The Complete Poetical Works, by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Charles the First.

Dramatis Personae.

KING CHARLES I.
QUEEN HENRIETTA.
LAUD, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY.
WENTWORTH, EARL OF STRAFFORD.
LORD COTTINGTON.
LORD WESTON.
LORD COVENTRY.
WILLIAMS, BISHOP OF LINCOLN.
SECRETARY LYTTELTON.
JUXON.
ST. JOHN.
ARCHY, THE COURT FOOL.
HAMPDEN.
PYM.
CROMWELL.
CROMWELL’S DAUGHTER.
SIR HARRY VANE THE YOUNGER.
LEIGHTON.
BASTWICK.
PRYNNE.
GENTLEMEN OF THE INNS OF COURT, CITIZENS, PURSUIVANTS,
MARSHALSMEN, LAW STUDENTS, JUDGES, CLERK.

SCENE 1: THE MASQUE OF THE INNS OF COURT.

A PURSUIVANT:

Place, for the Marshal of the Masque!

FIRST CITIZEN:

What thinkest thou of this quaint masque which turns,

Like morning from the shadow of the night,

The night to day, and London to a place

Of peace and joy?

SECOND CITIZEN:

5

And Hell to Heaven.

Eight years are gone,

And they seem hours, since in this populous street

I trod on grass made green by summer’s rain,

For the red plague kept state within that palace

10

Where now that vanity reigns. In nine years more

The roots will be refreshed with civil blood;

And thank the mercy of insulted Heaven

That sin and wrongs wound, as an orphan’s cry,

The patience of the great Avenger’s ear.

A YOUTH:

15

Yet, father, ’tis a happy sight to see,

Beautiful, innocent, and unforbidden

By God or man; —’tis like the bright procession

Of skiey visions in a solemn dream

From which men wake as from a Paradise,

20

And draw new strength to tread the thorns of life.

If God be good, wherefore should this be evil?

And if this be not evil, dost thou not draw

Unseasonable poison from the flowers

Which bloom so rarely in this barren world?

25

Oh, kill these bitter thoughts which make the present

Dark as the future! —

. . .

When Avarice and Tyranny, vigilant Fear,

And open-eyed Conspiracy lie sleeping

As on Hell’s threshold; and all gentle thoughts

30

Waken to worship Him who giveth joys

With His own gift.

SECOND CITIZEN:

How young art thou in this old age of time!

How green in this gray world? Canst thou discern

The signs of seasons, yet perceive no hint

35

Of change in that stage-scene in which thou art

Not a spectator but an actor? or

Art thou a puppet moved by [enginery]?

The day that dawns in fire will die in storms,

Even though the noon be calm. My travel’s done —

40

Before the whirlwind wakes I shall have found

My inn of lasting rest; but thou must still

Be journeying on in this inclement air.

Wrap thy old cloak about thy back;

Nor leave the broad and plain and beaten road,

45

Although no flowers smile on the trodden dust,

For the violet paths of pleasure. This Charles the First

Rose like the equinoctial sun, . . .

By vapours, through whose threatening ominous veil

Darting his altered influence he has gained

50

This height of noon — from which he must decline

Amid the darkness of conflicting storms,

To dank extinction and to latest night . . .

There goes

The apostate Strafford; he whose titles

55

whispered aphorisms

From Machiavel and Bacon: and, if Judas

Had been as brazen and as bold as he —

Canst thou not think

Of change in that low scene, in which thou art

Not a spectator but an actor? . . . 1824.

FIRST CITIZEN:

That

Is the Archbishop.

SECOND CITIZEN:

Rather say the Pope:

London will be soon his Rome: he walks

60

As if he trod upon the heads of men:

He looks elate, drunken with blood and gold; —

Beside him moves the Babylonian woman

Invisibly, and with her as with his shadow,

Mitred adulterer! he is joined in sin,

65

Which turns Heaven’s milk of mercy to revenge.

THIRD CITIZEN [LIFTING UP HIS EYES]:

Good Lord! rain it down upon him! . . .

Amid her ladies walks the papist queen,

As if her nice feet scorned our English earth.

The Canaanitish Jezebel! I would be

70

A dog if I might tear her with my teeth!

There’s old Sir Henry Vane, the Earl of Pembroke,

Lord Essex, and Lord Keeper Coventry,

And others who make base their English breed

By vile participation of their honours

75

With papists, atheists, tyrants, and apostates.

When lawyers masque ’tis time for honest men

To strip the vizor from their purposes.

A seasonable time for masquers this!

When Englishmen and Protestants should sit

80

dust on their dishonoured heads

To avert the wrath of Him whose scourge is felt

For the great sins which have drawn down from Heaven

and foreign overthrow.

The remnant of the martyred saints in Rochefort

85

Have been abandoned by their faithless allies

To that idolatrous and adulterous torturer

Lewis of France — the Palatinate is lost —

[ENTER LEIGHTON (WHO HAS BEEN BRANDED IN THE FACE) AND BASTWICK.]

Canst thou be — art thou?

LEIGHTON:

I WAS Leighton: what

I AM thou seest. And yet turn thine eyes,

90

And with thy memory look on thy friend’s mind,

Which is unchanged, and where is written deep

The sentence of my judge.

THIRD CITIZEN:

Are these the marks with which

Laud thinks to improve the image of his Maker

Stamped on the face of man? Curses upon him,

The impious tyrant!

