Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  From “Marie De Meranie”

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

John Westland Marston 1819–90

From “Marie De Meranie”


SCENE.—A Room in the Palace. MARIE alone.

Marie.Another night, and yet no tidings come.

Day follows day to mock me in its round.

O Time! that to all senseless things dost bear

Succor and comfort,—the reviving heat

And freshening dew to tree and flower and weed,—

Why dost thou pass the famish’d heart and smile?

Enter ANNE.

Anne.Dear lady!

Marie.[Eagerly.] Anne! Well? No; your face is void!

You have no tidings for me.

Anne.Alas! none.

Marie.We must be patient, Anne. I cannot think

The Council will bereave me of my lord.

Anne.Heaven touch their hearts with gentleness!


Anne.And keep the king—[Faltering.

Marie.Why falter? Prayers should breathe

Trust, and not fear.

Anne.Heaven keep King Philip faithful

And worthy of your love.

Marie.I will not say

Amen to that. To pray he may be faithful

Were to misdoubt he is so.

Anne.All men, being tempted,

Are prone to fall; most prone, ambitious kings.

Marie.What dost thou mean?

Anne.By thoughts on ill that may be

To shield your heart from worse.

Marie.Worse? What were worse

Than treachery in my lord? Rash girl, that word

Stretches to woe so infinite, it fathoms

An ocean of despair! Uncrown me, slay me,

Honors and life must end. Not love! The grave

Is as a port where it unlades its wealth

For immortality. But rob or taint

The merchandise of love—then let the bark

Drift helmless o’er the seas, or strike the shoals!

They can but wreck a ruin.

Anne.Pardon, madam.

I would not thus have mov’d you; but—

Marie.Be silent!

Thy look doth herald thoughts my soul repels.

He did desert me once. You see I read you.

No, Anne! His love was changeless, but he quell’d it

For duty and his country. O shame, shame!

Listening thy treason, I adopt it. Go!—

Nay, not unkindly. This suspense disturbs me.

Leave me awhile. There, there![Taking her hand, ANNE goes out.

Another night!

It cannot last forever. Even now

The unregarding messenger despatch’d

To bear my doom his onward course may speed.

They could not part us, Philip, had they seen

Our happy solitude, our inner world

Of secret, holy, all-sufficing bliss.

They guess it not, nor feel it. At their knees,

Lock’d in my arms, I should have told them this,

And forced my heart an avenue to theirs

Through all their wiles, for hearts must answer hearts;

But mine was dumb, and how could theirs reply?

Woe ’s me! Who comes?


Philip—my lord!—Say, say,

May I embrace thee?—may I call thee mine?—

Am I thy wife?

Phil.Yes; in the sight of Heaven.

Marie.And not of earth? A doom told in a breath;

Brief, but so cold that it hath froze the fount

Whence sorrow gushes!

Phil.I am dear to thee?

Marie.What! is there hope? If not, encourage none.

Phil.Why should we be the slaves of Rome?

Marie.Thou wilt

Resist his mandate? Yet thy kingdom, love?

Phil.Dearest, most faithful! We may still remain

Bound to each other, and the Papal curse

Pass from the realm.

Marie.How? Haste thee to disclose.

Phil.The Council has pronounced no sentence.


Thou art return’d!

Phil.Like to a criminal

I stood before the conclave. Every day

Brought some new contumely. The weight I bore

Of strain’d suspense and nice indignity

Was pleasant pastime for them; and they linger’d,

Protracting their enjoyment, and inviting.

The universe to look on haughty Philip

Crouch’d at their stools, and learn from thence how Rome

Would deal with rebel kings!

Marie.And yet you bore it?

Phil.It was the Church’s aim to judge my cause,

To plant its insolent foot upon my neck,

Humbling all crowns in mine. I look’d for this;

I bore it long. At last scorn heap’d on scorn

Turn’d patience to revolt.

Marie.[After a short pause.]And then?

How then?

Phil.[Avoiding her look.]Marie! I said within my soul, my pomp,

My title, all my gilded shows of power,

Were not the links that bound thy love to mine.

Was I right there?

Marie.Can Philip ask that question?

Phil.Her trust doth sting me more than could reproach.

Too late, too late! all must be told! [Aside.

Marie.What follow’d?

