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Henry VIII - Act 1, scene 2
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Navigate this workHenry VIII - Act 1, scene 2
Act 1, scene 2
Queen Katherine reveals that Wolsey is heavily taxing the English in the king’s name, and Henry pronounces a pardon to all who have resisted the tax. Wolsey then accuses Buckingham of treason, and his accusation is supported by Buckingham’s former surveyor and confidant. Henry orders that Buckingham be tried as a traitor.Cornets. Enter King Henry, leaning on the Cardinal’s
shoulder, ⌜with⌝ the Nobles, Sir Thomas Lovell, and
⌜Attendants, including a Secretary of the Cardinal.⌝
The Cardinal places himself under the King’s feet on
his right side.
KING, ⌜to Wolsey⌝
0302 My life itself, and the best heart of it,
0303 Thanks you for this great care. I stood i’ th’ level
0304 Of a full-charged confederacy, and give thanks
0305 To you that choked it.—Let be called before us
0306 5 That gentleman of Buckingham’s; in person
0307 I’ll hear him his confessions justify,
0308 And point by point the treasons of his master
0309 He shall again relate.
p. 27A noise within crying “Room for the Queen!” Enter the
Queen ⌜Katherine,⌝ ushered by the Duke of Norfolk, and
⌜the Duke of⌝ Suffolk. She kneels. ⌜The⌝ King riseth from
0310 Nay, we must longer kneel; I am a suitor.
0311 10 Arise, and take place by us.
⌜He⌝ takes her up, kisses and placeth her by him.
0312 Half your suit
0313 Never name to us; you have half our power.
0314 The other moiety ere you ask is given;
0315 Repeat your will, and take it.
QUEEN KATHERINE 0316 15 Thank your Majesty.
0317 That you would love yourself, and in that love
0318 Not unconsidered leave your honor nor
0319 The dignity of your office, is the point
0320 Of my petition.
KING 0321 20 Lady mine, proceed.
0322 I am solicited, not by a few,
0323 And those of true condition, that your subjects
0324 Are in great grievance. There have been commissions
0325 Sent down among ’em which hath flawed the heart
0326 25 Of all their loyalties, wherein, although
0327 My good Lord Cardinal, they vent reproaches
0328 Most bitterly on you as putter-on
0329 Of these exactions, yet the King our master,
0330 Whose honor heaven shield from soil, even he
0331 30 escapes not
0332 Language unmannerly—yea, such which breaks
0333 The sides of loyalty and almost appears
0334 In loud rebellion.
NORFOLK 0335 Not “almost appears”—
0336 35 It doth appear. For, upon these taxations,
0337 The clothiers all, not able to maintain
p. 290338 The many to them longing, have put off
0339 The spinsters, carders, fullers, weavers, who,
0340 Unfit for other life, compelled by hunger
0341 40 And lack of other means, in desperate manner
0342 Daring th’ event to th’ teeth, are all in uproar,
0343 And danger serves among them.
KING 0344 Taxation?
0345 Wherein? And what taxation? My Lord Cardinal,
0346 45 You that are blamed for it alike with us,
0347 Know you of this taxation?
WOLSEY 0348 Please you, sir,
0349 I know but of a single part in aught
0350 Pertains to th’ state, and front but in that file
0351 50 Where others tell steps with me.
QUEEN KATHERINE 0352 No, my lord?
0353 You know no more than others? But you frame
0354 Things that are known alike, which are not wholesome
0355 To those which would not know them, and yet must
0356 55 Perforce be their acquaintance. These exactions
0357 Whereof my sovereign would have note, they are
0358 Most pestilent to th’ hearing, and to bear ’em
0359 The back is sacrifice to th’ load. They say
0360 They are devised by you, or else you suffer
0361 60 Too hard an exclamation.
KING 0362 Still exaction!
