The morality of Shakespeare's drama illustrated: By Mrs. Griffith.

SHAKESPEARE, Ob. an. 1616. Aetat. 53.




Ille per extentum funem mihi poſſe videtur
Ire poëta, meum qui pectus inaniter angit;
Irritat, mulcet, falſis terroribus implet,
Ut magus; et modò me Thebis, modò ponit Athenis.

LONDON: Printed for T. CADELL, in the Strand. MDCCLXXV.



THERE is no perſon whoſe patronage a Work of this kind may ſo properly claim, as Your's; Your private life having done ſo much honour to the moral part, and Your public one ſuch juſtice to the principal Characters, repreſented in our Author's writings.

Your action has been a better comment on his Text, than all his Editors have been able to ſupply. You mark his beauties; They but clear his blots. You impreſs us with the living ſpirit; They only preſent us the dead letter.

There is one ſtriking ſimilarity between Shakeſpeare and You, in a very uncommon particular: He is the only Dramatic Writer, who ever alike excelled [Page iv] in Tragedy and Comedy; and we may without flattery venture to affim, That you are the only Performer who ever appeared with equal advantage, both in the Sock and Buſkin.

If I had an higher opinion of this Work than I have, I ſhould have ſtill but an higher inducement for addreſſing it to You. From this conſideration You are bound to receive it, with all its imperfections on its head, being offered as a tribute of that friendſhip and eſteem with which I have the honour to be,


Your much obliged, and moſt obedient Servant, E. G.

November 1, 1774.



AMONG the many writers of our nation, who have by their talents contributed to entertain, inform, or improve our minds, no one has ſo happily or univerſally ſucceeded, as he whom we may juſtly ſtile our firſt, our greateſt Poet, Shakeſpeare. For more than a century and a half, this Author has been the delight of the Ingenious, the text of the Moraliſt, and the ſtudy of the Philoſopher. Even his cotemporary writers have ingenuouſly yielded their plaudit to his fame, as not preſuming it could leſſen theirs, ſet at ſo great a diſtance. Such ſuperior excellence could never be brought into a comparative light; and jealouſy is dumb, when competition muſt be vain. For him, then, they chearfully twined the laurel-wreath, and unrepining placed it on his brow; where it will ever bloom, while ſenſe, taſte, and natural feelings of the heart, ſhall remain amongſt the characteriſtics of this, or any other nation, that can be able to conſtrue his language. He is a Claſſic, and cotemporary with all ages.

True Nature's Drama repreſents all time;
Though old the laſt, the firſt retains its prime.

[Page vi] But amidſt all this burſt of applauſe, one ſingle diſcordant voice is faintly heard. Voltaire has ſtood forth his opponent. One might imagine ſuch a writer to have had taſte enough to reliſh his poetical beauties, at leaſt, tho' poſſibly ſome doubt might ariſe about his ſympathy with his moral ones. But he unfairly tries him by Pedant laws, which our Author either did not know, or regarded not. His compoſitions are a diſtinct ſpecies of the Drama; and not being an imitation of the Greek one, cannot be juſtly ſaid to have infringed its rules. Shakeſpeare is a model, not a copy; he looked into nature, not into books, both for men and works. 'Tis learned ignorance, therefore, to quote the antient exemplars againſt him. Is there no ſpring inſpired, but Aganippe's font? No raptured viſion, but on Parnaſſus' mount? The Grecian Bards themſelves had conceived a more liberal notion, in this particular, who, by making Phoebus the God of Poetry, ſeem to have acknowledged inſpiration to be univerſal.

But as it may ſhew more impartiality upon this ſubject, to oppoſe one French authority to another, I ſhall here quote againſt M. Voltaire, the Abbé Le Blanc's opinion of our Author, in his Letters on the Engliſh Nation, written to his Friend. ‘He is, ſays he, of all Writers, antient or modern, the moſt of an original. He is truly a great genius, and Nature has endowed him with powers to ſhew it. His imagination is rich and ſtrong: he paints whatever he ſees, and embelliſhes whatever he deſcribes. The Loves in the train of Venus are not repreſented with more grace, in [Page vii] the Pictures of Albanus, than this Poet gives to thoſe that attend on Cleopatra, in his deſcription of the pomp with which that Queen preſents herſelf to Mark Antony, on the banks of the Cydnus.’

‘The reputation of this Author is ſo great, that I ſhall not be ſurprized if you ſuſpect me of exaggeration in this account of him. Thoſe of our nation who have ever mentioned him, have been content to praiſe, without being capable of judging ſufficiently of his merits.

To the further honour of our Author be it ſaid, that a Lady * of diſtinguiſhed merit has lately appeared a champion in his cauſe, againſt this minor critic, this minute philoſopher, this fly upon a pillar of St. Paul's. It was her example which has ſtirred up my emulation to this attempt; for I own that I am ambitious of the honour of appearing to think, at leaſt, though I deſpair of the ſucceſs of writing, like her.

Mr. Pope, in the Preface to his edition of this Author, ſays, ‘Of all the Engliſh Poets, Shakeſpeare muſt be confeſſed to be the faireſt and fulleſt ſubject for Criticiſm, and to afford the moſt numerous, as well as moſt conſpicuous, inſtances, both of beauties and blemiſhes, of all ſorts.’ And again: ‘I cannot, however, but mention ſome of his principal and characteriſtic excellencies; for which, notwithſtanding his defects, he is juſtly and deſervedly elevated above all other Dramatic Writers.’

[Page viii] He might have added the following obſervation, from Longinus, to his remarks, who ſays, that ‘In reading Homer, Plato, or any other of the great geniuſes of antiquity; whenever we happen to meet with paſſages which appear to be unintelligible or abſurd, we ought fairly to conclude, that were they alive to explain themſelves in thoſe places, we ſhould to our confuſion be convinced, that the ignorance or error lay in our own conceptions alone.’ Horace, too, may be referred to upon this occaſion, who indulgently ſays, that The blaze of fine writing gilds o'er its blots. Such was the candor, ſuch the modeſty, and ſuch the deference, ſhewn by Antient Commentators to the works of literature or genius. The brightneſs of the ſun concealed its ſpots from them; but ſecond-hand critics, to ſpeak in the words of a modern Author, peer through a ſmoked glaſs to obſerve them.

The learned and ingenious Doctor Johnſon has given us a juſt and beautiful ſimile, on this ſubject: ‘The works of a correct and regular writer, ſays he, is a garden accurately formed, and diligently planted; varied with ſhades, and ſcented by flowers. The compoſition of Shakeſpeare is a foreſt, in which oaks extend their branches, and pines tower in the air, interſperſed ſometimes with weeds and brambles, and ſometimes affording ſhelter to myrtles and roſes; filling the eye with awful pomp, and gratifying the mind with endleſs diverſity.’

This laſt-mentioned Editor is the only one who has conſidered Shakeſpeare's writings in a [Page ix] moral light; and therefore I confeſs myſelf of opinion that he has beſt underſtood them, by thus pointing to their higheſt merit, and nobleſt excellence. And from ſeveral paſſages in the Doctor's Preface, particularly where he ſays, that ‘From his writings, indeed, a ſyſtem of ſocial duties may be ſelected; for he who thinks reaſonably, muſt think morally;’ as well as from frequent reflections of my own, reſpecting the oeconomical conduct of life and manners, which have always ariſen in my mind on the peruſal of Shakeſpeare's works, I have ventured to aſſume the taſk of placing his Ethic merits in a more conſpicuous point of view, than they have ever hitherto been preſented in to the Public.

My difficulty will not be what to find, but what to chuſe, amidſt ſuch a profuſion of ſweets, and variety of colours; nay, ſometimes, how to ſeparate the moral from the matter, in this Author's writings; which are often ſo contexted, that, to continue Doctor Johnſon's allegory above quoted, they may be compared to an intermixture of the phyſic with the kitchen garden, where both food and medicine may be culled from the ſame ſpot.

Shakeſpeare is not only my Poet, but my Philoſopher alſo. His anatomy of the human heart is delineated from nature, not from metaphyſics; referring immediately to our intuitive ſenſe, and not wandering with the ſchoolmen, through the pathleſs wilds of theory. We not only ſee, but feel his diſſections juſt and ſcientific.—The late ingenious Lord Lyttelton, ſpeaking of Sakeſpeare, ſays, ‘No author had [Page x] ever ſo copious, ſo bold, ſo creative an imagination, with ſo perfect a knowledge of the paſſions, the humours, and ſentiments of mankind. He painted all characters, from heroes and kings, down to inn-keepers and peaſants, with equal truth, and equal force. If human nature were quite deſtroyed, and no monument left of it, except his Works, other Beings might learn what man was, from thoſe writings *.’ And Ben Johnſon had long before ſaid of him:

Nature herſelf was proud of his deſigns,
And joyed to wear the dreſſings of his lines.

Shakeſpeare ſeems to poſſeſs that happy and peculiar kind of ſuperiority over all other Dramatic Authors, that the ancient poets and hiſtorians confeſſedly bear above the modern ones, with regard to the genuine characters, manners, and ſentiments, of the perſons exhibited in their reſpective writings. In the firſt, we ſee the men of Nature; in the latter, but the children of the Schools.

The world at preſent is held more in trammels, than it formerly was.—From our modes of education, policies, and breeding, our conduct and demeanor are become more ſophiſticate, our minds leſs candid, and our actions more diſguiſed. Our modern literary painters repreſent us ſuch as we appear; but the genuine unadulterate heart can be moved by no affection, allied by no ſympathy, with ſuch factitious perſonages, ſuch puppets of polity, ſuch automata of modern refinement. Hence, love, friendſhip, patriotiſm, are long ſince become [Page xi] the obſolete ſentiments of chivalry and romance. But in all the repreſentations of Shakeſpeare, we are ſenſible of a connection; his whole Dramatis Perſonae ſeem to be our acquaintance and countrymen; while in moſt other exhibitions, they appear to be ſtrangers and foreigners. Doctor Johnſon, upon comparing the Tragedy of Cato with one of our Author's plays, ſays juſtly, that ‘Addiſon ſpeaks the language of Poets, but Shakeſpeare that of Men.

Doctor Warburton ſays, ‘Of all the literary exercitations of ſpeculative men, whether deſigned for the uſe or entertainment of the world, there are none of ſo much importance, or what are more of our immediate concern, than thoſe which let us into a knowledge of our nature. Others may exerciſe the reaſon, or amuſe the imagination; but theſe only can improve the heart, and form the mind to wiſdom. Now, in this ſcience our Shakeſpeare is confeſſed to occupy the foremoſt place; whether we conſider the amazing ſagacity with which he inveſtigates every hidden ſpring and wheel of human action; or his happy manner of communicating this knowledge, in the juſt and lively paintings which he has given us of all our paſſions, appetites, and purſuits. Theſe afford a leſſon, which can never be too often repeated, or too ſtrongly inculcated.’

Shaftſbury, though ſevere, I think rather too much ſo, againſt Shakeſpeare's faults, allows, that ‘By the juſtneſs of his moral, the [Page xii] aptneſs of his deſcriptions, and the plain and natural turn of ſeveral of his characters, he pleaſes his audience, and gains their ear, without a ſingle bribe from luxury or vice.

Our Author's poetical beauties have been already ſelected, though they needed it not, as they are undoubtedly ſo ſtriking as ſcarcely to require the being particularly pointed out to any Reader capable of conceiving or reliſhing them; but a ſingle line, ſometimes a word, in many inſtances throughout his Works, may convey a hint, or impreſs a ſentiment upon the heart, if properly marked, which might poſſibly be overlooked, while curioſity is attending to the fable, or the imagination tranſported with the ſplendor of diction, or ſublimity of images.

There is a Moral ſometimes couched in his Fable, which whenever I have been able to diſcover, I have pointed out to the Reader; and from thoſe pieces where this excellence is deficient in the Argument, as particularly in his Hiſtorical Plays, where poetical juſtice cannot always obtain, human life not being the whole of our exiſtence, I have given his moral and inſtruction in detail, by quoting the paſſages as they happen to lie detached, or referring to the ſcope and tenor of the dialogue.

In theſe remarks and obſervations I have not reſtricted myſelf to morals purely ethic, but have extended my obſervations and reflections to whatever has reference to the general oeconomy of life and manners, reſpecting prudence, polity, decency, and decorum; or relative to the [Page xiii] tender affections and fond endearments of human nature; more eſpecially regarding thoſe moral duties which are the trueſt ſource of mortal bliſs—domeſtic ties, offices, and obligations.

This code of morality has an advantage over any other of the kind, on account of its not being conducted ſyſtematically. In all books that treat upon theſe ſubjects, the precepts are diſpoſed methodically, under ſeparate heads or chapters; as Ambition, Bravery, Conſtancy, Devotion, and ſo on to the end of the alphabet; which mode, though uſeful on account of references, or as a common-place book, cannot be near ſo entertaining, and conſequently ſo well able to anſwer the utile dulci, as a work of this ſort, where the documents riſe out of the action immediately before our eyes, and are conſtantly varying with the quick ſhifting of ſcenes, perſon, and ſubjects; where love ſometimes follows war, jealouſy ſucceeds friendſhip, parſimony liberality; and ſo proceeding throughout the intire quicquid agunt homines of human life.


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1. comedies



1.1.1. Dramatis Perſonae.



  • ALONZO, King of Naples.
  • SEBASTIAN, his Brother.
  • FERDINAND, Son to the King of Naples.
  • PROSPERO, rightful Duke of Milan.
  • GONZALO, an honeſt old Courtier of Naples.
  • TRINCULO, a Jeſter.
  • ARIEL, an airy Spirit.
  • CALIBAN, a ſavage, and deformed Slave.


  • MIRANDA, Daughter of Proſpero.

N. B. It is to be obſerved, that in this and all the other Dramatis Perſonae, I inſert the names of thoſe only whom I have brought upon the Scene, in the courſe of theſe remarks, either as ſpeaking themſelves, or being ſpoken to by others.



THIS Play, and the Midſummer Night's Dream, which in all the latter editions immediately follows it, are conſidered by Dr. Warburton, ‘as the nobleſt effort of that ſublime and amazing imagination, peculiar to Shakeſpeare, which ſoars above the bounds of Nature, without forſaking Senſe; or, more properly, carries Nature along with it, beyond her terreſtrial limits.’

He has, indeed, in both theſe exhibitions, created Beings out of all viſible exiſtence; or, as he has himſelf moſt beautifully expreſſed it,

Given to airy Nothing
A local habitation, and a name.
Yet by the powers of his genius has he contrived to make theſe chimeras of his brain think, act, and ſpeak, in a manner which appears ſo ſuited to the anomalous perſonages his magic has conjured up, that [Page 2] we readily adopt them into the ſcale of Nature, from a preſumption, that were they really to exiſt, they would probably reſemble the characters which his wand has endowed them with.

Theſe two plays are generally ſuppoſed to have been the firſt and ſecond of his writing; though I believe there are no dates remaining, to confirm this opinion; which can therefore be founded only on the idea, that his youthful imagination muſt naturally be thought to have been more ſportive and exuberant, than his riper judgment might have permitted the indulgence of. And here, indeed,

She wantons, as in her prime,
And plays at will her virgin fancies:
though, if I may be allowed the liberty of a criticiſm about this matter, I ſhould be rather inclined to ſuppoſe this Play to have been one of his latter performances, as all the unities are ſo ſtrictly preſerved in it.

But though both theſe pieces poſſeſs all the leſſer merits of poeſy, they are not ſo much ſuited to the purpoſe of my preſent undertaking, eſpecially the ſecond, as ſeveral others of the ſame author; for the moſt material events, in both, being principally conducted by machinery, or ſupernatural agency, produce rather aſtoniſhment than reflection: ſo that unleſs we adopt Dr. Johnſon's remark, in the firſt ſcene of the Tempeſt, ‘it may be obſerved of Gonzalo, that being the only good man that appears with the King, he is the only one who preſerves his chearfulneſs in the wreck, or his hope on the iſland,’ there is not ſo much to be collected from them, as I could wiſh, to be placed to the ſcore of Morality. However, all that can be extracted from either, referrible to this head, ſhall be diligently pointed out to the reader. With this view I ſhall lay the Fable of this Play before my reader, for the ſake of the Moral, which may be ſo fairly deduced from it.

[Page 3] Proſpero, a duke of Milan, having been expelled his dominion, by the uſurpation of his brother Anthonio, confederated with Alonzo, a king of Naples, is committed to the mercy of the winds and waves, in a rotten bark, accompanied only by his daughter, Miranda, a child of three years old; but has had the good fortune to eſcape, and be landed on an uninhabited iſland; where the firſt ſcene is laid, and the intire action continued, during the whole repreſentation.

About twelve years after this event, Anthonio, with Alonzo, Ferdinand his ſon, and other attendants, being on a voyage together, are driven out of their courſe, by a ſtorm, and wrecked upon this iſland, but eſcape alive on ſhore; where the Prince, meeting with Miranda, falls in love with her, and a reciprocal paſſion is conceived on her part, alſo.

Proſpero, having thus got his enemies within his power, on their repentance, generouſly forgives them their cruelty and injuſtice, recovers his dukedom again, and the marriage of the lovers confirms an alliance on both ſides.

From this ſhort ſtory I think the following general Moral will naturally reſult: That the ways, the juſtice, and the goodneſs of Providence, are ſo frequently manifeſted towards mankind, even in this life, that it ſhould ever encourage an honeſt and a guiltleſs mind to form hopes, in the moſt forlorn ſituations; and ought alſo to warn the wicked never to reſt aſſured in the falſe confidence of wealth or power, againſt the natural abhorrence of vice, both in God and man.

Many of the unforeſeen events of life, which appear to us but accident or contingency, may poſſibly be parts of the ſecret workings of Providence, ‘All chance direction which we cannot ſee;’ and have oftener been remarked rather as chaſtiſements of vice, than as reliefs from miſery. We are [Page 4] ſenſible in our own nature, of a ſtronger impulſe to reſent the firſt, than even to commiſerate the latter. How much higher, then, muſt this ſentiment riſe, in the Author of that very nature! In wretchedneſs there is no contagion, 'tis but particular and temporary: the effects of vice are general and eternal.

Part of a ſpeech in this play may be better quoted here, than elſewhere, as it refers ſo immediately to this ſubject.

ARIEL, ſpeaking to the Conſpirators.
But remember,
For that's my buſineſs to you, that you three
From Milan did ſupplant good Proſpero;
Expoſed unto the ſea, which hath requit it,
Him and his innocent child; for which foul deed,
The Powers, delaying, not forgetting, have
Incenſed the ſeas and ſhores, yea, all the creatures,
Againſt your peace. Thee, of thy ſon, Alonzo,
They have bereft; and do pronounce, by me,
Lingering perdition, worſe than any death
Can be at once, ſhall ſtep by ſtep attend
You and your ways; whoſe wrath to guard you from,
(Which here in this moſt deſolate iſle elſe falls
Upon your heads) is nothing but heart's ſorrow,
And a clear life enſuing *.

Let us now proceed to the particular maxims and ſentiments which occur from the ſeveral parts of the Dialogue. ACT I. SCENE II.

Miranda, ſpeaking of the ſhipwreck, thus expreſſes her ſympathetic feelings for the wretched.

O! I have ſuffered
With thoſe that I ſaw ſuffer: A brave veſſel,
(Who had, no doubt, ſome noble creatures in her)
Daſh'd all to pieces. O! the cry did knock
Againſt my very heart. Poor ſouls, they periſh'd!
Had I been any God of power, I would
Have ſunk the ſea within the earth, or ere
It ſhould the good ſhip ſo have ſwallowed, and
The freighted ſouls within her.

[Page 5] There is ſomething in the fond expreſſion of good ſhip, in the laſt line but one, which ſtrikes me with an idea of a peculiar tenderneſs in her compaſſion for the unhappy ſufferers.

Proſpero, confeſſing the mad folly of truſting his reins of adminiſtration into other hands, ſays,

The Government I caſt upon my brother,
And to my State grew ſtranger.
And again, ſpeaking of the ſame perſon,
Being once perfected how to grant ſuits,
How to deny them; whom to advance, and whom
To traſh for over-topping; new created
The creatures that were mine; I ſay, or changed them,
Or elſe new formed them; having both the key
Of officer and office, ſet all things in the ſtate
To what tune pleaſed his ear; that now he was
The ivy which had hid my princely trunk,
And ſucked my verdure out on't.
In continuation,
And my truſt,
Like a good parent, did beget of him
A falſehood in its contrary as great
As my truſt was; which had, indeed, no limit:
A confidence ſans bound. He being thus lorded,
Not only with what my revenue yielded,
But what my power might elſe exact; like one,
Who having, unto truth, by telling oft,
Made ſuch a ſinner of his memory,
To credit his own lie, he did believe
He was, indeed, the Duke; from ſubſtitution,
And executing the outward face of Royalty,
With all prerogative. Hence his ambition growing,
To have no ſcreen between the part he played,
And him he played it for, he needs will be
Abſolute Milan.

