Imatges de pÓgina

Hubert, Come forth; do as I bid you.

[Stamps and the men enter. Arthur. O save me, Hubert, save me! my eyes are out Ev'n with the fierce looks of these bloody men.

Hubert. Give me the iron, I say, and bind him here.
Arthur. Alas, what need you be so boist'rous rough ?

I will not struggle, I will stand stone-still.

For heav'n's sake, Hubert, let me not be bound!
Nay, hear me, Hubert! drive these men away,
And I will sit as quiet as a lamb:

I will not stir, nor wince, nor speak a word,
Nor look upon the iron angrily :

Thrust but these men away, and I'll forgive you,
Whatever torment you do put me to.

Hubert. Go, stand within; let me alone with him.
Executioner. I am best pleas'd to be from such a deed.

Arthur. Alas, I then have chid away my friend. He hath a stern look, but a gentle heart;

Let him come back, that his compassion may

Give life to yours.

Hubert. Come, boy, prepare yourself.

Arthur. Is there no remedy?

Hubert. None, but to lose your eyes.

Arthur. O heav'n! that there were but a mote in yours,

A grain, a dust, a gnat, a wand'ring hair,

Any annoyance in that precious sense!

Then, feeling what small things are boist'rous there,

Your vile intent must needs seem horrible.

Hubert. Is this your promise? go to, hold your tongue.

Arthur. Let me not hold my tongue; let me not, Hubert;

Or, Hubert, if you will, cut out my tongue,

So I may keep mine eyes. O spare mine eyes!
Though to no use, but still to look on you.

Lo, by my troth, the instrument is cold,
And would not harm me.

Hubert. I can heat it, boy.

Arthur. No, in good sooth, the fire is dead with grief, Being create for comfort, to be us'd

In undeserv'd extremes; see else yourself,

There is no malice in this burning coal;

The breath of heav'n hath blown its spirit out,

And strew'd repentant ashes on its head.

Hubert. But with my breath I can revive it, boy.

Arthur. All things that you shall use to do me wrong,

Deny their office; only you do lack

That mercy which fierce fire and iron extend,

Creatures of note for mercy-lacking uses.


Hubert. Well, see to live; I will not touch thine eyes
For all the treasure that thine uncle owns :

Yet I am sworn, and I did purpose, boy,

With this same very iron to burn them out.

Arthur. O, now you look like Hubert. All this while
You were disguised.

Hubert. Peace; no more. Adieu,

Your uncle must not know but you are dead.
I'll fill these dogged spies with false reports:
And, pretty child, sleep doubtless and secure,
That Hubert, for the wealth of all the world,
Will not offend thee.

Arthur. O heav'n! I thank you, Hubert.

Hubert. Silence, no more; go closely in with me;
Much danger do I undergo for thee.


His death afterwards, when he throws himself from his prison walls, excites the utmost pity for his innocence and friendless situation, and well justifies the exaggerated denunciations of Falconbridge to Hubert whom he suspects wrongfully of the deed.

"There is not yet so ugly a fiend of hell

As thou shalt be, if thou did'st kill this child.
-If thou did'st but consent

To this most cruel act, do but despair :

And if thou want'st a cord, the smallest thread
That ever spider twisted from her womb

Will strangle thee; a rush will be a beam

To hang thee on or would'st thou drown thyself,
Put but a little water in a spoon,

And it shall be as all the ocean,

Enough to stifle such a villain up."

The excess of maternal tenderness, rendered desperate by the fickleness of friends and the injustice of fortune, and made stronger in will, in proportion to the want of all other power, was never more finely expressed than in Constance. The dignity of her answer to King Philip, when she refuses to accompany his messenger, "To me and to the state of my great grief, let kings assemble," her indignant reproach to Austria for deserting her cause, her invocation to death, "that love of misery," however fine and spirited, all yield to the beauty of the passage, where, her passion subsiding into tenderness, she addresses the Cardinal in these words :

"Oh father Cardinal, I have heard you say
That we shall see and know our friends in heav'n:
If that be, I shall see my boy again,

For since the birth of Cain, the first male child,
To him that did but yesterday suspire,

There was not such a gracious creature born.
But now will canker-sorrow eat my bud,
And chase the native beauty from his cheek,
And he will look as hollow as a ghost,

As dim and meagre as an ague's fit,

And so he'll die; and rising so again,

When I shall meet him in the court of heav'n,
I shall not know him; therefore never, never

Must I behold my pretty Arthur more.

