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absolute falsehood, and that too uttered under the sanction of so strong an assurance." We do not agree with Steevens, because, in our belief, it was Shakspere's intention to show that the Prince could not come out of these scenes without a moral contamination. The lie was an inevitable consequence of the participation in the robbery. The money might be restored, but the accomplice must be protected.
Prince's wit when unsustained by that of | without obliging him to have recourse to an Falstaff. The Prince goes to this boy-play with the Drawer, "to drive away the time till Falstaff come." With Poins, who is a cold gentlemanly hanger-on, the Prince has no exuberance; he is playful, smart, voluble, but not witty. Falstaff is necessary to him to call out the higher qualities of his intellect. He fancies that he is laughing at Falstaff: while, in truth, the sagacity, the readiness, the presence of mind, the covert sarcasm, the unrestrained impudence, and the crowning wit of that extraordinary humorist, at once rouse the Prince's mind into a state of activity which, in itself, would be pleasurable, but is doubly fascinating in connexion with the self-complacency which tells him that the man who thus stimulates him has a thousand prominent points to be ridiculed, and that the subject of the ridicule will be the first to enjoy the jest. It would be vain for us to attempt any dissection of the great scene which follows. We would, however, observe that, to our minds, "the incomprehensible lies" which Falstaff tells, -the "two or three and fifty upon poor old Jack,”—the “two rogues in buckram suits," -the four, the seven, the nine, the eleven, -the "three misbegotten knaves in Kendal green," —are lies that are intended to be received as lies,—an incoherent exaggeration for the purpose of drawing out the real facts. The unconquerable good humour and elation of spirit which Falstaff displays throughout the whole scene show as if he had a glimpse or a shrewd suspicion of the truth. But, in the midst of the revelry, the "villainous news abroad" penetrates even to the Boar's Head. Yet the fun never stops; and Falstaff is desirous to "play out the play," even when the Sheriff is at the door. When the Sheriff demands the "gross fat man," whom the "hue and cry hath followed," the Prince replies,
"The man, I do assure you, is not here." Falstaff was behind the arras. We do not go along with Steevens, who says, "Every reader must regret that Shakspeare would not give himself the trouble to furnish Prince Henry with some more pardonable excuse,
Is it by accident that we are now to pass from the region of the highest wit into the region of the highest poetry? Brilliant as the scenes at the Boar's Head are, they leave an unsatisfactory impression upon the moral sense; and they are meant to do so. The character of Falstaff is essentially antipoetical. It may appear a truism to say this, and yet he has fancy enough for a large component part of a poet. His wit is for the most part a succession of images; but his imagination sees only the ludicrous aspect of things, and so the images are all of the earth-they cannot go out of our finite nature. Thus it is that, when in company with Falstaff, the prince exhibits no one particle of that enthusiasm which goes to form the chivalrous portion of his aftercharacter. Up to this point, then, his nature appears essentially less elevated than the natures of his enemies. Hotspur is a being of lofty passions-Glendower one of wild and mysterious imaginations. How singularly are their characters developed in the scene at Bangor! The solemn credulity of the reputed magician, the sarcastic unbelief of the impatient warrior,-are equally indications of men in earnest. Harry of Monmouth up to this time has been playing a part. Excellently as he has played it, he was still only the second actor; for Falstaff beats him out and out, through the rich geniality of his temperament. Falstaff at this time approaches much nearer to the earnestness of Glendower than Harry does to the exaltation of Hotspur. When Falstaff exclaims "Banish plump Jack, and banish all the world," we feel that he is as sincere as Glendower when he says,
"I say, the earth did shake when I was born."
But the poetical elevation of the scene at Bangor is a fit introduction also to the new situation in which we shall see the Prince. It is skilfully interposed between the revels at the Boar's Head and the penitential interview of Henry with his father. The players, discarding this poetical scene, allow us no resting-place between the debauch and the repentance. In the "private conference" between Henry IV. and his son, the character of Bolingbroke is sustained with what we may truly call historical accuracy. The solemn dignity of the offended father, displaying itself in the very structure of the
Why, Harry, do I tell thee of my foes," Which art my nearest and dearest enemy?"
all this exhibits the masterly politician, but it does not show us the deep passion of the father; nor does it hold up to the Prince the highest motives for a change of life. The answer of the Prince partakes somewhat of his father's policy. He is not moved to any deep and agonizing remorse; he extenuates the offences that are laid to his charge; his ambition, indeed, is roused, and he proposes to Isalve the long grown wounds" of his "intemperance" by redeeming "all on Percy's head." The king is more than satisfied. The change of character of the Prince was in progress, but not in completion. It was for the old chroniclers to talk of his miraculous conversion; it was for Shakspere to show the gradations of its course.
