Act III - Act III, Scene 2

SCENE II. Ante-chamber to the King's apartment.

[Enter the Duke of Norfolk, the Duke of Suffolk, the
Earl of Surrey, and the Lord Chamberlain.]

If you will now unite in your complaints
And force them with a constancy, the Cardinal
Cannot stand under them. If you omit
The offer of this time, I cannot promise
But that you shall sustain moe new disgraces,
With these you bear already.

I am joyful
To meet the least occasion that may give me
Remembrance of my father-in-law, the Duke,
To be reveng'd on him.

Which of the peers
Have uncontemn'd gone by him, or at least
Strangely neglected? When did he regard
The stamp of nobleness in any person
Out of himself?

My lords, you speak your pleasures.
What he deserves of you and me I know;
What we can do to him, though now the time
Gives way to us, I much fear. If you cannot
Bar his access to the King, never attempt
Anything on him; for he hath a witchcraft
Over the King in 's tongue.

O, fear him not;
His spell in that is out. The King hath found
Matter against him that for ever mars
The honey of his language. No, he's settled,
Not to come off, in his displeasure.

I should be glad to hear such news as this
Once every hour.

Believe it, this is true.
In the divorce his contrary proceedings
Are all unfolded; wherein he appears
As I would wish mine enemy.

How came
His practices to light?

Most strangely.

O, how, how?

The Cardinal's letters to the Pope miscarried,
And came to the eye o' the King; wherein was read,
How that the Cardinal did entreat his Holiness
To stay the judgement o' the divorce; for if
It did take place, "I do" quoth he "perceive
My king is tangled in affection to
A creature of the Queen's, Lady Anne Bullen."

Has the King this?

Believe it.

Will this work?

The King in this perceives him, how he coasts
And hedges his own way. But in this point
All his tricks founder, and he brings his physic
After his patient's death. The King already
Hath married the fair lady.

Would he had!

May you be happy in your wish, my lord!
For, I profess, you have it.

Now, all my joy
Trace the conjunction!

My amen to't!

All men's!

There's order given for her coronation.
Marry, this is yet but young, and may be left
To some ears unrecounted. But, my lords,
She is a gallant creature, and complete
In mind and feature. I persuade me, from her
Will fall some blessing to this land, which shall
In it be memoriz'd.

But, will the King
Digest this letter of the Cardinal's?
The Lord forbid!

Marry, amen!

No, no;
There be moe wasps that buzz about his nose
Will make this sting the sooner. Cardinal Campeius
Is stolen away to Rome; hath ta'en no leave;
He's left the cause o' the King unhandled, and
Is posted, as the agent of our Cardinal,
To second all his plot. I do assure you
The King cried "Ha!" at this.

Now, God incense him,
And let him cry "Ha!" louder!

But, my lord,
When returns Cranmer?

He is return'd in his opinions; which
Have satisfied the King for his divorce,
Together with all famous colleges
Almost in Christendom. Shortly, I believe,
His second marriage shall be publish'd, and
Her coronation. Katherine no more
Shall be call'd Queen, but Princess Dowager
And widow to Prince Arthur.

This same Cranmer's
A worthy fellow, and hath ta'en much pain
In the King's business.

He has; and we shall see him
For it an archbishop.

So I hear.

'Tis so.

[Enter Wolsey and Cromwell.]

The Cardinal!

Observe, observe, he's moody.

The packet, Cromwell,
Gave't you the King?

To his own hand, in 's bedchamber.

Look'd he o' the inside of the paper?

He did unseal them; and the first he view'd,
He did it with a serious mind; a heed
Was in his countenance. You he bade
Attend him here this morning.

Is he ready
To come abroad?

I think, by this he is.

Leave me awhile.

[Exit Cromwell.]

[Aside.] It shall be to the Duchess of Alencon,
The French king's sister; he shall marry her.
Anne Bullen! No; I'll no Anne Bullens for him;
There's more in't than fair visage. Bullen!
No, we'll no Bullens. Speedily I wish
To hear from Rome. The Marchioness of Pembroke!

He's discontented.

