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King Henry VIII

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ACT I SCENE II The same. The council-chamber.
[ Cornets. Enter KING HENRY VIII, leaning on CARDINAL WOLSEY's shoulder, the Nobles, and LOVELL; CARDINAL WOLSEY places himself under KING HENRY VIII's feet on his right side ]
KING HENRY VIIIMy 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 person5
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: she kneels. KING HENRY VIII riseth from his state, takes her up, kisses and placeth her by him ]
QUEEN KATHARINENay, we must longer kneel: I am a suitor.
KING HENRY VIIIArise, and take place by us: half your suit10
Never name to us; you have half our power:
The other moiety, ere you ask, is given;
Repeat your will and take it.
QUEEN KATHARINEThank your majesty.
That you would love yourself, and in that love15
Not unconsider'd leave your honour, nor
The dignity of your office, is the point
Of my petition.
KING HENRY VIIILady mine, proceed.
QUEEN KATHARINEI am solicited, not by a few,20
And those of true condition, that your subjects
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 reproaches25
Most bitterly on you, as putter on
Of these exactions, yet the king our master--
Whose honour heaven shield from soil!--even he
escapes not
Language unmannerly, yea, such which breaks30
The sides of loyalty, and almost appears
In loud rebellion.
NORFOLKNot almost appears,
It doth appear; for, upon these taxations,
The clothiers all, not able to maintain35
The many to them longing, have put off
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,40
And danger serves among then!
Wherein? and what taxation? My lord cardinal,
You that are blamed for it alike with us,
Know you of this taxation?45
CARDINAL WOLSEYPlease you, sir,
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.
You know no more than others; but you frame
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 are55
Most pestilent to the bearing; and, to bear 'em,
The back is sacrifice to the load. They say
They are devised by you; or else you suffer
Too hard an exclamation.
KING HENRY VIIIStill exaction!60
The nature of it? in what kind, let's know,
Is this exaction?
QUEEN KATHARINEI am much too venturous
In tempting of your patience; but am bolden'd
Under your promised pardon. The subjects' grief65
Comes through commissions, which compel from each
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 freeze70
Allegiance in them; their curses now
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, for75
There is no primer business.
This is against our pleasure.
I have no further gone in this than by80
A single voice; and that not pass'd me but
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 say85
'Tis but the fate of place, and the rough brake
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 follow90
That is new-trimm'd, but benefit no further
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 up95
For our best act. If we shall stand still,
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.
KING HENRY VIIIThings done well,100
And with a care, exempt themselves from fear;
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,105
And stick them in our will. Sixth part of each?
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 county110
Where this is question'd send our letters, with
Free pardon to each man that has denied
The force of this commission: pray, look to't;
I put it to your care.
CARDINAL WOLSEYA word with you.115
[To the Secretary]
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 you120
Further in the proceeding.
[Exit Secretary]
[Enter Surveyor]
QUEEN KATHARINEI am sorry that the Duke of Buckingham
Is run in your displeasure.
KING HENRY VIIIIt grieves many:
The gentleman is learn'd, and a most rare speaker;125
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,
When these so noble benefits shall prove
Not well disposed, the mind growing once corrupt,130
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,
Almost with ravish'd listening, could not find
His hour of speech a minute; he, my lady,135
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--
This was his gentleman in trust--of him
Things to strike honour sad. Bid him recount140
The fore-recited practises; whereof
We cannot feel too little, hear too much.
CARDINAL WOLSEYStand forth, and with bold spirit relate what you,
Most like a careful subject, have collected
Out of the Duke of Buckingham.145
KING HENRY VIIISpeak freely.
SurveyorFirst, it was usual with him, every day
It would infect his speech, that if the king
Should without issue die, he'll carry it so
To make the sceptre his: these very words150
I've heard him utter to his son-in-law,
Lord Abergavenny; to whom by oath he menaced
Revenge upon the cardinal.
CARDINAL WOLSEYPlease your highness, note
This dangerous conception in this point.155
Not friended by by his wish, to your high person
His will is most malignant; and it stretches
Beyond you, to your friends.
QUEEN KATHARINEMy learn'd lord cardinal,
Deliver all with charity.160
How grounded he his title to the crown,
Upon our fail? to this point hast thou heard him
At any time speak aught?
SurveyorHe was brought to this165
By a vain prophecy of Nicholas Hopkins.
KING HENRY VIIIWhat was that Hopkins?
SurveyorSir, a Chartreux friar,
His confessor, who fed him every minute
With words of sovereignty.170
KING HENRY VIIIHow know'st thou this?
SurveyorNot long before your highness sped to France,
The duke being at the Rose, within the parish
Saint Lawrence Poultney, did of me demand
What was the speech among the Londoners175
Concerning the French journey: I replied,
Men fear'd the French would prove perfidious,
To the king's danger. Presently the duke
Said, 'twas the fear, indeed; and that he doubted
'Twould prove the verity of certain words180
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
To hear from him a matter of some moment:
Whom after under the confession's seal185
He solemnly had sworn, that what he spoke
My chaplain to no creature living, but
To me, should utter, with demure confidence
This pausingly ensued: neither the king nor's heirs,
Tell you the duke, shall prosper: bid him strive190
To gain the love o' the commonalty: the duke
Shall govern England.'
QUEEN KATHARINEIf I know you well,
You were the duke's surveyor, and lost your office
On the complaint o' the tenants: take good heed195
You charge not in your spleen a noble person
And spoil your nobler soul: I say, take heed;
Yes, heartily beseech you.
Go forward.200
SurveyorOn 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
To ruminate on this so far, until
It forged him some design, which, being believed,205
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,
The cardinal's and Sir Thomas Lovell's heads
Should have gone off.210
KING HENRY VIIIHa! what, so rank? Ah ha!
There's mischief in this man: canst thou say further?
SurveyorI can, my liege.
SurveyorBeing at Greenwich,215
After your highness had reproved the duke
About Sir William Blomer,--
Of such a time: being my sworn servant,
The duke retain'd him his. But on; what hence?220
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
The usurper Richard; who, being at Salisbury,
Made suit to come in's presence; which if granted,225
As he made semblance of his duty, would
Have put his knife to him.'
KING HENRY VIIIA giant traitor!
CARDINAL WOLSEYNow, madam, may his highness live in freedom,
and this man out of prison?230
KING HENRY VIIIThere's something more would out of thee; what say'st?
SurveyorAfter 'the duke his father,' with 'the knife,'
He stretch'd him, and, with one hand on his dagger,
Another spread on's breast, mounting his eyes235
He did discharge a horrible oath; whose tenor
Was,--were he evil used, he would outgo
His father by as much as a performance
Does an irresolute purpose.
KING HENRY VIIIThere's his period,240
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,
Let him not seek 't of us: by day and night,
He's traitor to the height.245

Continue to Henry VIII, Act 1, Scene 3


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Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. From The Booklovers Edition, 1901.