Henry VIII


Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V

Cornets. Enter King Henry, leaning on the Cardinal's

shoulder, the nobles, and Sir Thomas Lovell. The

Cardinal places himself under the King's feet on his

right side. Wolsey's Secretary in attendance


My life itself, and the best heart of it,
heart (n.) 2 spirit, soul, essence See Topics: Discourse markers

Thanks you for this great care. I stood i'th' level
level (n.) 2 line of fire

Of a full-charged confederacy, and give thanks
confederacy (n.) 1 alliance, conspiracy, plot, united opposition
full-charged (adj.) fully loaded

To you that choked it. Let be called before us
choke (v.) 3 suppress, crush, put down

That gentleman of Buckingham's. In person

I'll hear him his confessions justify,
justify (v.) 2 prove, confirm, demonstrate

And point by point the treasons of his master

He shall again relate.

A noise within, crying ‘ Room for the Queen!’

Enter the Queen, ushered by the Dukes of Norfolk

and Suffolk. She kneels. The King riseth from his

state, takes her up, kisses and placeth her by him


Nay, we must longer kneel: I am a suitor.
state (n.) 8 throne, chair of state
suitor (n.) petitioner, supplicant, entreater


Arise, and take place by us. Half your suit
place (n.) 2 precedence, proper place
suit (n.) 1 formal request, entreaty, petition See Topics: Frequency count

Never name to us: you have half our power.

The other moiety ere you ask is given.
moiety (n.) 2 half, equal share

Repeat your will, and take it.
repeat (v.) mention, speak of, utter
will (n.) 1 desire, wish, liking, inclination


                         Thank your majesty.

That you would love yourself, and in that love

Not unconsidered leave your honour nor

The dignity of your office, is the point
office (n.) 2 role, position, place, function

Of my petition.


                         Lady mine, proceed.


I am solicited, not by a few,

And those of true condition, that your subjects
true (adj.) 1 loyal, firm, faithful in allegiance

Are in great grievance. There have been commissions
commission (n.) 3 authoritative charge, government instruction

Sent down among 'em which hath flawed the heart
flaw (v.) make a crack in, break, damage

Of all their loyalties; wherein, although,

My good lord Cardinal, they vent reproaches
vent (v.) 1 utter, express, air, proclaim

Most bitterly on you as putter-on
putter-on (n.) instigator, inciter, agitator

Of these exactions, yet the King our master –
exaction (n.) 1 extortionate taxation, exorbitant demand

Whose honour heaven shield from soil! – even he escapes not
soil (n.) 1 blemish, stain, tarnish

Language unmannerly, yea, such which breaks

The sides of loyalty, and almost appears

In loud rebellion.


                         Not ‘ almost appears ’ –

It doth appear; for, upon these taxations,

The clothiers all, not able to maintain

The many to them 'longing, have put off
long (v.) 1 belong, pertain, relate
put off (v.) 4 dismiss, lay off, make redundant

The spinsters, carders, fullers, weavers, who,
carder (n.) one who combs out impurities in wool
fuller (n.) cleanser and thickener of cloth
spinster (n.) domestic woman, one who stays at home spinning

Unfit for other life, compelled by hunger

And lack of other means, in desperate manner

Daring th' event to th' teeth, are all in uproar,

And danger serves among them.
serve (v.) 6 enter into service; or: await employment



Wherein? and what taxation? My lord Cardinal,

You that are blamed for it alike with us,

Know you of this taxation?


                         Please you, sir,

I know but of a single part in aught
aught (n.) anything, [with negative word] nothing See Topics: Frequency count
single (adj.) 1 individual, particular

Pertains to th' state, and front but in that file
file (n.) 1 rank of soldiers, formation
front (v.) 3 march in the front rank, be in the forefront

Where others tell steps with me.
tell (v.) 1 count out, number, itemize


                         No, my lord?

You know no more than others? But you frame
frame (v.) 3 arrange, organize, plan

Things that are known alike, which are not wholesome
wholesome (adj.) 1 good, beneficial, advantageous

To those which would not know them, and yet must

Perforce be their acquaintance. These exactions,
exaction (n.) 1 extortionate taxation, exorbitant demand
perforce (adv.) 2 of necessity, with no choice in the matter See Topics: Frequency count

Whereof my sovereign would have note, they are
note (n.) 2 knowledge, information, intimation

Most pestilent to th' hearing, and to bear 'em

The back is sacrifice to th' load. They say

They are devised by you, or else you suffer
suffer (v.) 3 undergo, sustain, endure

Too hard an exclamation.
exaction (n.) 1 extortionate taxation, exorbitant demand
exclamation (n.) 1 loud reproach, outcry, clamorous complaint
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count


                         Still exaction!

