Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][graphic]

Katharine. Sir, I most humbly pray you to deliver
This to my lord the king.
Capucius.

Most willing, madam.

Act iv. Sc. 2.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

King Henry the Eighth.

PRELIMINARY REMARKS.

It is the opinion of Johnson, Steevens, and Malone, that this play was written a short time before the death of Queen Elizabeth, which happened on the 24th of March, 1602–3. : The elogium on King James, which is blended with the panegyrio of Elizabeth in the last scene, was evidently a subsequent inser-' tion, after the succession of the Scottish monarch to the throne: for Shakspeare was too well acquainted with courts to compliment, in the lifetime of Queen Elizabeth, her presumptive successor; of whom, history informs us, she was not a little jealous. That the prediction concerning King James was added after the death of the queen, is still more clearly evinced, as Dr. Johnson has remarked, by the awkward manner in which it is connected with the foregoing and subsequent lines.

After having lain by some years, unacted, probably on account of the costliness of its exhibition, it was revived in 1613, under the title of · All is True,' with new decorations, and a new Prologue and Epilogue : and this revival took place on the very day, being St. Peter's, on the which the Globe Theatre was burnt down. The fire was occasioned, as it is said, by the discharge of some small pieces of ordnance called chambers in the

scene where King Henry is represented as arriving at Cardinal Wolsey's gate at Whitehall, one of which, being injudiciously managed, set fire to the thatched roof of the theatre *. Dr. Johnson first suggested that Ben Jonson might have supplied the Prologue and Epilogue to the play upon the occasion of its revival. Dr. Farmer, Steevens, and Malone, support his opinion; and even attribute to him some of the passages of the play.

Mr. Gifford has controverted this opinion of Jonson having been the author of the Prologue and Epilogue of this play, and thinks the play which was performed under the title of All is

* The circumstance is recorded by the continuator of Stowe; and in a MS. Letter of Thomas Lorkin to Sir Thomas Puckering, dated London, this last of June, 1613, it is thus mentioned : • No longer since than yesterday, while Bourbage his company were acting at the Globe the play of Henry VIII. and there, shooting of certayne chambers in way of triumph, the fire catched,' &c.--MS. Harl. 7002.

So in a letter from John Chamberlaine to Sir Ralph Winwood, dated London, Sth July, 1613:— But the burning of the Globe, or Playhouse, on the Bank side, on St. Peter's day, cannot escape you; which fell out by a peale of chambers (that I know not upon what occasion were to be used in the play), the tampin or stopple of one of them lighting in the thatch that covered the house, burn'd it to the ground in less than two hours, with a dwelling-house adjoining; and it was a great marvaile and faire grace of God that the people had so little harm, having but two narrow doors to get out at.'—Winwood's Memorials, vol. iii.

p. 469.

The event is also recorded by Sir Henry Wotton, in bis letter of the 2d of July, 1613, where he says it was at a new play, acted by the king's players at the Bank's Side, called All is

True was a distinct performance, and not Shakspeare's Henry the Eighth. To this it has been answered, “That the Prologue, which has always accompanied Shakspeare's drama from its first publication in 1623, manifestly and repeatedly alludes to the title of the play which was represented on the 29th of June, 1613, and which we know to have been founded on the history

True, representing some principal pieces of the reign of Henry the Eighth.'—Reliquiæ Wotton, p. 425, Ed. 2d.

So much having been said of the Globe Theatre, the reader will not be displeased to see a rude picture of it from the old Long View of London, printed at Antwerp in the reign of Elizabeth.

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »