The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1943 Friday, 13 October 2000.
From: David Kathman <
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
>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]