SECOND CITIZEN:

95

It is said besides

That lewd and papist drunkards may profane

The Sabbath with their

And has permitted that most heathenish custom

Of dancing round a pole dressed up with wreaths

100

On May-day.

A man who thus twice crucifies his God

May well . . . his brother. — In my mind, friend,

The root of all this ill is prelacy.

I would cut up the root.

THIRD CITIZEN:

And by what means?

SECOND CITIZEN:

105

Smiting each Bishop under the fifth rib.

THIRD CITIZEN:

You seem to know the vulnerable place

Of these same crocodiles.

SECOND CITIZEN:

I learnt it in

Egyptian bondage, sir. Your worm of Nile

Betrays not with its flattering tears like they;

110

For, when they cannot kill, they whine and weep.

Nor is it half so greedy of men’s bodies

As they of soul and all; nor does it wallow

In slime as they in simony and lies

And close lusts of the flesh.

A MARSHALSMAN:

Give place, give place!

115

You torch-bearers, advance to the great gate,

And then attend the Marshal of the Masque

Into the Royal presence.

A LAW STUDENT:

What thinkest thou

Of this quaint show of ours, my aged friend?

Even now we see the redness of the torches

120

Inflame the night to the eastward, and the clarions

[Gasp?] to us on the wind’s wave. It comes!

And their sounds, floating hither round the pageant,

Rouse up the astonished air.

FIRST CITIZEN:

I will not think but that our country’s wounds

125

May yet be healed. The king is just and gracious,

Though wicked counsels now pervert his will:

These once cast off —

SECOND CITIZEN:

As adders cast their skins

And keep their venom, so kings often change;

Councils and counsellors hang on one another,

130

Hiding the loathsome

Like the base patchwork of a leper’s rags.

THE YOUTH:

Oh, still those dissonant thoughts! — List how the music

Grows on the enchanted air! And see, the torches

Restlessly flashing, and the crowd divided

Like waves before an admiral’s prow!

A MARSHALSMAN:

135

Give place

To the Marshal of the Masque!

A PURSUIVANT:

Room for the King!

THE YOUTH:

How glorious! See those thronging chariots

Rolling, like painted clouds before the wind,

Behind their solemn steeds: how some are shaped

140

Like curved sea-shells dyed by the azure depths

Of Indian seas; some like the new-born moon;

And some like cars in which the Romans climbed

(Canopied by Victory’s eagle-wings outspread)

The Capitolian — See how gloriously

145

The mettled horses in the torchlight stir

Their gallant riders, while they check their pride,

Like shapes of some diviner element

Than English air, and beings nobler than

The envious and admiring multitude.

Rolling like painted clouds before the wind

Some are

Like curved shells, dyed by the azure depths 1824.

SECOND CITIZEN:

150

Ay, there they are —

Nobles, and sons of nobles, patentees,

Monopolists, and stewards of this poor farm,

On whose lean sheep sit the prophetic crows,

Here is the pomp that strips the houseless orphan,

155

Here is the pride that breaks the desolate heart.

These are the lilies glorious as Solomon,

Who toil not, neither do they spin — unless

It be the webs they catch poor rogues withal.

Here is the surfeit which to them who earn

160

The niggard wages of the earth, scarce leaves

The tithe that will support them till they crawl

Back to her cold hard bosom. Here is health

Followed by grim disease, glory by shame,

Waste by lame famine, wealth by squalid want,

165

And England’s sin by England’s punishment.

And, as the effect pursues the cause foregone,

Lo, giving substance to my words, behold

At once the sign and the thing signified —

A troop of cripples, beggars, and lean outcasts,

170

Horsed upon stumbling jades, carted with dung,

Dragged for a day from cellars and low cabins

And rotten hiding-holes, to point the moral

Of this presentment, and bring up the rear

Of painted pomp with misery!

THE YOUTH:

’Tis but

175

The anti-masque, and serves as discords do

In sweetest music. Who would love May flowers

If they succeeded not to Winter’s flaw;

Or day unchanged by night; or joy itself

Without the touch of sorrow?

SECOND CITIZEN:

I and thou-

A MARSHALSMAN:

180

Place, give place!

[“Charles the First” was designed in 1818, begun towards the close of 1819 [Medwin, “Life”, 2 page 62], resumed in January, and finally laid aside by June, 1822. It was published in part in the “Posthumous Poems”, 1824, and printed, in its present form (with the addition of some 530 lines), by Mr. W.M. Rossetti, 1870. Further particulars are given in the Editor’s Notes at the end of Volume 3.]

_10 now that vanity reigns 1870; now reigns vanity 1824.

_33-_37 Canst . . . enginery 1870;

_43-_57 Wrap . . . bold as he 1870; omitted 1824.

_73 make 1824; made 1839.

_78-_114 A seasonable . . . of the flesh 1870; omitted 1824.

_108 bondage cj. Forman; bondages 1870.

_119-_123 Even now . . . air 1870; omitted 1824.

_132 how the 1870; loud 1824.

_136 A Pursuivant: Room for the King! 1870; omitted 1824.

_138-40 Rolling . . . depths 1870;

_162 her 1870; its 1824.

_170 jades 1870; shapes 1824.

_173 presentment 1870; presentiment 1824.

