SCENE I.--A ROOM IN THE PALACE.
MARY, CARDINAL POLE.
MARY. What have you there?
POLE. So please your Majesty, A long petition from the foreign exiles To spare the life of Cranmer. Bishop Thirlby, And my Lord Paget and Lord William Howard, Crave, in the same cause, hearing of your Grace. Hath he not written himself--infatuated-- To sue you for his life?
MARY. His life? Oh, no; Not sued for that--he knows it were in vain. But so much of the anti-papal leaven Works in him yet, he hath pray'd me not to sully Mine own prerogative, and degrade the realm By seeking justice at a stranger's hand Against my natural subject. King and Queen, To whom he owes his loyalty after God, Shall these accuse him to a foreign prince? Death would not grieve him more. I cannot be True to this realm of England and the Pope Together, says the heretic.
POLE. And there errs; As he hath ever err'd thro' vanity. A secular kingdom is but as the body Lacking a soul; and in itself a beast. The Holy Father in a secular kingdom Is as the soul descending out of heaven Into a body generate.
MARY. Write to him, then.
POLE. I will.
MARY. And sharply, Pole.
POLE. Here come the Cranmerites!
Enter THIRLBY, LORD PAGET, LORD WILLIAM HOWARD.
HOWARD. Health to your Grace! Good morrow, my Lord Cardinal; We make our humble prayer unto your Grace That Cranmer may withdraw to foreign parts, Or into private life within the realm. In several bills and declarations, Madam, He hath recanted all his heresies.
PAGET. Ay, ay; if Bonner have not forged the bills. [Aside.
MARY. Did not More die, and Fisher? he must burn.
HOWARD. He hath recanted, Madam.
MARY. The better for him. He burns in Purgatory, not in Hell.
HOWARD. Ay, ay, your Grace; but it was never seen That any one recanting thus at full, As Cranmer hath, came to the fire on earth.
MARY. It will be seen now, then.
THIRLBY. O Madam, Madam! I thus implore you, low upon my knees, To reach the hand of mercy to my friend. I have err'd with him; with him I have recanted. What human reason is there why my friend Should meet with lesser mercy than myself?
MARY. My Lord of Ely, this. After a riot We hang the leaders, let their following go. Cranmer is head and father of these heresies, New learning as they call it; yea, may God Forget me at most need when I forget Her foul divorce--my sainted mother--No!--
HOWARD. Ay, ay, but mighty doctors doubted there. The Pope himself waver'd; and more than one Row'd in that galley--Gardiner to wit, Whom truly I deny not to have been Your faithful friend and trusty councillor. Hath not your Highness ever read his book. His tractate upon True Obedience, Writ by himself and Bonner?
MARY. I will take Such order with all bad, heretical books That none shall hold them in his house and live, Henceforward. No, my Lord.
HOWARD. Then never read it. The truth is here. Your father was a man Of such colossal kinghood, yet so courteous, Except when wroth, you scarce could meet his eye And hold your own; and were he wroth indeed, You held it less, or not at all. I say, Your father had a will that beat men down; Your father had a brain that beat men down--
POLE. Not me, my Lord.
HOWARD. No, for you were not here; You sit upon this fallen Cranmer's throne; And it would more become you, my Lord Legate, To join a voice, so potent with her Highness, To ours in plea for Cranmer than to stand On naked self-assertion.
MARY. All your voices Are waves on flint. The heretic must burn.
HOWARD. Yet once he saved your Majesty's own life; Stood out against the King in your behalf. At his own peril.
MARY. I know not if he did; And if he did I care not, my Lord Howard. My life is not so happy, no such boon, That I should spare to take a heretic priest's, Who saved it or not saved. Why do you vex me?
PAGET. Yet to save Cranmer were to serve the Church, Your Majesty's I mean; he is effaced, Self-blotted out; so wounded in his honour, He can but creep down into some dark hole Like a hurt beast, and hide himself and die; But if you burn him,--well, your Highness knows The saying, 'Martyr's blood--seed of the Church.'
MARY. Of the true Church; but his is none, nor will be. You are too politic for me, my Lord Paget. And if he have to live so loath'd a life, It were more merciful to burn him now.
THIRLBY. O yet relent. O, Madam, if you knew him As I do, ever gentle, and so gracious, With all his learning--
MARY. Yet a heretic still. His learning makes his burning the more just.
