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senting some principal pieces of the reign of Henry VIII.;" and further, the passage of Shakspere's play in which the "chambers" are discharged, being the " entry of the king to the "mask at the cardinal's house," is the same to the letter. But the title which Sir Henry Wotton gives the new play is All is True.' Gifford thinks this sufficient to show that the play represented at the Globe in June, 1613, was not Shakspere's. But other persons call the play so represented Henry VIII.' Howes, in his continuation of Stow's 'Chronicle,' so calls it. He writes some time after the destruction of the Globe, for he adds to his account of the fire, “And the next spring it was new builded in far | fairer manner than before." He speaks of the title of the play as a familiar thing:— "the house being filled with people to behold the play, viz. of 'Henry the Eighth.'" When Howes wrote, was the title 'All is True' merged in the more obvious title derived from the subject of the play, and following the character of the titles of Shakspere's other historical plays? There can be no difficulty in showing that the Prologue to 'Henry VIII.' especially keeps in view such a title as Sir Henry Wotton has mentioned:
"Such as give
Their money out of hope they may believe,
"Gentle hearers, know,
To rank our chosen truth with such a show
"To make that only true we now intend."
Boswell has a very ingenious theory that this Prologue had especial reference to another play on the same historical subject, 'When You See Me You Know Me, or the Famous Chronicle History of King Henry the Eighth, &c., by Samuel Rowley,' in which "the incidents in Henry's reign are thrown together in the most confused manner." But, upon the whole, the probability is that the 'Henry VIII.' of Shakspere, and the 'All is True' described by Wotton, are one and the same play. The next question is, then, whether Wotton was correct in describing the 'Henry VIII.' as a new play. Chalmers, who almost stands alone in his
opinion, maintains that the fact of a play on the subject of Henry VIII. being termed new in 1613 is decisive as to the date of its original production at that time. Malone, on the contrary, conjectures that the 'Henry VIII.' was written in 1601, and revived in 1613, with a new title and prologue, "having lain by some years unacted." This conjecture rests upon no external evidence. We proceed, therefore, to the other division of the subject the evidence of its date which is furnished by the play itself.
In the prophecy of Cranmer in the last scene, the glories of the reign of Elizabeth are carried on to that of her successor, in the following lines:
"Nor shall this peace sleep with her: But as when
The bird of wonder dies, the maiden phoenix,
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."
This passage would appear to be decisive as to the date of the play, by the introduction of these lines:
"Wherever the bright sun of heaven shall shine, His honour, and the greatness of his name, Shall be, and make new nations."
That the colonization of Virginia is here distinctly alluded to is without doubt. The first charter was granted in 1606; the colony was planted in 1607, in which year James Town was built; another charter was given to the colonists in 1612, and a lottery
was also then granted for the encouragement of the colony, which was struggling with great difficulties. That James took an especial interest in this important settlement, and naturally enough was recognised as the founder of "new nations," may be readily imagined. In the inscription upon a portrait of the king, which belonged to Lord Bacon, he is styled "Imperii Atlantici conditor." This part of Cranmer's prophecy, therefore, would fix the date of the play after the settlement of Virginia. But a new difficulty arises: All that part of the prophecy relating to James, which we have quoted, is held to be an addition, made upon a revival of the play in 1613.
"These lines," says Dr. Johnson, "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 passage be left out, the speech of Cranmer proceeds in a regular tenor of prediction and continuity of sentiments; but, by the interpolation of the new lines, he first celebrates Elizabeth's successor, and then wishes he did not know she was to die; first rejoices at the consequence, and then laments the cause." Is it so ? The presumed interpolation immediately
follows these lines:
"In her days, every man shall eat in safety, Under his own vine, what he plants; and sing
The merry songs of peace to all his neighbours," &c.
The poet then adds—
sion of the dominion of England, under James, the only passage in which “the greatness of his name" is separated from that of Elizabeth,-occupies the remaining part of the prophecy; and that the thread which connects the whole with Elizabeth may not be dropped, even while those six lines are uttered, Cranmer returns to the close of her life, which in two-thirds of the previous seventeen lines he had constantly inferred :
"She shall be, to the happiness of England, An aged princess," &c.
It might as well be assumed, we venture to think, that the " Tu Marcellus eris" of Virgil is an interpolation. That famous passage is most skilfully connected with all that accompanies it; but it might nevertheless be as easily severed as the lines which are here maintained to be an unskilful addition.
