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Enter Doctor BUTTS.
[Exit BUTTS. Cran. (aside]
'Tis Butts, The king's physician; As he past along, How earnestly he cast his eyes upon me! Pray heaven, he sound not my disgrace! For certain, This is of purpose lay'd, by some that hate me, (God turn their hearts! I never sought their malice,) To quench mine honour: they would shame to make me Wait else at door; a fellow-counsellor, Among boys, grooms, and lackeys. But their pleasures Must be fulfilld, and I attend with patience.
Enter, at a window above, 3 the King and Butts. Butts. I'll show your grace the strangest sight, K. Hen.
What 's that, Butts ? Butts. I think, your highness saw this many a day. K. Hen. Body o' me, where is it? Butts.
There, my lord: The high promotion of his grace of Canterbury; Who holds his state at door, 'mongst pursuivants, Pages, and footboys. K. Hen.
Ha! 'Tis he, indeed: Is this the honour they do one another? 'Tis well, there's one above them yet. I had thought, They had parted so much honesty among them,
at a window above, ] The suspicious vigilance of our ancestors contrived windows which overlooked the insides of chapels, halls, kitchens, passages, &c. Some of these convenient peep-holes may be still found in colleges, and such ancient houses as have not suffered from the reformations of modern architec. ture. Among Andrew Borde's instructions for building a house, (see his Dietarie of Health,) is the following: “Many of the chambers to have a view into the chapel."
Again, in a Letter from Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Can. terbury, 1573: “And if it please her majestie, she may come in through my gallerie, and see the disposition of the hall in dynDer time, at a window opening thereunto."
Without a previous knowledge of this custom, Shakspeare's scenery, in the present instance, would be obscure. Steevens.
4 They hat parted &c ] We should now say— They had shared, &c. i. e. had so much honesty among them. Steevens.
(At least, good manners,) as not thus to suffer
[Exeunt. THE COUNCIL-CHAMBER. Enter the Lord Chancellor, the Duke of SUFFOLK, Earl
of SURREY, Lord Chamberlain, GARDINER, and CROMWELL. The Chancellor places himself at the upper end of the table on the left hand; a seat being left void above him, as for the Archbishop of Canterbury. The rest seat themselves in order on each side. CROMWELL at the lower end, as secretary. Chan. Speak to the business, master secretary: Why are we met in council? Crom.
Please your honours, The chief cause concerns his grace of Canterbury.
Gar. Has he had knowledge of it?
draw the curtain close ;] i. e. the curtain of the balcony, or upper-stage, where the King now is. Malune.
6 Chan. Speak to the business,] This Lord Chancellor, though a character, has hitherto had no place in the Dramatis Persona. In the last scene of the fourth Act, we heard that Sir Thomas More was appointed Lord Chancellor: but it is not he whom the poet here introduces. Wolsey, by command, delivered up the seals on the 18th of November, 1529; on the 25th of the same month, they were delivered to Sir Thomas More, who surrendered them on the 16th of May, 1532. Now the conclusion of this scene taking notice of Queen Elizabeth's birth, (which bring's it down to the year 1534,) Sir Thomas Audlie must necessarily be our poet's chancellor ; who succeeded Sir Thomas More, and held the seals many years.
Theobald. In the preceding scene we have heard of the birth of Elizabeth, and from the conclusion of the present it appears that she is not yet christened. She was born September 7, 1533, and baptized on the 11th of the same month. Cardinal Wolsey was Chancel. lor of England from September 7, 1516, to the 25th of October, 1530, on which day the seals were given to Sir Thomas More. He held them till the 20th of May, 1533, when Sir Thomas Aud. ley was appointed Lord Keeper. He therefore is the person here introduced; but Shakspeare has made a mistake in calling him Lord Chancellor, for he did not obtain that title till the January after the birth of Elizabeth. Malone.
Who waits there? D. Keep. Without, my noble lords?? Gar.
Yes. D. Keep.
My lord archbishop; And has done half an hour, to know your pleasures.
Chan. Let him come in..
