Imágenes de páginas
[blocks in formation]

Prince Henry's miodeft Challenge.

-Tell your nephew,
The Prince of Wales doth join with all the world
In praise of Harry Percy: by my hopes
(This present enterprize set off his head)
I do not think a braver gentleinan,
More active-valiant, or more valiant young,
More daring, or more bold, is now alive;
To grace this latter age with noble deed.
For my part, I may speak it to my shame,
I have been a truant to chivalry,
And so, I hear, he doth account me too.
Yet this before


father's majesty,
I am content that he shall take the odds
Of his great name and estimation,
And will to save the blood on either side,
Try fortune with him in a single fight.

Prince Henry's pathetic Speech on the Death of


Brave Percy---Fare thee well,
I'll-weav'd ambition, how much art thou shrunk!
When that this body did contain a spirit,
A kingdom for it was too small a bound:
But now two paces of the vileit earth
Is room enough. This earth that bears thee dead,
Bears not alive fo ftout a gentleman.
If thou wert sensible of courtesy,
I should not make so great a show of zeal.
But let my favours hide thy mangled face,
And, ev’n in thy behalf, I'll thank myself
For doing these fair rights of tenderneis.
Adieu, and take thy praise with thee to heav'n';.
Thy ignominy sleep with thee in the grave, ,
But not remembered in thy epitaph.


[ocr errors]

Falstaff's Catechism.

(13) Well, 'tis no matter, honour pricks me on. But how, if honour prick me off, when I come on? How then? Can honour set to a leg? No; or an arm? No: or take away the grief of a wound ? No: honour hath no skill in sugery then? No: what is honour? a word. What is the word honour? air: a trim reckoning. Who hath it? he that dy'd a Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No: doth he hear it? No: is it insenfable then? yea, to the dead: but will it not live with the living? No: why? detraction will not suffer it. Therefore, I'll none of it; honour is a mere scutcheon, and so ends my catechism,


(13) Well, &c.] In the King and no King of Beaumont and Fletcher, we have a character, plainly drawn from Shakespear's Falstaff; how short it is, and must necessarily be of the original, I need not observe. I think, says Mr. Tbeobald, in his first note on that play, the character of Belsus must be allowed in general a fine copy from Shakespear's inimitabla Falstaff. He is a coward, yet would fain set him for a hero : ostentatious without any grain of merit to support his vain-glory : a liar throughout, to exalt his assumed qualifications; and lewd, without any countenance from the ladies to give him an umbrage for it. As to his wit and humour, the precedence must certainly be adjudg’d to Falstaff, the great original.” The authors, in the third act, have introduced him, talking on the fame subject with Falstaff here; though not in the same excellent manner (an account of which, see in Mr. Upton's observations on Shakespear, p. 113.) Befjus. “They talk of fame, I have gotten it in the wars, and will afford any man a reafonable pennyworth; some will say, they could be content to have it, but that it is to be atchiev'd with danger; but my opinion is otherwise : for if I might stand still in cannon-proof, and have fame fall upon me, I would refufe it; my reputation came principally by thinking to run away, which nobody knows but Mardonius, and, I think, he conceals it to anger me, &c." The false and foolish notions of fame and honour are no where, that I know of, so well and juftly censured, as in Mr. Wollaston's Religion of Nature delineared, rect. s. p. 116. printed in 1726.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

SCENE V. Life demands Aation.
(14) O Gentlemen, the time of life is short :
To spend that shortness basely were too long,
Tho' life did ride upon a dial's point,
Still ending at th' arrival of an hour.

(14) O gentlemen, &c.] See All's well that ends well. Act 5Scene 4, and the note. Virgil beautifully observes,

Stat sua cuique dics, breve & irreparabile tempus
Omnibus eft vitæ ; sed famam extendere fatis
Hoc virtutis opus.
To all that breathe is fixt th'appointed date,
Life is but short, and circumscrib'd by fate :
'Tis virtue's work by fame to-stretch the span,
Whose scanty limit bounds the days of man.


En. 106

General Observations.

THERE is something so very great, fingular, and attractive, in the two principal characters of this historic piece, (says Mrs. Griffith) that I find a pleasure in keeping them ftill in view, and contemplating them both in my mind.

Whenever Hotspur or the Prince filled the Scene, which they are either of them, singly, sufficient to do, I confess that my heart was sensible of such an emotion, as Sir Philip Sidney faid he used to be affected with, on a perusal of the old ballad of ChevyChase ; as if he had heard the found of a trumpei. Perhaps the fol.. lowing observation may better account for my impulse:

Women are apt to esteem the ancient virtue of courage at an higher rate than men in general are ; and this, for these two especial reafons. The first, that it is peculiarly necessary to their personal defence; and the next, that their weakness induces them to form a sublimer notion of this quality, than the ftronger, and therefore braver, sex may naturally be fupposed to compliment it with. Men, feeling the principles of it in their own breasts, conceive no very supernatural idea of it; while women, having no such premisses to reason from, look on it as fomething more than human,


[ocr errors][merged small]

These reflections, with the frequent occasions I have had, thrcughout this play, of comparing the two heroes of it with each other, have tempted me to undertake a parallel between them, after the manner of Plutarch; which, however, I did not mean to have given the reader, as hinted above, 'till I thould come to the end of the second play after this, where our Author has concluded all he had to say about Henry the Fifth.

But as Shake (fear has opened enough of this prince's character, here, to supply sufficient materials for the comparison, and that his unfortunate rival is just sain, I thought the parallel might have a better effect on the mind of my readers, in this place, than it woald be likely to produce after the delay had suffered the impression, of Hotspur's qualities to wear out: of their remembrance.


PA R. A L L E L.



They are both equally brave ; but the courage of Hotspur has a greater portion of fierceness in it-The Prince's magna-nimity is more heroic. The first resembles Achilles; the latter is more like HeEtor. The different principles, too, of their actions help to form and justify this distinction; as the one invades, and the other defends, a right. Hotspur speaks nobly of his rival Dowglas to his face, but after he is become his friend ; the Prince does the fame of Hotspur,, behind his back, and while he is still his enemy.

They both of them poffefs a sportive vein of humour in their scenes of common life; but Hotspur still preserves the surly and refractory baughtinefs of his character, throughout, even in the relaxations he indulges himself in. The Prince has more of

ease and nature in his; delivering himself over to mirth and diffipation, without reserve. Hotspur's festivity seems to resemble that of Hamlet; as assumed merely to relieve anxiety of mind, and cover fanguinary purposes ; the Prince's gaiety, like that of Falconbridge *, appears to be more genuine, arising from natural temper, and an healthful flow of spirits. The Prince is Alcihadis-Perry is--himself.

There is likewife another character in this rich play, of a poft peculiar distinction ; as being not only original, but inim- .


[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]

tebk, alfo-No copy of it has ever since appeared, either in life or description. Any one of the Dramatis Personæ in Congreve's Coinedies, or, indeed, in most of the modern ones, might repeat the wit or humour of the separate parts, with equal effect on the audience, as the person to whose rôle they are appropriated; but there is certain characterittic peciniarity in all the humour of Faijłaff, that would sound flatly in the mouths of Bardolph, Poins, or Peto. In fine, the portrait of this extraorlinary ersonage is delineated by so masterly a hand, that we may venture to pronounce it to be the only one that ever affordcd so high a degree of pleasure, without the least pretence to merit or virtue to support it.

[ocr errors][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »