• Enter the Archbishop of CANTERBURY and the Bishop of ELY

    CANTERBURY

    My lord, I’ll tell you that self bill is urged
    Which in th' eleventh year of the last king’s reign
    Was like, and had indeed against us passed
    But that the scambling and unquiet time
    5Did push it out of farther question.

    ELY

    But how, my lord, shall we resist it now?

    CANTERBURY

    It must be thought on. If it pass against us,
    We lose the better half of our possession,
    For all the temporal lands which men devout
    10By testament have given to the Church
    Would they strip from us, being valued thus:
    “As much as would maintain, to the King’s honor,
    Full fifteen earls and fifteen hundred knights,
    Six thousand and two hundred good esquires;
    15And, to relief of lazars and weak age
    Of indigent faint souls past corporal toil,
    A hundred almshouses right well supplied;
    And to the coffers of the King besides,
    A thousand pounds by th' year.” Thus runs the bill.

    ELY

    20This would drink deep.

    CANTERBURY

    'Twould drink the cup and all.

    ELY

    But what prevention?

    CANTERBURY

    The king is full of grace and fair regard.

    ELY

    And a true lover of the holy Church.
  • The Archbishop of CANTERBURY and the Bishop of ELY enter.

    CANTERBURY

    My lord, this bill that’s being proposed is the same one that was proposed in the eleventh year of old King Henry’s reign. Everyone thought it would pass then, and it probably would have had it not been for the great civil unrest and uncertainty of the time, which required the matter to be put off.

    ELY

    But how will we keep it from being passed now, my lord?

    CANTERBURY

    We have to think about that. If it does pass, the Church will lose more than half of what it possesses, because the bill would strip us of enough real estate left to the church by wealthy, pious men in their wills to support fifteen earls and fifteen hundred knights, six thousand two hundred squires, and a hundred well-supplied almshouses for the relief of lepers, old-age pensioners, the poor, and those too weak or sick to work. Add to that a yearly sum of a thousand pounds to go directly into the king’s coffers. That’s what the bill says.

    ELY

    That would be quite a drain.

    CANTERBURY

    It would drain us dry.

    ELY

    But what can be done to prevent it?

    CANTERBURY

    The king is virtuous and kind.

    ELY

    And a true lover of the holy Church.