Act V. Scene V. A Room In The Tower.

[Enter Cromwell in the Tower.]

CROMWELL.
Now, Cromwell, hast thou time to meditate,
And think upon thy state, and of the time.
Thy honours came unsought, aye, and unlooked for;
Thy fall as sudden, and unlooked for too.
What glory was in England that I had not?
Who in this land commanded more than Cromwell?
Except the King who greater than my self?
But now I see, what after ages shall:
The greater men, more sudden is their fall.
And now do I remember the Earl of Bedford
Was very desirous for to speak to me,
And afterward sent to me a letter,
The which I think I have still in my pocket.
Now may I read it, for I now have leisure,
And this I take it is. [He reads the Letter.]
My Lord, come not this night to Lambeth,
For if you do, your state is overthrown.
And much I doubt your life, and if you come;
Then if you love your self, stay where you are,
O God! had I but read this letter,
Then had I been free from the Lion's paw;
Deferring this to read until to morrow,
I spurned at joy, and did embrace my sorrow.

[Enter the Lieutenant of the Tower and officers.]

Now, master Lieutenant, when's this day of death?

LIEUTENANT.
Alas, my Lord, would I might never see it.
Here are the Dukes of Suffolk and of Norfolk,
Winchester, Bedford, and sir Richard Ratcliffe,
With others, but why they come I know not.

CROMWELL.
No matter wherefore, Cromwell is prepared;
For Gardiner has my state and life ensnared.
Bid them come in, or you shall do them wrong,
For here stands he, whom some thinks lives too long.
Learning kills learning, and instead of Ink
To dip his Pen, Cromwell's heart blood doth drink.

[Enter all the Nobles.]

NORFOLK.
Good morrow, Cromwell. What, alone, so sad?

CROMWELL.
One good among you, none of you are bad.--
For my part, it best fits me be alone;
Sadness with me, not I with any one.
What, is the king acquainted with my cause?

NORFOLK.
We have, and he hath answered us, my Lord.

CROMWELL.
How, shall I come to speak with him my self?

GARDINER.
The King is so advertised of your guilt,
he will by no means admit you to his presence.

CROMWELL.
No way admit me? am I so soon forgot?
Did he but yesterday embrace my neck,
And said that Cromwell was even half himself,
And is his Princely ears so much bewitched
With scandalous ignomy, and slanderous speeches,
That now he dooth deny to look on me?
Well, my Lord of Winchester, no doubt but you
Are much in favour with his Majesty:
Will you bear a letter from me to his grace?

GARDINER.
Pardon me, I'll bear no traitor's letters.

CROMWELL.
Ha! Will you do this kindness then? Tell him
By word of mouth, what I shall say to you?

GARDINER.
That will I.

CROMWELL.
But, on your honour, will you?

GARDINER.
Aye, on my honor.

CROMWELL.
Bear witness, Lords.--Tell him when he hath known you,
And tried your faith but half so much as mine,
He'll find you to be the falsest hearted man
In England. Pray, tell him this.

BEDFORD.
Be patient, good my Lord, in these extremes.

CROMWELL.
My kind and honorable Lord of Bedford,
I know your honor always loved me well;
But, pardon me, this still shall be my theme;
Gardiner is the cause makes Cromwell so extreme.
Sir Ralph Sadler, pray, a word with you:
You were my man, and all that you possess
Came by my means; to requite all this,
Will you take this letter here of me,
And give it with your own hands to the king?

SADLER.
I kiss your hand, and never will I rest,
Ere to the king this will be delivered.

[Exit Sadler.]

CROMWELL.
Why yet Cromwell hath one friend in store.

GARDINER.
But all the haste he makes shall be but vain.--
Here's a discharge for your prisoner,
To see him executed presently.--
My Lord, you hear the tenor of your life.

CROMWELL.
I do embrace it, welcome my last date,
And of this glistering world I take last leave:
And, noble Lords, I take my leave of you.--
As willingly I go to meet with death,
As Gardiner did pronounce it with his breath:
From treason is my heart as white as snow,
My death only procured by my foe.
I pray, commend me to my Sovereign king,
And tell him in what sort his Cromwell died,
To lose his head before his cause were tried:
But let his Grace, when he shall hear my name,
Say only this: Gardiner procured the same.