Phil.I will not hear your judgment, lords, I cried:

Not mov’d by you, but of my sovereign will,

I have resolv’d that Marie shall resign

The throne and empty state she never priz’d,

And Ingerburge to her lost dignities

Be straight restor’d. ’T is all that Denmark seeks;

Therefore dissolve the interdict!

Marie.Thou saidst this?—

Heard I aright?

Phil.[Confused.]Marie, thou didst.

Marie.And Philip

Could of his proper will cast Marie out!

I thought—I thought you said we should not part.

Phil.Part?—never, never! Part!

Marie.But have you not own’d Ingerburge your wife?

I am no longer queen.

Phil.But for all this

We must not part.

Marie.Husband—I pray your pardon;

I can’t forget you were so—torture not

My mind with this perplexity! How is’t

I can be thine, and Ingerburge thy wife?

Phil.[After a pause.]She is but so in name; thou wilt retain

The empire of my heart.

Marie.Ha! how the light—

The cruel light I could not see before—

Bursts on my sight! No; ’t is some hideous dream.

Although I see, I shall not touch thy hand.[Takes his hand as if to assure herself.

It is reality! And yet—forgive me!

A subtle tempter through my o’erwrought brain

Would stab my trust in thee. He shall not, love!

Even now I ’m calmer. Pray, repeat the words,—

The words you spake but now.

Phil.I said, my own,

Though Ingerburge might bear the name of queen,

Thou only shouldst rule Philip—

Marie.Pause awhile.

Though Ingerburge might bear the name of queen,

I only should rule Philip—[Signs to him to proceed.

Phil.Thou shouldst share

His hours of love—thou only; thou shouldst be—[Hesitating, and averting his head.

Marie.His paramour! O God! although his voice

Was sham’d from speech, this is the thing he means.[She turns from him.

Phil.Thou wouldst not go?

Marie.I am already gone!

We measure distance by the heart.

Phil.Yet hear me!

Marie.The Duke de Méran’s daughter listens, sir.[She sits.

Phil.[About to kneel.]If this humility may aught—

Marie.No knee!

Respect so far my woe’s reality,

As to put by these pageant semblances.

Phil.Oh! has this grief no remedy?

Marie.None, none.

The faith of love no hand can wound but that

Was pledged to guard it. Then what hand can staunch?

We strive no more with doom; the sad mistake

May be endur’d, but not retriev’d. No, no!

Phil.By heaven, you do me wrong!

’T is not in man

To conquer destiny. I made you queen.

Marie.You made me queen! I made you more than king.

When my eyes rais’d their worship to thy face,

I saw no crown. I ask’d not if thy hand

Clos’d on a sceptre; but mine press’d it close,

Because it rent the shackles of the slave.

’T was not thy grandeur won me. Had the earthquake

Engulfed thine empire,—had frowning Fate

Lower’d on thine arms and scouraged thee from the field,

A fugitive; if on thy forehead Rome

Had grav’d her curse, and all thy kind recoil’d

In horror from thy side,—I yet had cried,

There is no brand upon thy heart; let that,

In the vast loneliness, still beat to mine!

Phil.[Falling at her feet.]You had; you had! the dust is on my head!

Sweet saint! thou’rt of a higher brood than we,

Hast right to spurn me from thee.

Marie.Rise! The feet,

By thorns on life’s rough path so often pierced,

Are little like to spurn a stumbling brother.

Phil.[Rising.]Forgive, forgive me, Marie!

Marie.You repent?

’T was but delusion. You will be again

The Philip I ador’d! That hope shall bless me

When we are far apart. And now forever

In this dark world farewell! Another land

I seek, but ne’er shall find another home.

Shield him, all holy powers! Philip—[Extending her hand.

Phil.Go, go;

I was not worthy thee!

Marie.Not thus, not thus!

Marie.But one embrace. It is the last, the last![They embrace.

Go, Marie!

[MARIE goes to the door. She reverts her head. They regard each other in silence for a few moments, after which MARIE slowly disappears.
Phil.[After a pause, sinking into a chair.]I ’m alone on earth! She ’s gone,

And what is left me?[The roll of drums is heard without.

[He suddenly rises.]Ha! that clamor speaks

In stern reply; a summons to the field!

Fate, that denies me love, has left me vengeance.

Friends fail me, foemen swarm my coasts. ’T is well!

Now, fiend of war, I am devote to thee![He rushes out.