David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s HENRY VIII: A Retelling in Prose — Act 3, Scene 2

— 3.2 —

The Duke of Norfolk, the Duke of Suffolk, the Earl of Surrey, and Lord Chamberlain talked together in an antechamber leading to King Henry VIII’s apartment. The Earl of Surrey was the Duke of Buckingham’s son-in-law; he had been in Ireland when the Duke of Buckingham was found guilty of treason and beheaded.

The Duke of Norfolk said, “If you will now unite in your complaints, and press them with steadfastness, Cardinal Wolsey cannot resist them. If you neglect the opportunity we have at this time, I cannot promise anything except that you shall sustain more disgraces to add to these you bear already.”

The Earl of Surrey said, “I am joyful to have the least opportunity that may recall to my mind my father-in-law, the Duke of Buckingham, and let me be revenged on the person who caused his death.”

The Duke of Suffolk asked, “Which of the nobles have not been despised by Cardinal Wolsey, or at least have not been coldly ignored as if they were a stranger? When did he regard and respect the stamp of nobleness in any person other than himself?”

Lord Chamberlain said, “My lords, you speak what you please. I know what Cardinal Wolsey deserves from you and me, but I very much fear what could happen if we do something to him, although now the time gives an opportunity to us. If you cannot bar his access to King Henry VIII, never attempt to do anything against Cardinal Wolsey, for his tongue has a kind of witchcraft over the King. Cardinal Wolsey is very persuasive and can make the King do what Cardinal Wolsey wants him to do.”

“Oh, don’t fear Cardinal Wolsey doing that,” the Duke of Norfolk said. “His ability to influence the King is gone. The King has found evidence against him that forever mars the honey of the Cardinal’s language. No, Cardinal Wolsey is firmly fixed in the displeasure of the King.”

The Earl of Surrey said, “Sir, I would be glad to hear such news as this once every hour.”

“Believe it because it is true,” the Duke of Norfolk said. “In the divorce of King Henry VIII and Queen Catherine, Cardinal Wolsey acted contrary to the wishes of the King. This has all been unfolded to the King, and now Cardinal Wolsey is in such a position as I would wish my enemy to be.”

“How did Cardinal Wolsey’s intrigue come to light?” the Earl of Surrey asked.

“Very strangely,” the Duke of Suffolk said.

“How?” the Earl of Surrey asked.

The Duke of Suffolk replied, “Cardinal Wolsey’s letters to the Pope miscarried and came to the eye of the King. In those letters, the King read that against his wishes the Cardinal was entreating his holiness the Pope to delay the judgment of the divorce. In a letter, Cardinal Wolsey wrote that if the divorce did take place, ‘I perceive that my King is entangled in affection to a lady-in-waiting of the Queen’s: Lady Anne Boleyn.’”

“Does the King have this letter?” the Earl of Surrey asked.

“Believe it,” the Duke of Suffolk replied.

“Will the Cardinal’s treachery work?” the Earl of Surrey asked.

“The King by reading this letter perceives clearly how Cardinal Wolsey moves in a devious, roundabout way but always follows his own course. But in this point all of the Cardinal’s tricks flounder, and he brings his medicine after his patient’s death: The King has already married the fair lady.”

“I wish that were true!” the Earl of Surrey said.

“May you be happy in your wish, my lord,” the Duke of Suffolk said, “for, I profess, you have it. Your wish has come true.”

“Now, may all my joy follow from this conjunction — this marriage!” the Earl of Surrey said.

“I add my ‘amen’ to that!” the Duke of Suffolk said.

“All men say ‘amen’ to that!” the Duke of Norfolk said.

“The order has been given for her coronation,” the Duke of Suffolk said. “By the Virgin Mary, this order is newly given, and it ought to be left untold to some ears. But, my lords, she is a splendid woman, and she is perfect in mind and features. I believe that from her will fall some blessing to this land, which shall be remembered forever on account of it.”

“But will the King read and then tolerate and ignore this letter of the Cardinal’s?” the Earl of Surrey asked. “The Lord forbid!”

“By the Virgin Mary, amen to that!” the Duke of Norfolk said. “The Lord forbid!”

“No, no, the King will not tolerate it,” the Duke of Suffolk said. “There are other wasps that buzz about the King’s nose that will make this wasp sting all the sooner. Cardinal Campeius has stolen away to Rome. He has taken no official leave, and he has left the law case of the King’s divorce unfinished. He was sent speedily to Rome as the agent of our Cardinal Wolsey to advance Cardinal Wolsey’s plots. I assure you that the King cried out in disgust and anger when he learned all this.”

