Henry VIII (1925) Yale/Notes

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Dramatis Personæ, omitted in the Folio, were first supplied by Rowe in 1709.

The Prologue. For general discussion of authorship, see Appendix C. It may be well, however, to state here that the question of the authorship of many parts of this play is undecided. For a hundred and fifty years Shakespeare's authorship of the Prologue has been denied. In the eighteenth century Dr. Samuel Johnson attributed it to Fletcher; in the nineteenth, it has been given to Ben Jonson, and to Chapman; in the twentieth, to Massinger. Besides the Induction to 2 Henry IV there are only three other prologues in Shakespeare's works, those to Troilus and Cressida, Romeo and Juliet and Henry V. In each case the prologue serves to explain the play. Here it is actually misleading, since the last lines of the Prologue promise us a tragedy and the Fifth Act is far from tragic. And the tone of this Prologue is curiously apologetic.

Pro. 9. May here find truth too. The play of Henry VIII in 1613 had, as an alternative title, All is True. (See quotation from Sir Henry Wotton, Appendix B.) Some critics find here and in

'To rank our chosen truth with such a show'
(l. 18) and
'To make that only true we now intend' (l. 21)

allusions to that title. If these lines contain allusions to that title, the question of the date is settled.

Pro. 12. shilling. The price of admission to the best seats in the theatre. It must be remembered, however, that the purchasing power of a shilling was over eight times that at present.

Pro. 16. In a long motley coat. The customary costume of the stage fool.

Pro. 19. As fool and fight is. Dr. Johnson and later critics have regarded this gratuitous attack upon the stage fool and the stage battle as decisive evidence of the non-Shakespearean authorship of the Prologue, because both fools and fights are very often used by Shakespeare. It is possible that the lines, 14–16, may be an attack upon Samuel Rowley's When you see me you know me. (See Appendix B.)

Pro. 22. Will leave us. Awkward construction. The whole line, 21, is in apposition with opinion. The passage, 17–22, may then be paraphrased: gentle hearers, you must understand that to rank our play with a foolish comedy is, besides forfeiting our intelligence and our reputation for presenting historical truth, to lose us our friends.

Pro. 25, 26. think ye see. see—story are bad rimes. Theobald emends think before ye—story; Heath, think ye see—history. Actually, these rimes indicate merely that the Prologue was written hastily, not that there was an error in the printing.

I. i. S. d. London. An Antechamber in the Palace. The Folio, here as elsewhere, omits any indication of place. Unlike our modern stage with its elaborate sets of scenery, the Shakespearean stage was comparatively bare, with an apron projecting out into the pit. In all probability the authors had no particular place here in mind. If a particular palace must be mentioned, it was presumably that at Greenwich, to which the King, according to Holinshed, returned after the Field of the Cloth of Gold, June, 1520. It could not have been Bridewell, as has been suggested, because that palace was not built until two years later. The question is of no importance.

I. i. S. d. Enter the Duke of Norfolk. Thomas Howard (1443–1524), was created Duke of Norfolk in 1514 in recognition of his having won the Battle of Flodden Field. His son, the father of the poet Surrey, married Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of the Duke of Buckingham in 1513. Thus there was a close tie between the Duke of Norfolk and the Duke of Buckingham, in spite of which it was Norfolk who presided at Buckingham's trial and received as recompense part of the latter's sequestered estates. The authors seem unaware of this connection between the two noblemen: Norfolk's part in Buckingham's trial is ignored, and they seem unconscious of the difference of thirty-five years between the two speakers. Norfolk is an old man, seventy-seven, and as he died in 1524 his appearance in III. ii. is an anachronism. Historically it was Buckingham, not Norfolk, that accompanied Henry to France.

I. i. S. d. Duke of Buckingham. Edward Stafford (1478–1521), third Duke of Buckingham. The authors follow Holinshed in attributing Buckingham's fall to the hatred of Wolsey; there is slight foundation for this idea.

I. i. S. d. Lord Abergavenny. George Neville (1471–1535) was a son-in-law of the Duke of Buckingham. He was imprisoned in 1521 for complicity in Buckingham's treason, but was pardoned in March, 1522.