The nature of it? In what kind, let's know,

Is this exaction?
venturous (adj.) adventurous, daring, bold


                         I am much too venturous

In tempting of your patience, but am boldened
bolden (v.) embolden, make bold, encourage
tempt (v.) 1 try, test, make trial of

Under your promised pardon. The subject's grief

Comes through commissions, which compels from each
commission (n.) 3 authoritative charge, government instruction
grief (n.) 1 grievance, complaint, hurt, injury

The sixth part of his substance, to be levied

Without delay; and the pretence for this
pretence (n.) 2 pretext, excuse, alleged ground

Is named your wars in France. This makes bold mouths,

Tongues spit their duties out, and cold hearts freeze
duty (n.) 2 reverence, due respect, proper attitude

Allegiance in them. Their curses now

Live where their prayers did, and it's come to pass

This tractable obedience is a slave
tractable (adj.) compliant, manageable, governable

To each incensed will. I would your highness
incensed (adj.) inflamed, angered, enraged

Would give it quick consideration, for

There is no primer business.
baseness (n.) 4 lowly activity, contemptible work
prime (adj.) 2 principal, chief, foremost


                         By my life,

This is against our pleasure.


                         And for me,

I have no further gone in this than by

A single voice, and that not passed me but
single (adj.) 1 individual, particular
voice (n.) 1 vote, official support See Topics: Frequency count

By learned approbation of the judges. If I am
approbation (n.) 1 expression of approval, pleasurable confirmation, ready sanctioning

Traduced by ignorant tongues, which neither know
traduce (v.) defame, slander, calumniate, dishonour

My faculties nor person, yet will be
faculty (n.) function, power, capability

The chronicles of my doing, let me say
doing (n.) action, performance, activity

'Tis but the fate of place, and the rough brake
brake (n.) 1 bush, thicket

That virtue must go through. We must not stint
stint (v.) 2 limit, hold back, restrain

Our necessary actions in the fear

To cope malicious censurers, which ever,
cope, cope with (v.) 1 encounter, face, have to do [with], come into contact [with]

As ravenous fishes, do a vessel follow

That is new-trimmed, but benefit no further
new-trimmed (adj.) newly fitted out

Than vainly longing. What we oft do best,
oft (adv.) often See Topics: Frequency count

By sick interpreters, once weak ones, is
interpreter (n.) commentator, observer, pundit
once (adv.) 1 once and for all, in a word See Topics: Discourse markers
sick (adj.) 6 envious, resentful, malicious
weak (adj.) 1 of little worth, wanting, deficient

Not ours, or not allowed; what worst, as oft
allowed (adj.) 1 approved, acknowledged, granted

Hitting a grosser quality, is cried up
cry up (v.) show to be true, proclaim, announce in public [by]
gross (adj.) 6 bad, inferior, poor
hit (v.) 2 match, fall in [with], coincide [with]
quality (n.) 1 nature, disposition, character

For our best act. If we shall stand still,

In fear our motion will be mocked or carped at,
motion (n.) 7 act of moving, movement, stirring

We should take root here where we sit,

Or sit state-statues only.
state-statue (n.) image of a statesman


                         Things done well,

And with a care, exempt themselves from fear;

Things done without example, in their issue
example (n.) precedent, parallel case
issue (n.) 2 outcome, result, consequence(s) See Topics: Frequency count

Are to be feared. Have you a precedent

Of this commission? I believe, not any.
commission (n.) 3 authoritative charge, government instruction

We must not rend our subjects from our laws,

And stick them in our will. Sixth part of each?
stick (v.) 2 place, fix, settle
will (n.) 1 desire, wish, liking, inclination

A trembling contribution! Why, we take
trembling (adj.) frightening, fearful, disturbing

From every tree lop, bark, and part o'th' timber,
lop (n.) [of a tree] lopped off branch

And though we leave it with a root, thus hacked,

The air will drink the sap. To every county

Where this is questioned send our letters with
question (v.) 1 dispute, quarrel [over], call in question

Free pardon to each man that has denied

The force of this commission. Pray look to't;

I put it to your care.


