home contact

King Henry VIII

Please see the bottom of the page for helpful resources.

ACT II SCENE II An ante-chamber in the palace.
[Enter Chamberlain, reading a letter]
Chamberlain'My lord, the horses your lordship sent for, with
all the care I had, I saw well chosen, ridden, and
furnished. They were young and handsome, and of the
best breed in the north. When they were ready to
set out for London, a man of my lord cardinal's, by5
commission and main power, took 'em from me; with
this reason: His master would be served before a
subject, if not before the king; which stopped our
mouths, sir.'
I fear he will indeed: well, let him have them:10
He will have all, I think.
[Enter, to Chamberlain, NORFOLK and SUFFOLK]
NORFOLKWell met, my lord chamberlain.
ChamberlainGood day to both your graces.
SUFFOLKHow is the king employ'd?
ChamberlainI left him private,15
Full of sad thoughts and troubles.
NORFOLKWhat's the cause?
ChamberlainIt seems the marriage with his brother's wife
Has crept too near his conscience.
SUFFOLKNo, his conscience20
Has crept too near another lady.
This is the cardinal's doing, the king-cardinal:
That blind priest, like the eldest son of fortune,
Turns what he list. The king will know him one day.25
SUFFOLKPray God he do! he'll never know himself else.
NORFOLKHow holily he works in all his business!
And with what zeal! for, now he has crack'd the league
Between us and the emperor, the queen's great nephew,
He dives into the king's soul, and there scatters30
Dangers, doubts, wringing of the conscience,
Fears, and despairs; and all these for his marriage:
And out of all these to restore the king,
He counsels a divorce; a loss of her
That, like a jewel, has hung twenty years35
About his neck, yet never lost her lustre;
Of her that loves him with that excellence
That angels love good men with; even of her
That, when the greatest stroke of fortune falls,
Will bless the king: and is not this course pious?40
ChamberlainHeaven keep me from such counsel! 'Tis most true
These news are every where; every tongue speaks 'em,
And every true heart weeps for't: all that dare
Look into these affairs see this main end,
The French king's sister. Heaven will one day open45
The king's eyes, that so long have slept upon
This bold bad man.
SUFFOLKAnd free us from his slavery.
NORFOLKWe had need pray,
And heartily, for our deliverance;50
Or this imperious man will work us all
From princes into pages: all men's honours
Lie like one lump before him, to be fashion'd
Into what pitch he please.
SUFFOLKFor me, my lords,55
I love him not, nor fear him; there's my creed:
As I am made without him, so I'll stand,
If the king please; his curses and his blessings
Touch me alike, they're breath I not believe in.
I knew him, and I know him; so I leave him60
To him that made him proud, the pope.
NORFOLKLet's in;
And with some other business put the king

