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

Act II. Scene I.

The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eighth

Westminster.A Street.

Enter two Gentlemen, meeting.

First Gent.Whither away so fast?

Sec. Gent.O! God save ye.

E’en to the hall, to hear what shall become

Of the great Duke of Buckingham.

First Gent.I’ll save you

That labour, sir. All’s now done but the ceremony

Of bringing back the prisoner.

Sec. Gent.Were you there?

First Gent.Yes, indeed, was I.

Sec. Gent.Pray speak what has happen’d.

First Gent.You may guess quickly what.

Sec. Gent.Is he found guilty?

First Gent.Yes, truly is he, and condemn’d upon ’t.

Sec. Gent.I am sorry for ’t.

First Gent.So are a number more.

Sec. Gent.But, pray, how pass’d it?

First Gent.I’ll tell you in a little. The great duke

Came to the bar; where, to his accusations

He pleaded still not guilty, and alleg’d

Many sharp reasons to defeat the law.

The king’s attorney on the contrary

Urg’d on the examinations, proofs, confessions

Of divers witnesses, which the duke desir’d

To have brought, vivâ voce, to his face:

At which appear’d against him his surveyor;

Sir Gilbert Peck his chancellor; and John Car,

Confessor to him; with that devil-monk,

Hopkins, that made this mischief.

Sec. Gent.That was he

That fed him with his prophecies?

First Gent.The same.

All these accus’d him strongly; which he fain

Would have flung from him, but, indeed, he could not:

And so his peers, upon this evidence,

Have found him guilty of high treason. Much

He spoke, and learnedly, for life; but all

Was either pitied in him or forgotten.

Sec. Gent.After all this how did he bear himself?

First Gent.When he was brought again to the bar, to hear

His knell rung out, his judgment, he was stirr’d

With such an agony, he sweat extremely,

And something spoke in choler, ill, and hasty:

But he fell to himself again, and sweetly

In all the rest show’d a most noble patience.

Sec. Gent.I do not think he fears death.

First Gent.Sure, he does not;

He never was so womanish; the cause

He may a little grieve at.

Sec. Gent.Certainly

The cardinal is the end of this.

First Gent.’Tis likely

By all conjectures: first, Kildare’s attainder,

Then deputy of Ireland; who, remov’d,

Earl Surrey was sent thither, and in haste too,

Lest he should help his father.

Sec. Gent.That trick of state

Was a deep envious one.

First Gent.At his return,

No doubt he will requite it. This is noted,

And generally, whoever the king favours,

The cardinal instantly will find employment,

And far enough from court too.

Sec. Gent.All the commons

Hate him perniciously, and o’ my conscience,

Wish him ten fathom deep: this duke as much

They love and dote on; call him bounteous Buckingham,

The mirror of all courtesy;—

First Gent.Stay there, sir,

And see the noble ruin’d man you speak of.

Enter BUCKINGHAM from his arraignment; Tipstaves before him; the axe with the edge towards him; halberds on each side: with him SIR THOMAS LOVELL, SIR NICHOLAS VAUX, SIR WILLIAM SANDS, and common people.

Sec. Gent.Let’s stand close, and behold him.

Buck.All good people,

You that thus far have come to pity me,

Hear what I say, and then go home and lose me.

I have this day receiv’d a traitor’s judgment,

And by that name must die: yet, heaven bear witness,

And if I have a conscience, let it sink me,

Even as the axe falls, if I be not faithful!

The law I bear no malice for my death,

’T has done upon the premises but justice;

But those that sought it I could wish more Christians:

Be what they will, I heartily forgive ’em.

Yet let ’em look they glory not in mischief,

Nor build their evils on the graves of great men;

For then my guiltless blood must cry against ’em.

For further life in this world I ne’er hope,

Nor will I sue, although the king have mercies

More than I dare make faults. You few that lov’d me,

And dare be bold to weep for Buckingham,

His noble friends and fellows, whom to leave

Is only bitter to him, only dying,

Go with me, like good angels, to my end;

And, as the long divorce of steel falls on me,

Make of your prayers one sweet sacrifice,

And lift my soul to heaven. Lead on, o’ God’s name.