(aside to Secretary)

                         A word with you.

Let there be letters writ to every shire

Of the King's grace and pardon. The grieved commons
common (n.) 1 (people) common people, ordinary citizens
grieved (adj.) aggrieved, wronged, ill-used

Hardly conceive of me – let it be noised
conceive (v.) 2 think, hold an opinion
hardly (adv.) 2 severely, harshly, badly
noise (v.) rumour, spread about, noise abroad

That through our intercession this revokement
revokement (n.) revoking, revocation, repeal

And pardon comes. I shall anon advise you
advise, avise (v.) 3 inform, be aware, apprise

Further in the proceeding.
anon (adv.) 1 soon, shortly, presently See Topics: Frequency count

Exit Secretary

Enter Surveyor


I am sorry that the Duke of Buckingham

Is run in your displeasure.
run (v.) 2 fall, move, come


                         It grieves many.

The gentleman is learned, and a most rare speaker,
rare (adj.) 1 marvellous, splendid, excellent

To nature none more bound; his training such
bound (adj.) 1 obliged, indebted, under an obligation

That he may furnish and instruct great teachers,

And never seek for aid out of himself. Yet see,
out of (prep.) 1 beyond, outside

When these so noble benefits shall prove
benefit (n.) 5 quality, advantage, gift

Not well disposed, the mind growing once corrupt,
disposed (adj.) 2 directed, applied, arranged

They turn to vicious forms, ten times more ugly
vicious (adj.) 2 blameworthy, reprehensible, shameful

Than ever they were fair. This man so complete,

Who was enrolled 'mongst wonders, and when we

Almost with ravished listening, could not find

His hour of speech a minute – he, my lady,

Hath into monstrous habits put the graces
grace (n.) 2 virtue, good quality
habit (n.) 1 dress, clothing, costume See Topics: Frequency count
monstrous (adj.) unnatural, outlandish, aberrant

That once were his, and is become as black

As if besmeared in hell. Sit by us. You shall hear –
besmear (v.) 2 defile, sully, tarnish

This was his gentleman in trust – of him

Things to strike honour sad. Bid him recount
sad (adj.) 3 downcast, distressed, mournful, gloomy

The fore-recited practices, whereof
fore-recited (adj.) previously reported

We cannot feel too little, hear too much.


Stand forth, and with bold spirit relate what you,

Most like a careful subject, have collected
careful (adj.) 1 anxious, concerned, worried
collect (v.) 2 gather in evidence

Out of the Duke of Buckingham.


                         Speak freely.


First, it was usual with him – every day

It would infect his speech – that if the King

Should without issue die, he'll carry it so
carry (v.) 5 carry out, manage, conduct
issue (n.) 1 child(ren), offspring, family, descendant See Topics: Frequency count

To make the sceptre his. These very words

I've heard him utter to his son-in-law,

Lord Aberga'nny, to whom by oath he menaced

Revenge upon the Cardinal.


                         Please your highness, note

This dangerous conception in this point:
conception (n.) 1 design, plan, notion

Not friended by his wish to your high person,
friend (v.) 1 befriend, sustain, assist

His will is most malignant, and it stretches

Beyond you to your friends.


                         My learned lord Cardinal,

Deliver all with charity.


                         Speak on.

How grounded he his title to the crown

Upon our fail? To this point hast thou heard him
fail (n.) 1 failure [to comply with], lack

At any time speak aught?
aught (n.) anything, [with negative word] nothing See Topics: Frequency count


                         He was brought to this

By a vain prophecy of Nicholas Henton.


What was that Henton?


                         Sir, a Chartreux friar,

His confessor, who fed him every minute

With words of sovereignty.
sovereignty (n.) 2 royal dignity, kingly authority


                         How know'st thou this?


