. Retire!
Cha. Once more, whatever Vane dared do,
I know not: he is rash, a fool -- I know
Nothing of Vane!
Hol. Well -- I believe you. Sir,
Believe me, in return, that ...
[Turning to Lady CARLISLE.] Gentle lady,
The few words I would say, the stones might hear
Sooner than these, -- I rather speak to you,
You, with the heart! The question, trust me, takes
Another shape, to-day: not, if the King
Or England shall succumb, -- but, who shall pay
The forfeit, Strafford or his master. Sir,
You loved me once: think on my warning now!
[Goes out.
Cha. On you and on your warning both! -- Carlisle!
That paper!
Queen. But consider!
Cha. Give it me!
There, signed -- will that content you? Do not speak!
You have betrayed me, Vane! See! any day,
According to the tenor of that paper,
He bids your brother bring the army up,
Strafford shall head it and take full revenge.
Seek Strafford! Let him have the same, before
He rises to defend himself!
Queen. In truth?
That your shrewd Hollis should have worked a change
Like this! You, late reluctant ...
Cha. Say, Carlisle,
Your brother Percy brings the army up,
Falls on the Parliament -- (I'll think of you,
My Hollis!) say, we plotted long -- 't is mine,
The scheme is mine, remember! Say, I cursed
Vane's folly in your hearing! If the Earl
Does rise to do us shame, the fault shall lie
With you, Carlisle!
Lady Car. Nay, fear not me! but still
That's a bright moment, sir, you throw away.
Tear down the veil and save him!
Queen. Go, Carlisle!
Lady Car. (I shall see Strafford -- speak to him: my heart
Must never beat so, then! And if I tell
The truth? What's gained by falsehood? There they stand
Whose trade it is, whose life it is! How vain
To gild such rottenness! Strafford shall know,
Thoroughly know them!)
Queen. Trust to me! [To CARLISLE.] Carlisle,
You seem inclined, alone of all the Court,
To serve poor Strafford: this bold plan of yours
Merits much praise, and yet ...
Lady Car. Time presses, madam.
Queen. Yet -- may it not be something premature?
Strafford defends himself to-day -- reserves
Some wondrous effort, one may well suppose!
Lady Car. Ay, Hollis hints as much.
Cha. Why linger then?
Haste with the scheme -- my scheme: I shall be there
To watch his look. Tell him I watch his look!
Queen. Stay, we'll precede you!
Lady Car. At your pleasure.
Cha. Say --
Say, Vane is hardly ever at Whitehall!
I shall be there, remember!
Lady Car. Doubt me not.
Cha. On our return, Carlisle, we wait you here!
Lady Car. I'll bring his answer. Sir, I follow you.
(Prove the King faithless, and I take away
All Strafford cares to live for: let it be --
'T is the King's scheme!
My Strafford, I can save, Nay, I
have saved you, yet am scarce content, Because my poor
name will not cross your mind. Strafford, how much I
am unworthy you!)

SCENE II. A passage adjoining Westminster Hall.

Many groups of Spectators of the Trial. Officers of the Court, etc.

