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

Act II. Scene II.

The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eighth

An Antechamber in the Palace.

Enter the Lord Chamberlain, reading a letter.

Cham.My lord, the horses your lordship sent for, with all the care I had, I saw well chosen, ridden, and furnished. They were young and handsome, and of the best breed in the north. When they were ready to set out for London, a man of my Lord Cardinal’s, by commission and main power, took them from me; with this reason: His master would be served before a subject, if not before the king; which stopped our mouths, sir.

I fear he will indeed. Well, let him have them:

He will have all, I think.


Nor.Well met, my Lord Chamberlain.

Cham.Good day to both your Graces.

Suf.How is the king employ’d?

Cham.I left him private,

Full of sad thoughts and troubles.

Nor.What’s the cause?

Cham.It seems the marriage with his brother’s wife

Has crept too near his conscience.

Suf.No; his conscience.

Has crept too near another lady.

Nor.’Tis so:

This is the cardinal’s doing, the king-cardinal:

That blind priest, like the eldest son of Fortune,

Turns what he list. The king will know him one day.

Suf.Pray God he do! he’ll never know himself else.

Nor.How holily he works in all his business,

And with what zeal! for, now he has crack’d the league

Between us and the emperor, the queen’s great nephew,

He dives into the king’s soul, and there scatters

Dangers, doubts, wringing of the conscience,

Fears, and despairs; and all these for his marriage:

And out of all these, to restore the king,

He counsels a divorce; a loss of her,

That like a jewel has hung twenty years

About his neck, yet never lost her lustre;

Of her, that loves him with that excellence

That angels love good men with; even of her,

That, when the greatest stroke of fortune falls,

Will bless the king: and is not this course pious?

Cham.Heaven keep me from such counsel! ’Tis most true

These news are every where; every tongue speaks ’em,

And every true heart weeps for ’t. All that dare

Look into these affairs, see this main end,

The French king’s sister. Heaven will one day open

The king’s eyes, that so long have slept upon

This bold bad man.

Suf.And free us from his slavery.

Nor.We had need pray,

And heartily, for our deliverance;

Or this imperious man will work us all

From princes into pages. All men’s honours

Lie like one lump before him, to be fashion’d

Into what pitch he please.

Suf.For me, my lords,

I love him not, nor fear him; there’s my creed.

As I am made without him, so I’ll stand,

If the king please; his curses and his blessings

Touch me alike, they’re breath I not believe in.

I knew him, and I know him; so I leave him

To him that made him proud, the pope.

Nor.Let’s in;

And with some other business put the king

From these sad thoughts, that work too much upon him.

My lord, you’ll bear us company?

Cham.Excuse me;

The king hath sent me otherwhere: besides,

You’ll find a most unfit time to disturb him:

Health to your lordships.

Nor.Thanks, my good Lord Chamberlain.[Exit Lord Chamberlain.

NORFOLK opens a folding-door.The KING is discovered sitting and reading pensively.

Suf.How sad he looks! sure, he is much afflicted.

K. Hen.Who is there, ha?

Nor.Pray God he be not angry.

K. Hen.Who’s there, I say? How dare you thrust yourselves

Into my private meditations?

Who am I, ha?

Nor.A gracious king that pardons all offences

Malice ne’er meant: our breach of duty this way

Is business of estate; in which we come

To know your royal pleasure.

K. Hen.Ye are too bold.

Go to; I’ll make ye know your times of business:

Is this an hour for temporal affairs, ha?


Who’s there? my good Lord Cardinal? O! my Wolsey,

The quiet of my wounded conscience;

Thou art a cure fit for a king.[To CAMPEIUS.]You’re welcome,

Most learned reverend sir, into our kingdom:

Use us, and it.[To WOLSEY.]My good lord, have great care

I be not found a talker.

Wol.Sir, you cannot.

I would your Grace would give us but an hour

Of private conference.

K. Hen.[To NORFOLK and SUFFOLK.]We are busy: go.

Nor.[Aside to SUFFOLK.]This priest has no pride in him!

Suf.[Aside to NORFOLK.]Not to speak of;

I would not be so sick though for his place:

But this cannot continue.

Nor.[Aside to SUFFOLK.]If it do,

I’ll venture one have-at-him.

Suf.[Aside to NORFOLK.]I another.[Exeunt NORFOLK and SUFFOLK.

Wol.Your Grace has given a precedent of wisdom

Above all princes, in committing freely

Your scruple to the voice of Christendom.

Who can be angry now? what envy reach you?

The Spaniard, tied by blood and favour to her,

Must now confess, if they have any goodness,

The trial just and noble. All the clerks,

I mean the learned ones, in Christian kingdoms

Have their free voices: Rome, the nurse of judgment,

Invited by your noble self, hath sent

One general tongue unto us, this good man,

This just and learned priest, Cardinal Campeius;

Whom once more I present unto your highness.

K. Hen.And once more in my arms I bid him welcome,

And thank the holy conclave for their loves:

They have sent me such a man I would have wish’d for.

Cam.Your Grace must needs deserve all strangers’ loves,

You are so noble. To your highness’ hand

I tender my commission, by whose virtue,—

The court of Rome commanding,—you, my Lord

Cardinal of York, are join’d with me, their servant,

In the impartial judging of this business.

K. Hen.Two equal men. The queen shall be acquainted

Forthwith for what you come. Where’s Gardiner?

Wol.I know your majesty has always lov’d her

So dear in heart, not to deny her that

A woman of less place might ask by law,

Scholars, allow’d freely to argue for her.

K. Hen.Ay, and the best, she shall have; and my favour

To him that does best: God forbid else. Cardinal,

Prithee, call Gardiner to me, my new secretary:

I find him a fit fellow.[Exit WOLSEY.

Re-enter WOLSEY, with GARDINER.

Wol.[Aside to GARDINER.]Give me your hand; much joy and favour to you;

You are the king’s now.

Gard.[Aside to WOLSEY.]But to be commanded

For ever by your Grace, whose hand has rais’d me.

K. Hen.Come hither, Gardiner.[They converse apart.

Cam.My Lord of York, was not one Doctor Pace

In this man’s place before him?

Wol.Yes, he was.

Cam.Was he not held a learned man?

Wol.Yes, surely.

Cam.Believe me, there’s an ill opinion spread then

Even of yourself, Lord Cardinal.

Wol.How! of me?

Cam.They will not stick to say, you envied him,

And fearing he would rise, he was so virtuous,

Kept him a foreign man still; which so griev’d him

That he ran mad and died.

Wol.Heaven’s peace be with him!

That’s Christian care enough: for living murmurers

There’s places of rebuke. He was a fool,

For he would needs be virtuous: that good fellow,

If I command him, follows my appointment:

I will have none so near else. Learn this, brother,

We live not to be grip’d by meaner persons.

K. Hen.Deliver this with modesty to the queen.[Exit GARDINER.

The most convenient place that I can think of

For such receipt of learning, is Black-Friars;

There ye shall meet about this weighty business.

My Wolsey, see it furnish’d. O my lord!

Would it not grieve an able man to leave

So sweet a bedfellow? But, conscience, conscience!

O! ’tis a tender place, and I must leave her.[Exeunt.