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Henry VIII - Act 2, scene 4
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Navigate this workHenry VIII - Act 2, scene 4
Act 2, scene 4
At the trial, Katherine refuses to have the validity of her marriage judged by the church court, given Wolsey’s malice against her. After Katherine departs, Henry clears Wolsey of her accusation that he provoked the king to question the marriage. Henry takes the responsibility himself, and then becomes perturbed at what he sees as the cardinals’ delay in resolving his case.Trumpets, sennet, and cornets. Enter two Vergers, with
short silver wands; next them, two Scribes, in the habit of
doctors; after them, the Bishop of Canterbury alone; after
him, the Bishops of Lincoln, Ely, Rochester, and Saint
Asaph; next them, with some small distance, follows a
Gentleman bearing the purse with the great seal, and a
cardinal’s hat. Then two Priests, bearing each a silver
cross; then a Gentleman Usher bare-headed, accompanied
with a Sergeant-at-Arms, bearing a silver mace; then two
Gentlemen, bearing two great silver pillars. After them,
side by side, the two Cardinals, ⌜and⌝ two Noblemen with
the sword and mace. The King takes place under the cloth
of state. The two Cardinals sit under him as judges. The
Queen takes place some distance from the King. The
Bishops place themselves on each side the court, in
manner of a consistory; below them the Scribes. The
Lords sit next the Bishops. The rest of the Attendants
⌜including a Crier and the Queen’s Gentleman Usher⌝
stand in convenient order about the stage.
1272 Whilst our commission from Rome is read,
1273 Let silence be commanded.
KING 1274 What’s the need?
1275 It hath already publicly been read,
1276 5 And on all sides th’ authority allowed.
1277 You may then spare that time.
WOLSEY 1278 Be ’t so. Proceed.
SCRIBE 1279 Say “Henry King of England, come into the
CRIER 1281 10Henry King of England, come into the court.
KING 1282 Here.
SCRIBE 1283 Say “Katherine Queen of England, come into
1284 the court.”
CRIER 1285 Katherine Queen of England, come into the
1286 15 court.
The Queen makes no answer, rises out of her
chair, goes about the court, comes to the King,
and kneels at his feet; then speaks.
1287 Sir, I desire you do me right and justice,
1288 And to bestow your pity on me; for
1289 I am a most poor woman and a stranger,
1290 Born out of your dominions, having here
1291 20 No judge indifferent nor no more assurance
1292 Of equal friendship and proceeding. Alas, sir,
1293 In what have I offended you? What cause
1294 Hath my behavior given to your displeasure
1295 That thus you should proceed to put me off
1296 25 And take your good grace from me? Heaven witness
1297 I have been to you a true and humble wife,
1298 At all times to your will conformable,
1299 Ever in fear to kindle your dislike,
1300 Yea, subject to your countenance, glad or sorry
1301 30 As I saw it inclined. When was the hour
1302 I ever contradicted your desire,
p. 971303 Or made it not mine too? Or which of your friends
1304 Have I not strove to love, although I knew
1305 He were mine enemy? What friend of mine
1306 35 That had to him derived your anger did I
1307 Continue in my liking? Nay, gave notice
1308 He was from thence discharged? Sir, call to mind
1309 That I have been your wife in this obedience
1310 Upward of twenty years, and have been blessed
1311 40 With many children by you. If, in the course
1312 And process of this time, you can report,
1313 And prove it too, against mine honor aught,
1314 My bond to wedlock or my love and duty
1315 Against your sacred person, in God’s name
1316 45 Turn me away and let the foul’st contempt
1317 Shut door upon me, and so give me up
1318 To the sharp’st kind of justice. Please you, sir,
1319 The King your father was reputed for
1320 A prince most prudent, of an excellent
1321 50 And unmatched wit and judgment. Ferdinand,
1322 My father, King of Spain, was reckoned one
1323 The wisest prince that there had reigned by many
1324 A year before. It is not to be questioned
1325 That they had gathered a wise council to them
1326 55 Of every realm, that did debate this business,
1327 Who deemed our marriage lawful. Wherefore I humbly
1328 Beseech you, sir, to spare me till I may
1329 Be by my friends in Spain advised, whose counsel
1330 I will implore. If not, i’ th’ name of God,
1331 60 Your pleasure be fulfilled.
WOLSEY 1332 You have here, lady,
1333 And of your choice, these reverend fathers, men
1334 Of singular integrity and learning,
1335 Yea, the elect o’ th’ land, who are assembled
1336 65 To plead your cause. It shall be therefore bootless
1337 That longer you desire the court, as well
p. 991338 For your own quiet as to rectify
1339 What is unsettled in the King.
CAMPEIUS 1340 His Grace
1341 70 Hath spoken well and justly. Therefore, madam,
1342 It’s fit this royal session do proceed
1343 And that without delay their arguments
1344 Be now produced and heard.
QUEEN KATHERINE 1345 Lord Cardinal,
1346 75 To you I speak.