In this account of the Duke's weakneſs, with the natural conſequences attending it, the Poet has afforded a proper leſſon to princes, never to render themſelves cyphers in their government, by too dangerous a confidence in their favourites; but ever to conſider thoſe perſons, to whom they depute the ſeveral offices of State, as miniſters, in the literal ſenſe of the word, only, not in the political one.

[Page 6] When Proſpero deſcribes the hazards and difficulties of his forlorn voyage, Miranda tenderly exclaims,

Alack! what trouble
Was I then to you?
To which he, in a kind of extaſy of fondneſs, replies,
O! a cherubim
Thou waſt, that did preſerve me. Thou didſt ſmile,
Infuſed with a fortitude from Heaven,
(When I have decked the ſea with drops full ſalt;
Under my burden groaned;) which raiſed in me
An undergoing ſtomach, to bear up
Againſt what ſhould enſue.

Here the Poet finely points to that virtue of true manhood, which ſerves to ſtrengthen our fortitude and double our activity, when objects, whom the ties of Nature, or the ſympathy of affections, have endeared to us, require our ſolace or aſſiſtance in diſtreſs or danger. While our cares center-ſolely in ourſelves, we are but one; but become two, where the heart is ſhared.

Here in this iſland we arrived, and here
Have [...], thy ſchoolmaſter, made thee more profit
Than other princes can, that have more time
For vainer hours, and tutors not ſo careful.

Here the too general diſſipations of life are hinted at, and thoſe parents cenſured, who transfer the pious duty of their children's education to mercenary preceptors; except in the meaner articles of it, the arts, exerciſes, and ſciences. Too few attend to the higher and more intereſting charge, of forming the mind and directing the heart to their proper objects; and fewer ſtill, in deputing it to others, ſeem to regard the chief requiſites, of character, or capacity, in thoſe they intruſt with this office, looking upon competent ſcholarſhip to be alone ſufficient.

But a liberal education, as far as it extends in Colleges and Schools, does not always give a liberal [Page 7] mind; and as example is allowed to exceed precept, ſo do thoſe ſentiments and principles which we imbibe in youth from the living manners of our tutors, ‘Grow with our growth, and ſtrengthen with our ſtrength.’ Thoſe only are capable of ſinking into the heart, and imbuing the mind, while mere didactic maxims remain a load upon the memory alone. The firſt only inſpire us how to act, the latter but inſtruct us how to ſpeak.

And by my preſcience
I find, my zenith doth depend upon
A moſt auſpicious ſtar; whoſe influence
If now I court not, but omit, my fortunes
Will ever after droop.

This paſſage furniſhes a prudent and neceſſary reflection to the mind of the reader, that man's ſucceſs in life often depends upon ſome lucky and critical occaſion, which, ſuffered to ſlip by, may ne'er return again. Shakeſpeare expreſſes himſelf more fully on this ſubject, in another place *. Some other poet too preſents us with a poetical image to the ſame purpoſe, where he ſays that ‘opportunity is bald behind .’ SCENE III.
Proſpero to Ariel.
Doſt thou forget
From what a torment I did free thee?

Doctor Johnſon, in a note upon this paſſage, has given us the traditionary ſyſtem of the Hebrews relative to the Fallen Angels; which has afforded me a hint, that tempts me to conſider the tenor of this ſcene in a more intereſting light, by obſerving upon the impatience of Ariel, a condemned ſpirit, claiming, under his ſervitude, the promiſed redemption, before he had fulfilled the commands of his maſter. This alluſion, whether Shakeſpeare intended it or no, is ſo obvious, that there would not require the [Page 8] alteration of a ſyllable, to have it inſerted among the Myſteries *. Men would be Chriſtians upon their own terms, only, and are too apt to think that faith and fear, without love or works, are ſufficient for the purpoſe. ACT II. SCENE I.

Gonzalo, comforting and cheering up the ſpirits of his companions in the wreck, ſpeaks with a becoming reſignation and proper gratitude towards Providence:

Beſeech you, Sir, be merry—you have cauſe,
So have we all, of joy! for our eſcape
Is much beyond our loſs: our hint of woe
Is common; every day ſome ſailor's wife,
The maſter of ſome merchant, and the merchant,
Have juſt our theme of woe: But for the miracle,
I mean our preſervation, few in millions
Can ſpeak like us: Then wiſely, good Sir, weigh
Our ſorrow with our comfort.

An uncouth or ſevere manner of giving reproof, or offering advice, is very juſtly, and with equal good ſenſe and tenderneſs, reflected upon by Gonzalo, in the following paſſage:

My lord Sebaſtian,
The truth you ſpeak doth lack ſome gentleneſs,
And time to ſpeak it in. You rub the ſore,
When you ſhould bring the plaiſter. SCENE II.

Trinculo moſt humourouſly ridicules the paſſion of the Engliſh for ſtrange ſights, in the following reflection, on ſeeing Caliban lying aſleep on the ground, whom he takes for a dead ſea-monſter, juſt caſt aſhore by the working of the waves. ‘Were I in England, now, as once I was, and had but this fiſh painted, not a holy-day fool there but would give a piece of ſilver. There would this monſter make a man; any ſtrange beaſt there makes a man. When they will not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar, they will lay out ten to ſee a dead Indian.’ [Page 9] Not, however, that this foible can fairly be induced againſt us, as a national reflection, by any means; for it is not peculiar to this, or any other particular people, but will be found to be the common diſpoſition and idle curioſity of mankind, in general. There is another piece of ſarcaſm, alſo, thrown out, in the ſame ſpeech, as unjuſt as the former: When they will not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar. No nation on the globe is more diſtinguiſhed for charity, humanity, and benevolence, than the Engliſh are, at preſent. And this muſt have been always their characteriſtic; for manners may refine, but cannot create, virtues. Poliſhing may give taſte, but feelings come from nature.

After Trinculo has recovered from his fright, and finds Caliban to be but an harmleſs ſavage, ſo very ſimple as to believe Stephano to be the Man in the Moon; he ſays, ‘By this good light, this is a very ſhallow monſter—I afraid of him? a very ſhallow monſter. The man i' th' Moon? a moſt poor credulous monſter.’

'Tis to be obſerved, here, that he was not charged with having been afraid, nor did any one know of it, but himſelf; and it was this very conſciouſneſs that forced ſuch a bravado from him. This is Doctor Warburton's remark. 'Tis a juſt one, and may be rendered general, by obſerving, that, upon all occaſions, too prompt a defence of ourſelves, is a ſort of ſelf-accuſation. ACT III. SCENE I.

Ferdinand's firſt ſpeech, here, prettily expreſſes that kind of chearfulneſs with which a perſon undertakes labour, or executes the meaneſt or moſt irkſome offices, for their ſecond-ſelf, for thoſe they love.

There be ſome ſports are painful, but their labour
Delight in them ſets off; ſome kinds of baſeneſs
Are nobly undergone; and moſt poor matters
[Page 10] Point to rich ends. This my mean taſk would be
As heavy to me, as 'tis odious; but
The miſtreſs which I ſerve, quickens what's dead,
And makes my labour pleaſure. —My ſweet miſtreſs
Weeps when ſhe ſees me work, and ſays, ſuch baſeneſs
Had ne'er like executer. I forget—
But thoſe ſweet thoughts do even refreſh my labour,
Moſt buſy-leſs, when I do it.

The above ſpeech has ſomething of the ſame turn and ſpirit in it, with that of Proſpero, in the ſecond Scene of the Firſt Act, already obſerved upon. SCENE IV.

The horrors and upbraidings of a wounded conſcience, are finely painted in the latter part of this ſcene: ‘

O! it is monſtrous! monſtrous!
Methought the billows ſpoke, and told me of it;
The winds did ſing it to me; and the thunder,
That deep and dreadful organ-pipe, pronounced
The name of Proſper. It did baſs my treſpaſs.
All three of them are deſperate; their great guilt,
Like poiſon given to work a great time after,
Now 'gins to bite the ſpirits. ACT IV. SCENE I.

A chaſte conduct between betrothed lovers, is ſtrongly urged, and ſanctified, by ſevere maledictions, and very natural predictions, in the following paſſages:

Proſpero, giving his daughter to Ferdinand.
Then as my gift, and thine own acquiſition,
Worthily purchaſed, take my daughter. But
If thou doſt break her virgin knot, before
All ſanctimonious ceremonies may
With full and holy rite be miniſtered,
No ſweet aſperſions ſhall the heavens let fall
To make this contract grow: but barren hate,
Sour-eyed diſdain, and diſcord, ſhall beſtrew
The union of your bed with weeds ſo loathly,
That you ſhall hate it both. Therefore take heed,
As Hymen's lamps ſhall light you—
Ferdinand's reply.

As I hope
For quiet days, fair iſſue, and long life,
[Page 11] With ſuch love as 'tis now; the murkieſt den,
The moſt opportune place, and ſtrongeſt ſuggeſtion
Our worſer Genius can, ſhall never melt
Mine honour into luſt, to take away
The edge of that day's celebration,
When I ſhall think that Phoebus' ſteeds are foundered,
Or night kept chained below—

A little after, old Proſpero, being better acquainted with the fallibilities of human nature than the young lovers were, repeats the ſame caution to Ferdinand, again:

Look, thou be true; do not give dalliance
Too much the rein; the ſtrongeſt oaths are ſtraw
To th' fire i' th' blood; be more abſtemious,
Or elſe, good night, your vow!
To which Ferdinand anſwers, as before,
I warrant you, Sir;
The white, cold, virgin-ſnow upon my heart
Abates the ardour of my liver. SCENE IV.

There is a beautiful, but humiliating reflection on the inconſiderableneſs of life and grandeur, made by Proſpero, in this ſcene, which is worthy of being added to the golden verſes of Pythagoras, and ought to be placed in gilt characters, as an inſcription, on all the palaces, monuments, or triumphal arches of the earth.

Our revels now are ended—Theſe our actors,
As I foretold you, were all Spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air *;
And like the baſeleſs fabric of this viſion,
The cloud-capt towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The ſolemn temples, the great globe itſelf,
Yea, all which it inherit, ſhall diſſolve,
And, like this unſubſtantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind! We are ſuch ſtuff
As dreams are made of, and our little life
Is rounded with a ſleep. ACT V. SCENE I.

The feelings and ſentiments of humanity, with the nobleneſs of remiſſion upon repentance, are here finely and moſt affectingly touched.

[Page 12]
Ariel to Proſpero.
The king,
His brother, and yours, abide all three diſtracted;
And the remainder mourning over them,
Brimfull of ſorrow and diſmay; but chiefly,
Him that you termed the good old lord Gonzalo;
His tears run down his beard, like winter drops
From eaves of reeds; your charm ſo ſtrongly works them,
That if you now beheld them, your affections
Would become tender.
Doſt thou think ſo, Spirit?
Mine would, ſir, were I human.
And mine ſhall.
Haſt thou, which art but air, a touch, a feeling
Of their afflictions, and ſhall not myſelf,
One of their [...]ind, that reliſh all as ſharply,
Paſſion'd as they, be kin [...]lier moved than thou art?
Though with their high wrongs I am ſtruck to the quick,
Yet with my nobler reaſon, 'gainſt my fury
Do I take part. The rarer action is
In virtue than in vengeance. They being penitent,
The ſole drift of my purpoſe doth extend
Not a frown further. Go, releaſe them, Ariel;
My charms I'll break, their ſenſes I'll reſtore,
And they ſhall be themſelves.

This laſt paſſage cloſes the moral ſcene of the piece moſt beautifully; in riſing, by degrees, to the ſummit of all Ethic and Chriſtian virtue, humanity and forgiveneſs. I ſhall, therefore, alſo conclude my remarks upon this performance, with an alluſion to a paſſage in Horace, where he draws a contraſt between Maevius and Homer, which is perfectly applicable to our author, when compared with almoſt any other Dramatic writer who has ever attempted the marvellous:

One with a flaſh begins, and ends in ſmoke;
The other out of ſmoke brings glorious light,
And without raiſing expectation high,
Surprizes us with dazzling miracles.
Roſcommon's Tranſlation of the Art of Poetry.



1.2.1. Dramatis Perſonae.



  • THESEUS, Duke of Athens.
  • LYSANDER, in love with Hermia.
  • DEMETRIUS, in love with Hermia.
  • PHILOSTRATE, Maſter of the Sports to Theſeus.
  • OBERON, King of the Fairies.
  • PUCK, a Fairy.


  • HIPPOLITA, Princeſs of the Amazons, betrothed to Theſeus.
  • HERMIA, Daughter to Egeus, in love with Lyſander.
  • HELENA, in love with Demetrius.

1.2.2. A Midſummer Night's Dream.

[Page 15]

I Shall not trouble my readers with the Fable of this piece, as I can ſee no general moral that can be deduced from the Argument; nor, as I hinted before *, is there much ſentiment to be collected even from the Dialogue. But whatever harveſt can be gleaned from this unfruitful field, I ſhall endeavour to pick up, as becomes a faithful ſteward of the farm. ACT I. SCENE I.
Theſeus to Hermia.
To you your father ſhould be as a God,
One that compoſed your beauties; yea, and one
To whom you are but as a form in wax
By him imprinted; and within his power
To leave the figure, or disfigure it.

In this ſpeech, the pious notion of the Antients, with regard to this relation, while genuine Nature was their ſole Preceptor, is fully expreſſed. Here the duty of children to their parents, is indeed carried to the height; and yet, methinks, not at all too far. They are the objects of our earlieſt affections, of our firſt deference, of our primary obligations. Even ſuperſtition, in this caſe, as far at leaſt as implicit obedience extends, exceeds not true devotion.

The Decalogue was originally written on two tables; five in each. The firſt refers ſolely to Religion; the ſecond, to Morality, only. To honour our parents, therefore, as falling within the former line of obligations, is, by this diſtinction, made one [Page 16] of our pious duties; as through them we honour the Creator, who ordained this relation between us. This precept, then, ſhould ſeem to have a double tie upon us, as partaking both of piety and morals; and therefore, however the latter bond may chance to be cancelled, the firſt ought never to be diſpenſed with.

In fine, there is ſomething ſo fond and endearing in the idea and exerciſe of a child's obedience and deference towards a parent, that how rotten muſt the root be, or how blighted the branches, if ſuch a tree ſhould fail of producing its natural fruit!

Thus far, by way of general reflection, only; for I muſt, notwithſtanding, admit, that the particular inſtance of the daughter's compliance, exacted by the father, in this piece, of reſigning an huſband of her own choice, upon equal terms, and accepting another, choſen arbitrarily for her, by caprice merely, was too ſevere a trial of obedience. Egeus here, like Abraham, would ſacrifice his child at the altar, not only without the command of God, but contrary to his expreſs purpoſe, proclaimed aloud by the voice of Nature, and further confirmed from the deductions of virtuous affection, free will, and rational election.

When I ſaid that the duty of a child was natural, I did not mean to inveſt the parent with an authority which was not ſo; and I cannot blame Hermia, therefore, upon the ſevere laws of Athens being declared to her, for the chaſte and ſpirited reſolution ſhe frames to herſelf on that occaſion.

So will I grow, ſo live, ſo die, my lord,
Ere I will yield my virgin patent up
Unto his lordſhip; to whoſe unwiſhed yoke
My ſoul conſents not to give ſovereignty. SCENE II.

Lyſander, the ſuitor elect of Hermia, here makes an obſervation upon the ſtate of love, which is too often verified in life: That a ſympathy of affections, [Page 17] with other fitneſs of circumſtances, are ſeldom found to meet together, ſo as to compleat an happy union.

Ah me! for ought that ever I could read,
Could ever hear, by tale or hiſtory,
The courſe of true love never did run ſmooth;
But either it was different in blood—
Or elſe miſgrafted in reſpect of years—
Or elſe it ſtood upon the choice of friends—
Or if there were a ſympathy in choice,
War, Death, or Sickneſs did lay ſiege to it;
Making it momentary as a ſound,
Swift as a ſhadow, ſhort as any dream,
Brief as the lightning in the collied night,
That in a ſpleen * unfolds both heaven and earth,
And ere a man hath power to ſay, Behold!
The jaws of darkneſs do devour it up:
So quick bright things come to confuſion! SCENE III.

In this ſcene we are charmed with that mildneſs, modeſty, and generous eulogium, with which the fond and unhappy Helena accoſts a rival beauty, and woo'd by the man ſhe loves.

God ſpeed, fair Helena! whither away?
Call you me fair? that fair again unſay;
Demetrius loves you, fair—O happy fair!
Your eyes are load-ſtars , and your tongue's ſweet air
More tuneable than lark to ſhepherd's ear,
When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.
Sickneſs is catching—Oh! were favour ſo!
Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go;
My ear ſhould catch your voice; my eye your eye;
My tongue ſhould catch your tongue's ſweet melody.
Were the world mine, Demetrius being 'bated,
The reſt I'd give to be to you tranſlated—
O teach me how you look, and with what art
You ſway the motion of Demetrius' heart!

[Page 18] Hermia had uſed no arts, no coquetry, to allure her lover from her; for, as ſhe expreſſes it, juſt after, in the ſame dialogue, ‘His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.’ She had, indeed, happened to have done her an injury, but no wrong; and therefore the forſaken maid ſhews her juſtice in plaining her own ill fortune, only, without expreſſing the leaſt manner of reſentment againſt her unoffending rival.

Hermia, in the ſame ſcene, alludes to the magic power of love, which concenters all our ideas in one, making us prefer a cottage to a palace, and a deſert to a grove, according to the ſituation or circumſtances of the object of our affections. After having declared the purpoſe of flying her country with her lover, ſhe adds,

Before the time I did Lyſander ſee,
Seemed Athens like a Paradiſe to me.
O then, what graces in my love do dwell,
That he hath turned a heaven into hell?

And Helena, afterwards, carries on the ſame idea, in the following lines:

Things baſe and vile, holding no quantity,
Love can tranſpoſe to form and dignity.
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind;
Nor hath love's mind of any judgment taſte:
Wings, and no eyes, figure unheedy haſte,
And therefore is love ſaid to be a child,
Becauſe in choice he is ſo oft beguiled.

Theſeus too, in a paſſage of his ſpeech, in the firſt Scene of the Fifth Act of this Play, accords with the above ſentiment:

While the lover all as frantic
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt.

And Shakeſpeare has hinted a moral, on this latter ſubject, with regard to irregular or ill-placed affection, as Dr. Warburton has juſtly obſerved, ‘by as fine a metamorphoſis as any in Ovid,’ in the laſt line of the following ſpeech, in the ſecond Scene [Page 19] of Act the Second; the whole of which I ſhall tranſcribe here, in order to ſhew how juſtly and poetically he has pointed to the different effects of paſſion upon buſy and contemplative minds, as well as on idle and diſſipated ones.

Oberon to Puck.
That very time I ſaw, but thou could'ſt not,
Flying between the cold moon and the earth,
Cupid all armed: a certain aim he took
At a fair veſtal, throned by the Weſt *,
And looſed his love-ſhaft ſmartly from his bow,
As it ſhould pierce a hundred thouſand hearts.
But I might ſee young Cupid's fiery ſhaft
Quenched in the chaſte beams of the wat'ry moon,
And the imperial votreſs paſſed on,
In maiden in ditation, fancy free.
Yet marked I where the bolt of Cupid fell;
It fell upon a little weſtern flower,
Before milk-white, now purple with Love's wound,
And maidens call it Love in idleneſs. ACT V. SCENE I.

The deceptions of an enthuſiaſtic or over-heated fancy, with the vain terrors of a dejected mind; are well deſcribed in part of the following ſpeech; in which our author claſſes the lunatic, the lover, and the poet, together; and might have taken in the fanatic too, along with them, under the deſcription of thoſe, who, as he ſays, in the firſt part of the ſame ſpeech,

Have ſuch ſeething brains,
Such ſhaping fantaſies, that apprehend
More than cool reaſon ever comprehends.
Such tricks hath ſtrong imagination,
That if it would but apprehend ſome joy,
It comprehends ſome bringer of that joy;
Or in the night imagining ſome fear,
How eaſy is a buſh ſuppoſed a bear?

Among the brief of ſports, as it is called, to be exhibited before Theſeus, on his wedding-day, this is the title of one:

[Page 20]
The thrice three Muſes mourning for the death
Of Learning, late deceaſed in beggary.

Mr. Warton imagines this paſſage to have alluded to a poem of Spenſer's, ſtiled The Tears of the Muſes, on the Neglect and Contempt of Learning, in his time. Though this was not properly a complaint of that age, only; it has been ſo much the grievance of all times, that it has, long ſince, obtained into a proverb, As poor as a poet.

The caſe of ſuch unfortunate perſons,

Of thoſe whom Phoebus, in his ire,
Hath blaſted with poetic ſire *,
is certainly very hard. Perſons who apply their minds to letters, muſt unavoidably neglect their temporal concerns; and thoſe who employ their time in the reformation or entertainment of the world, ſhould be ſupported by it—Not by merely accidental and precarious emoluments, but upon ſome more permanent foundation; like the Clergy, who have had a proviſion made for them, for the ſame reaſon as above; and the name of Clerk, tho' now appropriated to the latter, was formerly the common appellation of both. The honour of ſuch an eſtabliſhment would be conſiderable to a State, and the expence but ſmall—for the numbers are but few.

Theſeus expreſſes a juſt ſentiment in a prince, when Philoſtrate, the Maſter of his Revels, objects to his being preſent at a play, which the affections of the loweſt rank of the Athenian citizens had framed for the celebration of his nuptials.

No, my noble Lord,
It is not for you. I have heard it over,
And it is nothing; nothing in the world;
Unleſs you can find ſport in their intents,
Extremely ſtretched, and conned with cruel pain,
To do you ſervice.
[Page 21] Theſeus.
I will hear that play:
For never any thing can be amiſs,
When ſimpleneſs and duty tender it.

Hippolita alſo makes the ſame objection, but from a motive of humanity, only.

I love not to ſee wretchedneſs o'ercharged,
And duty in his ſervice periſhing.
Why, gentle ſweet, you ſhall ſee no ſuch thing.
He ſays, they can do nothing in this kind.
The kinder we, to give them thanks for nothing.
Our ſport ſhall be, to take what they miſtake;
And what poor duty cannot do,
Noble reſpect takes not in might, but merit.
Where I have come, great clerks have purpoſed
To greet me with premeditated welcomes;
Where I have ſeen them ſhiver, and look pale,
Make periods in the midſt of ſentences,
Throttle their practiſed accent in their fears,
And, in concluſion, dumbly have broke off,
Not paying me a welcome. Truſt me, Sweet,
Out of their ſilence yet I picked a welcome;
And in the modeſty of fearful duty,
I read as much, as from the rattling tongue
Of ſaucy and audacious eloquence.
Love, therefore, and tongue-tied ſimplicity,
In leaſt ſpeaks moſt, to my capacity.

I muſt here conclude my obſervations on this Play, with the above beautiful paſſage, as there does not appear to me to be any thing elſe, in the remainder of it, worthy to ſupply a reflection relative to the purpoſed ſcope or deſign of this Work. POSTSCRIPT.

This Play is perfectly pictureſque, and reſembles ſome rich landſcape, where palaces and cottages, huntſmen and huſbandmen, princes and peaſants, appear in the ſame ſcene together.



1.3.1. Dramatis Perſonae.



  • DUKE of MILAN, Father to Silvia.
  • VALENTINE, the two Gentlemen.
  • PROTHEUS, the two Gentlemen.
  • ANTHONIO, Father to Protheus.
  • PANTHION, Servant to Anthonio.


  • SILVIA, the Duke of Milan's Daughter, beloved of Valentine.
  • JULIA, a Lady of Verona, beloved of Protheus.

1.3.2. THE Two Gentlemen of Verona.

[Page 25]

THE Fable of this Play has no more moral in it, than the former, nor does it make us much amends, either by the number, or variety of its documents. I would, therefore, have paſſed it by, as ſome of the editors have done, on the ſuppoſition of its not being one of Shakeſpeare's; but that I thought any thing which had ever been imputed to that author, had a right to claim a place in this Work; unleſs the rejection of it were eſtabliſhed upon better grounds, than the diverſity of opinions about its authenticity, among the Commentators.

And, indeed, were I to offer any doubt upon this point, myſelf, it ſhould not be ſo much from the objections adduced by the editors, as on account of the unnatural inconſiſtency of character, in the perſon of Protheus; who, in the firſt Act, and during above half the ſecond, appears to ſtand in the moſt amiable and virtuous lights, both of morals and manhood, as a fond lover, and a faithful friend; and yet ſuddenly belies his fair ſeemings, by an infidelity toward the firſt object, and a treachery with regard to the ſecond. 'Tis true, indeed, that in the latter end he expreſſes a ſort of contrition for his crimes; but yet this ſtill ſeems to remain equivocal; as it does not appear to have ariſen from any remorſe of conſcience, or abhorrence of his baſeneſs, but rather from a diſappointment in his purſuit, and an open detection of his villainy.

There are but few inſtances of this kind, that I remember to have met with, throughout the drama of Shakeſpeare; for however he may ſport, as he often does, with the three unities of Ariſtotle, time, [Page 26] place, and action, he ſeldom ſins againſt a fourth, which I am ſurpriſed the Critics have not added, as being worth them all—namely, that of character; the tenor of which is generally preſerved, from firſt to laſt, in all his works. This conſiſtency is required in the epic, and why not inſiſted on in the dramatic poem, I cannot conceive.

I am venturing, I own, beyond my purpoſe; but I am tempted here, upon mentioning his breach of the unities, to obſerve, that the Commentators do our author great injuſtice, to examine him by the cold rules of artful conſtruction. Shakeſpeare's writings reſemble the antient muſic, which conſiſted in melody alone, without regard to harmony, which is a ſcience of much later invention; and it has been remarked, that the original airs of every country, which charm a natural ear moſt, have been thoſe that give offence to modern compoſers, by an utter neglect of the counter-point. The compoſitions of our Bard have the ſame beauty, with the ſame defect. He ought, therefore, never to be conſidered but under the deſcription which Milton has given of him;

Our ſweeteſt Shakeſpeare, Fancy's child,
Warbling his native wood-notes wild.
Would they reſtrain him within the precincts of art, the height, the depth of whoſe imagination and creative genius found even the extent of Nature too ſtreightly bounded for it to move in?

‘Exhauſted worlds, and then imagined new.’

Like an eaſtern monarch, his word was law, his will and pleaſure edicts and decrees. But there are certain mechaniſts in criticiſm, who have no other way of judging, but by applying the rule and compaſs; like antient gardeners, who trimmed their foreſt-trees into cones and cylinders, and reduced winding brooks to ſquare canals. A man muſt be born a critic, as well as a poet; but, at this rate, he may be bred both.

But to return from this digreſſion to the ſubject which lies more properly before us, at preſent. ACT I. [Page 27] SCENE I.

The great neceſſity and benefit of Travel are properly recommended, and marked by apt phraſe, in the firſt ſpeech here; which opening, with the addition of a few other paſſages, ſeems to promiſe more than, I am ſorry to ſay, the reſt of the piece is reſponſible for. And it is this circumſtance which has induced the critics to ſuſpect this Play not to have been originally one of Shakeſpeare's, but only reviſed and enriched with fragments, by him; as it may be deemed to be not a jewel, but only a lump of paſte, ſet round with ſparks.

Ceaſe to perſuade, my loving Protheus;
Home-keeping youth have ever homely wits—
Were't not affection chains thy tender days
To the ſweet glances of thy honoured love,
I rather would intreat thy company
To ſee the wonders of the world abroad,
Than (living dully ſluggaraized, at home)
Wear out thy youth in ſhapeleſs idleneſs *.

The tenderneſs and ſolicitudes of friendſhip are well and fondly expreſſed in the reply: ‘

Wilt thou be gone? Sweet Valentine, adieu;—
Think on thy Protheus, when thou haply ſeeſt
Some rare note-worthy object in thy travel—
Wiſh me partaker in thy happineſs,
When thou doſt meet good hap; and in thy danger,
If ever danger do environ thee,
Commend thy grievance to my holy prayer;
For I will be thy bead's-man, Valentine.

If ever danger do environ thee—This line ſtrikes me with a peculiar beauty. Protheus deſires to be conſidered as a ſharer in his friend's weal or woe, during abſence; the firſt he mentions without any reſerve,

Wiſh me partaker in thy happineſs,
When thou doſt meet good hap—
But when he comes to ſpeak of the latter, he appears to catch himſelf up, as if alarmed even at the idea of his danger, and ſeems to have begun his prayers for him, already.

[Page 28] But not to quit the firſt ſubject hinted above, only to re-aſſume it again, I ſhall introduce a ſpeech from the fourth Scene following, though ſomewhat out of its place, here; where Panthion, ſpeaking to the father of Protheus, tells him the opinion of another perſon about him and his ſon.

He wondered that your lordſhip
Would ſuffer him to ſpend his life at home,
While other men of ſlender reputation
Put forth their ſons to ſeek preferment out;
Some to the wars, to try their fortunes there;
Some to diſcover iſlands far away:
Some to the ſtudious Univerſities.
For any, or for all theſe exerciſes,
He ſaid that Protheus, your ſon, was meet;
And did requeſt me to importune you
To let him ſpend his time no more at home;
Which would be great impeachment to his age,
In having known no travel in his youth.
Nor need'ſt thou much importune me to that,
Whereon this month I have been hammering.
I have conſidered well his loſs of time,
And how he cannot be a perfect man,
Not being tried and tutored in the world.
Experience is by induſtry achieved,
And perfected by the ſwift * courſe of time.

But to return to the firſt Scene, again. In this and many of the ſubſequent ones, the ſeveral parts of which ſhall be quoted as they follow in order, to prevent the interruption of the ſubject, our Author has truly deſcribed the nature, the effects, the anxieties, the weakneſſes, the extravagancies, and the miſeries, of the paſſion of love, moſt philoſophically, poetically, and experimentally.

Valentine, perſuading Protheus to quit his miſtreſs, and accompany him on his travels, ſays:

To be in love, where ſcorn is bought with groans;
Coy looks with heart-ſore ſighs; one fading moment's mirth
With twenty watchful, weary, tedious nights—
If haply won, perhaps an hapleſs gain;
If loſt, why then a grievous labour won;
However, but a folly bought with wit;
Or elſe a wit by folly vanquiſhed.
[Page 29] Love is your maſter, for he maſters you;
And he that is ſo yoked by a fool,
Methinks ſhould not be chronicled for wiſe.
Yet writers ſay, as in the ſweeteſt bud
The eating canker dwells, ſo eating love
Inhabits in the fineſt wits of all.
And writers ſay, as the moſt forward bud
Is eaten by the canker, ere it blows;
Even ſo by love the young and tender wit
Is turned to folly, blaſting in the bud;
Loſing his verdure even in the prime,
And all the fair effects of future hopes.
Protheus, alone.
He after honour hunts, I after love;
He leaves his friends, to dignify them more;
I leave myſelf, my friends, and all, for love.
Thou, Julia, thou haſt metamorphoſed me;
Made me neglect my ſtudies, loſe my time,
War with good counſel, ſet the world at nought,
Make wit with muſing weak, heart ſick with thought.

Valentine, after his falling in love, to Protheus: ‘

I have done penance for contemning love;
Thoſe high imperious thoughts have puniſhed me
With bitter faſts, with penitential groans;
With nightly tears, and daily heart-ſore ſighs—
For in revenge of my contempt of love,
Love hath chaced ſleep from my enthralled eyes,
And made them watchers of my own heart's ſorrow.
O, gentle Protheus, love's a mighty lord,
And hath ſo humbled me, as I confeſs
There is no woe to his correction;
Nor to his ſervice, no ſuch joy on earth.
Now no diſcourſe, except it be of love;
Now can I break my faſt, dine, ſup, and ſleep,
Upon the very naked name of love. . . . . .
Call her divine.
Scene vii. ’ ‘
Julia and Lucetta.
A true devoted Pilgrim is not weary
To meaſure kingdoms with his feeble ſteps;
Much leſs ſhall ſhe, who hath love's wings to fly. .....
Oh, knoweſt thou not his looks are my ſoul's food?
Pity the dearth that I have pined in,
By longing for that food ſo long a time.
Didſt thou but know the inly touch of love,
Thou would'ſt as ſoon go kindle fire with ſnow,
As ſeek to quench the fire of love with words.
[Page 30] Lucetta.
I do not ſeek to quench your love's hot fire,
But qualify the fire's extreme rage,
Leſt it ſhould burn above the bounds of reaſon.
The more thou damm'ſt it up, the more it burns—
The current that with gentle murmur glides,
Thou knoweſt, being ſtopped, impatiently doth rage;
But when his fair courſe is not hindered,
He makes ſweet muſic with the enamelled ſtones,
Giving a gentle kiſs to every ſedge
He overtaketh in his pilgrimage—
And ſo by many winding nooks he ſtrays,
With willing ſport to the wide ocean.
Scene x.

There are two other paſſages in this Play, which I have not included among the above number of quotations; becauſe, though they relate to the ſame ſubject, yet not falling within the deſcription of the paſſion, but the artful or ſiniſter conduct of it, only, I have reſerved to a place by themſelves.

The firſt is, where Valentine replies to the Duke, who aſks his advice how to gain a coy miſtreſs.

Win her with gifts, if ſhe reſpect not words;
Dumb jewels often, in their ſilent kind,
More than quick words do move a woman's mind.
Act iii. Scene ii.

The ſecond is in the fifth Scene following the above, where the moſt effectual, but baſeſt method for curing a woman's love, that can be deviſed, is there pointed out: ‘

Duke to Protheus.
What might we do to make the girl forget
The love of Valentine, and love Sir Thurio?
The beſt way is to ſlander Valentine
With falſehood, cowardice, and poor deſcent;
Three things that women highly hold in hate.
Ay, but ſhe'll think that it is ſpoke in hate.
True, if his enemy deliver it.
Therefore it muſt with circumſtance be ſpoken,
By one whom ſhe eſteemeth as his friend. ACT V. SCENE IV.

In the firſt ſpeech here, Valentine makes a reflection, which cannot be too often marked to us, upon the powerful effect of uſe or habit over the mind [Page 31] of man. Second nature is more than a match even for the firſt. In this philoſophy lie the manifeſt and manifold advantages of a good education, which alone forms the different manners allotted to the ſexes, rendering men brave, and preſerving women chaſte. Exchange but the point of honour between them, and you fill the world with amazons and daſtards.

How uſe doth breed a habit in a man!
This ſhadowy deſart, unfrequented woods,
I better brook than flouriſhing peopled towns.
Here can I ſit alone, unſeen of any,
And to the nightingale's complaining notes
Tune my diſtreſſes, and record my woes.

In the ſame Scene he expreſſes himſelf moſt affectingly, upon diſcovering the faithleſsneſs of his friend, and diſplays a noble and a generous nature, in his ready forgiveneſs, on the other's as prompt penitence.

Thou treacherous man!
Thou haſt beguiled my hopes; nought but mine eye
Could have perſuaded me,—Now, I dare not ſay
I have one friend alive—thou would'ſt diſprove me.
Who ſhould be truſted, when one's own right hand
Is perjured to the boſom? Protheus,
I'm ſorry I muſt never truſt thee more,
But count the world a ſtranger, for thy ſake.
The private wound is deepeſt. Oh time accurſt!
'Mongſt all foes, that a friend ſhould be the worſt.
My ſhame and guilt confound me—
Forgive me, Valentine; if hearty ſorrow
Be a ſufficient ranſom for offence,
I tender it here; I do as truly ſuffer,
As e'er I did commit.
Then I am paid;
And once again I do receive thee honeſt.
Who by repentance is not ſatisfied,
Is nor of heaven, nor earth. SCENE V. and loſt.
The Duke.
Now, by the honour of my anceſtry,
I do applaud thy ſpirit, Valentine,
And think thee worthy of an Empreſs' love.
[Page 32] Know then, I here forget all former griefs,
Cancel all grudge, repeal thee home again,
Plead a new ſtate in thy unrivalled merit,
To which I thus ſubſcribe—Sir Valentine,
Thou art a gentleman, and well derived;
Take thou thy Silvia, for thou haſt deſerved her.

In this paſſage Valentine is juſtly commended f [...] his proper and becoming manhood, in vindicatin the right both of his love and honour, at the hazar [...] of his, comparatively, meaner life. He has, therefore a right to the appellation and character here given o him, in the following line: ‘Thou art a gentleman, and well derived.

But what ſtrikes me more particularly in this ſpeech, is the gallant Duke's aſſeveration, in that truly noble expreſſion, ‘Now, by the honour of my anceſtry. ’ It was this generous ſpirited idea that continued down the race of heroes, among us, while they did exiſt; and were the profeſſion of heraldry never to be conſidered in any other light, than as a record of men's worth, not titles, it would then become both a political and a liberal ſcience. Honours, as Selden ſays, ſhould be native only, and not dative derived from Merits, not from Gifts.



1.4.1. Dramatis Perſonae.



  • DUKE of Vienna.
  • ANGELO, Lord Deputy in the Duke's abſence.
  • ESCALUS, an ancient Lord joined with him.
  • CLAUDIO, a young Gentleman.
  • LUCIO, his Friend.


  • ISABELLA, Siſter to Claudio.
  • JULIET, with child by Claudio.


[Page 35]

I CANNOT ſee what moral can be extracted from the fable of this Piece; but as the author of it ſeems to have thought otherwiſe, I ſhall preſent the reader with his idea on this ſubject, in his own words; where the Duke paſſes ſentence on Angelo, his deputy, for his double villainy:

Haſte ſtill pays haſte, and leiſure anſwers leiſure;
Like doth quit like, and meaſure ſtill for meaſure.
Act v. Scene vii.

But as there is not matter enough here, for further expatiating upon, I ſhall proceed to collect together the diſperſed maxims, ſentiments or morals, which may be gathered from the field at large; and which I ſhall arrange under their ſeveral heads, without regard to the order of the drama; as this method may beſt ſerve to give them an united force, and enable them to act more ſtrongly on the minds of my readers. ACT I. SCENE II.

That our talents, our faculties, or powers, are not our own, properly; but that we are to conſider ourſelves as endowed with ſuch advantages, by Providence, for the more enlarged benefit of mankind, is finely ſet forth in the following ſpeech: ‘

There is a kind of character in thy life *,
That to the obſerver doth thy hiſtory
Fully unfold. Thyſelf, and thy belongings
Are not thine own ſo proper, as to waste
Thyſelf upon thy virtues; them on thee.
Heaven doth with us, as we with torches do;
Not light them for themſelves: for if our virtues
Did not go forth of us, 'twere all alike,
[Page 36] As if we had them not *. Spirits are not finely touched,
But to fine iſſues; nor Nature never lends
The ſmallest ſcruple of her excellence,
But, like a thrifty Goddeſs, ſhe determines
Herſelf the glory of a creditor,
Both thanks, and uſe.

The dangers to be apprehended to ſociety, from thoſe who affect too much popularity, are very juſtly remarked upon, in the ſame Scene; which judgment may be fully ſupported by innumerable inſtances of Demagogues to be met with in hiſtory, both ancient and modern.

I love the people,
But do not like to ſtage me to their eyes;
Tho' it do well, I do not reliſh well
Their loud applauſe, and Ave's vehement;
Nor do I think the man of ſafe diſcretion,
That does affect it. SCENE VI.

That a ſpirit of liberty, where the reins of government are ſuffered to relax, is too apt to exceed into a licentiouſneſs which counteracts its own ends, is well noted here.

Lucio, on ſeeing his friend carrying to priſon.
Why, how now, Claudio? Whence comes this reſtraint?
From too much liberty, my Lucio, liberty;
As ſurfeit is the father of much faſt,
So every ſcope by the immoderate uſe
Turns to reſtraint: our natures do purſue,
Like rats that raven down their proper bane,
A thirſty evil; and when we drink we die.

Again, in the next Scene: ‘

We have ſtrict ſtatutes, and moſt biting laws;
The needful bits and curbs for head-ſtrong ſteeds;
Which for theſe nineteen years we have let ſleep;
Even like an o'er-grown lion in a cave,
That goes not out to prey. Now, as fond fathers,
Having bound up the threatening twigs of birch,
Only to ſtick it in their childrens ſight,
For terror, not to uſe; in time the rod
Becomes more mocked, than feared; ſo our decrees,
[Page 37] Dead to infliction, to themſelves are dead;
And liberty plucks juſtice by the noſe;
The baby beats the nurſe, and quite athwart
Goes all decorum.

