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King Henry VIII

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ACT III SCENE II Ante-chamber to KING HENRY VIII's apartment.
[Enter NORFOLK, SUFFOLK, SURREY, and Chamberlain]
NORFOLKIf you will now unite in your complaints,
And force them with a constancy, the cardinal
Cannot stand under them: if you omit
The offer of this time, I cannot promise
But that you shall sustain moe new disgraces,5
With these you bear already.
SURREYI am joyful
To meet the least occasion that may give me
Remembrance of my father-in-law, the duke,
To be revenged on him.10
SUFFOLKWhich of the peers
Have uncontemn'd gone by him, or at least
Strangely neglected? when did he regard
The stamp of nobleness in any person
Out of himself?15
ChamberlainMy lords, you speak your pleasures:
What he deserves of you and me I know;
What we can do to him, though now the time
Gives way to us, I much fear. If you cannot
Bar his access to the king, never attempt20
Any thing on him; for he hath a witchcraft
Over the king in's tongue.
NORFOLKO, fear him not;
His spell in that is out: the king hath found
Matter against him that for ever mars25
The honey of his language. No, he's settled,
Not to come off, in his displeasure.
I should be glad to hear such news as this
Once every hour.30
NORFOLKBelieve it, this is true:
In the divorce his contrary proceedings
Are all unfolded wherein he appears
As I would wish mine enemy.
SURREYHow came35
His practises to light?
SUFFOLKMost strangely.
SURREYO, how, how?
SUFFOLKThe cardinal's letters to the pope miscarried,
And came to the eye o' the king: wherein was read,40
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
My king is tangled in affection to
A creature of the queen's, Lady Anne Bullen.'45
SURREYHas the king this?
SUFFOLKBelieve it.
SURREYWill this work?
ChamberlainThe king in this perceives him, how he coasts
And hedges his own way. But in this point50
All his tricks founder, and he brings his physic
After his patient's death: the king already
Hath married the fair lady.
SURREYWould he had!
SUFFOLKMay you be happy in your wish, my lord55
For, I profess, you have it.
SURREYNow, all my joy
Trace the conjunction!
SUFFOLKMy amen to't!
NORFOLKAll men's!60
SUFFOLKThere's order given for her coronation:
Marry, this is yet but young, and may be left

To some ears unrecounted. But, my lords,
She is a gallant creature, and complete
In mind and feature: I persuade me, from her65
Will fall some blessing to this land, which shall
In it be memorised.
SURREYBut, will the king
Digest this letter of the cardinal's?
The Lord forbid!70
NORFOLKMarry, amen!
There be moe wasps that buzz about his nose
Will make this sting the sooner. Cardinal Campeius
Is stol'n away to Rome; hath ta'en no leave;75
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
The king cried Ha! at this.
ChamberlainNow, God incense him,80
And let him cry Ha! louder!
NORFOLKBut, my lord,
When returns Cranmer?
SUFFOLKHe is return'd in his opinions; which
Have satisfied the king for his divorce,85
Together with all famous colleges
Almost in Christendom: shortly, I believe,
His second marriage shall be publish'd, and
Her coronation. Katharine no more
Shall be call'd queen, but princess dowager90
And widow to Prince Arthur.
NORFOLKThis same Cranmer's
A worthy fellow, and hath ta'en much pain
In the king's business.
SUFFOLKHe has; and we shall see him95
For it an archbishop.
The cardinal!
NORFOLKObserve, observe, he's moody.100
CARDINAL WOLSEYThe packet, Cromwell.
Gave't you the king?
CROMWELLTo his own hand, in's bedchamber.
CARDINAL WOLSEYLook'd he o' the inside of the paper?
He did unseal them: and the first he view'd,
He did it with a serious mind; a heed
Was in his countenance. You he bade
Attend him here this morning.
To come abroad?
CROMWELLI think, by this he is.
CARDINAL WOLSEYLeave me awhile.
It shall be to the Duchess of Alencon,
The French king's sister: he shall marry her.115
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!
NORFOLKHe's discontented.120
SUFFOLKMay be, he hears the king
Does whet his anger to him.
SURREYSharp enough,
Lord, for thy justice!
CARDINAL WOLSEY[Aside] The late queen's gentlewoman, 125
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 for130
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,135
And is his oracle.
NORFOLKHe is vex'd at something.
SURREYI would 'twere something that would fret the string,
The master-cord on's heart!
[Enter KING HENRY VIII, reading of a schedule, and LOVELL]
SUFFOLKThe king, the king!140
KING HENRY VIIIWhat 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,
Saw you the cardinal?145
NORFOLKMy 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,
Then lays his finger on his temple, straight150
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.
KING HENRY VIIIIt may well be;155
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?
Forsooth, an inventory, thus importing;160
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.
NORFOLKIt's heaven's will:165
Some spirit put this paper in the packet,
To bless your eye withal.
KING HENRY VIIIIf we did think
His contemplation were above the earth,
And fix'd on spiritual object, he should still170
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, who goes to CARDINAL WOLSEY ]
CARDINAL WOLSEYHeaven forgive me!
Ever God bless your highness!175
KING HENRY VIIIGood my lord,
You are full of heavenly stuff, and bear the inventory
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 span180
To keep your earthly audit: sure, in that
I deem you an ill husband, and am glad
To have you therein my companion.
For holy offices I have a time; a time185
To think upon the part of business which
I bear i' the state; and nature does require
Her times of preservation, which perforce
I, her frail son, amongst my brethren mortal,
Must give my tendence to.190
KING HENRY VIIIYou have said well.
CARDINAL WOLSEYAnd ever may your highness yoke together,
As I will lend you cause, my doing well
With my well saying!
KING HENRY VIII'Tis well said again;195
And 'tis a kind of good deed to say well:
And yet words are no deeds. My father loved you:
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 alone200
Employ'd you where high profits might come home,
But pared my present havings, to bestow
My bounties upon you.
CARDINAL WOLSEY[Aside] What should this mean?
SURREY[Aside] The Lord increase this business! 205
KING HENRY VIIIHave I not made you,
The prime man of the state? I pray you, tell me,
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?210
CARDINAL WOLSEYMy sovereign, I confess your royal graces,
Shower'd on me daily, have been more than could
My studied purposes requite; which went
Beyond all man's endeavours: my endeavours
Have ever come too short of my desires,215
Yet filed with my abilities: mine own ends
Have been mine so that evermore they pointed
To the good of your most sacred person and
The profit of the state. For your great graces
Heap'd upon me, poor undeserver, I220
Can nothing render but allegiant thanks,
My prayers to heaven for you, my loyalty,
Which ever has and ever shall be growing,
Till death, that winter, kill it.
KING HENRY VIIIFairly answer'd;225
A loyal and obedient subject is
Therein illustrated: the honour of it
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,230
My heart dropp'd love, my power rain'd honour, more
On you than any; so your hand and heart,
Your brain, and every function of your power,
Should, notwithstanding that your bond of duty,
As 'twere in love's particular, be more235
To me, your friend, than any.
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,240
And throw it from their soul; though perils did
Abound, as thick as thought could make 'em, and
Appear in forms more horrid,--yet my duty,
As doth a rock against the chiding flood,
Should the approach of this wild river break,245
And stand unshaken yours.
KING HENRY VIII'Tis nobly spoken:
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 with250
What appetite you have.
[ Exit KING HENRY VIII, frowning upon CARDINAL WOLSEY: the Nobles throng after him, smiling and whispering ]
CARDINAL WOLSEYWhat should this mean?
What sudden anger's this? how have I reap'd it?
He parted frowning from me, as if ruin
Leap'd from his eyes: so looks the chafed lion255
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
Of all that world of wealth I have drawn together260
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
I sent the king? Is there no way to cure this?265
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!'
The letter, as I live, with all the business270
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
Like a bright exhalation m the evening,275
And no man see me more.
[ Re-enter to CARDINAL WOLSEY, NORFOLK and SUFFOLK, SURREY, and the Chamberlain ]
NORFOLKHear the king's pleasure, cardinal: who commands you
To render up the great seal presently
Into our hands; and to confine yourself
To Asher House, my Lord of Winchester's,280
Till you hear further from his highness.
Where's your commission, lords? words cannot carry
Authority so weighty.
SUFFOLKWho dare cross 'em,285
Bearing the king's will from his mouth expressly?
CARDINAL WOLSEYTill I find more than will or words to do it,
I mean your malice, know, officious lords,
I dare and must deny it. Now I feel
Of what coarse metal ye are moulded, envy:290
How eagerly ye follow my disgraces,
As if it fed ye! and how sleek and wanton
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,295
In time will find their fit rewards. That seal,
You ask with such a violence, the king,
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,300
Tied it by letters-patents: now, who'll take it?
SURREYThe king, that gave it.
CARDINAL WOLSEYIt must be himself, then.
SURREYThou art a proud traitor, priest.
CARDINAL WOLSEYProud lord, thou liest:305
Within these forty hours Surrey durst better
Have burnt that tongue than said so.
SURREYThy ambition,
Thou scarlet sin, robb'd this bewailing land
Of noble Buckingham, my father-in-law:310
The heads of all thy brother cardinals,
With thee and all thy best parts bound together,
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 all315
That might have mercy on the fault thou gavest him;
Whilst your great goodness, out of holy pity,
Absolved him with an axe.
CARDINAL WOLSEYThis, and all else
This talking lord can lay upon my credit,320
I answer is most false. The duke by law
Found his deserts: how innocent I was
From any private malice in his end,
His noble jury and foul cause can witness.
If I loved many words, lord, I should tell you325
You have as little honesty as honour,
That in the way of loyalty and truth
Toward the king, my ever royal master,
Dare mate a sounder man than Surrey can be,
And all that love his follies.330
SURREYBy my soul,
Your long coat, priest, protects you; thou
shouldst feel
My sword i' the life-blood of thee else. My lords,
Can ye endure to hear this arrogance?335
And from this fellow? if we live thus tamely,
To be thus jaded by a piece of scarlet,
Farewell nobility; let his grace go forward,
And dare us with his cap like larks.
