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Port. You i'the camblet, get up o'the rail; I'll pick you o'er the pales else."
Enter Trumpets, sounding; then two Aldermen, Lord Mayor, Garter, CRANMER, Duke of NORFOLK, with his Marshal's Staff, Duke of SUFFOLK, two Noblemen bearing great standingbowls for the christening gifts; then four Noblemen bearing a canopy, under which the Duchess of NORFOLK, godmother, bearing the child richly habited in a mantle, &c. Train borne by a Lady: then follows the Marchioness of DORSET, the other godmother, and Ladies. The Troop pass once about the stage, and Garter speaks.
Gart. Heaven, from thy endless goodness,' send prosperous life, long, and ever happy, to the high and mighty princess of England, Elizabeth!
Flourish. Enter King, and Train.
CRAN. [Kneeling.] And to your royal grace, and the good queen,
My noble partners, and myself, thus pray;
7- I'll pick you o'er the pales else.] To pick is to pitch. 8 The Palace.] At Greenwich, where this procession was made from the church of the Friars.
-standing-bowls-] i. e. bowls elevated on
Heaven, from thy endless goodness, &c.] These words are not the invention of the poet, having been pronounced at the christening of Elizabeth.
All comfort, joy, in this most gracious lady,
Thank you, good lord archbishop;
What is her name?
Stand up, lord.[The King kisses the Child.
With this kiss take my blessing: God protect thee! Into whose hands I give thy life.
K. Hen. My noble gossips, ye have been too
I thank ye heartily; so shall this lady,
When she has so much English.
Cran. Let me speak, sir, For heaven now bids me; and the words I utter Let none think flattery, for they'll find them truth. This royal infant, (heaven still move about her!) Though in her cradle, yet now promises Upon this land a thousand thousand blessings, Which time shall bring to ripeness: She shall be (But few now living can behold that goodness,) A pattern to all princes living with her, And all that shall succeed: Sheba was never More covetous of wisdom, and fair virtue, Than this pure soul shall be: all princely graces, That mould up such a mighty piece as this is, With all the virtues that attend the good,
Shall still be doubled on her: truth shall nurse her, Holy and heavenly thoughts still counsel her:
She shall be lov'd, and fear'd: Her own shall bless
Her foes shake like a field of beaten corn,
And hang their heads with sorrow: Good grows with.
In her days, every man shall eat in safety
Under his own vine, what he plants; and sing
As great in admiration as herself;
So shall she leave her blessedness to one,
Who, from the sacred ashes of her honour,
Shall see this, and bless heaven.
Thou speakest wonders.]
2 [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.
Cran. She shall be, to the happiness of England, An aged princess; many days shall see her, And yet no day without a deed to crown it. 'Would I had known no more! but she must die, She must, the saints must have her; yet a virgin, A most unspotted lily shall she pass
To the ground, and all the world shall mourn her.
Thou hast made me now a man; never, before
To see what this child does, and praise my Maker.—
Ye must all see the queen, and she must thank ye,
3 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. Yet pomp 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. JOHNSON.
* Chetwood says that, during one season, it was exhibited 75 times.
"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;
such a one we show'd them;] In the character of Katharine. JOHNSON.
If they smile, &c.] 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 officiousness of Jonson, whose manner they will be perhaps found exactly to resemble. There is yet another supposition possible: the Prologue and Epilogue may have been written after Shakspeare's departure from the stage, upon some accidental 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 animadverted so severely 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 author might have changed his practice or opinions.