Henry VIII


Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V

A council-table brought in with chairs and stools, and

placed under the state. Enter Lord Chancellor, places

himself at the upper end of the table on the left hand,

a seat being left void above him, as for Canterbury's

seat. Duke of Suffolk, Duke of Norfolk, Surrey, Lord

Chamberlain, Gardiner, seat themselves in order on

each side; Cromwell at lower end, as secretary

Keeper at the door


Speak to the business, master secretary:
state (n.) 9 [also: cloth of state] canopy over a chair of state

Why are we met in council?


                         Please your honours,

The chief cause concerns his grace of Canterbury.


Has he had knowledge of it?




                                                         Who waits there?


Without, my noble lords?




                                                         My lord Archbishop,

And has done half an hour, to know your pleasures.


Let him come in.


                         Your grace may enter now.

Cranmer approaches the council-table


My good lord Archbishop, I'm very sorry

To sit here at this present and behold

That chair stand empty, but we all are men

In our own natures frail, and capable
capable of 2 open to, subject to, susceptible to

Of our flesh; few are angels; out of which frailty

And want of wisdom, you, that best should teach us,

Have misdemeaned yourself, and not a little,
misdemean (v.) behave improperly, misconduct

Toward the King first, then his laws, in filling

The whole realm, by your teaching and your chaplains' –

For so we are informed – with new opinions,

Divers and dangerous, which are heresies,
divers (adj.) different, various, several

And, not reformed, may prove pernicious.
pernicious (adj.) destructive, dangerous, ruinous


Which reformation must be sudden too,
sudden (adj.) 1 swift, rapid, prompt

My noble lords; for those that tame wild horses

Pace 'em not in their hands to make 'em gentle,
gentle (adj.) 4 peaceful, calm, free from violence
pace (v.) 1 [horse-training] break in, teach one paces, properly train

But stop their mouths with stubborn bits and spur 'em
stop (v.) 2 stop up, close (up), shut
stubborn (adj.) 2 stiff, intractable, unyielding

Till they obey the manage. If we suffer,
manage (n.) 1 management, handling, control [especially of a horse, as a result of training]

Out of our easiness and childish pity
easiness (n.) 2 gentleness, kindness, indulgence

To one man's honour, this contagious sickness,

Farewell all physic – and what follows then?
physic (n.) 1 medicine, healing, treatment See Topics: Frequency count

Commotions, uproars, with a general taint
taint (n.) 4 corruption, infection, contamination

Of the whole state, as of late days our neighbours,
late (adj.) 1 recent, not long past

The upper Germany, can dearly witness,
dearly (adv.) 3 grievously, at great cost

Yet freshly pitied in our memories.


My good lords, hitherto in all the progress

Both of my life and office, I have laboured,
office (n.) 2 role, position, place, function

And with no little study, that my teaching

And the strong course of my authority
course (n.) 1 course of action, way of proceeding See Topics: Frequency count

Might go one way, and safely; and the end

Was ever to do well. Nor is there living –

I speak it with a single heart, my lords –

A man that more detests, more stirs against,

Both in his private conscience and his place,

Defacers of a public peace than I do.

Pray heaven the King may never find a heart

With less allegiance in it! Men that make

Envy and crooked malice nourishment
crooked (adj.) 1 malignant, perverse, contrary, devious

Dare bite the best. I do beseech your lordships

That, in this case of justice, my accusers,

Be what they will, may stand forth face to face,

And freely urge against me.
urge (v.) 5 state formally, present, propose


                         Nay, my lord,

That cannot be; you are a Councillor,

And by that virtue no man dare accuse you.


My lord, because we have business of more moment,

We will be short with you. 'Tis his highness' pleasure

And our consent, for better trial of you,

From hence you be committed to the Tower;

Where, being but a private man again,

You shall know many dare accuse you boldly,

More than, I fear, you are provided for.


