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History of Henry VIII

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Act II, Scene 4

A hall in Black-Friars.


[Trumpets, sennet, and cornets. Enter two Vergers,] [p]with short silver wands; next them, two Scribes, in [p]the habit of doctors; after them, CANTERBURY alone; [p]after him, LINCOLN, Ely, Rochester, and Saint [p]Asaph; next them, with some small distance, follows [p]a Gentleman bearing the purse, with the great seal, [p]and a cardinal's hat; then two Priests, bearing [p]each a silver cross; then a Gentleman-usher [p]bare-headed, accompanied with a Sergeant-at-arms [p]bearing a silver mace; then two Gentlemen bearing [p]two great silver pillars; after them, side by side, [p]CARDINAL WOLSEY and CARDINAL CAMPEIUS; two Noblemen [p]with the sword and mace. KING HENRY VIII takes [p]place under the cloth of state; CARDINAL WOLSEY and [p]CARDINAL CAMPEIUS sit under him as judges. QUEEN [p]KATHARINE takes place some distance from KING [p]HENRY VIII. The Bishops place themselves on each [p]side the court, in manner of a consistory; below [p]them, the Scribes. The Lords sit next the Bishops. [p]The rest of the Attendants stand in convenient [p]order about the stage]

  • Cardinal Wolsey. Whilst our commission from Rome is read,
    Let silence be commanded. 1355
  • Henry VIII. What's the need?
    It hath already publicly been read,
    And on all sides the authority allow'd;
    You may, then, spare that time.
  • Scribe. Say, Henry King of England, come into the court.
  • Crier. Henry King of England, &c.
  • Scribe. Say, Katharine Queen of England, come into the court.
  • Crier. Katharine Queen of England, &c. 1365
    [QUEEN KATHARINE makes no answer, rises out of her]
    chair, goes about the court, comes to KING HENRY
    VIII, and kneels at his feet; then speaks]
  • Queen Katharine. Sir, I desire you do me right and justice;
    And to bestow your pity on me: for 1370
    I am a most poor woman, and a stranger,
    Born out of your dominions; having here
    No judge indifferent, nor no more assurance
    Of equal friendship and proceeding. Alas, sir,
    In what have I offended you? what cause 1375
    Hath my behavior given to your displeasure,
    That thus you should proceed to put me off,
    And take your good grace from me? Heaven witness,
    I have been to you a true and humble wife,
    At all times to your will conformable; 1380
    Ever in fear to kindle your dislike,
    Yea, subject to your countenance, glad or sorry
    As I saw it inclined: when was the hour
    I ever contradicted your desire,
    Or made it not mine too? Or which of your friends 1385
    Have I not strove to love, although I knew
    He were mine enemy? what friend of mine
    That had to him derived your anger, did I
    Continue in my liking? nay, gave notice
    He was from thence discharged. Sir, call to mind 1390
    That I have been your wife, in this obedience,
    Upward of twenty years, and have been blest
    With many children by you: if, in the course
    And process of this time, you can report,
    And prove it too, against mine honour aught, 1395
    My bond to wedlock, or my love and duty,
    Against your sacred person, in God's name,
    Turn me away; and let the foul'st contempt
    Shut door upon me, and so give me up
    To the sharp'st kind of justice. Please you sir, 1400
    The king, your father, was reputed for
    A prince most prudent, of an excellent
    And unmatch'd wit and judgment: Ferdinand,
    My father, king of Spain, was reckon'd one