The character of Falstaff is developing; but it is not improving. His sensuality puts on a grosser aspect when he is alone with Bardolph his satellite. We see, too, that, if his vocation be not absolutely to taking purses," his principles do not stand in the way of his success. When the Hostess asks him for money that he owes, he insults her. When the Prince tells him he is good friends with his father, "Rob me the exchequer, the first thing thou doest," is the inopportune answer. The Prince replies not. He is evidently in a more sober vein. Falstaff, however, has " a charge of foot ;" and the alacrity which he shows is quite evidence enough that Shakspere had no intention to make him a constitutional coward. The Prince and he are going to the same battlefield. They may exchange a passing jest or two, but the ties of intimate connexion between them seem somewhat loosened. The higher portions of the Prince's nature are expanding ;-the grosser qualities of Falstaff are coming more and more into view. Shakspere seldom attempts to add anything by the descriptions of others to the power which his characters have of developing themselves; but in this case it was necessary to present a distinct image to the spectator of the altered Harry of the Boar's Head, before he came himself upon another scene. description of Vernon
"I saw young Harry, with his beaver on,
His cuisses on his thighs, gallantly arm'd,
And witch the world with noble horsemanship;"
this fine description is the preparation for the gallant bearing of the prince in the fifth act.
The historical action of 'The First Part of Henry IV.' is the first insurrection of the Percies, which was put down by the battle of Shrewsbury. These events are the inevitable consequence of the circumstances which attended the deposition of Richard II. Bolingbroke mounted the throne by the
treachery of Richard's friends; his partisans were too great to remain merely partisans:King Richard might create a perfect guess, That great Northumberland, then false to him, Would, of that seed, grow to a greater falseness."
The struggles for power which followed the destruction of the legitimate power have been here painted by Shakspere with that marvellous impartiality of which we have already spoken in the Notice upon Richard II.'
Our sympathies would be almost wholly with Hotspur and his friends had not the poet raised up a new interest in the chivalrous bearing of Henry of Monmouth, to balance the noble character of the young Percy. The prudence and moderation of the King, accompanied, too, with high courage, still further divide the interest;—and the
guilt of Worcester, in falsifying the issue of his mission, completes this division, and carries out the great political purpose of the poet, which was to show how, if a nation's internal peace be once broken, the prosperity and happiness of millions are put at the mercy of the weakness and the wickedness of the higher agents, who call themselves the interpreters of a nation's voice. Personal fear and personal ambition are, in all such cases, substituted for the public principles upon which the leaders on either side profess to act. Shakspere shows us in these scenes the hollowness of all motives but those which result from high principles or impulses. Rash, proud, ambitious, prodigal of blood, as Hotspur is, we feel that there is not an atom of meanness in his composition, and that his ambition is even virtue under a system of opinion that makes "the hero out of those qualities which have inflicted most suffering upon humanity. When he exclaims
"Let them come;
They come like sacrifices in their trim,
our spirit is moved "as with a trumpet." He would carry us away with him, were it
not for the milder courage of young Harry -the courage of principle and of mercy. Frank, liberal, prudent, gentle, but yet brave as Hotspur himself, the Prince shows us that, even in his wildest excesses, he has drunk deeply of the fountains of truth and wisdom. The wisdom of the King is that of a cold and subtle politician;-Hotspur seems to stand out from his followers as the haughty feudal lord, too proud to have listened to any teacher but his own will;-but the Prince, in casting away the dignity of his station to commune freely with his fellow-men, has attained that strength which is above all conventional power; his virtues as well as his frailties belong to our common humanity - the virtues capable, therefore, of the highest elevation,—the frailties not pampered into crimes by the artificial incentives of social position. His challenge to Hotspur exhibits all the attributes of the gentleman as well as the hero-mercy, sincerity, modesty, courage :—
"In both our armies there is many a soul
In praise of Henry Percy: By my hopes,-
I am content that he shall take the odds
And will, to save the blood on either side, Try fortune with him in a single fight." Could the Prince have reached this height amidst the cold formalities of his father's court? We think that Shakspere meant distinctly to show that Henry of Monmouth, when he "sounded the very base-string of humility," gathered out of his dangerous experience that spirit of sympathy with human actions and motives from which a sovereign is almost necessarily excluded; and
thus the Prince himself believes that "in everything the purpose must weigh with the folly." In the march from Harfleur to Agincourt, the Henry V. of Shakspere says, "When lenity and cruelty play for a kingdom, the gentler gamester is the soonest winner." Where did he learn this? Was it in the same school where his brother, John of Lancaster, learnt the cold treachery which the poet and the historian have both exhibited in his conduct to Scroop, and Mowbray, and Hastings? Henry of Monmouth, when he supposes Falstaff dead, drops a tear over him :
"What! old acquaintance! could not all this flesh
Keep in a little life? Poor Jack, farewell!
Henry here shows the restraint which he had really put upon himself in his wildest levities:-but he feels as a man the supposed loss of his "old acquaintance:" John of Lancaster, on the other hand, has no frailties, but he has no sympathies. Falstaff hits off his character in a word or two: "A man cannot make him laugh."
