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.

Cran. Amen.'

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 ;

Her foes shake like a field of beaten corn,
And hang their heads with sorrow: Good grows with

her :
In her days, every man shall eat in safety 3,
Under his own vine, what he plants; and sing
The merry songs of peace to all his neighbours :
God shall be truly known; and those about her
From her shall read the perfect way of honour,
And by those claim their greatness, not by blood.
[Nor shall this peace sleep with her : But as when
The bird of wonder dies, the maiden phenix,
Her ashes new create another heir,
As great in admiration as herself;
So Thall she leave her blefledness to one,
(When heaven shall call her from this cloud of



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.



[ocr errors]

Who, from the sacred ashes of her honour,
Shall star-like rise, as great in fame as she was,
And so stand fix’d: Peace, plenty, love, truth, terror,
That were the servants to this chosen infant,
Shall then be his, and like a vine grow to him ;
Wherever the bright sun of heaven shall shine,
His honour, and the greatness of his name
Shall be, and make new nations : He shall flourish,
And, like a mountain cedar, reach his branches
To all the plains about him:-Our children's children
Shall see this, and bless heaven.

King. Thou speakest wonders.]

Cran. She shall be, to the happiness of England,
An aged princesss; many days shall see her,
And yet no day without a deed to crown it.
'Would I had known no more ! but she must die,
She must, the faints must have her ; yet a virgin,
A most unspotted lily shall the pass
To the ground, and all the world fhall mourn her.

King. O lord archbishop,
Thou hast made me now a man; never, before

[ocr errors]

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.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

This happy child, did I get any thing :
This oracle of comfort has so pleas'd me,
That, when I am in heaven, I shall desire
To see what this child does, and praise my Maker.
I thank ye all.-To you, my good lord mayor,
* And your good brethren, I am much beholden;
I have receiv'd much honour by your presence,
And ye shall find me thankful. Lead the way, lords;
Ye must all see the queen, and she must thank ye,
She will be fick else. This day, no man think
He has business at his house ; for all shall stay,
This little one thall make it holiday. [Exeunt.

. 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.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]


'Tis ten to one, this play can never please
All that are here : Some come to take their ease,
And sleep an a&t or two ; but those,. we fear,
We have frighted with our trumpets ; so, 'tis clear,
They'll say, 'lis naught: others, to bear the ciiy
* Abus'd extremely, and to cry,—that's witty!
Which we have not done neither : that, I fear,
All the expected good we are like to hear
For this play at this time, is only in
The merciful construction of good women ;
For such a one we shew'd’em* : If they smile",
And fay, 'twill do, I know, within a while
All the best men are ours; for 'tis ill hap,
If they hold, when their ladies bid'em clap.

* 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.



[merged small][ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsett »