Henry VIII: Act II, scene iii

 

Henry VIII             Act II, Scene iii               Lady Anne

(This text is featured in our interview with Margaret Robinson)

ANNE.

1.     Not for that neither.  Here’s the pang that pinches:
2.     His Highness having liv’d so long with her, and she
3.     So good a lady that no tongue could ever
4.     Pronounce dishonour of her,–by my life,
5.     She never knew harm-doing–O, now, after
6.     So many courses of the sun enthroned,
7.     Still growing in a majesty and pomp, the which
8.     To leave a thousand-fold more bitter than
9.     ‘Tis sweet at first to ac’quire, –after this process,
10.    To give her the avaunt, it is a pity
11.     Would move a monster.

OLD LADY.
12.                                        Hearts of most hard temper
13.     Melt and lament for her.

ANNE.
14.                                        O, God’s will, much better
15.  She ne’er had known pomp!  Though’t be temporal,
16.  Yet, if that quarrel, fortune, do divorce
17.  It from the bearer, ’tis a suffer’ance panging
18.  As soul and body’s seve’ring.

OLD LADY.
19.                                               A’las, poor lady!
20.  She’s a stranger now again.

ANNE.
21.                  So much the more
22.  Must pity drop up on her. Verily,
23.  I swear, ’tis better to be lowly born
24.  And range with humble livers in content,
25.  Than to be perk’d up in a glist’ring grief,
26.  And wear a golden sorrow.

OLD LADY.
27.                                            Our content
28.  Is our best having.

ANNE.
29.                               By my troth and maidenhead,
30.   I would not be a queen.

OLD LADY.
31.                                        Beshrew me, I would,
32.  And venture maidenhead for’t; and so would you,
33.  For all this spice of your hypocrisy.
34.  You, that have so fair parts of woman on you,
35.  Have too a woman’s heart, which ever yet
36.  Affected eminence, wealth, sovereignty;
37.  Which, to say sooth, are blessings; and which gifts,
38.  Saving your mincing, the capacity
39.  Of your soft cheveril conscience would receive,
40.  If you might please to stretch it.

ANNE.
41.                                                  Nay, good troth.

OLD LADY.
42.  Yes, troth and troth. You would not be a queen?

ANNE.
43.  No, not for all the riches under heaven.

OLD LADY.
44.  ‘Tis strange.  A three-pence bow’d would hire me,
45.  Old as I am, to queen it. But, I pray you,
46.  What think you of a duchess? Have you limbs
47.  To bear that load of title?

ANNE.
48.                                            No, in truth.

OLD LADY.
49.  Then you are weakly made; pluck off a little.
50.  I would not be a young count in your way,
51.  For more than blushing comes to. If your back
52.  Cannot vouchsafe this burden, ’tis too weak
53.  Ever to get a boy.

ANNE.
54.                                 How you do talk!
55.  I swear again I would not be a queen
56.  For all the world.

OLD LADY.
57.              In faith, for little England
58.  You’d venture an emballing. I myself
59.  Would for Carnarvonshire, although there long’d
60.  No more to the crown but that. Lo, who comes here?

[Enter the Lord Chamberlain.]

CHAMBERLAIN.
61.  Good morrow, ladies. What were’t worth to know
62.  The secret of your confer’ence?

ANNE.
63.                                                   My good lord,
64.  Not your demand; it values not your asking.
65.  Our mistress’ sorrows we were pitying.

CHAMBERLAIN.
66.  It was a gentle business, and becoming
67.  The action of good women. There is hope
68.  All will be well.

ANNE.
69.                           Now, I pray God, amen!

CHAMBERLAIN.
70.  You bear a gentle mind, and heavenly blessings
71.  Follow such creatures. That you may, fair lady,
72.  Perceive I speak sincerely, and high note’s
73.  Ta’en of your many virtues, the King’s Majesty
74.  Commends his good opinion of you, and
75.  Does purpose honour to you no less flowing
76.  Than Marchioness of Pembroke; to which title
77.  A thousand pound a year, annual support,
78.  Out of his grace he adds.

ANNE.
79.                                             I do not know
80.  What kind of my obed‘ience I should tender.
81.  More than my all is nothing; nor my prayers
82.  Are not words duly hallowed, nor my wishes
83.  More worth than empty vanities; yet prayers and wishes
84.  Are all I can return.  Beseech your lordship,
85.  Vouch safe to speak my thanks and my obed‘ience,
86.  As from a blushing handmaid, to his Highness;
87.  Whose health and royalty I pray for.

CHAMBERLAIN.
88.                                                        Lady,
89.  I shall not fail to approve the fair conceit
90.  The King hath of you. [Aside.] I have perus’d her well.
91.  Beauty and honour in her are so mingled
92.  That they have caught the King; and who knows yet
93.  But from this lady may proceed a gem
94.  To lighten all this isle? I’ll to the King,
95.  And say I spoke with you.

[Exit Lord Chamberlain.]

ANNE.
96.                                          My honour’d lord.

OLD LADY.
97.  Why, this it is: see, see!
98.  I have been begging sixteen years in court,
99.  Am yet a courtier beggarly, nor could
100.  Come pat betwixt too early and too late
101.   For any suit of pounds; and you, O fate!
102.   A very fresh-fish here–fie, fie, fie upon
103.   This compell’d fortune!–have your mouth fill’d up
104.  Before you open it.

ANNE.
105.                                 This is strange to me.

OLD LADY.
106.   How tastes it? Is it bitter? Forty pence, no.
107.   There was a lady once, ’tis an old story,
108.   That would not be a queen, that would she not,
109.   For all the mud in Egypt. Have you heard it?

ANNE.
110.   Come, you are pleasant.

OLD LADY.
111.                                         With your theme, I could
112.   O’ermount the lark. The Marchioness of Pembroke!
113.   A thousand pounds a year for pure respect!
114.   No other obligation! By my life,
115.   That promises moe thousands; Honour’s train
116.   Is longer than his foreskirt. By this time
117.   I know your back will bear a duchess. Say,
118.   Are you not stronger than you were?

ANNE.
119.                                                         Good lady,
120.   Make your self mirth with your parti‘cular fancy,
121.   And leave me out on’t. Would I had no being,
122.   If this salute my blood a jot. It faints me,
123.   To think what follows.
124.   The Queen is comfortless, and we forgetful
125.   In our long absence. Pray, do not deliver
126.   What here you’ve heard to her.

OLD LADY.
127.                                           What do you think me?

[Exeunt.]

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