Imatges de pÓgina

Tho' the character of King Henry is drawn after this historian, get Shakespear has placed it in the most advantageous light; in this play he represents him as greatly displeased with the grievances of his subjects and ordering them to be relieved, tender and obliging to his queen, grateful to the Cardinal, and in the case of Cranmer, capable of distinguishing and rewarding true merit. If, in the latter part of the play, he endeavours to cast the disagreeable parts of this Prince's character as much into shade as poffible, it is not to be wondered at. Shakespear wrote in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, a princess who inherited more of the ambition of her father Henry, than of the tenderness and delicacy of her mother Anne Bullen : and however sensible she might be of the injuries her mother endured, would not have suffered her father's character to have been drawn in the worst colours, either by an historian or a poet. Shakespear has exerted an equal degree of complaisance towards Queen Elizabeth, by the amiable lights he Thews ber mother in, in this play.

Anne Bullen is represented as affected with the most tender concern for the suffering of her mistress, Queen Catharine ; receiving the honour the King confers on her, by making her Marchioness of Pembroke, with a graceful humility; and more anxious to conceal her advancement from the Queen, left it should aggravate her sorrows, than folicitous to penetrate into the meaning of so extraordinary a favour, or of indulging herfelf in the flattering prospect of future royalty.


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The Life and Death of King

JOHN (1).



New Titles.


VOOD-den, Sir Richard-God a mercy, fellow,

And if his name be George, I'll call him Peter: For new-made honour doth forget men's names : 'Tis too respective and unfociable For your converfing. Now your traveller, He and his tooth-pick at my worship’s mets: And when my knightly stomach is suffic'd, Why then, I suck my teeth, and catechise

(2) My

(1) King John.] The style all thro' this excellent play is grand and equal, and it abounds with a great variety of fine topics and affecting passages : Shakespear seems to have had a particular respect for Falconbridge, whose character is well maintained, as is that of the king, than whom pone could have been a more proper person for tragedy ; I know not by what singular good fortune too it has happened, that the text is remarkably.correct, and free from that multitude of mistakes, wherewith most of our author's works so unhappily abound.

(2) My piked man of countries ;--my dear Sir,
(Thus leaning on mine elbow, I begin)
I shall beseech you---that is question now;
And then comes answer-like an A B C book :
O Sir, fays answer, at your best command,
At your employment, at your service, Sir;
No, Sir, says question, I, sweet Sir, at yours.
And so e'er answer knows what question would,
Saving in dialogue of compliment;
And talking of the Alps and Apennines,
The Pyrenean and the river Po;
It draws towards supper in conclusion, so.
But this is worshipful society,
And fits the mountain spirit like myself :
For he is but a bastard to the time,
That doth not smack of observation.

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A Defcription of England,

(3) That pale, that white-fac'd shore, Whose foot spurns back the ocean's roaring tides,

And (2) My piked.] Mr. Pope explains this by " a Man formally bearded.'The old copies (says Theobald) give it us picked, by a Night corruption in the spelling; but the author certainly design’d piqued (from the French verb, je pique) i. e. touchy, tart, apprehenfive, upon his guard.” A sense, (that perhaps may seem ridiculous to some readers, and which i by'no means advance as true) ferikes me on reading the passage. « Richard says, the traveller and his tooth-pick shall be both at his table, and for my own part, (he goes on) when I have fufficed my knightly 1tomach, then I shall fit at my ease picking my teeth, and catechising my picked man of countries, i. e. my traveller who has already picked his teeth, and does not take the liberty which I do, to loil on his elbow and pick his teeth, being fubservient to my commands, and waiting for my catechifing him.” In this senfe picked is right in the old copies.

(3) That, &c.] Shakespear, like a true lover of his country, has never omitted any opportunity to celebrate it or his country



from other lands her islanders ;
Ev'n till that England, hedg’d in with the main,
That water-walled bulwark, still secure
And confident from foreign purposes,
Ev'n till that utmost corner of the weit,
Salute thee for her king.

Description of an English Armıy.
His marches are expedient to this town,
His forces strong, his foldiers confident.
With him along is come the mother queen ;
An Aie stirring him to blood and itrife.
With her, her niece the lady Blanch of Spain;
(4) With them a bastard of the king deceas'd;
And all th’unsettled humours of the land,


men, the Reader will find, besides the passages in the present play, one in Richard II. A.2. S. 1. and Cymbeline, A. 3. Si. Spenser too forgot not to pay due honours to his country in his Fairie Qucene, but has given us one whole canto, which he entitles,

A chronicle of Briton kings

From Brute to Uther's raigne :
And rolls of Elfin emperor's
Till time of Glorianie.

B. 2. C. 1o. Neither has Milton omitted to mention his country; in his admirable mask of Comus, he calls it

-An ille

The greatest and the best of all the main ; And his countrymen, An old and haughty nation proud in arms.

(4) With them, &c] There is a night error in the pointing here, which I the rather take notice of, as it runs thro' all the editions, and seems to have given the editors a wrong sense of the passage ; 'tis said the king is come with the mother queen,

With her, her niece the lady Blanch of Spain,
With them a bastard of the king deceas’d,
And all the unsettled humours of the land :
Rath, inconsiderate, &c.

I think

Rah, inconfiderate, fiery voluntaries,
With lady's faces, and fierce dragon's spleens,
Have sold their fortunes at their native homes,
Bearing their birthrights proudly on their backs,
To make a hazard of new fortunes here.
In brief, a braver choice of dauntless spirits,
Than now the English bottoms have waft o'er,
Did never float upon the swelling tide,
To do offence and scathe in Christendom.
The interruption of their churli drums
Cuts off more circumstance; they are at hand.

By how much unexpected, by so much
We must awake endeavour for defence;
For courage mounteth with occafion.

SCENE II. A Boafer.
What cracker is this fame, that deafs our ears
With this abundance of superfluous breath?
SCENE IV. Description of Victory', by the Frencii.

You men of Angiers, open wide your gates,
And let young Arthur duke of Bretagne in:
Who by the hand of France this day hath made,
Much work for tears in many an Englijh mother,
Whose fons lye scatter'd on the bleeding ground:
And many a widow's husband grovelling lies,
Coldly embracing the discolour'd earth;



I think there is no doubt, the semicoln ficuld be after the bal-
tard of the king deceas’d; then he adds, and all the unsettled
humours of the land, raih, &c. have fold, c." Siative in the
last line but two, signifies damage, hurt, mischief, derived from
a Saxon word: Skinner says, it is yet used in Lincoln lire, which
it might have been in his time, and probably may be now,
tho' I don't recollect ever to have heard it.


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