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Ch. Juft. Have you your wits ? know you what 'tis
you speak? Fal. My king ! my Jove! I speak to thee, my heart!
King. I know thee not, old man. Fall to thy prayers; How ill white hairs become a fool and jefter ! I have long dream'd of such a kind of man, So surfeit-fwell’d, fo old, and so 3 profane; But, being awake, I do despise my dream. Make less thy body hence, and more thy grace ; Leave gormandizing. 4 Know, the grave doth gape For thee thrice wider than for other men: Reply not to me with a fool-born jest; Presume not, that I am the thing I was : For heaven doth know, so shall the world perceive, That I have turn'd away my former self; So will I those that kept me company. When thou dost hear I am as I have been, Approach me, and thou shalt be as thou wast, The tutor and the feeder of my riots :
3 profane ;] In our author it often signifies love of talk without the particular idea now given it. So in Othello, “ Is " he not a profane and very liberal counsellor." JOHNSON.
Know, the grave doth gape
Reply not to me with a fool-born jeft;] Nature is highly touched in this passage. The king having shaken off his vanities, schools his old companion for his follies with great severity: he assumes the air of a preacher; bids him fall to his prayers, seek grace, and leave gormandizing. But that word unluckily presenting him with a pleasant idea, he cannot forbear pursuing it. Know, the grave doth gape for thee thrice wider, &c. and is just falling back into Hal, by an humorous allufion to Falstaff's bulk; but he perceives it immediately, and fearing Sir John should take the adyantage of it, checks both himself and the knight, with
Reply not to me with a fool-born jeft; and so resumes the thread of his disconríe, and goes moralizing on to the end of the chapter. Thus the poet copies nature with great kill, and thews us how apt men are to fall back into their old customs, when the change is not made by degrees, and brought into a habit, but determined of at once on ihe motives of honour, interelt, or reason. WARBURTON,
Till then I banish thee on pain of death,
[Exit King, &c. Fal. Master Shallow, I owe you a thousand pound. . Shal. Ay, marry, Sir John; which I beseech you to let me have home with me.
Fal. That can hardly be, Master Shallow. Do not you grieve at this; I shall be sent for in private to himn. Look you, he must seem thus to the world. Fear not
5 Not to come near our person by ten miles.] Mr. Rowe observes, that many readers lament to sec Falstaff fo hardly used by his old friend. But if it be considered, that the fat knight bas never uttered one sentiment of generosity, and with all his power of exciting mirth, has nothing in him that can be esteemed, no great pain will be suffered from the reflection that he is compelled to live honestly, and maintained by the king, with a promise of advancement when he shall deserve it.
I think the poet more blameable for Poins, who is always represented as joining some virtues with his vices, and is therefore treated by the prince with apparent diftinction, yet he does nothing in the time of action, and though after the bustle is over he is again a favourite, at lait vanishes without notice. Shakespeare certainly lost him by heedlessness, in the multiplicity of his characters, the variety of his action, and his eagerness to end the play. JOHNSON.
The dismision of Falstaff was founded on a historical fact. Stowe says, that “ K. Henry, after his coronation, called unto " him all those young lords and gentlemen that were the fol" lowers of his young acts, to every one of whom he gave sich * gifts; and then commanded, that as many as would change " their manners, as he intended to do, should abide with him " in his court; and to all that would persevere in their former " like conversation, he gave express commandment, upon pain “ of their heads, never after that day to come in his pre66 fence." STEEVENS.
your to the Fleet.] I do not see why Falstaff is carried to the Fleet. We have never loft sight of him since his difmission from the king; he has committed no new fault, and therefore incurred no punishment; but the different agitations of fear, anger, and surprize in him and his company, made a good scene to the eye ; and our author, who wanted them no longer on the stage, was glad to find this method of sweeping them away. Johnson,
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 my thousand. · Fal. Sir, I will be as good as my word. This, that you heard, was but a colour.
Sbal. 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. I shall be sent for soon at night.
Re-enter the Chief Justice, and prince John. Ch. Just. 6 Go, carry Sir John Falstaff to the Fleet, Take all his company along with him.
Fal. My lord, my lord
Cb. Just. I cannot now speak. I will hear you soon, -Take them away. Pist, Si fortuna me tormenta, Spera me contenta.
[Exeunt. Manent Lancaster and Chief Justice. Lan. I like this fair proceeding of the king's, He hath intent, his wonted followers Shall all be very well provided for; But they are banishid, till their conversations Appear more wise and modest to the world.
Ch.Juft. And so they are.
Lan. The king hath calld his parliament, my lord.
Lan. I will lay odds, that ere this year expire,
" I fancy every reader, when he ends this play, cries out with Desdemona, “ O 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 Foartb might then be the first of Henry the Fifth ; but the truth is, that they do unite very commodiously to either play. When these plays were represented, I believe they ended as they are now ended in the books; but Shakespeare seems to have de. signed that the whole series of action from the beginning of Richard the Second, to the end of Henry the Fifth, fhould be considered by the reader as one work, upon one plan, only broken into parts by the necessity of exhibition.
None of Shakespeare'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 intercíling, for the fate of kingdoms depends upon them; the flighter 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 profoundef kill in the nature of man.
The prince, who is the hero both of the comic and tragie part, is a young man of great abilities and violent paffions, whose sentiments are right, though his actions are wrong; whose virtues are obscured by negligence, and whose underdlanding is diffipated 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 trifier is roused into a hero, and the hero again reports in the trifler. This character is great, original, and juft.
Piercy is a rugged soldier, choleric, and quarrelsome, and has only the soldier's virtues, generosity and courage.
But Falstaff unimitated, animitable Faltaf, how fall I describe thee? Thou compound of sense and vice ; of fenfe which may be admired, but not esteemed, of vice which may be despised, but hardly detested. Falltaff is a character loaded with
faults, 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 faniiliar 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 fplendid or ambitious kind, but consists in easy escapes and sallies of levity, which make sport, but raise no envy. It must be observed, that he is stained with no enormous or fanguinary crimes, so that his licentiousness is not so offenfive but that it may be borne for his mirth.