Lord Chamberlain said, “May God now further cause him to be angry and let him cry out in disgust and anger all the more loudly!”

“But, my lord, when does Thomas Cranmer return?” the Duke of Norfolk asked. “He has been traveling around, gathering learned opinions about whether the King is justified in divorcing Queen Catherine.”

“He has returned in the form of a report of his opinions, which have satisfied the King that his divorce is justified. These opinions are those of Cranmer together with almost all the famous colleges in Christendom. Shortly, I believe, King Henry VIII’s second marriage shall be publicly proclaimed, and her coronation shall be held. Catherine no more shall be called Queen; instead, she will be called Princess Dowager and widow to Prince Arthur, the King’s older brother.”

The Duke of Norfolk said, “This Cranmer is a worthy fellow, and he has taken much pain to do the King’s business.”

“He has,” the Duke of Suffolk said, “and we shall see him rewarded for it by being made an Archbishop. He shall be made the Archbishop of Canterbury.”

“So I hear,” the Duke of Norfolk said.

“It is true,” the Duke of Suffolk said. “It will happen.”

He looked up and said, “The Cardinal!”

Cardinal Wolsey and Cromwell, his servant, entered the room. They were at a distance from the others and did not see them for a while.

The Duke of Norfolk said, “Look. Look. The Cardinal is moody.”

Cardinal Wolsey said, “The packet of letters, Cromwell. Did you give it to the King?”

“I handed it to the King himself, in his bedchamber,” Cromwell replied.

“Did he look inside the packet?”

“Immediately, he unsealed the letters and the first letter he viewed, he did so with a serious mind; his face showed that he was paying careful attention to the letter. He then ordered that you wait for him here this morning.”

Cardinal Wolsey asked, “Is he ready to come out of his apartment?”

“I think that by this time he has left his apartment,” Cromwell replied.

“Leave me alone for a while,” Cardinal Wolsey ordered.

Cromwell exited.

Cardinal Wolsey thought, It shall be to the Duchess of Alençon, the French King’s sister. Henry VIII shall marry her. Anne Boleyn! No! I’ll have no Anne Boleyns for him! There are more important things than a fair face. Boleyn! No, we’ll have no Boleyns. I hope to hear quickly from Rome. The Marchioness of Pembroke!

One of Anne Boleyn’s titles was the Marchioness of Pembroke.

The Duke of Norfolk said, “Cardinal Wolsey is unhappy.”

The Duke of Suffolk said, “Maybe he has heard that the King whets his anger toward him.”

“May the King’s anger be sharp enough, Lord, for Your justice!” the Earl of Surrey said.

Cardinal Wolsey thought, Anne Boleyn is the recent Queen’s gentlewoman, a knight’s daughter. Should she be her mistress’ mistress! Should she be the Queen’s Queen! This candle does not burn clearly. It is I who must snuff it. Then out it goes.”

The candle is the marriage of Anne Boleyn to King Henry VIII. It was not burning brightly yet, Cardinal Wolsey thought, because Anne Boleyn’s marriage to King Henry VIII had not yet taken place. It was up to him to snuff the candle. The snuff of the candle is the partially consumed wick. To keep the candle burning brightly, the candle must occasionally be snuffed, meaning that the wick must be trimmed. But to snuff a candle has another meaning: to put out the candle.

King Henry VIII had wanted Cardinal Wolsey to snuff the candle: to clear away the obstacles to his marriage to Anne Boleyn. But Cardinal Wolsey wanted to snuff the candle: to prevent the King from marrying Anne.

Cardinal Wolsey thought, What though I know her to be virtuous and well deserving? Yet I know her to be a passionate Lutheran, and not beneficial to our cause, that of Roman Catholicism and our plan for King Henry VIII to marry the sister of the King of France, and so she should not lie in the bosom of our hard-to-rule King. She should not lie in the King’s bed and should not share his secrets. Also, there has sprung up a heretic — an arch-heretic — named Thomas Cranmer. He has crawled into the favor of the King, and he is the King’s oracle.

“He is vexed at something,” the Duke of Norfolk said.

 “I hope that it is something that will fret the string — the master-cord — of his heart!” the Earl of Surrey said. “I hope it cuts the Cardinal’s heartstring, and he dies!”

