Sir Thomas More – Act 4, Scene 2

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Enter the LADY MORE, her two Daughters, and MASTER ROPER, as walking.

 ROPER
Madam, what ails ye for to look so sad?

LADY
Troth, son, I know not what, I am not sick,
And yet I am not well:  I would be merry,
But somewhat lies so heavy on my heart,
I cannot choose but sigh.  You are a scholar:
I pray ye tell me, may one credit dreams?

ROPER
Why ask you that, dear madam?

LADY
Because tonight I had the strangest dream
That e’er my sleep was troubles with.
Methought ‘twas night,
And that the king and queen went on the Thames
In barges to hear music.  My lord and I
Were in a little boat, methought—Lord, lord,
What strange things live in slumbers!—and being near,
We grappled to the barge that bare the king.
But after many pleasing voices spent
In that still moving music-house, methought
The violence of the stream did sever us
Quite from the golden fleet, and hurried us
Unto the bridge, which with unused horror
We entered at full tide; thence some flight shoot
Being carried by the waves, our boat stood still
Just opposite the Tower, and there it turned
And turned about, as when a whirlpool sucks
The circled waters.  Methought that we both cried
Till that we sank, where arm in arm we died.

ROPER
Give no respect, dear madam, to fond dreams:
They are but slight illusions of the blood.

LADY
Tell me not all are so, for often dreams
Are true diviners, either of good or ill.
I cannot be in quiet till I hear
How my lord fares.

ROPER
[Aside.] Nor I.  [Aloud.] Come hither, wife,
I will not fright thy mother, to interpret
The nature of a dream; but trust me, sweet,
This night I have been troubled with thy father
Beyond all thought.

ROPER’S WIFE
Truly, and so have I.
Methought I saw him here in Chelsea church,
Standing upon the rood loft, now defaced,
And whilst he kneeled and prayed before the image,
It fell with him into the upper choir,
Where my poor father lay all stained in blood.

ROPER
Our dreams all meet in one conclusion,
Fatal, I fear.

LADY
What’s that you talk?  I pray ye let me know it.

ROPER’S WIFE
Nothing, good mother.

LADY
This is your fashion still, I must know nothing.
Call Master Catesby, he shall straight to court
And see how my lord does; I shall not rest
Until my heart lean panting on his breast.

Enter SIR THOMAS MORE merrily, Servants attending.

 SECOND DAUGHTER
See where my father comes, joyful and merry.

MORE
As seamen, having passes a troubled storm,
Dance on the pleasant shore, so I.  O, I could speak
Now like a poet.  Now afore God I am passing light.
Wife, give me kind welcome; thou wast wont to blame
My kissing, when my beard was in the stubble,
But I have been trimmed of late.  I have had
A smooth court shaving, in good faith I have.                 [Daughters kneel.
God bless thee, Son Roper, give me your hand.

ROPER
You honour’s welcome home.

MORE
Honour!  Ha, ha!
And how dost, wife?

ROPER
He bears himself most strangely.

LADY
Will your lordship in?

MORE
Lordship?  No, wife, that’s gone,
The ground was slight that we did lean upon.

LADY
Lord, that your honour ne’er will leave these jests!
In faith, it ill becomes ye.

MORE
O, good wife,
Honour and jests are both together fled;
The merriest councillor of England’s dead.

LADY
Who’s that, my lord?

MORE
Still lord?  The lord chancellor, wife.

LADY
That’s you.

MORE
Certain, but I have changed my life.
Am I not leaner than I was before?
The fat is gone, my title’s only More.
Contented with one style, I’ll live at rest;
They that have many name are not still best.
I have resigned mine office; countst me not wise?

LADY
O god!

MORE
Come, breed not female children in your eyes.
The king will have it so.

LADY
What’s the offence?

MORE
Tush, let that pass; we’ll talk of that anon.
The king seems a physician to my fate,
His princely mind would train me back to state.

ROPER
Then be his patient, my most honoured father.

MORE
O son Roper,
Ubi turpis est medicina, sanari piget.
No, wife, be merry, and be merry all,
You smiled at rising, weep not at my fall.
Let’s in, and here joy like to private friends,
Since days of pleasure have repentant ends.
The light of greatness is with triumph borne;
It sets at midday oft, with public scorn.                                       [Exeunt.

 

Proceed to the next scene

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