And juſt after, condemning his own neglect, in ſuffering the people to take ſuch ſcope, he carries his cenſure againſt himſelf ſo far, as even to ſay that he had encouraged them to do ſo:

For we bid this be done,
When evil deeds have their permiſſive paſs,
And not the puniſhment.

The ſame reflection is carried on, in the fifth Scene of the Second Act; where ſome one ſays, ‘Lord Angelo is ſevere.’ To which Eſcalus, his colleague in adminiſtration, replies,

It is but needful;
Mercy is not itſelf, that oft looks ſo;
Pardon is ſtill the nurſe of ſecond woe.

But to recur back again to the firſt Act, which I quitted in purſuit of the above argument ſtarted there; in the ſixth Scene, where Claudio deſires his friend to employ his ſiſter to ſolicit his pardon, he very judiciouſly urges that peculiar kind of perſuaſiveneſs, which naturally dwells in youth and innocence:

Acquaint her with the danger of my State;
Implore her, in my voice, that ſhe make friends
To the ſtrict Deputy; bid herſelf aſſay him;
I have great hope in That; for in her youth
There is a prone * and ſpeechleſs dialect,
Such as moves men!

And again, in the laſt Scene of this firſt Act, Lucio ſays to Iſabella,

Go to lord Angelo,
And let him learn to know, when maidens foe,
Men give like gods; but when they weep and kneel,
All their petitions are as truly theirs,
As they themſelves would owe them.

[Page 38] In the ſame Scene the nature and danger of irreſolution is well deſcribed.

Our doubts are traitors;
And make us loſe the good we oft might win,
By fearing to attempt. ACT II. SCENE I.

The political arguments for juſtice, with the humane motives for mercy, are finely contraſted here, between the two Deputies of the State: ‘

We muſt not make a ſcare-crow of the law,
Setting it up to fear the birds of prey,
And let it keep one ſhape, 'till cuſtom makes it
Their perch, and not their terror.
Ay, but yet
Let us be keen, and rather cut a little,
Than fall and bruiſe to death. . . . . .
Let but your Honour know,
Whom I believe to be moſt ſtrait in virtue,
That, in the working of your own affections,
Had time cohered with place, or place with wiſhing,
Or that the reſolute acting of your blood
Could have attained the effect of your own purpoſe;
Whether you had not, ſometime in your life,
Erred in this point, which now you cenſure him,
And pulled the law upon you.
'Tis one thing to be tempted, Eſcalus,
Another thing to fall. I not deny,
The jury, paſſing on the priſoner's life,
May in the ſworn twelve have a thief or two,
Guiltier than him they try. What's open made to juſtice,
That juſtice ſeizes on. What know the laws,
That thieves do paſs on thieves? 'Tis very pregnant,
The jewel that we find, we ſtoop and take it,
Becauſe we ſee it; but what we do not ſee,
We tread upon, and never think of it.
You may not ſo extenuate his offence,
For I have had ſuch faults; but rather tell me,
When I that cenſure him, do ſo offend,
Let mine own judgment pattern out my death,
And nothing come in partial. Sir, he muſt die.
Well, heaven forgive him! and forgive us all!
Some riſe by ſin, and ſome by virtue fall;
Some run thro' brakes of ice, and anſwer none;
And ſome condemned for a fault alone. SCENE VII.
[Page 39]

We find the ſame ſubjects continued here, with additional ſpirit and beauty.

Iſabella to Angelo.
I have a brother is condemned to die—
I do beſeech you, let it be his fault,
And not my brother.
Condemn the fault, and not the actor of it?
Why, every fault's condemned, ere it be done;
Mine were the very cypher of a function,
To find the faults whoſe fine ſtands in the record,
And let go by the actor.
Iſabella. O juſt, but ſevere law! Muſt he needs die?
Angelo. Maiden, no remedy.
Yes; I do think that you might pardon him;
And neither heaven, nor man, grieve at the mercy.
Angelo. I will not do it.
Iſabella. But can you, if you would?
Angelo. Look, what I will not *, that I cannot do.
But might you do it, and do the world no wrong,
If ſo your heart were touched with that remorſe,
As mine is to him?
Angelo. He's ſentenced; 'tis too late.
Too late? Why, no; I that do ſpeak a word,
May call it back again. Well, believe this,
No ceremony that to great ones 'longs,
Not the king's crown, nor the deputed ſword,
The marſhal's truncheon, nor the judge's robe,
Become them with one half ſo good a grace,
As mercy does. If he had been as you,
And you as he, you would have ſlipt like him;
But he like you would not have been ſo ſtern.
Angelo. Pray you, be gone.
I would to heaven I had your potency,
And you were Iſabel; ſhould it then be thus?
No—I would tell what 'twere to be a judge,
And what a priſoner.
Your brother is a forfeit of the law,
And you but waſte your words.
Alas! alas!
Why, all the ſouls that were , were forfeit, once;
[Page 40] And be that might the 'vantage beſt have took,
Found out the remedy. How would you be,
If he, which is the top of judgment, ſhould
But judge you as you are? Oh, think on that,
And mercy then will breathe within your lips,
Like man new made.
Be you content, fair maid;
It is the law, not I, condemns your brother.
Were he my kinſman, brother, or my ſon,
It ſhould be thus with him. He dies to-morrow.
To-morrow! Oh, that's ſudden! Spare him, ſpare him;
He's not prepared for death. Even for our kitchens
We kill the fowl of ſeaſon; ſhall we ſerve heaven
With leſs reſpect than we do miniſter
To our groſs ſelves? Good, good my lord, bethink you:
Who is it that hath died for this offence?
There's many have committed it.
The law hath not been dead, tho' it hath ſlept—
Thoſe many had not dared to do that evil,
If the firſt man that did th' edict infringe,
Had anſwered for his deed. Now, 'tis awake;
Takes note of what is done; and, like a prophet,
Looks in a glaſs that ſhews what future evils,
Or new, or by remiſſneſs new conceived,
And ſo in progreſs to be hatched and born,
Are now to have no ſucceſſive degrees;
But ere they live, to end.
Iſabella. Yet ſhew ſome pity.
I ſhew it moſt of all, when I ſhew juſtice;
For then I pity thoſe I do not know;
Which a diſmiſſed offence would after gall;
And do him right, that, anſwering one ſoul wrong,
Lives not to act an other. Be ſatisfied;
Your brother dies—to-morrow.
Oh, 'tis excellent
To have a giant's ſtrength; but it is tyrannous
To uſe it like a giant. . . . . .
Could great men thunder,
As Jove himſelf does, Jove would ne'er be quiet;
For every pelting petty officer
Would uſe his heaven for thunder;
Nothing but thunder—Merciful heaven!
Thou rather with thy ſharp and ſulph'rous bolt
Splitteſt the unwedgeable and gnarled oak,
Than the ſoft myrtle—O, but man, proud man,
Dreſt in a little brief authority,
Moſt ignorant of what he's moſt aſſured,
[Page 41] His glaſſy eſſence, like an angry ape,
Plays ſuch fantaſtic tricks before high heaven,
As make the angels weep; who, with our ſpleens,
Would all themſelves laugh mortal. . . . . .
We cannot weigh our brother with yourſelf;
Great men may jeſt with ſaints; 'tis wit in them;
But in the leſs, foul profanation. . . . .
That in the captain's but a choleric word,
Which in the ſoldier is flat blaſphemy.
Angelo. Why do you put theſe ſayings upon me?
Becauſe authority, tho' it err like others,
Hath yet a kind of medicine in itſelf,
That ſkins the vice o' th' top. Go to your boſom;
Knock there, and aſk your heart what it doth know,
That's like my brother's fault; if it confeſs
A natural guiltineſs, ſuch as his is,
Let it not ſound a thought upon your tongue,
Againſt my brother's life.
(Aſide.) She ſpeaks, and 'tis ſuch ſenſe,
That my ſenſe breeds with it (To Iſabel.) Fare you well.
Iſabella. Gentle, my lord, turn back.
Angelo. I will bethink me — Come again, to-morrow.
Hark, how I'll bribe you—good my lord, turn back—
Angelo. How? Bribe me!
Ay, with ſuch gifts, that heaven ſhall ſhare with you.
Not with fond ſhekele of the teſted gold,
Or ſtones whoſe rates are either rich, or poor,
As fancy values them; but with true prayers,
That ſhall be up at heaven, and enter there,
Ere fun-riſe; prayers from preſerved ſouls,
From faſting maids whoſe minds are delicate
To nothing temporal.

I have tranſcribed, perhaps, more of this dialogue, than may be thought ſtrictly relative to the arguments of it; but I found it impoſſible to break off before, and I believe the reader would be ſorry to have had me interrupt it ſooner. SCENE VIII.

The powerful attractions of virtue and modeſty, are finely ſhewn, in Angelo's conflict and reflections, here. Iſabella, having, in the laſt Scene, received ſome hope of pardon for her brother, takes leave of the Deputy, with this expreſſion:

Save your honour!
Angelo ſolus.
From thee, even from thy virtue—
[Page 42] What's this? what's this? Is this her fault, or mine?
The tempter, or the tempted, who ſins moſt?
Not ſhe—nor doth ſhe tempt—but it is I,
That, lying by the violet in the ſun,
Do, as the carrion does, not as the flower,
Corrupt with virtuous ſeaſon. Can it be,
That modeſty may more betray our ſenſe,
Than woman's lightneſs? having waſte ground enough,
Shall we deſire to raze the ſanctuary,
And pitch our evils there? Oh, fie, fie, fie!
What doſt thou? or what art thou, Angelo?
Doſt thou deſire her foully, for thoſe things
That make her good? Oh, let her brother live—
Thieves for their robbery have authority,
When judges ſteal themſelves. What? do I love her,
That I deſire to hear her ſpeak again,
And feaſt upon her eyes? What is't I dream on?
Oh, cunning enemy, that to catch a ſaint,
With ſaints doſt bait thy hook? moſt dangerous
Is that temptation, that doth goad us on
To ſin in loving virtue. Ne'er could the Strumpet,
With all her double vigour, art, and nature,
Once ſtir my temper; but this virtuous Maid
Subdues me quite. Ever 'till this very now,
When men were fond, I ſmiled, and wondered how. SCENE IX.

The Duke here, under the character of a friar, in confeſſing Juliet, gives an admirable leſſon on the nature of contrition, diſtinguiſhing it very properly from attrition merely; and, at the ſame time, expreſſes a juſt but ſevere ſentence againſt a woman's failure in the point of chaſtity; their education, their manners, and the moral conſequences of their frailty, throwing ſo many more bars in their way, than the modes of the world have oppoſed to the other ſex.

Duke to Juliet.
Repent you, fair one, of the ſin you carry?
I do; and bear the ſhame moſt patiently.
I'll teach you how you ſhall arraign your conſcience,
And try your penitence if it be found,
Or hollowly put on.
I'll gladly learn.
Love you the man that wronged you?
Yes, as I love the woman that wronged him.
[Page 43] Duke.
So then, it ſeems, your moſt offenceful act
Was mutually committed.
Then was your ſin of heavier kind than his.
I do confeſs it, and repent it, father.
'Tis meet ſo, daughter—But repent you not,
As that the ſin hath brought you to this ſhame?
Which ſorrow's always towards ourſelves, not heaven;
Shewing, we'd not ſe [...]k Heaven, as we love it,
But as we ſtand in fear.
I do repent me, as it is an evil.
There reſt. SCENE X.

The frailty of human nature is well deſcribed in the wanderings of the mind in prayer, and the ſtruggle between virtue and paſſion, in the firſt ſpeech here; which concludes with obſerving, how apt the pageantry or falſe ſeemings of power are to impoſe on the world, even the great vulgar, as well as the ſmall.

Angelo ſolus.
When I would pray and think, I think and pray
To ſeveral ſubjects: Heaven hath my empty words,
Whilſt my intention, hearing not my tongue,
Anchors on Iſabel. Heaven's in my mouth,
As if I did but only chew its name;
And in my heart the ſtrong and ſwelling evil
Of my conception. The ſtate, whereon I ſtudied,
Is like a good thing, being often read,
Grown feared and tedious; yea, my gravity,
Wherein (let no man hear me) I take pride,
Could I with boot change for an idle plume,
Which the air beats for vain. Oh place! oh form!
How often doſt thou with thy caſe, thy habit,
Wrench awe from fools, and tie the wiſer ſouls
To thy falſe ſeeming? Blood, thou art but blood.
Let's write good angel on the Devil's horn;
'Tis yet * the Devil's creſt. SCENE XI.

There is a proper ſentiment of Chriſtian humility, expreſſed by Iſabella, in this place:

Let me be ignorant, and in nothing good,
But graciouſly to know I am no better.

[Page 44] And juſt after, there is a virtuous argument finely ſupported by her, againſt the inſidious pleadings of the Deputy; who, after refuſing her a pardon for her brother, thus proceeds: ‘

Admit no other way to ſave his life,
(As I ſubſcribe not that, nor any other,
But in the loſs of queſtion) that you, his ſiſter,
Finding yourſelf deſired of ſuch a perſon,
Whoſe credit with the judge, or own great place,
Could fetch your brother from the manacles
Of the all-binding law; and that there were
No earthly mean to ſave him, but that either
You muſt lay down the treaſures of your body
To this ſuppoſed, or elſe let him ſuffer;
What would you do?
As much for my poor brother, as myſelf—
That is, were I under the terms of death,
The impreſſion of keen whips I'd wear as rubies,
And ſtrip myſelf to death, as to a bed
That longing I've been ſick for, ere I'd yield
My body up to ſhame.
Then muſt your brother die.
And 'twere the cheaper way;
Better it were a brother died for once,
Than that a ſiſter, by redeeming him,
Should die for ever.
Were not you, then, as cruel as the ſentence,
That you have ſlandered ſo?
Ignominy in ranſom, and free pardon,
Are of two houſes; lawful mercy, ſure,
Is nothing kin to foul redemp [...]on. ACT III. SCENE I.

The Duke, remaining ſtill under the diſguiſe of a friar, comes to the priſon to prepare Claudio for death; upon which ſubject he makes a number of moral and philoſophic reflections; but theſe laſt moſtly of the Stoic kind, by obſerving on the precariouſneſs and inſignificancy of human life; the whole of which I ſhall give here at full length.

Duke to Claudio.
Be abſolute for death; or death, or life,
Shall thereby be the ſweeter. Reaſon thus with life;
[Page 45] If I do loſe thee, I do loſe a thing,
That none but fools would keep; a breath thou art,
Servile to all the ſkiey influences,
That do this habitation where thou keep'ſt,
Hourly afflict; merely thou art death's fool;
For him thou labour'ſt by thy flight to ſhun,
And yet runn'ſt toward him ſtill. Thou art not noble;
For all the accommodations that thou beareſt,
Are nurſed by baſeneſs; thou'rt by no means valiant;
For thou doſt fear the ſoft and tender fork
Of a poor worm. Thy beſt of reſt is ſleep,
And that thou oft provok'ſt; yet groſly fear'ſt
Thy death, which is no more. Thou'rt not thyſelf;
For thou exiſt'ſt on many a thouſand grains,
That iſſue out of duſt. Happy thou art not;
For what thou haſt not, That thou ſtriv'ſt to get;
And what thou haſt, forget'ſt. Thou art not certain;
For thy complexion ſhifts to ſtrange effects *,
After the moon. If thou'rt rich, thou'rt poor;
For, like an aſs, whoſe back with ingots bows,
Thou bear'ſt thy heavy riches but a journey,
And death unloadeth thee. Friend haſt thou none;
For thy own bowels which do call thee Sire,
The mere effuſion of thy proper loins,
Do curſe the gout, ſerpigo, and the rheum,
For ending thee no ſooner. Thou haſt nor youth, nor age;
But, as it were, an after-dinner's ſleep,
Dreaming on both; for all thy blaſted youth
Becomes as aged, and doth beg the alms
Of palſied eld; and when thou'rt old and rich,
Thou haſt nor heat, affection, limb, or beauty,
To make thy riches pleaſant. What's yet in this,
That bears the name of life? Yet in this life,
Lye hid more than a thouſand deaths; yet death we fear,
That makes theſe odds all even.

And in the next ſcene, Iſabella, after hinting to her brother at certain baſe conditions, on which his ſentence might be remitted, endeavours to ſtrengthen his reſolution to prefer death before diſhonour, by ſomewhat of the ſame manner of reaſoning, as above; but more concluſive and conciſe:

Oh, I do fear thee, Claudio; and I quake,
Leſt thou a feveriſh life ſhould'ſt entertain,
And ſix or ſeven winters more reſpect,
Than a perpetual honour. Dareſt thou die?
[Page 46] The ſenſe of death is moſt in apprehenſion;
And the poor beetle that we tread upon,
In corporal ſufferance finds a pang as great,
As when a giant dies.

To this ſuſpicion of his weakneſs he replies, with the ſpirit becoming a man of honour and virtue: ‘

Why give you me this ſhame?
Think you, I can a reſolution fetch
From flowery tenderneſs? If I muſt die,
I will encounter darkneſs as a bride,
And hug it in my arms.

But after having paid this compliment to heroiſm, Human Nature comes in for its ſhare, in turn; and he then pleads for life, even on the moſt abject terms: ‘

Claudio. Oh, Iſabel!
Iſabella. What ſays my brother?
Claudio. Death's a fearful thing.
Iſabella. And ſhamed life a hateful.
Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
To lie in cold obſtruction, and to rot;
This ſenſible warm motion to become
A kneaded clod; and the delinquent * ſpirit
To bathe in fiery floods, or to reſide
In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice;
To be impriſoned in the viewleſs winds,
And blown with reſtleſs violence round about
The pendant world; or to be worſe than worſt
Of thoſe that lawleſs and uncertain thoughts
Imagine howling; 'tis too horrible!
The wearieſt and moſt loathed worldly life,
That age, ach, penury, and impriſonment,
Can lay on Nature, is a paradiſe,
To what we fear of death.

What an ignoble ſentiment is here expreſſed, in the four laſt lines of this ſpeech! and yet the great Maecenas had the ſame, and declared it very nearly in the ſame words! What a diſgrace to letters! But hiſtory deſcribes him to have been a perſon of foppiſh and effeminate manners; and 'tis but rarely that the outward character belies the inward one.

[Page 47] Iſabella's indignation againſt her brother on this occaſion, though it has no relation to the ſubjects we are upon, yet as it may have an effect in raiſing the ſame reſentment againſt vice and meanneſs, in the minds of my readers, I think it worthy to be inſerted here: ‘

Oh, you beaſt!
Oh, faithleſs coward! Oh, diſhoneſt wretch!
Wilt thou be made a man, out of my vice?
Is't not a kind of inceſt, to take life
From thine own ſiſter's ſhame? What ſhould I think?
Heaven grant my mother played my father fair!
For ſuch a warped ſlip of wilderneſs
Ne'er iſſued from his blood—Take my defiance—
Die, periſh! might my only bending down,
Reprieve thee from thy fate, it ſhould proceed. . . . . .
Oh, fie, fie, fie!
Thy ſin's not accidental, but a trade;
Mercy to thee would prove itſelf a bawd;
'Twere beſt that thou dieſt quickly. SCENE VI.

In the laſt ſpeech of this ſcene, our Author gives us a ſhocking, but too juſt deſcription of Slander: ‘

No might nor greatneſs, in Mortality,
Can cenſure 'ſcape—back-wounding Calumny
The whiteſt virtue ſtrikes. What king ſo ſtrong,
Can tie the gall up in the ſlandering tongue? ACT IV. SCENE III.

In the laſt paſſage of this Scene, the Duke repeats the ſame reflection, in ſtill ſtronger terms:

O place and greatneſs! Millions of falſe eyes
Are ſtuck upon thee. Volumes of report
Run with theſe falſe and moſt contrarious queſts
Upon thy doings—thouſand 'ſcapes of wit
Make thee the father of their idle dreams,
And rack thee in their fancies!

Such has been the complaint of all ages, even when the ſcandal was merely oral; but how much more intolerable has the offence become, of late years, when obloquy is not only privately ſpoken, but publicly printed, and openly circulated throughout theſe kingdoms? The Freedom of the Preſs ſhould be ever [Page 48] held ſacred among us. 'Tis our Palladium. But ſurely, to reſtrain its Licentiouſneſs, can no more hurt the Liberty of it, than the chaſtiſement of felony can be ſaid to injure the liberty of the ſubject. SCENE X.

