Imatges de pÓgina
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limbs and features which compofe the human form. He first had the skill to give it gefture, attitude, the eafy graces of real life, and to exhibit its powers in a variety of ex

ertions.

We fhall again fee Northumberland timid and wavering, forward in confpiracy, yet hesitating to join in an action of doubtful iffue.

King Henry is as prudent a politician on his death-bed, as at council; his eye, juft before it closed for ever, ftretching itself beyond the hour of death, to the view of those dangers, which from the temper of the Prince of Wales, and the condition of the times, threatened his Throne and Family. I cannot help taking notice of the remark able attention of the poet, to the cautious and politic temper of Henry, when he makes him, even in speaking to his friends and partifans, diffemble fo far, in relating Richard's prophecy, that Northumberland who helped

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him to the throne, would one day revolt from him, as to add,

Though then, heaven knows, I had no fuch

intent;

But that neceffity fo bow'd the state,

That I and Greatnefs were compell'd to kifs.

To his fucceffor he expreffes himself very differently, when he says,

Heaven knows, my fon,

By what by-paths and indirect crook'd ways

I met this crown.

Thefe delicacies of conduct lie hardly within the poet's province, but have their fource in that great and universal capacity, which the attentive reader will find to belong to our author, beyond any other writer. He alone, perhaps, would have perceived the decorum and fitnefs of making fo wife a man reserved even with his friends, and trust a confeffion of the iniquities, by which he obtained the crown, only to his fucceffor, whofe intereft it was not to difgrace what

ever

ever could authorize his attainment of it. Let tragedy-writers who make princes prate with pages and waiting-women of their murders and treafons, learn for once, from rude and illiterate Shakespear, how averse pride is coolly to confefs, and prudence to betray, what the fever and deliriums of ambition have prompted us to do.

Falstaffe appears with his former difpofitions, but in new fituations; and entertains us in a variety of scenes.

Hotspur is as it were revived to the spectator, in the following character given of him by his lady, when the diffuades Northumberland from joining the forces of the archbishop.

Lady PERCY.

Oh, yet for heav'n's fake, go not to these wars.
The time was, father, that you broke your word,
When you were more endear'd to it than now;
When your own Percy, when my heart-dear Harry,
Threw many a northward look, to fee his father
Bring up his pow'rs; but he did long in vain!

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your fon's,

Who then perfuaded you to stay at home?
There were two honours loft; yours and
For yours, may heav'nly glory brighten it!
For his, it ftruck upon him as the fun
In the grey vault of heav'n; and by his light
Did all the chivalry of England move
To do brave acts. He was indeed the glass,
Wherein the noble youth did dress themselves.
He had no legs, that practis'd not his gait;
And speaking thick, which nature made his blemish,
Became the accents of the valiant ; ·

For thofe, that could speak low and tardily,
Would turn their own perfection to abuse,

To feem like him: So that in fpeech, in gait,
In diet, in affections of delight,

In military rules, humours of blood,

He was the mark and glafs, copy and book,

That fafhion'd others. And him, wond'rous him!

O miracle of men! him did you leave

To look upon the hideous god of war

In difadvantage; to abide a field

Where nothing but the found of Hotspur's name
Did feem defenfible. So you left him.

Never, O, never do his ghoft the wrong,

To hold your honour more precife and nice

With

With others, than with Him. Let them alone:
The marfhal and the archbishop are strong,

Had my fweet Harry had but half their numbers,
To-day might I (hanging on Hotspur's neck)
Have talk'd of Monmouth's grave.

Juftice Shallow is an admirably well drawn comic character, but he never appears better, than by reflection in the mirror of Falstaffe's wit, in whose descriptions he is most strongly exhibited.—It is faid by some, that the Juftice was meant for a particular gentleman, who had profecuted the author for deer-stealing. I know not whether that ftory be well grounded. The Shallows are to be found every where, in every age: but they who have least character of their own, are moft formed and modified by the fashion of the times, and by their peculiar profeffion or calling. So though we often meet with a refemblance to this Juftice, we shall never find an exact parallel to him, now manners are fo much changed.-Hiftory or Philofophy cannot better fet forth the fuperior danH 3

ger

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