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*KING HENRY VIII.] We are unacquainted with any dra matick 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 wardens hand to yt, he is to have the fame for his copy." Dr. Farmer, in a note on the epilogue to this play, obferves, from Stowe, that Robert Greene had written somewhat on the same story. STEEVENS.
This hiftorical drama comprizes a period of twelve years, commencing in the twelfth year of King Henry's reign, (1521,) and ending with the chriftening of Elizabeth in 1533. Shakspeare has deviated from hiftory 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. See An Attempt to afcertain the Order of Shakspeare's Plays, Vol. II.
Dr. Farmer, in a note on the epilogue, obferves, from Stowe, that "Robert Greene had written fomething on this ftory;" but this, I apprehend, was not a play, but fome hiftorical account of Henry's reign, written not by Robert Greene, the dramatick poet, but by fome other perfon. In the lift of "authors out of whom Stowe's Annals were compiled," prefixed to the last edi tion 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,
The play may pafs; if they be ftill, and willing,
or to fee a fellow
In a long motley coat,] Alluding to the fools and buffoons, introduced in the plays a little before our author's time and of whom he has left us a fmall tafte in his own. THEOBALD.
In Marfton's 10th Satire there is an allufion to this kind of drefs:
"The long foole's coat, the huge flop, the lugg'd boot, "From mimick Pifo all doe claime their roote.' Thus alfo Nafhe, in his Epiftle Dedicatory to Have with you to Saffron Walden, or Gabriel Harvey's Hunt is up, 1596: "-fooles, ye know, alwaies for the moft part (especiallie if they bee naturall fooles) are futed in long coats." STREVENS.