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Home > King Henry VIII > ACT II - SCENE III. An ante-chamber of the QUEEN'S apartments.

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ACT II - SCENE III. An ante-chamber of the QUEEN'S apartments.
Enter ANNE and an Old Lady

ANNE
1    Not for that neither: here's the pang that pinches:
2    His highness having lived 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 acquire,--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 sufferance panging
18   As soul and body's severing.
Old Lady
19   Alas, poor lady!
20   She's a stranger now again.
ANNE
21   So much the more
22   Must pity drop upon 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 glistering 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 burthen,'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'ld 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 Chamberlain

Chamberlain
61   Good morrow, ladies. What were't worth to know
62   The secret of your conference?
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 obedience I should tender;
81   More than my all is nothing: nor my prayers
82   Are not words duly hallow'd, nor my wishes
83   More worth than empty vanities; yet prayers and wishes
84   Are all I can return. Beseech your lordship,
85   Vouchsafe to speak my thanks and my obedience,
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
91   I have perused her well;
92   Beauty and honour in her are so mingled
93   That they have caught the king: and who knows yet
94   But from this lady may proceed a gem
95   To lighten all this isle? I'll to the king,
96   And say I spoke with you.
Exit Chamberlain

ANNE
97   My honour'd lord.
Old Lady
98   Why, this it is; see, see!
99   I have been begging sixteen years in court,
100  Am yet a courtier beggarly, nor could
101  Come pat betwixt too early and too late
102  For any suit of pounds; and you, O fate!
103  A very fresh-fish here--fie, fie, fie upon
104  This compell'd fortune!--have your mouth fill'd up
105  Before you open it.
ANNE
106  This is strange to me.
Old Lady
107  How tastes it? is it bitter? forty pence, no.
108  There was a lady once, 'tis an old story,
109  That would not be a queen, that would she not,
110  For all the mud in Egypt: have you heard it?
ANNE
111  Come, you are pleasant.
Old Lady
112  With your theme, I could
113  O'ermount the lark. The Marchioness of Pembroke!
114  A thousand pounds a year for pure respect!
115  No other obligation! By my life,
116  That promises moe thousands: honour's train
117  Is longer than his foreskirt. By this time
118  I know your back will bear a duchess: say,
119  Are you not stronger than you were?
ANNE
120  Good lady,
121  Make yourself mirth with your particular fancy,
122  And leave me out on't. Would I had no being,
123  If this salute my blood a jot: it faints me,
124  To think what follows.
125  The queen is comfortless, and we forgetful
126  In our long absence: pray, do not deliver
127  What here you've heard to her.
Old Lady
128  What do you think me?
Exeunt

< (Previous) ACT II, SCENE IIACT II, SCENE IV (Next) >
Scene Index
  • PROLOGUE


  • ACT I
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV


  • ACT II
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV


  • ACT III
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II


  • ACT IV
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II


  • ACT V
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV
  • SCENE V
  • EPILOGUE

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