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History of Henry VIII

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Act III, Scene 2

Ante-chamber to KING HENRY VIII’s apartment.


[Enter NORFOLK, SUFFOLK, SURREY, and Chamberlain]

  • Duke of Norfolk. If you will now unite in your complaints,
    And force them with a constancy, the cardinal
    Cannot stand under them: if you omit 1830
    The offer of this time, I cannot promise
    But that you shall sustain moe new disgraces,
    With these you bear already.
  • Earl of Surrey. I am joyful
    To meet the least occasion that may give me 1835
    Remembrance of my father-in-law, the duke,
    To be revenged on him.
  • Duke of Suffolk. Which of the peers
    Have uncontemn'd gone by him, or at least
    Strangely neglected? when did he regard 1840
    The stamp of nobleness in any person
    Out of himself?
  • Lord Chamberlain. My lords, you speak your pleasures:
    What he deserves of you and me I know;
    What we can do to him, though now the time 1845
    Gives way to us, I much fear. If you cannot
    Bar his access to the king, never attempt
    Any thing on him; for he hath a witchcraft
    Over the king in's tongue.
  • Duke of Norfolk. O, fear him not; 1850
    His spell in that is out: the king hath found
    Matter against him that for ever mars
    The honey of his language. No, he's settled,
    Not to come off, in his displeasure.
  • Earl of Surrey. Sir, 1855
    I should be glad to hear such news as this
    Once every hour.
  • Duke of Norfolk. Believe it, this is true:
    In the divorce his contrary proceedings
    Are all unfolded wherein he appears 1860
    As I would wish mine enemy.
  • Duke of Suffolk. The cardinal's letters to the pope miscarried,
    And came to the eye o' the king: wherein was read,
    How that the cardinal did entreat his holiness
    To stay the judgment o' the divorce; for if
    It did take place, 'I do,' quoth he, 'perceive 1870
    My king is tangled in affection to
    A creature of the queen's, Lady Anne Bullen.'
  • Lord Chamberlain. The king in this perceives him, how he coasts
    And hedges his own way. But in this point
    All his tricks founder, and he brings his physic
    After his patient's death: the king already
    Hath married the fair lady. 1880
  • Duke of Suffolk. May you be happy in your wish, my lord
    For, I profess, you have it.
  • Duke of Suffolk. There's order given for her coronation:
    Marry, this is yet but young, and may be left
    To some ears unrecounted. But, my lords, 1890
    She is a gallant creature, and complete
    In mind and feature: I persuade me, from her
    Will fall some blessing to this land, which shall
    In it be memorised.
  • Earl of Surrey. But, will the king 1895
    Digest this letter of the cardinal's?
    The Lord forbid!
  • Duke of Suffolk. No, no;
    There be moe wasps that buzz about his nose 1900
    Will make this sting the sooner. Cardinal Campeius
    Is stol'n away to Rome; hath ta'en no leave;
    Has left the cause o' the king unhandled; and
    Is posted, as the agent of our cardinal,
    To second all his plot. I do assure you 1905
    The king cried Ha! at this.
  • Duke of Suffolk. He is return'd in his opinions; which
    Have satisfied the king for his divorce,
    Together with all famous colleges
    Almost in Christendom: shortly, I believe,
    His second marriage shall be publish'd, and 1915
    Her coronation. Katharine no more
    Shall be call'd queen, but princess dowager
    And widow to Prince Arthur.
  • Duke of Norfolk. This same Cranmer's
    A worthy fellow, and hath ta'en much pain 1920
    In the king's business.


  • Cromwell. To his own hand, in's bedchamber.
  • Cromwell. Presently
    He did unseal them: and the first he view'd,
    He did it with a serious mind; a heed 1935
    Was in his countenance. You he bade
    Attend him here this morning.
  • Cardinal Wolsey. Leave me awhile.
    [Exit CROMWELL]
    It shall be to the Duchess of Alencon,
    The French king's sister: he shall marry her. 1945
    Anne Bullen! No; I'll no Anne Bullens for him:
    There's more in't than fair visage. Bullen!
    No, we'll no Bullens. Speedily I wish
    To hear from Rome. The Marchioness of Pembroke!
  • Cardinal Wolsey. [Aside] The late queen's gentlewoman, 1955
    a knight's daughter,
    To be her mistress' mistress! the queen's queen!
    This candle burns not clear: 'tis I must snuff it;
    Then out it goes. What though I know her virtuous
    And well deserving? yet I know her for 1960
    A spleeny Lutheran; and not wholesome to
    Our cause, that she should lie i' the bosom of
    Our hard-ruled king. Again, there is sprung up
    An heretic, an arch one, Cranmer; one
    Hath crawl'd into the favour of the king, 1965
    And is his oracle.
  • Earl of Surrey. I would 'twere something that would fret the string,
    The master-cord on's heart!

