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SCENE V. Life demands Aation.
(14) O gentlemen, &c.] See All's well that ends well. Act 5Scene 4, and the note. Virgil beautifully observes,
Stat sua cuique dics, breve & irreparabile tempus
THERE is something so very great, fingular, and attractive, in the two principal characters of this historic piece, (says Mrs. Griffith) that I find a pleasure in keeping them ftill in view, and contemplating them both in my mind.
Whenever Hotspur or the Prince filled the Scene, which they are either of them, singly, sufficient to do, I confess that my heart was sensible of such an emotion, as Sir Philip Sidney faid he used to be affected with, on a perusal of the old ballad of ChevyChase ; as if he had heard the found of a trumpei. Perhaps the fol.. lowing observation may better account for my impulse:
Women are apt to esteem the ancient virtue of courage at an higher rate than men in general are ; and this, for these two especial reafons. The first, that it is peculiarly necessary to their personal defence; and the next, that their weakness induces them to form a sublimer notion of this quality, than the ftronger, and therefore braver, sex may naturally be fupposed to compliment it with. Men, feeling the principles of it in their own breasts, conceive no very supernatural idea of it; while women, having no such premisses to reason from, look on it as fomething more than human,
These reflections, with the frequent occasions I have had, thrcughout 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 thould 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 Shake (fear 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 woald be likely to produce after the delay had suffered the impression, of Hotspur's qualities to wear out: of their remembrance.
PA R. A L L E L.
HOTSPUR; AND HENRY RRINCE OF WALES: .
They are both equally brave ; but the courage of Hotspur has a greater portion of fierceness in it-The Prince's magna-nimity is more heroic. The first resembles Achilles; the latter is more like HeEtor. 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 fame of Hotspur,, behind his back, and while he is still his enemy.
They both of them poffefs a sportive vein of humour in their scenes of common life; but Hotspur still preserves the surly and refractory baughtinefs of his character, throughout, even in the relaxations he indulges himself in. The Prince has more of
ease and nature in his; delivering himself over to mirth and diffipation, without reserve. Hotspur's festivity seems to resemble that of Hamlet; as assumed merely to relieve anxiety of mind, and cover fanguinary purposes ; the Prince's gaiety, like that of Falconbridge *, appears to be more genuine, arising from natural temper, and an healthful flow of spirits. The Prince is Alcihadis-Perry is--himself.
There is likewife another character in this rich play, of a poft peculiar distinction ; as being not only original, but inim- .
tebk, alfo-No copy of it has ever since appeared, either in life or description. Any one of the Dramatis Personæ in Congreve's Coinedies, 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 certain characterittic peciniarity in all the humour of Faijłaff, that would sound flatly in the mouths of Bardolph, Poins, or Peto. In fine, the portrait of this extraorlinary ersonage is delineated by so masterly a hand, that we may venture to pronounce it to be the only one that ever affordcd so high a degree of pleasure, without the least pretence to merit or virtue to support it.
From the orient to the drooping west,
Making the wind my post-horse, still unfold The acts commenced on this ball of earth; (1) Upon my tongues continual flanders ride,
(1) Upon my, &c.] In the stage direction, rumour is said to enter painted full of tongues. Shakespear, in his description of rumour, had doubtless a view either to Virgil's celebrated description of fame, or Ovid's defeription of her cave in the 12th book of his metamorphoses : I shall give the reader part of both, and in as close a translation as poffible, that he may judge the better.
Monstrum borrendum, &c.
The which in every language I pronounce;
- Contention, like a horse Full of high feeding, madly hath broke loose, And bears down all before him.
And mighty towns alarms: nor less intent
See Trapp. Virg. Æn. 4.
Sec Garth's Ovid. b. 12. (2) Year, &c.] Others read car.