1st Spec. More crowd than ever! Not know Hampden, man?
That's he, by Pym, Pym that is speaking now.
No, truly, if you look so high you'll see
Little enough of either!
2d Spec. Stay: Pym's arm
Points like a prophet's rod.
3d Spec. Ay, ay, we've heard
Some pretty speaking: yet the Earl escapes.
4th Spec. I fear it: just a foolish word or two
About his children -- and we see, forsooth,
Not England's foe in Strafford, but the man
Who, sick, half-blind ...
2d Spec. What's that Pym's saying now
Which makes the curtains flutter? look! A hand
Clutches them. Ah! The King's hand!
5th Spec. I had thought
Pym was not near so tall. What said he, friend?
2d Spec. "Nor is this way a novel way of blood,"
And the Earl turns as if to ... Look! look!
Many Spectators. There!
What ails him? No -- he rallies, see -- goes on,
And Strafford smiles. Strange!
An Officer. Haselrig!
Many Spectators. Friend? Friend?
The Officer. Lost, utterly lost: just when we looked for Pym
To make a stand against the ill effects
Of the Earl's speech! Is Haselrig without?
Pym's message is to him.
3d Spec. Now, said I true?
Will the Earl leave them yet at fault or no?
1st Spec. Never believe it, man! These notes of Vane's
Ruin the Earl.
5th Spec. A brave end: not a whit
Less firm, less Pym all over. Then, the trial
Is closed. No -- Strafford means to speak again?
An Officer. Stand back, there!
5th Spec. Why, the Earl is coming hither!
Before the court breaks up! His brother, look, --
You'd say he'd deprecated some fierce act
In Strafford's mind just now.
An Officer. Stand back, I say!
2d Spec. Who's the veiled woman that he talks with?
Many Spectators. Hush --
The Earl! the Earl!
[Enter STRAFFORD, SLINGSBY, and other Secretaries,
HOLLIS, Lady CARLISLE, MAXWELL, BALFOUR, etc.
STRAFFORD converses with Lady CARLISLE.
Hol. So near the end! Be patient --
Return!
Straf. [To his Secretaries.] Here -- anywhere -- or, 't
is freshest here!
To spend one's April here, the blossom-month:
Set it down here!
[They arrange a table, papers, etc.
So, Pym can quail, can cower
Because I glance at him, yet more's to do.
What's to be answered, Slingsby? Let us end!
[To lady CARLISLE.] Child, I refuse his offer; whatsoe'er
It be! Too late! Tell me no word of him!
'T is something, Hollis, I assure you that --
To stand, sick as you are, some eighteen days
Fighting for life and fame against a pack
Of very curs, that lie through thick and thin,
Eat flesh and bread by wholesale, and can't say
"Strafford" if it would take my life!
Lady Car. Be moved!
Glance at the paper!
Straf. Already at my heels!
Pym's faulting bloodhounds seent the track again.
Peace, child! Now, Slingsby!
[Messengers from LANE and other of STRAFFORD's Counsel
within the Hall are coming and going during the Scene.
Straf. [setting himself to write and dictate.]
I shall beat you, Hollis!
Do you know that? In spite of St. John's tricks,
In spite of Pym -- your Pym who shrank from me!
Eliot would have contrived it otherwise.
[To a Messenger.] In truth? This slip, tell Lane, contains as much
As I can call to mind about the matter.
Eliot would have disdained ...
[Calling after the Messenger.] And Radcliffe, say,
The only person who could answer Pym,
Is safe in prison, just for that.
Well, well!
It had not been recorded in that case,
I baffled you.
[To Lady CARLISLE.] Nay, child, why look so grieved?
All's gained without the King! You saw Pym quail?
What shall I do when they acquit me, think you,
But tranquilly resume my task as though
Nothing had intervened since I proposed
To call that traitor to account! Such tricks,
Trust me, shall not be played a second time,
Not even against Laud, with his gray hair --
Your good work, Hollis! Peace! To make amends,
You, Lucy, shall be here when I impeach
Pym and his fellows.
Hol. Wherefore not protest
Against our whole proceeding, long ago?
Why feel indignant now? Why stand this while
Enduring patiently?
Straf. Child, I'll tell you --
You, and not Pym -- you, the slight graceful girl
Tall for a flowering lily, and not Hollis --
Why I stood patient! I was fool enough
To see the will of England in Pym's will;
To fear, myself had wronged her, and to wait
Her judgment: when, behold, in place of it ...
[To a Messenger who whispers.] Tell Lane to answer no such
question! Law, --
I grapple with their law! I'm here to try
My actions by their standard, not my own!
Their law allowed that levy: what's the rest
To Pym, or Lane, any but God and me?
Lady Car. The King's so weak! Secure this chance! 'T was Vane,
Never forget, who furnished Pym the notes ...
Straf. Fit, -- very fit, those precious notes of Vane.
To close the Trial worthily! I feared
Some spice of nobleness might linger yet
And spoil the character of all the past.
Vane eased me ... and I will go back and say
As much -- to Pym, to England! Follow me,
I have a word to say! There, my defence
Is done!