When Iſabella, upon a ſuppoſition of her brother's death, curſes Angelo for his perfidy, the Duke reproves her in the following words:

This nor hurts him, nor profits you, a jot;
Forbear it, therefore; give your cauſe to Heaven.

Shakeſpeare ſeems to have wound up the ſeveral morals of his characters and dialogue, in this place, with an excellent Chriſtian document, againſt the rage of malediction, and the paſſion of revenge; for we find little more in the remainder of it, ſufficiently worthy of continuing any further remarks on the Piece. POSTSCRIPT.

In Number 491 of the SPECTATOR, there is a parallel ſtory with this of Angelo related, though not in every circumſtance the ſame, of Rhynſault, Governor of Zealand, under Charles the Bald, Duke of Burgundy; which may amuſe the reader to recur to, after reading this Play.



1.5.1. Dramatis Perſonae.



  • MOROCHIUS, a Mooriſh Prince.
  • PRINCE of Arragon.
  • ANTHONIO, the Merchant of Venice.
  • BASSANIO, his Friend.
  • SALANIO, Friends to Anthonio and Baſſanio.
  • SOLARINO, Friends to Anthonio and Baſſanio.
  • GRATIANO, Friends to Anthonio and Baſſanio.
  • LORENZO, in love with Jeſſica.
  • SHYLOCK, a Jew.
  • LAUNCELOT, Servant to the Jew.


  • PORTIA, an Heireſs.
  • NERISSA, her Maid.
  • JESSICA, the Jew's Daughter.


[Page 51]

I Shall take no further notice of the want of a moral fable, in the reſt of theſe Plays; but ſhall proceed to obſerve upon the characters and dialogue, without interruption, for the future. ACT I. SCENE I.

The forebodings or preſentiments of evil, natural to the human mind, are ſtrongly pointed at here. It were in vain to attempt the inveſtigation of this matter from philoſophy, any more than that of prophetic dreams; ſo that all we have to do, is ſimply to acquieſce in the fact itſelf, which repeated experience has ſufficiently vouched in too many remarkable inſtances, to be imputed to common caſualty.

Anthonio, Solarino, and Salanio.
In ſooth, I know not why I am ſo ſad;
It wearies me; you ſay it wearies you;
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What ſtuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born,
I am to learn.—

Upon which his two friends attempt to account for this impreſſion on his mind, in a very natural manner—as, ‘Where a man's treaſure is, there will his heart be alſo.’

Your mind is toſſing on the ocean;
There where your Argofies with portly ſail,
Like Signiors and rich Burghers on the flood,
Or, as it were, the pageants of the ſea,
Do over-peer the petty traffickers,
That curtſie to them, do them reverence,
As they fly by them with their woven wings.
Believe me, Sir, had I ſuch venture forth,
The better part of my affections would
Be with my hopes abroad. I ſhould be ſtill
[Page 52] Plucking the graſs *, to know where ſits the wind;
Peering in maps for ports, and piers, and roads;
And every object that might make me fear
Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt,
Would make me ſad.
My wind, cooling my broth,
Would blow me to an ague, when I thought
What harm a wind too great might do at ſea.
I ſhould not ſee the ſandy hour-glaſs run,
But I ſhould think of ſhallows and of flats,
And ſee my wealthy Andrew docked in ſand,
Vailing her high top lower than her ribs,
To kiſs her burial. Should I go to church,
And ſee the holy edifice of ſtone,
And not bethink me ſtrait of dangerous rocks?
Which touching but my gentle veſſel's ſide,
Would ſcatter all the ſpices on the ſtream,
Enrobe the roaring waters with my ſilks;
And, in a word, but even now worth this,
And now worth nothing. Shall I have the thought
To think on this, and ſhall I lack the thought,
That ſuch a thing bechanced would make me ſad?
But tell not me—I know Anthonio
Is ſad to think upon his merchandize.

But when he denies that any reflection upon the ſtate of his fortune, or that even the paſſion of love, has wrought this grave effect upon his ſpirits, they then remain quite at a loſs to account farther for it, referring it merely to the peculiarity of his character, or particular complexion of mind; which is deſcribed and contraſted with one of an oppoſite caſt, with admirable humour: ‘

Not in love, neither! Then let's ſay, you're ſad,
Becauſe you are not merry; and 'twere as eaſy
For you to laugh and leap, and ſay you're merry,
Becauſe you are not ſad. Now, by two-headed Janus,
Nature hath framed ſtrange fellows, in her time;
Some that will evermore peep through their eyes,
And laugh, like parrots, at a bag piper;
And others of ſuch vinegar aſpect,
That they'll not ſhew their teeth, in way of ſmile,
Though Neſtor ſwear the jeſt be laughable.

Gratiano then coming in, and taking notice of the ſeriouſneſs of Anthonio's aſpect, alike imputes it to the ſame cauſe his other friends had done:

[Page 53]
You look not well, Signior Anthonio;
You have too much reſpect upon the world;
They loſe it that do buy it with much care.
Believe me, you are marvellouſly changed.

To which he replies:

I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano,
A ſtage where every man muſt play his part;
And mine a ſad one.

Upon this, Gratiano enters into the ſame humorous deſcription of the different characters of men, as Solarino had done.

Let me play the fool;
With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come;
And let my liver rather heat with wine,
Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.
Why ſhould a man, whoſe blood is warm within,
Sit like his grandfire cut in alabaſter?
Sleep when he wakes, and creep into the jaundice
By being peeviſh? I tell thee what, Anthonio,
(I love thee, and it is my love that ſpeaks)
There are a ſort of men, whoſe viſages
Do cream and mantle like a ſtanding pool,
And do a wilful ſtillneſs entertain,
With purpoſe to be dreſt in an opinion
Of wiſdom, gravity profound conceit;
As who ſhould ſay, "I am Sir Oracle,
"And when I ope my lips, let no dog bark!"
O, my Anthonio, I do know of thoſe,
That therefore only are reputed wiſe,
For ſaying nothing; who, I'm very ſure,
If they ſhould ſpeak, would almoſt damn thoſe ears,
Which hearing them would call their brothers fools *.
But fiſh not with this melancholy bait
For this fool's gudgeon, this opinion.

Another very common character in life is alſo deſcribed in the ſame ſcene; though I think not fairly applicable to the perſon who was capable of making the ſpeech above cited: ‘

Baſſanio. ‘Gratiano ſpeaks an infinite deal of nothing, more than any man in all Venice. His reaſons are as two grains of wheat hid in two buſhels of chaff; you may ſeek all day ere you find them; and when you have them, they are not worth the ſearch.’

[Page 54] In the following paſſage of the ſame Scene, there is a warmth of affection and generous friendſhip, fondly and beautifully expreſſed.

Baſſanio and Anthonio.
To you, Anthonio,
I owe the moſt in money, and in love;
And from your love I have a warranty
To unburden all my plots and purpoſes,
How to get clear of all the debts I owe.
I pray you, good Baſſanio, let me know it;
And if it ſtand, as you yourſelf ſtill do,
Within the eye of honour, be aſſured,
My purſe, my perſon, my extremeſt means
Lye all unlocked to your occaſions. . . . .
You know me well; and herein ſpend but time,
To wind about my love with circumſtance;
And, out of doubt, you do me now more wrong,
In making queſtion of my uttermoſt,
Than if you had made waſte of all I have.
Then do but ſay to me what I ſhould do,
That in your knowledge may by me be done,
And I am preſt unto it—Therefore, ſpeak. . . . .
Thou know'ſt that all my fortunes are at ſea,
Nor have I money, nor commodity,
To raiſe a preſent ſum; therefore, go forth;
Try what my credit can in Venice do;
That ſhall be rack'd, even to the uttermoſt,
To furniſh thee to Belmont, to fair Portia.
Go preſently inquire, and ſo will I,
Where money is; and I no queſtion make,
To have it of my truſt, or for my ſake.

Again, in the third Scene of Act the Third, the ſame noble ſpirit is carried on.

Portia and Baſſanio.
Is it your dear friend that is thus in trouble?
The deareſt friend to me; the kindeſt man;
The beſt conditioned—an unwearied ſpirit
In doing courteſies; and one in whom
The antient Roman honour more appears,
Than any that draws breath in Italy.
What ſum owes [...]e the Jew?
For me, three thouſand ducats.
What! no more?
Pay him ſix thouſand, and deface the bond;
[Page 55] Double ſix thouſand, and then treble that,
Before a friend of this deſcription
Shall loſe a hair thro' my Baſſanio's fault.

And from the Fifth Scene of the ſame Act, another paſſage may be quoted, which breathes the ſame ſtrain.

Portia and Lorenzo.
Madam, altho' I ſpeak it in your preſence,
You have a noble and a true conceit
Of godlike amity; which appears moſt ſtrongly,
In bearing thus the abſence of your lord.
But if you knew on whom you ſhew this honour,
How true a gentleman you ſend relief to,
How dear a lover of my lord your huſband;
I know, you would be prouder of this work,
Than cuſtomary bounty could inforce you.
I never did repent of doing good,
And ſhall not now; for in companions
That do converſe and waſte the time together,
Whoſe ſouls do bear an equal yoke of love,
There needs muſt be a like proportion
Of lineaments of manners, and of ſpirit;
Which makes me think that this Anthonio,
Being the boſom lover of my lord,
Muſt needs be like my lord. If it be ſo,
How little is the coſt I have beſtowed,
In purchaſing the ſemblance of my ſoul
From out the ſtate of helliſh cruelty!
This comes too near the praiſing of myſelf;
Therefore, no more of it.

There is a becoming reſerve and modeſty in this laſt ſentence, which gives an additional beauty to the character of Portia. But I muſt now return again to the Firſt Act, that I may recover the order of the reflections which are made in this Piece. SCENE II.

Here the golden mean is well recommended, by ſhewing the exceſs on either ſide, to be equally bad: ‘

Portia and Neriſſa.
Portia. By my troth, Neriſſa, my little body is weary of this great world.
[Page 56] Neriſſa. You would be, ſweet madam, if your miſeries were in the ſame abundance as your good fortunes are. And yet, for aught I ſee, they are as ſick that ſurfeit with too much, as they that ſtarve with nothing; therefore, it is no mean happineſs to be ſeated in the mean; ſuperfluity comes ſooner by white hairs, but competency lives longer."

From thence Portia takes occaſion to hint at the inefficacy of good counſel towards governing or reſtraining our paſſions: ‘

Portia. Good ſentences, and well pronounced.
Neriſſa. They would be better, if well followed.
Portia. If to do, were as eaſy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men's cottages princes palaces. He is a good divine that follows his own inſtructions; I can eaſier teach twenty what were good to be done, than to be one of the twenty to follow my own teaching. The brain may deviſe laws for the blood, but a hot temper leaps o'er a cold decree; ſuch a hare is madneſs, the youth, to ſkip o'er the maſhes of good counſel, the cripple. ACT II. SCENE I.

The next paſſage that occurs, is a reflection on the caſualties of fortune, which no merit, no induſtry, no prudence can controul.

Morochius to Portia.
Therefore, I pray you, lead me to the caſkets,
To try my fortune. By this ſcimitar,
That ſlew the Sophy, and a Perſian prince,
That won three fields from Sultan Solyman,
I would outſtare the ſterneſt eyes that look,
Outbrave the heart moſt daring to the earth,
Pluck the young ſucking cubs from the ſhe-bear,
Yea, mock the lion when he roars for prey,
To win thee, lady. But, alas the while!
If Hercules and Lichas * play at dice,
Which is the better man, the greater throw
May turn by fortune from the weaker hand—
So is Alcides beaten by his page.
And ſo may I, blind Fortune leading me,
Miſs that which one unworthier may attain,
And die with grieving. SCENE II.
[Page 57]

In this Scene, the ſoliloquy of Launcelot is a ſtrong picture of the mind of man, whenever it debates within itſelf upon the right or wrong of a queſtion, in which it is any way intereſted; for in ſuch caſes, our paſſions, even without our connivance, are apt to plead their own cauſe; and we but ſophiſticate, while we think we reaſon. In all doubtful matters, where the arguments ſeem to be equally ſuſpended, 'tis prudent ever to ſuſpect that ſide of the balance to be the lighteſt, which we find our affections the moſt inclined to.

Launcelot. Certainly, my conſcience will ſerve me to run from this Jew, my maſter. The fiend is at my elbow, and tempts me; ſaying to me, Gobbo, Launcelot Gobbo, good Launcelot, or good Gobbo, or good Launcelot Gobbo, uſe your legs, take the ſtart, run away. My conſcience ſays, no; take heed, honeſt Launcelot, take heed, honeſt Gobbo; or, as aforeſaid, honeſt Launcelot Gobbo, do not run; ſcorn running with the heels. Well, the moſt courageous fiend bids me pack; via! ſays the fiend; away! ſays the fiend; for the heavens, rouſe up a brave mind, ſays the fiend; and run. Well, my conſcience, hanging about the neck of my heart, ſays very wiſely to me, my honeſt friend, Launcelot, being an honeſt man's ſon, or rather, an honeſt woman's ſon (for, indeed, my father did ſomething ſmack; ſomething grow to; he had a kind of taſte)—Well, my conſcience ſays, budge not; budge, ſays the fiend; budge not, ſays my conſcience. Conſcience, ſays I, you counſel ill; fiend, ſays I, you counſel ill. To be ruled by my conſcience, I ſhould ſtay with the Jew, my maſter, who, God bleſs the mark, is a kind of devil; and to run away from the Jew, I ſhould be ruled by the fiend; who, ſaving your reverence, is the devil himſelf. Certainly, the Jew is the very devil incarnal; and in my conſcience, my conſcience is but a kind of hard conſcience, to offer to counſel me to ſtay with the Jew. The fiend gives the more friendly counſel; I will run; fiend, my heels are at your commandment; I will run. SCENE IX.

The deſcription here given of the parting of two friends, would make a beautiful and affecting ſubject for the pencil: ‘

And even there, his eye being big with tears,
Turning his face, he put his hand behind him,
And, with affection wond'rous ſenſible,
He wrung Baſſanio's hand; and ſo they parted. SCENE X.
[Page 58]

The falſe or miſtaken ſupputations of happineſs, which men are too often apt to frame to themſelves, are well remarked upon, in this place:

Prince of Arragon, on viewing the Caſkets, with their mottos.
Fortune, now,
To my heart's hope! Gold, ſilver, and baſe lead.
Who choſeth m [...], muſt give and hazard all he hath *.
You ſhall look fairer, ere I give or hazard.
What ſays the golden cheſt? Ha, let me ſee—
Who chuſeth me, ſhall gain what many men deſire.
What many men deſire—That may be meant
Of the fool multitude, that chuſe by ſhew;
Not learning more than the fond eye doth teach,
Which pries not to the interior; but, like the martlet,
Builds in the weather on the outward wall,
Even in the force and road of caſualty.
I will not chuſe what many men deſire,
Becauſe I will not jump with common ſpirits,
And rank me with the barb'rous multitude.

And immediately after, in the ſame ſpeech, he makes a juſt and noble reflection, diſtinguiſhing merit from dignities; or titles to, from titles of, honour.

Well then to thee, thou ſilver treaſure-houſe,
Tell me, once more, what title thou doſt bear—
Who chuſeth me, ſhall get as much as he deſerves.
And well ſaid too; for who ſhall go about
To cozen Fortune and be honourable,
Without the ſtamp of merit? Let none preſume
To wear an undeſerved dignity—
O that eſtates, degrees, and offices,
Were not derived corruptly! that clear honour
Were purchaſed by the merit of the wearer!
How many then ſhould cover, that ſtand bare?
How many be commanded, that command?
How much low peaſantry would then be pickt
From the true ſeed of honour? How much honour
Gleaned from the chaff and ruin of the times,
To be new vanned . ACT III. SCENE I.
[Page 59]

The great principle of univerſal charity, which ſoars above the partial reſpects of nations or of ſects, is ſtrongly, though indirectly, inculcated, in the Jew's ſpeech, here; which, according to this very principle, ſhould be received without prejudice, though proceeding from the mouth of an Alien, and an Infidel.

Shylock, ſpeaking of Anthonio, ‘He hath diſgraced me, and hindered me of half a million, laughed at my loſſes, mocked at my gains, ſcorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies; and what's his reaſon? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimenſions, ſenſes, affections, paſſions? Fed with the ſame food, hurt by the ſame weapons, ſubject to the ſame diſeaſes, healed by the ſame means, warmed and cooled by the ſame ſummer and winter, as a Chriſtian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poiſon us, do we not die?’

As the remainder of the ſpeech exceeds the moderation of Chriſtian ethics, I think proper to ſtop the Jew's mouth, here.

The ſame perſon ſays ſomething again to the like purport, in the firſt Scene of Act the Fourth, that ought to awaken our minds to proper ſentiments of humanity, upon this ſubject.

You have among you many a purchaſed ſlave;
Which, like your aſſes, and your dogs, and mules,
You uſe in abject and in ſlaviſh part,
Becauſe you bought them—Shall I ſay to you,
Let them be free, marry them to your heirs?
Why ſweat they under burdens? Let their beds
Be made as ſoft as yours, and let their palates
Be ſeaſoned with ſuch viands—You will anſwer,
The ſlaves are ours.

Monteſquieu, in his Spirit of Laws, ſpeaking with a juſt contempt and humorous ſeverity againſt all the arguments brought in defence of this cruelty, [Page 60] ſays, that the ſtrongeſt reaſon which can be given for the practice of uſing Negroes like beaſts of burden, is, their having black ſkins, and flat noſes.

In the ſecond Scene of the Third Act, the difficulty of determining the true rate of perſons or things, is largely commented upon; and as opinion is too often more under the dominion of fancy than of reaſon, perhaps the ſtanzas which precede the reflections, may ſerve as a proper prelude to the ſpeech. The reader, at leaſt, I dare ſay, will be pleaſed at finding them inſerted here.

A Song while Baſſanio debates with himſelf, on his choice of the caſkets.
Tell me, where is fancy bred,
In the heart, or in the head?
How begot, how nouriſhed?
It is engendered in the eyes,
With gazing fed; and fancy dies
In the cradle where it lies.
Let us all [...]ing fancy's knell;
I'll begin it—Ding, dong, bell—
Ding, dong, bell.

After which Baſſanio ſpeaks:

So may the outward ſhows be leaſt themſelves *;
The world is ſtill deceived with ornament.
In law, what plea ſo tainted and corrupt,
But, being ſeaſoned with a gracious voice,
Obſcures the ſhew of evil? In religion,
What damned error but ſome ſober brow
Will bleſs it, and approve it with a text;
Hiding the groſſneſs with fair ornament?
There is no vice ſo ſimple, but aſſumes
Some mark of virtue on its outward part.
How many cowards, whoſe hearts are all as falſe
As ſtairs of ſand, wear yet upon their chins
[Page 61] The beards of Hercules and frowning Mars;
Who, inward ſearched, have livers white as milk?
And theſe aſſume but valour's excrement,
To render them redoubted—Look on beauty,
And you ſhall ſee 'tis purchaſed by the weight,
Which therein works a miracle in nature,
Making them lighteſt, that wear moſt of it.
So are thoſe criſpy ſnaky golden locks,
Which make ſuch wanton gambols with the wind
Upon ſuppoſed fairneſs, often known
To be the dowry of a ſecond head,
The ſkull that bred them, in the ſepulchre.
Thus ornament is but the gilded ſhore
To a moſt dangerous ſea; the beauteous ſcarf
Veiling an Indian dowdy *; in a word,
The ſeeming truth which cunning times put on,
To entrap the wiſeſt. Then, thou gaudy gold,
Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee:
Nor none of thee, thou pale and common drudge
'Twixt man and man: but thou, thou meagre lead,
Which rather threateneſt, than doſt promiſe aught,
Thy plainneſs moves me more than eloquence;
And here chuſe I—Joy be the conſequence!

Portia's rapture, on finding her favourite lover has choſen right, is warmly and finely expreſſed, in the next ſpeech; in which the danger of an exceſs of joy is alſo pointed out:

How all the other paſſions fleet to air—
As doubtful thoughts, and raſh-embraced deſpair,
And ſhuddering fear, and green-eyed jealouſy.
O love, be moderate, allay thy extaſy;
In meaſure rein thy joy, ſcant this exceſs;
I feel too much thy bleſſing; make it leſs,
For fear I ſurfeit.

In the fifth Scene following, there is a ridiculous, but whimſical, deſcription of a vain boaſting young man; many of which ſort are to be met with in life; in courts, in camps, in coffee-houſes: ‘

Portia and Neriſſa, going into boy's cloaths.
I'll hold thee any wager,
When we are both apparelled like young men,
I'll prove the prettier fellow of the two,
[Page 62] And wear my dagger with the braver grace;
And ſpeak between the change of man and boy,
With a reed voice; and turn two mincing ſteps
Into a manly ſtride; and ſpeak of frays,
Like a fine bragging youth; and tell quaint lies,
How honourable ladies ſought my love,
Which I denying, they fell ſick and died.
Then I'll repent,
And wiſh, for all that, that I had not killed them.
And twenty of theſe puny lies I'll tell,
That men ſhall ſwear I've diſcontinued ſchool
Above a twelve-month—I have in my mind
A thouſand raw tricks of theſe bragging Jacks,
Which I will practiſe. ACT IV. SCENE II.

The character of Mercy is here moſt beautifully deſcribed. This paſſage can never be too often read. There is no danger of its growing feared and tedious *, as Angelo ſays of the laws of juſtice.

Portia, pleading for Anthonio.
The quality of Mercy is not ſtrained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain of heaven
Upon the place beneath: It is twice bleſſed;
It bleſſeth him that gives, and him that takes.
'Tis mightieſt in the mightieſt; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His ſceptre ſhews the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majeſty,
Wherein doth ſit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this ſceptred ſway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings;
It is an attribute to God himſelf;
And earthly po [...]er doth then ſhew likeſt God's,
When mercy ſeaſons juſtice. Therefore, Jew,
Tho' juſtice be thy plea, conſider this,
That in the courſe of juſtice none of us
Should ſee ſalvation. We do pray for mercy;
And that ſame prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.

There is alſo a paſſage in the ſame Scene, where the Pro and Con for partial juſtice is rightly argued [Page 63] on both ſides; but terminates, as I fear it ſhould do, for the ſafety of a State, in ſtoical ſtrictneſs.

Baſſanio to Portia, in the character of a Judge.
And I beſeech you,
Wreſt once the law to your authority;
To do a great right, do a little wrong;
And curb this cruel devil of his will.
It muſt not be; there is no power in Venice,
Should alter a decree eſtabliſhed.
'Twill be recorded for a precedent,
And many an error, by the ſame example,
Will ruſh into the State—It cannot be.

We have alſo, here, ſome philoſophic reflections on the advantages of dying before we are encumbered with age and poverty, with a manly ſpirit of acquieſcence in the unavoidable ills of life, joined to the affecting tenderneſs and generous regards of friendſhip.

Anthonio, when the Jew has obtained ſentence againſt him:

I am armed, and well prepared—
Give me your hand, Baſſanio; fare ye well!
Grieve not, that I am fallen to this for you;
For herein Fortune ſhews herſelf more kind,
Than is her cuſtom. It is ſtill her uſe,
To let the wretched man out-live his wealth,
To view with hollow eye, and wrinkled brow,
An age of poverty; from which lingering penance
Of ſuch a miſery doth ſhe cut me off—
Commend me to your honourable wife;
Tell her the proceſs of Anthonio's end;
Say how I loved you; ſpeak me fair, in death;
And when the tale is told, bid her be judge,
Whether Baſſanio had not once a love.
Repent not you, that you ſhall loſe your friend;
And he repents not, that he pays your debt;
For if the Jew do cut but deep enough,
I'll pay it inſtantly with all my heart.

'Tis a pity this fine ſpeech ſhould be diſgraced by the quibble in the laſt expreſſion. ACT V.
[Page 64] SCENE I.

The enchanting powers and effects of muſic are here moſt poetically ſet forth. There can never be ſaid too much on this charming theme. Men's minds may be ſometimes too ſtern or obſtinate to yield to argument, but in melody there is a ſort of ſentiment, that ſinks into the heart, and by awaking the ſofter paſſions of the ſoul, often perſuades, where reaſon elſe would fail.

Lorenzo and Jeſſica.
A Sound of Muſic.
J [...]ſſica.
I'm never merry, when I hear ſweet muſic.
The reaſon is, your ſpirits grow attentive;
For do but note a wild and wanton herd,
Or race of youthful and unhandled colts,
Fetching mad bounds, bellowing and neighing loud,
(Which is the mad condition of their blood)
If they perchance but hear a trumpet ſound,
Or any air of muſic touch their ears,
You ſhall perceive them make a mutual ſtand;
Their ſavage eyes turned to a modeſt gaze,
By the ſweet power of muſic. Therefore, the Poet
Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, ſtones, and floods;
Since none ſo ſtickiſh, hard and full of rage,
But muſic for the time doth change his nature —
The man that hath no muſic in himſelf,
Nor is not moved with concord of ſweet ſounds,
Is fit for treaſons, ſtratagems, and ſpoils;
The motions of his ſpirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus—
Let no ſuch man be truſted. *

There is alſo a beautiful alluſion made to the light of a candle, in this place, which, with the moral deduced from it, is, I think, worthy to be noted here.

Portia and Neriſſa.
Por [...]ia.
How far that little candle throws its beams!
So ſhines a good deed in a naughty world.

So ſays the Scripture, "Let your light ſo ſhine." And in the continuation of the ſame dialogue, the effects of time, circumſtance, compariſon, and occaſion, are beautifully and juſtly pointed out: ‘ [Page 65]

When the moon ſhone, we did not ſee the candle.
So doth the greater glory dim the leſs.
A ſubſtitute ſhines brightly as a king,
Until a king be by; and then his ſtate
Empties itſelf, as doth an inland brook
Into the main of waters. Muſick, hark!
It is your muſic, Madam, of the houſe.
Nothing is good, I ſee, without reſpect *
Methinks it ſounds much ſweeter than by day.
Silence beſtows the virtue on it, Madam.
The crow doth ſing as ſweetly as the lark,
When neither is attended; and, I think,
The nightingale, if ſhe ſhould ſing by day,
When every gooſe is cackling, would be thought
No better a muſician than the wren.
How many things by ſeaſon ſeaſoned are
To their right praiſe, and true perfection?

The next quotation, and the laſt I ſhall tranſcribe from this Play, is in the ſame Scene; where Portia accoſts her huſband's friend, Anthonio, on his firſt viſit to her, after the cataſtrophe of the piece has been wound up:

Sir, you are welcome to our houſe—
It muſt appear in other ways than words;
Therefore I ſcant this breathing courteſy.

In this ſpeech ſhe very juſtly expreſſes the true ſentiment of affection, which renders profeſſions needleſs, where intentions are ſincere.



1.6.1. Dramatis Perſonae.



  • A DUKE, exiled from his dominions.
  • AMIENS, attending upon the Duke in his baniſhment.
  • JAQUES, attending upon the Duke in his baniſhment.
  • A LORD, attending upon the Duke in his baniſhment.
  • OLIVER, eldeſt Son to Sir Rowland de Boys.
  • ORLANDO, his brother.
  • ADAM, an old Steward of Sir Rowland de Boys.
  • TOUCHSTONE, an Attendant on Celia and Roſalind.
  • CORIN, an old Shepherd.
  • SYLVIUS, a young one.


  • ROSALIND, Daughter to the Duke.
  • CELIA, Daughter to Frederick, his Brother, the Uſurper.

1.6.2. AS YOU LIKE IT.

[Page 69] ACT I. SCENE I.

THIS Play begins with a reflection on the firſt, and I may add the principal, concern in life, the education of children. Men are often more ſedulous in training the brutes of their kennels, their mews and their ſtables, than they ſeem to be about the heirs of their blood, their fortunes, or their honours. In ſad truth may it be ſaid, that we ſeldom meet with a jockey, an huntſman, or a ſportſman, who is half ſo well-bred as his horſes, his hawks, or his hounds.

Orlando, ſpeaking of the unkindneſs of his elder brother and guardian, ſays, ‘For my part, he keeps me ruſtically at home; or, to ſpeak more properly, flies me here at home, unkept; for call you that keeping, for a gentleman of my birth, that differs not from the ſtalling of an ox? His horſes are bred better; for beſides that they are fair with their feeding, they are taught their manage; and to that end riders dearly hired; but I, his brother, gain nothing under him but growth; for the which the animals on his dunghills are as much bound to him as I. Beſides this Nothing that he ſo plentifully gives me, the Something that Nature gave me his countenance ſeems to take from me. He lets me feed with his hinds, bars me the place of a brother, and, as much as in him lies, mines * my gentility with my education.’ SCENE III.

The laſt ſpeech, here, though it preſents us with no moral, I cannot paſs by without remarking, that it ſeems to be a perfect deſcription of our author's own character.

Oliver, ſpeaking of Orlando, his younger brother, ſays, ‘Yet he's gentle; never ſchooled, and yet learned; full of noble device; and of all ſorts enchantingly beloved—’ SCENE IV.
[Page 70]

There are ſome paſſages very tender, generous, and affecting, in the firſt part of the dialogue between Roſalind and Celia, who had been bred up from their infancy in friendſhip together; the firſt, daughter to the exiled Duke; and the other, child to his brother, the Uſurper.

Celia. I pray thee, Roſalind, ſweet my coz, be merry.
Roſalind. Dear Celia, I ſhew more mirth than I am miſtreſs of; and would you yet I were merrier? Unleſs you could teach me to forget a baniſhed father, you muſt not learn me how to remember any extraordinary pleaſure.
Celia. Herein I ſee thou loveſt me not with the full weight that I love thee. If my uncle, thy baniſhed father, had baniſhed thy uncle, the Duke my father, ſo thou hadſt been ſtill with me, I could have taught my love to take thy father for mine; and ſo wouldſt thou, if the truth of thy love to me were ſo righteouſly tempered, as mine is to thee.
Roſalind. Well, I will forget the condition of my eſtate, and rejoice in yours.
Celia. You know, my father hath no child but me, nor none is like to have; and, truly, when he dies, thou ſhalt be his heir; for what he hath taken away from thy father perforce, I will render thee again in affection—By mine honour, I will—And when I break that oath, let me turn monſter—Therefore, my ſweet Roſe, my dear Roſe, be merry.

The ſame fondneſs between them is repeated in the tenth Scene of the ſame Act, upon Roſalind's being commanded to quit the dominions of the Uſurper.

O my poor Roſalind, where wilt thou go?
Wilt thou change fathers? I will give thee mine—
I charge thee, be not thou more grieved than I am.
I have more cauſe.
Thou haſt not, couſin;
Prithee, be chearful — knoweſt thou not, the Duke
Has baniſhed me, his daughter?
That he hath not.
No? Hath not? Roſalind lacks then the love
Which teacheth me that thou and I are one—
Shall we be ſundered? Shall we part, ſweet girl?
No. let my father ſeek another heir—
Therefore deviſe with me, how we may fly;
[Page 71] Whither to go, and what to bear with us;
And do not ſeek to take your change upon you,
To bear your griefs yourſelf, and leave me out:
For by this heaven, now at our ſorrows pale,
Say what thou canſt, I'll go along with thee.

As there are many vices in morals that are injurious to ſociety, and which the laws have not ſtigmatized, or poſſibly cannot ſufficiently provide againſt, the reprehenſions of Satire, under proper reſtrictions, may perhaps be deemed a neceſſary ſupplement to legiſlation. The moſt worthleſs perſon would chuſe to ſin in ſecret, as not being able to endure the being rendered an object of public deteſtation or ridicule; the fear of being pointed at has often laid a reſtraint on vice; in which ſenſe the finger may be ſaid to be ſtronger than the arm. Othello pathetically deſcribes ſuch a ſituation:

But, alas! to make me
A fixed figure for the hand of Scorn
To point his ſlow unmoving finger at.

The paſſage which gave riſe to theſe reflections, is in this fourth Scene, where Celia interrupts Touchſtone, in his abuſe of an abſent perſon:

Enough! Speak no more of him; you'll be whipt for taxation, one of theſe days.

Touchſtone. The more pity, that fools may not ſpeak wiſely, what wiſe men do fooliſhly.
Celia. By my troth, thou ſayeſt true; for ſince the little wit that fools have was ſilenced *, the little foolery that wiſe men have makes a great ſhow. SCENE VIII.

There is a very proper hint given here to women, not to deviate from the preſcribed rules and decorums of their ſex. Whenever they venture to ſtep [Page 72] the leaſt out of their walk, in life, they are too generally apt to wander aſtray.

Roſalind. Oh, how full of briars is this working-day world!
Celia. They are but burs, couſin, thrown upon thee, in holiday foolery; if we walk not in the trodden paths, our very petticoats will catch them. SCENE X.

Roſalind, ſpeaking of diſguiſing herſelf in man's apparel, gives a good deſcription of a ſwaggering bully:

Were it not better,
Becauſe that I am more than common tall,
That I did ſuit me a [...]l points like a man?
A gallant curtle-ax upon my thigh,
A boar-ſpear in my hand, (and in my heart
Lie there what hidden woman's fear there will)
I'll have a ſwaſhing and a martial outſide,
As many other manniſh cowards have,
That do out-face it with their ſemblances . ACT II. SCENE I.

The firſt ſpeech in this Scene is rich in reflection upon the new-moulding faculty of uſe or habit, the preference of a ſincere country life to a falſe city one, the advantages of adverſity, and the benefits of retired contemplation.

The Duke, Amiens, and other Lords, in the foreſt of Arden.
Now, my co-mates, and brothers in exile,
Hath not old [...]uſt [...]m made this life more ſweet,
Than that of painted pomp ? Are not theſe woods
More free from peril than the envious court?
Here feel we but the penalty of Adam,
The ſeaſons' difference; as, the icy fang,
And chur [...]ſh chiding of the winter's wind;
Which when it bites and blows upon my body,
Even 'till I ſhrink with cold, I ſmile, and ſay,
T [...] [...] flattery; theſe are counſellors,
That feelingly perſuade me what I am.
Sweet are the uſes of adverſity,
[Page 73] Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head *:
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in ſtones, and good in every thing.
I would not change it.
Happy is your Grace,
That can tranſlate the ſtubbornneſs of fortune
Into ſo quiet and ſo ſweet a ſtile.

In the continuation of the ſame dialogue, ſome humane ſentiments are thrown out on the ſubject of hunting, with an affecting deſcription given of a wounded deer; and alſo ſome moral alluſions from human life to the different circumſtances and ſituations of the poor victim, which muſt equally engage the thought and feeling of the reader.

Come, ſhall we go and kill us veniſon?
And yet it irks me, the poor dappled fools,
Being native burghers of this deſart city,
Should in their own confines, with forked heads
Have their round haunches gored.
Firſt Lord.
Indeed, my Lord,
The melancholy Jaques grieves at that;
And in that kind ſwears you no more uſurp
Than doth your brother that hath baniſhed you .
To day my Lord of Amiens and myſelf,
Did ſteal behind him, as he lay along
Under an oak, whoſe antique root peeps out
Upon the brook that brawls along this wood;
To the which place a poor ſequeſtered ſtag,
That from the hunter's aim had ta'en a hurt,
Did come to languiſh; and indeed, my Lord,
The wretched animal heaved forth ſuch groans,
That their diſcharge did ſtretch his leathern coat
Almoſt to burſting; and the big round tears
Courſed one another down his innocent noſe
In piteous chaſe—And thus the hairy fool,
Much marked of the melancholy Jaques,
Stood on the extremeſt verge of the ſwift brook,
Augmenting it with tears —
But what ſaid Jaques?
Did he not moralize this ſpectacle?
[Page 74] Firſt Lord.
O yes, into a thouſand ſimilies.
Firſt, for his weeping in the needleſs ſtream—
Poor Deer, quoth he, thou makeſt a teſtament,
As worldlings do, giving thy ſum of more
To that which had too much. Then, being alone,
Left and abandoned of his velvet friends—
'Tis right, quoth he, thus miſery doth part
The flux of company. Anon, a careleſs herd,
Full of the paſture, jumps along by him,
And never ſtays to greet him—Ay, quoth Jaques,
Sweep on, ye fat and greaſy citizens,
'Tis juſt the faſhion; wherefore do you look
Upon that poor and broken bankrupt there?
Thus moſt invectively he pierceth through
The body of the country, city, court,
Yea, and of this our life; ſwearing, that we
Are mere uſurpers, tyrants, and, what's worſe,
To [...]ight the animals, and to kill them up
In their aſſigned and native dwelling place.
And did you leave him in this contemplation?
Second Lord.
We did, my Lord, weeping and commenting,
Upon the [...]o [...]bing Deer—
Shew me the place;
I love to cope him in theſe ſullen fits,
For then he's full of matter.

Whoever could read the above deſcription, and eat veniſon, on the ſame day, muſt have a better ſtomach, or a ſtouter heart, than they would do well to boaſt of—Such melancholy, ſuch ſullen fits, as theſe of Jaques, have ſomething more charming in them, than all ‘"The broadeſt mirth unfeeling Folly wears."’ SCENE III.

The dangers of pre-eminence and virtue in a wicked and envious world, are finely noted here.

Adam meeting Orlando, after he had conquered the Uſurper's champion:

What! my young maſter? Oh, my gentle maſter,
Oh, my ſweet maſter! Oh, you memory
Of old Sir Rowland! why, what make you here?
Why are you virtuous? Why do people love you?
[Page 75] And wherefore are you gentle, ſtrong, and valiant?
Why would you be ſo fond to overcome
The boney prizer * of the humorous Duke?
Your praiſe is come too ſwiftly home before you.
Know you not, maſter, to ſome kind of men,
Their graces ſerve them but as enemies?
No more do yours; your virtues, gentle maſter,
Are ſanctified and holy traitors to you.
O what a world is this, when what is comely
Envenoms him that bears it.

When Adam counſels him to fly from the perſecution of his cruel brother, his anſwer expreſſes a noble and virtuous acquieſcence in any ſtate of miſery or danger, rather than ſubmit to ſupport himſelf by baſe or diſhoneſt means: ‘

What, would'ſt thou have me go and beg my food?
Or with a baſe and boiſterous ſword enforce
A thieviſh living on the common road?
This I muſt do, or know not what to do—
Yet this I cannot do, do how I can;
I rather will ſubject me to the malice
Of a diverted blood, and bloody brother.

There is a charming glow of affection, gratitude, and ſpirit, in the reply made by Adam; with a pleaſing deſcription of the virtue and ſobriety of the antient Peaſantry of England; and the difference of manners and morals between thoſe times and the more modern ones, is well remarked upon.

But do not ſo—I have five hundred crowns,
The thrifty hire I ſaved under your father,
Which I did ſtore, to be my foſter-nurſe,
When ſervice ſhould in my old limbs lie lame,
And unregarded age in corners thrown—
Take that, and He that doth the ravens ſeed,
Yea, providentially caters for the ſparrow,
Be comfort to my age! Here is the gold,
All this I give you, let me be your ſervant
Tho' I look old, yet I am ſtrong and luſty;
For in my youth I never did apply
Hot and rebellious liquors in my blood;
[Page 76] Nor did I with unbaſhful forehead woo
The means of weakneſs and debility;
Therefore my age is as a luſty winter,
Froſly, but kindly *. Let me go with you;
I'll do the buſineſs of a younger man,
In all your buſineſs and neceſſities.
Oh! good old man, how well in thee appear
The conſtant ſervice of the antique world,
When ſervice ſweat for duty, not for meed!
Thou art not for the faſhion of theſe times,
Where none will ſweat, but for promotion;
And having that, do cloak their ſervice up,
Even with the having. It is not ſo with thee—
But, poor old man, thou prun'ſt a rotten tree,
That cannot ſo much as a bloſſom yield,
In lieu of all thy pains and huſbandry—
But come thy ways, we'll go along together;
And ere we have thy youthful wages ſpent,
We'll light upon ſome ſettled low Content.
Maſter, go on; and I will follow thee,
To the laſt gaſp, with truth and loyalty—
From ſeventeen years 'till now almoſt fourſcore,
Here lived I, but now live here no more.
At ſeventeen years many their fortune ſeek;
But at fourſcore, it is too late a week;
Yet fortune cannot recompence me better,
Than to die well, and not my maſter's debtor. SCENE. IV.

The nature and follies of love are here extremely well deſcribed, between the ſeveral ſpeakers.