King Henry VIII entered the room, reading a paper. Sir Thomas Lovell accompanied him.

“The King! The King!” the Duke of Suffolk said.

King Henry VIII said, “What piles of wealth has Cardinal Wolsey accumulated to his own possession! And what prodigal expenditures each hour seem to flow from him! How, in the name of thrift, does he rake all this money and these possessions together when he has such high expenses! Now, my lords, have you seen Cardinal Wolsey?”

The Duke of Norfolk pointed to the Cardinal and replied, “My lord, we have stood here observing him. Some strange commotion is in his brain: He bites his lip, and startles, stops suddenly, looks upon the ground, lays his finger on his temple, immediately springs out into a fast gait, stops again, strikes his breast hard, and casts his eye upward to the Moon. We have seen him act very strangely.”

“It may well be that a mutiny is in his mind,” King Henry VIII said. “This morning he sent me state papers to peruse, as I had ordered him, and do you know what I found there — on my conscience, put there unwittingly?

“Truly, I found an inventory that listed the many pieces of his silver plate and gold plate, his treasure, rich fabrics, and household ornaments, which I find to have such value that it far exceeds what a subject of mine ought to possess.”

“It’s Heaven’s will,” the Duke of Norfolk said. “Some spirit put this paper in the packet to bless your eye with. Heaven wanted you to find and read that inventory of Cardinal Wolsey’s possessions.”

King Henry VIII looked at Cardinal Wolsey and said, “If we thought that he was contemplating Heavenly matters — matters that are above the Earth — and if we thought that his attention was fixed on spiritual objects, we would allow him to continue to dwell in his musings, but I am afraid his thoughts are about things below the Moon, things that are not worth his serious consideration.”

King Henry VIII sat down and whispered to Sir Thomas Lovell, who went over to Cardinal Wolsey and brought him out of his deep thoughts.

Startled, Cardinal Wolsey said, “Heaven forgive me!”

He went to the King and said, “May God for ever bless your highness!”

“My good lord,” King Henry VIII said, “you are full of Heavenly stuff, and bear in your mind the inventory of your best graces, which you were just now running over. You scarcely have time to steal from spiritual leisure a brief span to keep your Earthly audit. To be sure, in that I deem you to be an ill manager of your Earthly affairs, and because of it I am glad to have you be my companion.”

The King was mocking Cardinal Wolsey by using such Earthly terms as “stuff,” “inventory,” “steal,” “leisure,” and “audit.” The Heavenly audit, as opposed to an Earthly audit, is the audit that takes place on the Day of Judgment.

Cardinal Wolsey replied, “Sir, for holy offices I have a time. I also have a time to think upon the part of the business that I bear in the state, and Nature requires her times of rest and preservation, which necessarily I, her frail son, like my mortal brothers, must tend to.”

“You have spoken well,” King Henry VIII said.

“And may your highness always yoke together, as I will lend you reason to do, my doing well with my saying well!” Cardinal Wolsey said.

“You have said well again,” King Henry VIII said. “And it is a kind of good deed to say well, and yet words are no deeds.”

A proverb states, “Saying is one thing, doing another.” Another proverb states, “From words to deeds is a great space.”

King Henry VIII continued, “My father loved you. He said he did, and his saidhe did, and with his deed he crowned his word upon you. Ever since I have had my office as King of England, I have kept you near my heart; I have not only employed you where high profits might come home to you, but I have pared and reduced my own possessions in order to bestow my bounties upon you.”

Suspicious, Cardinal Wolsey thought, What does this mean?

The Earl of Surrey thought, May the Lord promote this business!

King Henry VIII continued, “Have I not made you the prime, most important man of the state?”

As Lord Chancellor, one of his many titles, Cardinal Wolsey was second only to the King.

King Henry VIII continued, “Please, tell me if what I just now said you have found to be true. And, if you may confess it, say in addition whether you are indebted to us or not. What do you say?”

“My sovereign,” Cardinal Wolsey said, “I confess that your royal graces, which have been showered on me daily, have been more than my deliberate efforts can repay, although my deliberate efforts have exceeded the endeavors of all other men. My endeavors have always come up too short compared to my desires, although they have kept pace with my abilities: I have done all I can and yet not accomplished what I hoped. My own ends have been mine to the extent that they always pointed to the good of your most sacred person and the profit of the state: I have subordinated my own profit in order to profit you and England. For your great graces that you have heaped upon me, a poor undeserver, I can render nothing but my faithful and allegiant thanks, my prayers to Heaven for you, and my loyalty, which always has and always shall be growing until the winter that is death shall kill it.”

