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women, having no such premisses to reason from, look on it as something more than human.
These reflections, with the frequent occafions I have had, thoughout 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 should 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 Shakespeare 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 would be likely to produce after the delay had suffered the impression of Hotspur's qualities to wear out of their remembrance.
HOTSPUR, AND HENRY PRINCE OF WALES. THEY are both equally brave; but the courage
of Hotspur has a greater portion of fierceness in itThe Prince's magnanimity is more heroic. The first resembles Achilles; the latter is more like Hector, 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 same of Hotspur, behind his back, and while he is still his eneny.
They both of them possess a sportive vein of humour in their scenes of common life; but Hotspur still preserves the surly and refractory haughti. ness of his character, throughout, even in the relaxaQ.
tions he indulges himself in. The Prince has more of ease and nature in his; delivering himielf over to mirth and disipation, without reserve. Hotspur's festivity seems to resemble that of Hamlet ; as afsumed merely to relieve anxiety of mind, and cover sanguinary purposes; the Prince's gaiety, like that of Faulconbridge *, appears to be more genuine, arising from natural temper, and an healthful fow of spirits. The Prince is Alcibiades—Percy is—himself.
There is likewise another character in this rich Play, of a moft peculiar distinction; as being not only original
, but inimitable, also—No copy of it has ever since appeared, either in life or description. Any one of the Dramatis Personæ in Congreve's Comedies, 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 a certain characteristic peculiarity in all the humour of Falstaff, that would sound flatly in the mouths of Bardolph, Poins, or Peto. In fine, the portrait of this extraordinary personage is delineated by so masterly a hand, that we may venture to pronounce it to be the only one that ever afforded so high a degree of pleasure, without the least pretence to merit or virtue to support it.
I was obliged to pass by many of his strokes of humour, character, and description, because they did not fall within the rule I had prescribed to myself in these notes; but I honestly confess that it was with regret, whenever I did fo; for, were there as much moral, as there certainly is physical, good in Jaughing, I might have transcribed every Scene of his, throughout this, the following Play, and the Merry Wives of Windsor, for the advantage of the health, as well as the entertainment, of my readers.
* In King Joha.
M E N.
Against the King
Lord Chief Justice.}. For the King: ,
Sir John FALSTAFF.
HENRY the FOURTH.
SECOND P AR T.
But for my
. SCENE III, THE quick eye of suspicion, with the prophetic
nature of anxious apprehensions, are well marked here. The latter is a species of that kind of foreboding, often unaccountably arising in the mind, which I have taken notice of informer places
Northumberland, Lord Bardolph, and Morton.
That what he feared is chanced.
Northumberland to Morton.
Not he that saith the dead is not alive. ,
Hath but a lofing office, and his tongue
Richard II, A& II, Scepe V, and Merchant of
nice, Act I, Scene 1.