Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

For all their noble blode
He pluckes them by the hode,
And shakes them by the eare,
And brynge(s) them in suche feare;
He bayteth them lyke a bere,
Like an oxe or a bull:
Theyr wyttes, he saith, are dul;
He sayth they have no brayne
Theyr astate to mayntayne ;
and maketh them to bow theyr kne
Before his majeste.
Juges of the kynges lawes,
He countys them foles and dawes;
Sergyantes of the coyfe eke,
He sayth they are to seke
In pletynge of theyr case
At the Commune Place,
Or at the Kynges Benche;
He wryngeth them such a wrenche,
That all our learned men
Dare nat set theyr penne
To plete a trew tryall

ACT IV.

(1) SCENE II.-Give him a little earth for charity!] So Cavendish:

“And the next day he took his journey with Master Kingston and the guard. And as soon as they espied their old master, in such a lamentable estate, they lamented him with weeping eyes. Whom my lord took by the hands, and divers times, by the way, as he rode, he would talk with them, sometime with one, and sometime with another; at night he was lodged at a house of the Earl of Shrewsbury's, called Hardwick Hall, very evil at ease. The next day he rode to Nottingham, and there lodged that night, more sicker, and the next day we rode to Leicester Abbey; and by the way he waxed so sick that he was divers times likely to have fallen from his mule ; and being night before we came to the abbey of Leicester, where at his coming in at the gates the abbot of the place with all his convent met him with the light of many torches; whom they right honourably received with Kreat reverence

To whom my lord said, “Father Abbot, I am come hither to leave my bones among you,' whom they brought on his mule to the stairs foot of his chamber, and there alighted, and Master Kingston then took him by the arm and led him up the stairs; who told me afterwards that he never carried so heavy a burden in all his life. And as soon as he was in his chamber, he went incontinent to his bed, very sick.”

(2) SCENE II.-His blessed part to heaven.) By his "blessed part” is of course meant his "spiritual or immortal part:” and we apprehend that the expression “better part," in the much-controverted passage in “ As You Like It," Act III. Sc. 2:—"Atalanta's better part,". bears a similar signification ; in proof of this may be cited the trite old epitaph mentioned by Whalley :

ACT V.

(1) SCENE III.- Parish-garden.] This is usually printed Paris garden, but Parish was possibly the vulgar pronunciation of the word. Paris Garden was a district of St. Saviour's parish, in Southwark, wherein were two famous gardens set apart for the diversion of bear-baiting. On the 25th of May, 1599, soon after her accession to the throne, Queen Elizabeth gave a splen lid dinner to the

Within Westmynster hall;
In the Chauncery where he syttes
But suche as he admyttes
None so hardy to speke:
He sayth, thou huddy peke,
Thy lernynge is to lewde,
Thy tonge is nat well thewde,
To seke before our grace;
And openly in that place
He rages and he raves,
And calls them cankerd knaves :
Thus royally he dothe deale
Under the kynges brode seale:
And in the Checker he them cheks;
In the Star Chambre he noddis and beks,
And bereth him there so stoute,
That no man dare route,
Duke, erle, baron, nor lorde,
But to his sentence must accorde :
Whether he be knyght or squyre,
All men must folow his desyre."

Why Cume Ye Nat To Courle?" &c. &c.

“ Sarah's obedience, Lydia's open heart,

And Martha's care, and Mary's better part." And the following passage from Overbury's, "Characters:"_“Lastly,” (he is depicting a Melancholy Man,) “he is a man onely in shew, but comes short of the better part, a whole reasonable soule, which is mans chief preeminence," &c.

(3) SCENE II.

and urge the king To do me this last right.]

The letter referred to in this passage, which Katharine addressed to the king a short time before her death, is preserved in Polydore Virgil's History, and has been translated as follows by Lord Herbert :

“My most dear lord, king, and husband,

The hour of my death now approaching, I cannot choose but, out of the love I bear you, advise you of your soul's health, which you ought to prefer before all considerations of the world or tlesh whatsoever: for which yet you have cast me into many calamities, and yourself into many troubles.—But I forgive you all, and pray God to do so likewise. For the rest, I commend unto you Mary our daughter, beseeching you to be a good father to her, as I havo heretofore desired. I must entreat you also to respect my maids, and give them in marriage, (which is not much, they being but three,) and to all my other servants a year's pay besides their due, lest otherwise they should be unprovided for. Lastly, I make this vow, that mine eyes desire you above all things. Fare. well."