May be, he hears the King
Does whet his anger to him.

Sharp enough,
Lord, for thy justice!

[Aside.] The late queen's gentlewoman, a knight's daughter,
To be her mistress' mistress! the Queen's queen!
This candle burns not clear: 'tis I must snuff it;
Then out it goes. What though I know her virtuous
And well deserving? yet I know her for
A spleeny Lutheran; and not wholesome to
Our cause, that she should lie i' the bosom of
Our hard-rul'd King. Again, there is sprung up
An heretic, an arch one, Cranmer; one
Hath crawl'd into the favour of the King,
And is his oracle.

He's vex'd at something.

[Enter the King, reading a schedule, and Lovell.]

I would 'twere something that would fret the string,
The master-cord on 's heart!

The King, the King!

What piles of wealth hath he accumulated
To his own portion! and what expense by the hour
Seems to flow from him! How, i' the name of thrift,
Does he rake this together! Now, my lords,
Saw you the Cardinal?

My lord, we have
Stood here observing him. Some strange commotion
Is in his brain; he bites his lip, and starts;
Stops on a sudden, looks upon the ground,
Then lays his finger on his temple; straight
Springs out into fast gait; then stops again,
Strikes his breast hard; and anon he casts
His eye against the moon. In most strange postures
We have seen him set himself.

It may well be;
There is a mutiny in 's mind. This morning
Papers of state he sent me to peruse,
As I requir'd; and wot you what I found
There,--on my conscience, put unwittingly?
Forsooth, an inventory, thus importing
The several parcels of his plate, his treasure,
Rich stuffs, and ornaments of household; which
I find at such proud rate, that it out-speaks
Possession of a subject.

It's Heaven's will!
Some spirit put this paper in the packet,
To bless your eye withal.

If we did think
His contemplation were above the earth ,
And fix'd on spiritual object, he should still
Dwell in his musings; but I am afraid
His thinkings are below the moon, not worth
His serious considering.

[King takes his seat; whispers Lovell, who goes to the

Heaven forgive me!
Ever God bless your Highness!

Good my lord,
You are full of heavenly stuff, and bear the inventory
Of your best graces in your mind; the which
You were now running o'er. You have scarce time
To steal from spiritual leisure a brief span
To keep your earthly audit. Sure, in that
I deem you an ill husband, and am glad
To have you therein my companion.

For holy offices I have a time; a time
To think upon the part of business which
I bear i' the state; and Nature does require
Her times of preservation, which perforce
I, her frail son, amongst my brethren mortal,
Must give my tendance to.

You have said well.

And ever may your Highness yoke together,
As I will lend you cause, my doing well
With my well saying!

'Tis well said again;
And 'tis a kind of good deed to say well;
And yet words are no deeds. My father lov'd you;
He said he did; and with his deed did crown
His word upon you. Since I had my office,
I have kept you next my heart; have not alone
Employ'd you where high profits might come home,
But par'd my present havings, to bestow
My bounties upon you.

[Aside.] What should this mean?

[Aside.] The Lord increase this business!

Have I not made you
The prime man of the state? I pray you, tell me,
If what I now pronounce you have found true
And, if you may confess it, say withal,
If you are bound to us or no. What say you?

My sovereign, I confess your royal graces,
Shower'd on me daily, have been more than could
My studied purposes requite, which went
Beyond all man's endeavours. My endeavours
Have ever come too short of my desires,
Yet fil'd with my abilities. Mine own ends
Have been mine so that evermore they pointed
To the good of your most sacred person and
The profit of the state. For your great graces
Heap'd upon me, poor undeserver, I
Can nothing render but allegiant thanks,
My prayers to heaven for you, my loyalty,
Which ever has and ever shall be growing,
Till death, that winter, kill it.

Fairly answer'd.
A loyal and obedient subject is
Therein illustrated. The honour of it
Does pay the act of it, as i' the contrary,
The foulness is the punishment. I presume
That, as my hand has open'd bounty to you,
My heart dropp'd love, my pow'r rain'd honour, more
On you than any, so your hand and heart,
Your brain, and every function of your power,
Should, notwithstanding that your bond of duty,
As 'twere in love's particular, be more
To me, your friend, than any.

