Henry VIII


Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V

Enter the Queen and her women, as at work
sad (adj.) 3 downcast, distressed, mournful, gloomy
wench (n.) girl, lass See Topics: Frequency count


Take thy lute, wench. My soul grows sad with troubles;

Sing, and disperse 'em, if thou canst. Leave working.
leave (v.) 1 cease, stop, give up



Orpheus with his lute made trees,

And the mountain tops that freeze,

Bow themselves when he did sing.

To his music plants and flowers

Ever sprung, as sun and showers

There had made a lasting spring.

Everything that heard him play,

Even the billows of the sea,

Hung their heads, and then lay by.
lie by (v.) settle down, lay to rest

In sweet music is such art,

Killing care and grief of heart

Fall asleep, or hearing die.

Enter a Gentleman


How now?


An't please your grace, the two great Cardinals

Wait in the presence.
presence (n.) 2 royal reception chamber


                         Would they speak with me?


They willed me say so, madam.
will (v.), past form would 2 command, order, direct


                         Pray their graces

To come near.

Exit Gentleman

                         What can be their business

With me, a poor weak woman, fall'n from favour?

I do not like their coming. Now I think on't,

They should be good men, their affairs as righteous:

But all hoods make not monks.

Enter the two Cardinals, Wolsey and Campeius


                         Peace to your highness!


Your graces find me here part of a housewife –
part, part of (adv.) partly, in some measure

I would be all, against the worst may happen.

What are your pleasures with me, reverend lords?


May it please you, noble madam, to withdraw

Into your private chamber, we shall give you

The full cause of our coming.
cause (n.) 1 reason, motive, ground


                         Speak it here.

There's nothing I have done yet, o' my conscience,

Deserves a corner. Would all other women

Could speak this with as free a soul as I do!
free (adj.) 4 free of worry, untroubled, carefree

My lords, I care not – so much I am happy

Above a number – if my actions

Were tried by every tongue, every eye saw 'em,

Envy and base opinion set against 'em,
base (adj.) 2 low-born, lowly, plebeian, of lower rank See Topics: Frequency count

I know my life so even. If your business
even (adj.) 1 straightforward, forthright, direct

Seek me out, and that way I am wife in,

Out with it boldly. Truth loves open dealing.


Tanta est erga te mentis integritas, Regina
tanta... so great is the integrity of our purpose towards you, most noble Queen See Topics: Latin

serenissima –


O, good my lord, no Latin!

I am not such a truant since my coming

As not to know the language I have lived in.

A strange tongue makes my cause more strange, suspicious;
strange (adj.) 4 foreign, alien, from abroad

Pray, speak in English. Here are some will thank you,

If you speak truth, for their poor mistress' sake.

Believe me, she has had much wrong. Lord Cardinal,

The willing'st sin I ever yet committed

May be absolved in English.


                         Noble lady,

I am sorry my integrity should breed –

And service to his majesty and you –

So deep suspicion, where all faith was meant.
faith (n.) 2 constancy, fidelity, loyalty

We come not by the way of accusation,

To taint that honour every good tongue blesses,

Nor to betray you any way to sorrow –
betray (v.) 3 give up, expose, lay open [especially: to punishment]

You have too much, good lady – but to know

How you stand minded in the weighty difference

Between the King and you, and to deliver,

Like free and honest men, our just opinions
free (adj.) 3 noble, honourable, worthy

And comforts to your cause.


                         Most honoured madam,

My lord of York, out of his noble nature,

Zeal and obedience he still bore your grace,
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

Forgetting, like a good man, your late censure
censure (n.) 2 condemnation, blame, stricture

Both of his truth and him – which was too far –

Offers, as I do, in a sign of peace,

His service, and his counsel.



                         To betray me. –

My lords, I thank you both for your good wills.

Ye speak like honest men – pray God ye prove so!

But how to make ye suddenly an answer
suddenly (adv.) 2 extempore, spontaneously, off the cuff

In such a point of weight, so near mine honour,

More near my life, I fear, with my weak wit,
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

And to such men of gravity and learning,
gravity (n.) 1 respectability, authority, dignified position

In truth I know not. I was set at work
set (adj.) 4 seated, sitting down

Among my maids, full little – God knows – looking

Either for such men or such business.

For her sake that I have been – for I feel

The last fit of my greatness – good your graces,
fit (n.) 5 stage, period, hours

Let me have time and counsel for my cause.

Alas, I am a woman friendless, hopeless!


Madam, you wrong the King's love with these fears;

Your hopes and friends are infinite.


                         In England

But little for my profit. Can you think, lords,

That any Englishman dare give me counsel,
forsooth (adv.) in truth, certainly, truly, indeed See Topics: Frequency count

Or be a known friend, 'gainst his highness' pleasure –

Though he be grown so desperate to be honest –
desperate (adj.) 3 disregarding, careless, reckless

And live a subject? Nay, forsooth, my friends,

They that must weigh out my afflictions,
weigh out (v.) make amends for, compensate for

They that my trust must grow to, live not here.

They are, as all my other comforts, far hence

In mine own country, lords.


                         I would your grace

Would leave your griefs, and take my counsel.
grief (n.) 1 grievance, complaint, hurt, injury


                         How, sir?


Put your main cause into the King's protection;

He's loving and most gracious; 'Twill be much

Both for your honour better and your cause;

For if the trial of the law o'ertake ye

You'll part away disgraced.
part away (v.) depart, leave


                         He tells you rightly.


Ye tell me what ye wish for both – my ruin.

Is this your Christian counsel? Out upon ye!

Heaven is above all yet; there sits a judge

That no king can corrupt.
mistake (v.) 1 misunderstand, take wrongly, misconceive


                         Your rage mistakes us.


The more shame for ye! Holy men I thought ye,

Upon my soul, two reverend cardinal virtues;
virtue (n.) 8 virtuous self, honour, excellency

But cardinal sins and hollow hearts I fear ye.

Mend 'em for shame, my lords. Is this your comfort?

The cordial that ye bring a wretched lady,
cordial (n.) restorative, stimulant, tonic

A woman lost among ye, laughed at, scorned?

I will not wish ye half my miseries;

I have more charity. But say I warned ye;

Take heed, for heaven's sake take heed, lest at once
once, at (adv.) all together, jointly, collectively

The burden of my sorrows fall upon ye.


Madam, this is a mere distraction.
distraction (n.) 1 perturbation, agitation, frenzied state
mere (adj.) 1 complete, total, absolute, utter See Topics: Frequency count

You turn the good we offer into envy.
envy (n.) 1 malice, ill-will, enmity


Ye turn me into nothing. Woe upon ye,

And all such false professors! Would you have me –
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious See Topics: Frequency count
professor (n.) adherent, devotee, professing Christian

If you have any justice, any pity,

If ye be anything but churchmen's habits –
habit (n.) 1 dress, clothing, costume See Topics: Frequency count

Put my sick cause into his hands that hates me?

Alas, 'has banished me his bed already,

His love too long ago! I am old, my lords,

And all the fellowship I hold now with him

Is only my obedience. What can happen

To me above this wretchedness? All your studies

Make me a curse like this!


                         Your fears are worse.


Have I lived thus long – let me speak myself,
speak (v.) 1 give an account of, report, describe

Since virtue finds no friends – a wife, a true one?

A woman, I dare say without vainglory,
vainglory, vain-glory (n.) 1 undue vanity, unwarranted pride

Never yet branded with suspicion?

Have I with all my full affections
affection (n.) 2 emotion, feeling

Still met the King, loved him next heaven, obeyed him,
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

Been, out of fondness, superstitious to him,
fondness (n.) foolish affection, naive devotion
superstitious (adj.) loving to the point of idolatry, excessively devoted

Almost forgot my prayers to content him,
content (v.) 1 please, gratify, delight, satisfy

And am I thus rewarded? 'Tis not well, lords.

Bring me a constant woman to her husband,
constant (adj.) 1 faithful, steadfast, true

One that ne'er dreamed a joy beyond his pleasure,

And to that woman, when she has done most,

Yet will I add an honour – a great patience.


Madam, you wander from the good we aim at.


My lord, I dare not make myself so guilty

To give up willingly that noble title

Your master wed me to. Nothing but death

Shall e'er divorce my dignities.


                         Pray hear me.


Would I had never trod this English earth,

Or felt the flatteries that grow upon it!

Ye have angels' faces, but heaven knows your hearts.

What will become of me now, wretched lady?

I am the most unhappy woman living.

(to her women)
wench (n.) girl, lass See Topics: Frequency count

Alas, poor wenches, where are now your fortunes?

Shipwrecked upon a kingdom, where no pity,

No friends, no hope, no kindred weep for me;

Almost no grave allowed me. Like the lily

That once was mistress of the field and flourished,

I'll hang my head, and perish.


                         If your grace

Could but be brought to know our ends are honest,
end (n.) 1 purpose, aim, design

You'd feel more comfort. Why should we, good lady,

Upon what cause, wrong you? Alas, our places,

The way of our profession is against it.
profession (n.) 3 religious calling, profession of faith

We are to cure such sorrows, not to sow 'em.

For goodness' sake, consider what you do,
goodness (n.) 1 natural kindness, generosity, bounty

How you may hurt yourself, ay, utterly

Grow from the King's acquaintance, by this carriage.
carriage (n.) 2 conduct, management, course of action

The hearts of princes kiss obedience,

So much they love it; but to stubborn spirits

They swell, and grow as terrible as storms.

I know you have a gentle, noble temper,
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind

A soul as even as a calm. Pray think us
calm (n.) 1 calm sea

Those we profess, peace-makers, friends, and servants.


Madam, you'll find it so. You wrong your virtues

With these weak women's fears. A noble spirit,

As yours was put into you, ever casts
false (adj.) 3 sham, spurious, not genuine, artificial

Such doubts as false coin from it. The King loves you;

Beware you lose it not. For us, if you please

To trust us in your business, we are ready

To use our utmost studies in your service.
study (n.) 2 effort, endeavour


Do what ye will, my lords, and pray forgive me

If I have used myself unmannerly.
use (v.) 4 present, conduct, behave

You know I am a woman, lacking wit
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

To make a seemly answer to such persons.

Pray do my service to his majesty;

He has my heart yet, and shall have my prayers

While I shall have my life. Come, reverend fathers,

Bestow your counsels on me. She now begs

That little thought, when she set footing here,
footing, set set foot

She should have bought her dignities so dear.


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