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History of Henry VIII

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Act II, Scene 1

Westminster. A street.


[Enter two Gentlemen, meeting]

  • Second Gentleman. O, God save ye!
    Even to the hall, to hear what shall become
    Of the great Duke of Buckingham.
  • First Gentleman. I'll save you
    That labour, sir. All's now done, but the ceremony 820
    Of bringing back the prisoner.
  • First Gentleman. I'll tell you in a little. The great duke
    Came to the bar; where to his accusations
    He pleaded still not guilty and alleged
    Many sharp reasons to defeat the law.
    The king's attorney on the contrary 835
    Urged on the examinations, proofs, confessions
    Of divers witnesses; which the duke desired
    To have brought viva voce to his face:
    At which appear'd against him his surveyor;
    Sir Gilbert Peck his chancellor; and John Car, 840
    Confessor to him; with that devil-monk,
    Hopkins, that made this mischief.
  • First Gentleman. The same. 845
    All these accused him strongly; which he fain
    Would have flung from him, but, indeed, he could not:
    And so his peers, upon this evidence,
    Have found him guilty of high treason. Much
    He spoke, and learnedly, for life; but all 850
    Was either pitied in him or forgotten.
  • First Gentleman. When he was brought again to the bar, to hear
    His knell rung out, his judgment, he was stirr'd
    With such an agony, he sweat extremely, 855
    And something spoke in choler, ill, and hasty:
    But he fell to himself again, and sweetly
    In all the rest show'd a most noble patience.
  • First Gentleman. Sure, he does not: 860
    He never was so womanish; the cause
    He may a little grieve at.
  • First Gentleman. 'Tis likely, 865
    By all conjectures: first, Kildare's attainder,
    Then deputy of Ireland; who removed,
    Earl Surrey was sent thither, and in haste too,
    Lest he should help his father.
  • First Gentleman. At his return
    No doubt he will requite it. This is noted,
    And generally, whoever the king favours,
    The cardinal instantly will find employment, 875
    And far enough from court too.
  • Second Gentleman. All the commons
    Hate him perniciously, and, o' my conscience,
    Wish him ten fathom deep: this duke as much
    They love and dote on; call him bounteous Buckingham, 880
    The mirror of all courtesy;—
  • First Gentleman. Stay there, sir,
    And see the noble ruin'd man you speak of.
    [Enter BUCKINGHAM from his arraignment; tip-staves]
    before him; the axe with the edge towards him; 885
    halberds on each side: accompanied with LOVELL,
    VAUX, SANDS, and common people]
  • Duke of Buckingham. All good people,
    You that thus far have come to pity me, 890
    Hear what I say, and then go home and lose me.
    I have this day received a traitor's judgment,
    And by that name must die: yet, heaven bear witness,
    And if I have a conscience, let it sink me,
    Even as the axe falls, if I be not faithful! 895
    The law I bear no malice for my death;
    'T has done, upon the premises, but justice:
    But those that sought it I could wish more Christians:
    Be what they will, I heartily forgive 'em:
    Yet let 'em look they glory not in mischief, 900
    Nor build their evils on the graves of great men;
    For then my guiltless blood must cry against 'em.
    For further life in this world I ne'er hope,
    Nor will I sue, although the king have mercies
    More than I dare make faults. You few that loved me, 905
    And dare be bold to weep for Buckingham,
    His noble friends and fellows, whom to leave
    Is only bitter to him, only dying,
    Go with me, like good angels, to my end;
    And, as the long divorce of steel falls on me, 910
    Make of your prayers one sweet sacrifice,
    And lift my soul to heaven. Lead on, o' God's name.
  • Sir Thomas Lovell. I do beseech your grace, for charity,
    If ever any malice in your heart
    Were hid against me, now to forgive me frankly. 915
  • Duke of Buckingham. Sir Thomas Lovell, I as free forgive you
    As I would be forgiven: I forgive all;
    There cannot be those numberless offences
    'Gainst me, that I cannot take peace with:
    no black envy 920
    Shall mark my grave. Commend me to his grace;
    And if he speak of Buckingham, pray, tell him
    You met him half in heaven: my vows and prayers
    Yet are the king's; and, till my soul forsake,
    Shall cry for blessings on him: may he live 925
    Longer than I have time to tell his years!
    Ever beloved and loving may his rule be!
    And when old time shall lead him to his end,
    Goodness and he fill up one monument!
  • Sir Thomas Lovell. To the water side I must conduct your grace; 930
    Then give my charge up to Sir Nicholas Vaux,
    Who undertakes you to your end.
  • Sir Nicholas Vaux. Prepare there,
    The duke is coming: see the barge be ready;
    And fit it with such furniture as suits 935
    The greatness of his person.
  • Duke of Buckingham. Nay, Sir Nicholas,
    Let it alone; my state now will but mock me.
    When I came hither, I was lord high constable
    And Duke of Buckingham; now, poor Edward Bohun: 940
    Yet I am richer than my base accusers,
    That never knew what truth meant: I now seal it;
    And with that blood will make 'em one day groan for't.
    My noble father, Henry of Buckingham,
    Who first raised head against usurping Richard, 945
    Flying for succor to his servant Banister,
    Being distress'd, was by that wretch betray'd,
    And without trial fell; God's peace be with him!
    Henry the Seventh succeeding, truly pitying
    My father's loss, like a most royal prince, 950
    Restored me to my honours, and, out of ruins,
    Made my name once more noble. Now his son,
    Henry the Eighth, life, honour, name and all
    That made me happy at one stroke has taken
    For ever from the world. I had my trial, 955
    And, must needs say, a noble one; which makes me,
    A little happier than my wretched father:
    Yet thus far we are one in fortunes: both
    Fell by our servants, by those men we loved most;
    A most unnatural and faithless service! 960
    Heaven has an end in all: yet, you that hear me,
    This from a dying man receive as certain:
    Where you are liberal of your loves and counsels
    Be sure you be not loose; for those you make friends
    And give your hearts to, when they once perceive 965
    The least rub in your fortunes, fall away
    Like water from ye, never found again
    But where they mean to sink ye. All good people,
    Pray for me! I must now forsake ye: the last hour
    Of my long weary life is come upon me. Farewell: 970
    And when you would say something that is sad,
    Speak how I fell. I have done; and God forgive me!

[Exeunt BUCKINGHAM and Train]

  • First Gentleman. O, this is full of pity! Sir, it calls,
    I fear, too many curses on their beads 975
    That were the authors.
  • Second Gentleman. If the duke be guiltless,
    'Tis full of woe: yet I can give you inkling
    Of an ensuing evil, if it fall,
    Greater than this. 980
  • First Gentleman. Good angels keep it from us!
    What may it be? You do not doubt my faith, sir?
  • Second Gentleman. This secret is so weighty, 'twill require
    A strong faith to conceal it.
  • Second Gentleman. I am confident,
    You shall, sir: did you not of late days hear
    A buzzing of a separation
    Between the king and Katharine? 990
  • First Gentleman. Yes, but it held not:
    For when the king once heard it, out of anger
    He sent command to the lord mayor straight
    To stop the rumor, and allay those tongues
    That durst disperse it. 995
  • Second Gentleman. But that slander, sir,
    Is found a truth now: for it grows again
    Fresher than e'er it was; and held for certain
    The king will venture at it. Either the cardinal,
    Or some about him near, have, out of malice 1000
    To the good queen, possess'd him with a scruple
    That will undo her: to confirm this too,
    Cardinal Campeius is arrived, and lately;
    As all think, for this business.
  • First Gentleman. 'Tis the cardinal; 1005
    And merely to revenge him on the emperor
    For not bestowing on him, at his asking,
    The archbishopric of Toledo, this is purposed.
  • Second Gentleman. I think you have hit the mark: but is't not cruel
    That she should feel the smart of this? The cardinal 1010
    Will have his will, and she must fall.
  • First Gentleman. 'Tis woful.
    We are too open here to argue this;
    Let's think in private more.