[Enter KING HENRY VIII, reading of a schedule, and LOVELL]

  • Henry VIII. What piles of wealth hath he accumulated
    To his own portion! and what expense by the hour
    Seems to flow from him! How, i' the name of thrift,
    Does he rake this together! Now, my lords, 1975
    Saw you the cardinal?
  • Duke of Norfolk. My lord, we have
    Stood here observing him: some strange commotion
    Is in his brain: he bites his lip, and starts;
    Stops on a sudden, looks upon the ground, 1980
    Then lays his finger on his temple, straight
    Springs out into fast gait; then stops again,
    Strikes his breast hard, and anon he casts
    His eye against the moon: in most strange postures
    We have seen him set himself. 1985
  • Henry VIII. It may well be;
    There is a mutiny in's mind. This morning
    Papers of state he sent me to peruse,
    As I required: and wot you what I found
    There,—on my conscience, put unwittingly? 1990
    Forsooth, an inventory, thus importing;
    The several parcels of his plate, his treasure,
    Rich stuffs, and ornaments of household; which
    I find at such proud rate, that it out-speaks
    Possession of a subject. 1995
  • Duke of Norfolk. It's heaven's will:
    Some spirit put this paper in the packet,
    To bless your eye withal.
  • Henry VIII. If we did think
    His contemplation were above the earth, 2000
    And fix'd on spiritual object, he should still
    Dwell in his musings: but I am afraid
    His thinkings are below the moon, not worth
    His serious considering.
    [King HENRY VIII takes his seat; whispers LOVELL,] 2005
    who goes to CARDINAL WOLSEY]
  • Henry VIII. Good my lord,
    You are full of heavenly stuff, and bear the inventory 2010
    Of your best graces in your mind; the which
    You were now running o'er: you have scarce time
    To steal from spiritual leisure a brief span
    To keep your earthly audit: sure, in that
    I deem you an ill husband, and am glad 2015
    To have you therein my companion.
  • Cardinal Wolsey. Sir,
    For holy offices I have a time; a time
    To think upon the part of business which
    I bear i' the state; and nature does require 2020
    Her times of preservation, which perforce
    I, her frail son, amongst my brethren mortal,
    Must give my tendence to.
  • Cardinal Wolsey. And ever may your highness yoke together, 2025
    As I will lend you cause, my doing well
    With my well saying!
  • Henry VIII. 'Tis well said again;
    And 'tis a kind of good deed to say well:
    And yet words are no deeds. My father loved you: 2030
    His said he did; and with his deed did crown
    His word upon you. Since I had my office,
    I have kept you next my heart; have not alone
    Employ'd you where high profits might come home,
    But pared my present havings, to bestow 2035
    My bounties upon you.
  • Henry VIII. Have I not made you,
    The prime man of the state? I pray you, tell me, 2040
    If what I now pronounce you have found true:
    And, if you may confess it, say withal,
    If you are bound to us or no. What say you?
  • Cardinal Wolsey. My sovereign, I confess your royal graces,
    Shower'd on me daily, have been more than could 2045
    My studied purposes requite; which went
    Beyond all man's endeavours: my endeavours
    Have ever come too short of my desires,
    Yet filed with my abilities: mine own ends
    Have been mine so that evermore they pointed 2050
    To the good of your most sacred person and
    The profit of the state. For your great graces
    Heap'd upon me, poor undeserver, I
    Can nothing render but allegiant thanks,
    My prayers to heaven for you, my loyalty, 2055
    Which ever has and ever shall be growing,
    Till death, that winter, kill it.
  • Henry VIII. Fairly answer'd;
    A loyal and obedient subject is
    Therein illustrated: the honour of it 2060
    Does pay the act of it; as, i' the contrary,
    The foulness is the punishment. I presume
    That, as my hand has open'd bounty to you,
    My heart dropp'd love, my power rain'd honour, more
    On you than any; so your hand and heart, 2065
    Your brain, and every function of your power,
    Should, notwithstanding that your bond of duty,
