Page images

And set thy purple pomp to view before me;
To let me know that Guilford is a King,
That he can speak the word and give me freedom.
Oh, short-liv'd pageant! had'st thou all the power
Which thy vain soul would grasp at, I would die,
Rot in a dungeon, ere receive a grace,
The least, the meanest courtesy from thee.

[To the officer.

Guil. Oh, Pembroke! But I have not time to talk, For danger presses, danger unforeseen, And secret as the shaft that flies by night,* Is aiming at thy life. Captain, a word! I take your pris'ner to my proper charge; Draw off your guard, and leave his sword with me. [The Officer delivers the sword to Lord Guilford, and goes out with his Guard.

[Lord Guilford offering the sword to Pembroke. Receive this gift, ev'n from a rival's hand; And, if thy rage will suffer thee to hear The counsel of a man once call'd thy friend, Fly from this fatal place, and seek thy safety.

Pemb. How now! what shew what mockery is this?
Is it in sport you use me thus? What means
This swift fantastic changing of the scene?"

Guil. Oh! take thy sword; and let thy valiant hand Be ready arm'd to guard thy noble life: The time, the danger, and thy wild impatience, Forbid me all to enter into speech with thee, Or I could tell thee

[ocr errors]

Pemb. No, it needs not, traitor!
For all thy poor, thy little arts are known.
Thou fear'st my vengeance, and art come to fawn,
To make a merit of that proffer'd freedom,
Which, in despite of thee, a day shall give me.
Nor can my fate depend on thee, false Guilford;
For, know, to thy confusion, ere the sun
Twice gild the east, our royal Mary comes
To end thy pageant reign, and set me free.

"Thou shalt not be afraid for any terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day." Psalm xc1. 5.


Guil. Ungrateful and unjust! Hast thou then known So little, to accuse my heart of fear? Hast thou forgotten Musselborough's field?* Did I then fear, when by thy side I fought. And dy'd my maiden sword in Scottish blood! But this is madness all.

Pemb. Give me my sword. [Taking his sword. Perhaps, indeed, I wrong thee. Thou hast thought; And conscious of the injury thou hast done me, Art come to proffer me a soldier's justice, And meet my arm in single opposition. Lead, then, and let me follow to the field.

Guil. Still vengeance! Thou must write thy bloody Upon my bosom!-But I've answer'd thee: [purpose And will again. Time wears. By our past friendship, In honour's name, by ev'ry sacred tie, I beg thee ask no more, but haste from hence.

Pemb. What mystic meaning lurks beneath thy words? What fear is this which thou would'st awe my soul with? Is there a danger Pembroke dares not meet?

Guil Oh, spare my tongue a tale of guilt and horror, Trust me this once: believe me when I tell thee, Thy safety and thy life is all I seek.

Away, away!

Pemb. I wo'not stir a step.'

Begone this shuffling, dark, ambiguous phrase.
If thou would'st have me think thou mean'st me fairly,
Speak with that plainness honesty delights in,
And let thy double-tongue for once be true.

Guil. Thou dost distress me, Pembroke. But, I trust,
The occasion will acquit me in revealing
What else most sacred were, a father's deed;
That which will blot with shame his hoary head.
But 'tis to save my soul's best friend from death.

* Commonly called the battle of Pinkey, fought Sept. 10, 1547. See Hume, Vol. IV. ch. XXXIV. and Burnet, Vol. 11. p. 34. But, as Ld. G. D. was under 17 years of age when he married Lady J. G. in May 1553, he could not have been then 11 years old, and consequently it is very unlikely that he fought side by side with the Earl of Pembroke.

Read there the fatal purpose of thy foe, [Giving a paper.
A thought which wounds my soul with shame and horror!
Somewhat that darkness should have hid for ever,
But that thy life,-Say, hast thou seen that character?

Pemb. I know it well; the hand of proud NorthumDirected to his minions, Gates and Palmer. [berland, What's this? [Reads. "Remember, with your closest care, to observe those "whom I named to you at parting; especially keep your 66 eye upon the Earl of Pembroke; as his power and "interest are most considerable, so his opposition will "be most fatal to us. Remember the resolution was "taken, if you should find him inclined to our enemies. "The forms of justice are tedious, and delays are dan<< gerous. If he falters, lose not the sight of him till 66 your daggers have reached his heart."

