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he had once improved to the destruction of another. See Holinshed; vol. ii. p. 796 and 797.
"Thomas Ruthall, bishop of Durham, was, after "the death of king Henry VII. one of the privy "council to Henry VIII. to whom the king gave in "" charge to write a book of the whole estate of the "kingdom, &c. Afterwards, the king commanded "cardinal Wolsey to go to this bishop, and to bring "the book away with him.-This bishop having "written two books (the one to answer the king's "command, and the other intreating of his own pri"vate affairs), did bind them both after one sort in "vellum, &c. Now, when the cardinal came to de
mand the book due to the king, the bishop unadvis"edly commanded his servant to bring him the book "bound in white vellum, lying in his study, in such "a place. The servant accordingly brought forth 67 one of the books so bound, being the book intreat"ing of the state of the bishop, &c. The cardinal having the book, went from the bishop, and after "(in his study by himself) understanding the contents "thereof, he greatly rejoiced, having now occasion "(which he long sought for) offered unto him, to "bring the bishop into the king's disgrace.
"Wherefore he went forthwith to the king, deli"vered the book into his hands, and briefly informed "him of the contents thereof; putting further into "the king's head, that if at any time he were destitute " of a mass of money, he should not need to seek fur"ther therefore than to the coffers of the bishop.
"Of all which when the bishop had intelligence, &c. "he was stricken with such grief of the same, that "he shortly, through extreme sorrow, ended his life "at London, in the year of Christ 1523. After "which, the cardinal, who had long before gaped "after his bishoprick, in singular hope to attain there"unto, had now his wish in effect, &c."
27 -the sacring bell,-] The little bell, which is rung to give notice of the host approaching when it is carried in procession, as also in other offices of the Romish church, is called the sacring, or consecration bell; from the French word, sacrer.
a tomb of orphans' tears wept on 'em!] The chancellor is the general guardian of orphans. A tomb of tears is very harsh.
--cherish those hearts that hate thee:] Though this be good divinity; and an admirable precept for our conduct in private life; it was never calculated or designed for the magistrate or public minister. Nor could this be the direction of a man experienced in affairs to his pupil. It would make a good christian, but a very ill and very unjust statesman. And we have nothing so infamous in tradition, as the supposed advice given to one of our kings, to cherish his enemies, and be in no pain for his friends. I am of opinion the poet wrote,
--cherish those hearts that wait thee;
i. e. thy dependants. For the contrary practice had
contributed to Wolsey's ruin. He was not careful enough in making dependants by his bounty, while intent in amassing wealth to himself. The following line seems to confirm this correction,
Corruption wins not more than honesty.
i. e. You will never find men won over to your temporary occasions by bribery so useful to you as friends made by a just and generous munificence.
I am unwilling wantonly to contradict so ingenious a remark, but that the reader may not be misled, and believe the emendation proposed to be absolutely necessary, he should remember that this is not a time for Wolsey to speak only as a statesman, but as a christian: Shakspeare would have debased the character, just when he was employing his strongest efforts to raise it, had he drawn it otherwise. Nothing makes the hour of disgrace more irksome, than the reflection, that we have been deaf to offers of reconciliation, and continued those our enemies, whom we might have converted into friends.
30 Had I but serv'd my God with half the zeal
I serv'd my king,] This sentence, it is said, was really uttered by Wolsey.
31 SCENE II.] This scene is above any other part of Shakspeare's tragedies, and, perhaps, above any scene of any other poet, tender and pathetick, without gods, or furies, or poisons, or precipices, without the help of romantick circumstances, without impro
bable sallies of poetical lamentation, and without any throes of tumultuous misery.
32 Of an unbounded stomach,] Stomach here signifies pride or haughtiness.
33 solemnly tripping one after another,] This whimsical stage-direction is exactly copied from the folio.
34 Not for delights;] Gardiner himself is not much delighted. The delight at which he hints seems to be the king's diversion, which keeps him in attendance.
-at Primero-] Primero and primavista, two games at cards, H. I. Primera Primavista. La Primiere, G. Prime, f. Prime veue. Primum, et primum visum, that is, first, and first seen: because he that can shew such an order of cards first, wins the game. Minshieu's Guide into Tongues, col. 575. GREY.
36 Have broken with the king;] They have broken silence; told their minds to the king. JOHNSON.
37 Than I myself, poor man.] Poor man probably belongs to the king's reply.
98 Speak to the business,-] This lord chancellor, though a character, has hitherto had no place in the Dramatis Persona. In the last scene of the fourth act, we heard that sir Thomas More was appointed lord chancellor but it is not he, whom the poet here introduces. Wolsey, by command, delivered up the seals on the 18th of November, 1529; on the 25th of the same month, they were delivered to sir Thomas
More, who surrendered them on the 16th of May, 1532. Now the conclusion of this scene taking notice of queen Elizabeth's birth (which brings it down to the year 1534), sir Thomas Audlie must necessarily be our poet's chancellor; who succeeded sir Thomas More, and held the seals many years. THEOBALD. -and capable
Of our flesh, few are angels:-] If this passage means any thing, it may mean, few are perfect, while they remain in their mortal capacity.
40 you'd spare your spoons.] It was the custom, long before the time of Shakspeare, for the sponsors at christenings, to offer gilt spoons as a present to the child. These spoons were called apostle spoons, because the figures of the apostles were carved on the tops of the handles. Such as were at once opulent and generous, gave the whole twelve; those who were either more moderately rich or liberal, escaped at the expence of the four evangelists; or even sometimes contented themselves with presenting one spoon only, which exhibited the figure of any saint, in honour of whom the child received its name.
Ben Jonson, in his Bartholomew Fair, mentions spoons of this kind ;—" and all this for the hope of a couple of apostle spoons, and a cup to eat caudle in." So in Middleton's comedy of 4 chaste Maid in Cheapside, 1620,
"What has he given her?-what is it, gossip?