WOLSEY 1347 Your pleasure, madam.
QUEEN KATHERINE 1348 Sir,
1349 I am about to weep; but thinking that
1350 We are a queen, or long have dreamed so, certain
1351 80 The daughter of a king, my drops of tears
1352 I’ll turn to sparks of fire.
WOLSEY 1353 Be patient yet.
1354 I will, when you are humble; nay, before,
1355 Or God will punish me. I do believe,
1356 85 Induced by potent circumstances, that
1357 You are mine enemy, and make my challenge
1358 You shall not be my judge; for it is you
1359 Have blown this coal betwixt my lord and me—
1360 Which God’s dew quench! Therefore I say again,
1361 90 I utterly abhor, yea, from my soul
1362 Refuse you for my judge, whom, yet once more,
1363 I hold my most malicious foe and think not
1364 At all a friend to truth.
WOLSEY 1365 I do profess
1366 95 You speak not like yourself, who ever yet
1367 Have stood to charity and displayed th’ effects
1368 Of disposition gentle and of wisdom
1369 O’ertopping woman’s power. Madam, you do me
1371 100 I have no spleen against you, nor injustice
1372 For you or any. How far I have proceeded,
p. 1011373 Or how far further shall, is warranted
1374 By a commission from the Consistory,
1375 Yea, the whole Consistory of Rome. You charge me
1376 105 That I “have blown this coal.” I do deny it.
1377 The King is present. If it be known to him
1378 That I gainsay my deed, how may he wound,
1379 And worthily, my falsehood, yea, as much
1380 As you have done my truth. If he know
1381 110 That I am free of your report, he knows
1382 I am not of your wrong. Therefore in him
1383 It lies to cure me, and the cure is to
1384 Remove these thoughts from you, the which before
1385 His Highness shall speak in, I do beseech
1386 115 You, gracious madam, to unthink your speaking
1387 And to say so no more.
QUEEN KATHERINE 1388 My lord, my lord,
1389 I am a simple woman, much too weak
1390 T’ oppose your cunning. You’re meek and
1391 120 humble-mouthed;
1392 You sign your place and calling, in full seeming,
1393 With meekness and humility, but your heart
1394 Is crammed with arrogancy, spleen, and pride.
1395 You have by fortune and his Highness’ favors
1396 125 Gone slightly o’er low steps, and now are mounted
1397 Where powers are your retainers, and your words,
1398 Domestics to you, serve your will as ’t please
1399 Yourself pronounce their office. I must tell you,
1400 You tender more your person’s honor than
1401 130 Your high profession spiritual, that again
1402 I do refuse you for my judge, and here,
1403 Before you all, appeal unto the Pope
1404 To bring my whole cause ’fore his Holiness,
1405 And to be judged by him.
She curtsies to the King, and offers to depart.
CAMPEIUS 1406 135 The Queen is obstinate,
1407 Stubborn to justice, apt to accuse it, and
p. 1031408 Disdainful to be tried by ’t. ’Tis not well.
1409 She’s going away.
KING 1410 Call her again.
CRIER 1411 140Katherine, Queen of England, come into the
GENTLEMAN USHER 1413 Madam, you are called back.
1414 What need you note it? Pray you, keep your way.
1415 When you are called, return. Now, the Lord help!
1416 145 They vex me past my patience. Pray you, pass on.
1417 I will not tarry; no, nor ever more
1418 Upon this business my appearance make
1419 In any of their courts.
Queen and her Attendants exit.
KING 1420 Go thy ways, Kate.
