Henry VIII - Act 4, scene 2
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Act 4, scene 2
The dying Princess Dowager Katherine and her attendant Griffith provide contrasting accounts of the character of the newly dead Wolsey. The sleeping Katherine is then granted a vision of eternal paradise. She wakes to be visited by an ambassador from her nephew, the Emperor Charles. She appeals to the ambassador to intercede with Henry on behalf of her daughter and her attendants, and exits to die.Enter Katherine Dowager, sick, led between Griffith, her
gentleman usher, and Patience, her woman.
2424 How does your Grace?
KATHERINE 2425 O Griffith, sick to death.
2426 My legs like loaden branches bow to th’ earth,
2427 Willing to leave their burden. Reach a chair.
2428 5 So. Now, methinks, I feel a little ease.
2429 Didst thou not tell me, Griffith, as thou ledst me,
2430 That the great child of honor, Cardinal Wolsey,
2431 Was dead?
GRIFFITH 2432 Yes, madam, but I ⌜think⌝ your Grace,
2433 10 Out of the pain you suffered, gave no ear to ’t.
2434 Prithee, good Griffith, tell me how he died.
2435 If well, he stepped before me happily
2436 For my example.
GRIFFITH 2437 Well, the voice goes, madam;
2438 15 For after the stout Earl Northumberland
2439 Arrested him at York and brought him forward,
2440 As a man sorely tainted, to his answer,
2441 He fell sick suddenly and grew so ill
2442 He could not sit his mule.
KATHERINE 2443 20 Alas, poor man!
2444 At last, with easy roads, he came to Leicester,
2445 Lodged in the abbey, where the reverend abbot
2446 With all his convent honorably received him;
2447 To whom he gave these words: “O Father Abbot,
2448 25 An old man, broken with the storms of state,
2449 Is come to lay his weary bones among you.
2450 Give him a little earth, for charity.”
2451 So went to bed, where eagerly his sickness
2453 30 About the hour of eight, which he himself
2454 Foretold should be his last, full of repentance,
2455 Continual meditations, tears, and sorrows,
2456 He gave his honors to the world again,
2457 His blessèd part to heaven, and slept in peace.
2458 35 So may he rest. His faults lie gently on him!
2459 Yet thus far, Griffith, give me leave to speak him,
2460 And yet with charity. He was a man
2461 Of an unbounded stomach, ever ranking
2462 Himself with princes; one that by suggestion
2463 40 Tied all the kingdom. Simony was fair play.
2464 His own opinion was his law. I’ th’ presence
2465 He would say untruths, and be ever double
2466 Both in his words and meaning. He was never,
2467 But where he meant to ruin, pitiful.
2468 45 His promises were, as he then was, mighty,
2469 But his performance, as he is now, nothing.
2470 Of his own body he was ill, and gave
2471 The clergy ill example.
GRIFFITH 2472 Noble madam,
2473 50 Men’s evil manners live in brass; their virtues
2474 We write in water. May it please your Highness
2475 To hear me speak his good now?
KATHERINE 2476 Yes, good Griffith;
2477 I were malicious else.
GRIFFITH 2478 55 This cardinal,
2479 Though from an humble stock, undoubtedly
2480 Was fashioned to much honor. From his cradle
2481 He was a scholar, and a ripe and good one:
2482 Exceeding wise, fair-spoken, and persuading;
2483 60 Lofty and sour to them that loved him not,
2484 But, to those men that sought him, sweet as summer.
2485 And though he were unsatisfied in getting,
2486 Which was a sin, yet in bestowing, madam,
2488 65 Those twins of learning that he raised in you,
2489 Ipswich and Oxford, one of which fell with him,
2490 Unwilling to outlive the good that did it;
2491 The other, though unfinished, yet so famous,
2492 So excellent in art, and still so rising,
2493 70 That Christendom shall ever speak his virtue.
2494 His overthrow heaped happiness upon him,
2495 For then, and not till then, he felt himself,
2496 And found the blessedness of being little.
2497 And, to add greater honors to his age
2498 75 Than man could give him, he died fearing God.
2499 After my death I wish no other herald,
2500 No other speaker of my living actions,
2501 To keep mine honor from corruption
2502 But such an honest chronicler as Griffith.
2503 80 Whom I most hated living, thou hast made me,
2504 With thy religious truth and modesty,
2505 Now in his ashes honor. Peace be with him!—
2506 Patience, be near me still, and set me lower.
2507 I have not long to trouble thee.—Good Griffith,
2508 85 Cause the musicians play me that sad note
2509 I named my knell, whilst I sit meditating
2510 On that celestial harmony I go to.
Sad and solemn music.
2511 She is asleep. Good wench, let’s sit down quiet,
2512 For fear we wake her. Softly, gentle Patience.
Enter, solemnly tripping one after another, six
Personages clad in white robes, wearing on their
heads garlands of bays, and golden vizards on their
faces, branches of bays or palm in their hands. They
changes, the first two hold a spare garland over her
head, at which the other four make reverent curtsies.
Then the two that held the garland deliver the same
to the other next two, who observe the same order in
their changes and holding the garland over her head;
which done, they deliver the same garland to the last
two, who likewise observe the same order. At which,
as it were by inspiration, she makes in her sleep
signs of rejoicing and holdeth up her hands to
heaven; and so, in their dancing, vanish, carrying
the garland with them.
