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staff's character when he learns the death of The very struggle, in this moment of trial,
But all are banish'd, till their conversations was compelled to assert his consistency by
Appear more wise and modest to the world." his severity. Warburton has truly observed that, in his homily to Falstaff, Henry makes The dramatic action is complete. Henry of a trip, and is sliding into his old habit of Monmouth has passed through the dangerlaughing at Falstaff's bulk :
ous trial of learning the great lessons of
humanity amidst men with whom his follies “know, the grave doth gape made him an equal. The stains of this conFor thee thrice wider than for other men.”
tact were on the surface. His heart was He saw the rising smile, and the smothered first elevated by ambition—then purified by retort, upon Falstaff's lip,—and he checks sorrow—and so him with
“ Consideration like an angel came, “ Reply not to me with a fool-born jest;
And whipp'd th' offending Adam out of him." Presume not that I am the thing I was.”
KING HENRY V. · Henry V.' was first printed in 1600, under | feature of the structure, under other combithe following title : The Chronicle History nations, with such marvellous skill, that no of Henry the Fift, with his battell fought unity of principle is violated, and the whole at Agin Court in France. Together with has the effect of a restoration in which the auntient Pistoll.' This copy, which differs new and the old are undistinguishable. The most materially from the text of the folio, was alterations are so manifestly those of the reprinted in 1602, and again in 1608. The author working upon his first sketch, that quarto of 1600 runs only to 1800 lines ; we are utterly at a loss to conceive upon whilst the lines in the folio edition amount what principle some of our editorial preto 3500. Not only is the play thus augmented decessors have reconciled the differences by the additions of the choruses and new upon
the easy theory of a surreptitious copy. scenes, but there is scarcely a speech, from A passage in the chorus to the fifth act the first scene to the last, which is not ela- proves, beyond doubt, that the choruses borated. In this elaboration the old mate- formed a part of the performance in 1599 ; rials are very carefully used up; but they but this does not prove that there was not are so thoroughly refitted and dovetailed an earlier performance without the choruses. with what is new, that the operation can The first quarto was printed in 1600, after only be compared to the work of a skilful the choruses were brought upon the stage ; architect, who, having an ancient mansion but, because they are not found in that first to enlarge and beautify, with a strict regard quarto, it is asserted that the copy from to its original character, preserves every' which that edition was printed was “not a
Sure, we thank you.
Or should, or should not, bar us in our claim.
And God forbid, my dear and faithful lord, script.” Is it not much more easy to believe
That you should fashion, wrest, or bow your that, after a play had been thoroughly re
reading, modelled, the original sketch which existed
Or nicely charge your understanding soul
With opening titles miscreate, whose right
Without much fall of blood; whose guiltless
Are every one a woe, a sore complaint, will present themselves :
'Gainst him whose wrongs give edge unto the
That make such waste in brief mortality.
Under this conjuration, speak, my lord:
For we will hear, note, and believe in heart,
That what you speak is in your conscience
As pure as sin with baptism.”
Can any one doubt that this careful elabora-
tion, involving nice changes of epithets, was
the work of the author himself ? Would That you should fashion, frame, or wrest the
the amanuensis or the reciter have given us For God doth know how many now in health
some passages so correctly, and altogether Shall drop their blood, in approbation
onitted others, making substitutions which Of what your reverence shall incite us to. required him to reconstruct particular lines, Therefore take heed how you impawn our
so that the rhythm might be preserved ? In
the prose passages the same process of
Our belief, then, is, that the original
had appeared in its amended and corrected
form, such as we have received it from the
folio of 1623; but that this quarto, and the Folio OF 1623.
subsequent quartos, were copies of a much “ Canterbury. God and his angels guard shorter play, which had been previously proyour sacred throne,
duced, and, perhaps, hastily written for sonie And make you long become it!
temporary occasion. We further believe
that the text of these quartos was surrep- shrunk from a subject which appeared to titiously obtained from the early playhouse him essentially undramatic. It is, however, copy, and continued through three editions highly probable that, having brought the to be palmed upon the public,--the author history of Henry of Monmouth up to the and his co-proprietors in the Globe Theatre period of his father's death, the demands of not choosing that the amended copy should an audience, who had been accustomed to be published.
hail “the madcap Prince of Wales” as the The single passage in the play which fur- conqueror of Agincourt, compelled him to nishes any evidence as to its date is found in “continue the story.” That he originally the chorus to the fifth act :
contemplated lending to it the interest of “ Were now the general of our gracious empress
his creation of Falstaff is also sufficiently
clear. It would be vain to speculate why (As, in good time, he may) from Ireland coming,
he abandoned this intention; but it is eviBringing rebellion broached on his sword, dent that, without the interest which FalHow many would the peaceful city quit, staff would have imparted to the story, the To welcome him!”
