Henry VIII, by William Shakespeare

Act IV

Scene I. A street in Westminster.

Enter two Gentlemen, meeting one another

First Gentleman

You’re well met once again.

Second Gentleman

So are you.

First Gentleman

You come to take your stand here, and behold
The Lady Anne pass from her coronation?

Second Gentleman

’Tis all my business. At our last encounter,
The Duke of Buckingham came from his trial.

First Gentleman

’Tis very true: but that time offer’d sorrow;
This, general joy.

Second Gentleman

’Tis well: the citizens,
I am sure, have shown at full their royal minds —
As, let ’em have their rights, they are ever forward —
In celebration of this day with shows,
Pageants and sights of honour.

First Gentleman

Never greater,
Nor, I’ll assure you, better taken, sir.

Second Gentleman

May I be bold to ask at what that contains,
That paper in your hand?

First Gentleman

Yes; ’tis the list
Of those that claim their offices this day
By custom of the coronation.
The Duke of Suffolk is the first, and claims
To be high-steward; next, the Duke of Norfolk,
He to be earl marshal: you may read the rest.

Second Gentleman

I thank you, sir: had I not known those customs,
I should have been beholding to your paper.
But, I beseech you, what’s become of Katharine,
The princess dowager? how goes her business?

First Gentleman

That I can tell you too. The Archbishop
Of Canterbury, accompanied with other
Learned and reverend fathers of his order,
Held a late court at Dunstable, six miles off
From Ampthill where the princess lay; to which
She was often cited by them, but appear’d not:
And, to be short, for not appearance and
The king’s late scruple, by the main assent
Of all these learned men she was divorced,
And the late marriage made of none effect
Since which she was removed to Kimbolton,
Where she remains now sick.

Second Gentleman

Alas, good lady!

Trumpets

The trumpets sound: stand close, the queen is coming.

Hautboys

The Order Of The Coronation

1. A lively flourish of Trumpets.
2. Then, two Judges.
3. Lord Chancellor, with the purse and mace before him.
4. Choristers, singing.

Music

5. Mayor of London, bearing the mace. Then Garter, in his coat of arms, and on his head a gilt copper crown.
6. Marquess Dorset, bearing a sceptre of gold, on his head a demi-coronal of gold. With him, Surrey, bearing the rod of silver with the dove, crowned with an earl’s coronet. Collars of Ss.
7. Suffolk, in his robe of estate, his coronet on his head, bearing a long white wand, as high-steward. With him, Norfolk, with the rod of marshalship, a coronet on his head. Collars of Ss.
8. A canopy borne by four of the Cinque-ports; under it, Queen Anne in her robe; in her hair richly adorned with pearl, crowned. On each side her, the Bishops of London and Winchester.
9. The old Duchess of Norfolk, in a coronal of gold, wrought with flowers, bearing Queen Anne’s train.
10. Certain Ladies or Countesses, with plain circlets of gold without flowers.

They pass over the stage in order and state

Second Gentleman

A royal train, believe me. These I know:
Who’s that that bears the sceptre?

First Gentleman

Marquess Dorset:
And that the Earl of Surrey, with the rod.

Second Gentleman

A bold brave gentleman. That should be
The Duke of Suffolk?

First Gentleman

’Tis the same: high-steward.

Second Gentleman

And that my Lord of Norfolk?

First Gentleman

Yes;

Second Gentleman

Heaven bless thee!

Looking on Queen Anne

Thou hast the sweetest face I ever look’d on.
Sir, as I have a soul, she is an angel;
Our king has all the Indies in his arms,
And more and richer, when he strains that lady:
I cannot blame his conscience.

First Gentleman

They that bear
The cloth of honour over her, are four barons
Of the Cinque-ports.

Second Gentleman

Those men are happy; and so are all are near her.
I take it, she that carries up the train
Is that old noble lady, Duchess of Norfolk.

First Gentleman

It is; and all the rest are countesses.

Second Gentleman

Their coronets say so. These are stars indeed;
And sometimes falling ones.

First Gentleman

No more of that.

Exit procession, and then a great flourish of trumpets

Enter a third Gentleman

First Gentleman

God save you, sir! where have you been broiling?

Third Gentleman

Among the crowd i’ the Abbey; where a finger
Could not be wedged in more: I am stifled
With the mere rankness of their joy.

Second Gentleman

You saw
The ceremony?

Third Gentleman

  That I did.

First Gentleman

How was it?

Third Gentleman

Well worth the seeing.

Second Gentleman

Good sir, speak it to us.

Third Gentleman

As well as I am able. The rich stream
Of lords and ladies, having brought the queen
To a prepared place in the choir, fell off
A distance from her; while her grace sat down
To rest awhile, some half an hour or so,
In a rich chair of state, opposing freely
The beauty of her person to the people.
Believe me, sir, she is the goodliest woman
That ever lay by man: which when the people
Had the full view of, such a noise arose
As the shrouds make at sea in a stiff tempest,
As loud, and to as many tunes: hats, cloaks —
Doublets, I think — flew up; and had their faces
Been loose, this day they had been lost. Such joy
I never saw before. Great-bellied women,
That had not half a week to go, like rams
In the old time of war, would shake the press,
And make ’em reel before ’em. No man living
Could say ‘This is my wife’ there; all were woven
So strangely in one piece.

