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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: October ::
Re: Henry VIII Query
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1943  Friday, 13 October 2000.

From:           David Kathman <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Oct 2000 19:10:01 -0600
Subject: 11.1929 Re: Henry VIII Query
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1929 Re: Henry VIII Query

Upon reading my post, I realized that I had foolishly omitted a sentence
which explicitly stated some important information.  See below.

>Sam Small wrote:
>
>>   Drew Whitehead wrote:
>>> In an 1850 Notes and Queries article on the authorship of Henry VIII,
>>> Samuel Hickson quotes four lines which he claims are by Shakespeare
>>> though he does qualify the matter by adding that he had met with these
>>> lines "in no other edition than Mr. Collier's."  The lines are:
>>>
>>> Crowns have their compass; length of day their date;
>>> Triumphs, their tomb; felicity her fate;
>>> Of nought but earth can earth make us partaker,
>>> But knowledge makes a king most like his maker.
>>>
>>> A thorough search of several versions of Henry VIII has failed to turn
>>> up these lines.  Does anyone know where they come from?  Was Collier in
>>> the habit if inserting extra poetry into his editions?
>>
>>I would bet my last shirt that Shakespeare didn't write those lines.
>
>And Brian Vickers further wrote:
>
>>Hickson's 1850 essay on Henry VIII was posthumously reprinted in the
>>Transactions of the New Shakspere Society in 1874, together with
>>Spedding's essay of 1850. To it Spedding added a note:" These
>>lines...are engraved under Simon Passe's print of James sitting on his
>>throne; which formed the frontispiece to the collection of his works,
>>printed in 1616. Whoever wrote them ought to have the credit of the true
>>reading of the third line:
>>
>>   Crounes haue their compass ; length of days their date ;
>>   Triumphs, their tomb ; felicity her fate ;
>>   Of more then earth, can earth make none partaker,
>>   But knowledge makes the KING most like his maker. " (20*)
>
>Spedding made a few mistakes in his transcription, but he was correct
>about the source of the lines, or rather about the source of the
>earliest datable text of them.

Here I should have noted that the text in question is the 1616 folio
edition of King James' "Works", where these lines appear beneath a
portrait of James on the frontispiece.

Sorry for any confusion.

>These lines exist in many 17th-century
>manuscript commonplace books, usually without any attribution.  In three
>cases (all from the 1630s or 1640s at the earliest) there is an
>attribution:  two manuscripts (Folger MS V.a.160, p.2, 2d series and
>Folger MS V.a.262, p.131) attribute the poem to Shakespeare, while one
>(Bodleian MS Ashmole 38, p.39) attributes it to Robert Barker, the royal
>printer under King James and the co-publisher of the 1616 Workes.  The
>attribution to Shakespeare was first noted by James Boswell in his 1821
>Variorum edition of Shakespeare, and that's probably where Hickson got
>it from.
>
>For what it's worth, many of these MS copies of the poem appear to
>derive not from the 1616 Folio of James' Workes, but from a series of
>broadside portraits of King James and his family printed in 1619 by
>Compton Holland, brother of the poet Hugh Holland.

[snip rest of post]

Dave Kathman

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