(Lady More; Two Daughters (one is Roper’s Wife); Master Roper; Sir Thomas More; Servants)
Lady More asks her son-in-law Roper whether dreams can be trusted: she has a dreadful nightmare the night before that appeared to presage disaster. Roper tells her not to worry, but to his wife admits that he too was bothered all night by thoughts of More, as was she. Lady More realizes that they are hiding something from her, and is about to send for news of her husband when Sir Thomas arrives, in a jolly mood. They are rather confused as he merrily greets them all and finally tells them that he is no longer Lord Chancellor. He refuses to let them know what he’s done wrong, and tells them not to lament over his fate. (96 lines)
Enter the Lady More, her two Daughters, and Master Roper, as walking.
Madame, what ails ye for to look so sad?
Troth, son, I know not what; I am not sick,
And yet I am not well. I would be merry;
But somewhat lies so heavy on heart,
I cannot choose but sigh. You are a scholar;
I pray ye, tell me, may one credit dreams?
Why ask you that, dear madame?
Because tonight I had the strangest dream
That ere my sleep was troubled with. Methought ’twas night,
And that the King and Queen went on the Thames
In barges to hear music. My lord and I
Were in a little boat methought,—Lord, Lord,
What strange things live in slumbers!—and, being near,
We grappled to the barge that bare the king.
But after many pleasing voices spent
In that still moving music house, methought
The violence of the stream did sever us
Quite from the golden fleet, and hurried us
Unto the bridge, which with unused horror
We entered at full tide. Thence some slight shoot
Being carried by the waves, our boat stood still
Just opposite the Tower, and there it turned
And turned about, as when a whirl-pool sucks
The circled waters. Methought that we both cried,
Till that we sunk. Where arm in arm we died.
Give no respect, dear madame, to fond dreams:
They are but slight illusions of the blood.
Tell me not all are so; for often dreams
Are true diviners, either of good or ill:
I cannot be in quiet till I hear
How my lord fares.
No it. Come hither, wife:
I will not fright thy mother, to interpret
The nature of a dream; but trust me, sweet,
This night I have been troubled with thy father
Beyond all thought.
Truly, and so have I:
Methought I saw him here in Chelsea Church,
Standing upon the roodloft, now defac’d;
And whilst he kneeled and prayed before the image,
It fell with him into the upper-choir,
Where my poor father lay all stained in blood.
Our dreams all meet in one conclusion,
Fatal, I fear.
What’s that you talk? I pray ye, let me know it.
Nothing, good mother.
This is your fashion still; I must know nothing.
Call Master Catesby; he shall straight to court,
And see how my lord does. I shall not rest,
Until my heart leave panting on his breast.
Enter Sir Thomas More merrily, Servants attending.
See where my father comes, joyful and merry.
As seamen, having passed a troubled storm,
Dance on the pleasant shore; so I—oh, I could speak
Now like a poet! Now, afore God, I am passing light!—
Wife, give me kind welcome. Thou wast wont to blame
My kissing when my beard was in the stubble;
But I have been trimmed of late; I have had
A smooth court shaving, in good faith, I have.
God bless ye!—Son Roper, give me your hand.
Your honor’s welcome home.
Honor! Ha ha!
And how dost, wife?
He bears himself most strangely.
Will your lordship in?
Lordship! No, wife, that’s gone:
The ground was slight that we did lean upon.
Lord, that your honor ne’er will leave these jests!
In faith, it ill becomes ye.
Oh, good wife,
Honor and jests are both together fled;
The merriest councillor of England’s dead.
Who’s that, my lord?
Still lord! The Lord Chancellor, wife.
Certain; but I have changed my life.
Am I not leaner than I was before?
The fat is gone; my title’s only More.
Contented with one style, I’ll live at rest:
They that have many names are not still best.
I have resigned mine office. Count’st me not wise?
Come, breed not female children in your eyes:
The king will have it so.
What’s the offense?
Tush, let that pass; we’ll talk of that anon.
The king seems a physician to my fate;
His princely mind would train me back to state.
Then be his patient, my most honored father.
Oh, son Roper,
Ubi turpis est medicine, sanari piget!—
No, wife, be merry;—and be merry, all:
You smiled at rising, weep not at my fall.
Let’s in, and hear joy like to private friends,
Since days of pleasure have repentant ends:
The light of greatness is with triumph born;
It sets at midday oft with public scorn.