    The wisest prince that there had reign'd by many 1405
    A year before: it is not to be question'd
    That they had gather'd a wise council to them
    Of every realm, that did debate this business,
    Who deem'd our marriage lawful: wherefore I humbly
    Beseech you, sir, to spare me, till I may 1410
    Be by my friends in Spain advised; whose counsel
    I will implore: if not, i' the name of God,
    Your pleasure be fulfill'd!
  • Cardinal Wolsey. You have here, lady,
    And of your choice, these reverend fathers; men 1415
    Of singular integrity and learning,
    Yea, the elect o' the land, who are assembled
    To plead your cause: it shall be therefore bootless
    That longer you desire the court; as well
    For your own quiet, as to rectify 1420
    What is unsettled in the king.
  • Cardinal Campeius. His grace
    Hath spoken well and justly: therefore, madam,
    It's fit this royal session do proceed;
    And that, without delay, their arguments 1425
    Be now produced and heard.
  • Queen Katharine. Sir, 1430
    I am about to weep; but, thinking that
    We are a queen, or long have dream'd so, certain
    The daughter of a king, my drops of tears
    I'll turn to sparks of fire.
  • Queen Katharine. I will, when you are humble; nay, before,
    Or God will punish me. I do believe,
    Induced by potent circumstances, that
    You are mine enemy, and make my challenge
    You shall not be my judge: for it is you 1440
    Have blown this coal betwixt my lord and me;
    Which God's dew quench! Therefore I say again,
    I utterly abhor, yea, from my soul
    Refuse you for my judge; whom, yet once more,
    I hold my most malicious foe, and think not 1445
    At all a friend to truth.
  • Cardinal Wolsey. I do profess
    You speak not like yourself; who ever yet
    Have stood to charity, and display'd the effects
    Of disposition gentle, and of wisdom 1450
    O'ertopping woman's power. Madam, you do me wrong:
    I have no spleen against you; nor injustice
    For you or any: how far I have proceeded,
    Or how far further shall, is warranted
    By a commission from the consistory, 1455
    Yea, the whole consistory of Rome. You charge me
    That I have blown this coal: I do deny it:
    The king is present: if it be known to him
    That I gainsay my deed, how may he wound,
    And worthily, my falsehood! yea, as much 1460
    As you have done my truth. If he know
    That I am free of your report, he knows
    I am not of your wrong. Therefore in him
    It lies to cure me: and the cure is, to
    Remove these thoughts from you: the which before 1465
    His highness shall speak in, I do beseech
    You, gracious madam, to unthink your speaking
    And to say so no more.
  • Queen Katharine. My lord, my lord,
    I am a simple woman, much too weak 1470
    To oppose your cunning. You're meek and
    You sign your place and calling, in full seeming,
    With meekness and humility; but your heart
    Is cramm'd with arrogancy, spleen, and pride. 1475
    You have, by fortune and his highness' favours,
    Gone slightly o'er low steps and now are mounted
    Where powers are your retainers, and your words,
    Domestics to you, serve your will as't please
    Yourself pronounce their office. I must tell you, 1480
    You tender more your person's honour than
    Your high profession spiritual: that again
    I do refuse you for my judge; and here,
    Before you all, appeal unto the pope,
    To bring my whole cause 'fore his holiness, 1485
    And to be judged by him.

