List iconHenry VIII:
Act 2, scene 2
List icon

Henry VIII
Act 2, scene 2



Characters in the Play

Entire Play

Two stories dominate Henry VIII: the fall of Cardinal Wolsey, Henry’s powerful advisor, and Henry’s quest to divorce Queen Katherine, who…


Act 1, scene 1

The Duke of Buckingham, learning the details of the costly and ultimately fruitless meeting of French and English at the…

Act 1, scene 2

Queen Katherine reveals that Wolsey is heavily taxing the English in the king’s name, and Henry pronounces a pardon to…

Act 1, scene 3

Three courtiers discuss the royal proclamation against young fops who have adopted French manners and dress after returning from France….

Act 1, scene 4

At the supper, Wolsey and his guests are visited by Henry and his courtiers, all disguised as shepherds. Henry dances…

Act 2, scene 1

Buckingham, convicted of treason, is led to execution. He declares his innocence, forgives his enemies, and vows his loyalty to…

Act 2, scene 2

Norfolk, Suffolk, and the Lord Chamberlain join in denouncing Wolsey. They hold him responsible for dividing Henry from Katherine, and…

Act 2, scene 3

Anne Bullen pities Katherine, now threatened with divorce. The Lord Chamberlain enters to announce that Henry has created Anne marchioness…

Act 2, scene 4

At the trial, Katherine refuses to have the validity of her marriage judged by the church court, given Wolsey’s malice…

Act 3, scene 1

Wolsey and Campeius visit Katherine to persuade her to contest the divorce no longer.

Act 3, scene 2

Courtiers assemble to discuss Wolsey’s sudden fall from Henry’s favor, Henry’s marriage to Anne Bullen, and plans for her coronation….

Act 4, scene 1

The procession returns from Anne’s coronation, which is then described by a gentleman who was in attendance.

Act 4, scene 2

The dying Princess Dowager Katherine and her attendant Griffith provide contrasting accounts of the character of the newly dead Wolsey….

Act 5, scene 1

The new archbishop of Canterbury, Cranmer, is under attack because his religious beliefs seem heretical. The king, after receiving news…

Act 5, scene 2

Cranmer suffers the public humiliation of being locked out of a Privy Council meeting. Allowed in, he is then threatened…

Act 5, scene 3

A porter and his assistant fight to control the crowd determined to view the royal daughter’s christening.

Act 5, scene 4

At Princess Elizabeth’s christening, Cranmer prophesies a magnificent reign for the future Queen Elizabeth I and an equally successful one…

Act 5, epilogue

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Scene 2
Enter Lord Chamberlain, reading this letter.

CHAMBERLAIN My lord, the horses your Lordship sent
 for, with all the care I had I saw well chosen, ridden,
 and furnished. They were young and handsome and
 of the best breed in the north. When they were ready
5 to set out for London, a man of my Lord Cardinal’s,
 by commission and main power, took ’em from me
 with this reason: his master would be served before
 a subject, if not before the King, which stopped our
 mouths, sir.

10 I fear he will indeed; well, let him have them.
 He will have all, I think.

Enter to the Lord Chamberlain, the Dukes
of Norfolk and Suffolk.

NORFOLK Well met, my Lord Chamberlain.
CHAMBERLAIN Good day to both your Graces.

Henry VIII
ACT 2. SC. 2

 How is the King employed?
CHAMBERLAIN 15 I left him private,
 Full of sad thoughts and troubles.
NORFOLK  What’s the cause?
 It seems the marriage with his brother’s wife
 Has crept too near his conscience.
SUFFOLK 20 No, his conscience
 Has crept too near another lady.
NORFOLK  ’Tis so;
 This is the Cardinal’s doing. The king-cardinal,
 That blind priest, like the eldest son of Fortune,
25 Turns what he list. The King will know him one day.
 Pray God he do! He’ll never know himself else.
 How holily he works in all his business,
 And with what zeal! For, now he has cracked the
30 Between us and the Emperor, the Queen’s
 He dives into the King’s soul and there scatters
 Dangers, doubts, wringing of the conscience,
 Fears and despairs—and all these for his marriage.
35 And out of all these to restore the King,
 He counsels a divorce, a loss of her
 That like a jewel has hung twenty years
 About his neck, yet never lost her luster;
 Of her that loves him with that excellence
40 That angels love good men with; even of her
 That, when the greatest stroke of fortune falls,
 Will bless the King. And is not this course pious?
 Heaven keep me from such counsel! ’Tis most true:
 These news are everywhere, every tongue speaks ’em,

Henry VIII
ACT 2. SC. 2

45 And every true heart weeps for ’t. All that dare
 Look into these affairs see this main end,
 The French king’s sister. Heaven will one day open
 The King’s eyes, that so long have slept upon
 This bold bad man.
SUFFOLK 50And free us from his slavery.
NORFOLK We had need pray,
 And heartily, for our deliverance,
 Or this imperious man will work us all
 From princes into pages. All men’s honors
55 Lie like one lump before him, to be fashioned
 Into what pitch he please.
SUFFOLK  For me, my lords,
 I love him not nor fear him; there’s my creed.
 As I am made without him, so I’ll stand,
60 If the King please. His curses and his blessings
 Touch me alike: they’re breath I not believe in.
 I knew him and I know him; so I leave him
 To him that made him proud, the Pope.
NORFOLK  Let’s in,
65 And with some other business put the King
 From these sad thoughts that work too much upon
 My lord, you’ll bear us company?
70 The King has sent me otherwhere. Besides,
 You’ll find a most unfit time to disturb him.
 Health to your Lordships.
NORFOLK  Thanks, my good Lord
Lord Chamberlain exits; and the King draws
the curtain and sits reading pensively.

