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Maria Stuart

Friedrich Schiller

Maria Stuart

Act Three

Texte intégral

George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, 1580. Artist unknown. National Portrait Gallery, London. Wikimedia, public domain,​wiki/​File:George_Talbot_6th_Earl_of_Shrewsbury_1580.jpg

1A park. Trees at the front, a wide prospect behind.

Scene One

2Mary emerges from among the trees, walking swiftly. Hanna Kennedy follows more slowly.

3KENNEDY. You’re rushing as if you had wings, my Lady.

4I cannot keep up with you. Wait for me!

5MARY. Let me but feel new-found freedom’s full measure,

6Let me be a child and you be one, too!

7On this green carpet embrace a new pleasure,

8Striding along in weightless, winged shoe.

9Have I escaped the dark dampness of prison?

10Does it entrap me no longer, that lair?

11[1410] Let me run after, receive in my bosom,

12Drink in deep drafts Heaven’s free air!

13KENNEDY. Oh, but my Queen, your narrow prison has been

14Widened by little. You do not see how

15A wall encloses us still, even here,

16Because the trees’ thick foliage hides its cold heights.

17MARY. Oh, endless thanks to each and every green tree,

18For they conceal these prison walls from my sight.

19I want to dream myself full happy and free,

20Suffused as I am now in heavenly light.

21[1420] Just over there, past fog-gray mountains’ display,

22The capes of my own realm advance,

23And these bright clouds, ships with sails set to midday,

24Are seeking the fair coasts of France.

25Hurrying clouds! Ships sailing in air!

26Only to sail with you! With you to fare!

27I am a captive. I am bound tight here.

28I have no one else I can send right there.

29Carry my love to France, precious and rare.

30KENNEDY. Dear Lady, you are beside yourself. Freedom,

31[1430] So painfully missed, makes you giddy with joy.

32MARY. There a poor fisher steers his skiff toward land.

33That wretched small sailboat could take me away,

34Bring me to cities where my kinsmen hold sway.

35What a scarce living for so poor a man!

36Oh, how I’d like to load it with treasure,

37Have him land a catch great as ever he can,

38Find in his nets good fortune past measure,

39In return for the offered help of his hand.

40KENNEDY. Vain wishes! Do you not see that from a distance

41[1440] Spies observe us and follow in our footsteps?

42Some evil spell scares pitying creatures away.

43MARY. No, Hanna. Believe me! Not in vain has my

44Prison so suddenly been opened wide.

45So small a favor foretells grander joy.

46I cannot be wrong. This is love’s hand at work.

47I see Lord Leicester’s strong arm acting here.

48They want to widen my jail bit by bit,

49Until I see the face that frees me forever.

50KENNEDY. I cannot make sense of this. Yesterday they

51[1450] Announced your coming death and today you

52Know such freedom as this. They say chains fall

53For those, too, whom eternal freedom awaits.

54MARY. Just hear the hunting horn! How it sounds

55Its plangent voice over forest and heath!

56Longing now seizes me to ride to the hounds,

57Gallop up hillsides, down steep glens beneath.

58This voice I recall from first youth,

59Memory that sweetly pierces my heart.

60I rode after the stag with high hopes,

61[1460] Down the Highlands’ dark hollows, up its bright slopes,

62Hearing the horn’s far call, after the hart.

Scene Two

63Paulet. As above.

64PAULET. Have I at last done right, my Lady? Have I

65Deserved your thanks?

66MARY. It’s you, sir, found me this favor?


68PAULET. And why not? I was at Court, I brought

69Your letter—

70MARY. Freedom is a gift of the letter—

71PAULET (significantly).

72And not the only one! Expect something greater—

73MARY. Something greater?

74PAULET. Surely you hear the horns—

75MARY (shrinking back).

76You frighten me!

77PAULET. The Queen is chasing nearby.

78MARY. What?

79PAULET. And quite soon she will be standing before you.

80KENNEDY (rushing to Mary, who is about to faint).