The music continues.
2513 90 Spirits of peace, where are you? Are you all gone,
2514 And leave me here in wretchedness behind you?
2515 Madam, we are here.
KATHERINE 2516 It is not you I call for.
2517 Saw you none enter since I slept?
GRIFFITH 2518 95 None, madam.
2519 No? Saw you not, even now, a blessed troop
2520 Invite me to a banquet, whose bright faces
2521 Cast thousand beams upon me, like the sun?
2522 They promised me eternal happiness
2523 100 And brought me garlands, Griffith, which I feel
2524 I am not worthy yet to wear. I shall, assuredly.
2525 I am most joyful, madam, such good dreams
2526 Possess your fancy.
KATHERINE 2527 Bid the music leave.
2528 105 They are harsh and heavy to me.Music ceases.
PATIENCE, ⌜aside to Griffith⌝ 2529 Do you note
2530 How much her Grace is altered on the sudden?
2532 And of an earthy cold? Mark her eyes.
GRIFFITH, ⌜aside to Patience⌝
2533 110 She is going, wench. Pray, pray.
PATIENCE 2534 Heaven comfort her!
Enter a Messenger.
MESSENGER, ⌜to Katherine⌝
2535 An ’t like your Grace—
KATHERINE 2536 You are a saucy fellow.
2537 Deserve we no more reverence?
GRIFFITH, ⌜to Messenger⌝ 2538 115 You are to blame,
2539 Knowing she will not lose her wonted greatness,
2540 To use so rude behavior. Go to. Kneel.
2541 I humbly do entreat your Highness’ pardon.
2542 My haste made me unmannerly. There is staying
2543 120 A gentleman sent from the King to see you.
2544 Admit him entrance, Griffith.⌜Messenger rises.⌝
2545 But this fellow
2546 Let me ne’er see again.Messenger exits.
Enter Lord Capuchius.
2547 If my sight fail not,
2548 125 You should be Lord Ambassador from the Emperor,
2549 My royal nephew, and your name Capuchius.
2550 Madam, the same. Your servant.
KATHERINE 2551 O my lord,
2552 The times and titles now are altered strangely
2553 130 With me since first you knew me. But I pray you,
2554 What is your pleasure with me?
CAPUCHIUS 2555 Noble lady,
2556 First, mine own service to your Grace; the next,
2557 The King’s request that I would visit you,
2559 Sends you his princely commendations,
2560 And heartily entreats you take good comfort.
2561 O, my good lord, that comfort comes too late;
2562 ’Tis like a pardon after execution.
2563 140 That gentle physic given in time had cured me.
2564 But now I am past all comforts here but prayers.
2565 How does his Highness?
CAPUCHIUS 2566 Madam, in good health.
2567 So may he ever do, and ever flourish,
2568 145 When I shall dwell with worms, and my poor name
2569 Banished the kingdom.—Patience, is that letter
2570 I caused you write yet sent away?
PATIENCE 2571 No, madam.
⌜She presents a paper to Katherine, who gives
it to Capuchius.⌝
2572 Sir, I most humbly pray you to deliver
2573 150 This to my lord the King—
CAPUCHIUS 2574 Most willing, madam.
2575 In which I have commended to his goodness
2576 The model of our chaste loves, his young daughter—
2577 The dews of heaven fall thick in blessings on her!—
2578 155 Beseeching him to give her virtuous breeding—
2579 She is young and of a noble, modest nature;
2580 I hope she will deserve well—and a little
2581 To love her for her mother’s sake that loved him,
2582 Heaven knows how dearly. My next poor petition
2583 160 Is that his noble Grace would have some pity
2584 Upon my wretched women, that so long
2585 Have followed both my fortunes faithfully,
2586 Of which there is not one, I dare avow—
2587 And now I should not lie—but will deserve,
2589 For honesty and decent carriage,
2590 A right good husband. Let him be a noble;
2591 And sure those men are happy that shall have ’em.
2592 The last is for my men—they are the poorest,
2593 170 But poverty could never draw ’em from me—
2594 That they may have their wages duly paid ’em,
2595 And something over to remember me by.
2596 If heaven had pleased to have given me longer life
2597 And able means, we had not parted thus.
2598 175 These are the whole contents. And, good my lord,
2599 By that you love the dearest in this world,
2600 As you wish Christian peace to souls departed,
2601 Stand these poor people’s friend, and urge the King
2602 To do me this last right.
CAPUCHIUS 2603 180 By heaven, I will,
2604 Or let me lose the fashion of a man!
2605 I thank you, honest lord. Remember me
2606 In all humility unto his Highness.
2607 Say his long trouble now is passing
2608 185 Out of this world. Tell him in death I blessed him,
2609 For so I will. Mine eyes grow dim. Farewell,
2610 My lord.—Griffith, farewell.—Nay, Patience,
2611 You must not leave me yet. I must to bed;
2612 Call in more women. When I am dead, good wench,
2613 190 Let me be used with honor. Strew me over
2614 With maiden flowers, that all the world may know
2615 I was a chaste wife to my grave. Embalm me,
2616 Then lay me forth. Although unqueened, yet like
2617 A queen and daughter to a king inter me.
2618 195 I can no more.
They exit, leading Katherine.