O Corin, that thou kneweſt how I do love her!
I partly gueſs; for I have loved, ere now.
Silv [...]us.
No, Corin, being old, thou canſt not gueſs;
Tho' in thy youth thou waſt as true a lover
As ever ſighed upon a midnight pillow;
But if [...]hy love were ever like to mine,
(As, ſure, I think, did never man love ſo)
How many actions moſt ridiculous
Haſt thou been drawn to by thy fantaſy?
Into a thouſand that I have forgotten.
S [...]lviu [...].
O, thou didſt then ne'er love ſo heartily.
It thou remembereſt not the ſlighteſt folly
[Page 77] That ever love did make thee run into;
Thou haſt not loved—
Or if thou haſt not ſate, as I do now.
Wearing the hearer in thy miſtreſs' praiſe;
Thou haſt not loved—
Or if thou haſt not broke from company,
Abruptly, as my paſſion now makes me;
Thou haſt not loved—
O Phebe! Phebe! Phebe! [Exit.]
Roſalind. Alas, poor ſhepherd! Searching of thy wound, I have, by hard adventure, found my own.
Touchſtone. And I mine. I remember, when I was in love, I broke my ſword upon a ſtone, and bid him take that for coming a-nights to Jane Smile; and I remember the kiſſing of her batlet *, and the cow's dugs that her pretty chopt hands had milked; and I remember the wooing a peaſcod inſtead of her, from whom I took two peas, and giving her them again, ſaid, with weeping tears, Wear theſe for my ſake. We that are true lovers run into ſtrange capers; but as all is mortal in nature, ſo is all nature in love mortal in folly.

There is a very pretty poem on the ſame ſubject, and which ſeems to have taken its hint from this paſſage in Shakeſpeare, though the inſtances are different and more in number, written by Miſs Aikin, among a collection of her's lately publiſhed, which I would inſert here, but that I ſuppoſe every reader of taſte muſt be in poſſeſſion of a work which ſo well deſerves a place in the moſt ſelect libraries; as doing equal honour to literature, and her ſex. (See page 66, of her Poems.) SCENE V.

The common or modern modes of civility are well enough ridiculed, here; which, however, does not by any means reprove the fond expreſſions of affection, or the warm returns of gratitude.

Jaques. Well, then, if ever I thank any man, I'll thank you; but that they call compliments, is like the encounter of two dogapes. And when a man thanks me heartily, methinks I have given him a penny, and he renders me the beggarly thanks for it.

[Page 78] In the ſame place, the melancholy Jaques, as he is characterized, though he be of a gloomy and unſociable complexion himſelf, deſcribes a character in one word, that, in my opinion, is ſtill more unqualified for the converſe of the world than his own.

When he is told that the Duke has been all the day to look for him, he replies, ‘And I have been all this day to avoid him. He is too diſputable * for my company. I think of as many matters as he; but I give heaven thanks, and make no boaſt of them .’ SCENE VI.

There is ſomething extremely pathetic and affecting in this ſhort ſcene between Orlando and Adam, on their pilgrimage.

Adam. Dear maſter, I can go no further. O, I die for food! Here lie I down, and meaſure out my grave. Farewell, kind maſter!
Orlando. Why, how now, Adam! no greater heart in thee! live a little; comfort a little; chear thyſelf a little. If this uncouth foreſt yield any thing ſavage, I will be either food for it, or bring it for food to thee. Thy conceit is nearer death than thy powers. For my ſake, be comfortable ; hold death a-while at the arm's end. I will be here with thee preſently; and if I bring the [...] not ſomething to eat, I'll give thee leave to die; but if thou dieſt before I come, thou art a mocker of my labour. Well ſaid—thou lookeſt cheerly; and I'll be with you quickly. Yet thou lieſt in the bleak air. Come, I will bear thee to ſome ſhelter, and thou ſhall not die for the lack of a dinner, if there live any thing in this deſert. Cheerly, good Adam. SCENE VII.

Trite obſervations and common-place morals are well expoſed here: ‘

As I do live by food, I met a fool,
Who laid him down, and baſk'd him in the ſun,
And raiſed on lady Fortune in good terms—
[Page 79] In good ſet terms—and yet a motley fool.
Good morrow, fool, quoth I. No, Sir, quoth he;
Call me not fool, 'till Heaven hath ſent me fortune—
And then he drew a dial from his poke,
And looking on it with lack-luſtre eye,
Says, very wiſely, It is ten o'clock;
Thus we may ſee, quoth he, how the world wags:
'Tis but an hour ago, ſince it was nine,
And, after one hour more, 'twill be eleven;
And ſo from hour to hour we ripe and ripe,
And then from hour to hour we rot and rot.
What fool is this?
A worthy fool! one that hath been a courtier,
And ſays, if ladies be but young and fair,
They have the gift to know it—And in his brain,
Which is as dry as the remainder biſket,
After a voyage, he hath ſtrange places crammed
With obſervations, the which he vents
In mangled forms.

In the ſame ſcene there is a good defence made for general ſatire.

Jaques, being accuſed of ſlander, ſays,

Why who cries out on pride,
That can therein tax any private party?
Doth it not flow as hugely as the ſea,
Till that the very very means do ebb?
What woman in the city do I name,
When that I ſay the city-woman bears
The coſt of princes on unworthy ſhoulders?
Who can come in, and ſay, that I mean her,
When ſuch a one as ſhe, ſuch is her neighbour?
Or what is he of baſeſt function,
That ſays, his bravery is not on my coſt,
Thinking that I mean him, but therein ſuits
His folly to the metal of my ſpeech?
There then; how then? what then? let me ſee wherein
My tongue hath wronged; for, if it do him right,
Then he hath wronged himſelf; if he be free,
Why then my taxing, like a wild gooſe, flies,
Unclaim'd of any man.

See the laſt remark on Scene IV. Act I. of this Play. SCENE VIII.
[Page 80]

The following paſſage requires no comment to point out its beauties, or to mark its impreſſion.

Orlando, travelling through the foreſt, with his poor old friend, leaves him, for a while, to go in queſt of food, as ſhewn before, in the laſt Scene but one; and coming where the Duke and his train are at dinner, draws his ſword, to force ſome of the viands from them. The former Scene, already quoted, prepares us finely for Orlando's violence here, which muſt otherwiſe have created diſguſt, and ſeem to have been inconſiſtent with his expreſſion, in the third Scene above, where he ſays to Adam,

What, would'ſt thou have me go and beg my food?
Or with a baſe and boiſterous ſword enforce
A thieviſh living on the common road?

Upon this challenge, the Duke ſays,

What would'ſt thou have? Your gentleneſs ſhall force,
More than your force move us to gentleneſs.
I almoſt die for food, and let me have it.
Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table.
Speak you ſo gently? Pardon me, I pray you;
I thought that all things had been ſavage here;
And therefore put I on the countenance
Of ſtern commandment. But whate'er you are,
That in this deſart inacceſſible,
Under the ſhade of melancholy boughs,
Leſs and neglect the creeping hours of time;
If ever you have looked on better days,
If ever been where bells have knolled to church,
If ever ſate at any good man's feaſt,
If ever from your eyelids wiped a tear,
And kn [...]w what 'tis to pity▪ and be pitied,
Let gentleneſs my ſtrong enforcement be,
In he which hope I bluſh, and hide my ſword.
True is it, that we have ſeen better days,
And have with holy bell been knolled to church,
And ſate at good mens feaſts, and wiped our eyes
Of dr [...]ps that ſacred pity hath engendered;
And therefore ſit you down in gentleneſs,
[Page 81] And take upon command what help we have,
That to your wanting may be miniſtered.
Then but forbear your food a little while,
Whiles, like a doe, I go to find my fawn,
And give it food. There is an old poor man,
Who after me hath many a weary ſtep
Limped in pure love; 'till he be firſt ſufficed,
Oppreſſed with two weak evils, age and hunger,
I will not touch a bit.
Go, find him out,
And we will nothing waſte, till your return.
I thank ye; and be bleſſed for your comfort. Exit. SCENE IX.

On Orlando's going out, the Duke ſays,

Thou ſeeſt, we are not all alone unhappy—
This wide and univerſal theatre
Preſents more woeful pageants, than the ſcene
Wherein we play.

Upon which alluſion, Jaques gives a fine pictureſque and dramatic deſcription of life and character, in the following ſpeech:

All the world's a Stage,
And all the men and women merely Players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts;
His Acts being ſeven ages *. At firſt, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurſe's arms:
And then, the whining ſchool-boy with his ſatchel,
And ſhining morning face, creeping like ſnail
Unwillingly to ſchool. And then, the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his miſtreſs' eye-brow. Then, a ſoldier,
Full of ſtrange oaths, and bearded like the Pard;
Jealous in honour, ſudden and quick in quarrel;
Seeking the bubble reputation,
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then, the juſtice,
In fair round belly, with good capon lined,
With eyes ſevere, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wiſe ſaws, and modern inſtances;
And ſo he plays his part. The ſixth age ſhifts
Into the lean and ſlippered Pantaloon ,
[Page 82] With ſpectacles on noſe, and pouch on ſide;
His youthful hoſe well ſaved, a world too wide
For his ſhrunk ſhank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again towards childiſh tremble, pipes,
And whiſtles in his ſound. Laſt ſcene of all,
That ends this ſtrange eventful hiſtory,
Is ſecond childiſhneſs, and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, ſans eyes, ſans taſte, ſans every thing. SCENE X.

Some melancholy reflections on the baſe vice and moſt heinous ſin of ingratitude, are ſweetly comprized in the following Air:

Blow, blow, the winter wind,
That art not ſo unkind
As man's ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not ſo keen,
Becauſe thou art not ſeen,
Altho' thy breath be rude.
Heigh ho! heigh ho! unto the green holly;
Moſt friendſhip is feigning, moſt loving mere folly;
Then heigh ho, the holly!
This life is moſt jolly *.
Freeze, freeze, thou bitter ſky,
That doſt not bite ſo nigh
As benefits forgot;
Tho' thou the waters warp,
Thy ſting is not ſo ſharp
As friend remembered not.
Heigh ho! &c. ACT III. SCENE III.

No ſituation of life is ſatisfactory to us; there is ſomething we like, in all, but none that we would chuſe to take up with for better for worſe. This impatience, this diſſatisfaction, in the mind of man, proclaims aloud that this world was never deſigned as our place of reſt; and to refer us for it to the grave, is but infidel mockery, ſurely.

[Page 83] I am well aware, that after ſo ſerious a reflection, the following paſſage may be deemed too ſlight an illuſtration of the remark; but as it gave riſe to it, I think in juſtice that I ought to quote it here; for even a ſtraw is an argument of Providence, to the contemplative mind.

Corin and Touchſtone.
Corin. And how like you this ſhepherd's life, Mr. Touchſtone?
Touchſtone. Truly, ſhepherd, in reſpect of itſelf, it is a good life; but in reſpect that it is a ſhepherd's life, it is naught. In reſpect that it is ſolitary, I like it very well; but in reſpect that it is private, it is a very vile life. Now, in reſpect that it is in the fields, it pleaſeth me well; but in reſpect it is not in the court, it is tedious. As it is a ſpare life, look you, it fits my humour well; but as there is no more plenty in it, it goes much againſt my ſtomach. SCENE IV.

The common ſing-ſong of poetry is well obſerved upon, here; ſuch verſes, as Horace ſays, a perſon may compoſe two hundred of, ſtanding on one leg *, "without one thought to interrupt the ſong."

Roſalind, reading a paper written in her praiſe:

From the Eaſt to Weſtern Inde,
No jewel is like Roſalind.
Her worth, being mounted on the wind,
Thro' all the world bears Roſalind.
All the pictures, faireſt limned,
Are but black to Roſalind.
Let no face be kept in mind,
But the face of Roſalind.

Upon which Touchſtone ſays, ‘I'll rhime you ſo, eight years together; dinners, and ſuppers, and ſleeping hours, excepted. It is the right butter-woman's rate to market. This is the very falſe gallop of verſes. Why do you infect yourſelf with them?’ SCENE VIII.

The different computations of time which are made by perſons variouſly intereſted in its progreſſion, [Page 84] are well and humorouſly deſcribed in this place.

Roſalind and Orlando.
Roſalind. I pray you, what is't a clock?
Orlando. You ſhould aſk me, what time o'day—there's no clock in the foreſt.
Roſalind. Then there's no true lover in the foreſt; elſe, ſighing every minute, and groaning every hour, would detect the lazy foot of time, as well as a clock.
Orlando. And why not the ſwift foot of time? Had not that been as proper?
Roſalind. By no means, Sir. Time travels in divers paces, with divers perſons.—I'll tell you whom time trots withal, whom time ambles withal, whom time gallops withal, and whom he ſtands ſtill withal.
Orlando. I prithee, whom doth he trot withal?
Roſalind. Marry, he trots hard * with a young maid, between the contract of her marriage, and the day it is ſolemnized. If the interim be but a ſe'nnight, time's pace is ſo hard, that it ſeems the length of ſeven years.
Orlando. Whom ambles time withal?
Roſalind. With a prieſt that lacks Latin, and a rich man that hath not the gout; for the one ſleeps eaſily, becauſe he cannot ſtudy; and the other lives merrily, becauſe he feels no pain: the one lacking the burden of lean and waſteful learning; and the other knowing no burden of heavy tedious penury. Theſe time ambles withal.
Orlando. Whom doth he gallop withal?
Roſalind. With a thief to the gallows; for though he go ſoftly as foot can fall, he thinks himſelf too ſoon there.
Orlando. Who ſtays at withal?
Roſalind. With lawyers in the vacation; for they ſleep between term and term; and then they perceive not how time moves. SCENE X.
Enter Roſalind and Celia.
Roſalind. Never talk to me—I will weep.
Celia. Do, I prithee; but yet have the grace to conſider that tears do not become a man :
Roſalind. But have I not cauſe to weep?
Celia. As good cauſe as one would deſire; therefore, weep.
[Page 85] Roſalind. His very hair is of the diſſembling colour.
Celia. Something browner than Judas's—Marry, his kiſſes are Judas's own children.
Roſalind. No, faith, his hair is of a good colour.
Celia. An excellent colour. Your cheſnut was ever the only colour.
Roſalind. And his kiſſing is as full of ſanctity, as the touch of holy beard.
Celia. He hath bought a pair of caſt lips of Diana; a Nun of Winter's ſiſterhood kiſſes not more religiouſly; the very ice of chaſtity is in them.

The abrupt commencement of this dialogue leads us to ſuppoſe, that it is but the continuation of one they had engaged in before their appearance in this ſcene, in which Celia had been endeavouring to quiet Roſalind's fears, upon her lover's having broke his promiſe of meeting her; and whether from being tired with her obſtinacy, or reſolving to try her ſincerity, ſhe here ſeems to join in her reſentment, by agreeing with her in every thing; which has an effect very natural in all ſuch caſes, that the plaintiff immediately becomes defendant, whenever the perſon beloved happens to be cenſured by any one elſe but themſelves.

Hermione ſays,

My heart, tho' full of rage, was free from malice,
And all my anger but exceſs of love *.

And the danger of interfering between man and wife, I ſhould hope ariſes from this principle. Reſentments may interrupt affection; but they muſt riſe to ſomething more, to cancel one that ever has been thoroughly conceived. SCENE XI.
Roſalind. Foul is moſt foul, being foul to be a ſcoffer.

This is a juſt thought; and it would be well if it were more attended to. No perſons have a right to cenſure others, who are not free from blame themſelves. This maxim, if extended to the ſtrictneſs of it, would ſilence all ſcandal, detraction, and reproach; [Page 86] and indeed it has been often obſerved, that the moſt faultleſs perſons are generally the leaſt ſevere. Heaven has more mercy, than man. ACT IV. SCENE I.

As I have already given the reader ſome extracts of the character and ſentiments of the melancholy Jaques, in this Play, which muſt give a favourable impreſſion of him; I think he will be well pleaſed to ſee him introduced once more, particularly in a part where he gives a deſcription of himſelf, as he does in this ſcene, and where the lively Roſalind alſo equally and juſtly condemns the extremes, both of a merry and a grave complexion of mind and manners.

Roſalind and Jaques.
Roſalind. They ſay, you are a melancholy fellow.
Jaques. I am ſo—I do love it better than laughing.
Roſalind. Thoſe who are in the extremity of either, are abominable fellows; and betray themſelves to every modern cenſure, worſe than drunkards.
Jaques. Why, 'tis good to be ſad, and ſay nothing.
Roſalind. Why, then, 'tis good to be a poſt.
Jaques. I have neither the ſcholar's melancholy, which is emulation; nor the muſician's, which is fantaſtic; nor the courtier's, which is proud; nor the ſoldier's, which is ambitious; nor the lawyer's, which is politic; nor the ladies, which is nice; nor the lover's, which is all theſe; but it is a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many ſimples, extracted from many objects, and, indeed, the ſundry contemplation of my travels, on which my often rumination wraps me in a moſt humorous * ſadneſs.
Roſalind. And your experience makes you ſad. I had rather have a fool to make me merry, than experience to make me ſad— and to travel for it too!

Roſalind then, taking advantage of the word travel, gives a deſcription of the alamode pilgrims of Shakeſpeare's times, which may anſwer full as well for the faſhionable emigrants of our own days.

‘Farewel, monſieur traveller; look, you liſp, and wear ſtrange ſuits; diſable all the benefits of your own country; be out of love with [Page 87] your nativity, and almoſt chide God, for making you that countenance you are; or I ſhall ſcarce think you have ſwam in a Gondola .’

There is ſomething, upon the whole of this ſombre character of Jaques, that is intereſting, and makes me recollect a French line of ſome uncommon, becauſe ingenious and indulgent, Critic, who ſays, ‘Un eſprit né chagrin, plait par ſon chagrin même.’ SCENE V.

There is no paſſion which Shakeſpeare more frequently, or ſo poetically deſcribes, as that of love; and as it is the one which, by its deſpotiſm in our youthful years, often forms the deſtiny of our future life, and holds ſo immediate a relation to morals, we ſhould ſuffer no occaſion to paſs unnoticed, however humorouſly or ludicrouſly expreſſed, which either defines its nature, or remarks upon its effects.

Roſalind. No, that ſame wicked baſtard of Venus, that was begot of thought, conceived of ſpleen, and born of madneſs, that blind raſcally boy, that abuſes every one's eyes, becauſe his own are out, let him be judge how deep I am in love. I tell thee, Aliena, I cannot be out of the ſight of Orlando—I'll go find a ſhadow *, and ſigh till he come. ACT V. SCENE V.

The uncertainty of opinion in things where the mind is anxious, is hinted at here: ‘

The Duke and Orlando.
Doſt thou believe, Orlando, that the boy
Can do all this that he hath promiſed?
I ſometimes do believe, and ſometimes do not;
As thoſe that fear, they hope, and now they fear . SCENE VI.
[Page 88]
Touchſtone to the Duke.

Rich honeſty dwells like a miſer, Sir, in a poor houſe; as your pearl in your ſoul oyſter.

Men who pretend to know the world, are apt to jo [...]n in the above ſatire upon mankind, by ſaying, what I am ſorry to repeat, that if we were to ſeek for honeſty, we muſt look for it, as the Clown hints, among the middle ranks of life.

The punctilios of honour, with regard to the falſe bravery, or Gothic chivalry of duelling, is admirably jeſted on in the ſame ſcene.

Jaques and Touchſtone.
Jaques. But for the ſeventh cauſe; how did you find the quarrel on the ſeventh cauſe?
Touchſtone. Upon a lye ſeven times removed; as thus, Sir— I did diſlike the cut of a certain courtier's beard; he ſent me word, if I ſaid his beard was not cut well, he was in the mind it was. This is called the retort courteous. If I ſent him word again, it was not well cut, he would ſend me word, he cut it to pleaſe himſelf. This is called the qu [...]p modeſt. If again, it was not well cut, he diſabled my judgment. This is called the reply churliſh, If again, it was not well cut, he would anſwer, I ſpake not true. This is called the reproof valiant. If again, it was not well cut, he would ſay, I lye. This is called the countercheck quarrelſome. And ſo, the lye circumſtantial, and the lye direct.
Jaques. And how oft did you ſay that his beard was not well cut?
Touchſtone. I durſt go no further than the lye circumſtantial; nor durſt he give me the lye direct; and ſo we meaſured ſwords, and parted *.
Jaques. Can you nominate in order, now, the degrees of the lye?
Touchſtone. O, Sir, we quarrel in print, by the book, as you have books for good manners. I will name you the degrees. The firſt, the retort courteous; the ſecond, the quip modeſt; the third the reply churliſh; the fourth, the reproof valiant; the fifth, the c [...]u [...]beck quarrelſome; the ſixth, the lye with circumſtance; and the ſeventh, the lye direct. All theſe you may avoid, but the lye direct; and you may avoid that too, with an If. I knew when ſeven [Page 89] juſtices could not make up a quarrel; but when the parties were met themſelves, one of them thought but of an If; as, If you ſaid ſo, then I ſaid ſo; and they ſhook hands, and ſwore brothers. Your If is your only peace-maker—Much virtue in an If.

