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LADY JANE GREY.
ACT THE FIRST.
Enter the Duke of Northumberland, Duke of Suffolk, and Sir John Gates.
North. Tis all in vain; Heaven has requir'd its pledge, And he must die.
Suff. Is there an honest heart, That loves our England, does not mourn for Edward? The genius of our isle is shook with sorrow, He bows his venerable head with pain, And labours with the sickness of his lord. Religion melts in every holy eye; All comfortless, afflicted, and forlorn, She sits on earth, and weeps upon her cross Weary of man, and his detested ways: Ey'n now she seems to meditate her flight, And waft her angels to the thrones above.
North. Ay, there, my lord, you touch our heaviest loss.
With him our holy faith is doom'd to suffer;
Sir J. G. Is there no help in all the healing art,
North. What, has been left untry'd that art could do? The hoary wrinkled Leech has watch'd and toil'd, Try'd ev'ry health-restoring herb and gum, And weary'd out his painful skill in vain. Some secret venom preys upon his heart.
Sir J. G. Doubt not, your graces, but the popish faction Will at this juncture urge their utmost force. All on the princess Mary turn their eyes, Well hoping she shall build again their altars, And bring their idol'worship back in triumph.
North. Good Heav'n, ordain some better fate for England!
Suff. What better can we hope, if she should reign? I know her well, a blinded zealot is she, A gloomy nature, sullen and severe. Nurtnr'd by proud presuming Romish priests, Taught to believe they only cannot err, Because they cannot err; bred up in scorn Of reason, and the whole lay world instructed To hate whoe'er dissent from what they teach; To purge the world from heresy by blood, To massacre a nation, and believe it An act, well pleasing to the Lord of Mercy: These a,re thy gods, O Rome, and this thy faith!
North. And shall we tamely yield ourselves to bondage P Bow down before these holy purple tyrants, And bid them tread upon our slavish necks? No; let this faithful free-born English hand First dig my grave in liberty and honour; And though 1 found but one more thus resolv'd, That honest man and I would die together.
Suff. Doubt not, there are ten thousand and ten thousand, To own a cause so just.
Sir J. G. The list, I gave
North. Be it your care, Good Sir John Gates, to see your friends appointed And ready for the occasion. Haste this instant, Lose not a moment's time.
Sir J. G. I go, my lord. [Exit Sir John Gates.
North. Your grace's princely daughter, Lady Jane, Is she yet come to court?
Suff. Not yet arriv'd,
North. 'Beseech your grace,
Suff". Upon the instant
North. What trivial influences hold dominion O'er wise men's counsels, and the fate of empire! The greatest schemes that human wit can forge, Or bold ambition dares to put in practice,
Depend upon our husbanding a moment,
And the light lasting of a woman's will;
She must be here, and lodg'd in Guilford's arms,
Ere Edward dies, or all we've done is marr'd.
Ha! Pembroke! that's a bar which thwarts my way?
His fiery temper brooks not opposition,
And must be met with soft and supple arts,
Such as assuage the fierce, and bend the strong.
Enter the Earl ©/"pembroke.
Good-morrow, noble Pembroke: we have staid
Pem. For mine, my lord! you mock your servant
North. No; as I honour virtue, I have try'd, And know my strength too well! nor can the voice Of friendly flattery, like yours, deceive me. I know my temper liable to passions, And all the frailties common to our nature; Much therefore have I need of some good man, Some wise and honest heart, whose friendly aid Might guide my treading thro' our present dangers; And, by the honour of my name 1 swear, I know not one of all our English peers, Whom I would chuse for that best friend, like Pembroke. Pem. What shall I answer to a trust so noble; This prodigality of praise and honour? Were not your grace too generous of soul, To speak a language differing from your heart, How might I think you could not mean this goodness
To one, whom his ill-fortune has ordain'd
North. No more; I scorn a thought
Pern. I ask no more to bind me to your service.
North. The realm is now at hazard, and bold factions Threaten change, tumult, and disastrous days. These fears drive out the gentler thoughts of joy, Of courtship, and of love. Grant, lleav'n, the state To fix in peace iind safety once again; Then speak your passion to the princely maid, And fair success attend you. For myself, My voice shall go as far for you my lord, As for my son, and beauty be the umpire. But now a heavier matter calls upon us; The king with life just lab'ring; and I fear, The council grow impatient at our stay.
Pern. One moment's pause, and I attend your grace.
Old Winchester cries to me oft, Beware
Of proud Northumberland. The testy prelate,
Froward with age, with disappointed hopes,
And zealous for old Rome, rails on the duke,
Suspecting him to favour the new teachers:
Yet ev'n in that, if I judge right, he errs.
But were it so, what are these monkish quarrels,
These wordy wars of proud ill-manner'd schoolmen,
To us and our lay interest? Let them rail
And worry one another at their pleasure.
This duke, of late, by many worthy offices,