K. Philip. You are as fond of grief as of your child.
Constance. Grief fills the room up of my absent child :

Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me;

Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
Remembers me of all his gracious parts;

Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form.
Then have I reason to be fond of grief."

The contrast between the mild resignation of Queen Katherine to her own wrongs, and the wild, uncontroulable affliction of Constance for the wrongs which she sustains as a mother, is no less naturally conceived than it is ably sustained throughout these two wonderful characters.

The accompaniment of the comic character of the Bastard was well chosen to relieve the poignant agony of suffering, and the cold cowardly policy of behaviour in the principal characters of this play. Its spirit, invention, volubility of tongue and forwardness in action, are unbounded. Aliquando sufflaminandus erat, says Ben Jonson of Shakespear. But we should be sorry if Ben Jonson had been his licenser. We prefer the heedless magnanimity of his wit infinitely to all Jonson's laborious caution. The character of the Bastard's comic humour is the same in essence as that of other comic characters in Shakespear; they always run on with good things and are never exhausted; they are always daring and successful. They have words at will, and a flow of wit like a flow of animal spirits. The difference between Falconbridge and the others is that he is a soldier, and

brings his wit to bear upon action, is courageous with his sword as well as tongue, and stimulates his gallantry by his jokes, his enemies feeling the sharpness of his blows and the sting of his sarcasms at the same time. Among his happiest sallies are his descanting on the composition of his own person, his invective against "commodity, tickling commodity," and his expression of contempt for the Archduke of Austria, who had killed his father, which begins in jest but ends in serious earnest. His conduct at the siege of Angiers shews that his resources were not confined to verbal retorts. The same exposure of the policy of courts and camps, of kings, nobles, priests, and cardinals, takes place here as in the other plays we have gone through, and we shall not go into a disgusting repetition.

This, like the other plays taken from English history, is written in a remarkably smooth and flowing style, very different from some of the tragedies, Macbeth, for instance. The passages consist of a series of single lines, not running into one another. This peculiarity in the versification, which is most common in the three parts of Henry VI. has been assigned as a reason why those plays were not written by Shakespear. But the same structure of verse occurs in his other undoubted plays, as in Richard II. and in King John. The following are instances :

"That daughter there of Spain, the lady Blanch,
Is near to England; look upon the years
Of Lewis the dauphin, and that lovely maid.
If lusty love should go in quest of beauty,
Where should he find it fairer than in Blanch?
If zealous love should go in search of virtue,
Where should he find it purer than in Blanch ?
If love ambitious sought a match of birth,
Whose veins bound richer blood than lady Blanch}
Such as she is, in beauty, virtue, birth,

Is the young dauphin every way complete :
If not complete, O say he is not she;

And she again wants nothing, to name want,
If want it be not, that she is not he.
He is the half part of a blessed man,
Left to be finished by such as she;

And she a fair divided excellence,
Whose fulness of perfection lies in him.

O, two such silver currents, when they join,
Do glorify the banks that bound them in :

And two such shores to two such streams made one,
Two such controuling bounds, shall you be, kings,
To these two princes, if you marry them."

Another instance, which is certainly very happy as an example of the simple enumeration of a number of particulars, is Salisbury's remonstrance against the second crowning of the king.

"Therefore to be possessed with double pomp,

To guard a title that was rich before;
To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,
To smooth the ice, to add another hue
Unto the rainbow, or with taper light

To seek the beauteous eye of heav'n to garnish;
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.'


THIS is justly considered as one of the most delightful of Shakespear's comedies. It is full of sweetness and pleasantry. It is perhaps too good-natured for comedy. It has little satire, and no spleen. It aims at the ludicrous rather than the ridiculous. It makes us laugh at the follies of mankind, not despise them, and still less bear any ill-will towards them. Shakespear's comic genius resembles the bee rather in its power of extracting sweets from weeds or poisons, than in leaving a sting behind it. He gives the most amusing exaggeration of the prevailing foibles of his characters, but in a way that they themselves, instead of being offended at, would almost join in to humour; he rather contrives opportunities for them to shew themselves off in the happiest lights, than renders them contemptible in the perverse construction of the wit

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