My heart! Oh, murd'rous villain!

Guil. Since we parted,

Thy ways have all been watch'd, thy steps been mark'd; Thy secret treaties with the malecontents

That harbour in the city, thy conferring

With Gard'ner here in the Tower; all is known;
And, in pursuance of that bloody mandate,
A set of chosen ruffians wait to end thee:
There was but one way left me to preserve thee;
I took it; and this morning sent my warrant
To seize upon thy person-
But begone!

Pemb. 'Tis so--'tis truth-I see his honest heart-
Guil. I have a friend of well-tried faith and courage
Who, with a fit disguise, and arms conceal'd,
Attends without to guide thee hence in safety.

Pemb. What is Northumberland? and what art thou? Guil. Waste not the time. Away!

Pemb. Here let me fix,

And gaze with an unwearied wonder on thee.
What is there good or excellent in man,
That is not found in thee? Thy virtues flash,
They break at once on my astonish'd soul;
< As if the curtains of the dark were drawn
To let in day at midnight.

Guil. Think me true;

And tho' some cross events have hurt our friendship— Pemb. Bury th' events!- And think!-I know

thee honest.'

Guil. For ever I could hear thee-but thy life, Oh, Pembroke! linger not

Pemb. And can I leave thee,

Ere I have clasp'd thee in my eager arms,
And giv'n thee back my sad repenting heart?
Believe me, Guilford, like the Patriarch's dove,


It wander'd forth, but found no resting-place,
Till it came home again to lodge with thee.

Guil. What is there that my soul can more desire,
Than these dear marks of thy returning friendship?
The danger comes-If you stay longer here,
You die, my Pembroke.

Pemb. Let me stay and die;

For, if I go, I go to work thy ruin.

Thou know'st not what a foe thou send'st me forth,
That I have sworn destruction to the Queen,
And pledg'd my faith to Mary and her cause:
My honour is at stake.

Guil. I know 'tis given.

But go the stronger thy engagements there,
The more's thy danger here. There is a Power,

Who sits above the stars; in him I trust: All that I have, his bounteous hand bestow'd: And he that gave it, can preserve it to me. If his o'er-ruling will ordains my death, What is there more but to fall down before him, And humbly yield obedience!'-Fly! begone! Pemb. Yes, I will go for see! Behold who comes ! Oh, Guilford! hide me, shield me from her sight; Ev'ry mad passion kindles up again, Love, rage, despair-and yet I will be masterI will remember thee Oh, my torn heart! I have a thousand thousand things to say, But cannot, dare not stay to look on her. [Exeunt Guilford and Pembroke

Enter Lady JANE GRAY, reading.

L. J. Gray. 'Tis false! The thinking soul is some-
what more

Than symmetry of atoms well-dispos'd,
The harmony of matter. Farewel else
The hope of all hereafter, that new life,
That separate intellect, which must survive,
When this fine frame is moulder'd into dust.
Enter GUILFord.

Guil. What read'st thou there, my queen ?
L. J. Gray. 'Tis Plato's Phædon;
Where dying Socrates takes leave of life,
With such an easy, careless, calm indifference,
As if the trifle were of no account,

Mean in itself, and only to be worn
In honour of the giver.

Guil. Shall thy soul

Still scorn the world, still fly the joys that court
Thy blooming beauty, and thy tender youth?"
Still shall she soar on contemplation's wing,
And mix with nothing meaner than the stars;
As Heaven and immortality alone
Were objects worthy to employ her faculties?"
'L. J. Gray. 'Bate but thy truth, what is there here
Deserving my regard? Is it not time.
To bid our souls look out, explore hereafter,
And seek some better sure abiding-place;
When all around our gathering foes come on,
To drive, to sweep us from this world at once?
Guil. Does any danger new'-

L. J. Gray. The faithless counsellors

Are fled from hence to join the princess Mary.
The servile herd of courtiers, who so late
In low obedience bent the knee before me;
They, who with zealous tongues, and hands uplifted,
Besought me to defend their laws and faith;
Vent their loud execrations on my name,
Proclaim me trait'ress now, and to the scaffold
Doom my devoted head.

« PreviousContinue »