[She curtsies to KING HENRY VIII, and offers to depart]

  • Cardinal Campeius. The queen is obstinate,
    Stubborn to justice, apt to accuse it, and
    Disdainful to be tried by't: 'tis not well. 1490
    She's going away.
  • Crier. Katharine Queen of England, come into the court.
  • Queen Katharine. What need you note it? pray you, keep your way: 1495
    When you are call'd, return. Now, the Lord help,
    They vex me past my patience! Pray you, pass on:
    I will not tarry; no, nor ever more
    Upon this business my appearance make
    In any of their courts. 1500

[Exeunt QUEEN KATHARINE and her Attendants]

  • Henry VIII. Go thy ways, Kate:
    That man i' the world who shall report he has
    A better wife, let him in nought be trusted,
    For speaking false in that: thou art, alone, 1505
    If thy rare qualities, sweet gentleness,
    Thy meekness saint-like, wife-like government,
    Obeying in commanding, and thy parts
    Sovereign and pious else, could speak thee out,
    The queen of earthly queens: she's noble born; 1510
    And, like her true nobility, she has
    Carried herself towards me.
  • Cardinal Wolsey. Most gracious sir,
    In humblest manner I require your highness,
    That it shall please you to declare, in hearing 1515
    Of all these ears,—for where I am robb'd and bound,
    There must I be unloosed, although not there
    At once and fully satisfied,—whether ever I
    Did broach this business to your highness; or
    Laid any scruple in your way, which might 1520
    Induce you to the question on't? or ever
    Have to you, but with thanks to God for such
    A royal lady, spake one the least word that might
    Be to the prejudice of her present state,
    Or touch of her good person? 1525
  • Henry VIII. My lord cardinal,
    I do excuse you; yea, upon mine honour,
    I free you from't. You are not to be taught
    That you have many enemies, that know not
    Why they are so, but, like to village-curs, 1530
    Bark when their fellows do: by some of these
    The queen is put in anger. You're excused:
    But will you be more justified? You ever
    Have wish'd the sleeping of this business; never desired
    It to be stirr'd; but oft have hinder'd, oft, 1535
    The passages made toward it: on my honour,
    I speak my good lord cardinal to this point,
    And thus far clear him. Now, what moved me to't,
    I will be bold with time and your attention:
    Then mark the inducement. Thus it came; give heed to't: 1540
    My conscience first received a tenderness,
    Scruple, and prick, on certain speeches utter'd
    By the Bishop of Bayonne, then French ambassador;
    Who had been hither sent on the debating
    A marriage 'twixt the Duke of Orleans and 1545
    Our daughter Mary: i' the progress of this business,
    Ere a determinate resolution, he,
    I mean the bishop, did require a respite;
    Wherein he might the king his lord advertise
    Whether our daughter were legitimate, 1550
    Respecting this our marriage with the dowager,
    Sometimes our brother's wife. This respite shook
    The bosom of my conscience, enter'd me,
    Yea, with a splitting power, and made to tremble
    The region of my breast; which forced such way, 1555
    That many mazed considerings did throng
    And press'd in with this caution. First, methought
    I stood not in the smile of heaven; who had
    Commanded nature, that my lady's womb,
    If it conceived a male child by me, should 1560
    Do no more offices of life to't than
    The grave does to the dead; for her male issue
    Or died where they were made, or shortly after
    This world had air'd them: hence I took a thought,
    This was a judgment on me; that my kingdom, 1565
    Well worthy the best heir o' the world, should not
    Be gladded in't by me: then follows, that
    I weigh'd the danger which my realms stood in
    By this my issue's fail; and that gave to me
    Many a groaning throe. Thus hulling in 1570
    The wild sea of my conscience, I did steer
    Toward this remedy, whereupon we are
    Now present here together: that's to say,
    I meant to rectify my conscience,—which
    I then did feel full sick, and yet not well,— 1575
    By all the reverend fathers of the land
    And doctors learn'd: first I began in private
    With you, my Lord of Lincoln; you remember
    How under my oppression I did reek,
    When I first moved you. 1580
  • Henry VIII. I have spoke long: be pleased yourself to say
    How far you satisfied me.
  • Bishop Lincoln. So please your highness,
    The question did at first so stagger me, 1585
    Bearing a state of mighty moment in't
    And consequence of dread, that I committed
    The daring'st counsel which I had to doubt;
    And did entreat your highness to this course
    Which you are running here. 1590
  • Henry VIII. I then moved you,
    My Lord of Canterbury; and got your leave
    To make this present summons: unsolicited
    I left no reverend person in this court;
    But by particular consent proceeded 1595
    Under your hands and seals: therefore, go on:
    For no dislike i' the world against the person
    Of the good queen, but the sharp thorny points
    Of my alleged reasons, drive this forward:
    Prove but our marriage lawful, by my life 1600
    And kingly dignity, we are contented
    To wear our mortal state to come with her,
    Katharine our queen, before the primest creature
    That's paragon'd o' the world.
  • Cardinal Campeius. So please your highness, 1605
    The queen being absent, 'tis a needful fitness
    That we adjourn this court till further day:
    Meanwhile must be an earnest motion
    Made to the queen, to call back her appeal
    She intends unto his holiness. 1610
  • Henry VIII. [Aside]. I may perceive
    These cardinals trifle with me: I abhor
    This dilatory sloth and tricks of Rome.
    My learn'd and well-beloved servant, Cranmer,
    Prithee, return: with thy approach, I know, 1615
    My comfort comes along. Break up the court:
    I say, set on.

[Exeunt in manner as they entered]