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KING HENRY VIII.) We are unacquainted with any dramatick piece on the subject of Henry VIII. that preceded this of Shakspeare ; and yet on the books of the Stationers' Company appears the following entry: “ Nathaniel Butter] (who was one of our author's printers) Feb. 12, 1604. That he get good allowance for the enterlude of King Henry VIII. before he begin to print it; and with the warden's hand to yt, he is to have the same for his copy." Dr. Farmer, in a note on the epilogue to this play, observes, from Stowe, that Robert Greene had written somewhat on the same story. Steevens.
This historical drama comprizes a period of twelve years, commencing in the twelfth year of King Henry's reign, (1521,) and ending with the christening of Elizabeth in 1533. Shakspeare has deviated from history in placing the death of Queen Katharine before the birth of Elizabeth, for in fact Katharine did not die till 1536.
King Henry VIII. was written, I believe, in 1601.
Dr. Farmer, in a note on the epilogue, observes, from Stowe, that “ Robert Greene had written something on this story;" but this, I apprehend, was not a play, but some historical account of Henry's reign, written not by Robert Greene, the dramatick poet, but by some other person. In the list of “ authors out of whom Stowe's Annals were compiled,” prefixed to the last edition printed in his life-time, quarto, 1605, Robert Greene is enumerated with Robert de Brun, Robert Fabian, &c. and he is often quoted as an authority for facts in the margin of the history of that reign. MALONE.
I 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 now present. Those that can pity, here May, if they think it well, let fall a tear; The subject will deserve it. Such, as give Their money out of hope they may believe, May here find truth too. Those, that come to see Only a show or two, and so agree, The play may pass; if they be still, 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 noise of targets; or to see a fellow In a long motley coat, guarded with yellow, Will be deceiv'd: for, gentle hearers, know, To rank our chosen truth with such a show As fool and fight is, beside forfeiting Our own brains, and the opinion that we bring,
such a show As fool and fight is,] This is not the only passage in which Shakspeare has discovered his conviction of the impropriety of battles represented on the stage. He knew that five or six men with swords, gave a very unsatisfactory idea of an army, and therefore, without much care to excuse his former practice, he allows that a theatrical fight would destroy all opinion of truth, and leave him never an understanding friend. Magnis ingeniis et multa nihilominus habituris simples convenit erroris confessio. Yet I know not whether the coronation shown in this play may not be liable to all that can be objected against a battle. Johnson.
(To make that only true we now intend,')
$ (To make that only true we now intend,)] To intend, in our author, has sometimes the same meaning as to pretend, but this line is somewhat obscure.
King Henry the Eighth.
Queen Katharine, Wife to King Henry, afterwards
divorced. Anne Bullen, her Maid of Honour, afterwards Queen. An old Lady, Friend to Anne Bullen. Patience, Woman to Queen Katharine.
Several Lords and Ladies in the Dumb Shows; Wo
men attending upon the Queen; Spirits which appear to her; Scribes, Officers, Guards, and other Attendants.
SCENE, chiefly in London and Westminster; once KING HENRY VIII.
SCENE I. London. An Ante-chamber in the
Enter the Duke of NORFOLK, at one Door; at the
other, the Duke of BUCKINGHAM, and the Lord
Since last we saw in France?
I thank your grace:
An untimely ague
'Twixt Guynes and Arde: 3 I was then present, saw them salute on horseback; 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
weigh'd Such a compounded one? Buck.
All the whole time I was my chamber's prisoner.
Guynes and Arde :] Guynes then belonged to the English, and Arde to the French: they are towns in Picardy, and the valley of Ardren lay between them. Arde is Ardres, but both Hall and Holinshed write it as Shakspeare does. VOL. VII.