Stay! why be proud? Why care to own
My gladness, my surprise? -- Nay, not surprise!
Wherefore insist upon the little pride
Of doing all myself, and sparing him
The pain? Child, say the triumph is my King's!
When Pym grew pale, and trembled, and sank down,
One image was before me: could I fail?
Child, care not for the past, so indistinct,
Obscure -- there's nothing to forgive in it,
'T is so forgotten! From this day begins
A new life, founded on a new belief
In Charles.
Hol. In Charles? Rather believe in Pym!
And here he comes in proof! Appeal to Pym!
Say how unfair ...
Straf. To Pym? I would say nothing!
I would not look upon Pym's face again.
Lady Car. Stay, let me have to think I pressed your hand!
[STRAFFORD and his Friends go out.
(Enter HAMPDEN and VANE.)
Vane. O Hampden, save the great misguided man!
Plead Strafford's cause with Pym! I have remarked
He moved no muscle when we all declaimed
Against him: you had but to breathe -- he turned
Those kind calm eyes upon you.
[Enter PYM, the Solicitor-General ST. JOHN, the Managers
of the Trial, FIENNES, RUDYARD, etc.
Rud. Horrible!
Till now all hearts were with you: I withdraw
For one. Too horrible! But we mistake
Your purpose, Pym: you cannot snatch away
The last spar from the drowning man.
Fien. He talks
With St. John of it -- see, how quietly!
[To other Presbyterians.] You'll join us?
Strafford may deserve the worst:
But this new course is monstrous. Vane, take heart!
This Bill of his Attainder shall not have
One true man's hand to it.
Vane. Consider, Pym!
Confront your Bill, your own Bill: what is it?
You cannot catch the Earl on any charge, --
No man will say the law has hold of him
On any charge; and therefore you resolve
To take the general sense on his desert,
As though no law existed, and we met
To found one. You refer to Parliament
To speak its thought upon the abortive mass
Of half-borne-out assertions, dubious hints
Hereafter to be cleared, distortions -- ay,
And wild inventions. Every man is saved
The task of fixing any single charge
On Strafford: he has but to see in him
The enemy of England.
Pym. A right scruple!
I have heard some called England's enemy
With less consideration.
Vane. Pity me!
Indeed you make me think I was your friend!
I who have murdered Strafford, how remove
That memory from me?
Pym. I absolve you, Vane.
Take you no care for aught that you have done!
Vane. John Hampden, not this Bill! Reject this Bill!
He staggers through the ordeal: let him go,
Strew no fresh fire before him! Plead for us!
When Strafford spoke, your eyes were thick with tears!
Hamp. England speaks louder: who are we to play
The generous pardoner at her expense,
Magnanimously waive advantages,
And, if he conquer us, applaud his skill?
Vane. He was your friend.
Pym. I have heard that before
Fien. And England trusts you.
Hamp. Shame be his, who turns
The opportunity of serving her
She trusts him with, to his own mean account --
Who would look nobly frank at her expense!
Fien. I never thought it could have come to this.
Pym. But I have made myself familiar, Fiennes,
With this one thought -- have walked, and sat, and slept,
This thought before me. I have done such things,
Being the chosen man that should destroy
The traitor. You have taken up this thought
To play with, for a gentle stimulant,
To give a dignity to idler life
By the dim prospect of emprise to come,
But ever with the softening, sure belief,
That all would end some strange way right at last.
Fien. Had we made out some weightier charge!
Pym. You say
That these are petty charges: can we come
To the real charge at all? There he is safe
In tyranny's stronghold. Apostasy
Is not a crime, treachery not a crime:
The cheek burns, the blood tingles, when you speak
The words, but where's the power to take revenge
Upon them? We must make occasion serve, --
The oversight shall pay for the main sin
That mocks us.
Rud. But this unexampled course,
This Bill!
Pym. By this, we roll the clouds away
Of precedent and custom, and at once
Bid the great beacon-light God sets in all,
The conscience of each bosom, shine upon
The guilt of Strafford: each man lay his hand
Upon his breast, and judge!
Vane. I only see
Strafford, nor pass his corpse for all beyond!
Rud. and others. Forgive him! He would join us, now he finds
What the King counts reward! The pardon too,
Should be your own. Yourself should bear to Strafford
The pardon of the Commons.
Pym. Meet him? Strafford?
Have we to meet once more, then? Be it so!
And yet -- the prophecy seemed half fulfilled
When, at the Trial, as he gazed, my youth,
Our friendship, divers thoughts came back at once
And left me, for a time ... 'T is very sad!
To-morrow we discuss the points of law
With Lane -- to-morrow?
Vane. Not before to-morrow --
So, time enough! I knew you would relent!
Pym. The next day, Haselrig, you introduce
The Bill of his Attainder. Pray for me!

