Imatges de pÓgina


HE play of Henry the Eighth is one of those, which ftill keeps poffeffion of the ftage, by the splendour of its pageantry. The coronation about forty years ago drew the people together in multitudes for a great part of the winter. Yet pomp is not the only merit of this play. The meek forrows and virtuous distress of Catherine have furnished fomé fcenes, which may be juftly numbered among the greatest efforts of tragedy. But the genius of Shakespeare comes in and goes out with Catherine. Every other part may be easily conceived and easily written.

The hiftorical dramas are now concluded, of which the two parts of Henry the Fourth, and Henry the Fifth, are among the happiest of our author's compofitions; and King John, Richard the Third, and Henry the Eighth, defervedly ftand in the fecond class. Thofe whofe curiofity would refer the historical scenes to their original, may confult Hollinfhed, and fometimes Hall from Hollinfhed Shakespeare has often inserted whole fpeeches with no other alteration than was necessary to the numbers of his verfe. To tranfcribe them into the margin was unneceffary, because the original is eafily examined, and they are feldom lefs perfpicuous in the poet than in the historian.

To play hiftories, or to exhibit a fucceffion of events by action and dialogue, was a common entertainment among our rude ancestors upon great feftivities. The parish clerks once performed at Clerkenwell a play which lafted three days, containing, The Hiftory of the World.



COME no more to make you laugh; things now,
That bear a weighty and a serious brow,
Sad, high, and working, full of state and woe;
Such noble scenes, as draw the eye to flow,
We shall present. Those, that can pity, here
·May, if they think it well, let fall a tear;
The fubject will deferve it. Such as give
Their money out of hope they may believe,
May here find truth too. Those that come to fee
Only a fhow or two, and fo agree,
The play may pass, if they be ftill, and willing,
I'll undertake, may see away their shilling
Richly in two short hours. Only they,
That come to hear a merry, bawdy play;
A noife of targets; or to fee a fellow
In a long motley coat, guarded with yellow,(1)
Will be deceiv'd: for gentle hearers, know,
To rank our chofen truth with fuch a fhow
As fool and fight is,(2) befides forfeiting
Our own brains, and the opinion that we bring
To make that only true we now intend,
Will leave us ne'er an understanding friend.
Therefore, for goodness' fake, as you are known
The firft and happiest hearers of the town,
Be fad, as we would make ye. Think ye
The very perfons of our noble story,
As they were living; think, you see them great,
And follow'd with the gen'ral throng, and sweat
Of thousand friends; Then, in a moment, fee
How foon this mightiness meets mifery !
And, if you can be merry then, I'll fay,
A man may weep upon. his wedding day.


(1) Alluding to the Fools and Buffoons, introduced for the generality in the plays a little before our author's time: and of whom he has left us a fmall tafte in his own. THEO.

(2) This is not the only paffage in which Shakespeare has difcovered his conviction of the impropriety of battles represented on the ftage. He knew that five or fix men with fwords, gave a very unfatisfactory idea of an army, and therefore, without much care to excufe his former practice, he allows that a theatrical fight would deftroy all opinion of truth, and leave him never an understanding friend. "Magnis ingeniis et multa nihilominus habituris fimplex convenit erroris confeffio." Yet I know not whether the coronation fhewn in this play may not be liable to all that can be objected against a battle. JOHNS.

King HENRY the Eighth.
Cardinal WOLSEY.
CRANMER, Archbishop of Canterbury.
Duke of NORFOLK.
Duke of SUFFOLK.
Earl of SURREY.

Lord Chamberlain.

Cardinal CAMPEIUS, the Pope's Legate.
CAPUCIUS, Ambassador from the Emperor Charles V.
Sir THOMAS AUDLEY, Lord Keeper.
GARDINER, Bishop of Winchester.
Bishop of Lincoln.




CROMWELL, Servant to Wolfey.

GRIFFITH, Gentleman-Ufher to Queen Catherine.

Three Gentlemen.

Doctor BUTTS, Physician to the King.

GARTER, King at Arms.

Surveyor to the Duke of Buckingham.
BRANDON. Serjeant at Arms.
Door-Keeper of the Council-Chamber.
Porter, and his Man.



An old Lady, Friend to Anne Bullen.
PATIENCE, Woman to Queen Catherine.

Several Lords and Ladies in the dumb Shorus. Women attending upon the Queen; Spirits, which appear to her. Scribes, Officers, Guards, and other Attendants.

The SCENE lies mostly in London and Westminster; once, at Kimbolton.

Sir William Sands was created lord Sands about this time, but is here introduced among the perfons of the drama as a diftinct character. Sir William has not a fingle fpeech affigned to him; and to make the blunder the greater, is brought on after lord Sands has already made his appearance.

There is no enumeration of the perfons in the old edition.




London. An Antichamber in the Palace. Enter the Duke of NORFOLK, at one Door; at the other, the Duke of BUCKINGHAM, and the Lord ABERGAVENNY.


GOOD morrow, and well met. How have you done

laft we faw in

Nor. I thank your grace;

Healthful; and ever fince a fresh admirer[1]
Of what I faw there.

Buck. An untimely ague

Stay'd me a prifoner in my chamber, when
Thofe fons of glory, thofe two lights of men,
Met in the vale of Arde.

Nor. 'Twixt Guines and Arde:

I was then present, saw them falute on horse-back;
Beheld them, when they lighted, how they clung
In their embracement, as they grew together;
Which had they, what four thron'd ones could have


Such a compounded one?

Buck. All the whole time

I was my chamber's prisoner.
Nor. Then you loft

The view of earthly glory: Men might fay,
Till this time, pomp was fingle; but now marry'd
To one above itself. Each following day
Became the next day's mafter, till the last
Made former wonders it's :[2] To-day, the French,
All clinquant,[3] all in gold, like heathen gods,

[1] An admirer untired; an admirer ftill feeling the impreffion as if it were hourly renewed. JOHNS.

[2] Dies diem docet. Every day learned fomething from the preceding, till the concluding day collected all the fplendor of all the former thews. ib. [3] All clinquant-all glittering, all hining. Clarendon ufes this word. in his description of the Spanish Juego de Toros.


Shone down the English; and, to-morrow, they
Made Britain, India: every man that stood,
Shew'd like a mine. Their dwarfifh pages were
As cherubims, all gilt: the madams too,
Not us'd to toil, did almost sweat to bear
The pride upon them, that their very labour
Was to them as a painting; now this mask
Was cry'd incomparable; and the enfuing night.
Made it a fool, and beggar. The two kings,
Equal in luftre, were now beft, now worft,
As prefence did prefent them; him in eye,
Still him in praife and being prefent both,
'Twas faid, they faw but one; and no difcerner
Durft wag his tongue in cenfure.[4] When these funs:
(For fo they phrafe 'em) by their heralds challeng'd
The noble fpirits to arms, they did perform
Beyond thought's compafs; that former fabulous story,
Being now feen poffible enough, got credit ;.
That Bevis was believ'd.[5]

Buck. Oh, you go far.

Nor. As I belong to worship, and affect In honour honefty, the tract of every thing Would by a good discourser lose some life, Which action's felf was tongue to.[6] All was royal ; To the difpofing of it nought rebell'd; Order gave each thing view; the office did Diftinctly his full function.[7]

Buck. Who did guide,

I mean, who fet the body and the limbs
Of this great fport together, as you guefs?

Nor. One, certęs, that promifes no element[8]
In fuch a bufinefs.

Buck. I pray you, who, my lord ?

Nor. All this was order'd by the good difcretion

[4] Cenfure-for determination, of which had the nobleft appearance. WARB.

[5] The old romantic legend of Bevis of Southampton. This Bevis (or Beavois) a Saxon, was for his prowess, created by William the Conqueror earl of Southampton, of whom Camden fpeaks in his Britannia.


[6] The courfe of thefe triumphs and pleafures, however well related, muft lofe in the defcription part of that spirit and energy which were expreffed in the real action. JOHNS.

[7] The commiflion for regulating this feftivity was well executed, and gave exactly to every particular perfon and action the proper place. ib.

[8] No initiation, no previous practices. Elements are the first princi. ples of things, or rudiments of knowledge. The word is here applied, not without a catachrefis, to a person. ib,

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