THO’ many a moon had roll’d away
     Since Essex at the block had died,
The Queen upon her night-couch lay,
     And o’er his end horrific sighed.
“Oh Essex, oh! my joy and woe
     Did on thy joy and woe depend;
And Essex I was doomed to sigh,
     That day which saw thy dismal end.
“It racks my breast and breaks my rest
     To think how in thy hour of gloom,
Thou didst neglect—I fear reject—
     The means had saved thee from thy doom.
“The ring I gave in moments fled,
     Had’st thou to me that ring but sent,
Thy precious blood had not been shed,
     These bosom chords had not been rent.
“But thou would’st die, and I must sigh,
     Tho’ slander dogs the heels of fame,
And would deny the fact that I
     Could ever feel affection’s flame.
“They say I’m proud, tho’ not aloud—
     It’s spoken in a bitter tone:
Tho’ not aloud, they say I’m proud,
     And that my heart’s a heart of stone.
“Ah, could the world the veil up-lift—
     These tinsel trappings—and survey
My soul on storm-tost seas adrift,
     How would they start at the display?
“My tenderness has not come short
     Of hers whose tears had thawed the churl;
I’ve been the dupe, if not the sport,
     Of passions worthy of a girl.
“And he, on whom my hope was built
     Ah, even he, a cruel act!—
Immersed me in a sea of guilt,
     Then left me with a bosom rack’d.
“How could his pride the block have dyed
     With his own crimson drops, before
To me he’d yield, to me his shield,
     From faction’s fangs in days of yore.
“How could—but was’t his pride so vast
     Upon himself the blow that dealt?
In agony what if I sigh
     For one who mocked the touch I felt?
“For one who scorned the royal ire?
     Despised the feelings of this breast?
Possess’d me with a base desire,
     To make of me a brothel jest?
“Awake my soul! exert thy power—
     Another mine terrific sprung—
Take up thy burden, and this hour
     Be, be it into Lethe flung.
Awake, and—oh!"—thus did she sigh—
     “Thou cruel Essex!”—when her ears
Are startled by a din, and by
     Her side a troubled dame appears.
“The Lady Nottingham to-night—
     This hour upon her death-bed lies,
And lying in this woeful plight
     ‘Go, bring the Monarch!’ raves and cries.
“A secret rankles in her soul,
     The which she seems right fain to speak;
But when she tries her eye-balls roll,
     And heavy sighs the sentence break.
“For coach and steed at this with speed
     The Great Eliza calls, and see!
Soon Queen and guard, and coach and steed,
     Away into the darkness flee
Away o’er hills and dales they dart,
     A hare-hound from the leash away!
The birds from out the hedges start
     And fly, confounded with dismay.
Echo awakes her myriad tongues,
     And with the tones of wild despair,
The clang of wheel and hoof prolongs;
   —Harsh music on the midnight air!
Roods, miles are pass’d, and shouts of ”Queen!”
     Soon thro’ a castle’s halls are heard
Where you may see a wan dame’s mien
     Change at the sound of that dread word.
Yet mark not this yon woeful band,
     Who with o’erburden’d feelings watch
That moment when death’s clay-cold hand,
     Shall life from her endearment’s snatch.
In truth the tear bedims their sight,
     And had concealed the fact, had they
Possessed a light more pure and bright,
     Than what their sickly lamps display.
Too man’s but man; and how-be-it
     The spirit would her task fulfil,
The senses weary and remit
     Their aptness to obey the will.
Three nights have vanished since her end
     Appear’d but on the threshhold; lo!
A bitter thing to see a friend
     Thus struggling with the common foe.
So feel they, muse they, cry “ah me!”
     Or whisper low, or shake the head,
When nears the mighty Queen, and see!
     The dying riseth on her bed.
The band that binds her hair unties,
     Her hair a-down her shoulders strays;
A gleam re-lights her sunken eyes,
     And o’er her ghastly features plays.
“Well thou art here,” she gasps; “and well
     With death I’ve striven to reveal
What, what it racks my soul to tell,
     And doubly racks it to conceal.
“When he who late for treason bled,
     Had let the Spanish feel his sword,
The fame on which his spirit fed,
     Was it not graced by your regard?
“Then gave you not to him a ring
     Averring, 'If at any time
Thou shalt my frown upon thee bring,
     Show that, and I’ll forgive the crime’?
“He took that ring, the period came
     When he did need its magic might;
He gave it me to give—my shame!—
     It never met his monarch’s sight.
“My lord to Essex being a foe,
     Prevailed on me to keep the boon;
The rest is known.”—A moment, lo!
     Her majesty is turned to stone.
Her late flushed cheeks are bleak and blanched,
     Her eyes shoot forth a frantic glare;
Her lips are writhed, her hands are clenched,
     And in their grasp her up-torn hair.
“Hell and damnation eat thee up—
     The seven vials the prophet saw
Be 't thine” at last she cried, “to sup,
     For this base breach of human law.
“Great God protect me, I am mad—
     This trial is too much for one,
With might until this moment clad
     To trample death and terror down.
“Kingdoms have trembled at my frown,
     Or at my smile have danced for joy;
But now the star of glory’s flown,
     That shone upon the hours gone by.
“Ah, never more! ah, never more
     Will joy, will peace to me return!”
This said she sank upon the floor,
     And there remained her woes to mourn.
Nor could she be consoled, nor would,
     But rather nursed her mind’s distress;
Till sorrow gave her to her shroud,
     And thus did end the Good Queen Bess.

There is a tradition that Essex had elicited from Queen Elizabeth a ring as a token of confidence, with the assurance that if ever he should incur her displeasure, or need her assistance, by the production of the said ring she should be pacified, or that assistance given. Afterwards the Earl was impeached for high treason, tried, and condemned, when to the last the Queen anxiously awaited the forthcoming of the token which should have secured his pardon. The talisman did not come, and the Earl was executed. Years after, the Queen discovered that the Earl had, by a confidant sent to her the ring, but that from malicious motives it had not been delivered, whereat she went nearly frantic, and died a few days after of a broken heart.


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