SCENE III. Whitehall.

The KING.

Cha. My loyal servant! To defend himself
Thus irresistibly, -- withholding aught
That seemed to implicate us!
We have done
Less gallantly by Strafford. Well, the future
Must recompense the past.
She tarries long.
I understand you, Strafford, now!
The scheme --
Carlisle's mad scheme -- he'll sanction it, I fear,
For love of me. 'T was too precipitate:
Before the army's fairly on its march,
He'll be at large: no matter.
Well, Carlisle?
(Enter PYM.)
Pym. Fear me not, sir: -- my mission is to save,
This time.
Cha. To break thus on me! unannounced!
Pym. It is of Strafford I would speak.
Cha. No more
Of Strafford! I have heard too much from you.
Pym. I spoke, sir, for the People; will you hear
A word upon my own account?
Cha. Of Strafford?
(So turns the tide already? Have we tamed
The insolent brawler? -- Strafford's eloquence
Is swift in its effect.) Lord Strafford, sir,
Has spoken for himself.
Pym. Sufficiently.
I would apprise you of the novel course
The People take: the Trial fails.
Cha. Yes, yes:
We are aware, sir: for your part in it
Means shall be found to thank you.
Pym. Pray you, read
This schedule! I would learn from your own mouth
-- (It is a matter much concerning me) --
Whether, if two Estates of us concede
The death of Strafford, on the grounds set forth
Within that parchment, you, sir, can resolve
To grant your own consent to it. This Bill
Is framed by me. If you determine, sir,
That England's manifested will should guide
Your judgment, ere another week such will
Shall manifest itself. If not, -- I cast
Aside the measure.
Cha. You can hinder, then,
The introduction of this Bill?
Pym. I can.
Cha. He is my friend, sir: I have wronged him: mark you,
Had I not wronged him, this might be. You think
Because you hate the Earl ... (turn not away,
We know you hate him) -- no one else could love
Strafford: but he has saved me, some affirm.
Think of his pride! And do you know one strange,
One frightful thing? We all have used the mar
As though a drudge of ours, with not a source
Of happy thoughts except in us; and yet
Strafford has wife and children, household cares,
Just as if we had never been. Ah, sir,
You are moved, even you, a solitary man
Wed to your cause -- to England if you will!
Pym. Yes -- think, my soul -- to England!
Draw not back!
Cha. Prevent that Bill, sir! All your course seems fair
Till now. Why, in the end, 't is I should sign
The warrant for his death! You have said much
I ponder on; I never meant, indeed,
Strafford should serve me any more. I take
The Commons' counsel; but this Bill is yours --
Nor worthy of its leader: care not, sir,
For that, however! I will quite forget
You named it to me. You are satisfied?
Pym. Listen to me, sir! Eliot laid his hand,
Wasted and white, upon my forehead once;
Wentworth -- he's gone now! -- has talked on, whole nights,
And I beside him; Hampden loves me: sir,
How can I breathe and not wish England well,
And her King well?
Cha. I thank you, sir, who leave
That King his servant. Thanks, sir!
Pym. Let me speak!
-- Who may not speak again; whose spirit yearns
For a cool night after this weary day:
-- Who would not have my soul turn sicker yet
In a new task, more fatal, more august,
More full of England's utter weal or woe.
I thought, sir, could I find myself with you,
After this trial, alone, as man to man --
I might say something, warn you, pray you, save --
Mark me, King Charles, save -- you!
But God must do it. Yet I warn you, sir --
(With Strafford's faded eyes yet full on me)
As you would have no deeper question moved
-- "How long the Many must endure the One,"
Assure me, sir, if England give assent
To Strafford's death, you will not interfere!
Or --
Cha. God forsakes me. I am in a net
And cannot move. Let all be as you say!
(Enter Lady CARLISLE.)
Lady Car. He loves you -- looking beautiful with joy
Because you sent me! he would spare you all
The pain! he never dreamed you would forsake
Your servant in the evil day -- nay, see
Your scheme returned! That generous heart of his!
He needs it not -- or, needing it, disdains
A course that might endanger you -- you, sir,
Whom Strafford from his inmost soul ...
[Seeing PYM.] Well met!
No fear for Strafford! All that's true and brave
On your own side shall help us: we are now
Stronger than ever.
Ha -- what, sir, is this?
All is not well! What parchment have you there?
Pym. Sir, much is saved us both.
Lady Car. This Bill! Your lip
Whitens -- you could not read one line to me
Your voice would falter so!
Pym. No recreant yet!
The great word went from England to my soul,
And I arose. The end is very near.
Lady Car. I am to save him! All have shrunk beside;
'T is only I am left. Heaven will make strong
The hand now as the heart. Then let both die!

ACT V

SCENE I. Whitehall.

HOLLIS, Lady CARLISLE.