I do profess
That for your Highness' good I ever labour'd
More than mine own, that am, have, and will be--
Though all the world should crack their duty to you,
And throw it from their soul; though perils did
Abound, as thick as thought could make 'em, and
Appear in forms more horrid,--yet my duty,
As doth a rock against the chiding flood,
Should the approach of this wild river break,
And stand unshaken yours.

'Tis nobly spoken.
Take notice, lords, he has a loyal breast,
For you have seen him open't. Read o'er this;

[Giving him papers.]

And, after, this; and then to breakfast with
What appetite you have.

[Exit King, frowning upon Cardinal Wolsey; the Nobles throng
after him, smiling and whispering.]

What should this mean?
What sudden anger's this? How have I reap'd it?
He parted frowning from me, as if ruin
Leap'd from his eyes. So looks the chafed lion
Upon the daring huntsman that has gall'd him;
Then makes him nothing. I must read this paper;
I fear, the story of his anger. 'Tis so;
This paper has undone me. 'Tis the account
Of all that world of wealth I have drawn together
For mine own ends; indeed, to gain the popedom
And fee my friends in Rome. O negligence,
Fit for a fool to fall by! What cross devil
Made me put this main secret in the packet
I sent the King? Is there no way to cure this?
No new device to beat this from his brains?
I know 'twill stir him strongly; yet I know
A way, if it take right, in spite of fortune,
Will bring me off again. What's this? "To the Pope!"
The letter, as I live, with all the business
I writ to 's Holiness. Nay then, farewell!
I have touch'd the highest point of all my greatness;
And from that full meridian of my glory,
I haste now to my setting. I shall fall
Like a bright exhalation in the evening,
And no man see me more.

[Re-enter to Wolsey, the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk,
the Earl Of Surrey, and the Lord Chamberlain.]

Hear the King's pleasure, Cardinal! who commands you
To render up the great seal presently
Into our hands; and to confine yourself
To Asher House, my Lord of Winchester's,
Till you hear further from his Highness.

Where's your commission, lords? Words cannot carry
Authority so weighty.

Who dares cross 'em,
Bearing the King's will from his mouth expressly?

Till I find more than will or words to do it,
I mean your malice, know, officious lords,
I dare and must deny it. Now I feel
Of what coarse metal ye are moulded, envy.
How eagerly ye follow my disgraces,
As if it fed ye! and how sleek and wanton
Ye appear in every thing may bring my ruin!
Follow your envious courses, men of malice!
You have Christian warrant for 'em, and, no doubt,
In time will find their fit rewards. That seal
You ask with such a violence, the King,
Mine and your master, with his own hand gave me,
Bade me enjoy it, with the place and honours,
During my life; and, to confirm his goodness,
Tied it by letters-patents. Now, who'll take it?

The King, that gave it.

It must be himself, then.

Thou art a proud traitor, priest.

Proud lord, thou liest!
Within these forty hours Surrey durst better
Have burnt that tongue than said so.

Thy ambition,
Thou scarlet sin, robb'd this bewailing land
Of noble Buckingham, my father-in-law.
The heads of all thy brother cardinals,
With thee and all thy best parts bound together,
Weigh'd not a hair of his. Plague of your policy!
You sent me deputy for Ireland,
Far from his succour, from the King, from all
That might have mercy on the fault thou gav'st him;
Whilst your great goodness, out of holy pity,
Absolv'd him with an axe.

This, and all else
This talking lord can lay upon my credit,
I answer is most false. The Duke by law
Found his deserts. How innocent I was
From any private malice in his end,
His noble jury and foul cause can witness.
If I lov'd many words, lord, I should tell you
You have as little honesty as honour,
That in the way of loyalty and truth
Toward the King, my ever royal master,
Dare mate a sounder man than Surrey can be
And all that love his follies.

By my soul,
Your long coat, priest, protects you; thou shouldst feel
My sword i' the life-blood of thee else. My lords,
Can ye endure to hear this arrogance?
And from this fellow? If we live thus tamely,
To be thus jaded by a piece of scarlet,
Farewell nobility! Let his Grace go forward
And dare us with his cap like larks.

All goodness
Is poison to thy stomach.

Yes, that goodness
Of gleaning all the land's wealth into one,
Into your own hands, Cardinal, by extortion;
The goodness of your intercepted packets
You writ to the Pope against the King. Your goodness,
Since you provoke me, shall be most notorious.
My Lord of Norfolk, as you are truly noble,
As you respect the common good, the state
Of our despis'd nobility, our issues,
Who, if he live, will scarce be gentlemen,
Produce the grand sum of his sins, the articles
Collected from his life. I'll startle you
Worse than the sacring bell, when the brown wench
Lay kissing in your arms, Lord Cardinal.

How much, methinks, I could despise this man,
But that I am bound in charity against it!

Those articles, my lord, are in the King's hand:
But, thus much, they are foul ones.

So much fairer
And spotless shall mine innocence arise,
When the King knows my truth.

This cannot save you.
I thank my memory, I yet remember
Some of these articles; and out they shall.
Now, if you can blush and cry "guilty," Cardinal,
You'll show a little honesty.

Speak on, sir;
I dare your worst objections. If I blush,
It is to see a nobleman want manners.

I had rather want those than my head. Have at you!
First, that, without the King's assent or knowledge,
You wrought to be a legate; by which power
You maim'd the jurisdiction of all bishops.

Then, that in all you writ to Rome, or else
To foreign princes, "Ego et Rex meus"
Was still inscrib'd; in which you brought the King
To be your servant.

Then, that, without the knowledge
Either of king or council, when you went
Ambassador to the Emperor, you made bold
To carry into Flanders the great seal.

Item, you sent a large commission
To Gregory de Cassado, to conclude,
Without the King's will or the state's allowance,
A league between his Highness and Ferrara.

That, out of mere ambition, you have caus'd
Your holy hat to be stamp'd on the King's coin.

Then, that you have sent innumerable substance--
By what means got, I leave to your own conscience--
To furnish Rome, and to prepare the ways
You have for dignities; to the mere undoing
Of all the kingdom. Many more there are;
Which, since they are of you, and odious,
I will not taint my mouth with.

O my lord,
Press not a falling man too far! 'tis virtue.
His faults lie open to the laws; let them,
Not you, correct him. My heart weeps to see him
So little of his great self.

I forgive him.

Lord Cardinal, the King's further pleasure is,
Because all those things you have done of late
By your power legatine within this kingdom,
Fall into the compass of a praemunire,
That therefore such a writ be sued against you;
To forfeit all your goods, lands, tenements,
Chattels, and whatsoever, and to be
Out of the King's protection. This is my charge.

And so we'll leave you to your meditations
How to live better. For your stubborn answer
About the giving back the great seal to us,
The King shall know it, and, no doubt, shall thank you.
So fare you well, my little good Lord Cardinal.

[Exeunt all but Wolsey.]

So farewell to the little good you bear me.
Farewell! a long farewell, to all my greatness!
This is the state of man: to-day he puts forth
The tender leaves of hopes; to-morrow blossoms,
And bears his blushing honours thick upon him;
The third day comes a frost, a killing frost,
And, when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
His greatness is a-ripening, nips his root,
And then he falls, as I do. I have ventur'd,
Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders,
This many summers in a sea of glory,
But far beyond my depth. My high-blown pride
At length broke under me, and now has left me,
Weary and old with service, to the mercy
Of a rude stream, that must for ever hide me.
Vain pomp and glory of this world, I hate ye!
I feel my heart new open'd. O, how wretched
Is that poor man that hangs on princes' favours!
There is, betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin,
More pangs and fears than wars or women have;
And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,
Never to hope again.

[Enter Cromwell, standing amazed.]

Why, how now, Cromwell!

I have no power to speak, sir.

What, amaz'd
At my misfortunes? Can thy spirit wonder
A great man should decline? Nay, an you weep,
I am fallen indeed.

