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Sir Thomas More by William Shakespeare [Apocrypha]

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Poets were never thrifty, never shall.

[Enter Lady More mourning, Daughters, Master Roper.]

LIEUTENANT.
Oh, noble More!--
My lord, your wife, your son-in-law, and daughters.

MORE.
Son Roper, welcome;--welcome, wife, and girls.
Why do you weep? because I live at ease?
Did you not see, when I was Chancellor,
I was so clogged with suitors every hour,
I could not sleep, nor dine, nor sup in quiet?
Here's none of this; here I can sit and talk
With my honest keeper half a day together,
Laugh and be merry: why, then, should you weep?

ROPER.
These tears, my lord, for this your long restraint
Hope had dried up, with comfort that we yet,
Although imprisoned, might have had your life.

MORE.
To live in prison, what a life were that!
The king (I thank him) loves me more then so.
Tomorrow I shall be at liberty
To go even whether I can,
After I have dispatched my business.

LADY MORE.
Ah, husband, husband, yet submit yourself!
Have care of your poor wife and children.

MORE.
Wife, so I have; and I do leave you all
To his protection hath the power to keep you
Safer than I can,--
The father of the widow and the orphans.

ROPER.
The world, my lord, hath ever held you wise;
And 't shall be no distaste unto your wisdom,
To yield to the opinion of the state.

MORE.
I have deceived myself, I must acknowledge;
And, as you say, son Roper, to confess the same,
It will be no disparagement at all.

LADY MORE.
His highness shall be certified thereof
Immediately.

[Offering to depart.]

MORE.
Nay, hear me, wife; first let me tell ye how:
I thought to have had a barber for my beard;
Now, I remember, that were labour lost,
The headsman now shall cut off head and all.

ROPER'S WIFE.
Father, his majesty, upon your meek submission,
Will yet (they say) receive you to his grace
In as great credit as you were before.

MORE.
........
Has appointed me to do a little business.
If that were past, my girl, thou then shouldst see
What I would say to him about that matter;
But I shall be so busy until then,
I shall not tend it.

DAUGHTER.
Ah, my dear father!

LADY MORE.
Dear lord and husband!

MORE.
Be comforted, good wife, to live and love my children;
For with thee leave I all my care of them.--
Son Roper, for my sake that have loved thee well,
And for her virtue's sake, cherish my child.--
Girl, be not proud, but of thy husband's love;
Ever retain thy virtuous modesty;
That modesty is such a comely garment
As it is never out of fashion, sits as fair
upon the meaner woman as the empress;
No stuff that gold can buy is half so rich,
Nor ornament that so becomes a woman.
Live all and love together, and thereby
You give your father a rich obsequy.

BOTH DAUGHTERS.
Your blessing, dear father.

MORE.
I must be gone--God bless you!--
To talk with God, who now doth call.

LADY MORE.
Aye, my dear husband!

MORE.
Sweet wife, good night, good night:
God send us all his everlasting light!

ROPER.
I think, before this hour,
More heavy hearts ne'er parted in the Tower.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE IV. Tower Hill.

[Enter the Sheriffs of London and their Officers at one door, the
Warders with their halbards at another.]

SECOND SHERIFF.
Officers, what time of day ist?

OFFICER.
Almost eight o'clock.

SECOND SHERIFF.
We must make haste then, least we stay too long.

SECOND WARDER.
Good morrow, Master Shrieves of London; Master Lieutenant
Wills ye repair to the limits of the Tower,
There to receive your prisoner.

FIRST SHERIFF.
Go back, and tell his worship we are ready.

SECOND SHERIFF.
Go bid the officers make clear the way,
There may be passage for the prisoner.

[Enter Lieutenant and his Guard, with More.]

MORE.
Yet, God be thanked, here's a fair day toward,
To take our journey in. Master Lieutenant,
It were fair walking on the Tower leads.

LIEUTENANT.
And so it might have liked my sovereign lord,
I would to God you might have walked there still!

[He weeps.]

MORE.
Sir, we are walking to a better place.
Oh, sir, your kind and loving tears
Are like sweet odors to embalm your friend!
Thank your good lady; since I was your guest,
She has made me a very wanton, in good sooth.

LIEUTENANT.
Oh, I had hoped we should not yet have parted!

MORE.
But I must leave ye for a little while;
Within an hour or two you may look for me;
But there will be so many come to see me,
That I shall be so proud, I will not speak;
And, sure, my memory is grown so ill,
I fear I shall forget my head behind me.

LIEUTENANT.
God and his blessed angels be about ye!--
Here, Master Shrieves, receive your prisoner.

