Henry VIII: Top Ten Quotes

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  1. ".no man's pie is freed From his ambitious finger." (Act 1, scene 1, lines 52-3)
    Buckingham expresses his dislike of Wolsey's meddlesome plotting, greed and ambition.
  2. ".All the commons Hate him perniciously, and o' my conscience Wish him ten faddom deep" (Act 2, scene 1, lines 49-51)
    The Second Gentleman remarks on Wolsey's unpopularity with "the commons" - meaning either the common people, or more likely, their representatives in Parliament, the members of the House of Commons.
  3. ".Heaven will one day open The king's eyes, that so long have slept upon This bold bad man." (Act 2, scene 2, lines 41-3)
    The Lord Chamberlain predicts that one day, God will open the King's eyes so that he can see Wolsey for who he is.
  4. "Never so truly happy, my good Cromwell; I know myself now, and I feel within me A peace above all earthly dignities, A still and quiet conscience." (Act 3, scene 2, lines 377-80)
    Wolsey responds to Cromwell's question of how he is after his downfall. He has abandoned ambition and achieved redemption, finding true happiness and peace at last.
  5. ". all my glories In that one woman I have lost for ever. No sun shall ever usher forth mine honors, Or gild again the noble troops that waited Upon my smiles." (Act 3, scene 2, lines 408-12)
    Wolsey recognizes that it is his opposition to the king's marriage to Anne Bullen that has lost him the king's favor and ended his career. The many retainers that Wolsey was famed for keeping will be stripped from him. The "sun" may be a reference to the king.
  6. "Let all the ends thou aim'st at be thy country's, Thy God's and truth's: then if thou fall'st, O Cromwell, Thou fall'st a blessed martyr." (Act 3, scene 2, lines 447-59)
    Wolsey, humbled after his fall, counsels Cromwell to forgo ambition and work only for God, the truth and his country. If he does so and still falls, he will do so with the honor of a martyr.
  7. "Had I but serv'd my God with half the zeal I serv'd my king, he would not in mine age Have left me naked to mine enemies." (Act 3, scene 2, lines 455-7)
    After his fall, Wolsey reflects that as a churchman who gave himself over to worldly matters, he cast himself beyond the grace of God.
  8. "His overthrow heap'd happiness upon him, For then, and not till then, he felt himself, And felt the blessedness of being little;" (Act 4, scene 2, lines 64-6)
    Griffith notes that Wolsey was happiest after his fall. He achieved self-knowledge, and found peace in his new humble station.
  9. "This royal infant (heaven still move about her) Though in her cradle, yet now promises Upon this land a thousand thousand blessings, Which time shall bring to ripeness: she shall be (But few now living can behold that goodness) A pattern to all princes living with her, And all that shall succeed:" (Act 5, scene 4, lines 17-23)
    At Elizabeth's christening, Cranmer predicts that she will bring to England many blessings and be an example of good government to her successors.
  10. "Thou hast made me now a man; never before This happy child did I get anything." (Act 5, scene 4, lines 64-5)
    The king is happy at Cranmer's speech prophesying a great future for Elizabeth. He believes that producing Elizabeth was the best thing he ever did.

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