_179, _180 I . . . place! 1870; omitted 1824.

SCENE 2: A CHAMBER IN WHITEHALL. ENTER THE KING, QUEEN, LAUD, LORD STRAFTORD, LORD COTTINGTON, AND OTHER LORDS; ARCHY; ALSO ST. JOHN, WITH SOME GENTLEMEN OF THE INNS OF COURT.

KING:

Thanks, gentlemen. I heartily accept

This token of your service: your gay masque

Was performed gallantly. And it shows well

When subjects twine such flowers of [observance?]

5

With the sharp thorns that deck the English crown.

A gentle heart enjoys what it confers,

Even as it suffers that which it inflicts,

Though Justice guides the stroke.

Accept my hearty thanks.

QUEEN:

And gentlemen,

10

Call your poor Queen your debtor. Your quaint pageant

Rose on me like the figures of past years,

Treading their still path back to infancy,

More beautiful and mild as they draw nearer

The quiet cradle. I could have almost wept

15

To think I was in Paris, where these shows

Are well devised — such as I was ere yet

My young heart shared a portion of the burthen,

The careful weight, of this great monarchy.

There, gentlemen, between the sovereign’s pleasure

20

And that which it regards, no clamour lifts

Its proud interposition.

In Paris ribald censurers dare not move

Their poisonous tongues against these sinless sports;

And HIS smile

25

Warms those who bask in it, as ours would do

If . . . Take my heart’s thanks: add them, gentlemen,

To those good words which, were he King of France,

My royal lord would turn to golden deeds.

ST. JOHN:

Madam, the love of Englishmen can make

30

The lightest favour of their lawful king

Outweigh a despot’s. — We humbly take our leaves,

Enriched by smiles which France can never buy.

[EXEUNT ST. JOHN AND THE GENTLEMEN OF THE INNS OF COURT.]

KING:

My Lord Archbishop,

Mark you what spirit sits in St. John’s eyes?

35

Methinks it is too saucy for this presence.

ARCHY:

Yes, pray your Grace look: for, like an unsophisticated [eye] sees

everything upside down, you who are wise will discern the shadow of an

idiot in lawn sleeves and a rochet setting springes to catch woodcocks

in haymaking time. Poor Archy, whose owl-eyes are tempered to the

error of his age, and because he is a fool, and by special ordinance

of God forbidden ever to see himself as he is, sees now in that deep

eye a blindfold devil sitting on the ball, and weighing words out

between king and subjects. One scale is full of promises, and the

other full of protestations: and then another devil creeps behind the

first out of the dark windings [of a] pregnant lawyer’s brain, and

takes the bandage from the other’s eyes, and throws a sword into the

48

left-hand scale, for all the world like my Lord Essex’s there.

STRAFFORD:

A rod in pickle for the Fool’s back!

ARCHY:

Ay, and some are now smiling whose tears will make the brine; for the

Fool sees —

STRAFFORD:

Insolent! You shall have your coat turned and be whipped out of the

53

palace for this.

ARCHY:

When all the fools are whipped, and all the Protestant writers, while

the knaves are whipping the fools ever since a thief was set to catch

a thief. If all turncoats were whipped out of palaces, poor Archy

would be disgraced in good company. Let the knaves whip the fools, and

all the fools laugh at it. [Let the] wise and godly slit each other’s

noses and ears (having no need of any sense of discernment in their

craft); and the knaves, to marshal them, join in a procession to

Bedlam, to entreat the madmen to omit their sublime Platonic

contemplations, and manage the state of England. Let all the honest

men who lie [pinched?] up at the prisons or the pillories, in custody

65

of the pursuivants of the High-Commission Court, marshal them.

[ENTER SECRETARY LYTTELTON, WITH PAPERS.]

KING [LOOKING OVER THE PAPERS]:

These stiff Scots

His Grace of Canterbury must take order

To force under the Church’s yoke. — You, Wentworth,

Shall be myself in Ireland, and shall add

70

Your wisdom, gentleness, and energy,

To what in me were wanting. — My Lord Weston,

Look that those merchants draw not without loss

Their bullion from the Tower; and, on the payment

Of shipmoney, take fullest compensation

75

For violation of our royal forests,

Whose limits, from neglect, have been o’ergrown

With cottages and cornfields. The uttermost

Farthing exact from those who claim exemption

From knighthood: that which once was a reward

80

Shall thus be made a punishment, that subjects

May know how majesty can wear at will

The rugged mood. — My Lord of Coventry,

Lay my command upon the Courts below

That bail be not accepted for the prisoners

85

Under the warrant of the Star Chamber.

The people shall not find the stubbornness

Of Parliament a cheap or easy method

Of dealing with their rightful sovereign:

And doubt not this, my Lord of Coventry,

90

We will find time and place for fit rebuke. —

My Lord of Canterbury.

ARCHY:

The fool is here.

LAUD:

I crave permission of your Majesty

To order that this insolent fellow be

Chastised: he mocks the sacred character,

Scoffs at the state, and —

KING:

95

What, my Archy?

He mocks and mimics all he sees and hears,

Yet with a quaint and graceful licence — Prithee

For this once do not as Prynne would, were he

Primate of England. With your Grace’s leave,

100

He lives in his own world; and, like a parrot

Hung in his gilded prison from the window

Of a queen’s bower over the public way,

Blasphemes with a bird’s mind:— his words, like arrows

Which know no aim beyond the archer’s wit,

105

Strike sometimes what eludes philosophy. —

[TO ARCHY.]

