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A hand as fruitful as the land that feeds us;
Sparing would show a worse sin than ill doctrine:
Your lordship shall along:-Come, good sir
We shall be late else; which I would not be, For I was spoke to, with sir Henry Guildford, This night to be comptrollers.
ye all: This night he dedicates To fair content, and you: none here, he hopes, In all this noble bevy," has brought with her One care abroad: he would have all as merry
By my faith, And thank your lordship.--By your leave, sweet ladies:
[Seats himself between ANNE BULLEN
If I chance to talk a little wild, forgive me;
Was he mad, sir?
As first good company, good wine, good wel. Hautboys. Enter CARDINAL WOLSEY, attended;
Can make good people. O, my lord, you are tardy;
Enter Lord Chamberlain, LORD SANDS, and SIR
The very thought of this fair company
Cham. You are young, sir Harry Guildford. Sands. Sir Thomas Lovell, had the cardinal But half my lay-thoughts in him, some of these
So Spenser (Shepherd's Calendar) :
"A lovely bevy of fair ladies sat."
and takes his state.
Into our presence, where this heaven of beauty Shall shine at full upon them :-Some attend him.—
[Exit Chamberlain, attended. All arise, and tables removed.
You have now a broken banquet; but we'll mend it.
A good digestion to you all: and, once more,
Hautboys. Enter the KING, and twelve others, as maskers, habited like shepherds, with sixteen torch-bearers; ushered by the Lord Chamberlain. They pass directly before the CARDINAL, and gracefully salute him.
A noble company! what are their pleasures? Cham. Because they speak no English, thus they pray y'd
To tell your grace;-That, having heard by
Of this so noble and so fair assembly
This night to meet here, they could do no less,
See Introductory Notice.
There is, indeed; which they would have your
Find out, and he will take it.
Let me see then.[Comes from his state. By all your good leaves, gentlemen ;-Here I'll make
Yes, my lord.
I fear, with dancing is a little heated.
K. Hen. I fear, too much.
I must not yet forsake you.-Let's be merry;Good my lord cardinal, I have half a dozen healths
To drink to these fair ladies, and a measure
There's fresher air, my lord, To lead them once again; and then let's dream
In the next chamber.
THE drama of Henry VIII. is essentially one of pageantry. Coleridge calls it "a sort of historical masque, or show-play." With this view nothing can be finer than the opening. Hall, who was a contemporary of Henry VIII., and was present at the "Field of the Cloth of Gold," has filled his Chronicle of this reign with the most elaborate accounts of tournaments, and processions, and marriages, and christenings. A judicial murder is despatched by him in a few lines. Malone here repeats his stupid assertion that "Holinshed and not Hall was Shakspeare's author." (See Historical Illustration of Henry VI., Part I., Act 1.) It is easy to trace Shakspere to Hall in the "show" parts of Henry VIII., and to Holinshed for the more serious passages. Cavendish, however, has described the masque at York Place, and Holinshed has evidently had the advantage of consulting that admirable piece of biography, The Life of Wolsey.' We prefer, however, in those places where the chronicler follows the authority of Wolsey's 'Gentleman Usher,' to transcribe from the truly graphic original. It has been asserted by Bishop Nicholson that an edition of Cavendish's 'Life' was published in 1590; but Mr. Hunter inclines to the more general opinion that it was first printed in Who wrote Cavendish's Life of Wolsey.'
1641. Shakspere has unquestionably followed Cavendish in some of the most important scenes, either from an acquaintance with his book, or through Holinshed. Assuming that he was not the idle and incurious person that it has been the fashion to represent him, we cannot hold it to be impossible that, if the book were not printed, he was acquainted with one of the several manuscript copies of The Life of Master Thomas Wolsey,' the collation of which by Mr. Singer has given us the admirable edition of 1827.
Hall's description of the meeting between Henry and Francis is a singular specimen of the minute mind of the young chronicler, who was some twenty years old at the time of this memorable interview. He revels in all the luxuriance of the details of manmillinery and horse-millinery; he describes the dress of the two princes even to the smallest button; chambers of blue velvet and cloth-of-gold dazzle our eyes in every page; and of "the great and goodly plate," and "the noble feasting and cheer," the accounts would furnish out a dozen degenerate modern court-historians. We have space only for his description of the first meeting of the two kings:
"Then the King of England showed himself somedeal forward in beauty and personage, the
"After the two kings had ended the banquet, and spice and wine given to the Frenchmen, ipocras was chief drink of plenty to all that would drink. In open sight then came the two kings; that is to wete, the French king and the King of England, out of their tent, by which I then well perceived the habiliment royal of the French king. And verily of his person the same Francis the French king, a goodly prince, stately of countenance, merry of cheer, brown coloured, great eyes, high nosed, big lipped, fair breasted and shoulders, small legs, and long feet."
From his processions and his maskings Hall turns without an effort to more serious matterthe arrest of Buckingham. In the account of this event Shakspere has followed Holinshed:
"The cardinal, boiling in hatred against the Duke of Buckingham, and thirsting for his blood, devised
to make Charles Knevet, that had been the duke's surveyor, and put from him (as ye have heard), an instrument to bring the duke to destruction. This Knevet being had in examination before the cardinal, disclosed all the duke's life. And first he uttered that the duke was accustomed, by way of talk, to say how he meant so to use the matter that he would attain to the crown if king Henry chanced to die without issue; and that he had talk and conference of that matter on a time with George Nevill, Lord of Abergavenny, unto whom he had given his daughter in marriage; and also that he threatened to punish the cardinal for his manifold misdoings, being without cause his mortal enemy.
"The cardinal, having gotten that which he sought for, encouraged, comforted, and procured Knevet, with many comfortable words and great promises, that he should with a bold spirit and countenance object and lay these things to the duke's charge, with more if he knew it when time required. Then Knevet, partly provoked with desire to be revenged, and partly moved with hope of reward, openly confessed that the duke had once fully determined to devise means how to make the king away, being brought into a full hope that he should be king, by a vain prophecy which one Nicholas Hopkins, a monk of an house of the Chartreux order beside Bristow, called Henton, sometime his confessor, had opened unto him.
"The king, hearing the accusation, enforced the uttermost by the cardinal, made this answer: If the duke have deserved to be punished, let him have according to his deserts."