Thus far have we shown the unity of purpose with which Shakspere, in tracing the course of the civil troubles which followed the usurpation of Henry IV., has exhibited the process by which the character of Henry V. was established. The "mad wag" of Gadshill is the hero of the field of Shrewsbury
Hath taught us how to cherish such high deeds, Even in the bosom of our adversaries."
The Second Part of this drama is bound up with the First, through the most skilful management of the poet. Each Part was, of course, acted as a distinct play in Shakspere's time. In our own day the Second Part is very seldom produced; but, when it is, the players destroy the connecting link, by suppressing one of the finest scenes which Shakspere ever wrote-the scene between Northumberland, Lord Bardolph, and Morton, at Warkworth Castle. Colley Cibber, however, wrenched the scene out of its place, and, cutting it up into a dozen bits, stuck it here and there throughout his alteration of 'Richard III.' Many false Cremonas are thus manufactured out of one real one; and the musical dupe is contented with the neck, or the sounding-board, of the true fiddle, while the knave who has broken it up has destroyed the one thing which constituted its highest value-the perfect adaptation of all its parts. Let this outrage upon Shakspere, however, pass. We live in a time when it cannot be repeated. The connecting scene between the First and Second Parts brings us back to the Northumberland of Richard II.' We have scarcely seen him in The First Part of Henry IV.-but here we are made to feel that the retribution which awaited his treacherous and selfish actions has arrived. He betrayed Richard to Bolingbroke-he insulted the unhappy king in his hour of misery—he incited his son and his brother to revolt from Henry, and then deserted them in their need. We feel, then, that the misery which produces his "strained passion" is a just visitation :—
"Now let not Nature's hand Keep the wild flood confined! let order die ! And let the world no longer be a stage To feed contention in a lingering act; But let one spirit of the first-born Cain Reign in all bosoms, that, each heart being set On bloody courses, the rude scene may end, And darkness be the burier of the dead!" His cold and selfish policy destroyed his son at Shrewsbury, and he endures to be reproached for it by that son's widow :
Bring up his powers; but he did long in vain." He again yields to his own fears, even more than to the entreaties of his wife and daughter, and once more waits for "time and 'vantage." His eventful fall, therefore, moves no pity; and we feel that the poet properly dismisses him and his fate in three lines:"The earl Northumberland, and the lord Bardolph,
With a great power of English and of Scots, Are by the sheriff of Yorkshire overthrown."
The conspirators against Henry IV., who The conspirators against Henry IV., who are now upon the scene, are far less interesting than those of the former Part. We have no character that can at all compare with Hotspur, or Glendower, or Douglas. Hastings has, indeed, the rashness of Hotspur, but without his fire and brilliancy; the Archbishop is dignified and sententious; Lord Bardolph sensible and prudent. Neither the characters nor the incidents afford any scope for the highest poetry. The finest thing in the scenes where the conspirators appear is the speech of the Archbishop :"An habitation giddy and unsure
Hath he that buildeth on the vulgar heart." To the conspirators are opposed John of Lancaster and Westmoreland. In the scene where these leaders (fitting representatives, indeed, of the cruel and treacherous times which we call the days of chivalry) tempt Hastings, and Mowbray, and the Archbishop, to disband their forces, and then arrest them for treason, Shakspere has contrived to make us hate the act and the actors with an intensity which is the natural result of his dramatic power.
Johnson, however, says, "It cannot but raise some indignation to find this horrid violation of faith passed over thus slightly by the poet, without any note of censure or detestation." Malone agrees in this complaint: "Shakspeare, here, as in many other places, has merely followed the
historians, who related this perfidious act without animadversion. . . . . But there is certainly no excuse; for it is the duty of a poet always to take the side of virtue." Holinshed, in a marginal note, describes this treachery as "The subtill policie of the Earle of Westmerland." Now, we quite admit that it was the duty of the historian to call this "subtill policie" by some much harder name; but we utterly deny that it was the duty of the poet to introduce a fine declamation about virtue and honour, such as Johnson himself would have introduced,
"To please the boys, and be a theme at school." Shakspere has made it perfectly evident that the treachery by which the Archbishop and his friends were sacrificed was deliberately arranged by Prince John and Westmoreland. When the young general is becoming violent with Hastings, Westmoreland most artfully reminds him that all this is waste of time
that they have something in store more effective than reproaches :—
"Pleaseth your grace to answer them directly, How far-forth you do like their articles?" hesitation :The crafty prince answers to his cue without
"I like them all, and do allow them well;" and he follows up the promise of redress by "here, between the armies,
Let's drink together friendly, and embrace." To this duplicity are opposed the frankness of Hastings and the wisdom of the Archbishop :
"A peace is of the nature of a conquest:
For then both parties nobly are subdued,
In full contrast to the confiding honesty of these men stands out the dirty equivocation of Prince John :
"Arch. Will you thus break your faith? P. John. I pawn'd thee none: I promised you redress of these same grievances Whereof you did complain."
Is there anything more wanting to make us detest "this horrid violation of faith?" One