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History of Henry VIII

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Act II, Scene 2

An ante-chamber in the palace.


[Enter Chamberlain, reading a letter]

  • Lord Chamberlain. 'My lord, the horses your lordship sent for, with
    all the care I had, I saw well chosen, ridden, and
    furnished. They were young and handsome, and of the
    best breed in the north. When they were ready to 1020
    set out for London, a man of my lord cardinal's, by
    commission and main power, took 'em from me; with
    this reason: His master would be served before a
    subject, if not before the king; which stopped our
    mouths, sir.' 1025
    I fear he will indeed: well, let him have them:
    He will have all, I think.

[Enter, to Chamberlain, NORFOLK and SUFFOLK]

  • Lord Chamberlain. It seems the marriage with his brother's wife 1035
    Has crept too near his conscience.
  • Duke of Norfolk. 'Tis so:
    This is the cardinal's doing, the king-cardinal: 1040
    That blind priest, like the eldest son of fortune,
    Turns what he list. The king will know him one day.
  • Duke of Norfolk. How holily he works in all his business!
    And with what zeal! for, now he has crack'd the league 1045
    Between us and the emperor, the queen's great nephew,
    He dives into the king's soul, and there scatters
    Dangers, doubts, wringing of the conscience,
    Fears, and despairs; and all these for his marriage:
    And out of all these to restore the king, 1050
    He counsels a divorce; a loss of her
    That, like a jewel, has hung twenty years
    About his neck, yet never lost her lustre;
    Of her that loves him with that excellence
    That angels love good men with; even of her 1055
    That, when the greatest stroke of fortune falls,
    Will bless the king: and is not this course pious?
  • Lord Chamberlain. Heaven keep me from such counsel! 'Tis most true
    These news are every where; every tongue speaks 'em,
    And every true heart weeps for't: all that dare 1060
    Look into these affairs see this main end,
    The French king's sister. Heaven will one day open
    The king's eyes, that so long have slept upon
    This bold bad man.
  • Duke of Norfolk. We had need pray,
    And heartily, for our deliverance;
    Or this imperious man will work us all
    From princes into pages: all men's honours
    Lie like one lump before him, to be fashion'd 1070
    Into what pitch he please.
  • Duke of Suffolk. For me, my lords,
    I love him not, nor fear him; there's my creed:
    As I am made without him, so I'll stand,
    If the king please; his curses and his blessings 1075
    Touch me alike, they're breath I not believe in.
    I knew him, and I know him; so I leave him
    To him that made him proud, the pope.
  • Duke of Norfolk. Let's in;
    And with some other business put the king 1080
    From these sad thoughts, that work too much upon him:
    My lord, you'll bear us company?
  • Lord Chamberlain. Excuse me;
    The king has sent me otherwhere: besides,
    You'll find a most unfit time to disturb him: 1085
    Health to your lordships.
  • Duke of Norfolk. Thanks, my good lord chamberlain.
    [Exit Chamberlain; and KING HENRY VIII draws the]
    curtain, and sits reading pensively]
  • Henry VIII. Who's there, I say? How dare you thrust yourselves
    Into my private meditations?
    Who am I? ha? 1095
  • Duke of Norfolk. A gracious king that pardons all offences
    Malice ne'er meant: our breach of duty this way
    Is business of estate; in which we come
    To know your royal pleasure.
  • Henry VIII. Ye are too bold: 1100
    Go to; I'll make ye know your times of business:
    Is this an hour for temporal affairs, ha?
    a commission]
    Who's there? my good lord cardinal? O my Wolsey, 1105
    The quiet of my wounded conscience;
    Thou art a cure fit for a king.
    You're welcome,
    Most learned reverend sir, into our kingdom: 1110
    Use us and it.
    My good lord, have great care
    I be not found a talker.
  • Cardinal Wolsey. Sir, you cannot. 1115
    I would your grace would give us but an hour
    Of private conference.
  • Henry VIII. [To NORFOLK and SUFFOLK]
    We are busy; go.
  • Duke of Suffolk. [Aside to NORFOLK] Not to speak of:
    I would not be so sick though for his place:
    But this cannot continue.
  • Duke of Norfolk. [Aside to SUFFOLK] If it do, 1125
    I'll venture one have-at-him.


  • Cardinal Wolsey. Your grace has given a precedent of wisdom
    Above all princes, in committing freely 1130
    Your scruple to the voice of Christendom:
    Who can be angry now? what envy reach you?
    The Spaniard, tied blood and favour to her,
    Must now confess, if they have any goodness,
    The trial just and noble. All the clerks, 1135
    I mean the learned ones, in Christian kingdoms
    Have their free voices: Rome, the nurse of judgment,
    Invited by your noble self, hath sent
    One general tongue unto us, this good man,
    This just and learned priest, Cardinal Campeius; 1140
    Whom once more I present unto your highness.
  • Henry VIII. And once more in mine arms I bid him welcome,
    And thank the holy conclave for their loves:
    They have sent me such a man I would have wish'd for.
  • Cardinal Campeius. Your grace must needs deserve all strangers' loves, 1145
    You are so noble. To your highness' hand
    I tender my commission; by whose virtue,
    The court of Rome commanding, you, my lord
    Cardinal of York, are join'd with me their servant
    In the unpartial judging of this business. 1150
  • Henry VIII. Two equal men. The queen shall be acquainted
    Forthwith for what you come. Where's Gardiner?
  • Cardinal Wolsey. I know your majesty has always loved her
    So dear in heart, not to deny her that
    A woman of less place might ask by law: 1155
    Scholars allow'd freely to argue for her.
  • Henry VIII. Ay, and the best she shall have; and my favour
    To him that does best: God forbid else. Cardinal,
    Prithee, call Gardiner to me, my new secretary:
    I find him a fit fellow. 1160



  • Cardinal Wolsey. [Aside to GARDINER] Give me your hand much joy and
    favour to you;
    You are the king's now. 1165
  • Gardiner. [Aside to CARDINAL WOLSEY]
    But to be commanded
    For ever by your grace, whose hand has raised me.

[Walks and whispers]

  • Cardinal Campeius. My Lord of York, was not one Doctor Pace
    In this man's place before him?
  • Cardinal Campeius. Believe me, there's an ill opinion spread then
    Even of yourself, lord cardinal.
  • Cardinal Campeius. They will not stick to say you envied him,
    And fearing he would rise, he was so virtuous, 1180
    Kept him a foreign man still; which so grieved him,
    That he ran mad and died.
  • Cardinal Wolsey. Heaven's peace be with him!
    That's Christian care enough: for living murmurers
    There's places of rebuke. He was a fool; 1185
    For he would needs be virtuous: that good fellow,
    If I command him, follows my appointment:
    I will have none so near else. Learn this, brother,
    We live not to be grip'd by meaner persons.
  • Henry VIII. Deliver this with modesty to the queen. 1190
    [Exit GARDINER]
    The most convenient place that I can think of
    For such receipt of learning is Black-Friars;
    There ye shall meet about this weighty business.
    My Wolsey, see it furnish'd. O, my lord, 1195
    Would it not grieve an able man to leave
    So sweet a bedfellow? But, conscience, conscience!
    O, 'tis a tender place; and I must leave her.