    As 'twere in love's particular, be more
    To me, your friend, than any.
  • Cardinal Wolsey. I do profess 2070
    That for your highness' good I ever labour'd
    More than mine own; that am, have, and will be—
    Though all the world should crack their duty to you,
    And throw it from their soul; though perils did
    Abound, as thick as thought could make 'em, and 2075
    Appear in forms more horrid,—yet my duty,
    As doth a rock against the chiding flood,
    Should the approach of this wild river break,
    And stand unshaken yours.
  • Henry VIII. 'Tis nobly spoken: 2080
    Take notice, lords, he has a loyal breast,
    For you have seen him open't. Read o'er this;
    [Giving him papers]
    And after, this: and then to breakfast with
    What appetite you have. 2085
    [Exit KING HENRY VIII, frowning upon CARDINAL WOLSEY:]
    the Nobles throng after him, smiling and whispering]
  • Cardinal Wolsey. What should this mean?
    What sudden anger's this? how have I reap'd it?
    He parted frowning from me, as if ruin 2090
    Leap'd from his eyes: so looks the chafed lion
    Upon the daring huntsman that has gall'd him;
    Then makes him nothing. I must read this paper;
    I fear, the story of his anger. 'Tis so;
    This paper has undone me: 'tis the account 2095
    Of all that world of wealth I have drawn together
    For mine own ends; indeed, to gain the popedom,
    And fee my friends in Rome. O negligence!
    Fit for a fool to fall by: what cross devil
    Made me put this main secret in the packet 2100
    I sent the king? Is there no way to cure this?
    No new device to beat this from his brains?
    I know 'twill stir him strongly; yet I know
    A way, if it take right, in spite of fortune
    Will bring me off again. What's this? 'To the Pope!' 2105
    The letter, as I live, with all the business
    I writ to's holiness. Nay then, farewell!
    I have touch'd the highest point of all my greatness;
    And, from that full meridian of my glory,
    I haste now to my setting: I shall fall 2110
    Like a bright exhalation m the evening,
    And no man see me more.
    and the Chamberlain]
  • Duke of Norfolk. Hear the king's pleasure, cardinal: who commands you 2115
    To render up the great seal presently
    Into our hands; and to confine yourself
    To Asher House, my Lord of Winchester's,
    Till you hear further from his highness.
  • Cardinal Wolsey. Stay: 2120
    Where's your commission, lords? words cannot carry
    Authority so weighty.
  • Duke of Suffolk. Who dare cross 'em,
    Bearing the king's will from his mouth expressly?
  • Cardinal Wolsey. Till I find more than will or words to do it, 2125
    I mean your malice, know, officious lords,
    I dare and must deny it. Now I feel
    Of what coarse metal ye are moulded, envy:
    How eagerly ye follow my disgraces,
    As if it fed ye! and how sleek and wanton 2130
    Ye appear in every thing may bring my ruin!
    Follow your envious courses, men of malice;
    You have Christian warrant for 'em, and, no doubt,
    In time will find their fit rewards. That seal,
    You ask with such a violence, the king, 2135
    Mine and your master, with his own hand gave me;
    Bade me enjoy it, with the place and honours,
    During my life; and, to confirm his goodness,
    Tied it by letters-patents: now, who'll take it?
  • Cardinal Wolsey. Proud lord, thou liest:
    Within these forty hours Surrey durst better
    Have burnt that tongue than said so. 2145
  • Earl of Surrey. Thy ambition,
    Thou scarlet sin, robb'd this bewailing land
    Of noble Buckingham, my father-in-law:
    The heads of all thy brother cardinals,
    With thee and all thy best parts bound together, 2150
    Weigh'd not a hair of his. Plague of your policy!
    You sent me deputy for Ireland;
    Far from his succor, from the king, from all
    That might have mercy on the fault thou gavest him;
    Whilst your great goodness, out of holy pity, 2155
    Absolved him with an axe.
  • Cardinal Wolsey. This, and all else
    This talking lord can lay upon my credit,
    I answer is most false. The duke by law
    Found his deserts: how innocent I was 2160
    From any private malice in his end,