MORE.
Good morrow, Master Shrieves of London, to ye both:
I thank ye that ye will vouchsafe to meet me;
I see by this you have not quite forgot
That I was in times past, as you are now,
A sheriff of London.

SECOND SHERIFF.
Sir, then you know our duty doth require it.

MORE.
I know it well, sir, else I would have been glad
You might have saved a labour at this time.
Ah, Master Sheriff, you and I have been of old acquaintance! you
were a patient auditor of mine, when I read the divinity lecture at
St. Lawrence's.

SECOND SHERIFF.
Sir Thomas More, I have heard you oft,
As many other did, to our great comfort.

MORE.
Pray God, you may so now, with all my heart!
And, as I call to mind,
When I studied the law in Lincoln's Inn,
I was of council with ye in a cause.

SECOND SHERIFF.
I was about to say so, good Sir Thomas......

MORE.
Oh, is this the place?
I promise ye, it is a goodly scaffold:
In sooth, I am come about a headless errand,
For I have not much to say, now I am here.
Well, let's ascend, a God's name:
In troth, methinks, your stair is somewhat weak;
I prithee, honest friend, lend me thy hand
To help me up; as for my coming down,
Let me alone, I'll look to that myself.

[As he is going up the stairs, enters the Earls of Surrey and
Shrewsbury.]

My Lords of Surrey and Shrewsbury, give me your hands. Yet
before we....ye see, though it pleaseth the king to raise me thus
high, yet I am not proud, for the higher I mount, the better I can see
my friends about me. I am now on a far voyage, and this strange
wooden horse must bear me thither; yet I perceive by your looks
you like my bargain so ill, that there's not one of ye all dare enter
with me. Truly, here's a most sweet gallery; [Walking.] I like the
air of it better than my garden at Chelsea. By your patience, good
people, that have pressed thus into my bedchamber, if you'll not
trouble me, I'll take a sound sleep here.

SHREWSBURY.
My lord, twere good you'ld publish to the world
Your great offence unto his majesty.

MORE.
My lord, I'll bequeath this legacy to the hangman, [Gives him his
gown.] and do it instantly. I confess, his majesty hath been ever
good to me; and my offence to his highness makes me of a state
pleader a stage player (though I am old, and have a bad voice), to
act this last scene of my tragedy. I'll send him (for my trespass) a
reverend head, somewhat bald; for it is not requisite any head
should stand covered to so high majesty: if that content him not,
because I think my body will then do me small pleasure, let him
but bury it, and take it.

SURREY.
My lord, my lord, hold conference with your soul;
You see, my lord, the time of life is short.

MORE.
I see it, my good lord; I dispatched that business the last night. I
come hither only to be let blood; my doctor here tells me it is good
for the headache.

HANGMAN.
I beseech thee, my lord, forgive me!

MORE.
Forgive thee, honest fellow! why?

HANGMAN.
For your death, my lord.

MORE.
O, my death? I had rather it were in thy power to forgive me, for
thou hast the sharpest action against me; the law, my honest friend,
lies in thy hands now: here's thy fee [His purse.]; and, my good
fellow, let my suit be dispatched presently; for tis all one pain, to
die a lingering death, and to live in the continual mill of a lawsuit.
But I can tell thee, my neck is so short, that, if thou shouldst
behead an hundred noblemen like myself, thou wouldst ne'er get
credit by it; therefore (look ye, sir), do it handsomely, or, of my
word, thou shalt never deal with me hereafter.

HANGMAN.
I'll take an order for that, my lord.

MORE.
One thing more; take heed thou cutst not off my beard: oh, I
forgot; execution passed upon that last night, and the body of it lies
buried in the Tower.--Stay; ist not possible to make a scape from
all this strong guard? it is.
There is a thing within me, that will raise
And elevate my better part bove sight
Of these same weaker eyes; and, Master Shrieves,
For all this troop of steel that tends my death,
I shall break from you, and fly up to heaven.
Let's seek the means for this.

HANGMAN.
My lord, I pray ye, put off your doublet.

MORE.
Speak not so coldly to me; I am hoarse already;
I would be loathe, good fellow, to take more.
Point me the block; I ne'er was here before.

HANGMAN.
To the east side, my lord.

MORE.
Then to the east
We go to sigh; that o'er, to sleep in rest.
Here More forsakes all mirth; good reason why;
The fool of flesh must with her frail life die.
No eye salute my trunk with a sad tear:
Our birth to heaven should be thus, void of fear.

[Exit with Hangman, etc.]

SURREY.
A very learned worthy gentleman
Seals error with his blood. Come, we'll to court.
Let's sadly hence to perfect unknown fates,
Whilst he tends prograce to the state of states.

FINIS

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