(Katherine Dowager; Griffith; Patience; Six Vision Dancers; Messenger; Lord Capuchius)
Katherine, now known as Queen Dowager, hears of Wolsey’s death. She finds it difficult to pity or forgive him, but her attendant Griffith praises the late Cardinal’s virtues. She falls asleep and has a vision of heavenly beings welcoming her. Lord Capuchius, the ambassador of Katherine’s nephew the Emperor of Germany, comes to visit her, bringing the King’s regards. She gives him a letter for Henry, in which she asks him to care for their daughter Mary. Katherine is near death. (194 lines)
Enter Katherine, Dowager, sick, led between Griffith, her Gentleman Usher, and Patience, her woman.
How does your Grace?
O Griffith, sick to death!
My legs like loaden branches bow to th’ earth,
Willing to leave their burden. Reach a chair.
So; now, methinks, I feel a little ease.
Didst thou not tell me, Griffith, as thou ledst me,
That the great child of honor, Cardinal Wolsey,
Yes, madam; but I think your Grace,
Out of the pain you suffer’d, gave no ear to’t.
Prithee, good Griffith, tell me how he died.
If well, he stepp’d before me happily
For my example.
Well, the voice goes, madam:
For after the stout Earl Northumberland
Arrested him at York, and brought him forward,
As a man sorely tainted, to his answer,
He fell sick suddenly and grew so ill
He could not sit his mule.
Alas, poor man!
At last, with easy roads, he came to Leicester,
Lodg’d in the abbey; where the reverend abbot
With all his covent honorably receiv’d him;
To whom he gave these words; “O Father Abbot,
An old man, broken with the storms of state,
Is come to lay his weary bones among ye;
Give him a little earth for charity!”
So went to bed; where eagerly his sickness
Pursu’d him still, and three nights after this,
About the hour of eight, which he himself
Foretold should be his last, full of repentance,
Continual meditations, tears, and sorrows,
He gave his honors to the world again,
His blessed part to heaven, and slept in peace.
So may he rest, his faults lie gently on him!
Yet thus far, Griffith, give me leave to speak him,
And yet with charity. He was a man
Of an unbounded stomach, ever ranking
Himself with princes; one that by suggestion
Tied all the kingdom. Simony was fair play;
His own opinion was his law. I’ th’ presence
He would say untruths, and be ever double
Both in his words and meaning. He was never
(But where he meant to ruin) pitiful.
His promises were, as he then was, mighty;
But his performance, as he is now, nothing.
Of his own body he was ill, and gave
The clergy ill example.
Men’s evil manners live in brass, their virtues
We write in water. May it please your Highness
To hear me speak his good now?
Yes, good Griffith,
I were malicious else.
Though from an humble stock, undoubtedly
Was fashion’d to much honor. From his cradle
He was a scholar, and a ripe and good one;
Exceeding wise, fair-spoken, and persuading;
Lofty and sour to them that lov’d him not,
But to those men that sought him, sweet as summer.
And though he were unsatisfied in getting
(Which was a sin), yet in bestowing, madam,
He was most princely: ever witness for him
Those twins of learning that he rais’d in you,
Ipswich and Oxford! One of which fell with him,
Unwilling to outlive the good that did it;
The other (though unfinish’d) yet so famous,
So excellent in art, and still so rising,
That Christendom shall ever speak his virtue.
His overthrow heap’d happiness upon him;
For then, and not till then, he felt himself,
And found the blessedness of being little;
And to add greater honors to his age
Than man could give him, he died fearing God.
After my death I wish no other herald,
No other speaker of my living actions
To keep mine honor from corruption,
But such an honest chronicler as Griffith.
Whom I most hated living, thou hast made me,
With thy religious truth and modesty,
Now in his ashes honor. Peace be with him!
Patience, be near me still, and set me lower;
I have not long to trouble thee. Good Griffith,
Cause the musicians play me that sad note
I nam’d my knell, whilst I sit meditating
On that celestial harmony I go to.
Sad and solemn music.
She is asleep. Good wench, let’s sit down quiet
For fear we wake her; softly, gentle Patience.
Enter, solemnly tripping one after another, six personages, clad in white robes, wearing on their heads garlands of bays, and golden vizards on their faces, branches of bays or palm in their hands.
They first congee unto her, then dance; and, at certain changes, the first two hold a spare garland over her head, at which the other four make reverend curtsies. Then the two that held the garland deliver the same to the other next two, who observe the same order in their changes, and holding the garland over her head; which done, they deliver the same garland to the last two, who likewise observe the same order; at which (as it were by inspiration) she makes (in her sleep) signs of rejoicing, and holdeth up her hands to heaven: and so in their dancing vanish, carrying the garland with them. The music continues.
Spirits of peace, where are ye? Are ye all gone?
And leave me here in wretchedness behind ye?
Madam, we are here.
It is not you I call for;
Saw ye none enter since I slept?
No? Saw you not even now a blessed troop
Invite me to a banquet, whose bright faces
Cast thousand beams upon me, like the sun?
They promis’d me eternal happiness,
And brought me garlands, Griffith, which I feel
I am not worthy yet to wear. I shall, assuredly.
I am most joyful, madam, such good dreams
Possess your fancy.
Bid the music leave,
They are harsh and heavy to me.
Do you note
How much her Grace is alter’d on the sudden?
How long her face is drawn! How pale she looks,
And of an earthy cold! Mark her eyes!
She is going, wench. Pray, pray.
Heaven comfort her!
Enter a Messenger.
And’t like your Grace—
You are a saucy fellow,
Deserve we no more reverence?
You are to blame,
Knowing she will not lose her wonted greatness,
To use so rude behavior. Go to, kneel.
I humbly do entreat your Highness’ pardon,
My haste made me unmannerly. There is staying
A gentleman, sent from the King, to see you.
Admit him entrance, Griffith; but this fellow
Let me ne’er see again.
Enter Lord Capuchius.
If my sight fail not,
You should be lord ambassador from the Emperor,
My royal nephew, and your name Capuchius.
Madam, the same; your servant.
O my lord,
The times and titles now are alter’d strangely
With me since first you knew me. But I pray you,
What is your pleasure with me?
First, mine own service to your Grace, the next,
The King’s request that I would visit you,
Who grieves much for your weakness, and by me
Sends you his princely commendations,
And heartily entreats you take good comfort.
O my good lord, that comfort comes too late,
’Tis like a pardon after execution.
That gentle physic given in time had cur’d me;
But now I am past all comforts here but prayers.
How does his Highness?
Madam, in good health.
So may he ever do, and ever flourish,
When I shall dwell with worms, and my poor name
Banish’d the kingdom! Patience, is that letter
I caus’d you write yet sent away?
Giving it to Katherine.
Sir, I most humbly pray you to deliver
This to my lord the King.
Most willing, madam.
In which I have commended to his goodness
The model of our chaste loves, his young daughter—
The dews of heaven fall thick in blessings on her!—
Beseeching him to give her virtuous breeding—
She is young, and of a noble modest nature,
I hope she will deserve well—and a little
To love her for her mother’s sake that lov’d him
Heaven knows how dearly. My next poor petition
Is, that his noble Grace would have some pity
Upon my wretched women, that so long
Have follow’d both my fortunes faithfully,
Of which there is not one, I dare avow
(And now I should not lie), but will deserve,
For virtue and true beauty of the soul,
For honesty and decent carriage,
A right good husband (let him be a noble),
And sure those men are happy that shall have ’em.
The last is for my men (they are the poorest,
But poverty could never draw ’em from me),
That they may have their wages duly paid ’em,
And something over to remember me by.
If heaven had pleas’d to have given me longer life
And able means, we had not parted thus.
These are the whole contents, and, good my lord,
By that you love the dearest in this world,
As you wish Christian peace to souls departed,
Stand these poor people’s friend, and urge the King
To do me this last right.
By heaven, I will,
Or let me lose the fashion of a man!
I thank you, honest lord. Remember me
In all humility unto his Highness.
Say his long trouble now is passing
Out of this world; tell him in death I blest him
(For so I will). Mine eyes grow dim. Farewell,
My lord. Griffith, farewell. Nay, Patience,
You must not leave me yet. I must to bed,
Call in more women. When I am dead, good wench,
Let me be us’d with honor; strew me over
With maiden flowers, that all the world may know
I was a chaste wife to my grave. Embalm me,
Then lay me forth. Although unqueen’d, yet like
A queen, and daughter to a king, inter me.
I can no more.
Exeunt, leading Katherine.