[Enter young Cromwell.]

LIEUTENANT.
Here is your son, come to take his leave.

CROMWELL.
To take his leave! Come hither, Harry Cromwell.
Mark, boy, the last words that I speak to thee.
Flatter not Fortune, neither fawn upon her;
Gape not for state, yet lose no spark of honor;
Ambition, like the plague see thou eschew it;
I die for treason, boy, and never knew it.
Yet let thy faith as spotless be as mine,
And Cromwell's virtues in thy face shall shine.
Come, go along and see me leave my breath,
And I'll leave thee upon the flower of death.

SON.
O, father, I shall die to see that wound;
Your blood being spilt will make my heart to sound.

CROMWELL.
How, boy, not look upon the Axe!
How shall I do then to have my head stroke off?
Come on, my child, and see the end of all,
And after say that Gardiner was my fall.

GARDINER.
My Lord, you speak it of an envious heart;
I have done no more than law and equity.

BEDFORD.
O, good my Lord of Winchester, forbear;
It would a better seemed you to been absent,
Than with your words disturb a dying man.

CROMWELL.
Who me, my Lord? no, he disturbs not me.
My mind he stirs not, though his mighty shock
Hath brought mo' peers' heads down to the block.
Farewell, my boy! all Cromwell can bequeath,
My hearty blessing; so I take my leave.

HANGMAN.
I am your death's man; pray, my Lord, forgive me.

CROMWELL.
Even with my soul. Why, man, thou art my Doctor,
And brings me precious Physic for my soul.--
My Lord of Bedford, I desire of you,
Before my death, a corporal embrace.

[Bedford comes to him, Cromwell embraces him.]

Farewell, great Lord; my love I do commend,
My heart to you; my soul to heaven I send.
This is my joy that, ere my body fleet,
Your honoured arms is my true winding sheet.
Farewell, dear Bedford; my peace is made in heaven.
Thus falls great Cromwell a poor ell in length,
To rise to unmeasured height, winged with new strength,
The land of Worms, which dying men discover,
My soul is shrined with heaven's celestial cover.

[Exit Cromwell and the officers, and others.]

BEDFORD.
Well, farewell, Cromwell, the truest friend,
That ever Bedford shall possess again.--
Well, Lords, I fear, when this man is dead,
You'll wish in vain that Cromwell had a head.

[Enter one with Cromwell's head.]

OFFICER.
Here is the head of the deceased Cromwell.

BEDFORD.
Pray thee, go hence, and bear his head away
Unto his body; inter them both in clay.

[Enter Sir Ralph Sadler.]

SADLER.
Ho now, my Lords: what, is Lord Cromwell dead?

BEDFORD.
Lord Cromwell's body now doth want a head.

SADLER.
O God! a little speed had saved his life.
Here is a kind reprieve come from the king,
To bring him straight unto his majesty.

SUFFOLK.
Aye, aye, sir Ralph, reprieves comes now too late.

GARDINER.
My conscience now tells me this deed was ill:
Would Christ that Cromwell were alive again.

NORFOLK.
Come, let us to the king, whom well I know,
Will grieve for Cromwell, that his death was so.

[Exeunt omnes.]
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Volsebnik's picture

The question of Shakespearean authorship is not the only point of interest presented by the doubtful plays. So varied in character are the works which go to form the Shakespearean apocrypha, that they may fairly be said to furnish us with an epitome of the Elizabethan drama during the period of its greatest achievement. Almost every class of play is here represented, and one class—that of domestic tragedy—finds, in Arden of Feversham and in A Yorkshire Tragedy, two of its most illustrious examples. The Senecan tragedy of vengeance is represented by Locrine; the history or chronicle play by Edward III, The First Part of the Contention, The True Tragedie, The Troublesome Raigne of John, King of England, Sir Thomas More and Cromwell, and, less precisely, by The Birth of Merlin and Faire Em. The romantic comedy of the period is illustrated by Mucedorus, The Merry Devill and The Two Noble Kinsmen, while The London Prodigall and The Puritane are types of that realistic bourgeois comedy which, in Stewart days, won a firm hold upon the affections of the play-going community.

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