SUFFOLK, to Norfolk 
75 How sad he looks! Sure he is much afflicted.
 Who’s there? Ha?

Henry VIII
ACT 2. SC. 2

NORFOLK, to Suffolk  Pray God he be not angry.
 Who’s there, I say? How dare you thrust yourselves
 Into my private meditations? Who am I, ha?
80 A gracious king that pardons all offenses
 Malice ne’er meant. Our breach of duty this way
 Is business of estate, in which we come
 To know your royal pleasure.
KING  You are too bold.
85 Go to; I’ll make you know your times of business.
 Is this an hour for temporal affairs, ha?

Enter Wolsey and Campeius, with a commission.

 Who’s there? My good Lord Cardinal? O my Wolsey,
 The quiet of my wounded conscience,
 Thou art a cure fit for a king. To Campeius. You’re
90 welcome,
 Most learnèd reverend sir, into our kingdom.
 Use us and it.—My good lord, have great care
 I be not found a talker.
WOLSEY  Sir, you cannot.
95 I would your Grace would give us but an hour
 Of private conference.
KING, to Norfolk and Suffolk  We are busy. Go.
NORFOLK, aside to Suffolk 
 This priest has no pride in him?
SUFFOLK, aside to Norfolk  Not to speak of.
100 I would not be so sick, though for his place.
 But this cannot continue.
NORFOLK, aside to Suffolk  If it do,
 I’ll venture one have-at-him.
SUFFOLK, aside to Norfolk  I another.
Norfolk and Suffolk exit.
105 Your Grace has given a precedent of wisdom

Henry VIII
ACT 2. SC. 2

 Above all princes in committing freely
 Your scruple to the voice of Christendom.
 Who can be angry now? What envy reach you?
 The Spaniard, tied by blood and favor to her,
110 Must now confess, if they have any goodness,
 The trial just and noble; all the clerks—
 I mean the learnèd ones in Christian kingdoms—
 Have their free voices; Rome, the nurse of judgment,
 Invited by your noble self, hath sent
115 One general tongue unto us, this good man,
 This just and learnèd priest, Cardinal Campeius,
 Whom once more I present unto your Highness.
 And once more in mine arms I bid him welcome,
 And thank the holy conclave for their loves.
120 They have sent me such a man I would have wished
 for.He embraces Campeius.
CAMPEIUS, handing the King a paper 
 Your Grace must needs deserve all strangers’ loves,
 You are so noble. To your Highness’ hand
 I tender my commission—by whose virtue,
125 The court of Rome commanding, you, my Lord
 Cardinal of York, are joined with me their servant
 In the unpartial judging of this business.
 Two equal men. The Queen shall be acquainted
 Forthwith for what you come. Where’s Gardiner?
130 I know your Majesty has always loved her
 So dear in heart not to deny her that
 A woman of less place might ask by law:
 Scholars allowed freely to argue for her.
 Ay, and the best she shall have, and my favor
135 To him that does best. God forbid else. Cardinal,

Henry VIII
ACT 2. SC. 2

 Prithee call Gardiner to me, my new secretary.
 I find him a fit fellow.Wolsey goes to the door.

Enter Gardiner to Wolsey.

WOLSEY, aside to Gardiner 
 Give me your hand. Much joy and favor to you.
 You are the King’s now.
GARDINER, aside to Wolsey 140 But to be commanded
 Forever by your Grace, whose hand has raised me.
KING Come hither, Gardiner.
The King and Gardiner walk and whisper.
 My lord of York, was not one Doctor Pace
 In this man’s place before him?
WOLSEY 145 Yes, he was.
 Was he not held a learnèd man?
WOLSEY  Yes, surely.
 Believe me, there’s an ill opinion spread, then,
 Even of yourself, Lord Cardinal.
WOLSEY 150 How? Of me?
 They will not stick to say you envied him
 And, fearing he would rise—he was so virtuous—
 Kept him a foreign man still, which so grieved him
 That he ran mad and died.
WOLSEY 155 Heav’n’s peace be with him!
 That’s Christian care enough. For living murmurers,
 There’s places of rebuke. He was a fool,
 For he would needs be virtuous. That good fellow
 If I command him follows my appointment.
160 I will have none so near else. Learn this, brother:
 We live not to be griped by meaner persons.

Henry VIII
ACT 2. SC. 3

KING, to Gardiner 
 Deliver this with modesty to th’ Queen.
Gardiner exits.
 The most convenient place that I can think of
 For such receipt of learning is Blackfriars.
165 There you shall meet about this weighty business.
 My Wolsey, see it furnished. O, my lord,
 Would it not grieve an able man to leave
 So sweet a bedfellow? But, conscience, conscience!
 O, ’tis a tender place, and I must leave her.
They exit.