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'TIS ten to one, this play can never please
All that are here: Some come to take their ease,
And sleep an act or two; but those, we fear,
We have frighted with our trumpets; so, 'tis clear,
They'll say, 'tis naught: others, to hear the city
Abus'd extremely, and to cry,-that's witty!
Which we have not done, neither: that, I fear,
All the expected good we are like to hear
For this play at this time, is only in
The merciful construction of good women;
For such a one we show'd them: If they smile,
And say, 'twill do, I know, within a while
All the best men are ours; for 'tis ill hap,
If they hold, when their ladies bid them clap.
The play of Henry the Eighth is one of those which still keeps possession of the stage by the splendour of its pageantry. The coronation, about forty years ago, drew the people together in multitudes for a great part of the winter. Yet pomp is not the only merit of this play. The meek sorrows, and virtuous distress, of Katharine, have furnished some scenes, which may be justly numbered among the greatest efforts of tragedy. But the genius of Shakspeare comes in and goes out with Katharine. Every other part may be easily conceived and easily written.
Calchas, a Trojan priest, taking part with the
Pandarus, Uncle to Cressida.
Margarelon, a bastard son of Priam.
Agamemnon, the Grecian general.
Menelaus, his brother.
Thersites, a deformed and scurrilous Grecian.
Alexander, servant to Cressida.
Servant to Troilus; Servant to Paris; Servant to Diomedes.
Helen, wife to Menelaus.
Andromache, wife to Hector.
Cassandra, daughter to Priam; a prophetess.
Cressida, daughter to Calchas.
Trojan and Greek Soldiers, and Attendants.
Scene, Troy, and the Grecian camp before it.
IN Troy, there lies the scene. From isles of Greece
The princes orgulous*, their high blood chaf'd,
Have to the port of Athens sent their ships,
Fraught with the ministers and instruments
Of cruel war: Sixty and nine, that wore
Their crownets regal, from the Athenian bay
Put forth toward Phrygia: and their vow is made,
To ransack Troy; within whose strong immures
The ravish'd Helen, Menelaus' queen,
With wanton Paris sleeps; And that's the quarrel.
To Tenedos they come;
And the deep-drawing barks do there disgorge
Their warlike fraughtaget: Now on Dardan plains
The fresh and yet unbruised Greeks do pitch
Their brave pavilions: Priam's six-gated city,
Dardan, and Tymbria, Ilias, Chetas, Trojan,
And Antenorides, with massy staples,
And corresponsive and fulfilling bolts,
Sperrt up the sons of Troy.
Now expectation, tickling skittish spirits,
On one and other side, Trojan and Greek,
Sets all on hazard:-And hither am I come
A prologue arm'd,-but not in confidence
Of author's pen, or actor's voice; but suited
In like conditions as our argument,-
To tell you, fair beholders, that our play
Proud, disdainful. + Shut.