THIRLBY. So worshipt of all those that came across him; The stranger at his hearth, and all his house--
MARY. His children and his concubine, belike.
THIRLBY. To do him any wrong was to beget A kindness from him, for his heart was rich, Of such fine mould, that if you sow'd therein The seed of Hate, it blossom'd Charity.
POLE. 'After his kind it costs him nothing,' there's An old world English adage to the point. These are but natural graces, my good Bishop, Which in the Catholic garden are as flowers, But on the heretic dunghill only weeds.
HOWARD. Such weeds make dunghills gracious.
MARY. Enough, my Lords. It is God's will, the Holy Father's will, And Philip's will, and mine, that he should burn. He is pronounced anathema.
HOWARD. Farewell, Madam, God grant you ampler mercy at your call Than you have shown to Cranmer. [Exeunt LORDS.
POLE. After this, Your Grace will hardly care to overlook This same petition of the foreign exiles For Cranmer's life.
MARY. Make out the writ to-night.
SCENE II.--OXFORD. CRANMER IN PRISON.
CRANMER. Last night, I dream'd the faggots were alight, And that myself was fasten'd to the stake, I And found it all a visionary flame, Cool as the light in old decaying wood; And then King Harry look'd from out a cloud, And bad me have good courage; and I heard An angel cry 'There is more joy in Heaven,'-- And after that, the trumpet of the dead. [Trumpets without. Why, there are trumpets blowing now: what is it?
Enter FATHER COLE.
COLE. Cranmer, I come to question you again; Have you remain'd in the true Catholic faith I left you in?
CRANMER. In the true Catholic faith, By Heaven's grace, I am more and more confirm'd. Why are the trumpets blowing, Father Cole?
COLE. Cranmer, it is decided by the Council That you to-day should read your recantation Before the people in St. Mary's Church. And there be many heretics in the town, Who loathe you for your late return to Rome, And might assail you passing through the street, And tear you piecemeal: so you have a guard.
CRANMER. Or seek to rescue me. I thank the Council.
COLE. Do you lack any money?
CRANMER. Nay, why should I? The prison fare is good enough for me.
COLE. Ay, but to give the poor.
CRANMER. Hand it me, then! I thank you.
COLE. For a little space, farewell; Until I see you in St. Mary's Church. [Exit COLE.
CRANMER. It is against all precedent to burn One who recants; they mean to pardon me. To give the poor--they give the poor who die. Well, burn me or not burn me I am fixt; It is but a communion, not a mass: A holy supper, not a sacrifice; No man can make his Maker--Villa Garcia.
Enter VILLA GARCIA.
VILLA GARCIA. Pray you write out this paper for me, Cranmer.
CRANMER. Have I not writ enough to satisfy you?
VILLA GARCIA. It is the last.
CRANMER. Give it me, then. [He writes.
VILLA GARCIA. Now sign.
CRANMER. I have sign'd enough, and I will sign no more.
VILLA GARCIA. It is no more than what you have sign'd already, The public form thereof.
CRANMER. It may be so; I sign it with my presence, if I read it.
VILLA GARCIA. But this is idle of you. Well, sir, well, You are to beg the people to pray for you; Exhort them to a pure and virtuous life; Declare the Queen's right to the throne; confess Your faith before all hearers; and retract That Eucharistic doctrine in your book. Will you not sign it now?
CRANMER. No, Villa Garcia, I sign no more. Will they have mercy on me?
VILLA GARCIA. Have you good hopes of mercy! So, farewell. [Exit.
CRANMER. Good hopes, not theirs, have I that I am fixt, Fixt beyond fall; however, in strange hours, After the long brain-dazing colloquies, And thousand-times recurring argument Of those two friars ever in my prison, When left alone in my despondency, Without a friend, a book, my faith would seem Dead or half-drown'd, or else swam heavily Against the huge corruptions of the Church, Monsters of mistradition, old enough To scare me into dreaming, 'what am I, Cranmer, against whole ages?' was it so, Or am I slandering my most inward friend, To veil the fault of my most outward foe-- The soft and tremulous coward in the flesh? O higher, holier, earlier, purer church, I have found thee and not leave thee any more. It is but a communion, not a mass-- No sacrifice, but a life-giving feast! (Writes.) So, so; this will I say--thus will I pray. [Puts up the paper.
BONNER. Good day, old friend; what, you look somewhat worn; And yet it is a day to test your health Ev'n at the best: I scarce have spoken with you Since when?--your degradation. At your trial Never stood up a bolder man than you; You would not cap the Pope's commissioner-- Your learning, and your stoutness, and your heresy, Dumbfounded half of us. So, after that, We had to dis-archbishop and unlord, And make you simple Cranmer once again. The common barber dipt your hair, and I Scraped from your finger-points the holy oil; And worse than all, you had to kneel to me; Which was not pleasant for you, Master Cranmer. Now you, that would not recognise the Pope, And you, that would not own the Real Presence, Have found a real presence in the stake, Which frights you back into the ancient faith: And so you have recanted to the Pope. How are the mighty fallen, Master Cranmer!
CRANMER. You have been more fierce against the Pope than I; But why fling back the stone he strikes me with? [Aside. O Bonner, if I ever did you kindness-- Power hath been given you to try faith by fire-- Pray you, remembering how yourself have changed, Be somewhat pitiful, after I have gone, To the poor flock--to women and to children-- That when I was archbishop held with me.
BONNER. Ay--gentle as they call you--live or die! Pitiful to this pitiful heresy? I must obey the Queen and Council, man. Win thro' this day with honour to yourself, And I'll say something for you--so--good-bye. [Exit.
CRANMER. This hard coarse man of old hath crouch'd to me Till I myself was half ashamed for him.
Weep not, good Thirlby.
THIRLBY. Oh, my Lord, my Lord! My heart is no such block as Bonner's is: Who would not weep?
CRANMER. Why do you so my--lord me, Who am disgraced?
THIRLBY. On earth; but saved in heaven By your recanting.
CRANMER. Will they burn me, Thirlby?
THIRLBY. Alas, they will; these burnings will not help The purpose of the faith; but my poor voice Against them is a whisper to the roar Of a spring-tide.
CRANMER. And they will surely burn me?
THIRLBY. Ay; and besides, will have you in the church Repeat your recantation in the ears Of all men, to the saving of their souls, Before your execution. May God help you Thro' that hard hour!
CRANMER. And may God bless you, Thirlby! Well, they shall hear my recantation there.
Disgraced, dishonour'd!--not by them, indeed, By mine own self--by mine own hand! O thin-skinn'd hand and jutting veins, 'twas you That sign'd the burning of poor Joan of Kent; But then she was a witch. You have written much, But you were never raised to plead for Frith, Whose dogmas I have reach'd: he was deliver'd To the secular arm to burn; and there was Lambert; Who can foresee himself? truly these burnings, As Thirlby says, are profitless to the burners, And help the other side. You shall burn too, Burn first when I am burnt. Fire--inch by inch to die in agony! Latimer Had a brief end--not Ridley. Hooper burn'd Three-quarters of an hour. Will my faggots Be wet as his were? It is a day of rain. I will not muse upon it. My fancy takes the burner's part, and makes The fire seem even crueller than it is. No, I not doubt that God will give me strength, Albeit I have denied him.
Enter SOTO and VILLA GARCIA.
VILLA GARCIA. We are ready To take you to St. Mary's, Master Cranmer.
CRANMER. And I: lead on; ye loose me from my bonds.
SCENE III.--ST. MARY'S CHURCH.
COLE in the Pulpit, LORD WILLIAMS OF THAME presiding. LORD WILLIAM HOWARD, LORD PAGET, and others. CRANMER enters between SOTO and VILLA GARCIA, and the whole Choir strike up 'Nunc Dimittis.' CRANMER is set upon a Scaffold before the people.
COLE. Behold him-- [A pause: people in the foreground.
PEOPLE. Oh, unhappy sight!
FIRST PROTESTANT. See how the tears run down his fatherly face.
SECOND PROTESTANT. James, didst thou ever see a carrion crow Stand watching a sick beast before he dies?
FIRST PROTESTANT. Him perch'd up there? I wish some thunderbolt Would make this Cole a cinder, pulpit and all.
COLE. Behold him, brethren: he hath cause to weep!-- So have we all: weep with him if ye will, Yet-- It is expedient for one man to die, Yea, for the people, lest the people die. Yet wherefore should he die that hath return'd To the one Catholic Universal Church, Repentant of his errors?
PROTESTANT murmurs. Ay, tell us that.
COLE. Those of the wrong side will despise the man, Deeming him one that thro' the fear of death Gave up his cause, except he seal his faith In sight of all with flaming martyrdom.
COLE. Ye hear him, and albeit there may seem According to the canons pardon due To him that so repents, yet are there causes Wherefore our Queen and Council at this time Adjudge him to the death. He hath been a traitor, A shaker and confounder of the realm; And when the King's divorce was sued at Rome, He here, this heretic metropolitan, As if he had been the Holy Father, sat And judged it. Did I call him heretic? A huge heresiarch! never was it known That any man so writing, preaching so, So poisoning the Church, so long continuing, Hath found his pardon; therefore he must die, For warning and example. Other reasons There be for this man's ending, which our Queen And Council at this present deem it not Expedient to be known.
PROTESTANT murmurs. I warrant you.
COLE. Take therefore, all, example by this man, For if our Holy Queen not pardon him, Much less shall others in like cause escape, That all of you, the highest as the lowest, May learn there is no power against the Lord. There stands a man, once of so high degree, Chief prelate of our Church, archbishop, first In Council, second person in the realm, Friend for so long time of a mighty King; And now ye see downfallen and debased From councillor to caitiff--fallen so low, The leprous flutterings of the byway, scum And offal of the city would not change Estates with him; in brief, so miserable, There is no hope of better left for him, No place for worse. Yet, Cranmer, be thou glad. This is the work of God. He is glorified In thy conversion: lo! thou art reclaim'd; He brings thee home: nor fear but that to-day Thou shalt receive the penitent thief's award, And be with Christ the Lord in Paradise. Remember how God made the fierce fire seem To those three children like a pleasant dew. Remember, too, The triumph of St. Andrew on his cross, The patience of St. Lawrence in the fire. Thus, if thou call on God and all the saints, God will beat down the fury of the flame, Or give thee saintly strength to undergo. And for thy soul shall masses here be sung By every priest in Oxford. Pray for him.
CRANMER. Ay, one and all, dear brothers, pray for me; Pray with one breath, one heart, one soul for me.
COLE. And now, lest anyone among you doubt The man's conversion and remorse of heart, Yourselves shall hear him speak. Speak, Master Cranmer, Fulfil your promise made me, and proclaim Your true undoubted faith, that all may hear.
CRANMER. And that I will. O God, Father of Heaven! O Son of God, Redeemer of the world! O Holy Ghost! proceeding from them both, Three persons and one God, have mercy on me, Most miserable sinner, wretched man. I have offended against heaven and earth More grievously than any tongue can tell. Then whither should I flee for any help? I am ashamed to lift my eyes to heaven, And I can find no refuge upon earth. Shall I despair then?--God forbid! O God, For thou art merciful, refusing none That come to Thee for succour, unto Thee, Therefore, I come; humble myself to Thee; Saying, O Lord God, although my sins be great, For thy great mercy have mercy! O God the Son, Not for slight faults alone, when thou becamest Man in the Flesh, was the great mystery wrought; O God the Father, not for little sins Didst thou yield up thy Son to human death; But for the greatest sin that can be sinn'd, Yea, even such as mine, incalculable, Unpardonable,--sin against the light, The truth of God, which I had proven and known. Thy mercy must be greater than all sin. Forgive me, Father, for no merit of mine, But that Thy name by man be glorified, And Thy most blessed Son's, who died for man.
Good people, every man at time of death Would fain set forth some saying that may live After his death and better humankind; For death gives life's last word a power to live, And, like the stone-cut epitaph, remain After the vanish'd voice, and speak to men. God grant me grace to glorify my God! And first I say it is a grievous case, Many so dote upon this bubble world, Whose colours in a moment break and fly, They care for nothing else. What saith St. John: 'Love of this world is hatred against God.' Again, I pray you all that, next to God, You do unmurmuringly and willingly Obey your King and Queen, and not for dread Of these alone, but from the fear of Him Whose ministers they be to govern you. Thirdly, I pray you all to live together Like brethren; yet what hatred Christian men Bear to each other, seeming not as brethren, But mortal foes! But do you good to all As much as in you lieth. Hurt no man more Than you would harm your loving natural brother Of the same roof, same breast. If any do, Albeit he think himself at home with God, Of this be sure, he is whole worlds away.
PROTESTANT murmurs. What sort of brothers then be those that lust To burn each other?
WILLIAMS. Peace among you, there!
CRANMER. Fourthly, to those that own exceeding wealth, Remember that sore saying spoken once By Him that was the truth, 'How hard it is For the rich man to enter into Heaven;' Let all rich men remember that hard word. I have not time for more: if ever, now Let them flow forth in charity, seeing now The poor so many, and all food so dear. Long have I lain in prison, yet have heard Of all their wretchedness. Give to the poor, Ye give to God. He is with us in the poor.
And now, and forasmuch as I have come To the last end of life, and thereupon Hangs all my past, and all my life to be, Either to live with Christ in Heaven with joy, Or to be still in pain with devils in hell; And, seeing in a moment, I shall find [Pointing upwards. Heaven or else hell ready to swallow me, [Pointing downwards. I shall declare to you my very faith Without all colour.
COLE. Hear him, my good brethren.
CRANMER. I do believe in God, Father of all; In every article of the Catholic faith, And every syllable taught us by our Lord, His prophets, and apostles, in the Testaments, Both Old and New.
COLE. Be plainer, Master Cranmer.
CRANMER. And now I come to the great cause that weighs Upon my conscience more than anything Or said or done in all my life by me; For there be writings I have set abroad Against the truth I knew within my heart, Written for fear of death, to save my life, If that might be; the papers by my hand Sign'd since my degradation--by this hand [Holding out his right hand. Written and sign'd--I here renounce them all; And, since my hand offended, having written Against my heart, my hand shall first be burnt, So I may come to the fire. [Dead silence.
FIRST PROTESTANT. I knew it would be so.
SECOND PROTESTANT. Our prayers are heard!
THIRD PROTESTANT. God bless him!
CATHOLIC murmurs. Out upon him! out upon him! Liar! dissembler! traitor! to the fire!
WILLIAMS (raising his voice). You know that you recanted all you said Touching the sacrament in that same book You wrote against my Lord of Winchester; Dissemble not; play the plain Christian man.
CRANMER. Alas, my Lord, I have been a man loved plainness all my life; I did dissemble, but the hour has come For utter truth and plainness; wherefore, I say, I hold by all I wrote within that book. Moreover, As for the Pope I count him Antichrist, With all his devil's doctrines; and refuse, Reject him, and abhor him. I have said.
[Cries on all sides, 'Pull him down! Away with him!'
COLE. Ay, stop the heretic's mouth! Hale him away!
WILLIAMS. Harm him not, harm him not! have him to the fire!
[CRANMER goes out between Two Friars, smiling; hands are reached to him from the crowd. LORD WILLIAM HOWARD and LORD PAGET are left alone in the church.
PAGET. The nave and aisles all empty as a fool's jest! No, here's Lord William Howard. What, my Lord, You have not gone to see the burning?
HOWARD. Fie! To stand at ease, and stare as at a show, And watch a good man burn. Never again. I saw the deaths of Latimer and Ridley. Moreover, tho' a Catholic, I would not, For the pure honour of our common nature, Hear what I might--another recantation Of Cranmer at the stake.
PAGET. You'd not hear that. He pass'd out smiling, and he walk'd upright; His eye was like a soldier's, whom the general He looks to and he leans on as his God, Hath rated for some backwardness and bidd'n him Charge one against a thousand, and the man Hurls his soil'd life against the pikes and dies.
HOWARD. Yet that he might not after all those papers Of recantation yield again, who knows?
PAGET. Papers of recantation! Think you then That Cranmer read all papers that he sign'd? Or sign'd all those they tell us that he sign'd? Nay, I trow not: and you shall see, my Lord, That howsoever hero-like the man Dies in the fire, this Bonner or another Will in some lying fashion misreport His ending to the glory of their church. And you saw Latimer and Ridley die? Latimer was eighty, was he not? his best Of life was over then.
HOWARD. His eighty years Look'd somewhat crooked on him in his frieze; But after they had stript him to his shroud, He stood upright, a lad of twenty-one, And gather'd with his hands the starting flame, And wash'd his hands and all his face therein, Until the powder suddenly blew him dead. Ridley was longer burning; but he died As manfully and boldly, and, 'fore God, I know them heretics, but right English ones. If ever, as heaven grant, we clash with Spain, Our Ridley-soldiers and our Latimer-sailors Will teach her something.
PAGET. Your mild Legate Pole Will tell you that the devil helpt them thro' it. [A murmur of the Crowd in the distance. Hark, how those Roman wolfdogs howl and bay him!
HOWARD. Might it not be the other side rejoicing In his brave end?
PAGET. They are too crush'd, too broken, They can but weep in silence.
HOWARD. Ay, ay, Paget, They have brought it in large measure on themselves. Have I not heard them mock the blessed Host In songs so lewd, the beast might roar his claim To being in God's image, more than they? Have I not seen the gamekeeper, the groom. Gardener, and huntsman, in the parson's place, The parson from his own spire swung out dead, And Ignorance crying in the streets, and all men Regarding her? I say they have drawn the fire On their own heads: yet, Paget, I do hold The Catholic, if he have the greater right, Hath been the crueller.
PAGET. Action and re-action, The miserable see-saw of our child-world, Make us despise it at odd hours, my Lord. Heaven help that this re-action not re-act Yet fiercelier under Queen Elizabeth, So that she come to rule us.
HOWARD. The world's mad.
PAGET. My Lord, the world is like a drunken man, Who cannot move straight to his end--but reels Now to the right, then as far to the left, Push'd by the crowd beside--and underfoot An earthquake; for since Henry for a doubt-- Which a young lust had clapt upon the back, Crying, 'Forward!'--set our old church rocking, men Have hardly known what to believe, or whether They should believe in anything; the currents So shift and change, they see not how they are borne, Nor whither. I conclude the King a beast; Verily a lion if you will--the world A most obedient beast and fool--myself Half beast and fool as appertaining to it; Altho' your Lordship hath as little of each Cleaving to your original Adam-clay, As may be consonant with mortality.
HOWARD. We talk and Cranmer suffers. The kindliest man I ever knew; see, see, I speak of him in the past. Unhappy land! Hard-natured Queen, half-Spanish in herself, And grafted on the hard-grain'd stock of Spain-- Her life, since Philip left her, and she lost Her fierce desire of bearing him a child, Hath, like a brief and bitter winter's day, Gone narrowing down and darkening to a close. There will be more conspiracies, I fear.
PAGET. Ay, ay, beware of France.
HOWARD. O Paget, Paget! I have seen heretics of the poorer sort, Expectant of the rack from day to day, To whom the fire were welcome, lying chain'd In breathless dungeons over steaming sewers, Fed with rank bread that crawl'd upon the tongue, And putrid water, every drop a worm, Until they died of rotted limbs; and then Cast on the dunghill naked, and become Hideously alive again from head to heel, Made even the carrion-nosing mongrel vomit With hate and horror.
PAGET. Nay, you sicken me To hear you.
HOWARD. Fancy-sick; these things are done, Done right against the promise of this Queen Twice given.
PAGET. No faith with heretics, my Lord! Hist! there be two old gossips--gospellers, I take it; stand behind the pillar here; I warrant you they talk about the burning.
Enter TWO OLD WOMEN. JOAN, and after her TIB.
JOAN. Why, it be Tib!
TIB. I cum behind tha, gall, and couldn't make tha hear. Eh, the wind and the wet! What a day, what a day! nigh upo' judgement daay loike. Pwoaps be pretty things, Joan, but they wunt set i' the Lord's cheer o' that daay.
JOAN. I must set down myself, Tib; it be a var waay vor my owld legs up vro' Islip. Eh, my rheumatizy be that bad howiver be I to win to the burnin'.
TIB. I should saay 'twur ower by now. I'd ha' been here avore, but Dumble wur blow'd wi' the wind, and Dumble's the best milcher in Islip.
JOAN. Our Daisy's as good 'z her.
TIB. Noa, Joan.
JOAN. Our Daisy's butter's as good'z hern.
TIB. Noa, Joan.
JOAN. Our Daisy's cheeses be better.
TIB. Noa, Joan.
JOAN. Eh, then ha' thy waay wi' me, Tib; ez thou hast wi' thy owld man.
TIB. Ay, Joan, and my owld man wur up and awaay betimes wi' dree hard eggs for a good pleace at the burnin'; and barrin' the wet, Hodge 'ud ha' been a-harrowin' o' white peasen i' the outfield--and barrin' the wind, Dumble wur blow'd wi' the wind, so 'z we was forced to stick her, but we fetched her round at last. Thank the Lord therevore. Dumble's the best milcher in Islip.