Hol. Tell the King then! Come in with me!
Lady Car. Not so!
He must not hear till it succeeds.
Hol. Succeed?
No dream was half so vain -- you'd rescue Strafford
And outwit Pym! I cannot tell you ... lady,
The block pursues me, and the hideous show.
To-day ... is it to-day? And all the while
He's sure of the King's pardon. Think, I have
To tell this man he is to die. The King
May rend his hair, for me! I'll not see Strafford
Lady Car. Only, if I succeed, remember -- Charles
Has saved him. He would hardly value life
Unless his gift. My stanch friends wait. Go in --
You must go in to Charles!
Hol. And all beside
Left Strafford long ago. The King has signed
The warrant for his death! the Queen was sick
Of the eternal subject. For the Court, --
The Trial was amusing in its way,
Only too much of it: the Earl withdrew
In time. But you, fragile, alone, so young,
Amid rude mercenaries -- you devise
A plan to save him! Even though it fails,
What shall reward you!
Lady Car. I may go, you think,
To France with him? And you reward me, friend,
Who lived with Strafford even from his youth
Before he set his heart on state-affairs
And they bent down that noble brow of his.
I have learned somewhat of his latter life,
And all the future I shall know: but, Hollis,
I ought to make his youth my own as well.
Tell me, -- when he is saved!
Hol. My gentle friend,
He should know all and love you, but't is vain!
Lady Car. Love? no -- too late now! Let him love the King!
'T is the King's scheme! I have your word, remember!
We'll keep the old delusion up. But, quick!
Quick! Each of us has work to do, beside!
Go to the King! I hope -- Hollis -- I hope!
Say nothing of my scheme! Hush, while we speak
Think where he is! Now for my gallant friends!
Hol. Where he is? Calling wildly upon Charles,
Guessing his fate, pacing the prison-floor.
Let the King tell him! I'll not look on Strafford.

SCENE II. The Tower.

STRAFFORD sitting with his Children. They sing.

O bell' andare
Per barca in mare,
Verso la sera
Di Primavera!

William. The boat's in the broad moonlight all this while --
Verso la sera
Di Primavera!

And the boat shoots from underneath the moon
Into the shadowy distance; only still
You hear the dipping oar --
Verso la sera,

