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apply to Falstaff, and rather think that the Chief Justice hints at a calamity always incident to a grayhaired wit, whose misfortune is, that his merriment is unfashionable. His allusions are to forgotten facts; his illusions are drawn from notions obscured by time; his wit is therefore single, such as none has any part in but himself.
Act II. SCENE V. (11. ï. 98-9.)
Altbea dream'd she was deliver'd of a firebrand. Shakespeare is here mistaken in his Mythology, and has confounded Althea's firebrand with Hecuba's. The firebrand of Althea was real; but Hecuba, when she was big with Paris, dreamed that she was delivered of a firebrand that consumed the kingdom. Act II. SCENE V. (11. Ü. 189-91.)
Poins. Put on two leather jerkins and aprons, and wait upon bim at bis table, as drawers.
This was a plot very unlikely to succeed where the Prince and the drawers were all known, but it produces merriment, which our authour found more useful than probability. Act III. SCENE V. (111. ii. 263-4.)
BARDOLPH. Sir, a word with you ;-1 bave three pound to free Mouldy and Bull-calf.
Here seems to be a wrong computation. He had forty shillings for each. Perhaps he meant to conceal part of the profit.
ACT IV. SCENE i. (iv. i. 24.)
MOWBRAY. Let us sway on, and face them in the field. I know not that I have ever seen sway in this sense, but I believe it is the true word, and was intended to express the uniform and forcible motion of a compact
body. There is a sense of the noun in Milton kindred
LANCASTER. Guard these traitors to the block of death.
any note of censure or detestation. Act IV. SCENE vii. (iv. iii. 93-5.)
Falstaff. This same sober-blooded boy doth not love me, nor a man cannot make bim laugh.
Falstaff speaks here like a veteran in life. The
England sball double gild bis treble Guilt.
I know not why this commentator should speak with
To lead out many to the Holy Land.
very frequently revives the mention, had two motives, religion and policy. He durst not wear the ill-gotten crown without expiation, but in the act of expiation he contrives to make his wickedness successful.
Act IV. SCENE xi. (ıv. V. 217–18.)
with thee in true peace live. This is a true picture of a mind divided between heaven and earth. He prays for the prosperity of guilt while he deprecates its punishment. Act V. SCENE i. (v. i. 89.) Four terms or two actions.
There is something humorous in making a spendthrift compute time by the operation of an action for debt.
Act V. SCENE i. (v. i. 90-3.)
0, it is much that a lie with a slight oarb, and a jest with a sad brow, will do with a fellow ibat never bad the acbe in his shoulders,
That is, a young fellow, one whose disposition to merriment, time and pain have not yet impaired. Act V. SCENE iv. (v. iii. 60.) The cavaleroes about London.
This was the term by which an airy splendid irregular fellow was distinguished. The soldiers of King Charles were called Cavaliers from the gayety which they affected in opposition to the sour faction of the parliament. Act V. Scene iv. (v. iii. 80-1.)
SILENCE. An old man can do somewhat.
be observed that Shakespeare, in the Merry Wives of Windsor, which he wrote after this play, for the greater commodiousness of his plot, changed the age of Silence. He is here a man advanced in
with a son at the university : he there goes a courting to a young girl. Shallow is an old man in both plays. Act V. SCENE Viï. (v. v. 68.)
KING. I banish thee, on pain of death. Mr. Rowe observes, that many readers lament to see Falstaff so hardly used by his old friend. But if it be considered that the fat knight has 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 distinction, yet he does nothing in the time of action, and though after the bustle is over he is again a favourite, at last 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. Act V. SCENE ix. (v. v. 97.)
CHIEF JUSTICE. Go, carry Sir John Falstaff to the Fleet. I do not see why Falstaff is carried to the Fleet. We have never lost sight of him since his dismission from the king; he has committed no new fault, and therefore incurred no punishment; but the different agitations of fear, anger, and surprise in him and his company, made a good scene to the
eye ; authour, who wanted them no longer on the stage, was glad to find this method of sweeping them away.
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 authour, I could be content to conclude it with the death of Henry the fourth.
In that Jerusalem shall Harry dye. These scenes which now make the fifth act of Henry the fourth, 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 designed that the whole series of action from the beginning of Richard the second, to the end of Henry the fifth, should 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 authour has ever in two plays afforded so much delight. The great events are interesting, for the fate of kingdoms depends upon them; the slighter 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 profoundest skill in the nature of man.
The prince, who is the hero both of the comick and tragick part, is a young man of great abilities and violent passions, whose sentiments are right, though his actions are wrong; whose virtues are obscured by negligence, and whose understanding is dissipated 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 trifler is roused into a hero, and the hero again reposes in the trifler. This character is great, original, and just.