    His noble jury and foul cause can witness.
    If I loved many words, lord, I should tell you
    You have as little honesty as honour,
    That in the way of loyalty and truth 2165
    Toward the king, my ever royal master,
    Dare mate a sounder man than Surrey can be,
    And all that love his follies.
  • Earl of Surrey. By my soul,
    Your long coat, priest, protects you; thou 2170
    shouldst feel
    My sword i' the life-blood of thee else. My lords,
    Can ye endure to hear this arrogance?
    And from this fellow? if we live thus tamely,
    To be thus jaded by a piece of scarlet, 2175
    Farewell nobility; let his grace go forward,
    And dare us with his cap like larks.
  • Earl of Surrey. Yes, that goodness 2180
    Of gleaning all the land's wealth into one,
    Into your own hands, cardinal, by extortion;
    The goodness of your intercepted packets
    You writ to the pope against the king: your goodness,
    Since you provoke me, shall be most notorious. 2185
    My Lord of Norfolk, as you are truly noble,
    As you respect the common good, the state
    Of our despised nobility, our issues,
    Who, if he live, will scarce be gentlemen,
    Produce the grand sum of his sins, the articles 2190
    Collected from his life. I'll startle you
    Worse than the scaring bell, when the brown wench
    Lay kissing in your arms, lord cardinal.
  • Cardinal Wolsey. How much, methinks, I could despise this man,
    But that I am bound in charity against it! 2195
  • Duke of Norfolk. Those articles, my lord, are in the king's hand:
    But, thus much, they are foul ones.
  • Cardinal Wolsey. So much fairer
    And spotless shall mine innocence arise,
    When the king knows my truth. 2200
  • Earl of Surrey. This cannot save you:
    I thank my memory, I yet remember
    Some of these articles; and out they shall.
    Now, if you can blush and cry 'guilty,' cardinal,
    You'll show a little honesty. 2205
  • Cardinal Wolsey. Speak on, sir;
    I dare your worst objections: if I blush,
    It is to see a nobleman want manners.
  • Earl of Surrey. I had rather want those than my head. Have at you!
    First, that, without the king's assent or knowledge, 2210
    You wrought to be a legate; by which power
    You maim'd the jurisdiction of all bishops.
  • Duke of Norfolk. Then, that in all you writ to Rome, or else
    To foreign princes, 'Ego et Rex meus'
    Was still inscribed; in which you brought the king 2215
    To be your servant.
  • Duke of Suffolk. Then that, without the knowledge
    Either of king or council, when you went
    Ambassador to the emperor, you made bold
    To carry into Flanders the great seal. 2220
  • Earl of Surrey. Item, you sent a large commission
    To Gregory de Cassado, to conclude,
    Without the king's will or the state's allowance,
    A league between his highness and Ferrara.
  • Duke of Suffolk. That, out of mere ambition, you have caused 2225
    Your holy hat to be stamp'd on the king's coin.
  • Earl of Surrey. Then that you have sent innumerable substance—
    By what means got, I leave to your own conscience—
    To furnish Rome, and to prepare the ways
    You have for dignities; to the mere undoing 2230
    Of all the kingdom. Many more there are;
    Which, since they are of you, and odious,
    I will not taint my mouth with.
  • Lord Chamberlain. O my lord,
    Press not a falling man too far! 'tis virtue: 2235
    His faults lie open to the laws; let them,
    Not you, correct him. My heart weeps to see him
    So little of his great self.
  • Duke of Suffolk. Lord cardinal, the king's further pleasure is, 2240
    Because all those things you have done of late,
    By your power legatine, within this kingdom,
    Fall into the compass of a praemunire,
    That therefore such a writ be sued against you;
    To forfeit all your goods, lands, tenements, 2245
    Chattels, and whatsoever, and to be
    Out of the king's protection. This is my charge.
  • Duke of Norfolk. And so we'll leave you to your meditations
    How to live better. For your stubborn answer
    About the giving back the great seal to us, 2250
    The king shall know it, and, no doubt, shall thank you.
    So fare you well, my little good lord cardinal.

