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KING HENRY VIII.

BY

WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE.

VOL. II.

N

REMARKS

ON

THE PLOT, THE FABLE, AND CONSTRUCTION

OF

KING HENRY VIII.

The play of Henry the Eighth is one of those, which still keeps possession of the stage, by the splendor 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 Catherine have furnished some scenes, which may be justly numbered among the greatest effort of tragedy. But the genius of Shakspeare comes in and goes out with Catherine. Every other part may be easily conceived and easily written. JOHNSON.

1

1

PROLOGUE.

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 nuble 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,
(To make that only true we now intend',)
Will leave us never an understanding friend.
Therefore, for goodness' sake, and as you are known
The first and happiest hearers of the town,
Be sad, as we would make ye: ?Think, ye see
The very persons of our noble story,

VOL. IX.

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