Ah, my good Lord of Winchester, I thank you;

You are always my good friend. If your will pass,
pass (v.) 3 be approved [by], be ratified [by]

I shall both find your lordship judge and juror,

You are so merciful. I see your end:
end (n.) 1 purpose, aim, design

'Tis my undoing. Love and meekness, lord,

Become a churchman better than ambition.
become (v.) 1 be fitting, befit, be appropriate to See Topics: Frequency count

Win straying souls with modesty again;
modesty (n.) 1 moderation, restraint, discipline

Cast none away. That I shall clear myself,

Lay all the weight ye can upon my patience,

I make as little doubt as you do conscience

In doing daily wrongs. I could say more,

But reverence to your calling makes me modest.
modest (adj.) 1 moderate, reasonable, mild, limited


My lord, my lord, you are a sectary,
sectary (n.) 2 follower of a heretical sect

That's the plain truth. Your painted gloss discovers,
gloss (n.) 1 deceptive appearance, plausibility
painted (adj.) 3 feigned, counterfeit, disguised

To men that understand you, words and weakness.
discover (v.) 1 reveal, show, make known See Topics: Frequency count
word (n.) 7 (plural) empty rhetoric, vain talk


My Lord of Winchester, you are a little,

By your good favour, too sharp. Men so noble,
sharp (adj.) 5 ardent, keen, fervent

However faulty, yet should find respect

For what they have been. 'Tis a cruelty

To load a falling man.


                         Good master secretary,

I cry your honour mercy; you may worst

Of all this table say so.


                         Why, my lord?


Do not I know you for a favourer

Of this new sect? Ye are not sound.
sound (adj.) 3 free from error, orthodox


                         Not sound?


Not sound, I say.


                         Would you were half so honest!

Men's prayers then would seek you, not their fears.


I shall remember this bold language.
bold (adj.) 2 overconfident, presumptuous, audacious, impudent



Remember your bold life too.
bold (adj.) 3 shameless, immodest, outspoken, coarse


                         This is too much;

Forbear, for shame, my lords.
forbear (v.) 1 stop, cease, desist See Topics: Frequency count


                         I have done.


                                                         And I.


Then thus for you, my lord: it stands agreed,

I take it, by all voices, that forthwith
voice (n.) 3 authoritative opinion, judgement

You be conveyed to th' Tower a prisoner,

There to remain till the King's further pleasure

Be known unto us. Are you all agreed, lords?


We are.


                         Is there no other way of mercy,

But I must needs to th' Tower, my lords?


                         What other

Would you expect? You are strangely troublesome.
strangely (adv.) 3 unaccountably, surprisingly, unusually

Let some o'th' guard be ready there.

Enter the Guard


                         For me?

Must I go like a traitor thither?


                         Receive him,

And see him safe i'th' Tower.


                         Stay, good my lords,

I have a little yet to say. Look there, my lords.

By virtue of that ring I take my cause

Out of the gripes of cruel men, and give it
gripe (n.) 1 grip, hold, grasp

To a most noble judge, the King my master.


This is the King's ring.
counterfeit (n.) 1 false imitation, spurious image


                         'Tis no counterfeit.


'Tis the right ring, by heaven. I told ye all,

When ye first put this dangerous stone a-rolling,

'Twould fall upon ourselves.


                         Do you think, my lords,

The King will suffer but the little finger

Of this man to be vexed?


                         'Tis now too certain.

How much more is his life in value with him!

Would I were fairly out on't!

Exit King above
give (v.) 5 suggest, prompt, intimate


                         My mind gave me,

In seeking tales and informations
information (n.) 1 item of information, piece of intelligence

Against this man, whose honesty the devil

And his disciples only envy at,
envy, envy at (v.) 1 show malice [towards], hate, regard with ill will

Ye blew the fire that burns ye. Now have at ye!
have at [someone] [said at the start of a fencing attack or other confrontation] I come at, let me at [a person] See Topics: Discourse markers

Enter the King frowning on them; takes his seat
dread (adj.) 1 revered, deeply honoured, held in awe


Dread sovereign, how much are we bound to heaven

In daily thanks, that gave us such a prince,

Not only good and wise, but most religious;