CARDINAL WOLSEYAll goodness340
Is poison to thy stomach.
SURREYYes, that goodness
Of gleaning all the land's wealth into one,
Into your own hands, cardinal, by extortion;
The goodness of your intercepted packets345
You writ to the pope against the king: your goodness,
Since you provoke me, shall be most notorious.
My Lord of Norfolk, as you are truly noble,
As you respect the common good, the state
Of our despised nobility, our issues,350
Who, if he live, will scarce be gentlemen,
Produce the grand sum of his sins, the articles
Collected from his life. I'll startle you
Worse than the scaring bell, when the brown wench
Lay kissing in your arms, lord cardinal.355
CARDINAL WOLSEYHow much, methinks, I could despise this man,
But that I am bound in charity against it!
NORFOLKThose articles, my lord, are in the king's hand:
But, thus much, they are foul ones.
CARDINAL WOLSEYSo much fairer360
And spotless shall mine innocence arise,
When the king knows my truth.
SURREYThis cannot save you:
I thank my memory, I yet remember
Some of these articles; and out they shall.365
Now, if you can blush and cry 'guilty,' cardinal,
You'll show a little honesty.
I dare your worst objections: if I blush,
It is to see a nobleman want manners.370
SURREYI had rather want those than my head. Have at you!
First, that, without the king's assent or knowledge,
You wrought to be a legate; by which power
You maim'd the jurisdiction of all bishops.
NORFOLKThen, that in all you writ to Rome, or else375
To foreign princes, 'Ego et Rex meus'
Was still inscribed; in which you brought the king
To be your servant.
SUFFOLKThen that, without the knowledge
Either of king or council, when you went380
Ambassador to the emperor, you made bold
To carry into Flanders the great seal.
SURREYItem, you sent a large commission
To Gregory de Cassado, to conclude,
Without the king's will or the state's allowance,385
A league between his highness and Ferrara.
SUFFOLKThat, out of mere ambition, you have caused
Your holy hat to be stamp'd on the king's coin.
SURREYThen that you have sent innumerable substance--
By what means got, I leave to your own conscience--390
To furnish Rome, and to prepare the ways
You have for dignities; to the mere undoing
Of all the kingdom. Many more there are;
Which, since they are of you, and odious,
I will not taint my mouth with.395
ChamberlainO my lord,
Press not a falling man too far! 'tis virtue:
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.400
SURREYI forgive him.
SUFFOLKLord cardinal, the king's further pleasure is,
Because all those things you have done of late,
By your power legatine, within this kingdom,
Fall into the compass of a praemunire,405
That therefore such a writ be sued against you;
To forfeit all your goods, lands, tenements,
Chattels, and whatsoever, and to be
Out of the king's protection. This is my charge.
NORFOLKAnd so we'll leave you to your meditations410
How to live better. For your stubborn answer
About the giving back the great seal to us,
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 WOLSEYSo farewell to the little good you bear me.415
Farewell! a long farewell, to all my greatness!
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,420
And, when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
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,425
But far beyond my depth: my high-blown pride
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:430
I feel my heart new open'd. O, how wretched
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:435
And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,
Never to hope again.
[Enter CROMWELL, and stands amazed]
Why, how now, Cromwell!
CROMWELLI have no power to speak, sir.
CARDINAL WOLSEYWhat, amazed440
At my misfortunes? can thy spirit wonder
A great man should decline? Nay, an you weep,
I am fall'n indeed.
CROMWELLHow does your grace?
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,450
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!
CROMWELLI am glad your grace has made that right use of it.455
CARDINAL WOLSEYI 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?460
CROMWELLThe heaviest and the worst
Is your displeasure with the king.
CROMWELLThe next is, that Sir Thomas More is chosen
Lord chancellor in your place.465
CARDINAL WOLSEYThat'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,470
May have a tomb of orphans' tears wept on em! What more?
CROMWELLThat Cranmer is return'd with welcome,
Install'd lord archbishop of Canterbury.
CARDINAL WOLSEYThat's news indeed.
CROMWELLLast, that the Lady Anne,475
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 WOLSEYThere was the weight that pull'd me down. O Cromwell,480
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;485
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--490
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.
CROMWELLO my lord,495
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 prayers500
For ever and for ever shall be yours.
CARDINAL WOLSEYCromwell, 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;505
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,510
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,515
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:520
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:525
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 zeal530
I served my king, he would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies.
CROMWELLGood sir, have patience.
CARDINAL WOLSEYSo I have. Farewell
The hopes of court! my hopes in heaven do dwell.535

Continue to Henry VIII, Act 4, Scene 1


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Henry Irving as Cardinal Wolsey. Performed January 5, 1892 at the Lyceum Theatre.