Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]

INTRODUCTORY REMARKS.

'HENRY V.' was first printed in 1600. This copy differs most materially from the text of the folio. The play runs only to 1800 lines; whilst the lines in the folio edition amount to 3500. Not only is the copy thus augmented by the additions of the choruses and new scenes, but there is scarcely a speech, from the first scene to the last, which is not elaborated. In this elaboration the old materials are very carefully used up; but they are so thoroughly refitted and dovetailed with what is new, that the operation can only be compared to the work of a skilful architect, who, having an ancient mansion to enlarge and beautify, with a strict regard to its original character, preserves every feature of the structure, under other combinations, with such marvellous skill, that no unity of principle is violated, and the whole has the effect of a restoration in which the new and the old are undistinguishable.

66

Shakspere," says Frederick Schlegel, "regarded the drama as entirely a thing for the people; and, at first, treated it throughout as such. He took the popular comedy as he found it, and whatever enlargements and improvements he introduced into the stage were all calculated and conceived according to the peculiar spirit of his predecessors, and of the audience in London." This is especially true with regard to Shakspere's Histories. In the case of the Henry V.' it appears to us that our great dramatic poet would never have touched the subject, had not the stage previously possessed it in the old play of 'The Famous Victories.' 'Henry IV.' would have been perfect as a dramatic whole, without the addition of Henry V. The somewhat doubtful mode in which he speaks of continuing the story appears to us a pretty certain indication that he rather shrunk from a subject which appeared to him essentially undramatic. It is, however, highly probable that, having brought the

Lectures on the History of Literature,' vol. ii.

history of Henry of Monmouth up to the period of his father's death, the demands of an audience who had been accustomed to hail "the madcap Prince of Wales" as the conqueror of Agincourt compelled him to "continue the story." Having hastily met the demands of his audience by the first sketch of 'Henry V.,' as it appears in the quarto editions, he subsequently saw the capacity which the subject presented for being treated in a grand lyrical spirit. Instead of interpolating an under-plot of petty passions and intrigues,-such, for the most part, as we find in the dramatic treatment of an heroic subject by the French poets,-he preserved the great object of his drama entire by the intervention of the chorus. Skilfully as he has managed this, and magnificent as the whole drama is as a great national song of triumph, there can be no doubt that Shakspere felt that in this play he was dealing with a theme too narrow for his peculiar powers. The subject is alto gether one of lyric grandeur; but it is not one, we think, which Shakspere would have chosen for a drama.

And yet how exquisitely has Shakspere thrown his dramatic power into this undramatic subject! The character of the King is altogether one of the most finished portraits that has proceeded from this masterhand. It could, perhaps, only have been thoroughly conceived by the poet who had delineated the Henry of the Boar's Head, and of the Field of Shrewsbury. The surpassing union, in this character, of spirit and calmness, of dignity and playfulness, of an ever-present energy, and an almost melancholy abstraction, the conventional anthority of the king, and the deep sympathy, with the meanest about him, of the man,was the result of the most philosophical and consistent appreciation by the poet of the mo ral and intellectual progress of his own Prince of Wales. And let it not be said that the

picture which he has painted of his favourite hero is an exaggerated and flattering representation. The extraordinary merits of Henry V. were those of the individual; his demerits were those of his times. It was not for the poet to regard the most popular king of the feudal age with the cold and severe scrutiny of the philosophical historian. It was for him to embody in the person of Henry V. the principle of national heroism; it was for him to call forth "the spirit of patriotic reminiscence." Frederick Schlegel says, “The feeling by which Shakspere seems to have been most connected with ordinary men is that of nationality." But how different is his nationality from that of ordinary men! It is reflective, tolerant, generous. It lives not in an atmosphere of falsehood and prejudice. Its theatre is war and conquest; but it does not hold up war and conquest as fitting objects for nationality to dedicate itself to, except under the pressure of the most urgent necessity. Neither does it attempt to conceal the fearful responsibilities of those who carry the principle of nationality to the last arbitrement of arms; nor the enormous amount of evil which always attends the rupture of that peace, in the cultivation of which nationality is best displayed.

In the inferior persons of the play-the comic characters- the poet has displayed that power which he, above all men, possesses, of combining the highest poetical conceptions with the most truthful delineations of real life. In the amusing pedantry of Fluellen, and the vapourings of Pistol, there is nothing in the slightest degree incongruous with the main action of the scene. The homely bluntness of the common soldiers of the army brings us still closer to a knowledge of the great mass of which a camp is composed. Perhaps one of the most delicate but yet most appreciable instances of Shakspere's nationality, in all its power and justice, is the mode in which he has exhibited the characters of these common soldiers. They are rough, somewhat quarrelsome, brave as lions, but without the slightest particle of anything low or grovelling in their composition. They are fit representatives of the "good yeomen, whose limbs were made in England." On the other hand, the discriminating truth of the poet is equally shown in exhibiting to us three arrant cowards in Pistol, Nym, and Bardolph. His impartiality could afford to paint the bullies and blackguards that even our nationality must be content to reckon as component parts of every army.

KING HENRY V. Appears, Act I. sc. 2. Act II. sc. 2.

Act III. sc. 1; sc. 3; sc. 6.

Act IV. sc. 1; sc. 3; sc. 6; sc. 7; sc. 8. Act V. sc. 2. DUKE OF GLOSTER, brother to the King.

