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SCENE, the Council.
A council-table brought in with chairs and fools, and placed under the ftate. Enter Lord Chancellor, places himself at the upper end of the table on the left band: A feat being left void above him, as for the Arch-biShop of Canterbury. Duke of Suffolk, Duke of Norfolk, Surrey, Lord Chamberlain, and Gardiner, fear themselves in order on each fide. Cromwell at the lower end, as Secretary.
Crom. Please your Honours,
The cause concerns his Grace of Canterbury.
Gard. Has he had knowledge of it?
Nor. Who waits there?
D. Keep. Without, my noble lords?
PEAK to the bufinefs, Mr. Secretary; (18)
Why are we met in Council?
D. Keep. My lord Arch-bishop;
And has done half an hour, to know your pleasures.
Chan. Let him come in.
D. Keep. Your Grace may enter now.
Cranmer approaches the council-table.
Chan. My good lord Arch-bifhop, I'm very forry
(18) Chan. Speak to the Bufinefs,] This Lord Chancellor, tho' a Character, has hitherto had no place in the Dramatis Perfone. In the laft Scene of the fourth A&, we heard, that Sir Thomas More was appointed Lord Chancellor but it is not He, whom the Poet here introduces. Wolfey, by Command, deliver'd up the Seals on the 18th of November 1529; on the 25th of the fame Month, they were deliver'd to Sir Thomas More, who furrender'd them on the 16th of May, 1532. Now the Conclufion of this Scene taking Notice of Queen Elizabeth's Birth, (which brings it down to the Year 1534) Sir Thomas Andlie muft neceffarily be our Poet's Chancellor; who fucceeded Sir Thomas More, and held the Seals many Years,
To fit here at this prefent, and behold
That chair stand empty: but we all are men
In our own natures frail, and capable
Of frailty, few are angels; from which frailty
And want of wisdom, you, that best should teach us,
Have mifdemean'd your felf, and not a little :
Toward the King firft, then his Laws, in filling
The whole realm, by your teaching and your chaplains,
(For fo we are inform'd) with new opinions
Divers and dang'rous, which are herefies;
And, not reform'd, may prove pernicious.
Gard. Which reformation must be sudden too,
My noble lords; for thofe, that tame wild horses,
Pace 'em not in their hands to make 'em gentle;
But ftop their mouths with ftubborn bits, and fpur 'em,
'Till they obey the manage. If we suffer
(Out of our eafinefs and childish pity
To one man's honour) this contagious fickness,
Farewel all phyfick: and what follows then?
Commotions, uproars, with a gen'ral taint
Of the whole ftate: as of late days our neighbours
The upper Germany can dearly witness,
Yet freshly pitied in our memories.
Cran. My good lords, hitherto, in all the progrefs
Both of my life and office, I have labour'd
(And with no little ftudy) that my teaching,
And the ftrong courfe of my Authority,
Might go one way, and fafely; and the end
Was ever to do well: nor is there living
(I fpeak it with a fingle heart, my lords)
A man that more detefts, more ftirs against,
(Both in his private confcience and his place)
Defacers of the publick peace, than I do.
Pray heav'n, the King may never find a heart
With lefs allegiance in it! Men that make
Envy and crooked malice nourishment,
Dare bite the beft. I do beseech your lordships,
That, in this cafe of juftice, my accufers,
Be what they will, may ftand forth face to face,
And freely urge against me.
Suf. Nay, my lord,
That cannot be; you are a counsellor,
And by that virtue no man dare accufe you.
Gard. My lord, because we've business of more mo-
We will be short wi'you. 'Tis his Highness' pleasure,
And our confent, for better tryal of you,
From hence you be committed to the Tower;
Where, being but a private man again,
You fhall know, many dare accufe you boldly,
More than, I fear, you are provided for.
Cran. Ay, my good lord of Winchester, I thank you,
You're always my good friend; if your will pass,
I fhall both find your lordship judge and juror,
You are fo merciful. I fee your end,
'Tis my undoing. Love and meeknefs, lord,
Become a church-man better than ambition:
Win ftraying fouls with modesty again,
Caft none away.
That I fhall clear my felf,
(Lay all the weight ye can upon my patience)
I make as little doubt, as you do confcience
In doing daily wrongs. I could say more,
Rut rev'rence to your Calling makes me modeft...
Gard. My lord, my lord, you are a fectary,
That's the plain truth; your painted glofs discovers,
To men that understand you, words and weakness.
Crom. My lord of Winchester, you are a little,
By your good favour, too fharp; men fo noble,
However faulty, yet fhould find respect
For what they have been: 'tis a cruelty
To load a falling man.
Gard. Good Mr. Secretary,
I cry your honour mercy; you may, worst
Of all this table, fay fo.
Crom. Why, my lord?
Gard. Do not I know you for a favourer
Of this new fect? ye are not found.
Crom. Not found?
Gard. Not found, I fay.
Crom. Would you were half fo honeft!
Mens' prayers then would feek you, not their fears.
Gard. I fhall remember this bold language.
Remember your bold life too.
Cham. This is too much; Forbear for fhame, my lords. Gard. I've done.
Crom. And I.
Cham. Then thus for you, my lord: it ftands agreed, I take it, by all voices, that forthwith
You be convey'd to th' Tower a prisoner;
There to remain, 'till the King's further pleasure
Be known unto us. Are you all agreed, lords?
All. We are.
Cran. Is there no other way of mercy,
But I must needs to th' Tower, my lords?
Gard. What other
Would you expect? you're ftrangely troublesome:
Let fome o'th' Guard be ready there.
Enter the Guard.
Cran. Stay, good my lords,
I have a little yet to say. Look there, lords;
By virtue of that Ring, I take my caufe
Out of the gripes of cruel men, and give it
To a moft noble judge, the King my master:
Cham. This is the King's Ring.
Sur. 'Tis no counterfeit.
Suf. 'Tis his right Ring, by heav'n. I told ye all, When we first put this dang'rous ftone a rowling, Twould fall upon our felves.
Nor. D'you think, my lords,
The King will fuffer but the little finger
Of this man to be vex'd?
Cham. 'Tis now too certain.
How much more is his life in value with him?
'Would I were fairly out on't.
Crom. My mind gave me,
In feeking tales and informations
Againft this man, whofe honefty the devil
And his difciples only envy at,
Ye blew the fire that burns ye; now have at ye.
Enter King, frowning on them; takes his feat.
Gard. Dread Sov'reign, how much are we bound to
In daily thanks, that gave us fuch a Prince;
Not only good and wife, 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,
His royal felf in judgment comes to hear
The cause betwixt her and this great offender.
King. You're ever good at fudden commendations,
Bishop of Winchefter. But know, I come not
To hear fuch flatt'ries now; and in my presence
They are too thin and base to hide offences.
To me you cannot reach: you play the spaniel,
And think with wagging of your tongue to win me:
But whatfoe'er thou tak'ft me for, I'm fare,
Thou haft a cruel nature, and a bloody.
Good man, fit down: now let me fee the proudeft
He, that dares moft, but wag his finger at thee.
By all that's holy, he had better starve,
Than but once think, this place becomes thee not.
Sur. May't please your Grace-
King. No, Sir, it does not please me.
I thought, I had had men of fome understanding
And wisdom, of my Council; but I find none.