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And by those claim their greatness, not by blood.
STEÉVENS. By those, in the last line, means by those ways, and proves that we must read ways, instead of way, in the line preceding. Shall read from her, means, shall learn from her. M. Mason,
: [Nor shall this peace sleep with her: &c.] These lines, to the interruption by the King, seem to have been inserted at some revisal of the play, after the accession 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 successor, and then wishes he did not know that she was to die; first rejoices at the consequence, and then laments the cause. Our author 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 inserted should be spoken in the action, and omitted in the publication, if any publication was ever in his thoughts. Mr. Theobald has made the same observation. Johnson.
I agree entirely with Dr. Johnson with respect to the time when these additional lines were inserted. See An Attempt to ascertain the Order of Shakspeare's Plays, Vol. II. 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.
Such indeed were the sentiments of Mr. Roderick, though the examples adduced by him in support of them are, in my judgment, undecisive. See Canons of Criticism, edit. 1763, p. 263. But, were the fact as he has stated it, we know not how far our poet might have intentionally deviated from his usual practice of versification.
If the reviver of this play (or tamperer with it, as he is styled by Mr. Malone,) had so much influence over its numbers as to have entirely changed their texture, he must be supposed to have new woven the substance of the whole piece; a fact almost incredible.
The lines under immediate consideration were very probably furnished by Ben Jonson ; for “ When heaven shall call her from this cloud of dark
The bird of wonder dies, the maiden phønix,
-Our children's children Shall see this, and bless heaven. K. HEN.
Thou speakest wonders.] Cran. She shall be, to the happiness of England, An aged princess ;' many days shall see her,
(meaning the “dim spot" we live in,) is a seeming imitation of the following passage in the 9th Book of Lucan (a poet from whose stores old Ben has often enriched himself):
quanta sub nocte jaceret
Shall be, and make new nations :) On a picture of this contemptible king, which formerly belonged to the great Bacon, and is now in the possession of Lord Grimston, he is styled imperii Atlantici 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 settlement of that colony.
MALONE. * She shall be, to the happiness of England,
An aged princess ;] The transition here from the complimentary address to King James the First is so abrupt, that it
And yet no day without a deed to crown it.
K. Hen. O lord archbishop,
seems obvious to me, that compliment was inserted after the accession 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 by those claim their greatness, not by blood, All that the bishop says after this, was an occasional homage paid to her successor, and evidently inserted after her demise. How naturally, without this insertion, does the king's joy and satisfactory reflection upon the bishop's prophecy, come in!
King. Thou speakest wonders. o lord archbishop,
This happy child, did I get any thing : &c. Whether the king would so properly have made this inference, upon hearing that a child of so great hopes should die without issue, is submitted to judgment. THEOBALD.
* And your good brethren,] Old copy-you. But the aldermen were never called brethren to the king. The top of the nobility are but cousins and counsellors. Dr. Thirlby, therefore, rightly advised :
And your good brethren, i, e. the lord mayor's brethren, which is properly their style.
THEOBALD. So, in King Henry V: “ The mayor and all his brethren in best sort.”
And ye shall find me thankful. Lead the way,
Ye must all see the queen, and she must thank ye, She will be sick else. This day, no man think He has business at his house ; for all shall stay, This little one shall make it holiday.” [Exeunt.
? This little one shall make it holiday.] The old comedy of Grim the Collier of Croydon concludes with a similar idea :
66 And all hell o’er, we'll make it holiday.” Hence, perhaps, the following stroke of infernal jocularity in Dryden's Edipus:
STEEVENS. • The play of Henry the Eighth is one of those which still keeps possession of the stage 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. *
is not the only merit of this play. The meek sorrows and virtuous distress of Katharine have furnished 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.
* Chetwood says that, during one season, it was exhibited 75 times. See his History of the Stage, p. 68. STEEYENS.
'Tis ten to one, this play can never please All that are here: Some come to take their ease, And sleep an act or two; but those, we fear, We have frighted with our trumpets; so, 'tis clear, They'll say, 'tis naught: others, to hear the city Abus'd extremely, and to cry,—that's witty !. Which we have not done neither: that, I fear, All the expected good we are like to hear For this play at this time, is only in The merciful construction of good women ; For such a one we show'd them ;? If they smile, And say, 'twill do, I know, within a while
in The merciful construction of good women;] A verse, with as unmusical a close, may be found in Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, Part III. sect. ii.
“ Řose, the pleasure of fine women.” In Ben Jonson's Alchemist there is also a line in which the word women is accented on the last syllable: “ And then your red man, and your white woman.”
Act II. sc. iii. STEEVENS. -such a one we show'd them;] In the character of Katharine. JOHNSON.
If they smile, &c.] This thought is too much hacknied. has 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 spurious, yet I cannot restrain myself from expressing my suspicion that neither the Prologue nor Epilogue to this play is the work of Shakspeare; non vultus, non color. It appears to me very likely that they were supplied by the friendship or