« FöregåendeFortsätt »
is oftenest found in odd and irregular minds : but this peculiar türn distorts wit, and though it gives it a burlefque air, which excites momentary mirth, renders it lefs just, and consequently less agreeable to oui judgments. Gluttony, corpulency, and cowardice, are the peculiarities of Falstaffe's composition, they render him ridiculous without folly, throw an air of jest and festivity about him, and make his manners fuit with his sentiments, without giving to his understanding any particular bias. As the contempt attendant on these vices and defects is the best antidote against any infection that might be caught in his fociety, fo it was very skilful to make him as ridiculous as witty, and as contemptible as entertaining.
The admirable speech upon honour would have been both indecent and dangerous from
any other person. We must every
where allow his wit is just, his humour genuine, and his character perfectly original, and sustained through every scene, in every play, in which it
As Falstaffe, whom the author certainly intended to be perfectly witty, is less addicted to quibble and play on words, than any of his comic characters, I think we may fairly conclude, our author was senfible it was but a false kind of wit, which he practised from the hard neçeflity of the times : for in that age, the profeffor quibbled in his chair, the judge quibbled on the bench, the prelate quibbled in the pulpit, the statesman quibbled at the council-board; nay even majesty quibbled on the throne,
as in the first part of a play : but the fertile and happy mind of Shakespear could create or diversify at pleasure ; could produce new characters or vary the attitudes of those before exhibited according to the occasion. He leaves us in doubt, whether most to admire the fecundity of his imagination in the variety of its productions, or the strength and steadiness of his genius in sustaining the spirit, and preserving unimpaired, through various circumstances and situations, what his invention had originally produced.