0363 The nature of it? In what kind, let’s know,
0364 Is this exaction?
QUEEN KATHERINE 0365 I am much too venturous
0366 65 In tempting of your patience, but am boldened
0367 Under your promised pardon. The subjects’ grief
0368 Comes through commissions which compels from
0370 The sixth part of his substance, to be levied
0371 70 Without delay, and the pretense for this
0372 Is named your wars in France. This makes bold
p. 310374 Tongues spit their duties out, and cold hearts freeze
0375 Allegiance in them. Their curses now
0376 75 Live where their prayers did; and it’s come to pass
0377 This tractable obedience is a slave
0378 To each incensèd will. I would your Highness
0379 Would give it quick consideration, for
0380 There is no primer baseness.
KING 0381 80 By my life,
0382 This is against our pleasure.
WOLSEY 0383 And for me,
0384 I have no further gone in this than by
0385 A single voice, and that not passed me but
0386 85 By learnèd approbation of the judges. If I am
0387 Traduced by ignorant tongues, which neither know
0388 My faculties nor person, yet will be
0389 The chronicles of my doing, let me say
0390 ’Tis but the fate of place, and the rough brake
0391 90 That virtue must go through. We must not stint
0392 Our necessary actions in the fear
0393 To cope malicious censurers, which ever,
0394 As ravenous fishes, do a vessel follow
0395 That is new trimmed, but benefit no further
0396 95 Than vainly longing. What we oft do best,
0397 By sick interpreters, once weak ones, is
0398 Not ours or not allowed; what worst, as oft,
0399 Hitting a grosser quality, is cried up
0400 For our best act. If we shall stand still
0401 100 In fear our motion will be mocked or carped at,
0402 We should take root here where we sit,
0403 Or sit state-statues only.
KING 0404 Things done well,
0405 And with a care, exempt themselves from fear;
0406 105 Things done without example, in their issue
0407 Are to be feared. Have you a precedent
0408 Of this commission? I believe, not any.
0409 We must not rend our subjects from our laws
p. 330410 And stick them in our will. Sixth part of each?
0411 110 A trembling contribution! Why, we take
0412 From every tree lop, bark, and part o’ th’ timber,
0413 And though we leave it with a root, thus hacked,
0414 The air will drink the sap. To every county
0415 Where this is questioned send our letters with
0416 115 Free pardon to each man that has denied
0417 The force of this commission. Pray look to ’t;
0418 I put it to your care.
WOLSEY, ⌜aside to his Secretary⌝ 0419 A word with you.
0420 Let there be letters writ to every shire
0421 120 Of the King’s grace and pardon. The grievèd commons
0422 Hardly conceive of me. Let it be noised
0423 That through our intercession this revokement
0424 And pardon comes. I shall anon advise you
0425 Further in the proceeding.Secretary exits.
Enter ⌜Buckingham’s⌝ Surveyor.
QUEEN KATHERINE, ⌜to the King⌝
0426 125 I am sorry that the Duke of Buckingham
0427 Is run in your displeasure.
KING 0428 It grieves many.
0429 The gentleman is learnèd and a most rare speaker;
0430 To nature none more bound; his training such
0431 130 That he may furnish and instruct great teachers
0432 And never seek for aid out of himself. Yet see,
0433 When these so noble benefits shall prove
0434 Not well disposed, the mind growing once corrupt,
0435 They turn to vicious forms ten times more ugly
0436 135 Than ever they were fair. This man so complete,
0437 Who was enrolled ’mongst wonders, and when we
0438 Almost with ravished list’ning could not find
0439 His hour of speech a minute—he, my lady,
0440 Hath into monstrous habits put the graces
0441 140 That once were his, and is become as black
0442 As if besmeared in hell. Sit by us. You shall hear—
p. 350443 This was his gentleman in trust—of him
0444 Things to strike honor sad.—Bid him recount
0445 The fore-recited practices, whereof
0446 145 We cannot feel too little, hear too much.
0447 Stand forth, and with bold spirit relate what you
0448 Most like a careful subject have collected
0449 Out of the Duke of Buckingham.
KING 0450 Speak freely.
0451 150 First, it was usual with him—every day
0452 It would infect his speech—that if the King
0453 Should without issue die, he’ll carry it so
0454 To make the scepter his. These very words
0455 I’ve heard him utter to his son-in-law,
0456 155 Lord Abergavenny, to whom by oath he menaced
0457 Revenge upon the Cardinal.
WOLSEY 0458 Please your Highness, note
0459 This dangerous conception in this point:
0460 Not friended by his wish to your high person,
0461 160 His will is most malignant, and it stretches
0462 Beyond you to your friends.
QUEEN KATHERINE 0463 My learnèd Lord Cardinal,
0464 Deliver all with charity.
KING, ⌜to Surveyor⌝ 0465 Speak on.