But it is held, further, that Shakspere did not write these lines; that Ben Jonson wrote them; that Shakspere might properly compliment Elizabeth in her lifetime, but that he would not descend to flatter James,
who was a contemptible king." Shakspere, it is well known, had reason to be grateful to James for personal kindnesses; but there is not a word here of James's personal qualities. The lines apply to the character of his government-its "peace, plenty, love, truth, terror" the extension of its growth to "make new nations." Would Jonson, had he written this passage, have forgotten that James was somewhat prouder of his
"Nor shall this peace sleep with her: But as reputation as a scholar than as a king; and
The bird of wonder dies. ****
So shall she leave her blessedness to one,
Who, from the sacred ashes of her honour,
Is it true, then, that he "first celebrates Elizabeth's successor, and then wishes he did not know she was to die"? Of the seventeen lines which relate to James, the first eleven never lose sight of Elizabeth. Her "blessedness," her "honour," her "fame," were to descend to her "heir." The exten
that one who knew him well had not hesitated to say to him, and perhaps, indeed, in sincerity, "There has not been since Christ's time any king or temporal monarch which has been so learned in all literature and erudition, divine and human "?* We have no hesitation in accepting the passage as one that Shakspere might not have blushed to have written, and which derogates nothing from the manly independence of his character.
The later editors consider that the interpolation rested at the interruption of the
* Bacon 'Advancement of Learning.'
king. Theobald would carry it further, through the remainder of Cranmer's speech: "If this play was wrote, as in my opinion it was, in the reign of Elizabeth, we may easily determine where Cranmer's eulogium of that princess concluded. I make no question but the poet rested here:
by the poet-that is, in the sequence of the
"And by those claim their greatness, not by upon his next appearance after the meeting
Theobald omits to state the most obvious reason for his opinion. We hold that Shakspere, in the age of Elizabeth, would never have written
"She shall be, to the happiness of England,
That passage is also, to our minds, clearly
with Anne Bullen, when he exclaims,
"The fairest hand I ever touch'd! O beauty,
"By Heaven, she is a dainty one !-Sweetheart,
that he should be represented in the depth
"But, conscience, conscience,—
Would she have been pleased with the jests
This makes her cheerful, full of hope and confidence respecting her age." About a year before this time it is held that the 'Henry VIII.' was written, and that it originally included the close of Cranmer's prophecy. "An aged princess!" must die!" Shakspere must indeed have been a bold man to have ventured upon such truths.
But let us yield the whole question of interpolation to those who assert that the 'Henry VIII.' was written in the time of Elizabeth, and give up even the passage of the "aged princess." It is held that the play was written to please Elizabeth. The memory of Henry VIII., perhaps, was not cherished by her with any deep affection; but would she, who in her dying hour is reported to have said, "My seat has been the seat of kings," allow the frailties, and even the peculiarities, of her father to be made a public spectacle? Would she have borne that his passion for her mother should have been put forward in the strongest way
his injured wife, from the hypocritical tyrant,
"the sharp thorny points
"I may perceive,
Finally, would she have licensea the stage
"ha!" ; or taken away Burbage's licence? | interest us in the memory of her mother Would she have wept over the most touching sorrow of the dying Katharine; or sent Shakspere to join the company of his friend Southampton in the Tower? Those who have written on the subject say she would have borne all this; and that the pageant of her mother's coronation, with the succeeding representation of her own christening, capped with the prophecy of her future greatness, were to ensure the harmlessness of all these somewhat explosive materials, and to carry forward the five acts to a most felicitous conclusion
"This little one shall make it holiday." Malone, as it appears to us, says all that can be said, in the literal way, to prove that such a drama as this would be acceptable to Elizabeth: "It is more likely that Shakspeare should have written a play the chief subject of which is the disgraces of Queen Katharine, the aggrandizement of Anne Boleyn, and the birth of her daughter, in the lifetime of Elizabeth, than after her death; at a time when the subject must have been highly pleasing at court, rather than at a period when it must have been less interesting. Queen Katharine, it is true, is represented as an amiable character, but still she is eclipsed; and, the greater her merit, the higher was the compliment to the mother of Elizabeth, to whose superior beauty she was obliged to give way.' This is the prosaic, we may say the essentially grovelling, mode of viewing the object of Shakspere,--an object pre-supposing equal vulgarity of mind in the dramatist and his
court audience. Our readers will be sure that we appreciate far more highly Mr. Campbell's poetical creed in this matter:
Shakspeare contrives, though at the sacrifice of some historical truth, to raise the matron Katharine to our highest admiration, whilst at the same time he keeps us in love with Anne Boleyn, and on tolerable terms with Henry VIII. But who does not see, under all this wise management, the drift of his design, namely, to compliment Elizabeth as a virgin queen; to
* 'Chronological Order,' p. 390.