And faint, and fainter, and then all's quite gone,
Music and light and all, like a lost star.
Anne. But you should sleep, father: you were to sleep.
Straf. I do sleep, Anne; or if not -- you must know
There's such a thing as ...
Wil. You're too tired to sleep?
Straf. It will come by-and-by and all day long,
In that old quiet house I told you of:
We sleep safe there.
Anne. Why not in Ireland?
Straf. No!
Too many dreams! -- That song's for Venice, William:
You know how Venice looks upon the map --
Isles that the mainland hardly can let go?
Wil. You've been to Venice, father?
Straf. I was young, then.
Wil. A city with no King; that's why I like
Even a song that comes from Venice.
Straf. William?
Wil. Oh, I know why! Anne, do you love the King?
But I'll see Venice for myself one day.
Straf. See many lands, boy -- England last of all, --
That way you'll love her best.
Wil. Why do men say
You sought to ruin her, then?
Straf. Ah, -- they say that.
Wil. Why?
Straf. I suppose they must have words to say,
As you to sing.
Anne. But they make songs beside:
Last night I heard one, in the street beneath,
That called you ... Oh, the names!
Wil. Don't mind her, father!
They soon left off when I cried out to them.
Straf. We shall so soon be out of it, my boy!
'T is not worth while: who heeds a foolish song?
Wil. Why, not the King.
Straf. Well: it has been the fate
Of better; and yet, -- wherefore not feel sure
That Time, who in the twilight comes to mend
All the fantastic day's caprice, consign
To the low ground once more the ignoble Term,
And raise the Genius on his orb again, --
That Time will do me right?
Anne. (Shall we sing, William?
He does not look thus when we sing.)
Straf. For Ireland,
Something is done: too little, but enoug
To show what might have been.
Wil. (I have no heart
To sing now! Anne, how very sad he looks!
Oh, I so hate the King for all he says!)
Straf. Forsook them? What, the common songs will run
That I forsook the People? Nothing more?
Ay, Fame, the busy scribe, will pause, no doubt,
Turning a deaf ear to her thousand slaves
Noisy to be enrolled, -- will register
The curious glosses, subtle notices,
Ingenious clearings-up one fain would see
Beside that plain inscription of The Name --
The Patriot Pym, or the Apostate Strafford!
[The Children resume their song timidly, but break off.
(Enter HOLLIS and an Attendant.)
Straf. No, -- Hollis? in good time! -- Who is he?
Hol. One
That must be present.
Straf. Ah -- I understand.
They will not let me see poor Laud alone.
How politic! They'd use me by degrees
To solitude: and, just as you came in,
I was solicitous what life to lead
When Strafford's "not so much as Constable
In the King's service." Is there any means
To keep one's self awake? What would you do
After this bustle, Hollis, in my place?
Hol. Strafford!
Straf. Observe, not but that Pym and you
Will find me news enough -- news I shall hear
Under a quince-tree by a fish-pond side
At Wentworth. Garrard must be re-engaged
My newsman. Or, a better project now --
What if when all's consummated, and the Saints
Reign, and the Senate's work goes swimingly, --
What if I venture up, some day, unseen,
To saunter through the Town, notice how Pym,
Your Tribune, likes Whitehall, drop quletly
Into a tavern, hear a point discussed,
As, whether Strafford's name were John or James --
And be myself appealed to -- I, who shall
Myself have near forgotten!
Hol. I would speak ...
Straf. Then you shall speak, -- not now. I want just now,
To hear the sound of my own tongue. This place
Is full of ghosts.
Hol. Nay, you must hear me, Strafford!
Straf. Oh, readily! Only, one rare thing more, --
The minister! Who will advise the King,
Turn his Sejanus, Richelieu and what not,
And yet have health -- children, for aught I know --
My patient pair of traitors! Ah, -- but, William --
Does not his cheek grow thin?
Wil. 'T is you look thin,
Father!
Straf. A scamper o'er the breezy wolds
Sets all to-rights.
Hol. You cannot sure forget
A prison-roof is o'er you, Strafford?
Straf. No,
Why, no. I would not touch on that, the first.
I left you that. Well, Hollis? Say at once,
The King can find no time to set me free!
A mask at Theobald's?
Hol. Hold: no such affair
Detains him.
Straf. True: what needs so great a matter?
The Queen's lip may be sore. Well: when he pleases, --
Only, I want the air: it vexes flesh
To be pent up so long.
Hol. The King -- I bear
His message, Strafford: pray you, let me speak!
Straf. Go, William! Anne, try o'er your song again!
[The Children retire,
They shall be loyal, friend, at all events.
I know your message: you have nothing new
To tell me: from the first I guessed as much.
I know, instead of coming here himself,
Leading me forth in public by the hand.
The King prefers to leave the door ajar
As though I were escaping -- bids me trudge
While the mob gapes upon some show prepared
On the other side of the river! Give at once
His order of release! I've heard, as well,
Of certain poor manoeuvres to avoid
The granting pardon at his proper risk;
First, he must prattle somewhat to the Lords,
Must talk a trifle with the Commons first,
Be grieved I should abuse his confidence,
And far from blaming them, and ... Where's the order?
Hol. Spare me!
Straf. Why, he'd not have me steal away?
With an old doublet and a steeple hat
Like Prynne's? Be smuggled into France, perhaps?
Hollis, 't is for my children! 'T was for them
I first consented to stand day by day
And give your Puritans the best of words,
Be patient, speak when called upon, observe
Their rules, and not return them prompt their lie!
What's in that boy of mine that he should prove
Son to a prison-breaker? I shall stay
And he'll stay with me. Charles should know as much,
He too has children!
[Turning to HOLLIS'S companion.] Sir, you feel for me!
No need to hide that face! Though it have looked
Upon me from the judgment-seat ... I know
Strangely, that somewhere it has looked on me ...
Your coming has my pardon, nay, my thanks:
For there is one who comes not.
Hol. Whom forgive,
As one to die!
Straf. True, all die, and all need
Forgiveness: I forgive him from my soul.
Hol. 'T is a world's wonder: Strafford, you must die!
Straf. Sir, if your errand is to set me free
This heartless jest mars much. Ha! Tears in truth?
We'll end this! See this paper, warm -- feel -- warm
With lying next my heart! Whose hand is there?
Whose promise? Read, and loud for God to hear!
"Strafford shall take no hurt" -- read it, I say!
"In person, honor, nor estate" --
Hol. The King ...
Straf. I could unking him by a breath! You sit
Where Loudon sat, who came to prophesy
The certain end, and offer me Pym's grace
If I'd renounce the King: and I stood firm
On the King's faith. The King who lives ...
Hol. To sign
The warrant for your death.
Straf. "Put not your trust
In princes, neither in the sons of men,
In whom is no salvation!"
Hol. Trust in God!
The scaffold is prepared: they wait for you:
He has consented. Cast the earth behind!
Cha. You would not see me, Strafford, at your foot!
It was wrung from me! Only, curse me not!
Hol. [To STRAFFORD.] As you hope grace and pardon in your need,
Be merciful to this most wretched man.
[Voices from within.