0466 165 How grounded he his title to the crown
0467 Upon our fail? To this point hast thou heard him
0468 At any time speak aught?
SURVEYOR 0469 He was brought to this
0470 By a vain prophecy of Nicholas Henton.
0471 170 What was that Henton?
SURVEYOR 0472 Sir, a Chartreux friar,
0473 His confessor, who fed him every minute
0474 With words of sovereignty.
p. 37KING 0475 How know’st thou this?
0476 175 Not long before your Highness sped to France,
0477 The Duke being at the Rose, within the parish
0478 Saint Laurence Poultney, did of me demand
0479 What was the speech among the Londoners
0480 Concerning the French journey. I replied
0481 180 Men fear the French would prove perfidious,
0482 To the King’s danger. Presently the Duke
0483 Said ’twas the fear indeed, and that he doubted
0484 ’Twould prove the verity of certain words
0485 Spoke by a holy monk “that oft,” says he,
0486 185 “Hath sent to me, wishing me to permit
0487 John de la Car, my chaplain, a choice hour
0488 To hear from him a matter of some moment;
0489 Whom after under the ⌜confession’s⌝ seal
0490 He solemnly had sworn that what he spoke
0491 190 My chaplain to no creature living but
0492 To me should utter, with demure confidence
0493 This pausingly ensued: ‘Neither the King, nor ’s heirs—
0494 Tell you the Duke—shall prosper. Bid him strive
0495 To ⌜gain⌝ the love o’ th’ commonalty; the Duke
0496 195 Shall govern England.’”
QUEEN KATHERINE 0497 If I know you well,
0498 You were the Duke’s surveyor, and lost your office
0499 On the complaint o’ th’ tenants. Take good heed
0500 You charge not in your spleen a noble person
0501 200 And spoil your nobler soul. I say, take heed—
0502 Yes, heartily beseech you.
KING 0503 Let him on.—
0504 Go forward.
SURVEYOR 0505 On my soul, I’ll speak but truth.
0506 205 I told my lord the Duke, by th’ devil’s illusions
0507 The monk might be deceived, and that ’twas dangerous
0508 For ⌜him⌝ to ruminate on this so far until
0509 It forged him some design, which, being believed,
p. 390510 It was much like to do. He answered “Tush,
0511 210 It can do me no damage,” adding further
0512 That had the King in his last sickness failed,
0513 The Cardinal’s and Sir Thomas Lovell’s heads
0514 Should have gone off.
KING 0515 Ha! What, so rank? Ah ha!
0516 215 There’s mischief in this man! Canst thou say further?
0517 I can, my liege.
KING 0518 Proceed.
SURVEYOR 0519 Being at Greenwich,
0520 After your Highness had reproved the Duke
0521 220 About Sir William Blumer—
0522 I remember of such a time, being my sworn servant,
0523 The Duke retained him his. But on. What hence?
0524 “If,” quoth he, “I for this had been committed,”
0525 As to the Tower, I thought, “I would have played
0526 225 The part my father meant to act upon
0527 Th’ usurper Richard, who, being at Salisbury,
0528 Made suit to come in ’s presence; which if granted,
0529 As he made semblance of his duty, would
0530 Have put his knife into him.”
KING 0531 230 A giant traitor!
0532 Now, madam, may his Highness live in freedom
0533 And this man out of prison?
QUEEN KATHERINE 0534 God mend all.
KING, ⌜to Surveyor⌝
0535 There’s something more would out of thee. What sayst?
0536 235 After “the Duke his father” with “the knife,”
0537 He stretched him, and with one hand on his dagger,
0538 Another spread on ’s breast, mounting his eyes,
0539 He did discharge a horrible oath whose tenor
p. 410540 Was, were he evil used, he would outgo
0541 240 His father by as much as a performance
0542 Does an irresolute purpose.
KING 0543 There’s his period,
0544 To sheathe his knife in us! He is attached.
0545 Call him to present trial. If he may
0546 245 Find mercy in the law, ’tis his; if none,
0547 Let him not seek ’t of us. By day and night,
0548 He’s traitor to th’ height!