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Gart. Heaven, from thy endless goodness, fend 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 : All comfort, joy, in this most gracious lady, Heaven ever laid up to make parents happy, May hourly fall upon ye !
King. Thank you, good lord archbishop : What is her name?
Cran. Elizabeth. King. Stand up, lord. [The King kisses the child. With this kiss take my bleffing: God protect thee! Into whose hand I give thy life.
King. My noble gossips, ye have been too prodigal: 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 'em 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 (Bue 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 foul 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,
every man shall eat in safety,] This part of the prophecy seems to have been burlesqued by B. and Fletcher in the Beggar's Bush, where orator Higgin is making his congratulatory speech to the new king of the beggars :
5. Each man shall eat his own stolen eggs, and butter,
“ In his own shade, or sunshine, &c." The original thought, however, is borrowed from the 4th chapter of the first book of Kings: “ Every man dwelt safely under his vine." STEEVENS.
* [Nor shall this place sleep with her :-) 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 paffage, included in crotchets, be left out, the speech of Cranmer proceeds in a regular tenour of prediction and continuity of feutiments; but, by the interposition of the new lines, he first cele, brates Elizabeth's fucceffor, and then wishes he did not know that she was to die; first rejoices at the consequence, and then laments the cause. Our authour 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 fpo. ken in the action, and omitted in the publication, if any publie cation ever was in his thoughts. Mr, Theobald has made the fame observation. JOHNSON. VOL, VII.
Who, from the sacred ashes of her honour,
King. Thou speakest wonders.]
Cran. She shall be, to the happiness of England,
King. O lord archbishop,
s She shall be, to the
happiness of England, An aged princess, ] The tranfition here from the complimentary address to king James the first is so abrupt, that it seems obvious to me, that compliment was inserted after the accession of that prince. If this play was wrote, as in my opinion it was, in the reign of queen Elizabeth ; we may easily determine where Cranmer's eulogium of that princess concluded. I make no question but the poet rested here :
And claim by those their greatness, not by blood. All that the bifhop says after this, was an occasional homage paid to her successor; and evidently inserted after her demise. Hom naturally, without this insertion, does the king's joy and satisfactory reflection upon the bishop's prophecy, come in! King. Thou
speakest wonders. O lord archbishop, Thou A made me now a man. Never, before
This happy child, did I get any thing, &c. Whether the king would fo properly have made this inference, upon hearing that a child of fo great hopes should die without issue, is submitted to judgment.. THEOBALD.
This happy child, did I get any thing :
. And you good brethren, -] But the aldermen were never called brethren to the king. The top of the nobility are but coufins and counsellors. Dr. Thirlby, therefore, rightly advised;
And your good brethreni.e. the lord mayor's brethren ; which is properly their style.
THEOBALD. THE play of Henry the Eighth is one of those, which still keeps poffeffion 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 Shakespeare comes in and goes out with Katharine. Every other part may be eafily conceived and eafily written. Johnson.
'Tis ten to one, this play can never please
* In the character of Katharine.
* If they smile, &c.] This thought is too much hackney'd. It had been used already in the Epilogues to As You Like It, and the second part of King Henry IV. STEEVENS.
Though it is very difficult to decide whether short pieces be genuine or fpurious, yet I cannot restrain myself from exprefling my fufpicion that neither the prologue nor epilogue to this play is the work of Shakespeare ; 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 Shakespeare's departure from the stage, upon some accidental revisal of the play, and there will then be reason for imagining that the writer, who
was, intended no great kindness to him, this play being recommended by a subtle and covert censure of his other works. There is in Shakespeare so much of fool and fight:
the fellow 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 authour might have changed his practice or opinions.