Verso la sera
Di Primavera.

Straf. You'll be good to those children, sir? I know
You'll not believe her, even should the Queen
Think they take after one they rarely saw.
I had intended that my son should live
A stranger to these matters: but you are
So utterly deprived of friends! He too
Must serve you -- will you not be good to him?
Or, stay, sir, do not promise -- do not swear!
You, Hollis -- do the best you can for me!
I've not a soul to trust to: Wandesford's dead,
And you've got Radcliffe safe, Laud's turn comes next:
I've found small time of late for my affairs,
But I trust any of you, Pym himself --
No one could hurt them: there's an infant, too, --
These tedious cares! Your Majesty could spare them.
Nay -- pardon me, my King! I had forgotten
Your education, trials, much temptation,
Some weakness: there escaped a peevish word --
'T is gone: I bless you at the last. You know
All's between you and me: what has the world
To do with it? Farewell!
Cha. [at the door.] Balfour! Balfour!
(Enter BALFOUR.)
The Parliament! -- go to them: I grant all
Demands. Their sittings shall be permanent:
Tell them to keep their money if they will:
I'll come to them for every coat I wear
And every crust I eat: only I choose
To pardon Strafford. As the Queen shall choose!
-- You never heard the People howl for blood,
Beside!
Balfour. Your Majesty may hear them now:
The walls can hardly keep their murmurs out:
Please you retire!
Cha. Take all the troops, Balfour!
Bal. There are some hundred thousand of the crowd.
Cha. Come with me, Strafford! You'll not fear, at least!
Straf. Balfour, say nothing to the world of this!
I charge you, as a dying man, forget
You gazed upon this agony of one ...
Of one ... or if ... why, you may say, Bal four,
The King was sorry: 't is no shame in him:
Yes, you may say he even wept, Balfour.
And that I walked the lighter to the block
Because of it. I shall walk lightly, sir!
Earth fades, heaven breaks on me: I shall stand next
Before God's throne: the moment's close at hand
When man the first, last time, has leave to lay
His whole heart bare before its Maker, leave
To clear up the long error of a life
And choose one happiness for evermore.
With all mortality about me, Charles,
The sudden wreck, the dregs of violent death --
What if, despite the opening angel-song,
There penetrate one prayer for you? Be saved
Through me! Bear witness, no one could prevent
My death! Lead on! ere he awake -- best, now!
All must be ready: did you say, Balfour,
The crowd began to murmur? They'll be kept
Too late for sermon at St. Antholin's!
Now! But tread softly -- children are at play
In the next room. Precede! I follow --
(Enter Lady CARLISLE, with many Attendants.)
Lady Car. Me!
Follow me, Strafford, and be saved! The King?
[To the KING.] Well -- as you ordered, they are ranged without,
The convoy ... [seeing the KING'S state.]
[To STRAFFORD.] You know all, then! Why, I thought
It looked best that the King should save you, -- Charles
Alone; 't is a shame that you should owe me aught.
Or no, not shame! Strafford, you'll not feel shame
At being saved by me?
Hol. All true! Oh Strafford,
She saves you! all her deed! this lady's deed!
And is the boat in readiness? You, friend,
Are Billingsley, no doubt. Speak to her, Strafford!
See how she trembles, waiting for your voice!
The world's to learn its bravest story yet.
Lady Car. Talk afterward! Long nights in France enough,
To sit beneath the vines and talk of home.
Straf. You love me, child? Ah, Strafford can be loved
As well as Vane! I could escape, then?
Lady Car. Haste!
Advance the torches, Bryan!
Straf. I will die.
They call me proud: but England had no right,
When she encountered me -- her strength to mine --
To find the chosen foe a craven. Girl,
I fought her to the utterance, I fell,
I am hers now, and I will die. Beside,
The lookers-on! Eliot is all about
This place, with his most uncomplaining brow.
Lady Car. Strafford!
Straf. I think if you could know how much
I love you, you would be repaid, my friend!
Lady Car. Then, for my sake!
Straf. Even for your sweet sake,
[stay.
Hol. For their sake!
Straf. To bequeath a stain?
Leave me! Girl, humor me and let me die!
Lady Car. Bid him escape -- wake, King! Bid him escape!
Straf. True, I will go! Die and forsake the King?
I'll not draw back from the last service.
Lady Car. Strafford!
Straf. And, after all, what is disgrace to me?
Let us come, child! That it should end this way!
Lead then! but I feel strangely: it was not
To end this way.
Lady Car. Lean -- lean on me!
