“The first Shakespearian recitation that I ever learned was Cardinal Wolsey's address to Cromwell, his secretary. It seemed to me then, and seems to me still, the most pathetic and impressive passage in our literature. Because of the interest I displayed in the passage, my parents took me on pilgrimage and showed me the oak-tree beneath which, after his fall, the great cardinal sat and brooded on his terrible misfortunes....”
F W Boreham, A Witch’s Brewing, 31.
I am unclear about the location of the oak tree where Boreham went on pilgrimage (in the palace? The Globe?) but I think this is the speech that Frank Boreham refers to:
The Famous History of the Life of King Henry VIII, Act III, Scene 2.
In all my miseries; but thou hast forc'd me,
Out of thy honest truth, to play the woman.
Let's dry our eyes; and thus far hear me, Cromwell,
And when I am forgotten, as I shall be,
And sleep in dull cold marble, where no mention
Of me more must be heard of, say I taught thee—
Say Wolsey, that once trod the ways of glory,
And sounded all the depths and shoals of honour,
Found thee a way, out of his wreck, to rise in—
A sure and safe one, though thy master miss'd it.
Mark but my fall and that that ruin'd me.
Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition:
By that sin fell the angels. How can man then,
The image of his Maker, hope to win by it?
Love thyself last; cherish those hearts that hate thee;
Corruption wins not more than honesty.
Still in thy right hand carry gentle peace
To silence envious tongues. Be just, and fear not;
Let all the ends thou aim'st at be thy country's,
Thy God's, and truth's; then, if thou fall'st, O Cromwell,
Thou fall'st a blessed martyr!
Serve the King, and—prithee lead me in.
There take an inventory of all I have
To the last penny; 'tis the King's. My robe,
And my integrity to heaven, is all
I dare now call mine own. O Cromwell, Cromwell!
Had I but serv'd my God with half the zeal
I serv'd my King, he would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies.
Image: Picture of Cardinal Wolsey from a book whose title is drawn from the last line of his speech.