Act I, Scene 1
London. Antechamber in the King’s Palace.
- Enter the two Bishops, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the
- Bishop of Ely.
Archbishop of Canterbury1 - 5
- My lord, I’ll tell you, that self bill is urg’d
- Which in th’ eleventh year of the last king’s reign
- Was like, and had indeed against us pass’d,
- But that the scambling and unquiet time
- Did push it out of farther question.
Bishop of Ely6
- But how, my lord, shall we resist it now?
Archbishop of Canterbury7 - 19
- It must be thought on. If it pass against us,
- We lose the better half of our possession;
- For all the temporal lands, which men devout
- By testament have given to the Church,
- Would they strip from us; being valu’d thus:
- As much as would maintain, to the King’s honor,
- Full fifteen earls and fifteen hundred knights,
- Six thousand and two hundred good esquires;
- And to relief of lazars, and weak age
- Of indigent faint souls past corporal toil,
- A hundred almshouses right well supplied;
- And to the coffers of the King beside,
- A thousand pounds by th’ year. Thus runs the bill.
Bishop of Ely20
- This would drink deep.
Archbishop of Canterbury21
- ’Twould drink the cup and all.
Bishop of Ely22
- But what prevention?
Archbishop of Canterbury23
- The King is full of grace and fair regard.
Bishop of Ely24
- And a true lover of the holy Church.
Archbishop of Canterbury25 - 38
- The courses of his youth promis’d it not.
- The breath no sooner left his father’s body,
- But that his wildness, mortified in him,
- Seem’d to die too; yea, at that very moment,
- Consideration like an angel came
- And whipt th’ offending Adam out of him,
- Leaving his body as a paradise
- T’ envelop and contain celestial spirits.
- Never was such a sudden scholar made;
- Never came reformation in a flood
- With such a heady currance, scouring faults;
- Nor never Hydra-headed willfulness
- So soon did lose his seat (and all at once)
- As in this king.
Bishop of Ely39
- We are blessed in the change.
Archbishop of Canterbury40 - 61
- Hear him but reason in divinity,
- And all-admiring, with an inward wish
- You would desire the King were made a prelate;
- Hear him debate of commonwealth affairs,
- You would say it hath been all in all his study;
- List his discourse of war, and you shall hear
- A fearful battle rend’red you in music;
- Turn him to any cause of policy,
- The Gordian knot of it he will unloose,
- Familiar as his garter; that, when he speaks,
- The air, a charter’d libertine, is still,
- And the mute wonder lurketh in men’s ears
- To steal his sweet and honeyed sentences;
- So that the art and practic part of life
- Must be the mistress to this theoric;
- Which is a wonder how his Grace should glean it,
- Since his addiction was to courses vain,
- His companies unletter’d, rude, and shallow,
- His hours fill’d up with riots, banquets, sports;
- And never noted in him any study,
- Any retirement, any sequestration
- From open haunts and popularity.
Bishop of Ely62 - 68
- The strawberry grows underneath the nettle,
- And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best
- Neighbor’d by fruit of baser quality;
- And so the Prince obscur’d his contemplation
- Under the veil of wildness, which (no doubt)
- Grew like the summer grass, fastest by night,
- Unseen, yet crescive in his faculty.
Archbishop of Canterbury69 - 71
- It must be so; for miracles are ceas’d;
- And therefore we must needs admit the means
- How things are perfected.
Bishop of Ely72 - 75
- But, my good lord,
- How now for mitigation of this bill
- Urg’d by the commons? Doth his Majesty
- Incline to it, or no?
Archbishop of Canterbury76 - 85
- He seems indifferent;
- Or rather swaying more upon our part
- Than cherishing th’ exhibitors against us;
- For I have made an offer to his Majesty,
- Upon our spiritual convocation
- And in regard of causes now in hand,
- Which I have open’d to his Grace at large,
- As touching France, to give a greater sum
- Than ever at one time the clergy yet
- Did to his predecessors part withal.
Bishop of Ely86
- How did this offer seem receiv’d, my lord?
Archbishop of Canterbury87 - 93
- With good acceptance of his Majesty;
- Save that there was not time enough to hear,
- As I perceiv’d his Grace would fain have done,
- The severals and unhidden passages
- Of his true titles to some certain dukedoms,
- And generally to the crown and seat of France,
- Deriv’d from Edward, his great-grandfather.
Bishop of Ely94
- What was th’ impediment that broke this off?
Archbishop of Canterbury95 - 97
- The French ambassador upon that instant
- Crav’d audience; and the hour, I think, is come
- To give him hearing. Is it four a’ clock?
Bishop of Ely98
- It is.
Archbishop of Canterbury99 - 101
- Then go we in, to know his embassy;
- Which I could with a ready guess declare,
- Before the Frenchman speak a word of it.
Bishop of Ely102
- I’ll wait upon you, and I long to hear it.