“You have answered fairly,” King Henry VIII said. “A loyal and obedient subject is therein illustrated in your words. The honor of it pays the act of it, as in the contrary the foulness is the punishment.”

A proverb states, “Virtue is its own reward.” In other words, the intrinsic quality of honor is the reward of being virtuous.

King Henry VIII continued, “I presume that, as my hand has opened bounty to you, my heart dropped love, my power rained honor, more on you than on any other, so your hand and heart, your brain, and every function of your power, should — even though your bond of duty is, as it were, in love’s particular — be more to me, your friend, than to any other. You have the duty of a subject to your King, and a subject should love his King, but since I am your personal friend, you also have the bond of personal friendship to me, your King, and personal friendship carries its own duties with it.”

Cardinal Wolsey said, “I profess that for your highness’ good I have always labored more than for my own. What is my own? It is that am,have, and will-be. My own is what I am, what I have, and what I will be.”

Cardinal Wolsey most valued power and money, and what he hoped his will-bewould be was a powerful man who had much wealth. He was honest about what is his own.

He continued, “Though all in the world should split asunder their duty to you, and throw it from their soul, and though perils did abound, as thick as thought could make them and appear in forms more horrid, yet my duty, as does a rock against the tumultuous flood, should the approach of this wild river withstand, and stand unshaken yours.”

“It is nobly spoken,” King Henry VIII said. “Take notice, lords, he has a loyal breast, for you have seen him open it.”

He then handed Cardinal Wolsey two papers and said, “Read over this paper, and after reading it, read this other paper, and then go to breakfast with what appetite you have.”

King Henry VIII frowned at Cardinal Wolsey and then exited. Smiling and whispering to each other, the nobles in the room exited behind him.

Cardinal Wolsey said to himself, “What does this mean? What sudden anger is this? How have I reaped it? He departed frowning from me, as if ruin leaped from his eyes. So looks the enraged lion at the daring huntsman who has wounded him, and then the lion makes him nothing — the lion obliterates him.”

“I must read this paper. I fear it contains the story behind his anger.”

He read the paper and said, “It is so. This paper has ruined me. It is the account of all that world of wealth I have drawn together for my own ends — indeed, to become Pope, and pay my friends in Rome.

“Oh, this is negligence fit for a fool to fall by. What perverse Devil made me put this major secret in the packet I sent the King? Is there no way to cure this? No new trick to beat this paper away from his brains? I know it will stir him strongly, yet I know a way that, if it succeeds, will spite bad fortune and get me out of this mess.”

He looked at the other paper and said, “What’s this? ‘To the Pope’! This letter, as I live, has all the business I wrote to his holiness the Pope. So then, farewell! I have touched the highest point of all my greatness, and, from that full meridian of my glory, I hasten now to the setting of my greatness. I shall fall like a bright meteor in the evening, and no man shall see me anymore.”

The Duke of Norfolk, the Duke of Suffolk, the Earl of Surrey, and Lord Chamberlain returned.

The Duke of Norfolk said, “Hear the King’s pleasure, Cardinal Wolsey. He commands you to render up the Great Seal immediately into our hands, and to confine yourself to Asher House, the residence of my Lord of Winchester, until you hear further from his highness.”

“Stop,” Cardinal Wolsey said. “Where’s your commission, lords? Where are your written orders for me to hand over the Great Seal? Words cannot carry authority so weighty; a written commission is needed for so important a matter.”

The Duke of Suffolk said, “Who dares to oppose words bearing the King’s will when those words come directly and expressly from the King’s mouth?”

Cardinal Wolsey replied, “Until I find more than will or oral words to hand over the Great Seal — I mean by ‘will’ your malice, you officious lords — know that I dare and I must deny to do it.

“Now I feel of what coarse metal and mettle you are molded — it is malice. How eagerly you follow my disgraces, as if it fed you! And how sleek and wanton you appear in everything that may bring my ruin!

“Follow your vindictive courses of action, men of malice. You have ‘Christian’ warrant for them, and, no doubt, in time will find their ‘fit’ rewards.

