صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

lon, contained in any of the lines in praise of the queen, inconsistent with the idea of the whole of the panegyrick on her having been composed in her life-time. .

in further confirmation of what has been here advanced to shew that this play was probably written while queen Elizabeth was yet alive, it may be observed, (to use the words of an anonymous writer",) that “ Shakspeare has cast the disagreeable parts of her father's character as much into shade as possible; that he has represented him as greatly displeased with the grievances of his subjects, and ordering them to be relieved; tender and obliging (in the early part of the play] to his queen, grateful to the cardinal, and in the case of Cranmer, capable of distinguishing and rewarding true merit.” “ He has exerted (adds the same author) an equal degree of complaisance, by the amiable lights in which he has shewn the mother of Elizabeth. Anne Bullen is represented as affected with the most tender concern for the sufferings of her mistress, queen Catherine; receiving the honour the king confers on her, by making her mara chioness of Pembroke, with a graceful humility; and more anxious to conceal her advancement from the queen, left it should aggravate her sorrows, than sollicitous to penetrate into the meaning of so extraordinary a favour, or of indulgįng herself in the flattering prospect of future royalty."

It is unnecessary to quote particular passages in supe port of these assertions; but the following lines which are spoken of Anne Boleyn by the Lord Chamberlain, appear to me so evidently calculated for the ear of Elizabeth, (to whom such incense was by no means difpleasing) that I can. not forbear to transcribe them:

“I have perused her well; “ Beauty and honour are in her so mingled, " That they have caught the king: and who knows yet, “ But from this Lady may proceed a gem,

To lighten all this ise." The Globe play-house, we are told by the continuator of Stowe's Chronicle, was burnt down, on St. Peter's day, in the year 1613, while the play of K. Henry VII. was exhibiting. Sir Henry Wotton, (as Mr. Tyrwhitt has obferved) says in one of his letters, that this accident happen

NOT E.
The author of Shakespeare illustrated.

ed

[ocr errors]

play, alle overthrown ild have been only

ed during the exhibition of a new play, called All is True; which, however, appears both from Sir Henry's minute de. scription of the piece, and from the account given by Stowe's continuator, to have been our author's play of K. Henry VIII. If indeed Sir H. Wotton was accurate in calling it a new play, all the foregoing reasoning on this subject would be at once overthrown; and this piece, instead of being ascribed to 1601, should have been placed twelve years later. But I strongly suspect that the only novelty at, tending this play, in the year 1613, was its title, decoraa tions, and perhaps the prologue and epilogue, The Elector Palatine was in London in that year; and it appears from the Mf, register of lord Harrington, treasurer of the chambers to K. James I. that many of our author's plays were then exhibited for the entertainment of him and the princess Elizabeth. By the same register we learn, that the titles of many of them were changed ° in that year. Princes are fond of opportunities to display their magnificence before strangers of distinction; and James, who on his arrival here, must have been dazzled by a splendour foreign to the poverty of his native kingdom, might have been peculiarly ambitious to exhibit before his fon-in-law the min mick pomp of an English coronation . King Henry VIII. therefore, after having lain by for some years unacted, on account of the coftliness of the exhibition, might have been revived in 1613, under the title of All is True, with new decorations and a new prologue and epilogue. Mr. Tyrwhitt observes, that the prologue has two or three direct references to this title ; a circumstance which authorizes us to conclude, almost with certainty, that it was an occasional production, written some years after the composition of the play.

NOTES. • Thus Henry IV. P. I, was called Hotspur ; Henry IV. P. II. or The Merry Wives of Windsor, was exhibited under the name of Sir John Falstaff ; Much Ado about Nothing was new named Bene, diet and Beatrix, and Julius Cæfar seems to have been represented under the title of Cæsar's Tragedy.

The Prince Palatine was not present at the representation of K. Henry VIII, on the zoth of June O. S. when the Globe play, house was burnt down, having left England some time before, But the play might have been revived for his entertainment in the beginning of the year 1613 ; and might have been occasionally repesented afterwards,

Vol. I,

Dr. Johnson long since suspected, from the contemptaous manner in which “ the noise of targets, and the fellow in a long motley coat," or, in other words, most of our author's plays, are spoken of, in this prologue, that it was not the compofition of Shakspeare, but written after his departure from the itage, on some accidental revisal of K. Henry VIII. by B. Jonson, whole ftylc, it seemed to him to resemble 9.

Dr. NO T'E. . In fupport of this conjecture it may be observed that Ben Jonson has in many places endeavoured to ridicule our author for representing battles on the stage. So in his prologue to Every Mar in bis Humour :

- Yet ours for want, hath not so lov'd the stage,
As he dare serve the ill customs of the age,
Or purchase your delight at such a rate
As, for it, he himself must justly hate;
To make, &c.

C o r with three rufly fwords,
And help of some few foot and half-foot words,
Fight over York and Lancaster's long jars,

sind in the tyring house bring wounds to scars." Again, in his Silent Woman, Act IV. sc. iv.

* Nay, I would sit out a play, that were nothing but fights at fea, drum, trumpet, and target.• We are told in the memoirs of Ben Jonson's life, that he went to France in the year 1613. But at the time of the revival of King Henry VIII. he either had not left England, or was then returned; for he was a spectator of the fire which happened at the Globe theatre during the representation of that piece. [See the next note.]

