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to him : look you, he must seem thus to the world. Fear not your advancement; I will be the man yet, that shall make you great.
Shal. I cannot perceive how; unless you give me your doublet, and stuff me out with straw. I beseech you, good Sir John, let me have five hundred of
thousand. Fal. Sir, I will be as good as my word: this that you heard, was but a colour.
Shal. A colour, I fear, that you will die in, Sir John.
Fal. Fear no colours; go with me to dinner. Come, lieutenant Pistol;—come, Bardolph:-Ishall be sent for soon at night. Re-enter PRINCE JOHN, the Chief Justice, Officers,
&c. Ch. Just. Go, carry Sir John Falstaff to the Fleet?; Take all his company along with him.
Fal. My lord, my lord, —
Ch.Just. I cannot now speak: I will hear you soon. Take them away. Pist. Si fortuna me tormenta, spero me contenta. [Exeunt Fal. SHAL. Pist. BARD. Page,
and Officers. P. John. I like this fair proceeding of the king's: He hath intent, his wonted followers Shall all be very well provided for; But all are banish’d, till their conversations Appear more wise and modest to the world.
7 Johnson confesses that he does not see' why Falstaff is carried to the Fleet, he has committed no new fault, and therefore incurred no punishment; but the different agitations of fear, anger, and surprise in him and his company made a good scene to the eye; and our author, wbo wanted them no longer on the stage, was glad to find this method of sweeping them away.'
Ch. Just. And so they are.
P.John. I will lay odds,—that, ere this year expire,
Spoken by a Dancer. First, my fear; then, my court'sy ; last, my speech. My fear is, your displeasure; my court'sy, my duty; and my speech, to beg your pardons. If you look for a good speech now, you undo me: for what I have to say, is of mine own making; and what, indeed, I should say, will, I doubt, prove
mine own marring. But to the purpose, and so to the venture.—Be it known to you (as it is very well), I was lately here in the end of a displeasing play, to pray your patience for it, and to promise you a better. I did mean, indeed, to pay you with this: which, if, like an ill venture, it come unluckily home, I break, and you, my gentle creditors, lose. Here, I promised you, I would be, and here I commit my body to your mercies : bate me some, and I will pay you some, and, as most debtors do, promise you infinitely
If my tongue cannot entreat you to acquit me, will you command me to use my legs? and yet that were but light payment,—to dance out of
debt. But a good conscience will make any possible satisfaction, and so will I. All the gentlewomen here
have forgiven me; if the gentlemen will not, then the gentlemen do not agree with the gentlewomen, which was never seen before in such an assembly.
One word more, I beseech you. If you be not too much cloyed with fat meat, our humble author will continue the story, with Sir John in it, and make you merry with fair Katharine of France: where, for any thing I know, Falstaff shall die of a sweat, unless already he be killed with your hard opinions; for Oldcastle died a martyr, and this is not the man. My tongue is are too, I will bid you good night: and so kneel down before you;—but, indeed, to pray for the queen
| Most of the ancient interludes conclude with a prayer for the king or queen. Hence, perhaps, the Vivant Rex et Regina, at the bottom of our modern play bills,
I FANCY every reader, when he ends this play, cries out with Desdemona, 0 most lame and impotent conclusion !' As this play was not, to our knowledge, divided into acts by the author, I could be content to conclude it with the death of Henry the Fourth :
• In that Jerusalem shall Harry die.' These scenes, which now make the fifth act of Henry the Fourth, might then be the first of Henry the Fifth; but the truth is, that they do not unite very commodiously to either play. When these plays were represented, I believe they ended as they are now ended in the books; but Shakspeare seems to have designed that the whole series of action, from the beginning of Richard the Second to the end of Henry the Fifth, should be considered by the reader as one work upon one plan, only broken into parts by the necessity of exhibition.
None of Shakspeare's plays are more read than the First and Second Parts of Henry the Fourth. Perhaps no author has ever, in two plays, afforded so much delight. The great events are interesting, for the fate of kingdoms depends upon them; the slighter occurrences are diverting, and, except one or two, sufficiently probable; the incidents are multiplied with wonderful fertility of invention, and the characters diversified with the utmost nicety of discernment, and the profoundest skill in the nature of man.
The prince, who is the hero both of the comick and tragick part, is a young man of great abilities and violent passions, whose sentiments are right, though his actions are wrong; whose virtues are obscured by negligence, and whose understanding is dissipated by levity. In his idle hours he is rather loose than wicked; and when the occasion forces out his latent qualities, he is great without effort, and brave without tumult. The triller is roused into a hero, and the hero again reposes in the trifler. The character is great, original, and just.
Percy is a rugged soldier, cholerick and quarrelsome, and has only the soldier's virtues, generosity and courage.
But Falstaff, unimitated, unimitable Falstaff, how shall I describe thee? thou compound of sense and vice; of sense which may be admired, but not esteemed; of vice which may be despised, but hardly detested. Falstaff is a character loaded with faults, and with those faults which naturally produce contempt. He is a thief and a glutton, a coward and a boaster,
always ready to cheat the weak, and prey upon the poor ; to terrify the timorous, and insult the defenceless. At once obsequious and malignant, he satirizes in their absence those whom he lives by flattering. He is familiar with the prince only as an agent of vice, but of this familiarity he is so proud, as not only to be supercilious and haughty with common men, but to think his interest of importance to the Duke of Lancaster. Yet the man thus corrupt, thus despicable, makes himself necessary to the prince that despises him, by the most pleasing of all qualities, perpetual gaiety; by an unfailing power of exciting laughter; which is the more freely indulged, as his wit is not of the splendid or ambitious kind, but consists in easy scapes and sallies of levity, which make sport, but raise no envy. It must be observed, that he is stained with no enormous or sanguinary crimes, so that his licentiousness is not so offensive but that it may be borne for his mirth.
The moral to be drawn from this representation is, that no man is more dangerous than he that, with a will to corrupt, hath the power to please; and that neither wit nor honesty ought to think themselves safe with such a companion, when they see Henry seduced by Falstaff.
Mr. Upton thinks these two plays improperly called the First and Second Parts of Henry the Fourth. The first play ends, he says, with the peaceful settlement of Henry in the kingdom by the defeat of the rebels. This is hardly true; for the rebels are not yet finally suppressed. The second, he tells us, shows Henry the Fifth in the various lights of a good-natured rake, till on his father's death, he assumes a more manly character. This is true; but this representation gives us no idea of a dramatick action. These two plays will appear to every reader, who shall peruse them without ambition of critical discoveries, to be so connected, that the second is merely a sequel to the first; to be two only because they are too long to be one. JOHNSON,