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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act I. Scene I.

The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eighth

London.An Antechamber in the Palace.

Enter at one door the DUKE OF NORFOLK; at the other, the DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM and the LORD ABERGAVENNY.

BuckGood morrow, and well met. How have you done,

Since last we saw in France?

Nor.I thank your Grace,

Healthful; and ever since a fresh admirer

Of what I saw there.

Buck.An untimely ague

Stay’d me a prisoner in my chamber, when

Those suns of glory, those two lights of men,

Met in the vale of Andren.

Nor.’Twixt Guynes and Arde:

I was then present, saw them salute on horseback;

Beheld them, when they lighted, how they clung

In their embracement, as they grew together;

Which had they, what four thron’d ones could have weigh’d

Such a compounded one?

Buck.All the whole time

I was my chamber’s prisoner.

Nor.Then you lost

The view of earthly glory: men might say,

Till this time, pomp was single, but now married

To one above itself. Each following day

Became the next day’s master, till the last

Made former wonders its. To-day the French

All clinquant, all in gold, like heathen gods,

Shone down the English; and to-morrow they

Made Britain India: every man that stood

Show’d like a mine. Their dwarfish pages were

As cherubins, all gilt: the madams, too,

Not us’d to toil, did almost sweat to bear

The pride upon them, that their very labour

Was to them as a painting. Now this masque

Was cried incomparable; and the ensuing night

Made it a fool, and beggar. The two kings,

Equal in lustre, were now best, now worst,

As presence did present them; him in eye,

Still him in praise; and, being present both,

’Twas said they saw but one; and no discerner

Durst wag his tongue in censure. When these suns—

For so they phrase ’em—by their heralds challeng’d

The noble spirits to arms, they did perform

Beyond thought’s compass; that former fabulous story,

Being now seen possible enough, got credit,

That Bevis was believ’d.

Buck.O! you go far.

Nor.As I belong to worship, and affect

In honour honesty, the tract of every thing

Would by a good discourser lose some life,

Which action’s self was tongue to. All was royal;

To the disposing of it nought rebell’d,

Order gave each thing view; the office did

Distinctly his full function.

Buck.Who did guide,

I mean, who set the body and the limbs

Of this great sport together, as you guess?

Nor.One certes, that promises no element

In such a business.

Buck.I pray you, who, my lord?

Nor.All this was order’d by the good discretion

Of the right reverend Cardinal of York.

Buck.The devil speed him! no man’s pie is freed

From his ambitious finger. What had he

To do in these fierce vanities? I wonder

That such a keech can with his very bulk

Take up the rays o’ the beneficial sun,

And keep it from the earth.

Nor.Surely, sir,

There’s in him stuff that puts him to these ends;

For, being not propp’d by ancestry, whose grace

Chalks successors their way, nor call’d upon

For high feats done to the crown; neither allied

To eminent assistants; but, spider-like,

Out of his self-drawing web, he gives us note,

The force of his own merit makes his way;

A gift that heaven gives for him, which buys

A place next to the king.

Aber.I cannot tell

What heaven hath given him: let some graver eye

Pierce into that; but I can see his pride

Peep through each part of him: whence has he that?

If not from hell, the devil is a niggard,

Or has given all before, and he begins

A new hell in himself.

Buck.Why the devil,

Upon this French going-out, took he upon him,

Without the privity o’ the king, to appoint

Who should attend on him? He makes up the file

Of all the gentry; for the most part such

To whom as great a charge as little honour

He meant to lay upon: and his own letter,—

The honourable board of council out,—

Must fetch him in he papers.

Aber.I do know

Kinsmen of mine, three at the least, that have

By this so sicken’d their estates, that never

They shall abound as formerly.

Buck.O! many

Have broke their backs with laying manors on ’em

For this great journey. What did this vanity

But minister communication of

A most poor issue?

Nor.Grievingly I think,

The peace between the French and us not values

The cost that did conclude it.

Buck.Every man,

After the hideous storm that follow’d, was

A thing inspir’d; and, not consulting, broke

Into a general prophecy: That this tempest,

Dashing the garment of this peace, aboded

The sudden breach on ’t.

Nor.Which is budded out;

For France hath flaw’d the league, and hath attach’d

Our merchants’ goods at Bourdeaux.

Aber.Is it therefore

The ambassador is silenc’d?

Nor.Marry, is ’t.

Aber.A proper title of a peace; and purchas’d

At a superfluous rate!

Buck.Why, all this business

Our reverend cardinal carried.

Nor.Like it your Grace,

The state takes notice of the private difference

Betwixt you and the cardinal. I advise you,—

And take it from a heart that wishes towards you

Honour and plenteous safety,—that you read

The cardinal’s malice and his potency

Together; to consider further that

What his high hatred would effect wants not

A minister in his power. You know his nature,

That he’s revengeful; and I know his sword

Hath a sharp edge: it’s long, and ’t may be said,

It reaches far; and where ’twill not extend,

Thither he darts it. Bosom up my counsel,

You’ll find it wholesome. Lo where comes that rock

That I advise your shunning.

Enter CARDINAL WOLSEY,the Purse borne before him,—certain of the Guard, and two Secretaries with papers.The CARDINAL in his passage fixeth his eye on BUCKINGHAM, and BUCKINGHAM on him, both full of disdain.

