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King Henry VIII

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I come no more to make you laugh: things now,
That bear a weighty and a serious brow,
Sad, high, and working, full of state and woe,
Such noble scenes as draw the eye to flow,
We now present. Those that can pity, here5
May, if they think it well, let fall a tear;
The subject will deserve it. Such as give
Their money out of hope they may believe,
May here find truth too. Those that come to see
Only a show or two, and so agree10
The play may pass, if they be still and willing,
I'll undertake may see away their shilling
Richly in two short hours. Only they
That come to hear a merry bawdy play,
A noise of targets, or to see a fellow15
In a long motley coat guarded with yellow,
Will be deceived; for, gentle hearers, know,
To rank our chosen truth with such a show
As fool and fight is, beside forfeiting
Our own brains, and the opinion that we bring,20
To make that only true we now intend,
Will leave us never an understanding friend.
Therefore, for goodness' sake, and as you are known
The first and happiest hearers of the town,
Be sad, as we would make ye: think ye see25
The very persons of our noble story
As they were living; think you see them great,
And follow'd with the general throng and sweat
Of thousand friends; then in a moment, see
How soon this mightiness meets misery:30
And, if you can be merry then, I'll say
A man may weep upon his wedding-day.
ACT I SCENE I London. An ante-chamber in the palace.
[ Enter NORFOLK at one door; at the other, BUCKINGHAM and ABERGAVENNY ]
BUCKINGHAMGood morrow, and well met. How have ye done
Since last we saw in France?
NORFOLKI thank your grace,
Healthful; and ever since a fresh admirer
Of what I saw there.5
BUCKINGHAMAn untimely ague
Stay'd me a prisoner in my chamber when
Those suns of glory, those two lights of men,
Met in the vale of Andren.
NORFOLK'Twixt Guynes and Arde:10
I was then present, saw them salute on horseback;
Beheld them, when they lighted, how they clung
In their embracement, as they grew together;
Which had they, what four throned ones could have weigh'd
Such a compounded one?15
BUCKINGHAMAll the whole time
I was my chamber's prisoner.
NORFOLKThen you lost
The view of earthly glory: men might say,
Till this time pomp was single, but now married20
To one above itself. Each following day
Became the next day's master, till the last
Made former wonders its. To-day the French,
All clinquant, all in gold, like heathen gods,
Shone down the English; and, to-morrow, they25
Made Britain India: every man that stood
Show'd like a mine. Their dwarfish pages were
As cherubins, all guilt: the madams too,
Not used to toil, did almost sweat to bear
The pride upon them, that their very labour30
Was to them as a painting: now this masque
Was cried incomparable; and the ensuing night
Made it a fool and beggar. The two kings,
Equal in lustre, were now best, now worst,
As presence did present them; him in eye,35
Still him in praise: and, being present both
'Twas said they saw but one; and no discerner
Durst wag his tongue in censure. When these suns--
For so they phrase 'em--by their heralds challenged
The noble spirits to arms, they did perform40
Beyond thought's compass; that former fabulous story,
Being now seen possible enough, got credit,
That Bevis was believed.
BUCKINGHAMO, you go far.
NORFOLKAs I belong to worship and affect45
In honour honesty, the tract of every thing
Would by a good discourser lose some life,
Which action's self was tongue to. All was royal;
To the disposing of it nought rebell'd.
Order gave each thing view; the office did50
Distinctly his full function.
BUCKINGHAMWho did guide,
I mean, who set the body and the limbs
Of this great sport together, as you guess?
NORFOLKOne, certes, that promises no element55
In such a business.
BUCKINGHAMI pray you, who, my lord?
NORFOLKAll this was order'd by the good discretion
Of the right reverend Cardinal of York.
BUCKINGHAMThe devil speed him! no man's pie is freed60
From his ambitious finger. What had he
To do in these fierce vanities? I wonder
That such a keech can with his very bulk
Take up the rays o' the beneficial sun
And keep it from the earth.65
NORFOLKSurely, sir,
There's in him stuff that puts him to these ends;
For, being not propp'd by ancestry, whose grace
Chalks successors their way, nor call'd upon

For high feats done to the crown; neither allied70
For eminent assistants; but, spider-like,
Out of his self-drawing web, he gives us note,
The force of his own merit makes his way
A gift that heaven gives for him, which buys
A place next to the king.75
ABERGAVENNYI cannot tell
What heaven hath given him,--let some graver eye
Pierce into that; but I can see his pride
Peep through each part of him: whence has he that,
If not from hell? the devil is a niggard,80
Or has given all before, and he begins
A new hell in himself.
BUCKINGHAMWhy the devil,
Upon this French going out, took he upon him,
Without the privity o' the king, to appoint85
Who should attend on him? He makes up the file
Of all the gentry; for the most part such
To whom as great a charge as little honour
He meant to lay upon: and his own letter,
The honourable board of council out,90
Must fetch him in the papers.
Kinsmen of mine, three at the least, that have
By this so sickened their estates, that never
They shall abound as formerly.95
Have broke their backs with laying manors on 'em
For this great journey. What did this vanity
But minister communication of
A most poor issue?100
NORFOLKGrievingly I think,
The peace between the French and us not values
The cost that did conclude it.
After the hideous storm that follow'd, was105
A thing inspired; and, not consulting, broke
Into a general prophecy; That this tempest,
Dashing the garment of this peace, aboded
The sudden breach on't.
NORFOLKWhich is budded out;110
For France hath flaw'd the league, and hath attach'd
Our merchants' goods at Bourdeaux.
ABERGAVENNYIs it therefore
The ambassador is silenced?
NORFOLKMarry, is't.115
ABERGAVENNYA proper title of a peace; and purchased
At a superfluous rate!
BUCKINGHAMWhy, all this business
Our reverend cardinal carried.
NORFOLKLike it your grace,120
The state takes notice of the private difference
Betwixt you and the cardinal. I advise you--
And take it from a heart that wishes towards you
Honour and plenteous safety--that you read
The cardinal's malice and his potency125
Together; to consider further that
What his high hatred would effect wants not
A minister in his power. You know his nature,
That he's revengeful, and I know his sword
Hath a sharp edge: it's long and, 't may be said,130
It reaches far, and where 'twill not extend,
Thither he darts it. Bosom up my counsel,
You'll find it wholesome. Lo, where comes that rock
That I advise your shunning.
[ Enter CARDINAL WOLSEY, the purse borne before him, certain of the Guard, and two Secretaries with papers. CARDINAL WOLSEY in his passage fixeth his eye on BUCKINGHAM, and BUCKINGHAM on him, both full of disdain ]
CARDINAL WOLSEYThe Duke of Buckingham's surveyor, ha?135
Where's his examination?
First SecretaryHere, so please you.
CARDINAL WOLSEYIs he in person ready?
First SecretaryAy, please your grace.
CARDINAL WOLSEYWell, we shall then know more; and Buckingham140
Shall lessen this big look.
[Exeunt CARDINAL WOLSEY and his Train]
BUCKINGHAMThis butcher's cur is venom-mouth'd, and I
Have not the power to muzzle him; therefore best
Not wake him in his slumber. A beggar's book
Outworths a noble's blood.145
NORFOLKWhat, are you chafed?
Ask God for temperance; that's the appliance only
Which your disease requires.
BUCKINGHAMI read in's looks
Matter against me; and his eye reviled150
Me, as his abject object: at this instant
He bores me with some trick: he's gone to the king;
I'll follow and outstare him.
NORFOLKStay, my lord,
And let your reason with your choler question155
What 'tis you go about: to climb steep hills
Requires slow pace at first: anger is like
A full-hot horse, who being allow'd his way,
Self-mettle tires him. Not a man in England
Can advise me like you: be to yourself160
As you would to your friend.
BUCKINGHAMI'll to the king;
And from a mouth of honour quite cry down
This Ipswich fellow's insolence; or proclaim
There's difference in no persons.165
NORFOLKBe advised;
Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot
That it do singe yourself: we may outrun,
By violent swiftness, that which we run at,
And lose by over-running. Know you not,170
The fire that mounts the liquor til run o'er,
In seeming to augment it wastes it? Be advised:
I say again, there is no English soul
More stronger to direct you than yourself,
If with the sap of reason you would quench,175
Or but allay, the fire of passion.
