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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,
(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 CAMPEIUS, the Pope's Legate.
Sir HENRY GUILDFORD.
CROMWELL, Servant to Wolfey.
GRIFFITH, Gentleman-Ufher to Queen Catherine.
Doctor BUTTS, Physician to the King.
GARTER, King at Arms.
Surveyor to the Duke of Buckingham.
An old Lady, Friend to Anne Bullen.
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.
KING HENRY VIII.
ACT I. SCENE I.
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
Buck. An untimely ague
Stay'd me a prifoner in my chamber, when
Nor. 'Twixt Guines and Arde:
I was then present, saw them falute on horse-back;
Such a compounded one?
Buck. All the whole time
I was my chamber's prisoner.
The view of earthly glory: Men might fay,
 An admirer untired; an admirer ftill feeling the impreffion as if it were hourly renewed. JOHNS.
 Dies diem docet. Every day learned fomething from the preceding, till the concluding day collected all the fplendor of all the former thews. ib.  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
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. All was royal ; To the difpofing of it nought rebell'd; Order gave each thing view; the office did Diftinctly his full function.
Buck. Who did guide,
I mean, who fet the body and the limbs
Nor. One, certęs, that promifes no element
Buck. I pray you, who, my lord ?
Nor. All this was order'd by the good difcretion
 Cenfure-for determination, of which had the nobleft appearance. WARB.
 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.
 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.
 The commiflion for regulating this feftivity was well executed, and gave exactly to every particular perfon and action the proper place. ib.
 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,