King Henry The Eighth "Give Him A Little Earth For Charity"

William Shakespeare

"Give Him A Little Earth For Charity"

Context: Cardinal Wolsey, the son of a butcher, has risen in the Church and claims the ear of King Henry VIII. In his duties as Lord Chancellor he has sent far away from Henry all those who oppose his ideas and of whom he is jealous or afraid. He has made himself enormously wealthy, and he even desires to rise to Pope. He sends Buckingham to his death and also rouses Henry against Queen Katharine. She, however, sees through his designs. Henry begins to be conscience-stricken about his marriage to Katharine, his brother's widow. He has met Anne Bullen at a party given by Wolsey and desires to marry her. Wolsey has other plans, but Henry desires Anne and marries her in spite of Wolsey. Through an error, Henry finds papers tallying Wolsey's vast wealth and revealing his desires in the Church. He denounces the cardinal, who, seeing his imminent downfall, only wishes he had been a true churchman. Northumberland arrests him; he goes to the abbey at Leicester, and there, after his overthrow, finds himself, and, as a penitent, dies, forgiven by Katharine. . . .

Dids't thou not tell me Griffith, as thou led'st me,
That the great child of honor, Cardinal Wolsey,
Was dead?
. . .
He fell sick suddenly, and grew so ill
He could not sit his mule.
. . .
At last, with easy roads, he came to Leicester,
Lodged in the abbey; where the reverend abbot
With all his covent honourably received him;
To whom he gave these words, o, Father Abbot,
An old man, broken with the storms of state
Is come to lay his weary bones among ye;
Give him a little earth for charity.