The Faces of Death
Weep not, my wanton, smile upon my knee;
When thou art old, there's grief enough for thee!
Robert Greene, Menaphon ( 1589)
THAT "SERENE AND INVINCIBLE PRINCE" Henry VIII lay dying; pomp and pride had been laid aside for the naked end of life where "worms shall lie under thee, and worms shall be thy covering." 1 As a demigod he lived but as a man he died. Everywhere the vulgar indecencies of death were evident: the heavy scent of rose oil and ambergris to cloak the stench of sickness, the window tapestries to keep out the night dampness, and the chamber fire to purge the "pestilential airs" and "evil vapours." 2 Doctors Owen, Wendye and Huycke, with their urine flasks, cathartic prescriptions and astrological charts, were patiently waiting for what they knew must come before another dawn.* Patrec, the King's own flute player, ministered the only kind of relief possible: soft music, "the medicine of the soul." Everywhere, were subdued voices, whispered conversations, which had once stirred the King to frenzy but now could no longer touch him. Physician, councilor, musician, friend, each according to his nature, made plans____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Henry VIII: The Mask of Royalty. Contributors: Lacey Baldwin Smith - Author. Publisher: Houghton Mifflin. Place of publication: Boston. Publication year: 1971. Page number: 1.