“The King, who is my and your master, entrusted that Great Seal that you ask for with such violence to me with his own hand. He told me to enjoy it, with the official position of Lord Chancellor and attendant honors, during my life. And, to confirm his goodness, he ratified his entrusting the Great Seal to me with letters-patents, aka public documents. Now, who’ll take it from me?”

The Earl of Surrey replied, “The King, who gave it to you, will take it from you.”

“He himself must do it, then,” Cardinal Wolsey said.

Now the Earl of Surrey and Cardinal Wolsey began to use insulting pronouns such as “thou,” “thy,” and “thee” to refer to each other In this culture, these words were not insulting to use when speaking to intimates such as friends, wives, or children, or when speaking to servants, but they were insulting in this situation.

“Thou are a proud traitor, priest,” the Earl of Surrey said.

Cardinal Wolsey replied, “Proud lord, thou lie. Within these past forty hours, the Earl of Surrey would have preferred to burn his tongue than to say so.”

“Thy ambition, thou scarlet sin, robbed this bewailing land of noble Buckingham, my father-in-law,” the Earl of Surrey said.

As a Cardinal, Wolsey wore scarlet clothing.

The Earl of Surrey was alluding to Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins were as crimson, they shall be made white as snow: though they were red like scarlet, they shall be as wool” (1599 Geneva Bible).

The Earl of Surrey continued, “The heads of all thy brother Cardinals, with thee and all thy best parts bound together, were not worth a hair of his. A plague on your political maneuverings!

“You sent me to be Governor of Ireland, far from my father-in-law’s succor, far from the King, and far from all who might have mercy on the crime thou attributed to him, while your great goodness, out of holy pity, absolved him with an axe by cutting off his head.”

Cardinal Wolsey said, “This, and everything else this talking lord can lay upon my reputation, I answer is most false. The Duke of Buckingham by law found his deserts. How innocent I was from any private malice in his death, his noble jury and foul crimes can witness.

“If I loved many words, lord, I should tell you that you have as little honesty as honor, that in the way of loyalty and truth toward the King, my ever royal master, I dare match myself with a sounder man than Surrey can be and than all who love Surrey’s follies can be.”

The Earl of Surrey said, “By my soul, your long Cardinal’s coat, priest, protects you; otherwise, thou should feel my sword in thy life-blood.

“My lords, can you endure to hear this arrogance? And from this fellow?”

A servant could be called “fellow,” but in this context the word “fellow” was insulting.

The Earl of Surrey continued, “If we live thus tamely, to be thus jaded — deceived — by a piece of scarlet, then farewell to our nobility. Let his grace go forward, and dazzle us with his cap like trappers dazzle larks.”

People would use a piece of bright scarlet cloth — or a mirror — to lure and fascinate larks and then throw a net over them.

The Earl of Surrey was also alluding to Joan Lark, Cardinal Wolsey’s mistress.

Cardinal Wolsey said, “All goodness is poison to thy stomach.”

The Earl of Surrey said, “Yes, that ‘goodness’ of gleaning all the land’s wealth into one heap, into your own hands, Cardinal, by extortion and misuse of your official position. Yes, that ‘goodness ‘of your intercepted packets of letters you wrote to the Pope against the interests of the King. Your ‘goodness,’ since you provoke me, shall be very notorious and widely known.

“My Lord of Norfolk, as you are truly noble and as you respect the common good, the state of our despised nobility, our male children, who, if Cardinal Wolsey continues to live, will scarcely be gentlemen, much less inherit the titles of Earl and Duke from their fathers, produce now the grand sum of Cardinal Wolsey’s sins, the articles of indictment collected from his life.

“I’ll startle you worse than the sacring bell did when the brown wench lay kissing in your arms, Lord Cardinal.”

The sacring bell rang to let people know it was time to go to prayers.

As a priest, Cardinal Wolsey was supposed to be celibate, but it was widely known that he was not.

A brown wench is a lower-class woman. Upper-class women protected their skin from the Sun.

Cardinal Wolsey said, “How much, I think, I could despise this man, except that I am bound in Christian charity against it!”

The Duke of Norfolk said to the Earl of Surrey, “Those articles, my lord, are in the King’s own hand; he has possession of them. But I can tell you this much, the articles of indictments are for foul crimes.”

Cardinal Wolsey replied, “So much fairer and spotless shall my innocence arise, when the King knows my truth and loyalty.”