Your grace may enter now. 8
[CRAN. approaches the Council-Table. Chan. My good lord archbishop, I am very sorry To sit here at this present, and behold That chair stand empty: But we all are men, In our own natures frail; and"capable" culpable Of our flesh, few are angels :9 out of which frailty,
-noble lords?] The epithet—noble should be omitted, as it spoils the metre. Steevens.
8 Your grace may enter now.) It is not easy to ascertain the mode of exhibition here. The inside and outside of the council-chamber seem to be exhibited at once. Norfolk within calls to the Keeper without, who yet is on the stage, and supposed to be with Cranmer, &c. at the outside of the door of the chamber.- The Chancellor and counsellors probably were placed behind a curtain at the back part of the stage, and spoke, but were not seen, till Cranmer was called in. The stage-direction in the old copy, which is, “ Cranmer approaches the council-table,” not, “ Cranmer enters the council-chamber," seems to countenance such an idea.
With all the “appliances and aids” that modern scenery furnishes, it is impossible to produce any exhibition that shall precisely correspond with what our author has here written. Our less scrupulous ancestors were contented to be told, that the same spot, without any change of its appearance, (except perhaps the drawing back of a curtain) was at once the outside and the inside of the council-chamber. Malone.
How the outside and inside of a room can be exhibited on the stage at the same instant, may be known from many ancient prints in which the act of listening or peeping is represented. See a famous plate illustrating the Tale of Giocondo, and intitled Vero essempio d' Impudicitia, cavato da M. L Ariosto; and the engraving prefixed to Twelfth Night, in Mr. Rowe's edition.
Steevens. and capable Of our flesh, few are angels : &c.] If this passage means any thing, it may mean, few are perfect while they remain in their mortal capacity; i. e. while they are capable in a condition] of being invested with flesh. A similar plurase occurs in Chapman's version of the sixteenth Iliad:
And want of wisdom, you, that best should teach us,
" That is no city libertine, nor capable of their gown." Shakspeare uses the word capable as perversely in King Lear:
and of my land,
“To make thee capable.” Steevens. The word capable almost every where in Shakspeare means intelligent, of capacity to understand, or quick of apprehension. So, in King Richard III:
-0, 'tis a parlous boy, “Bold, quick, ingenious, forward, capable !" Again, in Hamlet:
“ His form and cause conjoin'd, preaching to stones,
“ Would make them capable !" In the same play Shakspeare has used incapable nearly in the sense required here:
“ As one incapable [i.e. unintelligent) of her own distress." So, Marston, in bis Scourge of Villanie, 1599:
To be perus’d by all the dung-scum rabble
* Of thin-brain'd ideots, dull uncapable." Minsheu, in his Dictionary, 1617, renders the word by indocilis.
The transcriber's ear, I suppose, deceived him, in the passage before us, as in many others; and the Chancellor, I conceive, means to say, the condition of humanity is such, that we are all born frail in disposition, and weak in our understandings. The subsequent words appear to me to add such support to this emenda. tion, that I have ventured, contrary to my general rule, to give it a place in my text; which, however, I should not have done, had the original reading afforded a glimmering of sense:
we are all men,
Ånd want of wisdom, you, &c. Mr. Pope, in his licentious method, printed the passage thus, and the three subsequent editors adopted his supposed reformation:
we are all men,
Of frailty, few are angels ; from which frailty, &c. Malone. I cannot extort any kind of sense from the passage as it stands. Perhaps it should be read thus :
we are all men,
of our flesh few are angels. That is, few are perfect. M. Mason.
Divers, and dangerous; which are heresies,
Gar. Which reformation must be sudden too,
Cran. My good lords, hitherto, in all the progress
Nay, my lord,
1 The upper Germany, &c.] Alluding to the heresy of Thomas Muntzer, which sprung up in Saxony in the years 1521 and 1522.
Grey. 2a single heart,] A heart void of duplicity or guile.
Malone. It is a scriptural expression. See Acts ii, 46. Reed. 3 Defacers of a publick peace,] Readthe publick peace.