How does your Grace?

Why, well,
Never so truly happy, my good Cromwell.
I know myself now; and I feel within me
A peace above all earthly dignities,
A still and quiet conscience. The King has cur'd me,
I humbly thank his Grace; and from these shoulders,
These ruin'd pillars, out of pity, taken
A load would sink a navy, too much honour.
O, 'tis a burden, Cromwell, 'tis a burden
Too heavy for a man that hopes for heaven!

I am glad your Grace has made that right use of it.

I hope I have. I am able now, methinks,
Out of a fortitude of soul I feel,
To endure more miseries and greater far
Than my weak-hearted enemies dare offer.
What news abroad?

The heaviest and the worst
Is your displeasure with the King.

God bless him!

The next is, that Sir Thomas More is chosen
Lord Chancellor in your place.

That's somewhat sudden;
But he's a learned man. May he continue
Long in his Highness' favour, and do justice
For truth's sake and his conscience; that his bones,
When he has run his course and sleeps in blessings,
May have a tomb of orphans' tears wept on 'em!
What more?

That Cranmer is return'd with welcome,
Install'd Lord Archbishop of Canterbury.

That's news indeed.

Last, that the Lady Anne,
Whom the King hath in secrecy long married,
This day was view'd in open as his queen,
Going to chapel; and the voice is now
Only about her coronation.

There was the weight that pull'd me down.
O Cromwell,
The King has gone beyond me! All my glories
In that one woman I have lost for ever.
No sun shall ever usher forth mine honours,
Or gild again the noble troops that waited
Upon my smiles. Go, get thee from me, Cromwell!
I am a poor fallen man, unworthy now
To be thy lord and master. Seek the King!
That sun, I pray, may never set! I have told him
What and how true thou art. He will advance thee;
Some little memory of me will stir him--
I know his noble nature--not to let
Thy hopeful service perish too. Good Cromwell,
Neglect him not; make use now, and provide
For thine own future safety.

O my lord,
Must I, then, leave you? Must I needs forgo
So good, so noble, and so true a master?
Bear witness, all that have not hearts of iron,
With what a sorrow Cromwell leaves his lord.
The King shall have my service; but my prayers
For ever and for ever shall be yours.

Cromwell, I did not think to shed a tear
In all my miseries; but thou hast forc'd me,
Out of thy honest truth, to play the woman.
Let's dry our eyes; and thus far hear me, Cromwell;
And when I am forgotten, as I shall be,
And sleep in dull cold marble, where no mention
Of me more must be heard of, say, I taught thee;
Say, Wolsey, that once trod the ways of glory,
And sounded all the depths and shoals of honour,
Found thee a way, out of his wreck, to rise in;
A sure and safe one, though thy master miss'd it.
Mark but my fall, and that that ruin'd me.
Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition!
By that sin fell the angels; how can man, then,
The image of his Maker, hope to win by it?
Love thyself last. Cherish those hearts that hate thee;
Corruption wins not more than honesty.
Still in thy right hand carry gentle peace,
To silence envious tongues. Be just, and fear not;
Let all the ends thou aim'st at be thy country's,
Thy God's, and truth's; then if thou fall'st, O Cromwell,
Thou fall'st a blessed martyr! Serve the King!
And, prithee, lead me in.
There take an inventory of all I have,
To the last penny; 'tis the King's. My robe,
And my integrity to Heaven, is all
I dare now call mine own. O Cromwell, Cromwell!
Had I but serv'd my God with half the zeal
I serv'd my king, He would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies.

Good sir, have patience.

So I have. Farewell
The hopes of court! My hopes in heaven do dwell.



  1. Cardinal Wolsey has strong ambitions, but his plots were eventually exposed. He calls after his antagonists in this passage and then starts this meditative soliloquy. By "greatness" he means "power," and his farewell to this power is ironic because he is still the cardinal. However, he currently sees his fortune reversed as if a "killing frost"—an evil force—were working against him. Notice how in his despair he actually compares himself to Lucifer, the archetype of ambition.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor