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Cornets. Enter King HENRY, Cardinal WOLSEY,
the Lords of the Council, Sir Thomas LOVELL, Officers, and Attendants. The King enters leaning on the Cardinal's Shoulder.
K. Hen. My life itself, and the best heart of it, Thanks
you for this great care: I stood i' the level
are inexplicable, and must be left, I fear, to some happier sagacity. If the usage of our author's time could allow figure to be taken, as now, for dignity or importance, we might read:
Whose figure even this instant cloud puts out. But I cannot please myself with any conjecture.
Another explanation may be given, somewhat harsh, but the best that occurs to me:
I am the shadow of poor Buckingham,
Whose figure even this instant cloud puts on, whose port and dignity is assumed by the Cardinal, that overclouds and oppresses me, and who gains my place By dark’ning my clear sun.
“ O, how this spring of love resembleth
“ And, by and by, a cloud takes all away.” Antony, remarking on the various appearances assumed by the flying vapours, adds :
now thy captain is
“ But cannot hold this visible shape, my knave.” Or, yet more appositely, in King John :
being but the shadow of your son
Of a full-charg'd confederacy, and give thanks To you
that chok'd it.-Let be call'd before us
Such another thought occurs in The famous History of Thomas Stukely, 1605:
“ He is the substance of my shadowed love." There is likewise a passage similar to the conclusion of this, in Rollo, or the Bloody Brother, of Beaumont and Fletcher:
is drawn so high, that, like an ominous comet, “ He darkens all your light.” We might, however, read-pouts on; i. e. looks gloomily upon. So, in Coriolanus, Act V. sc. i;
“ To give, or to forgive.”
“ Thou pout' st upon thy fortune and thy love." Wolsey could only reach Buckingham through the medium of the King's power. The Duke therefore compares the Cardinal to a cloud, which intercepts the rays of the sun, and throws a gloom over the object beneath it. “ I am (says he) but the shadow of poor Buckingham, on whose figure this impending cloud looks gloomy, having got between me and the sunshine of royal favour."
Our poet has introduced a somewhat similar idea in Much Ado about Nothing :
the pleached bower,
“ Made proud by princes To pout is at this time a phrase descriptive only of infantine sullenness, but might anciently have had a more consequential meaning. I should wish, however, instead of
By dark’ning my clear sun, to read—
Be-dark’ning my clear sun. So, in The Tempest :
I have be-dimm’d 66 The noontide sun." STEEVENS. The following passage in Greene's Dorastus and Fawnia, 1588, (a book which Shakspeare certainly had read,) adds support to Dr. Johnson's conjecture: “ Fortune, envious of such happy successe,—turned her wheele, and darkened their bright
That gentleman of Buckingham's: in person
sunne of prosperitie with the mistie cloudes of mishap and misery.”
Mr. M. Mason has observed that Dr. Johnson did not do justice to his own emendation, referring the words whose figure to Buckingham, when, in fact, they relate to shadow. Sir W. Blackstone had already explained the passage in this manner.
MALONE. By adopting Dr. Johnson's first conjecture, “puts out," for puts on, a tolerable sense may be given to these obscure lines. “ I am but the shadow of poor Buckingham: and even the figure or outline of this shadow begins now to fade away, being extinguished by this impending cloud, which darkens (or interposes between me and) my clear sun; that is, the favour of my sove. reign.” BLACKSTONE.
and the best heart of it,] Heart is not here taken for the great organ of circulation and life, but, in a common, and popular sense, for the most valuable or precious part. Our author, in Hamlet, mentions the heart of heart. Exhausted and effete ground is said by the farmer to be out of heart. The hard and inner part of the oak is called heart of oak.
JOHNSON. stood the level Of a full-charg'd confederacy,] To stand in the level of a gun is to stand in a line with its mouth, so as to be hit by the shot. JOHNSON. So, in our author's Lover's Complaint :
not a heart which in his level came
STEEVENS. Again, in our author's 117th Sonnet:
“ Bring me within the level of your frown,
“ But shoot not at me,” &c. See also Vol. IX. p. 271, n. 4; and p. 294, n. 8. MALONE.
The King takes his State. The Lords of the Coun
cil take their several Places. The Cardinal places
himself under the King's Feet, on his right Side. A Noise within, crying, Room for the Queen.
Enter the Queen, ushered by the Dukes of NORFOLK and SUFFOLK: she kneels.
The King riseth from his State, takes her up, kisses, and placeth her by him. Q. Kath. Nay, we must longer kneel; I am a
suitor. K. HEN. Arise, and take place by us :-Half
Never name to us; you have half our power:
Thank your majesty. That
you would love yourself; and, in that love, Not unconsider'd leave your honour, nor The dignity of your office, is the point Of my petition.
K. HEN. Lady mine, proceed.
Q. KATH. I am solicited, not by a few, And those of true condition, that your subjects Are in great grievance: there have been commis.
sions Sent down among them, which hath flaw'd the heart Of all their loyalties :-wherein, although, My good lord cardinal, they vent reproaches Most bitterly on you, as putter-on Of these exactions, yet the king our master,
as putter-on Of these exactions,] The instigator of these exactions; the
(Whose honour heaven shield from soil !) even he
escapes not Language unmannerly, yea, such which breaks The sides of loyalty, and almost appears In loud rebellion. Nor.
Not almost appears, It doth appear: for, upon these taxations, The clothiers all, not able to maintain The many to them 'longing," have put off The spinsters, carders, fullers, weavers, who, Unfit for other life, compell’d by hunger And lack of other means, in desperate manner Daring the event to the teeth, are all in uproar, And Danger serves among them.8
person who suggested to the King the taxes complained of, and incited him to exact them from his subjects. So, in Macbeth :
The “ Put on their instruments.” Again, in Hamlet : “ Of deaths put on by cunning and forc'd cause."
MALONE See Vol. X. p. 252, n. 4. STEEVENS.
? The many to them 'longing,] The many is the meiny, the train, the people. Dryden is, perhaps, the last that used this word:
“ The kings before their many rode.” JOHNSON. I believe the many is only the multitude, the oi Tool. Thus, Coriolanus, speaking of the rabble, calls them
the mutable rank-scented many." STEEVENS. • And Danger serves among them.] Could one easily believe that a writer, who had, but immediately before, sunk so low in his expression, should here rise again to a height so truly sub. lime where, by the noblest stretch of fancy, Danger is personalized as serving in the rebel army, and shaking the established government. WARBURTON.
Chaucer, Gower, Skelton, and Spenser, have personified Danger. The first, in his Romaunt of the Rose; the second, in his fifth Book, De Confessione Amantis; the third, in his Bouge of Court