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ACT V. SCENE V.
(12) Men that make
Envy and crooked malice nourishment,
-Love and meeknefs, Lord,
Become a church-man better than ambition:
SCENE VIII. Archbishop Cranmer's Prophecy. -Let me fpeak, Sir; (For heav'n now bids me) and the words I utter,
(12) Men, &c.] In Paftor Fido, there is a fine fentiment not unlike this. Act 5. Sc. I.
Who now can boast of earth's felicity.
S. R. Fanshaw.
(13) 'Tis, &c.] The poet, in the former part of the play, gives us the fame humane and tender fentiment.
-O my lord,
Act. 3. S. 6.
Nothing can afford us a better idea of the author's excellent mind; and we are affured, from the account we have of his character, he was remarkable for his humanity, benevolence, and many virtues.
Let none think flatt'ry, for they'll find 'em truth.
Upon this land a thousand, thousand bleffings,
Shall ftill be doubled on her. Truth fhall nurse her:
She fhall be lov'd and fear'd. Her own fhall blef
Her foes shake like a field of beaten corn,
And hang their heads with forrow. Good grows with her.
(14) In her days, ev'ry man fhall eat in fafety,
Look how the father's face, (fays Ben Johnfond
Of Shakespear's mind and manners brightly fhines,
(14) In, &c.] The poet's excellence in fo beautifully keeping up the propriety of his characters, can never be fufficiently admired; no expreffions could have fo well become the mouth of an archbishop as fcripture ones; and we may obferve, what graces this elegant compliment to his princess gains from thence the bleffings of Solomon's reign are fet forth in the first of Kings Ch. iv. where particularly 'tis faid, "Every man dwelt fafely under his vine;" and fo in the prophet Micah, "They fhall fit every man under his vine, and under his fig-tree: and none fhall make them afraid; for all people will walk every one in the name of his God, &c. See Ch. iv. Ver. 4.
Nor fhall this peace fleep with her; but as when
As great in admiration as herself;
So fhall the leave her bleffedness to one,
(15) (When heav'n fhall call her from this cloud of darkness)
Who from the facred afhes of her honour
Shall ftar-like rife, as great in fame as the was,
(15) This cloud of darkness.] Milton in his Comus, at the begin ning, thus fpeaks in contempt of the earth :
Above the fmoak and ftir of this dim fpot,
Which men call earth, and with low-thoughted care
The hiftorical facts (fays Mrs. Lenox) upon which this play is founded, are all extracted from Holing fed; the characters generally drawn clofely after this hiftorian, and many of the fpeeches copied almoft literally from him.
The accufation, trial, and death of the Duke of Buckingham, makes a very affecting incident in this play.
Shakespear has been exactly just to hiftorical truth, in making Cardinal Wolfey the fole contriver of this nobleman's fall; whose character as it is fummed up by King Henry, is perfectly agreeable to that given him by Holing bed.
Tho' the character of King Henry is drawn after this historian, yet Shakespear has placed it in the most advantageous light; in this play he reprefents him as greatly difpleafed with the grievances of his fubjects and ordering them to be relieved, tender and obliging to his queen, grateful to the Cardinal, and in the cafe of Cranmer, capable of diftinguishing and rewarding true merit. If, in the latter part of the play, he endeavours to caft the disagreeable parts of this Prince's character as much into fhade 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 fenfible the might be of the injuries her mother endured, would not have fuffered her father's character to have been drawn in the worft colours, either by an hiftorian or a poet. Shakespear has exerted an equal degree of complaifance towards Queen Elizabeth, by the amiable lights he shews her mother in, in this play.
Anne Bullen is reprefented as affected with the most tender concern for the fuffering 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 forrows, than folicitous to penetrate into the meaning of fo extraordinary a favour, or of indulging herfelf in the flattering profpect of future royalty.
Life and Death of King
WOOD-den, Sir Richard-God a mercy, fellow,
For your converfing. Now your traveller,
(1) King John.] The ftyle all thro' this excellent play is grand and equal, and it abounds with a great variety of fine topics and affecting paffages: Shakespear feems to have had a particular refpect for Faulconbridge, whofe character is well maintained, as is that of the king, than whom none could have been a more proper perfon for tragedy; I know not by what fingular 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 fo unhappily abound.