Straf. My King!
Oh, had he trusted me -- his friend of friends!
Lady Car. I can support him, Hollis!
Straf. Not this way!
This gate -- I dreamed of it, this very gate.
Lady Car. It opens on the river: our good boat
Is moored below, our friends are there.
Straf. The same:
Only with something ominous and dark,
Fatal, inevitable.
Lady Car. Strafford! Strafford!
Straf. NOt by this gate! I feel what will be there!
I dreamed of it, I tell you: touch it not!
Lady Car. To save the King, -- Strafford, to save the King!
[As STRAFFORD opens the door, PYM is discovered with
HAMPDEN, VANE, etc. STRAFFORD falls back: PYM follows
slowly and confronts him.
Pym. Have I done well? Speak, England!
Whose sole sake
I still have labored for, with disregard
To my own heart, -- for whom my youth was made
Barren, my manhood waste, to offer up
Her sacrifice -- this friend, this Wentworth here --
Who walked in youth with me, loved me, it may be,
And whom, for his forsaking England's cause,
I hunted by all means (trusting that she
Would sanctify all means) even to the block
Which waits for him. And saying this, I feel
No bitterer pang than first I felt, the hour
I swore that Wentworth might leave us, but I
Would never leave him: I do leave him now.
I render up my charge (be witness, God!)
To England who imposed it. I have done
Her bidding -- poorly, wrongly, -- it may be,
With ill effects -- for I am weak, a man:
Still, I have done my best, my human best,
Not faltering for a moment. It is done.
And this said, if I say ... yes, I will say
I never loved but one man -- David not
More Jonathan! Even thus, I love him now:
And look for my chief portion in that world
Where great hearts led astray are turned again
(Soon it may be, and, certes, will be soon:
My mission over, I shall not live long,) --
Ay, here I know I talk -- I dare and must,
Of England, and her great reward, as all
I look for there; but in my inmost heart.
Believe, I think of stealing quite away
To walk once more with Wentworth -- my youth's friend
Purged from all error, gloriously renewed,
And Eliot shall not blame us. Then indeed ...
This is no meeting, Wentworth! Tears increase
Too hot. A thin mist -- is it blood? -- enwraps
The face I loved once. Then, the meeting be!
Straf. I have loved England too; we'll meet then, Pym;
As well die now! Youth is the only time
To think and to decide on a great course:
Manhood with action follows; but't is dreary
To have to alter our whole life in age --
The time past, the strength gone! As well die now.
When we meet, Pym, I'd be set right -- not now!
Best die. Then if there's any fault, fault too
Dies, smothered up. Poor gray old little Laud
May dream his dream out, of a perfect Church,
In some blind corner. And there's no one left.
I trust the King now wholly to you, Pym!
And yet, I know not: I shall not be there:
Friends fail -- if he have any. And he's weak,
And loves the Queen, and ... Oh, my fate is nothing --
Nothing! But not that awful head -- not that!
Pym. If England shall declare such will to me ...
Straf. Pym, you help England! I, that am to die,
What I must see! 't is here -- all here! My God,
Let me but gasp out, in one word of fire,
How thou wilt plague him, satiating hell!
What? England that you help, become through you
A green and putrefying charnel, left
Our children ... some of us have children, Pym --
Some who, without that, still must ever wear
A darkened brow, an over-serious look,
And never properly be young! No word?
What if I curse you? Send a strong curse forth
Clothed from my heart, lapped round with horror till
She's fit with her white face to walk the world
Scaring kind natures from your cause and you --
Then to sit down with you at the board-head,
The gathering for prayer ... O speak, but speak!
... Creep up, and quietly follow each one home,
You, you, you, be a nestling care for each
To sleep with, -- hardly moaning in his dreams,
She gnaws so quietly, -- till, lo he starts,
Gets off with half a heart eaten away!
Oh, shall you 'scape with less if she's my child?
You will not say a word -- to me -- to Him?
Pym. If England shall declare such will to me ...
Straf. No, not for England now, not for Heaven now, --
See, Pym, for my sake, mine who kneel to you!
There, I will thank you for the death, my friend!
This is the meeting: let me love you well!
Pym. England, -- I am thine own! Dost thou exact
That service? I obey thee to the end.
Straf. O God, I shall die first -- I shall die first!






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