William Shakespeare's The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eighth in the complete original text.
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The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eighth

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Act IV. Scene II.

Scene II.—Kimbolton.

Enter KATHARINE, Dowager, sick: led between
GRIFFITH and PATIENCE.

Grif. How docs your Grace?
Kath. O Griffith! sick to death!
My legs, like loaden branches, bow to the earth,
Willing to leave their burden. Reach a chair:
So; now, methinks, I feel a little ease.
Didst thou not tell me, Griffith, as thou ledd'st
me,
That the great child of honour. Cardinal
Wolsey,
Was dead?
Grif. Yes, madam; but I think your Grace,
Out of the pain you suffer'd, gave no ear to't.
Kath. Prithee, good Griffith, tell me how he
died:
If well, he stepp'd before me, happily,
For my example.
Grif. Well, the voice goes, madam:
For after the stout Earl Northumberland
Arrested him at York, and brought him for-
ward,
As a man sorely tainted, to his answer,
He fell sick suddenly, and grew so ill
He could not sit his mule.
Kath. Alas! poor man.
Gnf. At last, with easy roads, he came to
Leicester;
Lodg'd in the abbey, where the reverend abbot,
With all his covent, honourably receiv'd 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
Pursu'd 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.;
Kath. 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 ill example.
Grif. 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?
Kath. Yes, good Griffith,
I were malicious else.
Grif. This cardinal,
Though from a 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 lov'd 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 rais'd in you,
Ipswich, and Oxford! one of which fell with him,
Unwilling to outhve 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.
Kath. 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 nam'd my knell, whilst I sit meditating
On that celestial harmony I go to.
[Sad and solemn music.
Grif. 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
reverend 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 they vanish,
carrying the garland with them. The music
continues.
Kath. Spirits of peace, where are ye? Are ye
all gone,
And leave me here in wretchedness behind ye?
Grif. Madam, we are here.
Kath. It is not you I call for:
Saw ye none enter since I slept?
Grif. None, madam.
Kath. 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 promis'd me eternal happiness,
And brought me garlands, Griffith, which I feel
I am not worthy yet to wear: I shall assuredly.
Grif. I am most joyful, madam, such good
dreams
Possess your fancy.
Kath. Bid the music leave,
They are harsh and heavy to me. [Music ceases.
Pat. 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!
Grif. She is going, wench. Pray, pray.
Pat. Heaven comfort her!
Enter a Messenger,
Mess. An't like your Grace,—
Kath. You are a saucy fellow:
Deserve we no more reverence?
Grif. You are to blame,
Knowing she will not lose her wonted greatness,
To use so rude behaviour; go to, kneel.
Mess. I humbly do entreat your highness'
pardon;
My haste made me unmannerly. There is
staying
A gentleman, sent from the king, to see you.
Kath. 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.
Cap. Madam, the same; your servant.
Kath. 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?
Cap. 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.
Kath. O! my good lord, that comfort comes
too late;
'Tis like a pardon after execution:
That gentle physic, given in time, had cur'd me;
But now I am past all comforts here but prayers.
How does his highness?
Cap. Madam, in good health.
Kath. So may he ever do! and ever flourish,
When I shall dwell with worms, and my poor
name
Banish'd the kingdom. Patience, is that letter
I caus'd you write, yet sent away?
Pat. No, madam.
[Giving it to KATHARINE.
Kath. Sir, I most humbly pray you to deliver
This to my lord the king.
Cap. Most willing, madam.
Kath. 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 lov'd 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 pleas'd 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 yon 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.
Cap. By heaven, I will,
Or let me lose the fashion of a man!
Kath. 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 us'd 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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