Go, sirrah, and repent of your offence

Ten minutes in the rain; be it your penance

To bring news how the world goes there.

[EXIT ARCHY.]

Poor Archy!

He weaves about himself a world of mirth

110

Out of the wreck of ours.

LAUD:

I take with patience, as my Master did,

All scoffs permitted from above.

KING:

My lord,

Pray overlook these papers. Archy’s words

Had wings, but these have talons.

QUEEN:

And the lion

115

That wears them must be tamed. My dearest lord,

I see the new-born courage in your eye

Armed to strike dead the Spirit of the Time,

Which spurs to rage the many-headed beast.

Do thou persist: for, faint but in resolve,

120

And it were better thou hadst still remained

The slave of thine own slaves, who tear like curs

The fugitive, and flee from the pursuer;

And Opportunity, that empty wolf,

Flies at his throat who falls. Subdue thy actions

125

Even to the disposition of thy purpose,

And be that tempered as the Ebro’s steel;

And banish weak-eyed Mercy to the weak,

Whence she will greet thee with a gift of peace

And not betray thee with a traitor’s kiss,

130

As when she keeps the company of rebels,

Who think that she is Fear. This do, lest we

Should fall as from a glorious pinnacle

In a bright dream, and wake as from a dream

Out of our worshipped state.

KING:

Beloved friend,

135

God is my witness that this weight of power,

Which He sets me my earthly task to wield

Under His law, is my delight and pride

Only because thou lovest that and me.

For a king bears the office of a God

140

To all the under world; and to his God

Alone he must deliver up his trust,

Unshorn of its permitted attributes.

[It seems] now as the baser elements

Had mutinied against the golden sun

145

That kindles them to harmony, and quells

Their self-destroying rapine. The wild million

Strike at the eye that guides them; like as humours

Of the distempered body that conspire

Against the spirit of life throned in the heart —

150

And thus become the prey of one another,

And last of death —

STRAFFORD:

That which would be ambition in a subject

Is duty in a sovereign; for on him,

As on a keystone, hangs the arch of life,

155

Whose safety is its strength. Degree and form,

And all that makes the age of reasoning man

More memorable than a beast’s, depend on this —

That Right should fence itself inviolably

With Power; in which respect the state of England

160

From usurpation by the insolent commons

Cries for reform.

Get treason, and spare treasure. Fee with coin

The loudest murmurers; feed with jealousies

Opposing factions — be thyself of none;

165

And borrow gold of many, for those who lend

Will serve thee till thou payest them; and thus

Keep the fierce spirit of the hour at bay,

Till time, and its coming generations

Of nights and days unborn, bring some one chance,

. . .

170

Or war or pestilence or Nature’s self —

By some distemperature or terrible sign,

Be as an arbiter betwixt themselves.

Nor let your Majesty

Doubt here the peril of the unseen event.

175

How did your brother Kings, coheritors

In your high interest in the subject earth,

Rise past such troubles to that height of power

Where now they sit, and awfully serene

Smile on the trembling world? Such popular storms

180

Philip the Second of Spain, this Lewis of France,

And late the German head of many bodies,

And every petty lord of Italy,

Quelled or by arts or arms. Is England poorer

Or feebler? or art thou who wield’st her power

185

Tamer than they? or shall this island be —

[Girdled] by its inviolable waters —

To the world present and the world to come

Sole pattern of extinguished monarchy?

Not if thou dost as I would have thee do.

KING:

190

Your words shall be my deeds:

You speak the image of my thought. My friend

(If Kings can have a friend, I call thee so),

Beyond the large commission which [belongs]

Under the great seal of the realm, take this:

195

And, for some obvious reasons, let there be

No seal on it, except my kingly word

And honour as I am a gentleman.

Be — as thou art within my heart and mind —

Another self, here and in Ireland:

200

Do what thou judgest well, take amplest licence,

And stick not even at questionable means.

Hear me, Wentworth. My word is as a wall

Between thee and this world thine enemy —

That hates thee, for thou lovest me.

STRAFFORD:

I own

205

No friend but thee, no enemies but thine:

Thy lightest thought is my eternal law.

How weak, how short, is life to pay —

KING:

Peace, peace.

Thou ow’st me nothing yet.

[TO LAUD.]

My lord, what say

Those papers?

LAUD:

210

Your Majesty has ever interposed,

In lenity towards your native soil,

Between the heavy vengeance of the Church

And Scotland. Mark the consequence of warming

This brood of northern vipers in your bosom.

215

The rabble, instructed no doubt

By London, Lindsay, Hume, and false Argyll

(For the waves never menace heaven until

Scourged by the wind’s invisible tyranny),

Have in the very temple of the Lord

220

Done outrage to His chosen ministers.

They scorn the liturgy of the Holy Church,

Refuse to obey her canons, and deny

The apostolic power with which the Spirit

Has filled its elect vessels, even from him

225

Who held the keys with power to loose and bind,

To him who now pleads in this royal presence. —

Let ample powers and new instructions be

Sent to the High Commissioners in Scotland.

To death, imprisonment, and confiscation,

230

Add torture, add the ruin of the kindred

Of the offender, add the brand of infamy,

Add mutilation: and if this suffice not,

Unleash the sword and fire, that in their thirst

They may lick up that scum of schismatics.