JOAN. Thou's thy way wi' man and beast, Tib. I wonder at tha', it beats me! Eh, but I do know ez Pwoaps and vires be bad things; tell 'ee now, I heerd summat as summun towld summun o' owld Bishop Gardiner's end; there wur an owld lord a-cum to dine wi' un, and a wur so owld a couldn't bide vor his dinner, but a had to bide howsomiver, vor 'I wunt dine,' says my Lord Bishop, says he, 'not till I hears ez Latimer and Ridley be a-vire;' and so they bided on and on till vour o' the clock, till his man cum in post vro' here, and tells un ez the vire has tuk holt. 'Now,' says the Bishop, says he, 'we'll gwo to dinner;' and the owld lord fell to 's meat wi' a will, God bless un! but Gardiner wur struck down like by the hand o' God avore a could taste a mossel, and a set un all a-vire, so 'z the tongue on un cum a-lolluping out o' 'is mouth as black as a rat. Thank the Lord, therevore.
PAGET. The fools!
TIB. Ay, Joan; and Queen Mary gwoes on a-burnin' and a-burnin', to get her baaby born; but all her burnin's 'ill never burn out the hypocrisy that makes the water in her. There's nought but the vire of God's hell ez can burn out that.
JOAN. Thank the Lord, therevore.
PAGET. The fools!
TIB. A-burnin', and a-burnin', and a-makin' o' volk madder and madder; but tek thou my word vor't, Joan,--and I bean't wrong not twice i' ten year--the burnin' o' the owld archbishop'll burn the Pwoap out o' this 'ere land vor iver and iver.
HOWARD. Out of the church, you brace of cursed crones, Or I will have you duck'd! (Women hurry out.) Said I not right? For how should reverend prelate or throned prince Brook for an hour such brute malignity? Ah, what an acrid wine has Luther brew'd!
PAGET. Pooh, pooh, my Lord! poor garrulous country-wives. Buy you their cheeses, and they'll side with you; You cannot judge the liquor from the lees.
HOWARD. I think that in some sort we may. But see,
Peters, my gentleman, an honest Catholic, Who follow'd with the crowd to Cranmer's fire. One that would neither misreport nor lie, Not to gain paradise: no, nor if the Pope, Charged him to do it--he is white as death. Peters, how pale you look! you bring the smoke Of Cranmer's burning with you.
PETERS. Twice or thrice The smoke of Cranmer's burning wrapt me round.
HOWARD. Peters, you know me Catholic, but English. Did he die bravely? Tell me that, or leave All else untold.
PETERS. My Lord, he died most bravely.
HOWARD. Then tell me all.
PAGET. Ay, Master Peters, tell us.
PETERS. You saw him how he past among the crowd; And ever as he walk'd the Spanish friars Still plied him with entreaty and reproach: But Cranmer, as the helmsman at the helm Steers, ever looking to the happy haven Where he shall rest at night, moved to his death; And I could see that many silent hands Came from the crowd and met his own; and thus When we had come where Ridley burnt with Latimer, He, with a cheerful smile, as one whose mind Is all made up, in haste put off the rags They had mock'd his misery with, and all in white, His long white beard, which he had never shaven Since Henry's death, down-sweeping to the chain, Wherewith they bound him to the stake, he stood More like an ancient father of the Church, Than heretic of these times; and still the friars Plied him, but Cranmer only shook his head, Or answer'd them in smiling negatives; Whereat Lord Williams gave a sudden cry:-- 'Make short! make short!' and so they lit the wood. Then Cranmer lifted his left hand to heaven, And thrust his right into the bitter flame; And crying, in his deep voice, more than once, 'This hath offended--this unworthy hand!' So held it till it all was burn'd, before The flame had reach'd his body; I stood near-- Mark'd him--he never uttered moan of pain: He never stirr'd or writhed, but, like a statue, Unmoving in the greatness of the flame, Gave up the ghost; and so past martyr-like-- Martyr I may not call him--past--but whither? PAGET. To purgatory, man, to purgatory.
PETERS. Nay, but, my Lord, he denied purgatory.
PAGET. Why then to heaven, and God ha' mercy on him.
HOWARD. Paget, despite his fearful heresies, I loved the man, and needs must moan for him; O Cranmer!
PAGET. But your moan is useless now: Come out, my Lord, it is a world of fools.