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Comes to him, where in gore he lay insteep'd,
But we must have done with splendid quotations. The behavior of the king, in the difficult and doubtful circumstances in which he is placed, is as patient and modest as it is spirited and lofty in his prosperous fortune. The character of the French nobles is also very admirably depicted ; and the Dau.. phin's praise of his horse shows the vanity of that class of persons in a very striking point of view. Shakspeare always ac. companies a foolish prince with a satirical courtier, as we see in this instance. The comic parts of HENRY V. are very inferior to those of Henry IV. Falstaff is dead, and without him, Pistol, Nym, and Bardolph, are satellites without a sun. Fluellen the Welshman is the most entertaining character in the piece. He is good-natured, brave, choleric, and pedantic. His parallel between Alexander and Harry of Monmouth, and his desire to have “ some disputations” with Captain Macmorris on the disci. pline of the Roman wars, in the heat of the battle, are never to be forgotten. His treatment of Pistol is as good as Pistol's treatment of his French prisoner. There are two other remarkable prose passages in this play: the conversation of Henry in disguise with the three sentinels on the duties of a soldier, and his courtship of Katherine in broken French. We like them both exceedingly, though the first savors perhaps too much of the king, and the last too little of the lover.
IN THREE PARTS.
DURING the time of the civil wars of York and Lancaster, England was a perfect bear-garden, and Shakspeare has given us a very lively picture of the scene. The three parts of HENRY VI. convey a picture of very little else; and are inferior to the other historical plays. They have brilliant passages; but the general ground.work is comparatively poor and meagre, the style « flat and unraised." There are few lines like the follow. ing:
* Glory is like a circle in the water;
Till by broad spreading it disperse to naught."
The first part relates to the wars in France after the death of Henry V., and the story of the Maid of Orleans. She is here almost as sourvily treated, as in Voltaire's Pucelle. Talbot is a very magnificent sketch: there is something as formidable in this portrait of him, as there would be in a monumental figure of him or in the sight of the armor which he wore. The scene in which he visits the Countess of Auvergne, who seeks to eatrap him, is a very spirited one ; and his description of his own that ment, while a prisoner to the French, not less remarkable stor
Saumrar. Yet tell'st thou not, how thou wert entertain'.
In open market-place produced they me,
Here, said they, is the terror of the French,
The second part relates chiefly to the contests between the nobles during the minority of Henry, and the death of Gloucester, the good Duke Humphrey. The character of Cardinal Beaufort is the most prominent of the group: the account of his death is one of our author's master-pieces. So is the speech of Gloucester to the nobles on the loss of the provinces of France by the king's marriage with Margaret of Anjou. The pretensions and growing ambition of the Duke of York, the father of Richard III., are also very ably developed. Among the episodes, the tragi-comedy of Jack Cade, and the detection of the impostor Simcox, are truly edifying.
The third part describes Henry's loss of his crown : his death takes place in the last act, which is usually thrust into the common acting play of Richard III. The character of Gloucester, afterwards King Richard, is here very powerfully commenced, and his dangerous designs and long-aching ambition are fully described in his soliloquy in the third act, beginning, “Ay, Ed. ward will use women honorably." Henry VI. is drawn as disinctly as his high-spirited Queen, and notwithstanding the very nean figure which Henry makes as a king, we still feel more respect for him than for his wife.
We have already observed that Shakspeare was scarcely more remarkable for the force and marked contrasts of his characters, “han for the truth and subtlety with which he has distinguished those which approached the nearest to each other. For instance, the soul of Othello is hardly more distinct from that of lago than that of Desdemona is shown to be from Æmilia's; the ambition of Macbeth is as distinct from the ambition of Richard III. as it is from the meekness of Duncan; the real madness of Lear is as different from the feigned madness of Edgar* as from the babbling of the fool; the contrast between wit and folly in Fal. staff and Shallow is not more characteristic though more obvious chan the gradations of folly, loquacious or reserved, in Shallow and Silence ; and again, the gallantry of Prince Henry is as little confounded with that of Hotspur as with the cowardice of Falstaff, or as the sensual and philosophie cowardice of the Knight is with the pitiful and cringing cowardice of Parolles. All these several personages were as different in Shakspeare as they would have been in themselves: his imagination borrowed from the life, and every circumstance, object, motive, passion, operat ed there as it would in reality, and produced a world of mea and women as distinct, as true, and as various as those that ex. ist in nature. The peculiar property of Shakspeare's imagina tion was his truth, accompanied with the unconsciousness of mature : indeed, imagination to be perfect must be unconscious, at least in production ; for nature is so. We shall attempt one ex. ample more in the characters of Richard II. and Henry VI.
The characters and situations of both these persons were so nearly alike, that they would have been completely confounded by a common-place poet. Yet they are kept quite distinct in Shakspeare. Both were kings, and both unfortunate. Both last their crowns owing to their mismanagement and imbecility ; the one from a thoughtless, wilful abuse of power, the other from an indifference to it. The manner in which they bear their misfor. tunes corresponds exactly to the causes which led to them. The ope is always lamenting the loss of his power, which he has not the spirit to regain ; the other seerns only to regret that he had ever been king, and is glad to be rid of the power, with the trouble : the effeminacy of the one is that of a volaptuary.
• There another instance of the same distinction in Hamlet and OpleluaHamlet's proteoded madnew would make a very good real maness in any other author
proud, revengeful, impatient of contradiction, and inconsolable in his misfortunes; the effeminacy of the other is that of an indolent, good-natured mind, naturally averse to the turmoils of ambition and the cares of greatness, and who wishes to pass his time in monkish indolence and contemplation. Richard bewails the loss of the kingly power only as it was the means of grati. fying his pride and luxury ; Henry regards it only as a means of doing right, and is less desirous of the advantages to be derived from possessing it than afraid of exercising it wrong. In knighting a young soldier, he gives him ghostly advice
“Edward Plantagenet, arise a knight,
• Richard II., in the first speeches of the play, betrays his real
character. In the first alarm of his pride, on hearing of Bolingbroke's rebellion, before his presumption has met with any check, he exclaims
“ Mock not my senseless conjuration, lords:
Not all the water in the rough rude sea
Yet, notwithstanding this royal confession of faith, on the very first news of actual disaster, all his conceit of himself as the peculiar favorite of Providence vanishes into air.
“ But now the blood of twenty thousand men