235

I laugh at those weak rebels who, desiring

What we possess, still prate of Christian peace,

As if those dreadful arbitrating messengers

Which play the part of God ‘twixt right and wrong,

Should be let loose against the innocent sleep

240

Of templed cities and the smiling fields,

For some poor argument of policy

Which touches our own profit or our pride

(Where it indeed were Christian charity

To turn the cheek even to the smiter’s hand):

245

And, when our great Redeemer, when our God,

When He who gave, accepted, and retained

Himself in propitiation of our sins,

Is scorned in His immediate ministry,

With hazard of the inestimable loss

250

Of all the truth and discipline which is

Salvation to the extremest generation

Of men innumerable, they talk of peace!

Such peace as Canaan found, let Scotland now:

For, by that Christ who came to bring a sword,

255

Not peace, upon the earth, and gave command

To His disciples at the Passover

That each should sell his robe and buy a sword,-

Once strip that minister of naked wrath,

And it shall never sleep in peace again

Till Scotland bend or break.

KING:

260

My Lord Archbishop,

Do what thou wilt and what thou canst in this.

Thy earthly even as thy heavenly King

Gives thee large power in his unquiet realm.

But we want money, and my mind misgives me

265

That for so great an enterprise, as yet,

We are unfurnished.

STRAFFORD:

Yet it may not long

Rest on our wills.

COTTINGTON:

The expenses

Of gathering shipmoney, and of distraining

For every petty rate (for we encounter

270

A desperate opposition inch by inch

In every warehouse and on every farm),

Have swallowed up the gross sum of the imposts;

So that, though felt as a most grievous scourge

Upon the land, they stand us in small stead

As touches the receipt.

STRAFFORD:

275

’Tis a conclusion

Most arithmetical: and thence you infer

Perhaps the assembling of a parliament.

Now, if a man should call his dearest enemies

T0 sit in licensed judgement on his life,

280

His Majesty might wisely take that course.

[ASIDE TO COTTINGTON.]

It is enough to expect from these lean imposts

That they perform the office of a scourge,

Without more profit.

[ALOUD.]

Fines and confiscations,

And a forced loan from the refractory city,

285

Will fill our coffers: and the golden love

Of loyal gentlemen and noble friends

For the worshipped father of our common country,

With contributions from the catholics,

Will make Rebellion pale in our excess.

290

Be these the expedients until time and wisdom

Shall frame a settled state of government.

LAUD:

And weak expedients they! Have we not drained

All, till the . . . which seemed

A mine exhaustless?

STRAFFORD:

And the love which IS,

295

If loyal hearts could turn their blood to gold.

LAUD:

Both now grow barren: and I speak it not

As loving parliaments, which, as they have been

In the right hand of bold bad mighty kings

The scourges of the bleeding Church, I hate.

300

Methinks they scarcely can deserve our fear.

STRAFFORD:

Oh! my dear liege, take back the wealth thou gavest:

With that, take all I held, but as in trust

For thee, of mine inheritance: leave me but

This unprovided body for thy service,

305

And a mind dedicated to no care

Except thy safety:— but assemble not

A parliament. Hundreds will bring, like me,

Their fortunes, as they would their blood, before —

KING:

No! thou who judgest them art but one. Alas!

310

We should be too much out of love with Heaven,

Did this vile world show many such as thee,

Thou perfect, just, and honourable man!

Never shall it be said that Charles of England

Stripped those he loved for fear of those he scorns;

315

Nor will he so much misbecome his throne

As to impoverish those who most adorn

And best defend it. That you urge, dear Strafford,

Inclines me rather —

QUEEN:

To a parliament?

Is this thy firmness? and thou wilt preside

320

Over a knot of . . . censurers,

To the unswearing of thy best resolves,

And choose the worst, when the worst comes too soon?

Plight not the worst before the worst must come.

Oh, wilt thou smile whilst our ribald foes,

325

Dressed in their own usurped authority,

Sharpen their tongues on Henrietta’s fame?

It is enough! Thou lovest me no more!

[WEEPS.]

KING:

Oh, Henrietta!

[THEY TALK APART.]

COTTINGTON [TO LAUD]:

Money we have none:

And all the expedients of my Lord of Strafford

Will scarcely meet the arrears.

LAUD:

330

Without delay

An army must be sent into the north;

Followed by a Commission of the Church,

With amplest power to quench in fire and blood,

And tears and terror, and the pity of hell,

335

The intenser wrath of Heresy. God will give

Victory; and victory over Scotland give

The lion England tamed into our hands.

That will lend power, and power bring gold.

COTTINGTON:

Meanwhile

We must begin first where your Grace leaves off.

Gold must give power, or —

LAUD:

340

I am not averse

From the assembling of a parliament.

Strong actions and smooth words might teach them soon

The lesson to obey. And are they not

A bubble fashioned by the monarch’s mouth,

345

The birth of one light breath? If they serve no purpose,

A word dissolves them.

STRAFFORD:

The engine of parliaments

Might be deferred until I can bring over

The Irish regiments: they will serve to assure

The issue of the war against the Scots.

350

And, this game won — which if lost, all is lost —

Gather these chosen leaders of the rebels,

And call them, if you will, a parliament.

KING:

Oh, be our feet still tardy to shed blood.

Guilty though it may be! I would still spare

355

The stubborn country of my birth, and ward

From countenances which I loved in youth

The wrathful Church’s lacerating hand.

[TO LAUD.]

Have you o’erlooked the other articles?

[ENTER ARCHY.]

LAUD:

Hazlerig, Hampden, Pym, young Harry Vane,

360

Cromwell, and other rebels of less note,

Intend to sail with the next favouring wind

For the Plantations.

ARCHY:

Where they think to found

A commonwealth like Gonzalo’s in the play,

Gynaecocoenic and pantisocratic.

KING:

What’s that, sirrah?

ARCHY:

365

New devil’s politics.

Hell is the pattern of all commonwealths:

Lucifer was the first republican.

Will you hear Merlin’s prophecy, how three [posts?]

‘In one brainless skull, when the whitethorn is full,

370

Shall sail round the world, and come back again:

Shall sail round the world in a brainless skull,

And come back again when the moon is at full:’—

When, in spite of the Church,

They will hear homilies of whatever length

375

Or form they please.

[COTTINGTON?]:

So please your Majesty to sign this order

For their detention.

ARCHY:

If your Majesty were tormented night and day by fever, gout,

rheumatism, and stone, and asthma, etc., and you found these diseases

had secretly entered into a conspiracy to abandon you, should you

think it necessary to lay an embargo on the port by which they meant

383

to dispeople your unquiet kingdom of man?

KING:

If fear were made for kings, the Fool mocks wisely;

But in this case —[WRITING]. Here, my lord, take the warrant,

And see it duly executed forthwith. —

387

That imp of malice and mockery shall be punished.

[EXEUNT ALL BUT KING, QUEEN, AND ARCHY.]

ARCHY:

Ay, I am the physician of whom Plato prophesied, who was to be accused

by the confectioner before a jury of children, who found him guilty

without waiting for the summing-up, and hanged him without benefit of

clergy. Thus Baby Charles, and the Twelfth-night Queen of Hearts, and

the overgrown schoolboy Cottington, and that little urchin Laud — who

would reduce a verdict of ‘guilty, death,’ by famine, if it were

impregnable by composition — all impannelled against poor Archy for

397

presenting them bitter physic the last day of the holidays.

QUEEN:

Is the rain over, sirrah?

KING:

When it rains

And the sun shines, ’twill rain again to-morrow:

400

And therefore never smile till you’ve done crying.

ARCHY:

But ’tis all over now: like the April anger of woman, the gentle sky

has wept itself serene.

QUEEN:

What news abroad? how looks the world this morning?

ARCHY:

Gloriously as a grave covered with virgin flowers. There’s a rainbow

in the sky. Let your Majesty look at it, for

407

‘A rainbow in the morning

Is the shepherd’s warning;’

and the flocks of which you are the pastor are scattered among the

mountain-tops, where every drop of water is a flake of snow, and the

411

breath of May pierces like a January blast.

KING:

The sheep have mistaken the wolf for their shepherd, my poor boy; and

the shepherd, the wolves for their watchdogs.

QUEEN:

But the rainbow was a good sign, Archy: it says that the waters of the

deluge are gone, and can return no more.

ARCHY:

Ay, the salt-water one: but that of tears and blood must yet come

down, and that of fire follow, if there be any truth in lies. — The

rainbow hung over the city with all its shops, . . . and churches, from

north to south, like a bridge of congregated lightning pieced by the

masonry of heaven — like a balance in which the angel that distributes

the coming hour was weighing that heavy one whose poise is now felt in

the lightest hearts, before it bows the proudest heads under the

424

meanest feet.

QUEEN:

Who taught you this trash, sirrah?

ARCHY:

A torn leaf out of an old book trampled in the dirt. — But for the

rainbow. It moved as the sun moved, and . . . until the top of the

Tower . . . of a cloud through its left-hand tip, and Lambeth Palace look

as dark as a rock before the other. Methought I saw a crown figured

upon one tip, and a mitre on the other. So, as I had heard treasures

were found where the rainbow quenches its points upon the earth, I set

off, and at the Tower — But I shall not tell your Majesty what I found

close to the closet-window on which the rainbow had glimmered.

KING:

435

Speak: I will make my Fool my conscience.

ARCHY:

Then conscience is a fool. — I saw there a cat caught in a rat-trap. I

heard the rats squeak behind the wainscots: it seemed to me that the

very mice were consulting on the manner of her death.

QUEEN:

Archy is shrewd and bitter.

ARCHY:

440

Like the season,

So blow the winds. — But at the other end of the rainbow, where the

gray rain was tempered along the grass and leaves by a tender

interfusion of violet and gold in the meadows beyond Lambeth, what

think you that I found instead of a mitre?

KING:

445

Vane’s wits perhaps.

ARCHY:

Something as vain. I saw a gross vapour hovering in a stinking ditch

over the carcass of a dead ass, some rotten rags, and broken

dishes — the wrecks of what once administered to the stuffing-out and

the ornament of a worm of worms. His Grace of Canterbury expects to

enter the New Jerusalem some Palm Sunday in triumph on the ghost of

451

this ass.

QUEEN:

Enough, enough! Go desire Lady Jane

She place my lute, together with the music

Mari received last week from Italy,

In my boudoir, and —

[EXIT ARCHY.]

