The Tower Gate.
(First Warder of the Tower; Second Warder of the Tower; Third Warder of the Tower; Poor Woman; Lords; Sir Thomas More; Attendants; Lieutenant; Gentleman Porter; Shrewsbury; Surrey)
The Warders try to keep back the crowd of people bemoaning More’s arrest. One poor woman tries to force her way through to speak with him; for two years she has been involved in a lawsuit and more holds all of her evidence, without which she is undone. More is brought in, and the woman manages to speak to him. All More can tell her to do is to beg the King. Even at the gate of his jail, More is capable of a joke, pretending to misunderstand the keeper and giving him his cap instead of his coat. Considering his prison, More is thankful that his clear conscience will keep him from despair. (69 lines)
Enter the Warders of the Tower, with halbards.
Ho, make a guard there!
Master Lieutenant gives a straight command,
The people be avoided from the bridge.
From whence is he committed, who can tell?
From Durham House, I hear.
The guard were waiting there are hour ago.
If he stay long, he’ll not get near the wharf,
There’s such a crowd of boats upon the Thames.
Well, be it spoken without offense to any,
A wiser or more virtuous gentleman
Was never bred in England.
I think, the poor will bury him in tears:
I never heard a man, since I was born,
So generally bewailed of every one.
Enter a Poor Woman.
What means this woman?—Whether dost thou press?
This woman will be trod to death anon.
What makest thou here?
To speak with that good man, Sir Thomas More.
To speak with him! He’s not Lord Chancellor.
The more’s the pity, sir, if it pleased God.
Therefore, if thou hast a petition to deliver,
Thou mayst keep it now, for any thing I know.
I am a poor woman, and have had (God knows)
A suit this two year in the Chancery;
And he hath all the evidence I have
Which should I lose, I am utterly undone.
Faith, and I fear thoult hardly come by am now;
I am sorry for thee, even with all my heart.
Enter the Lords of Shrewsbury and Surrey with Sir Thomas More, and Attendants, and enter Lieutenant and Gentleman Porter.
Woman, stand back, you must avoid this place;
The lords must pass this way into the Tower.
I thank your lordships for your pains thus far
To my strong house.
Now, good Sir Thomas More, for Christ’s dear sake,
Deliver me my writings back again
That do concern my title.
What, my old client, are thou got hither too?
Poor silly wretch, I must confess indeed,
I had such writings as concern thee near;
But the king has ta’en the matter into his own hand;
He has all I had. Then, woman, sue to him;
I cannot help thee; thou must bear with me.
Ah, gentle heart, my soul for thee is sad!
Farewell the best friend that the poor e’er had.
Before you enter through the Towergate,
Your upper garment, sir, belongs to me.
Sir, you shall have it; there it is.
He gives him his cap.
The upmost on your back, sir; you mistake me.
Sir, now I understand ye very well:
But that you name my back,
Sure else my cap had been the uppermost.
Farewell, kind lord; God send us merry meeting!
Amen, my lord.
Farewell, dear friend; I hope your safe return.
My lord, and my dear fellow in the Muses,
Farewell; farewell, most noble poet.
Adieu, most honored lords.
Fair prison, welcome; yet, methinks,
For thy fair building ’tis too foul a name.
Many a guilty soul, and many an innocent,
Have breathed their farewell to thy hollow rooms.
I oft have entered into thee this way;
Yet, I thank God, ne’er with a clear conscience
Than at this hour:
This is my comfort yet, how hard soe’er
My lodging prove, the cry of the poor suitor,
Fatherless orphan, or distressed widow,
Shall not disturb me in my quiet sleep.
On, then, i’God’s name, to our close abode!
God is as strong here as he is abroad.