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Henry VIII Scenes

Scene 1

London. Queen Katherine’s apartment.

(Queen; Women; Gentlewoman; Griffith; Wolsey; Campeius)

Cardinals Wolsey and Campeius come to persuade the Queen to yield to the King’s wish, without a trial. She indignantly refuses. The Cardinals hypocritically protest their devotion to the Queen’s cause. (199 lines)

Enter Queen and her Women as at work.


Take thy lute, wench, my soul grows sad with troubles.

Sing, and disperse ’em if thou canst. Leave working.



Orpheus with his lute made trees,

And the mountain tops that freeze,

Bow themselves when he did sing.

To his music plants and flowers

Ever sprung, as sun and showers

There had made a lasting spring.

Every thing that heard him play,

Even the billows of the sea,

Hung their heads, and then lay by.

In sweet music is such art,

Killing care and grief of heart

Fall asleep, or hearing, die.

Enter Griffith.


How now?


And’t please your Grace, the two great Cardinals

Wait in the presence.


Would they speak with me?


They will’d me say so, madam.


Pray their Graces

To come near.

Exit Griffith.

What can be their business

With me, a poor weak woman, fall’n from favor?

I do not like their coming. Now I think on’t,

They should be good men, their affairs as righteous.

But all hoods make not monks.

Enter the two Cardinals, Wolsey and Campeius.


Peace to your Highness!


Your Graces find me here part of a huswife

(I would be all) against the worst may happen.

What are your pleasures with me, reverent lords?


May it please you, noble madam, to withdraw

Into your private chamber, we shall give you

The full cause of our coming.


Speak it here;

There’s nothing I have done yet, o’ my conscience,

Deserves a corner. Would all other women

Could speak this with as free a soul as I do!

My lords, I care not (so much I am happy

Above a number) if my actions

Were tried by ev’ry tongue, ev’ry eye saw ’em,

Envy and base opinion set against ’em,

I know my life so even. If your business

Seek me out, and that way I am wife in,

Out with it boldly: truth loves open dealing.


Tanta est erga te mentis integritas, regina serenissima—


O, good my lord, no Latin;

I am not such a truant since my coming,

As not to know the language I have liv’d in.

A strange tongue makes my cause more strange, suspicious;

Pray speak in English. Here are some will thank you,

If you speak truth, for their poor mistress’ sake;

Believe me, she has had much wrong. Lord Cardinal,

The willing’st sin I ever yet committed

May be absolv’d in English.


Noble lady,

I am sorry my integrity should breed

(And service to his Majesty and you)

So deep suspicion, where all faith was meant.

We come not by the way of accusation

To taint that honor every good tongue blesses,

Nor to betray you any way to sorrow—

You have too much, good lady; but to know

How you stand minded in the weighty difference

Between the King and you, and to deliver

(Like free and honest men) our just opinions

And comforts to your cause.


Most honor’d madam,

My Lord of York, out of his noble nature,

Zeal and obedience he still bore your Grace,

Forgetting (like a good man) your late censure

Both of his truth and him (which was too far),

Offers, as I do, in a sign of peace,

His service and his counsel.



To betray me.—

My lords, I thank you both for your good wills,

Ye speak like honest men (pray God ye prove so!),

But how to make ye suddenly an answer

In such a point of weight, so near mine honor

(More near my life, I fear), with my weak wit,

And to such men of gravity and learning,

In truth I know not. I was set at work

Among my maids, full little, God knows, looking

Either for such men or such business.

For her sake that I have been—for I feel

The last fit of my greatness—good your Graces,

Let me have time and counsel for my cause.

Alas, I am a woman, friendless, hopeless!


Madam, you wrong the King’s love with these fears,

Your hopes and friends are infinite.


In England

But little for my profit; can you think, lords,

That any Englishman dare give me counsel?

Or be a known friend, ’gainst his Highness’ pleasure

(Though he be grown so desperate to be honest),

And live a subject? Nay forsooth, my friends,

They that must weigh out my afflictions,

They that my trust must grow to, live not here.

They are (as all my other comforts) far hence

In mine own country, lords.