Lov.I do beseech your Grace, for charity,

If ever any malice in your heart

Were hid against me, now to forgive me frankly.

Buck.Sir Thomas Lovell, I as free forgive you

As I would be forgiven: I forgive all.

There cannot be those numberless offences

’Gainst me that I cannot take peace with: no black envy

Shall mark my grave. Commend me to his Grace;

And, if he speak of Buckingham, pray, tell him

You met him half in heaven. My vows and prayers

Yet are the king’s; and, till my soul forsake,

Shall cry for blessings on him: may he live

Longer than I have time to tell his years!

Ever belov’d and loving may his rule be!

And when old time shall lead him to his end,

Goodness and he fill up one monument!

Lov.To the water side I must conduct your Grace;

Then give my charge up to Sir Nicholas Vaux,

Who undertakes you to your end.

Vaux.Prepare there!

The duke is coming: see the barge be ready;

And fit it with such furniture as suits

The greatness of his person.

Buck.Nay, Sir Nicholas,

Let it alone; my state now will but mock me.

When I came hither, I was Lord High Constable,

And Duke of Buckingham; now, poor Edward Bohun:

Yet I am richer than my base accusers,

That never knew what truth meant: I now seal it;

And with that blood will make them one day groan for ’t.

My noble father, Henry of Buckingham,

Who first rais’d head against usurping Richard,

Flying for succour to his servant Banister,

Being distress’d, was by that wretch betray’d,

And without trial fell: God’s peace be with him!

Henry the Seventh succeeding, truly pitying

My father’s loss, like a most royal prince,

Restor’d me to my honours, and, out of ruins,

Made my name once more noble. Now his son,

Henry the Eighth, life, honour, name, and all

That made me happy, at one stroke has taken

For ever from the world. I had my trial,

And, must needs say, a noble one; which makes me

A little happier than my wretched father:

Yet thus far we are one in fortunes; both

Fell by our servants, by those men welov’d most:

A most unnatural and faithless service!

Heaven has an end in all; yet, you that hear me,

This from a dying man receive as certain:

Where you are liberal of your loves and counsels

Be sure you be not loose; for those you make friends

And give your hearts to, when they once perceive

The least rub in your fortunes, fall away

Like water from ye, never found again

But where they mean to sink ye. All good people,

Pray for me! I must now forsake ye: the last hour

Of my long weary life is come upon me.


And when you would say something that is sad,

Speak how I fell. I have done; and God forgive me![Exeunt BUCKINGHAM and Train.

First Gent.O! this is full of pity! Sir, it calls,

I fear, too many curses on their heads

That were the authors.

Sec. Gent.If the duke be guiltless,

’Tis full of woe; yet I can give you inkling

Of an ensuing evil, if it fall,

Greater than this.

First Gent.Good angels keep it from us!

What may it be? You do not doubt my faith, sir?

Sec. Gent.This secret is so weighty, ’twill require

A strong faith to conceal it.

First Gent.Let me have it;

I do not talk much.

Sec. Gent.I am confident:

You shall, sir. Did you not of late days hear

A buzzing of a separation

Between the king and Katharine?

First Gent.Yes, but it held not;

For when the king once heard it, out of anger

He sent command to the lord mayor straight

To stop the rumour, and allay those tongues

That durst disperse it.

Sec. Gent.But that slander, sir,

Is found a truth now; for it grows again

Fresher than e’er it was; and held for certain

The king will venture at it. Either the cardinal,

Or some about him near, have, out of malice

To the good queen, possess’d him with a scruple

That will undo her: to confirm this too,

Cardinal Campeius is arriv’d, and lately;

As all think, for this business.

First Gent.’Tis the cardinal;

And merely to revenge him on the emperor

For not bestowing on him, at his asking,

The archbishopric of Toledo, this is purpos’d.

Sec. Gent.I think you have hit the mark: but is ’t not cruel

That she should feel the smart of this? The cardinal

Will have his will, and she must fall.

First Gent.’Tis woeful.

We are too open here to argue this;

Let’s think in private more.[Exeunt.