Wol.The Duke of Buckingham’s surveyor, ha?

Where’s his examination?

First Secr.Here, so please you.

Wol.Is he in person ready?

First Secr.Ay, please your Grace.

Wol.Well, we shall then know more; and Buckingham

Shall lessen this big look.[Exeunt WOLSEY, and Train.

Buck.This butcher’s cur is venom-mouth’d, and I

Have not the power to muzzle him; therefore best

Not wake him in his slumber. A beggar’s book

Outworths a noble’s blood.

Nor.What! are you chaf’d?

Ask God for temperance; that’s the appliance only

Which your disease requires.

Buck.I read in ’s looks

Matter against me; and his eye revil’d

Me, as his abject object: at this instant

He bores me with some trick: he’s gone to the king;

I’ll follow, and out-stare him.

Nor.Stay, my lord,

And let your reason with your choler question

What ’tis you go about. To climb steep hills

Requires slow pace at first: anger is like

A full-hot horse, who being allow’d his way,

Self-mettle tires him. Not a man in England

Can advise me like you: be to yourself

As you would to your friend.

Buck.I’ll to the king;

And from a mouth of honour quite cry down

This Ipswich fellow’s insolence, or proclaim

There’s difference in no persons.

Nor.Be advis’d;

Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot

That it do singe yourself. We may outrun

By violent swiftness that which we run at,

And lose by overrunning. Know you not,

The fire that mounts the liquor till it run o’er,

In seeming to augment it wastes it? Be advis’d:

I say again, there is no English soul

More stronger to direct you than yourself,

If with the sap of reason you would quench,

Or but allay, the fire of passion.


I am thankful to you, and I’ll go along

By your prescription: but this top-proud fellow

Whom from the flow of gall I name not, but

From sincere motions,—by intelligence,

And proofs as clear as founts in July, when

We see each grain of gravel,—I do know

To be corrupt and treasonous.

Nor.Say not, ‘treasonous.’

Buck.To the king I’ll say ’t; and make my vouch as strong

As shore of rock. Attend. This holy fox,

Or wolf, or both,—for he is equal ravenous

As he is subtle, and as prone to mischief

As able to perform ’t, his mind and place

Infecting one another, yea, reciprocally,

Only to show his pomp as well in France

As here at home, suggests the king our master

To this last costly treaty, the interview,

That swallow’d so much treasure, and like a glass

Did break i’ the rinsing.

Nor.Faith, and so it did.

Buck.Pray give me favour, sir. This cunning cardinal

The articles o’ the combination drew

As himself pleas’d; and they were ratified

As he cried, ‘Thus let be,’ to as much end

As give a crutch to the dead. But our count-cardinal

Has done this, and ’tis well; for worthy Wolsey,

Who cannot err, he did it. Now this follows,—

Which, as I take it, is a kind of puppy

To the old dam, treason, Charles the emperor,

Under pretence to see the queen his aunt,—

For ’twas indeed his colour, but he came

To whisper Wolsey,—here makes visitation:

His fears were, that the interview betwixt

England and France might, through their amity,

Breed him some prejudice; for from this league

Peep’d harms that menac’d him. He privily

Deals with our cardinal, and, as I trow,

Which I do well; for, I am sure the emperor

Paid ere he promis’d; whereby his suit was granted

Ere it was ask’d; but when the way was made,

And pav’d with gold, the emperor thus desir’d:

That he would please to alter the king’s course,

And break the foresaid peace. Let the king know—

As soon he shall by me—that thus the cardinal

Does buy and sell his honour as he pleases,

And for his own advantage.

Nor.I am sorry

To hear this of him; and could wish he were

Something mistaken in ’t.

Buck.No, not a syllable:

I do pronounce him in that very shape

He shall appear in proof.

Enter BRANDON; a Sergeant-at-Arms before him.

Bran.Your office, sergeant; execute it.


My Lord the Duke of Buckingham, and Earl

Of Hereford, Stafford, and Northampton, I

Arrest thee of high treason, in the name

Of our most sovereign king.

Buck.Lo you, my lord,

The net has fall’n upon me! I shall perish

Under device and practice.

Bran.I am sorry

To see you ta’en from liberty, to look on

The business present. ’Tis his highness’ pleasure

You shall to the Tower.

Buck.It will help me nothing

To plead mine innocence, for that dye is on me

Which makes my whit’st part black. The will of heaven

Be done in this and all things! I obey.

O! my Lord Abergavenny, fare you well!

Bran.Nay, he must bear you company.[To ABERGAVENNY.]The king

Is pleas’d you shall to the Tower, till you know

How he determines further.

Aber.As the duke said,

The will of heaven be done, and the king’s pleasure

By me obey’d!

Bran.Here is a warrant from

The king to attach Lord Montacute; and the bodies

Of the duke’s confessor, John de la Car,

One Gilbert Peck, his chancellor,—

Buck.So, so;

These are the limbs o’ the plot: no more, I hope.

Bran.A monk o’ the Chartreux.

Buck.O! Nicholas Hopkins?


Buck.My surveyor is false; the o’er-great cardinal

Hath show’d him gold. My life is spann’d already:

I am the shadow of poor Buckingham,

Whose figure even this instant cloud puts on,

By dark’ning my clear sun. My lord, farewell.[Exeunt.