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Act I, Scene 1

ACT I.

SCENE 1. London. An ante-chamber in the palace.

[Enter the Duke of Norfolk at one door; at the other,
the Duke of Buckingham and the Lord Abergavenny.]

BUCKINGHAM.
Good morrow, and well met. How have ye done
Since last we saw in France?
NORFOLK. I thank your Grace,
Healthful; and ever since a fresh admirer
Of what I saw there.

BUCKINGHAM
An untimely ague
Stay'd me a prisoner in my chamber when
Those suns of glory, those two lights of men,
Met in the vale of Andren.

NORFOLK.
'Twixt Guynes and Arde.
I was then present, saw them salute on horseback;
Beheld them, when they lighted, how they clung
In their embracement, as they grew together;
Which had they, what four thron'd ones could have weigh'd
Such a compounded one?

BUCKINGHAM
All the whole time
I was my chamber's prisoner.

NORFOLK.
Then you lost
The view of earthly glory. Men might say,
Till this time pomp was single, but now married
To one above itself. Each following day
Became the next day's master, till the last
Made former wonders its. To-day the French,
All clinquant, all in gold, like heathen gods,
Shone down the English; and, to-morrow, they
Made Britain India: every man that stood
Show'd like a mine. Their dwarfish pages were
As cherubins, all gilt; the madams too,
Not us'd to toil, did almost sweat to bear
The pride upon them, that their very labour
Was to them as a painting. Now this masque
Was cried incomparable; and the ensuing night
Made it a fool and beggar. The two kings,
Equal in lustre, were now best, now worst,
As presence did present them; him in eye,
Still him in praise; and, being present both,
'Twas said they saw but one; and no discerner
Durst wag his tongue in censure. When these suns--
For so they phrase 'em--by their heralds challeng'd
The noble spirits to arms, they did perform
Beyond thought's compass, that former fabulous story,
Being now seen possible enough, got credit,
That Bevis was believ'd.

BUCKINGHAM
O, you go far!

NORFOLK.
As I belong to worship and affect
In honour honesty, the tract of ev'rything
Would by a good discourser lose some life,
Which action's self was tongue to. All was royal;
To the disposing of it nought rebell'd,
Order gave each thing view; the office did
Distinctly his full function.

BUCKINGHAM
Who did guide,
I mean, who set the body and the limbs
Of this great sport together, as you guess?

NORFOLK.
One, certes, that promises no element
In such a business.

BUCKINGHAM
I pray you, who, my lord?

NORFOLK.
All this was ord'red by the good discretion
Of the right reverend Cardinal of York.

BUCKINGHAM
The devil speed him! no man's pie is freed
From his ambitious finger. What had he
To do in these fierce vanities? I wonder
That such a keech can with his very bulk
Take up the rays o' th' beneficial sun,
And keep it from the earth.

NORFOLK.
Surely, sir,
There's in him stuff that puts him to these ends;
For, being not propp'd by ancestry, whose grace
Chalks successors their way, nor call'd upon
For high feats done to the crown; neither allied
To eminent assistants; but, spider-like,
Out of his self-drawing web, he gives us note,
The force of his own merit makes his way;
A gift that heaven gives for him, which buys
A place next to the King.

ABERGAVENNY.
I cannot tell
What heaven hath given him,--let some graver eye
Pierce into that; but I can see his pride
Peep through each part of him. Whence has he that?
If not from hell, the devil is a niggard,
Or has given all before, and he begins
A new hell in himself.

BUCKINGHAM.
Why the devil,
Upon this French going out, took he upon him,
Without the privity o' the King, to appoint
Who should attend on him? He makes up the file
Of all the gentry; for the most part such
To whom as great a charge as little honour
He meant to lay upon; and his own letter,
The honourable board of council out,
Must fetch him in he papers.

ABERGAVENNY.
I do know
Kinsmen of mine, three at the least, that have
By this so sicken'd their estates, that never
They shall abound as formerly.

BUCKINGHAM.
O, many
Have broke their backs with laying manors on 'em
For this great journey. What did this vanity
But minister communication of

(The entire section is 5,554 words.)