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History of Henry VIII

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Act I, Scene 2

The same. The council-chamber.


[Cornets. Enter KING HENRY VIII, leaning on] [p]CARDINAL WOLSEY's shoulder, the Nobles, and LOVELL; [p]CARDINAL WOLSEY places himself under KING HENRY [p]VIII's feet on his right side]

  • Henry VIII. My life itself, and the best heart of it,
    Thanks you for this great care: I stood i' the level
    Of a full-charged confederacy, and give thanks
    To you that choked it. Let be call'd before us
    That gentleman of Buckingham's; in person 320
    I'll hear him his confessions justify;
    And point by point the treasons of his master
    He shall again relate.
    [A noise within, crying 'Room for the Queen!' Enter]
    QUEEN KATHARINE, ushered by NORFOLK, and SUFFOLK: 325
    she kneels. KING HENRY VIII riseth from his state,
    takes her up, kisses and placeth her by him]
  • Henry VIII. Arise, and take place by us: half your suit
    Never name to us; you have half our power: 330
    The other moiety, ere you ask, is given;
    Repeat your will and take it.
  • Queen Katharine. Thank your majesty.
    That you would love yourself, and in that love
    Not unconsider'd leave your honour, nor 335
    The dignity of your office, is the point
    Of my petition.
  • Queen Katharine. I am solicited, not by a few,
    And those of true condition, that your subjects 340
    Are in great grievance: there have been commissions
    Sent down among 'em, which hath flaw'd the heart
    Of all their loyalties: wherein, although,
    My good lord cardinal, they vent reproaches
    Most bitterly on you, as putter on 345
    Of these exactions, yet the king our master—
    Whose honour heaven shield from soil!—even he
    escapes not
    Language unmannerly, yea, such which breaks
    The sides of loyalty, and almost appears 350
    In loud rebellion.
  • Duke of Norfolk. Not almost appears,
    It doth appear; for, upon these taxations,
    The clothiers all, not able to maintain
    The many to them longing, have put off 355
    The spinsters, carders, fullers, weavers, who,
    Unfit for other life, compell'd by hunger
    And lack of other means, in desperate manner
    Daring the event to the teeth, are all in uproar,
    And danger serves among then! 360
  • Henry VIII. Taxation!
    Wherein? and what taxation? My lord cardinal,
    You that are blamed for it alike with us,
    Know you of this taxation?
  • Cardinal Wolsey. Please you, sir, 365
    I know but of a single part, in aught
    Pertains to the state; and front but in that file
    Where others tell steps with me.
  • Queen Katharine. No, my lord,
    You know no more than others; but you frame 370
    Things that are known alike; which are not wholesome
    To those which would not know them, and yet must
    Perforce be their acquaintance. These exactions,
    Whereof my sovereign would have note, they are
    Most pestilent to the bearing; and, to bear 'em, 375
    The back is sacrifice to the load. They say
    They are devised by you; or else you suffer
    Too hard an exclamation.
  • Henry VIII. Still exaction!
    The nature of it? in what kind, let's know, 380
    Is this exaction?
  • Queen Katharine. I am much too venturous
    In tempting of your patience; but am bolden'd
    Under your promised pardon. The subjects' grief
    Comes through commissions, which compel from each 385
    The sixth part of his substance, to be levied
    Without delay; and the pretence for this
    Is named, your wars in France: this makes bold mouths:
    Tongues spit their duties out, and cold hearts freeze
    Allegiance in them; their curses now 390
    Live where their prayers did: and it's come to pass,
    This tractable obedience is a slave
    To each incensed will. I would your highness
    Would give it quick consideration, for
    There is no primer business. 395
  • Henry VIII. By my life,
    This is against our pleasure.
  • Cardinal Wolsey. And for me,
    I have no further gone in this than by
    A single voice; and that not pass'd me but 400
    By learned approbation of the judges. If I am
    Traduced by ignorant tongues, which neither know
    My faculties nor person, yet will be
    The chronicles of my doing, let me say
    'Tis but the fate of place, and the rough brake 405
    That virtue must go through. We must not stint
    Our necessary actions, in the fear
    To cope malicious censurers; which ever,
    As ravenous fishes, do a vessel follow
    That is new-trimm'd, but benefit no further 410
    Than vainly longing. What we oft do best,
    By sick interpreters, once weak ones, is
    Not ours, or not allow'd; what worst, as oft,
    Hitting a grosser quality, is cried up
    For our best act. If we shall stand still, 415
    In fear our motion will be mock'd or carp'd at,
    We should take root here where we sit, or sit
    State-statues only.
  • Henry VIII. Things done well,
    And with a care, exempt themselves from fear; 420
    Things done without example, in their issue
    Are to be fear'd. Have you a precedent
    Of this commission? I believe, not any.
    We must not rend our subjects from our laws,
    And stick them in our will. Sixth part of each? 425
    A trembling contribution! Why, we take
    From every tree lop, bark, and part o' the timber;
    And, though we leave it with a root, thus hack'd,
    The air will drink the sap. To every county
    Where this is question'd send our letters, with 430
    Free pardon to each man that has denied
    The force of this commission: pray, look to't;
    I put it to your care.
  • Cardinal Wolsey. A word with you.
    [To the Secretary] 435
    Let there be letters writ to every shire,
    Of the king's grace and pardon. The grieved commons
    Hardly conceive of me; let it be noised
    That through our intercession this revokement
    And pardon comes: I shall anon advise you 440
    Further in the proceeding.