KING:

I’ll go in.

QUEEN:

455

MY beloved lord,

Have you not noted that the Fool of late

Has lost his careless mirth, and that his words

Sound like the echoes of our saddest fears?

What can it mean? I should be loth to think

Some factious slave had tutored him.

KING:

460

Oh, no!

He is but Occasion’s pupil. Partly ’tis

That our minds piece the vacant intervals

Of his wild words with their own fashioning —

As in the imagery of summer clouds,

465

Or coals of the winter fire, idlers find

The perfect shadows of their teeming thoughts:

And partly, that the terrors of the time

Are sown by wandering Rumour in all spirits;

And in the lightest and the least, may best

470

Be seen the current of the coming wind.

QUEEN:

Your brain is overwrought with these deep thoughts.

Come, I will sing to you; let us go try

These airs from Italy; and, as we pass

The gallery, we’ll decide where that Correggio

475

Shall hang — the Virgin Mother

With her child, born the King of heaven and earth,

Whose reign is men’s salvation. And you shall see

A cradled miniature of yourself asleep,

Stamped on the heart by never-erring love;

480

Liker than any Vandyke ever made,

A pattern to the unborn age of thee,

Over whose sweet beauty I have wept for joy

A thousand times, and now should weep for sorrow,

Did I not think that after we were dead

485

Our fortunes would spring high in him, and that

The cares we waste upon our heavy crown

Would make it light and glorious as a wreath

Of Heaven’s beams for his dear innocent brow.

KING:

Dear Henrietta!

_3-9 And . . . thanks 1870; omitted 1824.

_64 pinched marked as doubtful by Rossetti. 1870; Forman, Dowden; penned Woodberry.

_22-90 In Paris . . . rebuke 1870; omitted 1824.

_95 state 1870; stake 1824.

_99 With your Grace’s leave 1870; omitted 1824.

_106-_110 Go . . . ours spoken by THE QUEEN, 1824.

_116 your 1824; thine 1870.

_118 Which . . . beast 1870; omitted 1824.

_134-_232 Beloved . . . mutilation 1870; omitted 1824.

_237 arbitrating messengers 1870; messengers of wrath 1824.

_239 the 1870; omitted 1524.

_243-_244 Parentheses inserted 1870.

_246, _247 When He . . . sins 1870; omitted 1824.

_248 ministry 1870; ministers 1824.

_249-52 With . . . innumerable 1870; omitted 1824.

_363 Gonzalo’s 1870; Gonzaga Boscombe manuscript.

_254-_455 For by . . . I’ll go in 1870; omitted 1824.

_460, _461 Oh . . . pupil 1870; omitted 1824.

_461 Partly ’tis 1870; It partly is 1824.

_465 of 1870; in 1824.

_473-_477 and, as . . . salvation 1870; omitted 1824.

SCENE 3: THE STAR CHAMBER. LAUD, JUXON, STRAFFORD, AND OTHERS, AS JUDGES. PRYNNE AS A PRISONER, AND THEN BASTWICK.

LAUD:

Bring forth the prisoner Bastwick: let the clerk

Recite his sentence.

CLERK:

‘That he pay five thousand

Pounds to the king, lose both his ears, be branded

With red-hot iron on the cheek and forehead,

5

And be imprisoned within Lancaster Castle

During the pleasure of the Court.’

LAUD:

Prisoner,

If you have aught to say wherefore this sentence

Should not be put into effect, now speak.

JUXON:

If you have aught to plead in mitigation,

Speak.

BASTWICK:

10

Thus, my lords. If, like the prelates, I

Were an invader of the royal power

A public scorner of the word of God,

Profane, idolatrous, popish, superstitious,

Impious in heart and in tyrannic act,

15

Void of wit, honesty, and temperance;

If Satan were my lord, as theirs — our God

Pattern of all I should avoid to do;

Were I an enemy of my God and King

And of good men, as ye are; — I should merit

20

Your fearful state and gilt prosperity,

Which, when ye wake from the last sleep, shall turn

To cowls and robes of everlasting fire.

But, as I am, I bid ye grudge me not

The only earthly favour ye can yield,

25

Or I think worth acceptance at your hands —

Scorn, mutilation, and imprisonment.

even as my Master did,

Until Heaven’s kingdom shall descend on earth,

Or earth be like a shadow in the light

30

Of Heaven absorbed — some few tumultuous years

Will pass, and leave no wreck of what opposes

His will whose will is power.

here conjecturally, Rossetti, 1870.

LAUD:

Officer, take the prisoner from the bar,

And be his tongue slit for his insolence.

BASTWICK:

While this hand holds a pen —

LAUD:

Be his hands —

JUXON:

35

Stop!

Forbear, my lord! The tongue, which now can speak

No terror, would interpret, being dumb,

Heaven’s thunder to our harm; . . .

And hands, which now write only their own shame,

40

With bleeding stumps might sign our blood away.

LAUD:

Much more such ‘mercy’ among men would be,

Did all the ministers of Heaven’s revenge

Flinch thus from earthly retribution. I

Could suffer what I would inflict.

[EXIT BASTWICK GUARDED.]

Bring up

The Lord Bishop of Lincoln. —

[TO STRATFORD.]

45

Know you not

That, in distraining for ten thousand pounds

Upon his books and furniture at Lincoln,

Were found these scandalous and seditious letters

Sent from one Osbaldistone, who is fled?