I. i. 6. Those suns of glory. Francis I, King of France, and Henry VIII, King of England.

I. i. 7. vale of Andren. Altered in the Second Folio to Vale of Arde, but Andren is copied from Holinshed. It is the Salley separating Guynes, a town in Picardy which then belonged to the English, from Arde (or Ardres), a town also in Picardy belonging to the French. It was the locality selected for the interview between the two kings, from the seventh to the fourteenth of June, 1520, called from the magnificence of the appointments the 'Field of the Cloth of Gold.' The interview had little political significance. The time of this scene is approximately the fall of 1520.

I. i. 12. All the whole time. Incorrect. Buckingham was present at the Field of the Cloth of Gold; it was Norfolk that remained behind in England.

I. i. 18. its. Both the First and Second Folios read it's. The neuter possessive pronoun its was at this time slowly replacing the older neuter pronoun his, as used, for example, in l. 45 of this scene. This is the only case in Shakespeare’s works where its is used absolutely.

I. i. 38. Bevis. The hero of the old tale Bevis of Hamptoun, a person that performs miraculous feats.

I. i. 42–47. All was royal. The assignment of speeches here is that of the Folio. Since Theobald, every editor has accepted his change which gives All was royal . . . function to Norfolk and As you guess to Buckingham. The Folio reading is restored on the general principle that unnecessary tampering with the text as given is unjustifiable. In addition, there is a gain in the original reading. Buckingham's emphasis on royal gives the actor his first opportunity to show the character's love of rank. Buckingham's speech is, then, one of acquiescence; the performance has been carried out as it should have been. On the other hand, Norfolk, who knows of Buckingham's hatred to Wolsey, to this expressed approval replies maliciously 'As you would suppose when you consider you planned it.' The Folio reading consequently makes a more dramatic scene.

I. i. 63. Out of his self-drawing web. The Folio here reads:

Out of his self-drawing web. O gives us note.

Capell's emendation is here followed. A' gives us note means that he himself tells us that, spider-like, he has created his own greatness.

I. i. 76–80. for the most part such, etc. This speech is marked by the incoherence of anger. Such is the object of the verb papers; letter is the subject of the verb must fetch; such is the antecedent of him. The meaning is: generally he lists (papers) such persons as he both wishes to tax heavily and at the same time give little honor to, and his own handwriting (letter) cheats them into incurring this expense, now that the Board of the Council is out of the way. By putting this passage into blank verse the authors cannot be said to have improved upon the clarity of Holinshed:

'The peeres of the realme receiuing letters to prepare themselues to attend the king in this iournie, and no necessarie cause expressed, why nor wherefore; seemed to grudge, that such a costlie iournie should be taken in hand to their importunate charges and expenses, without consent of the whole boord of the councell.' Holinshed (1587), p. 855.

I. i. 86. minister communication. These speeches of Buckingham seem to be derived from the passage from Holinshed continuing that quoted in the preceding note:

'But namelie the duke of Buckingham, being a man of a loftie courage, but not most liberall, sore repined that he should be at so great charges for his furniture foorth at this time, saieng; that he knew not for what cause so much monie should be spent about the sight of a vaine talke to be had, and communication to be ministred of things of no importance. Wherefore he sticked not to saie, that it was an intollerable matter to obeie such a vile and importunate person.'

I. i. 90. hideous storm. Holinshed (1587), p. 860: 'On Mondaie, the eighteenth of June, was such an hideous storme of wind and weather, that manie coniectured it did prognosticate trouble and hatred shortlie after to follow between princes.'

I. i. 95. For France hath flaw'd the league. Holinshed (1587), p. 872:

'Many complaints were made by the merchants to the king and his councell of the Frenchmen, which spoiled them by sea of their goods. . . . The sixt of March, the French king commanded all Englishmens goods being in Burdeaux to be attached, and put under arrest. . . . The king, understanding how his subiects were handled at Burdeaux by the French kings commandement, in breach of the league, the French ambassadour was called before the councell. . . .' As this was March, 1522, and Buckingham was executed on Friday, May 17, 1521, the authors of the play have muddled their dates.

I. i. 97. Th' ambassador is silenc'd. Holinshed (1587), p. 873:

'The ambassadour in words so well as he could excused his master, but in the end hee was commanded to keepe his house.'