Appears, Act I. sc. 2. Act III. sc. 1; sc. 6. Act IV. sc. 1; sc. 3; sc. 7; sc. 8. Act V. sc. 2. DUKE OF BEDFORD, brother to the King. Appears, Act I. sc. 2. Act II. sc. 2. Act III. sc. 1. Act IV. sc. 1; sc. 3. Act V. sc. 2.

DUKE OF EXETER, uncle to the King. Appears, Act I. sc. 2. Act II. sc. 2; sc. 4. Act III. sc. 1. Act IV. sc. 3; sc. 6; sc. 7; sc. 8. Act V. sc. 2.

DUKE OF YORK, cousin to the King.
Appears, Act IV. sc. 3.

EARL OF SALISBURY.

Appears, Act IV. sc. 3.

EARL OF WESTMORELAND.

Appears, Act I. sc. 2. Act II. sc. 2. Act IV. sc. 3. Act V. sc. 2.

EARL OF WARWICK.

Appears, Act I. sc. 2. Act IV. sc. 7; sc. 8. Act V. sc. 2.

ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY.

Appears, Act I. sc. 1; sc. 2.

BISHOP OF ELY.

Appears, Act I. sc. 1; sc. 2.

EARL OF CAMBRIDGE, a conspirator against

the King.

Appears, Act II. sc. 2.

LORD SCROOP, a conspirator against the King.

Appears, Act II. sc. 2.

SIR THOMAS GREY, a conspirator against

the King.

Appears, Act II. sc. 2.

SIR THOMAS ERPINGHAM, an officer in King

Henry's army.

Appears, Act IV. sc. 1.

GOWER, an officer in King Henry's army. Appears, Act III. sc. 2; sc. 6. Act IV. sc. 1; sc. 7; sc. 8. Act V. sc. 1.

FLUELLEN, an officer in King Henry's army. Appears, Act III. sc. 2; sc. 6. Act IV. sc. 1; sc. 7; sc. 8. Act V. sc. 1.

MACMORRIS, an officer in King Henry's army.
Appears, Act III. sc. 2.

JAMY, an officer in King Henry's army.
Appears, Act III. sc. 2.

BATES, a soldier in King Henry's army.
Appears, Act IV. sc. 1.

COURT, a soldier in King Henry's army. Appears, Act IV. sc. 1.

WILLIAMS, a soldier in King Henry's army. Appears, Act IV. sc. 1; sc. 7; sc. 8.

NYM, formerly servant to Falstaff, now soldier in King Henry's army.

Appears, Act II. sc. 1; sc. 3. Act III. sc. 2. BARDOLPH, formerly servant to Falstaff, now soldier in King Henry's army. Appears, Act II. sc. 1; sc. 3. Act III. sc. 2. PISTOL, formerly servant to Falstaff, now soldier in King Henry's army. Appears, Act II. sc. 1; sc. 3. Act III. sc. 2; sc. 6. Act IV. sc. 1; sc. 4. Act V. se. 1.

Boy, servant to Nym, Bardolph, and Pistol.

Appears, Act II. sc. 1; sc. 3. Act III. sc. 2.
Act IV. sc. 4.

A Herald.

Appears, Act IV. sc. 8. Chorus.

Appears, Act I. Act II. Act III. Act IV. Act V.
CHARLES VI., King of France.
Appears, Act II. sc. 4. Act III. sc. 5. Act V. sc. 2.
LEWIS, the Dauphin.

Appears, Act II. sc. 4. Act III. sc. 5; se. 7.
Act IV. sc. 2; sc. 5.

DUKE OF BURGUNDY.

Appears, Act II. sc. 4. Act V. sc. 2.

DUKE OF ORLEANS.

Appears, Act III. sc. 7. Act IV. sc. 2; se. 5.
DUKE OF BOURBON.

Appears, Act III. sc. 5. Act IV. sc. 5.
THE CONSTABLE OF FRANCE.
Appears, Act II. sc. 4. Act III. sc. 5; sc. 7.
Act IV. sc. 2; sc. 5.

RAMBURES, a French lord.
Appears, Act III. sc. 7. Act IV. sc. 2; sc. 5.
GRANDPRE, a French lord.

Appears, Act IV. sc. 2.
Governor of Harfleur.

Appears, Act III. sc. 3.

MONTJOY, a French herald.

Appears, Act III. sc. 6. Act IV. sc. 3; se. 7. Ambassadors to the King of England. Appear, Act I. sc. 2.

ISABEL, Queen of France.

Appears, Act V. sc. 2.

KATHARINE, daughter of Charles and Isabel.
Appears, Act III. sc. 4. Act V. sc. 2.

ALICE, a lady attending on the Princess
Katharine.

Appears, Act III. sc. 4.

QUICKLY, Pistol's wife, an hostess,

Appears, Act II. sc. 1; sc. 3.

Lords, Ladies, Officers, French and English Soldiers, Messengers, and Attendants.

SCENE, IN ENGLAND AND IN FRANCE.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

O for a muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention!
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act,
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
Assume the port of Mars; and, at his heels,
Leash'd in like hounds, should famine, sword, and fire,
Crouch for employment'. But, pardon, gentles all,

The flat unraised spirit, that hath dared

On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth

So great an object: Can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt 2?
O, pardon! since a crooked figure may
Attest, in little place, a million;
And let us, ciphers to this great accompt,
On your imaginary forces work:
Suppose, within the girdle of these walls
Are now confin'd two mighty monarchies,
Whose high upreared and abutting fronts
The perilous, narrow ocean parts asunder.
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Into a thousand parts divide one man,

« AnteriorContinua »