One that in all obedience makes the church

The chief aim of his honour, and, to strengthen

That holy duty, out of dear respect,
dear (adj.) 6 heartfelt, earnest, zealous
respect (n.) 2 attention, heed, deliberation

His royal self in judgement comes to hear

The cause betwixt her and this great offender.
cause (n.) 5 court case, legal action, matter before the court


You were ever good at sudden commendations,
sudden (adj.) 5 unpremeditated, extempore, unrehearsed

Bishop of Winchester. But know I come not

To hear such flattery now, and in my presence

They are too thin and bare to hide offences;

To me you cannot reach. You play the spaniel,

And think with wagging of your tongue to win me;

But whatsoe'er thou tak'st me for, I'm sure

Thou hast a cruel nature and a bloody.

(to Cranmer)

Good man, sit down. Now let me see the proudest,

He that dares most, but wag his finger at thee.

By all that's holy, he had better starve
starve (v.) 1 die, perish

Than but once think this place becomes thee not.
become (v.) 2 grace, honour, dignify See Topics: Frequency count


May it please your grace –


                         No, sir, it does not please me.

I had thought I had had men of some understanding

And wisdom of my Council, but I find none.

Was it discretion, lords, to let this man,

This good man – few of you deserve that title –

This honest man, wait like a lousy footboy
footboy (n.) boy attendant, page-boy, servant on foot [accompanying a rider],

At chamber door? – and one as great as you are?

Why, what a shame was this! Did my commission
commission (n.) 1 warrant, authority [to act]

Bid ye so far forget yourselves? I gave ye

Power as he was a Councillor to try him,

Not as a groom. There's some of ye, I see,
groom (n.) 1 servingman, servant, male attendant

More out of malice than integrity,

Would try him to the utmost, had ye mean;
mean (n.) 1 means, way, method
try (v.) 2 put to the test, test the goodness [of]

Which ye shall never have while I live.


                         Thus far,

My most dread sovereign, may it like your grace
dread (adj.) 1 revered, deeply honoured, held in awe
like (v.) 1 please, suit See Topics: Politeness

To let my tongue excuse all. What was purposed
purpose (v.) 1 intend, plan

Concerning his imprisonment was rather –

If there be faith in men – meant for his trial

And fair purgation to the world than malice,
purgation (n.) 2 acquittal, clearing away of guilt

I'm sure, in me.


                         Well, well, my lords, respect him.

Take him and use him well; he's worthy of it.

I will say thus much for him: if a prince

May be beholding to a subject, I
beholding (adj.) beholden, obliged, indebted

Am, for his love and service, so to him.

Make me no more ado, but all embrace him;

Be friends, for shame, my lords! My Lord of Canterbury,

I have a suit which you must not deny me:
suit (n.) 1 formal request, entreaty, petition See Topics: Frequency count

That is, a fair young maid that yet wants baptism;
want (v.) 4 require, demand, need

You must be godfather, and answer for her.


The greatest monarch now alive may glory

In such an honour. How may I deserve it,

That am a poor and humble subject to you?


Come, come, my lord, you'd spare your
spare (v.) 5 practise economy in, be niggardly about

spoons. You shall have two noble partners with you, the
partner (n.) co-sponsor at a christening
spoon (n.) christening spoon [given as a gift]

old Duchess of Norfolk and Lady Marquis Dorset.

Will these please you?

Once more, my Lord of Winchester, I charge you

Embrace and love this man.


                         With a true heart

And brother-love I do it.


                         And let heaven

Witness how dear I hold this confirmation.


Good man, those joyful tears show thy true heart.

The common voice, I see, is verified
voice (n.) 3 authoritative opinion, judgement
voice (n.) 4 talk, rumour, opinion

Of thee, which says thus: ‘ Do my lord of Canterbury

A shrewd turn and he's your friend for ever.’

Come, lords, we trifle time away; I long
trifle (v.) 1 waste, squander, spend idly

To have this young one made a Christian.

As I have made ye one, lords, one remain;

So I grow stronger, you more honour gain.


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