Henry VIII "Had I But Served My God, With Half The Zeal I Served My King"
by William Shakespeare

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"Had I But Served My God, With Half The Zeal I Served My King"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

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Context: Ambitious and wealthy Cardinal Wolsey, long a favorite and influential adviser of King Henry the Eighth, has lost the king's favor because of two errors: he has withdrawn his assistance to Henry VIII in getting a divorce when it has become obvious that the king intends to marry Anne Bullen, only a lady-inwaiting, instead of making a politically judicious alliance with France, and he has inadvertantly allowed a statement of his personal wealth to reach the attention of the king. Wolsey, stripped of his power and his wealth by his liege, talks to Cromwell, his only remaining friend:

WOLSEY. . .There take an inventory of all I have,To the last penny, 'tis the King's. My robe,And my integrity to heaven, is allI dare now call mine own. O Cromwell, Cromwell,Had I but served my God, with half the zealI served my King, he would not in mine ageHave left me naked to mine enemies.CROMWELLGood sir, have patience.WOLSEYSo I have. FarewellThe hopes of Court, my hopes in heaven do dwell.