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Henry VIII Scenes

Scene 1

Westminster. A street.

(Gentlemen; Buckingham; Tipstaves; Sir Thomas Lovell; Sir Nicholas Vaux; Sir Walter Sands; Halberdiers)

Two gentlemen conversing, inform us that Buckingham is condemned to die. They are convinced that the Cardinal is at the bottom of this, and comment on how the people hate Wolsey and love Buckingham. Buckingham gives a farewell speech protesting his innocence, and leaves to his execution. The two gentlemen discuss the rumor that Henry is to divorce Queen Katherine; they blame Wolsey for this. (195 lines)

Enter two Gentlemen at several doors.

1. GENT.

Whither away so fast?

2. GENT.

O, God save ye!

Ev’n to the hall, to hear what shall become

Of the great Duke of Buckingham.

1. GENT.

I’ll save you

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

Of bringing back the prisoner.

2. GENT.

Were you there?

1. GENT.

Yes indeed was I.

2. GENT.

Pray speak what has happen’d.

1. GENT.

You may guess quickly what.

2. GENT.

Is he found guilty?

1. GENT.

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

2. GENT.

I am sorry for’t.

1. GENT.

So are a number more.

2. GENT.

But pray how pass’d it?

1. 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 alleged

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 him brought vivâ voce to his face;

At which appear’d against him his surveyor,

Sir Gilbert Perk his chancellor, and John Car,

Confessor to him, with that devil monk,

Hopkins, that made this mischief.

2. GENT.

That was he

That fed him with his prophecies?

1. 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.

2. GENT.

After all this, how did he bear himself?

1. GENT.

When he was brought again to th’ 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.

2. GENT.

I do not think he fears death.

1. GENT.

Sure he does not,

He never was so womanish. The cause

He may a little grieve at.

2. GENT.


The Cardinal is the end of this.

1. GENT.

’Tis likely,

By all conjectures: first, Kildare’s attendure,

Then deputy of Ireland, who remov’d,

Earl Surrey was sent thither, and in haste too,

Lest he should help his father.

2. GENT.

That trick of state

Was a deep envious one.

1. GENT.

At his return

No doubt he will requite it. This is noted,

And generally, whoever the King favors,

The Card’nal instantly will find employment,

And far enough from court too.

2. 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—

Enter Buckingham from his arraignment, Tipstaves before him, the axe with the edge towards him, Halberds on each side; accompanied with Sir Thomas Lovell, Sir Nicholas Vaux, Sir Walter Sands, and common people, etc.

1. GENT.

Stay there, sir,

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

2. GENT.

Let’s stand close and behold him.


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 a’ God’s name.


I do beseech your Grace, for charity,

If ever any malice in your heart

Were hid against me, now to forgive me frankly.


Sir Thomas Lovell, I as free forgive you

As I would be forgiven. I forgive all.

There cannot be those numberless offenses

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

Shall make 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!


To th’ water side I must conduct your Grace;

Then give my charge up to Sir Nicholas Vaux,

Who undertakes you to your end.


Prepare there,

The Duke is coming. See the barge be ready;

And fit it with such furniture as suits

The greatness of his person.


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 ’em one day groan for’t.

My noble father, Henry of Buckingham,

Who first rais’d head against usurping Richard,

Flying for succor 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 honors; and out of ruins

Made my name once more noble. Now his son,

Henry the Eight, life, honor, name, and all

That made me happy, at one stroke has taken

Forever 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 we lov’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 Duke and Train.

1. GENT.

O, this is full of pity! Sir, it calls,

I fear, too many curses on their heads

That were the authors.

2. 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.

1. GENT.

Good angels keep it from us!

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

2. GENT.

This secret is so weighty, ’twill require

A strong faith to conceal it.

1. GENT.

Let me have it;

I do not talk much.

2. GENT.

I am confident;

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

A buzzing of a separation

Between the King and Katherine?

1. 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 rumor, and allay those tongues

That durst disperse it.

2. 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.

1. 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.

2. 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.

1. GENT.

’Tis woeful.

We are too open here to argue this;

Let’s think in private more.



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