dramatic materials presented by the old
play, or by the circumstances that the poet The allusion cannot be mistaken. About
could discover in the real course of events, the end of March” (1599), says Camden,
were extremely meagre and unsatisfying. It “the Earl of Essex set forward for Ireland, is our belief, therefore, that, having hastily and was accompanied out of London with a
met the demands of his audience by the first fine appearance of nobility and gentry, and sketch of · Henry V.,' as it appears in the the most cheerful huzzas of the common
quarto editions, he subsequently saw the people.” Essex returned to London on the capacity which the subject presented for 28th of September of the same year. This being treated in a grand lyrical spirit. Inplay, then, with the choruses, must have been
stead of interpolating an under-plot of petty performed in the summer of 1599. Without passions and intrigues,—such, for the most the choruses there is nothing to show that part, as we find in the dramatic treatment it might not have been performed earlier.
of an heroic subject by the French poets,
he preserved the great object of his drama “Shakspere,” says Frederick Schlegel, “ re
entire by the intervention of the chorus. garded the drama as entirely a thing for the Skilfully as he has managed this, and magpeople, and, at first, treated it throughout nificent as the whole drama is as a great as such. He took the popular comedy as he national song of triumph, there can be no found it, and whatever enlargements and doubt that Shakspere felt that in this play improvements he introduced into the stage he was dealing with a theme too narrow for were all calculated and conceived according his peculiar powers. His drama, generally, to the peculiar spirit of his predecessors, and
was cast in an entirely different mould from of the audience in London."* This is espe
that of the Greek tragedy. The Greek stage cially true with regard to Shakspere's Histories. In the case of the 'Henry V. it matic :
was, in reality, more lyrical than draappears to us that our great dramatic poet would never have touched the subject, had
Thence what the lofty grave tragedians taught not the stage previously possessed it in the In Chorus or lambic, teachers best old play of 'The Famous Victories.' 'Henry Of moral prudence, with delight received IV.' would have been perfect as a dramatic
In brief sententious precepts, while they treat whole, without the addition of Henry V.'
Of fate, and chance, and change in human
life; The somewhat doubtful mode in which he speaks of continuing the story appears to us
High actions and high passions best deserib
ing." a pretty certain indication that he rather * Lectures on the History of Literature,' vol. ii.
The didactic lessons of moral prudence,—the
brief sententious precepts,—the descriptions | ing now upon the vantage-ground of four of high actions and high passions,—are alien centuries of experience, in which civilization from the whole spirit of Shakspere's drama. has marched onwards at a pace which could The 'Henry V' constitutes an exception to only be the result of great intellectual imthe general rules upon which he worked. pulses, we may, indeed, say that, if Henry V. “ High actions” are here described as well was justly fitted to be a leader of chivalry, as exhibited ; and "high passions,” in the fearless, enterprising, persevering, geneShaksperean sense of the term, scarcely make rous, pious,-he was, at the same time, rash, their appearance upon the scene. Here are obstinate, proud, superstitious, seeking after no struggles between will and fate ; no vain renown and empty conquests, instead frailties of humanity dragging down its vir- of making his people happy by wise laws tues into an abyss of guilt and sorrow,--no and the cultivation of sound knowledge. crimes,-no obduracy,—no penitence. We But Henry's character, like that of all other have the lofty and unconquerable spirit of men, must be estimated by the circumstances national and individual heroism riding tri- amidst which he moved. After four centuumphantly over every danger ; but the spirit ries of illumination, if we find the world still is so lofty that we feel no uncertainty for suffering under the dominion of unjust gothe issue. We should know, even if we had vernors and ambitious conquerors, we may po foreknowledge of the event, that it must pardon one who acted according to his lights, conquer. We can scarcely weep over those believing that his cause justified his attempt who fall in that “glorious and well-foughten to seize upon another crown, instead of field,” for “ they kept together in their wearing his own wisely and peacefully. At chivalry,” and their last words sound as a any rate, it was not for the poet to regard glorious hymn of exultation. The subject is the most popular king of the feudal times altogether one of lyric grandeur; but it is with the cold and severe scrutiny of the not one, we think, which Shakspere would philosophical historian. It was for him to have chosen fc: å drama.