50

I speak it not as touching this poor person;

But of the office which should make it holy,

Were it as vile as it was ever spotless.

Mark too, my lord, that this expression strikes

His Majesty, if I misinterpret not.

[ENTER BISHOP WILLIAMS GUARDED.]

STRAFFORD:

55

’Twere politic and just that Williams taste

The bitter fruit of his connection with

The schismatics. But you, my Lord Archbishop,

Who owed your first promotion to his favour,

Who grew beneath his smile —

LAUD:

Would therefore beg

60

The office of his judge from this High Court —

That it shall seem, even as it is, that I,

In my assumption of this sacred robe,

Have put aside all worldly preference,

All sense of all distinction of all persons,

65

All thoughts but of the service of the Church. —

Bishop of Lincoln!

WILLIAMS:

Peace, proud hierarch!

I know my sentence, and I own it just.

Thou wilt repay me less than I deserve,

In stretching to the utmost

. . .

_27-_32 even . . . power printed as a fragment, Garnett, 1862; inserted

Scene 3. 1-69 Bring . . . utmost 1870; omitted 1824.

SCENE 4: HAMPDEN, PYM, CROMWELL, HIS DAUGHTER, AND YOUNG SIR HARRY VANE.

HAMPDEN:

England, farewell! thou, who hast been my cradle,

Shalt never be my dungeon or my grave!

I held what I inherited in thee

As pawn for that inheritance of freedom

5

Which thou hast sold for thy despoiler’s smile:

How can I call thee England, or my country? —

Does the wind hold?

VANE:

The vanes sit steady

Upon the Abbey towers. The silver lightnings

Of the evening star, spite of the city’s smoke,

10

Tell that the north wind reigns in the upper air.

Mark too that flock of fleecy-winged clouds

Sailing athwart St. Margaret’s.

HAMPDEN:

Hail, fleet herald

Of tempest! that rude pilot who shall guide

Hearts free as his, to realms as pure as thee,

15

Beyond the shot of tyranny,

Beyond the webs of that swoln spider . . .

Beyond the curses, calumnies, and [lies?]

Of atheist priests! . . . And thou

Fair star, whose beam lies on the wide Atlantic,

20

Athwart its zones of tempest and of calm,

Bright as the path to a beloved home

Oh, light us to the isles of the evening land!

Like floating Edens cradled in the glimmer

Of sunset, through the distant mist of years

25

Touched by departing hope, they gleam! lone regions,

Where Power’s poor dupes and victims yet have never

Propitiated the savage fear of kings

With purest blood of noblest hearts; whose dew

Is yet unstained with tears of those who wake

30

To weep each day the wrongs on which it dawns;

Whose sacred silent air owns yet no echo

Of formal blasphemies; nor impious rites

Wrest man’s free worship, from the God who loves,

To the poor worm who envies us His love!

35

Receive, thou young . . . of Paradise.

These exiles from the old and sinful world!

. . .

This glorious clime, this firmament, whose lights

Dart mitigated influence through their veil

Of pale blue atmosphere; whose tears keep green

40

The pavement of this moist all-feeding earth;

This vaporous horizon, whose dim round

Is bastioned by the circumfluous sea,

Repelling invasion from the sacred towers,

Presses upon me like a dungeon’s grate,

45

A low dark roof, a damp and narrow wall.

The boundless universe

Becomes a cell too narrow for the soul

That owns no master; while the loathliest ward

Of this wide prison, England, is a nest

50

Of cradling peace built on the mountain tops —

To which the eagle spirits of the free,

Which range through heaven and earth, and scorn the storm

Of time, and gaze upon the light of truth,

Return to brood on thoughts that cannot die

55

And cannot be repelled.

Like eaglets floating in the heaven of time,

They soar above their quarry, and shall stoop

Through palaces and temples thunderproof.

Return to brood over the [ ] thoughts

That cannot die, and may not he repelled 1824.

_11 flock 1824; fleet 1870.

_13 rude 1870; wild 1824.

_16-_18 Beyond . . . priests 1870; omitted 1824.

_25 Touched 1870; Tinged 1824.

_34 To the poor 1870; Towards the 1824.

_38 their 1870; the 1824.

_46 boundless 1870; mighty 1824.

_48 owns no 1824; owns a 1870. ward 1870; spot 1824.

_50 cradling 1870; cradled 1824.

_54, _55 Return . . . repelled 1870;

_56-_58 Like . . . thunderproof 1870; omitted 1824.

SCENE 5:

ARCHY:

I’ll go live under the ivy that overgrows the terrace, and count the

tears shed on its old [roots?] as the [wind?] plays the song of

‘A widow bird sate mourning

5

Upon a wintry bough.’

[SINGS]

Heigho! the lark and the owl!

One flies the morning, and one lulls the night:—

Only the nightingale, poor fond soul,

Sings like the fool through darkness and light.

10

‘A widow bird sate mourning for her love

Upon a wintry bough;

The frozen wind crept on above,

The freezing stream below.

There was no leaf upon the forest bare.

15

No flower upon the ground,

And little motion in the air

Except the mill-wheel’s sound.’

Scene 5. _1-_9 I’ll . . . light 1870; omitted 1824.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/shelley/percy_bysshe/s54cp/volume18.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:30