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Henry VIII
Act 2, scene 3

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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…

Prologue

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 3
Enter Anne Bullen and an old Lady.

ANNE 
 Not for that neither. Here’s the pang that pinches:
 His Highness having lived so long with her, and she
 So good a lady that no tongue could ever
 Pronounce dishonor of her—by my life,
5 She never knew harm-doing!—O, now, after
 So many courses of the sun enthroned,
 Still growing in a majesty and pomp, the which
 To leave a thousandfold more bitter than
 ’Tis sweet at first t’ acquire—after this process,
10 To give her the avaunt! It is a pity
 Would move a monster.
OLD LADY  Hearts of most hard temper
 Melt and lament for her.
ANNE  O, God’s will! Much better
15 She ne’er had known pomp; though ’t be temporal,
 Yet if that quarrel, Fortune, do divorce
 It from the bearer, ’tis a sufferance panging
 As soul and body’s severing.
OLD LADY  Alas, poor lady,
20 She’s a stranger now again!

87
Henry VIII
ACT 2. SC. 3

ANNE  So much the more
 Must pity drop upon her. Verily,
 I swear, ’tis better to be lowly born
 And range with humble livers in content
25 Than to be perked up in a glist’ring grief
 And wear a golden sorrow.
OLD LADY  Our content
 Is our best having.
ANNE  By my troth and maidenhead,
30 I would not be a queen.
OLD LADY  Beshrew me, I would,
 And venture maidenhead for ’t; and so would you,
 For all this spice of your hypocrisy.
 You, that have so fair parts of woman on you,
35 Have too a woman’s heart, which ever yet
 Affected eminence, wealth, sovereignty;
 Which, to say sooth, are blessings; and which gifts,
 Saving your mincing, the capacity
 Of your soft cheveril conscience would receive
40 If you might please to stretch it.
ANNE  Nay, good troth.
OLD LADY 
 Yes, troth, and troth. You would not be a queen?
ANNE 
 No, not for all the riches under heaven.
OLD LADY 
 ’Tis strange. A threepence bowed would hire me,
45 Old as I am, to queen it. But I pray you,
 What think you of a duchess? Have you limbs
 To bear that load of title?
ANNE  No, in truth.
OLD LADY 
 Then you are weakly made. Pluck off a little.
50 I would not be a young count in your way
 For more than blushing comes to. If your back

89
Henry VIII
ACT 2. SC. 3

 Cannot vouchsafe this burden, ’tis too weak
 Ever to get a boy.
ANNE  How you do talk!
55 I swear again, I would not be a queen
 For all the world.
OLD LADY  In faith, for little England
 You’d venture an emballing. I myself
 Would for Carnarvanshire, although there longed
60 No more to th’ crown but that. Lo, who comes here?

Enter Lord Chamberlain.

CHAMBERLAIN 
 Good morrow, ladies. What were ’t worth to know
 The secret of your conference?
ANNE  My good lord,
 Not your demand; it values not your asking.
65 Our mistress’ sorrows we were pitying.
CHAMBERLAIN 
 It was a gentle business, and becoming
 The action of good women. There is hope
 All will be well.
ANNE  Now, I pray God, amen!
CHAMBERLAIN 
70 You bear a gentle mind, and heav’nly blessings
 Follow such creatures. That you may, fair lady,
 Perceive I speak sincerely, and high note’s
 Ta’en of your many virtues, the King’s Majesty
 Commends his good opinion of you to you, and
75 Does purpose honor to you no less flowing
 Than Marchioness of Pembroke, to which title
 A thousand pound a year annual support
 Out of his grace he adds.
ANNE  I do not know
80 What kind of my obedience I should tender.
 More than my all is nothing, nor my prayers
 Are not words duly hallowed, nor my wishes

91
Henry VIII
ACT 2. SC. 3

 More worth than empty vanities. Yet prayers and
 wishes
85 Are all I can return. ’Beseech your Lordship,
 Vouchsafe to speak my thanks and my obedience,
 As from a blushing handmaid, to his Highness,
 Whose health and royalty I pray for.
CHAMBERLAIN  Lady,
90 I shall not fail t’ approve the fair conceit
 The King hath of you. (Aside.) I have perused her
 well.
 Beauty and honor in her are so mingled
 That they have caught the King. And who knows yet
95 But from this lady may proceed a gem
 To lighten all this isle?—I’ll to the King
 And say I spoke with you.
ANNE  My honored lord.
Lord Chamberlain exits.
OLD LADY Why, this it is! See, see!
100 I have been begging sixteen years in court,
 Am yet a courtier beggarly, nor could
 Come pat betwixt too early and too late
 For any suit of pounds; and you—O, fate!—
 A very fresh fish here—fie, fie, fie upon
105 This compelled fortune!—have your mouth filled up
 Before you open it.
ANNE  This is strange to me.
OLD LADY 
 How tastes it? Is it bitter? Forty pence, no.
 There was a lady once—’tis an old story—
110 That would not be a queen, that would she not,
 For all the mud in Egypt. Have you heard it?
ANNE 
 Come, you are pleasant.
OLD LADY  With your theme, I could
 O’ermount the lark. The Marchioness of Pembroke?
115 A thousand pounds a year for pure respect?
 No other obligation? By my life,

93
Henry VIII
ACT 2. SC. 4

 That promises more thousands; honor’s train
 Is longer than his foreskirt. By this time
 I know your back will bear a duchess. Say,
120 Are you not stronger than you were?
ANNE  Good lady,
 Make yourself mirth with your particular fancy,
 And leave me out on ’t. Would I had no being
 If this salute my blood a jot. It faints me
125 To think what follows.
 The Queen is comfortless and we forgetful
 In our long absence. Pray do not deliver
 What here you’ve heard to her.
OLD LADY  What do you think me?
They exit.