81[1470] Dear Lady, what is wrong? You’re white as a sheet.

82PAULET. Is this not right? Is it not what you asked?

83Granted before you knew it! You who are

84Always so quick with words, now find your words.

85The moment has come!

86MARY. Why was I not made ready?

87I’m not prepared for this. Not now. What I

88Requested as high favor now seems a fright—

89Come, Hanna. Lead me back in—to recover—

90PAULET. No, stay. You must wait for her here. Oh, I can

91Believe it is frightening—coming before your judge.

Scene Three

92Earl Shrewsbury. As above.

93[1480] MARY. Oh, Shrewsbury! Sent me like an angel from Heaven!

94I cannot see her, cannot. Save me from this!

95SHREWSBURY. Recover yourself, Queen. Take courage. Stand firm.

96This is the moment, the hour of decision.

97MARY. I’ve waited years for this, prepared myself,

98Rehearsed, recited, learned by heart just how

99I wanted to move her, to touch her feelings.

100Forgotten, vanished! It all escapes me now.

101Only my suffering remains. My heart turns

102Against her, full of hatred. Hellish spirits

103[1490] Surround me, shaking their coiled, tangled hair.

104SHREWSBURY. Master your bitterness, compose yourself.

105It brings no good when hate and hatred collide.

106She’s the one who wields power. Humble yourself!

107MARY. Before her? I cannot.

108SHREWSBURY. Do so nonetheless.

109Speak with respect. Appeal to her great heart.

110Do not defy her. This is not the moment.

111MARY. I have requested this thing to my ruin.

112Never, no, never should we see one another.

113I have been injured far too deeply. Her doing!

114[1500] We never ever can be reconciled!

115SHREWSBURY. Calm yourself. Only see her face to face.

116Hard-hearted she is not. I saw that myself:

117She read your letter and she wept. Have trust.

118For this I came ahead: to guide and prepare you.

119MARY (seizing his hand). Oh, Talbot, you were always fair and my friend.

120If only I’d remained safe in your keeping!

121It has been so hard—

122SHREWSBURY. Do not think of that now.

123MARY. Burghley is with her?

124SHREWSBURY. Only Leicester—

125MARY. Lord Leicester!

126SHREWSBURY. You need fear nothing of him. He moved the Queen

127[1510] To grant this meeting.

128MARY. Oh, I knew it!

129SHREWSBURY. What’s that?

130PAULET. The Queen is coming!

131(All move to the side. Only Mary remains, leaning on Kennedy.)

Scene Four

132As above. Elizabeth. Earl Leicester. Retinue.

133ELIZABETH (to Leicester). How is the country seat called?

134LEICESTER. Fotheringhay, Madam.

135ELIZABETH (to Shrewsbury). Send our hunting party

136Ahead to London. Crowds there throng the streets.

137Let us take refuge in this quiet park.

138(Talbot dismisses the Retinue. Elizabeth fixes Mary, as she addresses Paulet.)

139My people love me too much. They show their joy

140In excess, as if it were meant for an idol.

141Such worship is right for a god, not a woman.

142(Mary, who has been leaning on Hanna, now stands straight. She meets Elizabeth’s steady gaze, shudders, and throws herself again into the arms of her Nurse.)

143MARY. Dear God! No heart can be found in that face!

144ELIZABETH. Who is the lady?

145(General silence)

146LEICESTER. You’re at Fotheringhay, Queen.

147ELIZABETH (showing surprise, then glowering at Leicester).

148[1520] Who has done this to me? Lord Leicester!


150Has happened, Queen. Now Heaven has directed

151You here, let pity and large mind prevail.

152SHREWSBURY. Be so good, royal Mistress, as to turn

153Your eye upon misfortune here before you.

154(Mary pulls herself together and starts toward Elizabeth, then stops halfway, unable to go forward.)

155ELIZABETH. Who led me to expect a woman humbled?

  • 54 This is Elizabeth’s interpretation of Mary’s stopping halfway.

156Unsoftened pride is what I see.54

157MARY (resolved at last). So be it!

158I’ll submit even to this. Helpless pride of

159A noble soul, be gone! I will forget who

160I am and what I suffered at her hand.

161(She turns to the Queen.)

162[1530] Heaven decided for you, Sister! Your head

163Is crowned. I worship the Godhead that raised you.

164(She drops to her knees.)

165But you be noble-minded, too, my sister!

166Extend your hand, the royal right hand, and

167Raise me from these depths.

168ELIZABETH (stepping back). I see you at your right

169Place, Lady Mary! And praise God, who would not

170Put me at your feet, like you now at mine.

171MARY (with rising emotion).

172Think of the flux of all things that are human!

173Fear the unyielding gods that punish pride!

174It’s they who have thrown me down at your feet.

175[1540] Honor yourself in me before these nobles,

176Honor the blood of Henry Tudor’s house,

177The blood that flows through my veins as through yours.

178Do not stand like a rock against the sea,

179Against a castaway lost in a storm.

180Extend your hand, touch my heart, let me touch yours

181With words, with tears on which my life depends.

182Your cold stare freezes my heart, words die in my throat.

183ELIZABETH (cold and stern).

184What have you to say to me, Lady Stuart?

185I shall forget the queen, so deeply offended,

186[1550] To meet the duty of a sister to you.

187You have the comfort of the sight of me.

188I risk reproach for bounty such as this, for

189You know it was your wish to have me murdered.

190MARY. Where to begin? How to place words, so that

191They seize your heart, yet do not offend you!

192Since I cannot speak for myself and not

193Gravely accuse you—something I would not do.

194— You have treated me unjustly, for

195I am a queen no less than you are a queen.

196[1560] I came to you a supplicant, and you, a-

197Gainst law and sacred hospitality,

198Locked me behind walls, seized my servants and friends.

199I am delivered over to sorry want,

200Tried for my life before an unworthy court—

201Enough! Eternal silence cover my suffering.

202— But see! We’ll call it fate. An evil spirit

203From the abyss enflamed our hearts with hate that

204Estranged us. It grew as we grew, bad men fanned

205The flame, zealots armed others. Such is the fate

206[1570] Of kings: They, set at odds, loose Furies of discord.

207(Approaching Elizabeth, confiding, flattering)

208No stranger stands between us here. We have met.

209Speak, Sister. Tell me my offense. I’ll give you

210Full satisfaction. Had you heard me before!

211It never would have come to this sad encounter.

212ELIZABETH. Not fate should you accuse, but your black heart,

213The wild ambition of your native house. Hear

214Me! Unprovoked, your uncle, priest who reaches

215For every crown in Europe, launched a feud.

216He turned your head, led you to take up my arms,

217[1580] Appropriate my royal title, enter

218Battle against me, at the risk of your life.

219What did he not call out against me! Priests’ words,

220Civil war, arms of pious delusion deep in

221My peaceful kingdom—fanatics’ weapons! Why,

222My very head was threatened. God is with me.

223Yours falls.

224MARY. I am in God’s hands. You would not—

225ELIZABETH. Who hinders me? At Saint Bartholomew

  • 55 The notorious Saint Bartholomew’s night, 24 August 1572, a massacre of the Protestant nobility of P (...)

226Your uncle set the example for all kings.55

227Thus one makes peace with one’s foes! What is blood kinship?

228[1590] What natural law? The Church breaks all bonds, sanctions

229Perfidy, regicide. What pledge have I for

230You once I free you? What lock on your good faith

  • 56 The Pope is Saint Peter’s successor and holds his keys.

231That the keys of Saint Peter cannot open?56

232MARY. You’ve always seen me as a foe, a stranger.

  • 57 Another among many abortive attempts to regularize relations between the two queens. See note 11, a (...)

233Had you declared me your heir,57 you would have found

234A friend, a kinswoman.

235ELIZABETH. Out there, Lady Stuart,

236Is friendship for you. Your house is the papacy,

237The monk your brother, and your family that Church.

238You as my heir! Who in my lifetime seduced

239[1600] My people, caught the noble youth in the toils of

240Your charms, so that all turned to this rising sun—

241MARY. Rule now in peace! I give up claim to this realm.

242I have been broken, you’ve wrecked me in my bloom!

243Now make an end, just say the word to release me.

244For surely you have not come here to gloat. Say,

245“Mary, I grant your freedom. You have felt my

246Power, now learn to honor my noble heart.”

247I will receive my freedom and my life as

248Gift from your hand. But if not, woe betide you!

249[1610] Not for this Island, not for all lands on earth

250Would I stand before you as you now before me.

251ELIZABETH. Do you confess you have been defeated? Is there

252An end now to your scheming? No new murderer

253Dispatched? And no adventurer willing to risk

254This dismal knighthood for you ever again?

255Yes, Lady Mary, it is over. None more

256Will you seduce. The world has other concerns.

257No one longs to become your fourth husband—you

258Who kill your suitors as those husbands you killed!

259[1620] MARY (taking offense). Oh, Sister, Sister! Oh, God give me restraint!

260ELIZABETH (gazing at her contemptuously).

261Such are the charms that no man glimpses unpunished,

262Beside which no other woman dare stand.

263Fame acquired at small price, Lord Leicester, for to

264Be an uncommon beauty one need but be

265A beauty common to all—

266MARY. That is too much!

267ELIZABETH (scornful).

268There! The mask falls. You show me your true face!

269MARY (furious, but with dignity).

270My fault was human, was a fault of youth.

271Power seduced me, I made it no secret.

272I scorned appearance with king’s candor, and

273[1630] The world knows the worst of me. I can safely

274Say I am better than repute has me.

275The worse for you should it draw back the cloak

276Of honor from your many secret hot passions.

277Honor’s not something you acquired from your mother.

  • 58 Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife and Elizabeth’s mother, was condemned for adultery and incest.

278The world all know why Anne Boleyn climbed the scaffold.58

279SHREWSBURY (stepping between the two Queens).

280Oh, God in heaven! Must it come to this?

281Is that restraint, submission, Lady Mary?

282MARY. Restraint? I have endured beyond all endurance.

283Enough lamb-like composure! Patient suffering!

284[1640] Now break your bonds, cold rage, long stifled, burst from

285Your pit! And you who gave the basilisk

286Its gaze, arm my tongue—

287SHREWSBURY. She is beside herself!

288Forgive her! She’s mad, she’s too badly provoked!

289(Elizabeth stares speechless at Mary.)

290LEICESTER (anxiously trying to lead Elizabeth away).

291Don’t listen. Come away from this grim place!

292MARY. The throne of England is profaned by a bastard,

293The noble British duped by a mountebank.

294If justice ruled, you would be lying before me.

  • 59 The legitimacy of Elizabeth’s birth turned on the question whether Henry was cognizably divorced fr (...)

295I am your king.59

296(Elizabeth goes off quickly. The Lords follow in dismay.)

Scene Five

297Mary. Kennedy.

298KENNEDY. What have you done? She goes away enraged.

299MARY (still beside herself).

300[1650] She goes enraged! She carries death in her heart!

301(Falling into Kennedy’s arms)

302What a relief! At last! At last! Whole years

303Of suffering, of abasement! Now at last

304A moment of revenge, a moment of triumph!

305It falls from my heart like an avalanche!

306KENNEDY. Oh, no! You wounded her. She’ll not forgive you.

307She carries thunderbolts, she is the queen.

308You mocked her before her own chosen favorite!

309MARY. Before him! He saw it. He witnessed my triumph!

310His presence and his nearness gave me strength!

Scene Six

311As above. Mortimer.

312[1660] KENNEDY. A fine outcome, sir!

313MORTIMER. I heard everything!

314(He signals the Nurse to keep watch and approaches. He is alight with desire.)