Not long before your highness sped to France,
speed (v.) 6 travel speedily, make a hasty expedition

The Duke being at the Rose, within the parish

Saint Lawrence Poultney, did of me demand
demand (v.) 1 request to tell, question, ask [about]

What was the speech among the Londoners

Concerning the French journey. I replied

Men feared the French would prove perfidious,
perfidious (adj.) treacherous, unfaithful, disloyal

To the King's danger. Presently the Duke
danger (n.) damage, harm, mischief
presently (adv.) 1 immediately, instantly, at once See Topics: Frequency count

Said 'twas the fear indeed, and that he doubted
doubt (v.) 1 fear, be afraid [for], feel anxious [for]

'Twould prove the verity of certain words
verity (n.) 1 truth, truthfulness, veracity

Spoke by a holy monk, ‘ that oft,’ says he,
oft (adv.) often See Topics: Frequency count

‘ Hath sent to me, wishing me to permit

John de la Car, my chaplain, a choice hour
choice (adj.) 2 appropriate, fitting, well-chosen
hour (n.) 1 time, moment

To hear from him a matter of some moment;

Whom after under the confession's seal

He solemnly had sworn that what he spoke

My chaplain to no creature living but

To me should utter, with demure confidence
confidence (n.) 1 reliance, trust, faith
demure (adj.) grave, serious, sober, solemn

This pausingly ensued: " Neither the King nor's heirs,
pausingly (adv.) with pauses, hesitantly, haltingly

Tell you the Duke, shall prosper. Bid him strive

To win the love o'th' commonalty. The Duke
commonalty (n.) common people, community

Shall govern England." ’


                         If I know you well,

You were the Duke's surveyor, and lost your office
office (n.) 2 role, position, place, function
surveyor (n.) 1 superintendent, land agent, estate supervisor

On the complaint o'th' tenants. Take good heed

You charge not in your spleen a noble person
spleen (n.) 2 irritability, malice, bad temper

And spoil your nobler soul – I say, take heed;
spoil (v.) 2 ruin, destroy, bring to an end

Yes, heartily beseech you.


                         Let him on.

Go forward.


                         On my soul, I'll speak but truth.

I told my lord the Duke, by th' devil's illusions
illusion (n.) deception, delusion, deceit

The monk might be deceived, and that 'twas dangerous

For him to ruminate on this so far, until

It forged him some design, which, being believed,
design (n.) 2 scheme, plan, plot
forge (v.) 2 cause to fashion, lead to contrive

It was much like to do. He answered, ‘ Tush,
like (adv.) 1 likely, probable / probably See Topics: Frequency count

It can do me no damage;’ adding further

That, had the King in his last sickness failed,

The Cardinal's and Sir Thomas Lovell's heads

Should have gone off.
rank (adj.) 3 foul, festering, diseased


                         Ha! What, so rank? Ah, ha!

There's mischief in this man. Canst thou say further?


I can, my liege.




                                                         Being at Greenwich,

After your highness had reproved the Duke

About Sir William Bulmer –


                         I remember

Of such a time; being my sworn servant,
sworn (adj.) 1 bound by an oath of loyalty

The Duke retained him his. But on; what hence?
retain (v.) employ, take into service


‘ If,’ quoth he, ‘ I for this had been committed,
quoth (v.) said See Topics: Frequency count

As to the Tower I thought, I would have played

The part my father meant to act upon

Th' usurper Richard; who, being at Salisbury,

Made suit to come in's presence, which if granted,
suit (n.) 1 formal request, entreaty, petition See Topics: Frequency count

As he made semblance of his duty, would
duty (n.) 1 act of loyalty, expression of homage
semblance (n.) 1 appearance, outward show

Have put his knife into him.’


                         A giant traitor!


Now, madam, may his highness live in freedom,

And this man out of prison?


                         God mend all!


There's something more would out of thee: what sayst?


After ‘ the Duke his father,’ with the ‘ knife,’

He stretched him, and, with one hand on his dagger,
stretch (v.) 2 stand upright, draw oneself up to full height

Another spread on's breast, mounting his eyes,

He did discharge a horrible oath, whose tenor
discharge (v.) 3 give vent to, emit, sound off
tenor, tenour (n.) 1 substance, content, matter, drift

Was, were he evil used, he would outgo
outgo (v.) 1 outdo, outstrip, surpass
use (v.) 2 treat, deal with, manage

His father by as much as a performance

Does an irresolute purpose.
irresolute (adj.) unresolved, undecided, unaccomplished
period (n.) 4 end, purpose, goal
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count


                         There's his period,

To sheathe his knife in us. He is attached;
attach (v.) 1 arrest, seize, apprehend

Call him to present trial. If he may

Find mercy in the law, 'tis his; if none,

Let him not seek't of us. By day and night!

He's traitor to th' height!
height (n.) 1 maximum, highest amount, utmost degree


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