From these sad thoughts, that work too much upon him:
My lord, you'll bear us company?65
ChamberlainExcuse me;
The king has sent me otherwhere: besides,
You'll find a most unfit time to disturb him:
Health to your lordships.
NORFOLKThanks, my good lord chamberlain.70
[ Exit Chamberlain; and KING HENRY VIII draws the curtain, and sits reading pensively ]
SUFFOLKHow sad he looks! sure, he is much afflicted.
KING HENRY VIIIWho's there, ha?
NORFOLKPray God he be not angry.
KING HENRY VIIIWho's there, I say? How dare you thrust yourselves
Into my private meditations?75
Who am I? ha?
NORFOLKA gracious king that pardons all offences
Malice ne'er meant: our breach of duty this way
Is business of estate; in which we come
To know your royal pleasure.80
KING HENRY VIIIYe are too bold:
Go to; I'll make ye know your times of business:
Is this an hour for temporal affairs, ha?
[ Enter CARDINAL WOLSEY and CARDINAL CAMPEIUS, with a commission ]
Who's there? my good lord cardinal? O my Wolsey,
The quiet of my wounded conscience;85
Thou art a cure fit for a king.
You're welcome,
Most learned reverend sir, into our kingdom:
Use us and it.
My good lord, have great care90
I be not found a talker.
CARDINAL WOLSEYSir, you cannot.
I would your grace would give us but an hour
Of private conference.
We are busy; go.
This priest has no pride in him?
SUFFOLK[Aside to NORFOLK] Not to speak of:
I would not be so sick though for his place:100
But this cannot continue.
NORFOLK[Aside to SUFFOLK] If it do,
I'll venture one have-at-him.
SUFFOLK[Aside to NORFOLK] I another.
CARDINAL WOLSEYYour grace has given a precedent of wisdom105
Above all princes, in committing freely
Your scruple to the voice of Christendom:
Who can be angry now? what envy reach you?
The Spaniard, tied blood and favour to her,
Must now confess, if they have any goodness,110
The trial just and noble. All the clerks,
I mean the learned ones, in Christian kingdoms
Have their free voices: Rome, the nurse of judgment,
Invited by your noble self, hath sent
One general tongue unto us, this good man,115
This just and learned priest, Cardinal Campeius;
Whom once more I present unto your highness.
KING HENRY VIIIAnd once more in mine arms I bid him welcome,
And thank the holy conclave for their loves:
They have sent me such a man I would have wish'd for.120
CARDINAL CAMPEIUSYour grace must needs deserve all strangers' loves,
You are so noble. To your highness' hand
I tender my commission; by whose virtue,
The court of Rome commanding, you, my lord
Cardinal of York, are join'd with me their servant125
In the unpartial judging of this business.
KING HENRY VIIITwo equal men. The queen shall be acquainted
Forthwith for what you come. Where's Gardiner?
CARDINAL WOLSEYI know your majesty has always loved her
So dear in heart, not to deny her that130
A woman of less place might ask by law:
Scholars allow'd freely to argue for her.
KING HENRY VIIIAy, and the best she shall have; and my favour
To him that does best: God forbid else. Cardinal,
Prithee, call Gardiner to me, my new secretary:135
I find him a fit fellow.
CARDINAL WOLSEY[Aside to GARDINER] Give me your hand much joy and
favour to you;
You are the king's now.
But to be commanded
For ever by your grace, whose hand has raised me.
KING HENRY VIIICome hither, Gardiner.
[Walks and whispers]
CARDINAL CAMPEIUSMy Lord of York, was not one Doctor Pace
In this man's place before him?145
CARDINAL CAMPEIUSWas he not held a learned man?
CARDINAL CAMPEIUSBelieve me, there's an ill opinion spread then
Even of yourself, lord cardinal.150
CARDINAL CAMPEIUSThey will not stick to say you envied him,
And fearing he would rise, he was so virtuous,
Kept him a foreign man still; which so grieved him,
That he ran mad and died.155
CARDINAL WOLSEYHeaven's peace be with him!
That's Christian care enough: for living murmurers
There's places of rebuke. He was a fool;
For he would needs be virtuous: that good fellow,
If I command him, follows my appointment:160
I will have none so near else. Learn this, brother,
We live not to be grip'd by meaner persons.
KING HENRY VIIIDeliver this with modesty to the queen.
The most convenient place that I can think of
For such receipt of learning is Black-Friars;165
There ye shall meet about this weighty business.
My Wolsey, see it furnish'd. O, my lord,
Would it not grieve an able man to leave
So sweet a bedfellow? But, conscience, conscience!
O, 'tis a tender place; and I must leave her.170

Continue to Henry VIII, Act 2, Scene 3


Related Articles

 The Essential Student History Quiz (with answers and illustrations)
 Elements of Shakespeare's History Plays
 Characteristics of Elizabethan Drama

 Shakespeare's Reputation in Elizabethan England
 Shakespeare's Impact on Other Writers
 Four Periods of Shakespeare's Life
 Shakespeare's Writing Style

 Words Shakespeare Coined
 Quotations About William Shakespeare
 Why Shakespeare is so Important
 Shakespeare's Language
 Shakespeare's Boss: The Master of Revels