315You’ve won! You were the queen and she the outlaw.

316I am bewitched, adore you like a goddess.

317Such courage!

318MARY. You saw Leicester, brought my letter,

319Gave him my gift? Oh, speak!

320MORTIMER (observing her with burning eyes). Your royal anger

321Shone all about you, transformed all your charms!

322MARY. I beg you, sir! Do answer. What says my Lord?

323What can I hope?

324MORTIMER. Who? Him? He is a coward!

325Hope nothing, not from him. Despise him, forget him!

326MARY. What are you saying?

327MORTIMER. He should save you? Possess you?

328[1670] He, you? Just let him dare! He’ll have to do

329With me, a battle at the risk of his life!

330MARY. He does not have my letter? All is lost!

331MORTIMER. He loves his life.

332MARY. He will do nothing for me?

333MORTIMER. No more of him. I, I alone can save you.

334MARY. What can you do?

335MORTIMER. Do not deceive yourself.

336Now all is changed. The way the Queen just left you,

337All is indeed lost, there will be no mercy.

338A deed is what it takes now, boldness decides.

339You’ll be delivered before daybreak tomorrow.

340[1680] MARY. This very night?

341MORTIMER. Just hear what is decided.

342I gathered my companions in a secret

343Chapel. A priest heard our confessions, gave us

344Remission of sins committed, sins to come.

345We have all taken the last sacrament and

346Are ready to embark on our last journey.

347MARY. What frightful preparations these all are!

348MORTIMER. Tonight we scale these walls. I’ve gained the keys.

349We’ll murder all your keepers, snatch you from

350Your chamber by force. Every living soul must

351[1690] Die by our hand, that no one live to betray us.

352MARY. Paulet, your uncle, too? Your second father?

353MORTIMER. Must die by my hand!

354MARY. Bloody sacrilege!

355MORTIMER. All sacrilege is pardoned. I can do my

356Worst and I will.

357MARY. Oh, dreadful, terrible—this!

358MORTIMER. Even to have to run the Queen through— I’ve

359Sworn on the Host—

360MARY. Too much blood—

361MORTIMER. What is all life

362Against you and my love. The bonds of the world

363May break, a second Flood sweep all away—

364I’ll not give you up till the end of time!

365MARY (stepping back).

366[1700] What language, sir, what looks! They frighten me!

367MORTIMER (expressing a quiet madness). Life

368Is but one moment, death another! They may

  • 60 Public place of execution in London.

369Drag me to Tyburn,60 tear me apart with tongs

370(rushing to her with open arms)

371As long as I embrace you, my Beloved—

372MARY (retreating). Back, madman—

373MORTIMER. On this breast, this mouth that breathes love—

374MARY. For God’s sake, let me go in!

375MORTIMER. I will save you,

376And I shall also possess you—

377MARY. Wretched Fate,

378You fling me from one horror to another!

379Was I born only to stir rage? Love and hate?

380MORTIMER. Commit to love what you must lose to hate,

381[1710] Enchant a happy lover with these charms

382No longer yours. This silken hair in the power

383Of death—use to entwine your loving slave!

384MARY. What words! My sorrows should be sacred to you,

385If not my royal head.

386MORTIMER. Your crown has fallen,

387Nothing of earthly majesty remains.

388Try it now, just speak like a ruler—if

389A friend, a savior stands up? Nothing remains

390But the high beauty of your touching figure.

391It drives me on—

392MARY. Who’ll save me from this madness?

393[1720] MORTIMER. Life is life’s greatest good. A fool, one who’d waste it!

394Let me first lie on life’s most comforting breast—

395(He presses her against him.)

396MARY. Must I seek help against him who would save me?

397MORTIMER. You are not cold. You let that Bothwell carry

398You off and trembled while you loved him.

399MARY. Shameless!

400MORTIMER. If only terror wins you, I’ll make you tremble—

401KENNEDY (rushing in). Someone is coming. They are getting closer.

