Classics > Poetry > Shakespeare's Plays > The Famous History of the Life of Henry the Eighth > Act I
Hautboys. A small table under a state for Cardinal Wolsey, a longer table for the guests. Then enter Anne and divers other Ladies and Gentlemen as guests, at one door; at another door, enter Guildford
Ladies, a general welcome from his grace Salutes ye all; this night he dedicates To fair content and you: none here, he hopes, In all this noble bevy, has brought with her One care abroad; he would have all as merry As, first, good company, good wine, good welcome, Can make good people. O, my lord, you're tardy:
Enter Chamberlain, Sands, and Lovell
The very thought of this fair company Clapp'd wings to me.
Sir Thomas Lovell, had the cardinal But half my lay thoughts in him, some of these Should find a running banquet ere they rested, I think would better please 'em: by my life, They are a sweet society of fair ones.
Sweet ladies, will it please you sit? Sir Harry, Place you that side; I'll take the charge of this: His grace is entering. Nay, you must not freeze; Two women placed together makes cold weather: My Lord Sands, you are one will keep 'em waking; Pray, sit between these ladies.
By my faith, And thank your lordship. By your leave, sweet ladies: If I chance to talk a little wild, forgive me; I had it from my father.
O, very mad, exceeding mad, in love too: But he would bite none; just as I do now, He would kiss you twenty with a breath.
Well said, my lord. So, now you're fairly seated. Gentlemen, The penance lies on you, if these fair ladies Pass away frowning.
Hautboys. Enter Cardinal Wolsey, and takes his state
You're welcome, my fair guests: that noble lady, Or gentleman, that is not freely merry, Is not my friend: this, to confirm my welcome; And to you all, good health.
My Lord Sands, I am beholding to you: cheer your neighbours. Ladies, you are not merry: gentlemen, Whose fault is this?
The red wine first must rise In their fair cheeks, my lord; then we shall have 'em Talk us to silence.
Yes, if I make my play. Here's to your ladyship: and pledge it, madam, For 'tis to such a thing,—
Drum and trumpet, chambers discharged
What warlike voice, And to what end is this? Nay, ladies, fear not; By all the laws of war you're privileged.
A noble troop of strangers; For so they seem: they've left their barge and landed; And hither make, as great ambassadors From foreign princes.
Good lord chamberlain, Go, give 'em welcome; you can speak the French tongue; And, pray, receive 'em nobly, and conduct 'em Into our presence, where this heaven of beauty Shall shine at full upon them. Some attend him.
Exit Chamberlain, attended. All rise, and tables removed
You have now a broken banquet; but we'll mend it. A good digestion to you all: and once more I shower a welcome on ye; welcome all.
Hautboys. Enter King Henry VIII and others, as masquers, habited like shepherds, ushered by the Chamberlain. They pass directly before Cardinal Wolsey, and gracefully salute him
A noble company! what are their pleasures?
Because they speak no English, thus they pray'd To tell your grace, that, having heard by fame Of this so noble and so fair assembly This night to meet here, they could do no less Out of the great respect they bear to beauty, But leave their flocks; and, under your fair conduct, Crave leave to view these ladies and entreat An hour of revels with 'em.
Say, lord chamberlain, They have done my poor house grace; for which I pay 'em A thousand thanks, and pray 'em take their pleasures.
They choose Ladies for the dance. King Henry VIII chooses Anne
Pray, tell 'em thus much from me: There should be one amongst 'em, by his person, More worthy this place than myself; to whom, If I but knew him, with my love and duty I would surrender it.
Whispers the Masquers
Such a one, they all confess, There is indeed; which they would have your grace Find out, and he will take it.
Let me see, then. By all your good leaves, gentlemen; here I'll make My royal choice.
Ye have found him, cardinal:
You hold a fair assembly; you do well, lord: You are a churchman, or, I'll tell you, cardinal, I should judge now unhappily.
An't please your grace, Sir Thomas Bullen's daughter— The Viscount Rochford,—one of her highness' women.
By heaven, she is a dainty one. Sweetheart, I were unmannerly, to take you out, And not to kiss you. A health, gentlemen! Let it go round.
Lead in your ladies, every one: sweet partner, I must not yet forsake you: let's be merry: Good my lord cardinal, I have half a dozen healths To drink to these fair ladies, and a measure To lead 'em once again; and then let's dream Who's best in favour. Let the music knock it.
Exeunt with trumpets