I. i. 115. The Duke of Buckingham's surveyor. Holinshed (1587), p. 862:

'. . . The cardinall boiling in hatred against the duke a Buckingham, and thirsting for his bloud, deuised to make Charles Kneuet, that had beene the dukes surueior, and put from him (as ye haue heard) an instrument to bring the duke to destruction.'

Holinshed borrowed this explanation of Buckingham's fall from Polydore Vergil, a personal enemy of Wolsey. Modern investigation has shown that Wolsey's hatred was not the chief cause of the tragedy.

I. i. 120. This butcher's cur. Wolsey's father sold meat among other things. His will shows him to have been a successful retail grocer and butcher, and the Ipswich town records prove that he was not overscrupulous. Wolsey was often taunted with his lowly origin.

'How be it the primordyall
Of his wretched originall,
And his base progeny,
And his gresy genealogy,
He came of the sank royall (royal blood),
That was cast out of a bochers stall.'
Skelton's Why Come Ye not to Court.

I. i. 138. Ipswich. Ipswich was Wolsey's birthplace.

I. i. 172. count-cardinal. The title is hyphenated because a secular title is joined to an ecclesiastical one. Wolsey was both Archbishop of York and Count of Hexamshire.

I. i. 176. Charles the emperor. Charles V, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and King of Spain. His mother, Joanna, was a sister of Katharine of Aragon, wife of Henry VIII. He landed at Dover, May 26, 1520. The real and pretended motives for this visit are taken from Holinshed.

I. i. 183. He privily. He was omitted in the First Folio, but supplied in the Second.

I. i. 197 S. d. Enter Brandon. A Sir Thomas Brandon is mentioned by Holinshed as Master of the King's Horse. Yet, according to Holinshed, the arrest was made by Sir Henry Marny, Captain of the King's Guard. There is no dramatic reason for this change of persons; it merely shows that the dramatists worked up the material for the play rapidly.

I. i. 200. Hereford. The Folio misprints Hertford.

I. i. 204–206. I am sorry, etc. Two coordinate clauses. I am sorry to see that you are taken prisoner and to be an eye-witness to the event.

I. i. 211. Lord Abergavenny. The Folio spells the name Aburgany, a spelling that indicates the pronunciation. The fact of the arrest is taken from Holinshed, 'and so likewise was lord Montacute, and both led to the Tower.'

I. i. 218. John de la Car. Taken from Holinshed, 'maister John de la Car alias de la Court.' John Delacourt acted as the intermediary between the Duke and Nicholas Hopkins, the Carthusian monk. Cf. n. on I. i. 221.

I. i. 219. One Gilbert Peck, his chancellor. Both Folios here read 'councellour.' This was corrected by Theobald from Holinshed. But there was a double error, since the name of the Duke's chancellor given by Holinshed is Gilbert Perke. Apparently 'Peck' is a misprint for Perk. Really the chancellor was Robert Gilbert. This mistake probably arose from the fact that in one of the state papers he is called 'Robert Gilbert clerk, then his chancellor.' Hall mistook 'clerk' for a name, and misprinted it Perke. Holinshed copied Hall, and the dramatists followed Holinshed. But a few paragraphs farther on, Holinshed gives both the name and title correctly: 'the said duke had sent his chancellour Robert Gilbert chapleine.' This is another indication that the dramatists had not read Holinshed carefully.

I. i. 221. Nicholas Hopkins. The Folios read Michaell. Theobald corrected this to Nicholas, following Holinshed. Hopkins, a monk of the Charterhouse at Henton, was a religious enthusiast, with gift of prophecy. Unintentionally he brought the Duke into danger and died broken-hearted.

I. i. 225. instant. These lines, 224–226, develop an elaborate meteorological figure. This very instant, eclipsing the clear sun of my prosperity, throws a cloud upon my figure and makes me only the shadow of what I was.

I. i. 226. My lord. The Folio, which reads lords, is obviously incorrect, because, as Abergavenny is arrested with him and Brandon accompanies him, there is only one person, Norfolk, left on the stage.

I. ii. 226. The Council Chamber. These locations of the scenes are later additions. On the Elizabethan stage there was no front curtain and ordinarily no intermission. As Buckingham and Abergavenny are led off at one side, with Norfolk following, trumpets are heard and the King enters from the other side. Sir Thomas Lovell was the Constable of the Tower. The scene follows the long account of the charges against Buckingham as given in Holinshed, with the important exception that the petition of Katharine and her attack upon Wolsey are the creation of the dramatists.