402Armed men are filling the garden.

403MORTIMER (reaching for his sword). I shall defend you!

404MARY. Oh, Hanna, save me from him! Where to turn?

405Out here is mayhem and in there is murder.

406(She flees toward the house. Kennedy follows.)

Scene Seven

407Mortimer. Paulet and Drury rush in. Attendants run onto the stage.

408[1730] PAULET. Close all the gates! Draw up the bridges, all!

409MORTIMER. Uncle, what is it?

410PAULET. Where is she, that murderess?

411Into the darkest dungeon with her!

412MORTIMER. What has happened?

413PAULET. The Queen!

414MORTIMER. What Queen?

415PAULET. Of England! Murdered in London’s streets!

416(He rushes into the house.)

Scene Eight

417Mortimer. Then O’Kelly.

418MORTIMER. Did someone say the Queen’s been murdered? Or

419Was it but a dream? I must have been dreaming.

420Who’s coming? It’s O’Kelly. Beside himself.

421O’KELLY (rushing in). Flee, Mortimer! Flee! All is lost!

422MORTIMER. What is lost?

423O’KELLY. Don’t ask. Just run!

424MORTIMER. What is it?

  • 61 John Savage was among the Babington plotters.

425O’KELLY. Savage61, the madman,

426Launched the attempt.

427MORTIMER. It’s true?

428O’KELLY. Too true!

429MORTIMER. She’s murdered,

430[1740] Mary ascends the throne of England!

431O’KELLY. Murdered?

432She lives! And you and I and all will be dead!

433MORTIMER. She lives?

434O’KELLY. The blow failed. Got caught in her mantel.

435And Shrewsbury disarmed the murderer.

436MORTIMER. She lives!

437O’KELLY. To destroy

438Us all. They have the park surrounded.

439MORTIMER. Who did it?

440O’KELLY. The Toulon cleric with us in chapel, who looked

  • 62 This is the papal bull that Mortimer announced to Elizabeth, Act Two, Scene Four, above.

441So thoughtful when the anathema against the Queen was read.62

442He meant to take the short way to martyrdom.

443Told only the priest who confessed and blessed us.

444MORTIMER (after a silence, to himself).

445Grim fate pursues you. Now, yes, now you must die.

446[1750] Your very angel has prepared your fall.

447O’KELLY. I go to hide in the forests of the North.

448MORTIMER. God keep you. I stay, make one last effort to save.

449Failing, I make my last bed on her grave.

  • 63 Act Three, at the center, is the hinge of this beautifully constructed play.
    A long resolution follo

450(They go off to different sides.)63


54 This is Elizabeth’s interpretation of Mary’s stopping halfway.

55 The notorious Saint Bartholomew’s night, 24 August 1572, a massacre of the Protestant nobility of Paris, urged, among others, by the House of Guise.

56 The Pope is Saint Peter’s successor and holds his keys.

57 Another among many abortive attempts to regularize relations between the two queens. See note 11, above.

58 Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife and Elizabeth’s mother, was condemned for adultery and incest.

59 The legitimacy of Elizabeth’s birth turned on the question whether Henry was cognizably divorced from his first wife, Katharine of Aragon, when he married Anne Boleyn. The question was both doctrinal and—importantly—political.

60 Public place of execution in London.

61 John Savage was among the Babington plotters.

62 This is the papal bull that Mortimer announced to Elizabeth, Act Two, Scene Four, above.

63 Act Three, at the center, is the hinge of this beautifully constructed play.
A long resolution follows. Elizabeth’s reaction is represented directly in Act Four, with fine comic relief—some of it ghastly—as one plot line after another meets with disaster; Mary’s is represented indirectly, in Hanna’s report in Act Five. When we see her again, she is transformed.

Table des illustrations

Légende George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, 1580. Artist unknown. National Portrait Gallery, London. Wikimedia, public domain,​wiki/​File:George_Talbot_6th_Earl_of_Shrewsbury_1580.jpg
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