Anne Boleyn; and to impress us with a belief of her innocence, though she suffered as an alleged traitress to the bed of Henry? The private death of Katharine of Arragon might have been still remembered by many living persons, but the death of Anne Boleyn was still more fresh in public recollection and a wiser expedient could not have been devised for asserting the innocence of Elizabeth's mother than by portraying Henry's injustice towards Queen Katharine. For we are obliged to infer that, if the tyrant could thus misuse the noble Katharine, the purest innocence in her lovely successor could be no shield against his cruelty."+
There is one slight objection to this theory. Shakspere wrote for an audience; and an audience is a thing of impulses; it sympathizes with the oppressed, and hates the oppressor. An audience does not "infer." The poet who trusts to an audience perceiving "the drift of his design' through the veil of a dramatic action which moves their feelings entirely in an opposite direction to that in which he intends them to be moved, has, to our minds at least, a different theory of his art from that of Shakspere.
We hold that the Prologue which we shall presently examine is a complete exposition of the idea of this drama. The Prologue is fastened upon Jonson, upon the theory that he wrote it after Shakspere's retirement from the stage, when the old play was revived in his absence. We believe in the one piece of external evidence, that a 'Henry VIII.' was produced in 1613, when the Globe was burned; that it was a new play; that it was then
called All is True;' and that this title agrees with the idea upon which Shakspere wrote the 'Henry VIII.' Those who believe that it was written in the time of Elizabeth have to reject this one piece of external evidence. We further believe, from the internal evidence, that the play, as it stands, was written in the time of James I., and that we have received it in its original form. Those who assert the contrary have to resort to the hypothesis of interpolation, and, further, have to explain how many things
+ Life. Moxon's edition of Shakspere.
which are, to a plain understanding, incon- | the Clowns of the same stage, whom he had sistent with their theory, may be interpreted, indeed reformed, but who still delighted by great ingenuity, to be consistent. We the "ears of the groundlings" with their believe that Shakspere, amongst his latest extemporal rudeness, might be slightly dramas, constructed an historical drama to renounced. He disclaimed, then, "both fool complete his great series,-one that was and fight:" these were not amongst the agreeable to the tone of his mind after his attractions of this work of his maturer age. fiftieth He had to offer weighty and serious things, sad and high things, noble scenes that commanded tears; state and woe were to be exhibited together: there was to be pageantry, but it was to be full of pity; and the woe
Sad, high, and working, full of state and woe." Those who take the opposite view hold that the chief object of the poet was to produce something which might be acceptable to Queen Elizabeth. Our belief is the obvious one; the contrary belief may be the more ingenious.
We now proceed to the most remarkable Prologue of the few which are attached to Shakspere's plays. It thus commences :—
"I come no more to make you laugh; things
That bear a weighty and a serious brow,
It is, to our minds, a perfect exposition of
was to be the more intense from its truth.
And how did this master of his art profess to be able to produce such deep emotion from the exhibition of scenes that almost came down to his own times; that the fathers and grandfathers of his audience had witnessed in their unpoetical reality; that belonged not to the period when the sword was the sole arbiter of the destinies of princes and favourites, but when men fell by intrigue and not by battle, and even the axe of the capricious despot struck in the name of the law? There was another great poet of this age of high poetry, who had indicated the general theme which Shakspere proposed to illustrate in this drama :— "What man that sees the ever-whirling wheel Of change, the which all mortal things doth sway,
But that thereby doth find, and plainly feel, How Mutability in them doth play
The cruel sports to many men's decay?"* From the first scene to the last, the dramatic action seems to point to the abiding presence of that power which works
"Her cruel sports to many men's decay." We see the "ever-whirling wheel," in a succession of contrasts of grandeur and debasement; and, even when the action is closed, we are carried forward into the depths of the future, to have the same triumph of "Mutability" suggested to our contemplation. This is the theme which the poet emphatically presents to us under its aspect of sadness :—
"Be sad, as we would make you: Think, ye see The very persons of our noble story, *The Faerie Queene.' Two cantos of Mutabilitie