« AnteriorContinua »
NOR FOLK, godmother, bearing the child richly habited in
Gart. Heaven, from thy endless goodness, send prof. perous life, long, and ever happy, to the high and mighty princess of England, Elizabeth!
Flourish. Enter King, and Train.
King. Thank you, good lord archbishop:
King. Stand up, lord. [The King kisses the child.
King. My noble goslips, ye have been too prodigal:
Cran. Let me speak, fir,
3 Heaven, from eby endless goodness, &c.] These words are not the invention of the poet, having been pronounced at the christening of Elizabeth. See Hall's Cbronicle, Henry VIII. fol. 218. MALONE.
Than this pure foul shall be: all princely graces,
4 every man shall eat in safety,] This part of the prophecy seems to have been burlesqued by B. and Fletcher in the Beggar's Bufs, where orator Higgin is making his congratulatory speech to the new king of the beggars :
* Each man shall eat his own stolen eggs, and butter,
" In his own shade, or funshine, " &c. The original thought, however, is borrowed from the fourth chapter of the first book of Kings: “Every man dwelt safely under his vine."
STEEVENS. 5 - tbe per fest ways of bonour, ] The old copy reads way. The Night emendation now made is fully justified by the subsequent line, and by the scriptural expression which our author probably had in his thoughts. “ Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” MALONE.
6. Nor shall ibis peace sleep wirb ber:] These lines, to the interruption by the king, seem to have been inserted at some sevival of the play, after the accellion of king James. If the passage, included in crotchets, be left out, the speech of Cranmer proceeds in a regular tenour of prediction and continuity of sentiments; but, by the interposition of the new lines, he first celebrates Elizabeth's succefior, and then wishes he did not know that she was to die; first rejoices at the consequence, and then laments the cause. Our authour was at once politick and idle; he resolved to flatter James, but neglected to reduce the whole speech to propriety, or perhaps intended that the lines in. serted should be spoken in the action, and omitted in the publication, if any publication ever was in his thoughts. Mr. Theobald has made the same observation. JOHNSON. I agree entirely with Dr. Johnson with respect to the time when
The bird of wonder dies, the maiden phænix,
King. Thou speakest wonders.)
Cran. She thall be, to the happiness of England, An aged princess 8; many days shall see her,
And these additional lines were inserted. See An Attempt to ascertain tbe order of Shakspeare's plays, Vol. I. I suspect they were added in 1613, after Shakspeare had quitted the stage, by that hand which tampered with the other parts of the play so much, as to have rendered the versification of it of a different colour from all the other plays of Shakspeare,
MALONE. 7 His bonour and the greatness of bis name
Sball be, and make new nations : ] On a pi&ture of this contemptible king, which formerly belonged to the great Bacon, and is now in the poffeffion of Lord Grimston, he is styled imperii Allantici conditor. The year before the revival of this play (1612,) there was a lottery for the plantation of Virginia. These lines probably allude to the fettlement of that colony. MALONE, 8 Sbe jhall be, so sbe bappiness of England,
An aged princess,] The transition here from the complimentary address to king James the first is so abrupt, that it seems obvious to me, that compliment was inserted after the accellion of that prince. If this play was wrote, as in my opinion it was, in the reign of queen Elizabeth, we may easily determine where Cranmer's eulogium of that princess concluded. I make no question but the poet rested here:
And claim by ibole obeir greatness, nor by blood. All that the bishop Tays after this, was an occational homage paid to her fuccefior, and evidently inserted after her demise. How naturally, without this insertion, does the king's joy and satisfactory reflection wpon the bishop's prophecy, come in !
And yet no day without a deed to crown it.
King, O lord archbishop,
This bappy child, did I get any ibing, &c. Whether the king would lo properly have made this inference, upon hearing that a child of so great hopes should die without iflue, is submitted to judgment. THEOBALD.
9 And your good bretb’ren,] The old copy hasAnd you, &c. The correction was made by Dr. Thirlby. So, in K. Henry v.
“ The mayor and all his breth'ren in best fort." MALONE. - The play of Henry sbe Eigbeb is one of those, which till keeps por feffion of the itage, by the iplendour of its pageantry. The corona. tion, 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 Katharine have fure nited some scenes, which may be justly numbered among the greatest efforts of tragedy. But the genius of Shakspeare comes in and goes out with Katharine. Every other part may be easily conceived and easily written. JOHNSON.
'Tis ten to one, this play can never please
2 sueb a one we fpew'd them :) In the character of Katharine. Johns.
3 'If tbey smile, &c.] This thought is too much hackney'd. It had been used already in the Epilogues to As You Like It, and the second part of King Henry IV. STEEVENS.
Though it is very difficult to decide whether short pieces be genuine or fpurious, yet I cannot restrain myself from expressing my suspicion thai neither the prologue nor epilogue to this play is the work of Shak. fpeare; non vultus, non color. It appears to me very likely that they were supplied by the friendship or officiousness of Jonson, whose mana ner they will be perhaps found exactly to resemble. There is yet another supposition poflible: the prologue and epilogue may have been written after Shakspeare's departure from the stage, upon some acci. dental revival of the play, and there will then be reason for imagining that the writer, whoever he was, intended no great kindness to him, this play being recommended by a subtle and covert censure of his other works.' There is in Shakspeare so much of fool and fight;
In a long motley coat, guarded with yellow, appears so often in his drama, that I think it not very likely that he would have animadvcrted so feverely on himself. All this, however, must be received as very dubious, since we know not the exact date of this or the other plays, and cannot tell how our authour might have changed his practice or opinions. JOHNSON.
Dr. Johnson's conjecture, thus cautiously stated, has been fince strongly confirmed by Mr. Tyrwhitt's note, p. 4, by which it appears that this play was revived in 1613, at which time without doubt the pro