French ambassadors, who were afterwards entertained with the baiting of bulls and bears, and the queen herself stood with the ambassadors looking on the pastime til! six at night. The next day, the same ambassadors went by water to Paris Garden, where they saw another baiting of bulls and of bears.” (See Nichols' Progresses, Vol. I. p. 40.)

[blocks in formation]

“SHAKSPEARE was as profound a historian as a poet; when we compare his Henry the Eighth with the preceding pieces, we see distinctly that the English nation during the long, peaceable, and economical reign of Henry VII., wbether from the exhaustion which was the fruit of the civil wars, or from more general European influences, had made a sudden transition from the powerful confusion of the middle ago, to the regular tameness of modern times. Henry the Lighth has, therefore, somewhat of a prosaic appearance ; for Shakspeare, artist-like, adapted himself always to the quality of his materials. If others of his works, both in elevation of fancy and in energy of pathos and character, tower far above this, we have here on the other hand occasion to admire his nice powers of discrimination and his perfect knowledge of courts and the world. What tact was requisite to represent before the eyes of the queen subjects of such a delicate nature, and in which she was personally so nearly concerned, without doing violence to the truth! He has unmasked the tyrannical king, and to the intelligent observer exhibited him such as he was actually : haughty and obstinate, voluptuous and unfeeling, extravagant in conferring favours, and revengeful under the pretext of justice; and yet the picture is so dexterously handled that a daughter might take it for favourable. The legitimacy of Elizabeth's birth depended on the invalidity of Henry's first marriage, and Shakspeare has placed the proceedings respecting his separation from Catharine of Arragon in a very doubtful light. We see clearly that Henry's scruples of conscience are no other than the beauty of Anne Boleyn. Catharine is, properly speaking, the heroine of the piece ; she excites the warmest sympathy by her virtues, her defenceless misery, her mild but firm opposition, and her dignified resignation. After her, the fall of Cardinal Wolsey constitutes the principal part of the business. Henry's whole reign was not adapted for dramatic poetry. It would have merely been a repetition of the same scenes : the repudiation, or the execution of his wives, and the disgrace of his most estimable ministers, which was usually soon followed by death. Of all that distinguished Henry's life, Shakspeare has given us sufficient specimens. But as, properly speaking, there is no division in the history where he breaks off, we must excuse him if he gives us a flattering compliment of the great Elizabeth for a fortunate catastrophe. The piece ends with the general joy at the birth of that princess, and with prophecies of the happiness which she was afterwards to enjoy or to diffuse. It was only by such a turn that the hazardous freedom of thought in the rest of the composition could have passed with impunity: Shakspeare was not certainly himself deceived respecting this theatrical delusion. The true conclusion is the death of Catharine, which under a feeling of this kind, he has placed earlier than was conformable to history."-SCHLEGEL.

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed]

Z

VOL. II.

CYMBELIN E.

“The Tragedie of Cymbeline" is one of the seventeen plays, the earliest known edition of which is the folio of 1623. When produced, or when first acted, we have, as usual, no means of determining; but Malone is perhaps not far wrong in supposing it was written in 1609, as about that period there is good reason for believing Shakespeare wrote “ The Tempest,” and “ The Winter's Tale:” and the marked similarity in the versification of those plays and that of Cymbeline, indicates that the three were composed at no distant date from each other.

The main incident of the plot—the wager on the chastity of the heroineappears to have been taken from a story in Boccaccio (Day 2, Nov. 9), of which an abstract will be found in the “ Illustrative Comments." This novel was a favourite evidently, for it has been translated and paraphrased many times. One modification of it occurs in the amusing collection of stories called, “ Westward for Smelts, or The Water-mans fare of mad merry Western wenches,” &c., which Steevens and Malone assert was printed in 1603. If they are correct, this réchauffé of Boccaccio's fable may have contributed to the composition of “ Cymbeline,” but no edition of it earlier than 1620, and of that only one copy, is now known to exist. The events in this story are laid in England during the reigns of Henry VI. and Edward IV., and the villain of it, instead of being conveyed to the lady's chamber in a chest (as described in the Italian and French versions), hides himself beneath her bed.

The historical facts and allusions in “Cymbeline” were seemingly derived from Holinshed; but the important and delightful episode that introduces us to Belarius and the stolen princes, we may conclude was Shakespeare's own invention ; unless the germ of it were found in some older play upon which the present was founded.

[ocr errors]

707

z z 2

« ZurückWeiter »