"You have sought an interview with me, my lords," he said, with suppressed rage. "What would you?"
"We have brought an instrument to you, my liege," said Wolsey, "which has just been received from his holiness the Pope."
"Declare its nature," said Henry.
"It is a citation," replied Wolsey, "enjoining your high ness to appear by attorney in the papal court, under a penalty of ten thousand ducats."
And he presented a parchment, stamped with the great seal of Rome, to the king, who glanced his eye fiercely over it, and then dashed it to the ground, with an explosion of fury terrible to hear and to witness.
"Ha! by Saint George!" he cried; "am I as nothing, that the Pope dares to insult me thus?"
"It is a mere judicial form your majesty," interposed Campeggio, "and is chiefly sent by his holiness to let you know we have no further jurisdiction in the matter of the divorce."
"I will take care you have not, nor his holiness either," roared the king. "By my father's head, he shall find I will be no longer trifled with."
"But,my liege," cried Campeggio.
"Peace!" cried the king. "I will hear no apologies nor excuses. The insult has been offered, and cannot he effaced. As for you, Wolsey -- "
"Sire!" exclaimed the cardinal, shrinking before the whirlwind of passion, which seemed to menace his utter extermination.
"As for you, I say," pursued Henry, extending his hand towards him, while his eyes flashed fire, "who by your outrageous pride have so long overshadowed our honour -- who by your insatiate avarice and appetite for wealth have oppressed our subjects -- who by your manifold acts of bribery and extortion have impoverished our realm, and by your cruelty and partiality have subverted the due course of justice and turned it to your ends -- the time is come when you shall receive due punishment for your offences."
"You wrong me, my dear liege," cried Wolsey abjectly. "These are the accusations of my enemies. Grant me a patient hearing, and I will explain all."
"I would not sharpen the king's resentment against you, lord cardinal," said Anne Boleyn, "for it is keen enough; but I cannot permit you to say that these charges are merely hostile. Those who would support the king's honour and dignity must desire to see you removed from his counsels."
"Peace!" thundered the king. "Stand not between me and the object of my wrath. Your accusers are not one but many, Wolsey; nay, the whole of my people cry out for justice against you. And they shall have it. But you shall hear the charges they bring. Firstly, contrary to our prerogative, and for your own advancement and profit, you have obtained authority legatine from the Pope; by which authority you have not only spoiled and taken away their substance from many religious houses, but have usurped much of our own jurisdiction. You have also made a treaty with the King of France for the Pope without our consent, and concluded another friendly treaty with the Duke of Ferrara, under our great seal, and in our name, without our warrant. And furthermore you have presumed to couple yourself with our royal self in your letters and instructions, as if you were on an equality with us."
"Ha! ha! 'The king and I would have you do thus!' 'The king and I give you our hearty thanks!' Ran it not so, cardinal?" cried Will Sommers. "You will soon win the cap and bells."
"In exercise of your legatine authority," pursued the king, "you have given away benefices contrary to our crown and dignity, for the which you are in danger of forfeiture of your lands and goods."
"A premunire, cardinal," cried Will Sommers. "A premunire! -- ha! ha!"
"Then it has been your practice to receive all the ambassadors to our court first at your own palace," continued Henry, "to hear their charges and intentions, and to instruct them as you might see fit. You have also so practised that all our letters sent from beyond sea have first come to your own hands, by which you have acquainted yourself with their contents, and compelled us and our council to follow your devices. You have also written to all our ambassadors abroad in your own name concerning our affairs, without our authority; and received letters in return from them by which you have sought to compass your own purposes. By your ambition and pride you have undone many of our poor subjects; have suppressed religious houses, and received their possessions; have seized upon the goods of wealthy spiritual men deceased; constrained all ordinaries yearly to compound with you; have gotten riches for yourself and servants by subversion of the laws, and by abuse of your authority in causing divers pardons of the Pope to be suspended until you, by promise of a yearly pension, chose to revive them; and also by crafty and untrue tales have sought to create dissention among our nobles."
"That we can all avouch for," cried Suffolk. "It was never merry in England while there were cardinals among us."
"Of all men in England your grace should be the last to say so," rejoined Wolsey; "for if I had not been cardinal, you would not have had a head upon your shoulders to utter the taunt."
"No more of this!" cried the king. "You have misdemeaned yourself in our court by keeping up as great state in our absence as if we had been there in person, and presumptuously have dared to join and imprint your badge, the cardinal's hat, under our arms, graven on our coins struck at York. And lastly, whenever in open Parliament allusion hath been made to heresies and erroneous sects, you have failed to correct and notice them, to the danger of the whole body of good and Christian people of this our realm."
"This last charge ought to win me favour in the eyes of one who professes the Opinions of Luther," said Wolsey to Anne. "But I deny it, as I do all the rest."
"I will listen to no defence, Wolsey," replied the king. "I will make you a terrible example to others how they offend us and our laws hereafter."
"Do not condemn me unheard!" cried the cardinal, prostrating himself.
"I have heard too much, and I will hear no more!" cried the king fiercely. "I dismiss you from my presence for ever. If you are innocent, as you aver, justice will be done you.. If you are guilty, as I believe you to be, look not for leniency from me, for I will show you none." And, seating himself, he turned to Anne, and said, in a low tone, " Are you content, sweetheart?"
"I am," she replied. "I shall not now break my vow. False cardinal," she added aloud, "your reign is at an end."
"Your own may not be much longer, madam," rejoined Wolsey bitterly. "The shadow of the axe," he added, pointing to the reflection of a partisan on the floor, "is at your feet. Ere long it may rise to the head."
And, accompanied by Campeggio, he slowly quitted the presence- chamber.