Second Gentleman

But, what follow’d?

Third Gentleman

At length her grace rose, and with modest paces
Came to the altar; where she kneel’d, and saint-like
Cast her fair eyes to heaven and pray’d devoutly.
Then rose again and bow’d her to the people:
When by the Archbishop of Canterbury
She had all the royal makings of a queen;
As holy oil, Edward Confessor’s crown,
The rod, and bird of peace, and all such emblems
Laid nobly on her: which perform’d, the choir,
With all the choicest music of the kingdom,
Together sung ‘Te Deum.’ So she parted,
And with the same full state paced back again
To York-place, where the feast is held.

First Gentleman

Sir,
You must no more call it York-place, that’s past;
For, since the cardinal fell, that title’s lost:
’Tis now the king’s, and call’d Whitehall.

Third Gentleman

I know it;
But ’tis so lately alter’d, that the old name
Is fresh about me.

Second Gentleman

  What two reverend bishops
Were those that went on each side of the queen?

Third Gentleman

Stokesly and Gardiner; the one of Winchester,
Newly preferr’d from the king’s secretary,
The other, London.

Second Gentleman

  He of Winchester
Is held no great good lover of the archbishop’s,
The virtuous Cranmer.

Third Gentleman

All the land knows that:
However, yet there is no great breach; when it comes,
Cranmer will find a friend will not shrink from him.

Second Gentleman

Who may that be, I pray you?

Third Gentleman

Thomas Cromwell;
A man in much esteem with the king, and truly
A worthy friend. The king has made him master
O’ the jewel house,
And one, already, of the privy council.

Second Gentleman

He will deserve more.

Third Gentleman

Yes, without all doubt.
Come, gentlemen, ye shall go my way, which
Is to the court, and there ye shall be my guests:
Something I can command. As I walk thither,
I’ll tell ye more.

Both

  You may command us, sir.

Exeunt

Scene II. Kimbolton.

Enter Katharine, Dowager, sick; led between Griffith, her gentleman usher, and Patience, her woman

Griffith

How does your grace?

Katharine

O Griffith, sick to death!
My legs, like loaden branches, bow to the earth,
Willing to leave their burthen. Reach a chair:
So; now, methinks, I feel a little ease.
Didst thou not tell me, Griffith, as thou led’st me,
That the great child of honour, Cardinal Wolsey, Was dead?

Griffith

  Yes, madam; but I think your grace,
Out of the pain you suffer’d, gave no ear to’t.

Katharine

Prithee, good Griffith, tell me how he died:
If well, he stepp’d before me, happily
For my example.

Griffith

  Well, the voice goes, madam:
For after the stout Earl Northumberland
Arrested him at York, and brought him forward,
As a man sorely tainted, to his answer,
He fell sick suddenly, and grew so ill
He could not sit his mule.

Katharine

Alas, poor man!

Griffith

At last, with easy roads, he came to Leicester,
Lodged in the abbey; where the reverend abbot,
With all his covent, honourably received him;
To whom he gave these words, ‘O, father abbot,
An old man, broken with the storms of state,
Is come to lay his weary bones among ye;
Give him a little earth for charity!’
So went to bed; where eagerly his sickness
Pursued him still: and, three nights after this,
About the hour of eight, which he himself
Foretold should be his last, full of repentance,
Continual meditations, tears, and sorrows,
He gave his honours to the world again,
His blessed part to heaven, and slept in peace.

Katharine

So may he rest; his faults lie gently on him!
Yet thus far, Griffith, give me leave to speak him,
And yet with charity. He was a man
Of an unbounded stomach, ever ranking
Himself with princes; one that, by suggestion,
Tied all the kingdom: simony was fair-play;
His own opinion was his law: i’ the presence
He would say untruths; and be ever double
Both in his words and meaning: he was never,
But where he meant to ruin, pitiful:
His promises were, as he then was, mighty;
But his performance, as he is now, nothing:
Of his own body he was ill, and gave
The clergy in example.

Griffith

Noble madam,
Men’s evil manners live in brass; their virtues
We write in water. May it please your highness
To hear me speak his good now?

Katharine

Yes, good Griffith;
I were malicious else.

Griffith

This cardinal,
Though from an humble stock, undoubtedly
Was fashion’d to much honour from his cradle.
He was a scholar, and a ripe and good one;
Exceeding wise, fair-spoken, and persuading:
Lofty and sour to them that loved him not;
But to those men that sought him sweet as summer.
And though he were unsatisfied in getting,
Which was a sin, yet in bestowing, madam,
He was most princely: ever witness for him
Those twins Of learning that he raised in you,
Ipswich and Oxford! one of which fell with him,
Unwilling to outlive the good that did it;
The other, though unfinish’d, yet so famous,
So excellent in art, and still so rising,
That Christendom shall ever speak his virtue.
His overthrow heap’d happiness upon him;
For then, and not till then, he felt himself,
And found the blessedness of being little:
And, to add greater honours to his age
Than man could give him, he died fearing God.