[Exit Secretary]

[Enter Surveyor]

  • Queen Katharine. I am sorry that the Duke of Buckingham
    Is run in your displeasure. 445
  • Henry VIII. It grieves many:
    The gentleman is learn'd, and a most rare speaker;
    To nature none more bound; his training such,
    That he may furnish and instruct great teachers,
    And never seek for aid out of himself. Yet see, 450
    When these so noble benefits shall prove
    Not well disposed, the mind growing once corrupt,
    They turn to vicious forms, ten times more ugly
    Than ever they were fair. This man so complete,
    Who was enroll'd 'mongst wonders, and when we, 455
    Almost with ravish'd listening, could not find
    His hour of speech a minute; he, my lady,
    Hath into monstrous habits put the graces
    That once were his, and is become as black
    As if besmear'd in hell. Sit by us; you shall hear— 460
    This was his gentleman in trust—of him
    Things to strike honour sad. Bid him recount
    The fore-recited practises; whereof
    We cannot feel too little, hear too much.
  • Cardinal Wolsey. Stand forth, and with bold spirit relate what you, 465
    Most like a careful subject, have collected
    Out of the Duke of Buckingham.
  • Surveyor. First, it was usual with him, every day
    It would infect his speech, that if the king 470
    Should without issue die, he'll carry it so
    To make the sceptre his: these very words
    I've heard him utter to his son-in-law,
    Lord Abergavenny; to whom by oath he menaced
    Revenge upon the cardinal. 475
  • Cardinal Wolsey. Please your highness, note
    This dangerous conception in this point.
    Not friended by by his wish, to your high person
    His will is most malignant; and it stretches
    Beyond you, to your friends. 480
  • Henry VIII. Speak on:
    How grounded he his title to the crown,
    Upon our fail? to this point hast thou heard him 485
    At any time speak aught?
  • Surveyor. He was brought to this
    By a vain prophecy of Nicholas Hopkins.
  • Surveyor. Sir, a Chartreux friar, 490
    His confessor, who fed him every minute
    With words of sovereignty.
  • Surveyor. Not long before your highness sped to France,
    The duke being at the Rose, within the parish 495
    Saint Lawrence Poultney, did of me demand
    What was the speech among the Londoners
    Concerning the French journey: I replied,
    Men fear'd the French would prove perfidious,
    To the king's danger. Presently the duke 500
    Said, 'twas the fear, indeed; and that he doubted
    'Twould prove the verity of certain words
    Spoke by a holy monk; 'that oft,' says he,
    'Hath sent to me, wishing me to permit
    John de la Car, my chaplain, a choice hour 505
    To hear from him a matter of some moment:
    Whom after under the confession's seal
    He solemnly had sworn, that what he spoke
    My chaplain to no creature living, but
    To me, should utter, with demure confidence 510
    This pausingly ensued: neither the king nor's heirs,
    Tell you the duke, shall prosper: bid him strive
    To gain the love o' the commonalty: the duke
    Shall govern England.'
  • Queen Katharine. If I know you well, 515
    You were the duke's surveyor, and lost your office
    On the complaint o' the tenants: take good heed
    You charge not in your spleen a noble person
    And spoil your nobler soul: I say, take heed;
    Yes, heartily beseech you. 520
  • Surveyor. On my soul, I'll speak but truth.
    I told my lord the duke, by the devil's illusions
    The monk might be deceived; and that 'twas dangerous for him 525
    To ruminate on this so far, until
    It forged him some design, which, being believed,
    It was much like to do: he answer'd, 'Tush,
    It can do me no damage;' adding further,
    That, had the king in his last sickness fail'd, 530
    The cardinal's and Sir Thomas Lovell's heads
    Should have gone off.
  • Henry VIII. Ha! what, so rank? Ah ha!
    There's mischief in this man: canst thou say further?
  • Surveyor. Being at Greenwich,
    After your highness had reproved the duke
    About Sir William Blomer,—
  • Henry VIII. I remember 540
    Of such a time: being my sworn servant,
    The duke retain'd him his. But on; what hence?
  • Surveyor. 'If,' quoth he, 'I for this had been committed,
    As, to the Tower, I thought, I would have play'd
    The part my father meant to act upon 545
    The usurper Richard; who, being at Salisbury,
    Made suit to come in's presence; which if granted,
    As he made semblance of his duty, would
    Have put his knife to him.'
  • Cardinal Wolsey. Now, madam, may his highness live in freedom,
    and this man out of prison?
  • Henry VIII. There's something more would out of thee; what say'st?
  • Surveyor. After 'the duke his father,' with 'the knife,' 555
    He stretch'd him, and, with one hand on his dagger,
    Another spread on's breast, mounting his eyes
    He did discharge a horrible oath; whose tenor
    Was,—were he evil used, he would outgo
    His father by as much as a performance 560
    Does an irresolute purpose.
  • Henry VIII. There's his period,
    To sheathe his knife in us. He is attach'd;
    Call him to present trial: if he may
    Find mercy in the law, 'tis his: if none, 565
    Let him not seek 't of us: by day and night,
    He's traitor to the height.