London. An ante-chamber in the palace.
(Lord Chamberlain; Duke of Norfolk; Duke of Suffolk; King Henry; Wolsey; Campeius; Gardiner)
The nobles discuss the king’s projected divorce as the work of hated Wolsey. Norfolk and Suffolk go to the King and are driven away in anger, while Wolsey is received graciously. Wolsey has brought the papal envoy, Cardinal Campeius, who is to be the impartial judge of the validity of Henry’s wedding. The King’s new secretary, Gardiner, vows to be faithful to the Cardinal who raised him to this place. (158 lines)
Enter Lord Chamberlain reading this letter.
“My lord, the horses your lordship sent for, with all the care I had, I saw well chosen, ridden, and furnish’d. 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 ’em from me, with this reason: his master would be serv’d before a subject, if not before the King, which stopp’d our mouths, sir.”
I fear he will indeed. Well, let him have them:
He will have all, I think.
Enter to the Lord Chamberlain the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk.
Well met, my Lord Chamberlain.
Good day to both your Graces.
How is the King employ’d?
I left him private,
Full of sad thoughts and troubles.
What’s the cause?
It seems the marriage with his brother’s wife
Has crept too near his conscience.
No, his conscience
Has crept too near another lady.
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.
Pray God he do, he’ll never know himself else.
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?
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.
And free us from his slavery.
We had need pray,
And heartily, for our deliverance,
Or this imperious man will work us all
From princes into pages. All men’s honors
Lie like one lump before him, to be fashion’d
Into what pitch he please.
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; th’ are breath I not believe in.
I knew him, and I know him; so I leave him
To him that made him proud, the Pope.
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?
The King has sent me otherwhere. Besides,
You’ll find a most unfit time to disturb him.
Health to your lordships.
Thanks, my good Lord Chamberlain.
Exit Lord Chamberlain.
The King draws the curtain and sits reading pensively.
How sad he looks! Sure he is much afflicted.
Who’s there? Ha?
Pray God he be not angry.
Who’s there, I say? How dare you thrust yourselves
Into my private meditations?
Who am I? Ha?
A gracious king that pardons all offenses
Malice ne’er meant. Our breach of duty this way
Is business of estate; in which we come
To know your royal pleasure.
Ye are too bold.
Go to; I’ll make ye know your times of business.
Is this an hour for temporal affairs? Ha?
Enter Wolsey and Campeius with a commission.
Who’s there? My good Lord Cardinal? O my Wolsey,
The quiet of my wounded conscience,
Thou art a cure fit for a king.
Most learned reverend sir, into our kingdom,
Use us and it.
My good lord, have great care
I be not found a talker.
Sir, you cannot.
I would your Grace would give us but an hour
Of private conference.
To Norfolk and Suffolk.
We are busy; go.
Aside to Suffolk
This priest has no pride in him?
Aside to Norfolk
Not to speak of.
I would not be so sick though for his place.
But this cannot continue.
Aside to Suffolk
If it do,
I’ll venture one; have at him!
Aside to Norfolk
Exeunt Norfolk and Suffolk.
Your Grace has given a president 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 favor 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, Card’nal Campeius,
Whom once more I present unto your Highness.
And once more in mine 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.
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 unpartial judging of this business.
Two equal men. The Queen shall be acquainted
Forthwith for what you come. Where’s Gardiner?
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.
Ay, and the best she shall have; and my favor
To him that does best, God forbid else. Cardinal,
Prithee call Gardiner to me, my new secretary.
I find him a fit fellow.
Enter Wolsey with Gardiner.
Aside to Gardiner
Give me your hand. Much joy and favor to you;
You are the King’s now.
Aside to Wolsey
But to be commanded
Forever by your Grace, whose hand has rais’d me.
Come hither, Gardiner.
Walks and whispers.
My Lord of York, was not one Doctor Pace
In this man’s place before him?
Yes, he was.
Was he not held a learned man?
Believe me, there’s an ill opinion spread then,
Even of yourself, Lord Cardinal.
How? Of me?
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.
Heav’n’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.
Deliver this with modesty to th’ Queen.
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.