« FöregåendeFortsätt »
makes Oedipus say to his fon in the same circumstances. But I don't expect that the learned will ever give up this point to me, while one paffage remains in Greek, and the other only in En, lifb.
SCENE I. The nobleness of Hotspur's character is admirably sustained throughout this Play. The fola lowing speech shews a fine part of it:
Hotspur to Dowglas.
The precarious and critical situation of unwar. rantable and hazardous undertakings, is well reflected upon in the following passage of the same Scene, when the confpirators are informed that Northumberland is prevented by sickness from attending the rendez-vous :
Worcefter to Hotspur.
The quality, and bair of our attempt,
Books no division The Commentator, by the word bair, in this place, understands complexion of cbaraEter, and finds fault with the harshness of the metapbor. But I think, front the laft part of the sentence, that the Poet meant the expresion literally. Wor efter compares the sightness of their cause to a fingle bair, which is a thing of too fubtile a nature to bear being divided,
For well you know, we of the offending fide Must keep aloof from strict arbitrament, And stop all fight-holes, every loop, from whence The eye of reason may pry in upon us. This absence of your father draws a curtain, That shews the ignorant a kind of fear, Before not dreamt upon. The gallant spirit of Hotspur is well shewn in
You strain too far ;
Yet all goes well, yet all our joints are whole. Upon this occafion Dowglas makes a boaft, whicn though intended by him as an exclusive compliment to his own nation, may be challenged as the general characteristic of Great Britain at large. Dowglas, in continuation of Hotspur's speech : As heart can think there is not such a word Spoke of in Scotland, as this term of fear. A CT v.
V. SCENE I. Upon a parley or convention, held between the chiefs of the two parties, Worcester enumerates the several grievances of the nation that had induced the Percy family to rise in arms for redress. In reply to these charges, the King gives a very just account of the nature, pretences, and artifices of rebellion. King. These things, indeed, you have articulated,
Proclaimed at market-croffes, read in churches,
Nor moody beggars, starving for a time
The liberal mind and brave heart of the Prince of Wales are beautifully marked in the following fpeech, where he makes a generous encomium on Hotspur, and sends him a spirited defiance to single combat, at the same time.
Prince to Worcester.
Why, thou owest Heaven a death. Upon which the fat Knight takes occasion to hold this humorous soliloquy with himself :
Falstaff. 'Tis not due, yet--I would be loath to pay him before his day. What need I be so forward with him, that calls not on me? Well, 'tis no matter ; honour pricks me on ; but how if honour pricks ine off again, when I come on? Can honour set to a leg? No-Or an arm? No-Or take away the grief of a wound? No. Honour hath no kill in surgery, then? No What is honqur A word-What is that word Honour ? Air-A trim
seckoning-Who hath it? He that died on Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No-Doth he hear it? No-Is it insensible then? Yea, io 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 but a meer fcutcheon", and so ends my catechism.
SCENE III. When the King has made the proffer of a general amnesty to the conspirators, the natural diftruit and diffidence which rebels must ever labour under, is well descanted upon in this Scene. Worcester. It is not possible, it cannot be,
The king should keep his word in loving us; He will suspect us fill, and find a time To punish this offence in other faults. Suspicion, all our lives, fall be luck full of eyes ; For treason is but truited like a fox, Who ne'er so tame, ko cherihed, and locked up, Will have a wild trick of his ancestors. Look how we can, or sad, or merrily, Interpretation will misquote our looks; And we shall feed like oxen at a stall, The better cherished, still the nearer death. If the Reader will take the trouble to revert to the last obfervation on the fourth Scene in the First Act of this Play, he will meet with a like reflection there, made by the same person. This repetition is a stroke of Nature given us by the Poet, to shew the perturbation of spirits, and distrust of mind, which perfons in his situation are ever sensible of. But, indeed, this reflection may more generally be applied to every species of vice; for in guilt there can be no peace within, nor confidence without.
S CE N E The magnanimity of the Prince of Wales is preserved throughout his character. After he has llain Hotspur, he makes his elegy in these words : Prince. Brave Percy-Fare thee well, great heart!
Ill-weaved ambition t, how much art thou shrunk! The barchment, placed over the door of a person deceased. t A metaphor taken from cloth, which Jürinks when it is woven with too loole a contexture, Johason.
When that this body did contain a spirit,
[Throwing his scarf over him,
I thought that my task was done with this Play, when I had got to the end of it; but there is something so very great, singular, and attractive, in the two principal characters of this historic piece, that I find a pleasure in keeping them still in view, and contemplating them both in my mind.
Whenever Hotspur or the Prince filled the Scene, which they are either of them, fingly, sufficient to do, I confess that my heart was sensible of such an emotion, as Sir Philip Sidney said he used to be affected with, on a perusal of the old Ballad of Chevy-Chase ; as if be had heard the sound of a trumpet. Perhaps the following observation may better account for my impulse :
Women are apt to esteem the antient virtue of courage at an higher rate than men in general are; and this for these two especial reasons. The first, that it is peculiarly necessary to their personal defence; and the next, that their weaknefs induces them to form a sublimer notion of this quality, than the stronger, and therefore braver, sex may naturally be supposed to compliment it with, Men, feeling the principles of it in their own breasts, conceive no very supernatural idea of it; while