I. ii. 8 S. d. Suffolk. Charles Brandon, created Duke of Suffolk in 1514, married Mary Tudor, Henry's sister, the dowager Queen of France.

I. ii. 8 S. d. King riseth from his state. The 'state' was a raised throne with a canopy. This had been brought on by stage hands after the end of the first scene.

I. ii. 20. there have been commissions. This account is taken from Holinshed (1587), p. 891. But the chronology is confused. The commissions were sent in March, 1525, four years after Buckingham's death. But for this there is the dramatic reason that antedating these events enables Katharine to plead both for the people and for Buckingham, and by so doing to intensify Wolsey's dislike of her.

I. ii. 129. Stand forth. J.S. Brewer comments on this scene as follows:

'It will be remembered that in Shakespeare's play the Duke is declared guilty by the King at a meeting of the Privy Council, even before his regular trial had taken place;—a process altogether informal. In the Council Chamber in which Queen Katharine and Wolsey are present, the King is represented as conducting the examination of the Duke's surveyor, Charles Knyvet, in person. The Duke has no one there to defend him; the witnesses are not subjected to cross-examination, nor is any attempt made to ascertain the accuracy of their charges, or to test their honesty and good faith by the methods now adopted in similar cases. The Duke's guilt is assumed upon their unsupported assertions. In this travesty of justice, the Queen is the only person who appears to retain any sense of what is due to reason and equity; but she is too feeble an advocate, too much bewildered by the sophistry which she feels, but is unable to unravel, to render the accused any effectual help. Besides, when kings sit in council, who shall contradict them? When their minds are already made up, "God mend all," is the natural and sole reflection which presents itself to the thoughts of inferiors. Strange as this proceeding may appear, it is not due merely to the poet's imagination. It presents us with a general likeness of State prosecutions in the Tudor times. The presumption that men are innocent until they are legally proved to be guilty, the facilities granted to the accused for substantiating his innocence by retaining the ablest advocate, the methods for sifting evidence now in use, had no existence then. In crimes against the sovereign, real or supposed, men were presumed to be guilty until they proved themselves to be innocent, and that proof was involved in endless difficulties. What advocate or what witness would have ventured to brave the displeasure of a Tudor king, by appearing in defense of a criminal, on whose guilt the King had pronounced already? With the exception of making Wolsey present at the examination of the Duke's servants and surveyor, Shakespeare has strictly adhered to facts in this preliminary examination of the Duke's servants.'

(J. S. Brewer, The Reign of Henry VIII, I. 383.)

I. ii. 147. Henton. This, the Folio reading, was altered by Theobald to 'Hopkins.' But as he was often called Henton from the monastery to which he belonged, 'there is no need to amend the text.' (Gollancz.) Cf. I. i. 221 and note.

I. ii. 151–171. These twenty lines are merely Holinshed (1587), p. 864, in blank verse.

I. ii. 164. confession's seal. Theobald's emendation of the Folio's reading Commissions seal. It comes from Holinshed, 'under the seal of confession.'

I. ii. 170. To gain. The word gain was added in the Fourth Folio to complete the meter.

I. ii. 172. You were the duke's surveyor. The accusation against Knyvet is taken from Holinshed.

I. ii. 177–186. This speech is versified Holinshed.

I. ii. 179. for him. Capell's emendation for the for this of the Folio.

I. ii. 190. Bulmer. The Folio printer transposed the letters, so that the name reads Blumer.

I. ii. 213. by day and night. An exclamation. Cf. Hamlet, I. v. 164, 'O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!'

I. iii. The third scene, which serves only as a prelude to the fourth, is typical of Fletcher's style. It has been explained by some commentators as being an attack upon the courtiers of James I. Although there is no dramatic reason for its existence, it is an expansion of one paragraph of Holinshed (1587), p. 850, and of another on p. 852. Owing to the fact that the dramatists skipped back and forth in versifying the passages from Holinshed, the chronology is hopeless. This scene was in 1519. At this time the Lord Chamberlain was Charles Somerset, Earl of Worcester, and Sir William Sands (or Sandys) had not been raised to the nobility.

I. iii. 12, 13. spavin Or springhalt. Verplanck's emendation for the Folio,

. . . the Spauen
A Spring-halt . . .

because the two diseases are different, although each causes lameness in a horse.

I. iii. 25. Of fool and feather. Alluding to the long feathers worn in the hats.

I. iii. 27. as fights and fireworks. There had been jousting at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, and the interview had ended with a display of fireworks.

I. iii. 30. tall stockings. The extreme of the fashion was very short puffed trousers and long stockings, reaching above the knee.

I. iii. 63. My barge stays. Before the Victoria Embankment was built, the palaces along the river front had steps leading down to the river, because the ordinary means of travel was by boat.

I. iv. This scene, also by Fletcher, is a dramatization of the passage from Holinshed (1587), pp. 921 ff. But Holinshed's Chronicle is itself a compilation from a number of previous works. This particular passage is an almost verbatim reprint from George Cavendish's Life of Cardinal Wolsey. According to Hall, the entertainment took place January 3, 1527. Consequently chronological order in the play is incorrect in placing it before Buckingham's death. This error arose from the fact that Holinshed, after he had finished a year-by-year account of Wolsey's career, summarized his character, drawing from Cavendish. Consequently in this part of Holinshed no dates are given to the events described. This error in dating causes another, namely, that in 1527 the Lord Chamberlain and Lord Sandys were not different persons, as Sandys had become Lord Chamberlain the year before. Sir Henry Guilford was Master of Horse.

York Place, then the residence of Wolsey, later became Whitehall, the royal palace. Cf. IV. i. 95–97.

I. iv. 49 S. d. Chambers discharged. This appears to have been the occasion of the conflagration which destroyed the Globe Theatre. See Appendix B, p. 150.

I. iv. 75. The fairest hand. Anne Boleyn's presence at this entertainment is an invention of the dramatists. There is no indication in Holinshed that she was there.

I. iv. 96. And not to kiss you. Kissing before the dance was the custom. If he had not kissed her, he would have been 'unmannerly.'

II. i. This scene (by Fletcher), while scarcely advancing the action of the drama, is yet finely effective, taken by itself. It is a close dramatization from Holinshed (1587), p. 865, even to the extent of keeping many of the original phrases.

II. i. 18. To have brought. The first three Folios read To him brought; the correction was made in the Fourth.

II. i. 43, 44. Earl Surrey was sent thither, and in haste too, Lest he should help his father. Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey and in 1524 Duke of Norfolk, had married Elizabeth Stafford, the eldest daughter of the Duke of Buckingham.

II. i. 53. The mirror of all courtesy. 'He is tearmed in the books of the law in the said thirteenth yeare of Henrie the eight (where his arreignement is liberallie set downe) to be the floure and mirror of all courtesie.' Holinshed (1587), p. 870.

II. i. 53 S. d. the axe with the edge towards him. This indicated that the prisoner had been condemned.

II. i. 53 S. d. Sir William Sandys. The same character that has figured in Act I as Lord Sandys, only here his title is correctly given. Theobald corrected the Folio, which reads Walter.

II. i. 67. evils. Some commentators have wished to take evils in this passage and in Measure for Measure, II. ii. 172, in the Elizabethan sense of Page:Henry VIII (1925) Yale.djvu/144 Page:Henry VIII (1925) Yale.djvu/145 Page:Henry VIII (1925) Yale.djvu/146 Page:Henry VIII (1925) Yale.djvu/147 Page:Henry VIII (1925) Yale.djvu/148 Page:Henry VIII (1925) Yale.djvu/149 Page:Henry VIII (1925) Yale.djvu/150 Page:Henry VIII (1925) Yale.djvu/151 Page:Henry VIII (1925) Yale.djvu/152 Page:Henry VIII (1925) Yale.djvu/153 Page:Henry VIII (1925) Yale.djvu/154 Page:Henry VIII (1925) Yale.djvu/155 Page:Henry VIII (1925) Yale.djvu/156 Page:Henry VIII (1925) Yale.djvu/157 (officers of the law) will chase them, whipping them, after the prison term of three days has expired.

V. v. Elizabeth was christened September 10, 1533.