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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
H. R. Keller.  The Reader’s Digest of Books.
 
Chastelard
Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909)
 
Chastelard, by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1869). The scene of this tragedy is laid at Holyrood Castle, during the reign of Mary Queen of Scots. Mary Beaton, one of the “four Maries,” promises Chastelard to arrange a meeting between him and the Queen. When he comes to the audience-room, however, he finds only Mary Beaton herself, who, in shame, confesses her love for him. While he is assuring her of his pardon, they are discovered by the other Maries. The Queen, angry at what she has heard, tries to make Chastelard confess his desertion of her; and declares her intention of marrying Darnley. Chastelard, by the agency of Mary Beaton, gains access to the Queen’s chamber, discloses himself when she is alone, and after having convinced her of his love for her, submits to the guards, who take him to prison. Mary, fickle and heartless, in her desire to avoid both the shame of letting him live and the shame of putting her lover to death, tries to shift the responsibility to Murray, signs his death-warrant, and orders a reprieve, in quick succession. Then, going in person to the prison, she asks Chastelard to return the reprieve. He has already destroyed it; and after one short, happy hour with her, he goes bravely to his death. From an upper window in the palace, Mary Beaton watches the execution, and curses the Queen just as Mary enters—with Bothwell.  1
  In ‘Chastelard’ Swinburne has portrayed a fickle, heartless, vain, and beautiful queen; and in the few touches given to a character of secondary importance, has delicately and distinctly drawn Mary Beaton. The male characters are less sympathetic.  2
  The tragedy is conspicuously one to be read, not acted. It is too long, too much lacking in action, and of too sustained an intensity, for the stage. The style is essentially lyric, full of exquisite lines and phrases; and as a whole, the play presents an intense passion in a form of adequate beauty. It contains a number of charming French songs, and is dedicated to Victor Hugo. It was published in 1869.  3
 
 
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