embody in the person of Henry V. the prinAnd yeu how exquisitely has Shakspere ciple of national heroism ; it was for him to thrown his dramatic power into this undra- call forth “ the spirit of patriotic remimatic subject! The character of the King niscence.” There are periods in the history of is altogether one of the most finished por- every people when their nationality, lifting traits that has proceeded from this master- them up almost into a frenzy of enthusiasm, hand. It could, perhaps, only have been is one of the sublimest exhibitions of the thoroughly conceived by the poet who had practical poetry of social life. In the times delineated the Henry of the Boar’s Head, of Shakspere such an aspect of the English and of the Field of Shrewsbury. The sur- mind was not unfrequently presented. Neipassing union, in this character, of spirit ther in our own times have such manifestaand calmness, of dignity and playfulness, oftions of the mighty heart been wanting. But an ever-present energy, and an almost me- there have been, and there may again be, lancholy abstraction,—the conventional au- periods of real danger when the national thority of the king, and the deep sympathy, spirit shows itself drooping and languishing. with the meanest about him, of the man,- It is under such circumstances that the was the result of the most philosophical and heart-stirring power of such a play as ' Henry consistent appreciation by the poet of the V' is to be tested. Frederick Schlegel says, moral and intellectual progress of his own “ The feeling by which Shakspere seems to Prince of Wales. And let it not be said that have been most connected with ordinary the picture which he has painted of his men is that of nationality.” But how diffavourite hero is an exaggerated and flatter- ferent is his nationality from that of ordinary ing representation. The extraordinary merits It is reflective, tolerant, generous, of Henry V. were those of the individual ; It lives not in an atmosphere of falsehood his demerits were those of his times. Stand- and prejudice. Its theatre is war and con
quest ; but it does not hold up war and con- Like prisoners wildly overgrown with hair quest as fitting objects for nationality to Put forth disorder'd twigs: her fallow leas dedicate itself to, except under the pressure
The darnel, hemlock, and rank fumitory, of the most urgent necessity. Neither does Doth root upon; while that the coulter rusts, it attempt to conceal the fearful responsibili
That should deracinate such savagery: ties of those who carry the principle of
The even mead, that erst brought sweetly
forth nationality to the last arbitrement of arms,
The freckled cowslip, burnet, and green clover, nor the enormous amount of evil which
Wanting the scythe, all uncorrected, rank, always attends the rupture of that peace, in
Conceives by idleness; and nothing teems the cultivation of which nationality is best
But hateful docks, rough thistles, kecksies, displayed. Shakspere, indeed, speaks proudly
burs, as a member of that English family
Losing both beauty and utility : “Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof;"
And as our vineyards, fallows, meads, and
hedges, but he never forgets that he belongs to the Defective in their natures, grow to wildness; larger family of the human race. When
Even so our houses, and ourselves, and chilHenry tells the people of Harfleur,
dren, “ The gates of mercy shall be all shut up,”
Have lost, or do not learn, for want of time,
The sciences that should become our country; and draws that most fearful picture of the But grow, like savages,
,-as soldiers will, horrors of a sacked city, the poet tells us, That nothing do but meditate on blood, though not in sententious precepts, that To swearing, and stern looks, diffused attire, nationality, when it takes the road of vio- And everything that seems unnatural." lence, may be driven to put off all the gentle
Thoughts such as these, coming from the attributes of social life, and, assuming the great poet of humanity and wisdom, are the " action of the tiger," have the tiger's un
correctives of a false nationality. discriminating bloodthirstiness. When Henry,
It is scarcely necessary for us to trace the on the eve of the battle, walks secretly amidst conduct of the dramatic action of Henry V.' his soldiers, the poet makes him hear that in connexion with its characters. In the truth which kings seldom hear, and which, inferior persons of the play--the comic chahowever the hero, in this instance, may con- racters--the poet has displayed that power tend with it, cannot be disguised or contro- which he, above all men, possesses, of comverted :—“If the cause be not good, the
bining the highest poetical conceptions with king himself hath a heavy reckoning to the most truthful delineations of real life. make ; when all those legs, and arms, and
In the amusing pedantry of Fluellen, and heads, chopped off in a battle, shall join to the vapourings of Pistol, there is nothing in gether at the latter day, and cry all-we
the slightest degree incongruous with the died at such a place; some, swearing; some, main action of the scene. The homely crying for a surgeon; some, upon their wives
bluntness of the common soldiers of the left poor behind them; some, upon the debts
army brings us still closer to a knowledge of they owe; some, upon their children rawly
the great mass of which a camp is composed. left. I am afeard there are few die well that
Perhaps one of the most delicate but yet die in battle ; for how can they charitalıly most appreciable instances of Shakspere's dispose of anything when blood is their argu
nationality, in all its power and justice, is ment ?" Again, when Henry has won France, the mode in which he has exhibited the chawhat a ce does the poet present to the racters of these common soldiers. They are winner!
rough, somewhat quarrelsome, brave as lions, “ All her husbandry doth lie on heaps,
but without the slightest particle of anything Corrupting in its own fertility.
low or grovelling in their composition. They Her vine, the merry cheerer of the heart, are fit representatives of the “good yeomen, Unpruned dies: her hedges even-pleachd, whose limbs were made in England.” We