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* King HENRY VIII.] We are unacquainted with
dramatick piece on the subject of Henry VIII. that preceded this of Shakspeare; and yet on the books of the Stationers' Company appears the following entry: “ Nathaniel Butter] (who was one of our author's printers) Feb. 12, 1604. That he get good allowance for the enterlude of King Henry VIII. before he begin to print it; and with the wardens hand to yt, he is to have the same for his copy.” Dr. Farmer, in a note on the epilogue to this play, observes, from Stowe, that Robert Greene had written somewhat on the same story. STEEVENS.
This historical drama comprizes a period of twelve years, commencing in the twelfth year of King Henry's reign, (1521,) and ending with the christening of Elizabeth in 1533. Shakspeare has deviated from history in placing the death of Queen Katharine before the birth of Elizabeth, for in fact Katharine did not die till 1536.
King Henry VIII. was written, I believe, in 1601. See An Attempt to ascertain the Order of Shakspeare's Plays, Vol. II.
Dr. Farmer, in a note on the epilogue, observes, from Stowe, that “ Robert Greene had written something on this story;"? but this, I apprehend, was not a play, but some historical account of Henry's reign, written not by Robert Greene, the dramatick poet, but by some other person. In the list of “ authors out of whom Stowe's Annals were compiled,” prefixed to the last edition printed in his life time, quarto, 1605, Robert Greene is enumerated with Robert de Brun, Robert Fabian, &c. and he is often quoted as an authority for facts in the margin of the history of that reign. MALONE.
I come no more to make you laugh; things now,
eye to flow,
or to see a fellow In a long motley coat,] Alluding to the fools and buffoons, introduced in the plays a little before our author's time: and of whom he has left us a small taste in his own. THEOBALD.
In Marston's 10th Satire there is an allusion to this kind of dress :
“ The long foole's coat, the huge slop, the lugg'd boot,
“ From mimick Piso all doe claime their roote.” Thus also Nashe, in his Epistle Dedicatory to Have with you to Saffron Walden, or Gabriel Harvey's Hunt is up, 1596: “-fooles, ye know, alwaies for the most part (especiallie if they bee naturall fooles) are suted in long coats." STEEVENS.