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Henry VIII Scenes

Scene 1

London. An ante-chamber in the palace.

(Duke of Norfolk; Duke of Buckingham; Lord Abergavenny; Cardinal Wolsey; Guards; Brandon; Sergeant-at-Arms; Wolsey’s First Secretary; Wolsey’s Second Secretary)

The Duke of Buckingham hears from the Duke of Norfolk about the meeting between King Henry VIII and the French king. On hearing that the stunning entertainments provided were set up by Cardinal Wolsey, Buckingham erupts, as he hates and despises the Cardinal as an over-proud, lower-class upstart, a corrupt man slowly taking over all power in the state. Norfolk advises Buckingham to be careful. Wolsey enters, and he and Buckingham glare at one another. The Cardinal goes to interrogate a servant of Buckingham’s. Buckingham guesses that Wolsey is planning to make a move against him, and hotheadedly swears that he will denounce the Cardinal to the King for treason. Before he can do so, he is arrested for treason himself, and learning that his surveyor has talked, realizes that he is done for. (268 lines)

Enter the Duke of Norfolk at one door; at the other, the Duke of Buckingham and the Lord Abergavenny.


Good morrow, and well met. How have ye done

Since last we saw in France?


I thank your Grace:

Healthful, and ever since a fresh admirer

Of what I saw there.


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.


’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?


All the whole time

I was my chamber’s prisoner.


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. Today the French,

All clinquant, all in gold, like heathen gods,

Shone down the English; and, tomorrow, 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 labor

Was to them as a painting. Now this masque

Was cried incomparable; and th’ 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.


O, you go far.


As I belong to worship and affect

In honor honesty, the tract of ev’ry 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.


Who did guide—

I mean, who set the body and the limbs

Of this great sport together, as you guess?


One, certes, that promises no element

In such a business.


I pray you, who, my lord?


All this was ord’red by the good discretion

Of the right reverend Cardinal of York.


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’ th’ beneficial sun,

And keep it from the earth.


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 th’ crown, neither allied

To eminent assistants, but spider-like

Out of his self-drawing web, ’a 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.


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.


Why the devil,

Upon this French going out, took he upon him

(Without the privity o’ th’ King) t’ 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 honor

He meant to lay upon; and his own letter,

The honorable Board of Council out,

Must fetch him in he papers.


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.


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?


Grievingly I think

The peace between the French and us not values

The cost that did conclude it.


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.


Which is budded out,

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

Our merchants’ goods at Bordeaux.


Is it therefore

Th’ ambassador is silenc’d?


Marry, is’t.


A proper title of a peace, and purchas’d

At a superfluous rate!


Why, all this business

Our reverend Cardinal carried.


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

Honor 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 an Buckingham, and Buckingham on him, both full of disdain.


The Duke of Buckingham’s surveyor? Ha?

Where’s his examination?


Here, so please you.


Is he in person ready?


Ay, please your Grace.


Well, we shall then know more, and Buckingham

Shall lessen this big look.

Exeunt Cardinal and his Train.


This butcher’s cur is venom’d-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.


What, are you chaf’d?

Ask God for temp’rance, that’s th’ appliance only

Which your disease requires.


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 th’ King;

I’ll follow and outstare him.


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.


I’ll to the King,

And from a mouth of honor quite cry down

This Ipswich fellow’s insolence; or proclaim

There’s difference in no persons.


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’t 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.


Say not treasonous.


To th’ 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 rav’nous

As he is subtile, 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—th’ interview

That swallowed so much treasure, and like a glass

Did break i’ th’ wrenching.


Faith, and so it did.


Pray give me favor, sir: this cunning Cardinal

The articles o’ th’ 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 th’ 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 th’ old dam, treason), Charles the Emperor,

Under pretense to see the Queen his aunt

(For ’twas indeed his color, 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—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 honor as he pleases,

And for his own advantage.


I am sorry

To hear this of him; and could wish he were

Something mistaken in’t.


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, and two or three of the Guard.


Your office, sergeant; execute it.



My lord the Duke of Buckingham and Earl

Of Herford, Stafford, and Northampton, I

Arrest thee of high treason, in the name

Of our most sovereign King.


Lo you, my lord,

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

Under device and practice.


I am sorry

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

The business present. ’Tis his Highness’ pleasure

You shall to th’ Tower.


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 heav’n

Be done in this and all things! I obey.

O my Lord Aburga’ny, fare you well!


Nay, he must bear you company.

To Abergavenny.

The King

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

How he determines further.


As the Duke said,

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

By me obey’d!


Here is a warrant from

The King t’ attach Lord Montacute, and the bodies

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

One Gilbert Perk, his chancellor—


So, so;

These are the limbs o’ th’ plot. No more, I hope?


A monk o’ th’ Chartreux.


O, Nicholas Hopkins?




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.



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