Katharine

After my death I wish no other herald,
No other speaker of my living actions,
To keep mine honour from corruption,
But such an honest chronicler as Griffith.
Whom I most hated living, thou hast made me,
With thy religious truth and modesty,
Now in his ashes honour: peace be with him!
Patience, be near me still; and set me lower:
I have not long to trouble thee. Good Griffith,
Cause the musicians play me that sad note
I named my knell, whilst I sit meditating
On that celestial harmony I go to.

Sad and solemn music

Griffith

She is asleep: good wench, let’s sit down quiet,
For fear we wake her: softly, gentle Patience.

The vision. 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 first congee unto her, then dance; and, at certain 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

Katharine

Spirits of peace, where are ye? are ye all gone,
And leave me here in wretchedness behind ye?

Griffith

Madam, we are here.

Katharine

It is not you I call for:
Saw ye none enter since I slept?

Griffith

None, madam.

Katharine

No? Saw you not, even now, a blessed troop
Invite me to a banquet; whose bright faces
Cast thousand beams upon me, like the sun?
They promised me eternal happiness;
And brought me garlands, Griffith, which I feel
I am not worthy yet to wear: I shall, assuredly.

Griffith

I am most joyful, madam, such good dreams
Possess your fancy.

Katharine

Bid the music leave,
They are harsh and heavy to me.

Music ceases

Patience

Do you note
How much her grace is alter’d on the sudden?
How long her face is drawn? how pale she looks,
And of an earthy cold? Mark her eyes!

Griffith

She is going, wench: pray, pray.

Patience

Heaven comfort her!

Enter a Messenger

Messenger

An’t like your grace —

Katharine

You are a saucy fellow:
Deserve we no more reverence?

Griffith

You are to blame,
Knowing she will not lose her wonted greatness,
To use so rude behavior; go to, kneel.

Messenger

I humbly do entreat your highness’ pardon;
My haste made me unmannerly. There is staying
A gentleman, sent from the king, to see you.

Katharine

Admit him entrance, Griffith: but this fellow
Let me ne’er see again.

Exeunt Griffith and Messenger

Re-enter Griffith, with Capucius

If my sight fail not,
You should be lord ambassador from the emperor,
My royal nephew, and your name Capucius.

Capucius

Madam, the same; your servant.

Katharine

O, my lord,
The times and titles now are alter’d strangely
With me since first you knew me. But, I pray you,
What is your pleasure with me?

Capucius

Noble lady,
First mine own service to your grace; the next,
The king’s request that I would visit you;
Who grieves much for your weakness, and by me
Sends you his princely commendations,
And heartily entreats you take good comfort.

Katharine

O my good lord, that comfort comes too late;
’Tis like a pardon after execution:
That gentle physic, given in time, had cured me;
But now I am past an comforts here, but prayers.
How does his highness?

Capucius

Madam, in good health.

Katharine

So may he ever do! and ever flourish,
When I shal l dwell with worms, and my poor name
Banish’d the kingdom! Patience, is that letter,
I caused you write, yet sent away?

Patience

No, madam.

Giving it to Katharine

Katharine

Sir, I most humbly pray you to deliver
This to my lord the king.

Capucius

Most willing, madam.

Katharine

In which I have commended to his goodness
The model of our chaste loves, his young daughter;
The dews of heaven fall thick in blessings on her!
Beseeching him to give her virtuous breeding —
She is young, and of a noble modest nature,
I hope she will deserve well — and a little
To love her for her mother’s sake, that loved him,
Heaven knows how dearly. My next poor petition
Is, that his noble grace would have some pity
Upon my wretched women, that so long
Have follow’d both my fortunes faithfully:
Of which there is not one, I dare avow,
And now I should not lie, but will deserve
For virtue and true beauty of the soul,
For honesty and decent carriage,
A right good husband, let him be a noble
And, sure, those men are happy that shall have ’em.
The last is, for my men; they are the poorest,
But poverty could never draw ’em from me;
That they may have their wages duly paid ’em,
And something over to remember me by:
If heaven had pleased to have given me longer life
And able means, we had not parted thus.
These are the whole contents: and, good my lord,
By that you love the dearest in this world,
As you wish Christian peace to souls departed,
Stand these poor people’s friend, and urge the king
To do me this last right.

Capucius

By heaven, I will,
Or let me lose the fashion of a man!

Katharine

I thank you, honest lord. Remember me
In all humility unto his highness:
Say his long trouble now is passing
Out of this world; tell him, in death I bless’d him,
For so I will. Mine eyes grow dim. Farewell,
My lord. Griffith, farewell. Nay, Patience,
You must not leave me yet: I must to bed;
Call in more women. When I am dead, good wench,
Let me be used with honour: strew me over
With maiden flowers, that all the world may know
I was a chaste wife to my grave: embalm me,
Then lay me forth: although unqueen’d, yet like
A queen, and daughter to a king, inter me.
I can no more.

Exeunt, leading Katharine

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Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:30