It may, perhaps, seem extraordinary, that he should have presumed to prefix this covert censure of Shakspeare, to one of his own plays. But he appears to have eagerly embraced every opportunity of depreciating him. This occasional prologue (who. ever was the writer of it) confirms the tradition handed down by Rowe, that our author retired from the stage about three years before his death. Had he been at that time joined with Heminge

and Burbage in the management of the Globe theatre, he scarcely · would have suffered the lines above alluded to, to have been spoken.

In lord Harrington's account of the money disbursed for the plays that were exhibited by his majesty's servants, in the year 1613, before the Elector Palatine, ali the payments are said to have been made to John Heminge, for himself and the rest of his fellow's ;" from which we may conclude that he was then the principal manager. A correspondent, however, of Sir Thomas Puckering's (as I

learn Dr. Farmer is of the same opinion, and thinks he sees something of Jonson's hand, here and there, in the dialogue alfo. After our author's retirement to the country, Jonson was perhaps employed to give a novelty to the piece by a new title and prologue, and to furnish the managers of the Globe with a description of the coronation ceremony, and of those other decorations, with which, from his connection with Inigo Jones, and his attendance at court, he was peculiarly conversant.

The piece appears to have been revived with some degree of fplendour; for Sir Henry Wotton gives a very pompous account of the representation. The unlucky accident that happened to the house during the exhibition, was occasioned by discharging some small pieces, called chambers, on K. Henry's arrival at cardinal Wolsey's gate at Whitehall, one of which, being injudiciously managed, fet fire to the thatched roof of the theatre',

The NOT E S. - learn from Mr. Tyrwhitt) in a Mi. letter, preserved in the Museum, and dated in the year 1613, calls the company at the Globe, “ Bourbage's company”-Shakspeare's name stands before either of these, in the licence granted by K. James; and had he not left London before that time, the players at the Globe theatre, I should imagine, would rather have been entitled, his company. The burlesque párody on the account of Falstaft's death, which is contained in Fletcher's comedy of the Captain, acted in 1613, and the ridicule of Hamlet's celebrated foliloquy, and of Ophelia's death, in his Scornful Lady, which was represented about the same time, confirm the tradition that our author had then retired from the stage, careless of the fate of his writings, inattentive to the illiberal attacks of his contemporaries, and negligent alike of present and posthumous fame.

The Globe theatre (as I learn from the Mf. of Mr. Oldys) was thatched with reeds, and had an open area in its center. This area we may suppose to have been filled by the lowest part of the audience, whom Shakspeare calls the groundlings. ----Chambers are not, like other guns, pointed horizontally, but are discharged as they stand erect on their breeches. The accident may, therefore, be easily accounted for. If these pieces were let off behind the scenes, the paper or wadding with which their charges were confined, would reach the thatch on the inside ; or if fixed without the walls, it might have been carried by the wind to the top of the roof.

This accident is alluded to, in the following lines of Ben Jonfon's Execration upon Vulcan, from which it appears, that he was

ar

The play, thus revived and new-named, was probably called, in the bills of that time, a new play; which might have led Sir Henry Wotton to describe it as such, And thus his account may be reconciled with that of the other contemporary writers, as well as with those arguments which have been here urged in support of the early date of K. Henry VIII. Every thing has been fully stated on each fide of the question. The reader must judge. * Mr. Roderick in his notes on our author, (appended to Mr. Edwards's Canons of Criticism) takes notice of some peculiarities in the metre of the play before us; viz. “ that there are many more verses in it than in any other, which end with a redundant syllable- very near two to one"--and that “ the cafuræ or pauses of the verse are full as remarkable."- The ra

Hindge.

NOT E.

at the Globe playhouse when it was burnt; a circumstance which in some measure strengthens the conjecture that he was employed on the revival of King Henry VIII. for this was not the theatre at which his pieces were usually represented :

“ Well fare the wise men yet on the Bank-lide,
" My friends, the watermen! they could provide
“ Against thy fury, when, to serve their needs,
• They made a Vulcan of a sheaf of reeds;
" Whom they durst handle in their holy-day coats,
“ And safely trust to dress, not burn their boats,
“ But O those reeds! thy mere disdain of them
“ Made thee beget that cruel stratagem,
(Which some are pleas'd to style but thy mad prank)
« Against the Globe, the glory of the Bank:
" Which, though it were the fort of the whole parish,
“ Flank'd with a ditch and forc'd out of a marith,
" I saw with two poor chambers taken in,
" And raz'd; ere thought could urge this might have been.
" See the world's ruins! nothing but the piles
“ Left, and wit since to cover it with tiles.
“ The breth’ren, they straight nois'd it out for news,
“ 'Twas verily some relick of the stews,
" And this a sparkle of that fire let loose,
“ That was lock'd up in the Winchestrian goose,
" Bred on the Bank in time of popery,
" When Venus there maintain'd her mistery,
“. But others fell, with that conceit, by the ears,
“ And cried, it was a threat'ning to the bears,
" And that accursed ground, the Paris-garden, &c."

dundancy,

« السابقةمتابعة »