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OBSERVATIONS

ON THE Fable AND Composition of

HENRY VIII.

We are unacquainted with any dramatic piece on the subject of Henry VIII, that preceded this of Shakspere ; 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 K. Henry VIII, before he begin to print it; and with the wardens 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 Stow, that Robert Greene had written somewhat on the same story. STEEVENS.

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 Shakspere comes in and goes out with Katharine. Every other part may be easily conceived and easily written. JOHNSON.

The

The historical dramas are now concluded, of which the two parts of Henry obe Fourth, and Henry the Fifih, are among the happiest of our author's compositions; and King John, Richard the Third, and Henry the Eighth, deservedly stand in the second class. Those whose curiosity would refer the historical scenes to their original, may consult Holinshed, and sometimes Hall: from Holinshed Shakspere has often inserted whole speeches with no more alteration than was necessary to the numbers of his verse. To transcribe them into the margin was unnecessary, because the original is easily examined, and they are seldom less perspicuous in the poet than in the historian. Johnson.

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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
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,
As they were living; think, you see them great,
And follow'd with the general throng, and sweat

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Of thousand friends; then, in a moment, see
How soon this mightiness meets misery!
And, if you can be merry then, I'll say,
A man may weep upon his wedding day.

Dramatis Personae.

MEN,
King HENRY the Eighth.
Cardinal WOLSEY. Cardinal CAMPEIUS.
CAPUCIUS, Ambassador from the Emperor Charles V.
CRANMER, Archbishop of Canterbury.
Duke of NORFOLKi Duke of BUCKINGHAM.
Duke of SUFFOLK. Earl of SURREY.
Lord Chamberlain, Sir THOMAS Audley, Lord-Keeper.
GARDINER, Bishop of Winchester.
Bishop of LINCOLN. Lord ABERGAVENNY. Lord SANDS,
Sir HENRY GUILDFORD. Sir THOMAS I.OVEL.
Sir ANTHONY DENNY. Sir NICHOLAS VAUX.
Sir WILLIAM SANDS,
CROMWELI., Servant to Wolsey.
GRIFFITH, Gentleman-Usher to Queen Katharine.
Three other Gentlemen.
Doctor Butts, Physician to the King.
GARTER, King at Arms.
Surveyor to the Duke of Buckingham.
BRANDON,

and a Şerjeant at Arms.
Door-Keeper of the Council-Chamber. Porter, and his Mun.

WOMEN.
Queen KATHARINE.
ANNE BULLEN.
An old Lady, Friend to Anne Bullen.
PATIENCE, Woman to Queen Katharine.
Several Lords and Ladies in the dumb Shows. Women ar.

tending upon the Queen ; Spirits, which appear to her.

Scribes, Officers. Guards, and other Altendants.
The Scene lies mostly in London and Westminster ; once at

Kimbolion.

U

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