The Earl of Surrey replied, “This cannot save you. I thank my memory that I still remember some of these articles, and they shall be widely known. Now, if you can blush and cry ‘guilty,’ Cardinal, you’ll show a little honesty.”

“Speak on, sir,” Cardinal Wolsey said. “I defy your worst objections. If I blush, it is because I see a nobleman who lacks manners.”

“I had rather lack manners than my head,” the Earl of Surrey said. “Listen to the charges against you!

“First, that without the King’s assent or knowledge, you contrived to be a Papal legate, by which power you maimed the jurisdiction of all the Bishops in England.”

The Duke of Norfolk said, “Second, that in all you wrote to Rome, or to foreign Princes, ‘Ego et Rex meus’ — ‘I and my King’ — was always inscribed, in which you put yourself first and described the King as your servant.”

The Duke of Suffolk said, “Third, that without the knowledge either of King or council, when you went as an ambassador to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, you made bold to carry into Flanders the Great Seal, which is not permitted to leave England.”

If the Great Seal were to fall into the wrong hands, forged letters stamped with the Great Seal could greatly embarrass the King.

The Earl of Surrey said, “Fourth, that you sent a large commission of delegates to Gregory de Cassado, to conclude, without the King’s will or the state’s permission, a treaty between his highness and the Duke of Ferrara, Italy.”

Gregory de Cassado was the English ambassador to the Papal court. Ferrara was a city-state in Italy.

The Duke of Suffolk said, “Fifth, that out of sheer ambition, you have caused your profile and holy hat to be stamped on the King’s coin.”

The Earl of Surrey said, “Sixth, that you have sent uncountable wealth — by what means acquired, I leave to your own conscience — to supply Rome, and to bribe your way to honors, to the complete undoing of all the Kingdom of England. Many more there are, which since they are about you, and odious, I will not taint my mouth by enumerating them.”

Lord Chamberlain said, “Oh, my lord, do not press a falling man too far! It is a virtue not to. Cardinal Wolsey’s faults, sins, and crimes lie open to the laws; let the laws, not you, correct him. My heart weeps to see him have now so little of his formerly great self.”

“I forgive him,” the Earl of Surrey said.

The Duke of Suffolk said, “Lord Cardinal Wolsey, because all of those things you have done recently by your power as a Papal legate within this kingdom, fall into the compass of a praemunire— our English law against preempting and denying the King’s authority by asserting Papal jurisdiction in England — the King’s further pleasure is that therefore this writ be sued against you: You must forfeit all your goods, lands, tenements, castles and chattels, and whatsoever else, and be out of the King’s protection and declared an outlaw. This is my charge.”

The Duke of Norfolk said, “And so we’ll leave you to your meditations about how to live better. As for your stubborn answer about the giving back of the Great Seal to us, the King shall know it, and, no doubt, shall ‘thank’ you. So fare you well, my little-good Lord Cardinal Wolsey.”

They exited, leaving Cardinal Wolsey alone.

“So farewell to the little good you bear me,” Cardinal Wolsey said. “Farewell! A long farewell to all my greatness! This is the state of man: Today he puts forth the tender leaves of hopes; tomorrow he blossoms and bears his blushing honors thick upon him; on the third day comes a frost, a killing frost; and when he, good and easygoing man, thinks that most certainly his greatness is ripening, the killing frost nips his root, and then he falls, as I do.

“I have ventured, like little carefree, playful boys who swim with the aid of bladders filled with air, these many summers in a sea of glory, but I went far beyond my depth. My high-blown pride at length broke under me and now has left me, weary and old with service, to the mercy of a turbulent stream that must forever hide me.

“Vain pomp and glory of this world, I hate you. I feel my newly opened heart. Oh, how wretched is that poor man who hangs on Princes’ favors! There is, between that smile we would aspire to, that sweet aspect of Princes, and the ruin Princes cause, more pangs and fears than wars or women have. And when that poor man who hangs on Princes’ favors falls, he falls like Lucifer, never to hope again.”

Psalm 118:9 states, “It is better to trust in the Lord, than to have confidence in princes” (1599 Geneva Bible).

Isaiah 14:12 states, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning? andcut down to the ground, which didst cast lots upon the nations?” (1599 Geneva Bible).

Cromwell, Cardinal Wolsey’s servant, entered the room. He was in a state of shock.

“Why, how are you now, Cromwell?” Cardinal Wolsey asked.