I am thankful to you; and I'll go along
By your prescription: but this top-proud fellow,
Whom from the flow of gall I name not but180
From sincere motions, by intelligence,
And proofs as clear as founts in July when
We see each grain of gravel, I do know
To be corrupt and treasonous.
NORFOLKSay not 'treasonous.'185
BUCKINGHAMTo the king I'll say't; and make my vouch as strong
As shore of rock. Attend. This holy fox,
Or wolf, or both,--for he is equal ravenous
As he is subtle, and as prone to mischief
As able to perform't; his mind and place190
Infecting one another, yea, reciprocally--
Only to show his pomp as well in France
As here at home, suggests the king our master
To this last costly treaty, the interview,
That swallow'd so much treasure, and like a glass195
Did break i' the rinsing.
NORFOLKFaith, and so it did.
BUCKINGHAMPray, give me favour, sir. This cunning cardinal
The articles o' the combination drew
As himself pleased; and they were ratified200
As he cried 'Thus let be': to as much end
As give a crutch to the dead: but our count-cardinal
Has done this, and 'tis well; for worthy Wolsey,
Who cannot err, he did it. Now this follows,--
Which, as I take it, is a kind of puppy205
To the old dam, treason,--Charles the emperor,
Under pretence to see the queen his aunt--
For 'twas indeed his colour, but he came
To whisper Wolsey,--here makes visitation:
His fears were, that the interview betwixt210
England and France might, through their amity,
Breed him some prejudice; for from this league
Peep'd harms that menaced him: he privily
Deals with our cardinal; and, as I trow,--
Which I do well; for I am sure the emperor215
Paid ere he promised; whereby his suit was granted
Ere it was ask'd; but when the way was made,
And paved with gold, the emperor thus desired,
That he would please to alter the king's course,
And break the foresaid peace. Let the king know,220
As soon he shall by me, that thus the cardinal
Does buy and sell his honour as he pleases,
And for his own advantage.
NORFOLKI am sorry
To hear this of him; and could wish he were225
Something mistaken in't.
BUCKINGHAMNo, not a syllable:
I do pronounce him in that very shape
He shall appear in proof.
[ Enter BRANDON, a Sergeant-at-arms before him, and two or three of the Guard ]
BRANDONYour office, sergeant; execute it.230
My lord the Duke of Buckingham, and Earl
Of Hereford, Stafford, and Northampton, I
Arrest thee of high treason, in the name
Of our most sovereign king.235
BUCKINGHAMLo, you, my lord,
The net has fall'n upon me! I shall perish
Under device and practise.
BRANDONI am sorry
To see you ta'en from liberty, to look on240
The business present: 'tis his highness' pleasure
You shall to the Tower.
BUCKINGHAMIt will help me nothing
To plead mine innocence; for that dye is on me
Which makes my whitest part black. The will of heaven245
Be done in this and all things! I obey.
O my Lord Abergavenny, fare you well!
BRANDONNay, he must bear you company. The king
Is pleased you shall to the Tower, till you know
How he determines further.250
ABERGAVENNYAs the duke said,
The will of heaven be done, and the king's pleasure
By me obey'd!
BRANDONHere is a warrant from
The king to attach Lord Montacute; and the bodies255
Of the duke's confessor, John de la Car,
One Gilbert Peck, his chancellor--
These are the limbs o' the plot: no more, I hope.
BRANDONA monk o' the Chartreux.260
BUCKINGHAMO, Nicholas Hopkins?
BUCKINGHAMMy surveyor is false; the o'er-great cardinal
Hath show'd him gold; my life is spann'd already:
I am the shadow of poor Buckingham,265
Whose figure even this instant cloud puts on,
By darkening my clear sun. My lord, farewell.

Continue to Henry VIII, Act 1, Scene 2


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Henry VIII. From a line engraving by Cornelis Matsys.