Henry VIII

by William Shakespeare

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Act One, Scene II

Cornets. Enter King Henry, leaning on the Cardinals shoulder, the Nobles, and Sir Thomas Louell: the Cardinall places himselfe vnder the Kings feete on his right side.

  King. My life it selfe, and the best heart of it,
Thankes you for this great care: I stood i'th' leuell
Of a full-charg'd confederacie, and giue thankes
To you that choak'd it. Let be cald before vs
That Gentleman of Buckinghams, in person,
Ile heare him his confessions iustifie,
And point by point the Treasons of his Maister,
He shall againe relate.
A noyse within crying roome for the Queene, vsher'd by the Duke
Norfolke. Enter the Queene, Norfolke and Suffolke: she kneels.
King riseth
from his State, takes her vp, kisses and placeth her by him.
Queen. Nay, we must longer kneele; I am a Suitor

   King. Arise, and take place by vs; halfe your Suit
Neuer name to vs; you haue halfe our power:
The other moity ere you aske is giuen,
Repeat your will, and take it
   Queen. Thanke your Maiesty
That you would loue your selfe, and in that loue
Not vnconsidered leaue your Honour, nor
The dignity of your Office; is the poynt
Of my Petition
Kin. Lady mine proceed

   Queen. I am solicited not by a few,
And those of true condition; That your Subiects
Are in great grieuance: There haue beene Commissions
Sent downe among 'em, which hath flaw'd the heart
Of all their Loyalties; wherein, although
My good Lord Cardinall, they vent reproches
Most bitterly on you, as putter on
Of these exactions: yet the King, our Maister
Whose Honor Heauen shield from soile; euen he escapes not
Language vnmannerly; yea, such which breakes
The sides of loyalty, and almost appeares
In lowd Rebellion
   Norf. Not almost appeares,
It doth appeare; for, vpon these Taxations,
The Clothiers all not able to maintaine
The many to them longing, haue put off
The Spinsters, Carders, Fullers, Weauers, who
Vnfit for other life, compeld by hunger
And lack of other meanes, in desperate manner
Daring th' euent too th' teeth, are all in vprore,
And danger serues among them
   Kin. Taxation?
Wherein? and what Taxation? My Lord Cardinall,
You that are blam'd for it alike with vs,
Know you of this Taxation?
  Card. Please you Sir,
I know but of a single part in ought
Pertaines to th' State; and front but in that File
Where others tell steps with me
   Queen. No, my Lord?
You know no more then others? But you frame
Things that are knowne alike, which are not wholsome
To those which would not know them, and yet must
Perforce be their acquaintance. These exactions
(Whereof my Soueraigne would haue note) they are
Most pestilent to th' hearing, and to beare 'em,
The Backe is Sacrifice to th' load; They say
They are deuis'd by you, or else you suffer
Too hard an exclamation
   Kin. Still Exaction:
The nature of it, in what kinde let's know,
Is this Exaction?
  Queen. I am much too venturous
In tempting of your patience, but am boldned
Vnder your promis'd pardon. The Subiects griefe
Comes through Commissions, which compels from each
The sixt part of his Substance, to be leuied
Without delay; and the pretence for this
Is nam'd, your warres in France: this makes bold mouths,
Tongues spit their duties out, and cold hearts freeze
Allegeance in them; their curses now
Liue where their prayers did: and it's come to passe,
This tractable obedience is a Slaue
To each incensed Will: I would your Highnesse
Would giue it quicke consideration; for
There is no primer basenesse
   Kin. By my life,
This is against our pleasure
   Card. And for me,
I haue no further gone in this, then by
A single voice, and that not past me, but
By learned approbation of the Iudges: If I am
Traduc'd by ignorant Tongues, which neither know
My faculties nor person, yet will be
The Chronicles of my doing: Let me say,
'Tis but the fate of Place, and the rough Brake
That Vertue must goe through: we must not stint
Our necessary actions, in the feare
To cope malicious Censurers, which euer,
As rau'nous Fishes doe a Vessell follow
That is new trim'd; but benefit no further
Then vainly longing. What we oft doe best,
By sicke Interpreters (once weake ones) is
Not ours, or not allow'd; what worst, as oft
Hitting a grosser quality, is cride vp
For our best Act: if we shall stand still,
In feare our motion will be mock'd, or carp'd at,
We should take roote here, where we sit;
Or sit State-Statues onely
   Kin. Things done well,
And with a care, exempt themselues from feare:
Things done without example, in their issue
Are to be fear'd. Haue you a President
Of this Commission? I beleeue, not any.
We must not rend our Subiects from our Lawes,
And sticke them in our Will. Sixt part of each?
A trembling Contribution; why we take
From euery Tree, lop, barke, and part o'th' Timber:
And though we leaue it with a roote thus hackt,
The Ayre will drinke the Sap. To euery County
Where this is question'd, send our Letters, with
Free pardon to each man that has deny'de
The force of this Commission: pray looke too't;
I put it to your care
   Card. A word with you.
Let there be Letters writ to euery Shire,
Of the Kings grace and pardon: the greeued Commons
Hardly conceiue of me. Let it be nois'd,
That through our Intercession, this Reuokement
And pardon comes: I shall anon aduise you
Further in the proceeding.
Exit Secret[ary].

Enter Surueyor.

  Queen. I am sorry, that the Duke of Buckingham
Is run in your displeasure
   Kin. It grieues many:
The Gentleman is Learn'd, and a most rare Speaker,
To Nature none more bound; his trayning such,
That he may furnish and instruct great Teachers,
And neuer seeke for ayd out of himselfe: yet see,
When these so Noble benefits shall proue
Not well dispos'd, the minde growing once corrupt,
They turne to vicious formes, ten times more vgly
Then euer they were faire. This man so compleat,
Who was enrold 'mongst wonders; and when we
Almost with rauish'd listning, could not finde
His houre of speech, a minute: He, (my Lady)
Hath into monstrous habits put the Graces
That once were his, and is become as blacke,
As if besmear'd in hell. Sit by Vs, you shall heare
(This was his Gentleman in trust) of him
Things to strike Honour sad. Bid him recount
The fore-recited practises, whereof
We cannot feele too little, heare too much
   Card. Stand forth, & with bold spirit relate what you
Most like a carefull Subiect haue collected
Out of the Duke of Buckingham
Kin. Speake freely

   Sur. First, it was vsuall with him; euery day
It would infect his Speech: That if the King
Should without issue dye; hee'l carry it so
To make the Scepter his. These very words
I'ue heard him vtter to his Sonne in Law,
Lord Aburgany, to whom by oth he menac'd
Reuenge vpon the Cardinall
   Card. Please your Highnesse note
This dangerous conception in this point,
Not frended by his wish to your High person;
His will is most malignant, and it stretches
Beyond you to your friends
   Queen. My learn'd Lord Cardinall,
Deliuer all with Charity
   Kin. Speake on;
How grounded hee his Title to the Crowne
Vpon our faile; to this poynt hast thou heard him,
At any time speake ought?
  Sur. He was brought to this,
By a vaine Prophesie of Nicholas Henton
   Kin. What was that Henton?
  Sur. Sir, a Chartreux Fryer,
His Confessor, who fed him euery minute
With words of Soueraignty
   Kin. How know'st thou this?
  Sur. Not long before your Highnesse sped to France,
The Duke being at the Rose, within the Parish
Saint Laurence Poultney, did of me demand
What was the speech among the Londoners,
Concerning the French Iourney. I replide,
Men feare the French would proue perfidious
To the Kings danger: presently, the Duke
Said, 'twas the feare indeed, and that he doubted
'Twould proue the verity of certaine words
Spoke by a holy Monke, that oft, sayes he,
Hath sent to me, wishing me to permit
Iohn de la Car, my Chaplaine, a choyce howre
To heare from him a matter of some moment:
Whom after vnder the Commissions Seale,
He sollemnly had sworne, that what he spoke
My Chaplaine to no Creature liuing, but
To me, should vtter, with demure Confidence,
This pausingly ensu'de; neither the King, nor's Heyres
(Tell you the Duke) shall prosper, bid him striue
To the loue o'th' Commonalty, the Duke
Shall gouerne England
   Queen. If I know you well,
You were the Dukes Surueyor, and lost your Office
On the complaint o'th' Tenants; take good heed
You charge not in your spleene a Noble person,
And spoyle your nobler Soule; I say, take heed;
Yes, heartily beseech you
Kin. Let him on: Goe forward

   Sur. On my Soule, Ile speake but truth.
I told my Lord the Duke, by th' Diuels illusions
The Monke might be deceiu'd, and that 'twas dangerous
For this to ruminate on this so farre, vntill
It forg'd him some designe, which being beleeu'd
It was much like to doe: He answer'd, Tush,
It can do me no damage; adding further,
That had the King in his last Sicknesse faild,
The Cardinals and Sir Thomas Louels heads
Should haue gone off
   Kin. Ha? What, so rancke? Ah, ha,
There's mischiefe in this man; canst thou say further?
  Sur. I can my Liedge
Kin. Proceed

   Sur. Being at Greenwich,
After your Highnesse had reprou'd the Duke
About Sir William Blumer
   Kin. I remember of such a time, being my sworn seruant,
The Duke retein'd him his. But on: what hence?
  Sur. If (quoth he) I for this had beene committed,
As to the Tower, I thought; I would haue plaid
The Part my Father meant to act vpon
Th' Vsurper Richard, who being at Salsbury,
Made suit to come in's presence; which if granted,
(As he made semblance of his duty) would
Haue put his knife into him
Kin. A Gyant Traytor

   Card. Now Madam, may his Highnes liue in freedome,
And this man out of Prison
Queen. God mend all

   Kin. Ther's somthing more would out of thee; what say'st?
  Sur. After the Duke his Father, with the knife
He stretch'd him, and with one hand on his dagger,
Another spread on's breast, mounting his eyes,
He did discharge a horrible Oath, whose tenor
Was, were he euill vs'd, he would outgoe
His Father, by as much as a performance
Do's an irresolute purpose
   Kin. There's his period,
To sheath his knife in vs: he is attach'd,
Call him to present tryall: if he may
Finde mercy in the Law, 'tis his; if none,
Let him not seek't of vs: By day and night
Hee's Traytor to th' height.



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