“I have no power to speak, sir,” Cromwell replied.

“What, are you amazed at my misfortunes? Can your spirit wonder that a great man should decline? If you weep, I know that I have indeed fallen.”

“How is your grace?”

“Why, well,” Cardinal Wolsey replied. “I have never been so truly happy, my good Cromwell. I know myself now; and I feel within me a peace above all Earthly high official positions; I have a still and quiet conscience. The King has cured me, for which I humbly thank his grace, and from these shoulders of mine, these ruined pillars, out of pity, he has taken a load that would sink a navy — the load of too much honor. Oh, it is a burden, Cromwell, it is a burden too heavy for a man who hopes for Heaven!”

“I am glad your grace has made that right use of it,” Cromwell said. “I am glad that your grace has been able to learn a moral lesson from what has happened to you.”

“I hope I have,” Cardinal Wolsey said. “I am able now, I think, out of a fortitude of soul I feel, to endure more miseries and greater miseries by far than my weak-hearted enemies dare give to me.

“What is the news going around?”

“The heaviest and the worst is your falling out of favor with the King.”

“God bless him!” Cardinal Wolsey said.

“The next important piece of news is that Sir Thomas More has been chosen Lord Chancellor in your place.”

“That’s somewhat quick,” Cardinal Wolsey said, “but he’s a learned man. May he continue long in his highness’ favor, and do justice for truth’s sake and his conscience; may his bones, when he has run his course of life and sleeps in blessings, have a tomb with orphans’ tears wept on them!”

The Lord Chancellor was the official guardian of orphans. If he did his job well, orphans would mourn his death.

“What other news?” Cardinal Wolsey asked.

“Cranmer has returned with welcome, and he has been installed Lord Archbishop of Canterbury.”

“That’s news indeed.”

Cromwell said, “The last piece of news is that the Lady Anne, whom the King has secretly been long married to, this day was viewed in open as his Queen, going to chapel. People now talk only about her coronation.”

“There was the weight that pulled me down,” Cardinal Wolsey said. “Oh, Cromwell, the King has gotten the better of me. I have lost forever all my glories because of that one woman. No Sun shall ever usher forth my honors, or gild again the noble troops who waited on me and wanted me to smile.

“Go, get away from me, Cromwell. I am a poor fallen man, unworthy now to be your lord and master. Seek the King — that Sun, I pray, may never set! I have told him who you are and how true and loyal you are. He will promote you. Some little memory of me will stir him — I know his noble nature — and he will not let your promising service perish, too, as he has mine. Good Cromwell, do not neglect the King. Take this opportunity now, and provide for your own future safety.”

“Oh, my lord, must I, then, leave you?” Cromwell said. “Must I necessarily forego so good, so noble, and so true and loyal a master? Bear witness, all of you who don’t have hearts of iron, with what sorrow Cromwell leaves his lord. The King shall have my service, but my prayers forever and forever shall be yours.”

“Cromwell, I did not think I would shed a tear in all my miseries, but you have forced me, because of your honest truth and loyalty, to play the woman and cry. Let’s dry our eyes, and thus far hear me, Cromwell, and, when I am forgotten, as I shall be, and sleep in dull cold marble, where no mention of me more must be heard, say that I taught you — say that Wolsey, who once trod the ways of glory, and sounded all the depths and shoals of honor, found for you a path, out of his wreck, to rise in, a sure and safe path, although your master missed it.

“Note carefully my fall and what ruined me. Cromwell, I charge you to fling away ambition. Because of the sin of ambition, the angels fell; how can Man, then, the image of his Maker, hope to profit by it?

“Love yourself last. Cherish the hearts of those who hate you. Corruption does not profit more than honesty. Always in your right hand carry gentle peace that will silence envious tongues. Be just, and fear not. Let all the ends you aim at be your country’s, your God’s, and truth’s; then if you fall, Cromwell, you fall as a blessed martyr!

“Serve the King, and — please, lead me in. There take an inventory of all I have, to the last penny. It is the King’s now. My Cardinal’s robe and my integrity to Heaven are all I dare now to call my own.

“Oh, Cromwell, Cromwell! Had I but served my God with half the zeal I served my King, He would not in my old age have left me naked and defenseless to my enemies.”

“Good sir, have patience,” Cromwell said.

“So I have,” Cardinal Wolsey said. “Farewell to the hopes of court! My hopes in Heaven do dwell.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved



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