[Exeunt all but CARDINAL WOLSEY]

  • Cardinal Wolsey. So farewell to the little good you bear me.
    Farewell! a long farewell, to all my greatness! 2255
    This is the state of man: to-day he puts forth
    The tender leaves of hopes; to-morrow blossoms,
    And bears his blushing honours thick upon him;
    The third day comes a frost, a killing frost,
    And, when he thinks, good easy man, full surely 2260
    His greatness is a-ripening, nips his root,
    And then he falls, as I do. I have ventured,
    Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders,
    This many summers in a sea of glory,
    But far beyond my depth: my high-blown pride 2265
    At length broke under me and now has left me,
    Weary and old with service, to the mercy
    Of a rude stream, that must for ever hide me.
    Vain pomp and glory of this world, I hate ye:
    I feel my heart new open'd. O, how wretched 2270
    Is that poor man that hangs on princes' favours!
    There is, betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
    That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin,
    More pangs and fears than wars or women have:
    And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer, 2275
    Never to hope again.
    [Enter CROMWELL, and stands amazed]
    Why, how now, Cromwell!
  • Cromwell. I have no power to speak, sir.
  • Cardinal Wolsey. What, amazed 2280
    At my misfortunes? can thy spirit wonder
    A great man should decline? Nay, an you weep,
    I am fall'n indeed.
  • Cardinal Wolsey. Why, well; 2285
    Never so truly happy, my good Cromwell.
    I know myself now; and I feel within me
    A peace above all earthly dignities,
    A still and quiet conscience. The king has cured me,
    I humbly thank his grace; and from these shoulders, 2290
    These ruin'd pillars, out of pity, taken
    A load would sink a navy, too much honour:
    O, 'tis a burthen, Cromwell, 'tis a burthen
    Too heavy for a man that hopes for heaven!
  • Cromwell. I am glad your grace has made that right use of it. 2295
  • Cardinal Wolsey. I hope I have: I am able now, methinks,
    Out of a fortitude of soul I feel,
    To endure more miseries and greater far
    Than my weak-hearted enemies dare offer.
    What news abroad? 2300
  • Cromwell. The heaviest and the worst
    Is your displeasure with the king.
  • Cromwell. The next is, that Sir Thomas More is chosen
    Lord chancellor in your place. 2305
  • Cardinal Wolsey. That's somewhat sudden:
    But he's a learned man. May he continue
    Long in his highness' favour, and do justice
    For truth's sake and his conscience; that his bones,
    When he has run his course and sleeps in blessings, 2310
    May have a tomb of orphans' tears wept on em! What more?
  • Cromwell. That Cranmer is return'd with welcome,
    Install'd lord archbishop of Canterbury.
  • Cromwell. Last, that the Lady Anne, 2315
    Whom the king hath in secrecy long married,
    This day was view'd in open as his queen,
    Going to chapel; and the voice is now
    Only about her coronation.
  • Cardinal Wolsey. There was the weight that pull'd me down. O Cromwell, 2320
    The king has gone beyond me: all my glories
    In that one woman I have lost for ever:
    No sun shall ever usher forth mine honours,
    Or gild again the noble troops that waited
    Upon my smiles. Go, get thee from me, Cromwell; 2325
    I am a poor fall'n man, unworthy now
    To be thy lord and master: seek the king;
    That sun, I pray, may never set! I have told him
    What and how true thou art: he will advance thee;
    Some little memory of me will stir him— 2330
    I know his noble nature—not to let
    Thy hopeful service perish too: good Cromwell,
    Neglect him not; make use now, and provide
    For thine own future safety.
  • Cromwell. O my lord, 2335
    Must I, then, leave you? must I needs forego
    So good, so noble and so true a master?
    Bear witness, all that have not hearts of iron,
    With what a sorrow Cromwell leaves his lord.
    The king shall have my service: but my prayers 2340
    For ever and for ever shall be yours.
  • Cardinal Wolsey. Cromwell, I did not think to shed a tear
    In all my miseries; but thou hast forced me,
    Out of thy honest truth, to play the woman.
    Let's dry our eyes: and thus far hear me, Cromwell; 2345
    And, when I am forgotten, as I shall be,
    And sleep in dull cold marble, where no mention
    Of me more must be heard of, say, I taught thee,
    Say, Wolsey, that once trod the ways of glory,
    And sounded all the depths and shoals of honour, 2350
    Found thee a way, out of his wreck, to rise in;
    A sure and safe one, though thy master miss'd it.
    Mark but my fall, and that that ruin'd me.
    Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition:
    By that sin fell the angels; how can man, then, 2355
    The image of his Maker, hope to win by it?
    Love thyself last: cherish those hearts that hate thee;
    Corruption wins not more than honesty.
    Still in thy right hand carry gentle peace,
    To silence envious tongues. Be just, and fear not: 2360
    Let all the ends thou aim'st at be thy country's,
    Thy God's, and truth's; then if thou fall'st,
    O Cromwell,
    Thou fall'st a blessed martyr! Serve the king;
    And,—prithee, lead me in: 2365
    There take an inventory of all I have,
    To the last penny; 'tis the king's: my robe,
    And my integrity to heaven, is all
    I dare now call mine own. O Cromwell, Cromwell!
    Had I but served my God with half the zeal 2370
    I served my king, he would not in mine age
    Have left me naked to mine enemies.
  • Cardinal Wolsey. So I have. Farewell
    The hopes of court! my hopes in heaven do dwell. 2375