I would your Grace

Would leave your griefs, and take my counsel.


How, sir?


Put your main cause into the King’s protection,

He’s loving and most gracious. ’Twill be much

Both for your honor better and your cause;

For if the trial of the law o’ertake ye,

You’ll part away disgrac’d.


He tells you rightly.


Ye tell me what ye wish for both—my ruin.

Is this your Christian counsel? Out upon ye!

Heaven is above all yet; there sits a judge

That no king can corrupt.


Your rage mistakes us.


The more shame for ye! Holy men I thought ye,

Upon my soul, two reverend cardinal virtues;

But cardinal sins and hollow hearts I fear ye.

Mend ’em for shame, my lords! Is this your comfort?

The cordial that ye bring a wretched lady,

A woman lost among ye, laugh’d at, scorn’d?

I will not wish ye half my miseries,

I have more charity. But say I warn’d ye;

Take heed, for heaven’s sake take heed, lest at once

The burden of my sorrows fall upon ye.


Madam, this is a mere distraction,

You turn the good we offer into envy.


Ye turn me into nothing! Woe upon ye

And all such false professors! Would you have me

(If you have any justice, any pity,

If ye be any thing but churchmen’s habits)

Put my sick cause into his hands that hates me?

Alas, h’as banish’d me his bed already,

His love, too long ago! I am old, my lords,

And all the fellowship I hold now with him

Is only my obedience. What can happen

To me above this wretchedness? All your studies

Make me a curse like this!


Your fears are worse.


Have I liv’d thus long (let me speak myself,

Since virtue finds no friends) a wife, a true one?

A woman (I dare say without vainglory)

Never yet branded with suspicion?

Have I with all my full affections

Still met the King? Lov’d him next heav’n? Obey’d him?

Been, out of fondness, superstitious to him?

Almost forgot my pray’rs to content him?

And am I thus rewarded? ’Tis not well, lords.

Bring me a constant woman to her husband,

One that ne’er dream’d a joy beyond his pleasure;

And to that woman (when she has done most)

Yet will I add an honor—a great patience.


Madam, you wander from the good we aim at.


My lord, I dare not make myself so guilty

To give up willingly that noble title

Your master wed me to. Nothing but death

Shall e’er divorce my dignities.


Pray hear me.


Would I had never trod this English earth,

Or felt the flatteries that grow upon it!

Ye have angels’ faces, but heaven knows your hearts.

What will become of me now, wretched lady?

I am the most unhappy woman living.

Alas, poor wenches, where are now your fortunes?

Shipwrack’d upon a kingdom, where no pity,

No friends, no hope, no kindred weep for me,

Almost no grave allow’d me. Like the lily,

That once was mistress of the field, and flourish’d,

I’ll hang my head and perish.


If your Grace

Could but be brought to know our ends are honest,

You’ld feel more comfort. Why should we, good lady,

Upon what cause, wrong you? Alas, our places,

The way of our profession is against it;

We are to cure such sorrows, not to sow ’em.

For goodness sake, consider what you do,

How you may hurt yourself—ay, utterly

Grow from the King’s acquaintance, by this carriage.

The hearts of princes kiss obedience,

So much they love it; but to stubborn spirits

They swell and grow, as terrible as storms.

I know you have a gentle, noble temper,

A soul as even as a calm; pray think us

Those we profess, peacemakers, friends, and servants.


Madam, you’ll find it so. You wrong your virtues

With these weak women’s fears. A noble spirit

As yours was put into you, ever casts

Such doubts, as false coin, from it. The King loves you,

Beware you lose it not. For us (if you please

To trust us in your business), we are ready

To use our utmost studies in your service.


Do what ye will, my lords; and pray forgive me;

If I have us’d myself unmannerly,

You know I am a woman, lacking wit

To make a seemly answer to such persons.

Pray do my service to his Majesty;

He has my heart yet and shall have my prayers

While I shall have my life. Come, reverend fathers,

Bestow your counsels on me. She now begs

That little thought, when she set footing here,

She should have bought her dignities so dear.



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