1421 150 That man i’ th’ world who shall report he has
1422 A better wife, let him in naught be trusted,
1423 For speaking false in that. Thou art, alone—
1424 If thy rare qualities, sweet gentleness,
1425 Thy meekness saintlike, wifelike government,
1426 155 Obeying in commanding, and thy parts
1427 Sovereign and pious else, could speak thee out—
1428 The queen of earthly queens. She’s noble born,
1429 And like her true nobility she has
1430 Carried herself towards me.
WOLSEY 1431 160 Most gracious sir,
1432 In humblest manner I require your Highness
1433 That it shall please you to declare in hearing
1434 Of all these ears—for where I am robbed and bound,
1435 There must I be unloosed, although not there
1436 165 At once and fully satisfied—whether ever I
1437 Did broach this business to your Highness, or
1438 Laid any scruple in your way which might
1439 Induce you to the question on ’t, or ever
1440 Have to you, but with thanks to God for such
p. 1051441 170 A royal lady, spake one the least word that might
1442 Be to the prejudice of her present state,
1443 Or touch of her good person?
KING 1444 My Lord Cardinal,
1445 I do excuse you; yea, upon mine honor,
1446 175 I free you from ’t. You are not to be taught
1447 That you have many enemies that know not
1448 Why they are so but, like to village curs,
1449 Bark when their fellows do. By some of these
1450 The Queen is put in anger. You’re excused.
1451 180 But will you be more justified? You ever
1452 Have wished the sleeping of this business, never
1454 It to be stirred, but oft have hindered, oft,
1455 The passages made toward it. On my honor
1456 185 I speak my good Lord Cardinal to this point
1457 And thus far clear him. Now, what moved me to ’t,
1458 I will be bold with time and your attention.
1459 Then mark th’ inducement. Thus it came; give heed
1460 to ’t:
1461 190 My conscience first received a tenderness,
1462 Scruple, and prick on certain speeches uttered
1463 By th’ Bishop of Bayonne, then French ambassador,
1464 Who had been hither sent on the debating
1465 ⌜A⌝ marriage ’twixt the Duke of Orleans and
1466 195 Our daughter Mary. I’ th’ progress of this business,
1467 Ere a determinate resolution, he,
1468 I mean the Bishop, did require a respite
1469 Wherein he might the King his lord advertise
1470 Whether our daughter were legitimate,
1471 200 Respecting this our marriage with the dowager,
1472 Sometime our brother’s wife. This respite shook
1473 The bosom of my conscience, entered me,
1474 Yea, with a spitting power, and made to tremble
1475 The region of my breast; which forced such way
1476 205 That many mazed considerings did throng
p. 1071477 And pressed in with this caution. First, methought
1478 I stood not in the smile of heaven, who had
1479 Commanded nature that my lady’s womb,
1480 If it conceived a male child by me, should
1481 210 Do no more offices of life to ’t than
1482 The grave does to th’ dead, for her male issue
1483 Or died where they were made, or shortly after
1484 This world had aired them. Hence I took a thought
1485 This was a judgment on me, that my kingdom,
1486 215 Well worthy the best heir o’ th’ world, should not
1487 Be gladded in ’t by me. Then follows that
1488 I weighed the danger which my realms stood in
1489 By this my issue’s fail, and that gave to me
1490 Many a groaning throe. Thus hulling in
1491 220 The wild sea of my conscience, I did steer
1492 Toward this remedy whereupon we are
1493 Now present here together. That’s to say,
1494 I meant to rectify my conscience, which
1495 I then did feel full sick, and yet not well,
1496 225 By all the reverend fathers of the land
1497 And doctors learnèd. First, I began in private
1498 With you, my Lord of Lincoln. You remember
1499 How under my oppression I did reek
1500 When I first moved you.
LINCOLN 1501 230 Very well, my liege.
1502 I have spoke long. Be pleased yourself to say
1503 How far you satisfied me.
LINCOLN 1504 So please your Highness,
1505 The question did at first so stagger me,
1506 235 Bearing a state of mighty moment in ’t
1507 And consequence of dread, that I committed
1508 The daring’st counsel which I had to doubt,
1509 And did entreat your Highness to this course
1510 Which you are running here.
KING 1511 240 I then moved you,
p. 1091512 My Lord of Canterbury, and got your leave
1513 To make this present summons. Unsolicited
1514 I left no reverend person in this court,
1515 But by particular consent proceeded
1516 245 Under your hands and seals. Therefore go on,
1517 For no dislike i’ th’ world against the person
1518 Of the good queen, but the sharp thorny points
1519 Of my allegèd reasons drives this forward.
1520 Prove but our marriage lawful, by my life
1521 250 And kingly dignity, we are contented
1522 To wear our mortal state to come with her,
1523 Katherine our queen, before the primest creature
1524 That’s paragoned o’ th’ world.
CAMPEIUS 1525 So please your Highness,
1526 255 The Queen being absent, ’tis a needful fitness
1527 That we adjourn this court till further day.
1528 Meanwhile must be an earnest motion
1529 Made to the Queen to call back her appeal
1530 She intends unto his Holiness.
KING, ⌜aside⌝ 1531 260 I may perceive
1532 These cardinals trifle with me. I abhor
1533 This dilatory sloth and tricks of Rome.
1534 My learnèd and well-belovèd servant Cranmer,
1535 Prithee return. With thy approach, I know,
1536 265 My comfort comes along.—Break up the court.
1537 I say, set on.
They exit, in manner as they entered.