Doctor Warburton, in a note on this paſſage, has quoted a ſimilar one from Fletcher, in his Queen of Corinth:

Has he familiarly
Diſliked your yellow ſtarch, or ſaid your doublet
Was not exactly frenchified? or drawn your ſword,
Cried 'twas ill mounted? has he given the lye,
In circle, or oblique, or ſemi-circle,
Or direct parallel? you muſt challenge him.

As the humorous ſatire of Don Quixote came abroad into the world in Shakeſpeare's time, perhaps he might have taken a hint for this piece of ridicule from that writing; and Fletcher may have copied his raillery from him again. Malta is the only place now where the old Gothic chivalry is ſtill preſerved, and that duelling is eſtabliſhed by law. SCENE VII.

I ſhall now conclude my remarks on this Play, with a ſong in this Scene, which comprehends my favourite moral.

Wedding is great Juno's crown,
O bleſſed bond of board and bed!
'Tis Hymen peoples every town,
High Wedlock then be honoured.
Honour, high honour, and renown,
To Hymen, God of every town!



1.7.1. Dramatis Perſonae.



  • THE KING of Navarre.
  • BIRON, three Lords attending upon the King in his retirement.
  • LONGAVILLE, three Lords attending upon the King in his retirement.
  • DUMAIN, three Lords attending upon the King in his retirement.
  • DON ADRIANO DE ARMADO, a vain bombaſtical Spaniard.
  • MOTH, his Page,
  • NATHANAEL, a Curate.
  • HOLOFERNES, a Schoolmaſter.


  • PRINCESS of France.
  • ROSALINE, Ladies attending on the Princeſs.
  • MARIA, Ladies attending on the Princeſs.
  • CATHARINE, Ladies attending on the Princeſs.


[Page 93] ACT I. SCENE I.

A Laudable ambition for fame, which inſpires every perſon whoſe character is above contempt, is beautifully deſcribed and diſtinguiſhed from falſe heroiſm, in this place. To conquer ourſelves is greater than to vanquiſh others.

The king of Navarre, and three of his principal courtiers, Biron, Longaville, and Dumain, had determined upon a courſe of retirement and ſtudy, for three years, in order to fit themſelves the better for their ſeveral departments in the ſtate.

Let Fame, that all hunt after in their lives,
Live regiſtered upon our brazen tombs;
And then grace us in the diſgrace of death;
When, ſpite of cormorant devouring time,
The endeavour of this preſent breath may buy
That honour which ſhall bate his ſcythe's keen edge,
And make us heirs of all eternity.
Therefore, brave conquerors! for ſo you are
That war againſt your own affections,
And the huge army of the world's deſires;
Our late edict ſhall ſtrongly ſtand in force.
Navarre ſhall be the wonder of the world;
Our court ſhall be a little academy,
Still and contemplative in living arts,
I am reſolved; 'tis but a three years faſt;
The mind ſhall banquet, tho' the body pine—
Fat paunches have lean pates; and dainty bits
Make rich the ribs, but banker out the wits.
My loving Lord, Dumain is mortified *:
The groſſer manner of theſe world's delights
He throws upon the groſs world's baſer ſlaves—
To love, to wealth, to pomp, I pine and die;
And theſe are living in philoſophy.

Biron, ſpeaking on this latter ſubject, and juſtly condemning all ſtudy which is not made referable [Page 94] to the real uſes or moral purpoſes of life, ſays,

Study is like the Heaven's glorious ſun,
That will not be deep ſearched with ſaucy looks;
What have continual plodders ever won,
Save baſe authority from other's books?
Theſe earthly godfathers of Heaven's lights,
That give a name to every fixed ſtar,
Have no more profit of their ſhining nights,
Than thoſe that walk, and wot not what they are.
Too much to know, is to know nought but fame;
And every godfather can give a name.

And again:

So ſtudy evermore is overſhot;
While it doth ſtudy to have what it would,
It doth forget to do the thing it ſhould;
And when it hath the thing it hunteth moſt,
'Tis won, as towns with fire, ſo won; ſo loſt.

Seneca ſeems to be of the ſame opinion with our author, where he ſays, that ‘to deſire more knowledge than is ſufficient for us here, is intemperance.’

Upon reviſing the articles of their mutual agreement, they find that one of them muſt unavoidably be diſpenſed with, on account of a particular reaſon of ſtate, that had not occurred to them in the drawing them up; upon which the folly and danger of making vows, is very juſtly deſcanted on. ‘They are made,’ ſays Doctor Johnſon, on this paſſage, ‘without ſufficient regard to the variations of life, and are, therefore, broken by ſome unforeſeen neceſſity. They proceed, commonly, from a preſumptuous confidence, and a falſe eſtimate of human power.’

Neceſſity will make us all forſworn
Three thouſand times within this three years ſpace;
For every man with his affects * is born,
Not by might maſtered, but by ſpecial grace—
If I break faith, this word ſhall ſpeak for me;
I am forſworn on mere neceſſity.

[Page 95] In the ſame ſcene, our author expoſes an extraordinary, and yet no uncommon character in life.

The King and his Courtiers.
Our court, you know, is haunted
With a refined traveller of Spain;
A man in all the world's new faſhion planted,
That hath a mint of phraſes in his brain:
One whom the muſic of his own vain tongue
Doth raviſh, like enchanting harmony:
A man of compliments, whom right and wrong
Have choſe as umpire of their mutiny.
This child of Fancy, that Armado hight,
For interim to our ſtudies, ſhall relate
In high-born words the worth of many a knight
From tawny Spain, loſt in the world's debate.
How you delight, my lords, I know not, I;
But, I proteſt, I love to hear him lye;
And I will uſe him for my minſtrelſy.
Armado is a moſt illuſtrious wight,
A man of fine new words, Faſhion's own knight.

The making right and wrong equally to chuſe him for their arbitrator, is an admirable trait of an obſequious diſpoſition. And ſince we are upon this ſubject here, I think it will be better to groupe the reſt of the characters in this Play together in this place, though they refer to different ſcenes in it.

In the Third Scene of this Act, there is a deſcription, which proves that one of the characteriſtics of the preſent age is not quite ſo modern, as one might otherwiſe be apt to imagine.

Moth. You are a gentleman, and a gameſter *.
Armado. I confeſs both; they are both the varniſh of a compleat man.

In another place, Act II. Scene I. in a dialogue between the princeſs Maria, Catharine, and Roſaline, ſpeaking of the courtiers, Maria ſays,

In Normandy ſaw I this Longaville;
A man of ſovereign parts he is eſteemed;
[Page 96] Well fitted in the arts, glorious in arms;
Nothing becomes him ill, that he would well.
The only foil of his fair virtue's gloſs,
If virtue's gloſs will ſtain with any ſoil,
Is a ſharp wit, matched with too blunt a will;
Whoſe edge hath power to cut, whoſe will ſtill will▪
It ſhould ſpare none that come within his power.
Some merry-mocking lord, belike—Is't ſo?
They ſay ſo moſt, that moſt his humours know.
Such ſhort-lived wits do wither as they grow.

The latter part of the character of Longaville, above deſcribed, is an unhappy quality frequently to the perſons themſelves, who happen to be infected with it. It often makes enemies, but never once a friend. Even thoſe who are the moſt maliciouſly pleaſed with it againſt others, ſtill fear it againſt themſelves. Sterne's compariſon of the jeſter and jeſtee, to the mortgager and mortgagee is an excellent and juſt alluſion. The one may forget the debt, but the other will not only remember, but exact the penalty, when pay-day comes.

A perſonal ſatiriſt may be likened to a hatchet-man ſitting on the arm of a tree, with his face turned to the trunk, and cutting away before him; who, when he has diſmembered the branch, falls to the ground himſelf along with it.

Who are the reſt?
The young Dumain, a well-accompliſhed youth;
Of all that virtue love, for virtue loved;
Moſt power to do moſt harm, leaſt knowing ill;
For he hath wit to make an ill ſhape good.
And ſhape to win grace, tho' he had no wit.
I ſaw him at the duke Alenſon's once,
And much too little of that good I ſaw,
Is my report to his great worthineſs.
Another of theſe ſtudents, at that time
Was there with him, as I have heard, o'truth;
Biron they called him; but a merrier man,
Within the limit of becoming mirth,
I never ſpent an hour's talk withal.
[Page 97] His eye begets occaſion for his wit;
For every object that the one doth catch,
The other turns to a mirth-moving jeſt;
Which his fair tongue (conceit's expoſitor)
Delivers in ſuch apt and gracious words,
That aged ears play truant at his tales,
And younger hearings are quite raviſhed;
So ſweet and voluble is his diſcourſe.

Laſtly, In the firſt Scene of Act IV. there are two characters, which appear the better for being placed in contraſt with each other.

Nathanael and Holofernes.
Nathanael. I praiſe God for you, Sir; your reaſons * at dinner have been ſharp and ſententious; pleaſant without ſcurrility, witty without affectation, audacious without impudency, learned without opinion , and strange without hereſy. I did converſe this quondam-day with a companion of the king's, who is intitled, nominated, or called, Don Adriano d'Armado.
Holofernes. His humour is lofty, his diſcourſe peremptory, his tongue filed, his eye ambitious, his gait majeſtical, and his general behaviour vain, ridiculous, and thraſonical. He is too piqued, too ſpruce, too affected, too odd, as it were; too peregrinate, as I may call it. He draweth out the thread of his verboſity finer than the ſtaple of his argument. I abhor ſuch fanatical phantaſms, ſuch unſociable and point-deviſe companions; ſuch rackers of Orthography, as to ſpeak dout fine, when he ſhould ſay doubt; det, when he ſhould pronounce debt; d, e, b, t, not d, e, t. He clepeth a calf, caulf; half, haulf; neighbour vocatur nebour; neigh abbreviated ne—This is abominable, which he would pronounce abhominable—It inſinuates me of infanity; to be mad, frantic.

But to return. The pedantry of ſcholaſtic definitions, and the verboſe ſtile of law writings, are properly ridiculed, in the ſecond Scene of the Firſt Act, in part of Armado's letter to the king, giving an information of an offence committed againſt one of his ſtatutes.

‘So it is—Beſieged with fable-coloured melancholy, I did commend the black oppreſſing humour to the moſt wholeſome phyſic of [Page 98] thy health-giving air; and as I am a gentleman, betook myſelf to walk: The time, when? About the ſixth hour, when beaſts moſt graze, birds beſt peck, and men ſit down to that nouriſhment which is called ſupper—So much for the time when—Now for the ground which—Which, I mean, I walked upon—It is yeleped thy park— Then for the place where—Where, I mean, I did encounter that obſcene and moſt prepoſterous event, that draweth from my ſnow-white pen the ebon-coloured ink, which here thou vieweſt, beholdeſt, ſurveyeſt, or ſeeſt—But to the place where. It ſtandeth north-north-eaſt and by eaſt from the weſt corner of thy curious-knotted garden. There did I ſee that low-ſpirited ſwain, that baſe minion of thy mirth, that unlettered ſmall-knowing ſoul, that ſhallow vaſ [...]al, which, as I remember, hight Coſtard, ſorted, and conſorted, contrary to thy eſtabliſhed proclaimed edict, and continent canon, with a child of our grand-mother Eve, a female; or, for thy more underſtanding, a woman — Him have I ſent to thee, to receive the meed of puniſhment, &c.’

In the laſt Scene of this Firſt Act, there is a quaint deſcription given of Love; but as it is ſpoken in the perſon of Armado, whoſe affected character has been already expoſed, I ſhall inſert it here.

‘Love is a familiar, love is a devil; there is no evil angel but love—Yet was Sampſon ſo tempted, and he had an excellent ſtrength; yet was Solomon ſo ſeduced, and he had a very good wit —Cupid's But-ſhaft is too hard for Hercules's club, and therefore too much odds for a Spaniard's rapier—The paſſado he reſpects not, the duello he regards not—His diſgrace is to be called boy; but his glory is to ſubdue men.’ ACTS II. and III.

What is worth noting in the Second Act, has already been included in our excurſion from the Firſt, and the Third affords us no matter for obſervation. ACT IV. SCENE I.

The falſe glory of antient heroiſm is juſtly cenſured in the latter part of the following ſpeech.

The Princeſs, taking the bow to go a ſtag-ſhooting, thus argues with herſelf, on a ſuppoſition either of her hitting or miſſing the quarry:

Thus will I ſave my credit, on the ſhoot—
Not wounding, pity would not let me do't;
[Page 99] If wounding, then it was to ſhew my ſkill;
That, more for praiſe than purpoſe, meant to kill.
And, out of queſtion, ſo it is ſometimes;
Glory grows guilty of deteſted crimes;
When for fame's ſake, for praiſe, an outward part,
We bend to that the working of the heart.
As I for praiſe alone now ſeek to ſpill
The poor Deer's blood, that my heart means no ill. SCENE IV.

Part of a ſpeech here, is very worthy of a quotation; firſt, as it is one of the many fond deſcriptions of love given us by our Author; and next, as it ſhews the effects of this paſſion, in higher inſtances than any of his former ones, by urging its advantages to the minds and manners, as well as its operations upon the affections, of men; and in this light, it may be conſidered as a good comment on the fable of Cymon and Iphigenia.

Biron, ſpeaking to the King, Dumain, and Longaville, after they had all fallen in love, againſt the phlegmatic and fruitleſs ſtudy of monaſtic life, in a ſecluſion from all female converſe, ſays,

For when would you, my liege, or you, or you,
In leaden contemplation have found out
Such fiery numbers, as the prompting eyes
Of beauteous tutors have enriched you with?
Other ſlow arts intirely keep the brain;
And, therefore, finding barren practiſers,
Scarce ſhew a harveſt of their heavy toil—
But love, firſt learned in a lady's eyes,
Lives not alone immured in the brain;
But with the motion of all elements,
Courſes as ſwift as thought in every power;
And gives to every power a double power,
Above their functions and their offices.
It adds a precious ſeeing to the eye:
A lover's eyes will gaze an eagle blind;
A lover's ear will hear the loweſt [...]ound,
When the ſuſpicious hand of theft is ſtopt *.
Love's feeling is more ſoft and ſenſible,
Than are the tender horns of cockled ſnails;
Love's tongue proves dainty Bacchus roſs in taſte;
[Page 100] For flavour *, is not love an Hercules,
Still climbing trees in the Heſperides?
Subtle as Sphinx; as ſweet and muſical
As bright Apollo's lute, ſtrung with his hair;
And when love ſpeaks, the voice of all the Gods
Make heaven drowſy with the harmony!
Never durſt poet touch a pen to write,
Until his ink were tempered with love's tears ;
O then his lines would raviſh ſavage breaſts,
And plant in tyrants mild humanity .
From women's eyes this doctrine I derive;
They ſparkle ſtill the right Promethean fire;
They are the books, the arts, the academies,
That ſhew, contain, and nouriſh all the world;
Elſe none at all in aught proves excellent. ACT V. SCENE III.

That perſons of the beſt underſtandings are generally remarked to be the greateſt fools in love, the ſuperiority of their talents adding ſtrength to their paſſion, is well noted in the following obſervations; which, as Doctor Johnſon ſays upon this paſſage, ‘are worthy of a man who has ſurveyed human nature with the cloſeſt attention.’

The Princeſs, Roſaline, and Maria.
None are ſo ſurely caught, when they are catched,
As wit turned fool; folly, in wiſdom hatched,
Hath wiſdom's warrant, and the help of ſchool;
And wits' own grace to grace a learned fool.
The blood of youth burns not in ſuch exceſs,
As gravity's revolt to wantonneſs.
Folly in fools bears not ſo ſtrong a note,
As foo'ery in the wiſe, when wit doth dote;
Since all the power thereof it doth apply
To prove by wit, worth in ſimplicity.

Theſe ladies ſeem to ſpeak very philoſophically upon this ſubject; but might yet have improved [Page 101] their lecture, by obſerving on as certain a fact, ſtill more extraordinary; which is, that to render a man of ſenſe the compleateſt ſlave in love, he muſt be captivated by a fool; provided ſhe has, what is generally met with in perſons of that character, a proper proportion of art or cunning.

Senſe is always a match for ſenſe, and can be overreached by folly only; as here no danger is apprehended to put a man on his guard, the fair one's wiles ſeeming to be all nature, naïveté, and charming ſimplicity; and 'tis natural to humour thoſe fondlings, whom 'tis thought vain to reaſon with. SCENE X.

I ſhall finiſh my remarks on this Play, with a paſſage in this Scene, which continues the ſubject above laſt mentioned, and is a further deſcription of the nature and effects of that paſſion:

Biron, to the ladies.

For your fair ſakes have we neglected time,
Played foul play with our oaths; your beauty, ladies,
Hath much deformed us, faſhioning our humours
Even to the oppoſed end of our intents;
And what in us hath ſeemed ridiculous,
As love is full of unbefitting ſtrains,
All wanton as a child, ſkipping in vain,
Formed by the eye, and therefore like the eye,
Full of ſtraying ſhapes, of habits and of forms,
Varying in ſubjects as the eye doth rowl,
To every fancied object in his glance;
With party-coated preſence of looſe love
Put on by us, if, in your heavenly eyes,
Have miſ-becomed our oaths and gravities,
Thoſe heav'nly eyes that look into thoſe faults,
Suggeſted us to make them.



1.8.1. Dramatis Perſonae.



  • LEONTES, King of Sicilia.
  • POLIXENES, King of Bohemia.
  • FLORIZEL, Prince of Bohemia.
  • CAMILLO, Sicilian Lords.
  • CLEOMINES, Sicilian Lords.
  • Another Sicilian Lord.
  • ARCHIDAMUS, a Bohemian Lord.
  • AUTOLICUS, a Sharper.
  • CLOWN.


  • HERMIONE, Queen of Sicilia.
  • PERDITA, Daughter to Leontes and Hermione.
  • PAULINA, a Lady of the Sicilian Court.


[Page 105] ACT I. SCENE I.

THE rational, ſociable, and friendly manner in which crowned heads uſed formerly to live pleaſantly with one another, is deſcribed here—Why is it no longer ſo? Does modern polity oppoſe itſelf to humanity? Kings may have miſtreſſes, indeed; but friend or favourite they muſt have none. What amends can the whole regalia of their ſolitary pomp afford them, for being denied one of the ſweeteſt, the deareſt, and the moſt virtuous enjoyments of life; a manly ſympathy of affections, and a chaſte intercourſe of ſouls! Modern kings may ſay, as Richard the Third did, I am myſelf alone; Incedo ſolus; but not in the happy ſenſe that Horace meant it—the quacunque libido eſt is wanting.

Camillo. Sicilia cannot ſhew himſelf over-kind to Bohemia; they were trained together in their childhoods; and there rooted betwixt them then ſuch an affection, which cannot chuſe but branch now. Since their more mature dignities and royal neceſſities made ſeparation of their ſociety, their encounters, though not perſonal, have been royally attornied with interchange of gifts, letters, loving embaſſies; that they have ſeemed to be together, though abſent; ſhook hands, as over a vaſt; and embraced, as it were, from the ends of oppoſed winds. The heavens continue their loves!
Archidamus. I think there is not in the world either malice or matter to alter it.

The paſſion in mankind for life, and the pretences they make to themſelves for ſtill wiſhing to defer their departure from time to time, is well enough pointed out in the following paſſage:

[Page 106] Camillo, ſpeaking of the young Prince of Sicilia, ſays,

He makes old hearts freſh; they that went on crutches, ere he was born, deſire yet their life to ſee him a man.

Archidamus. Would they elſe be content to die?
Camillo. Yes, if there were no other excuſe why they ſhould deſire to live.
Archidamus. If the king had no ſon, they would deſire to live on crutches till he had one. SCENE II.

The happy ſtate of youth, and conſequently of innocence, is here well deſcribed: ‘

We were, fair Queen,
Two lads that thought there was no more behind,
But ſuch a day to-morrow as to-day,
And to be boy eternal.
We were as twinned lambs, that did friſk i' th' ſun,
And bleat the one at th' other: what we changed,
Was innocence for innocence; we knew not
The doctrine of ill-doing; no, nor dreamed
That any did—Had we purſued that life,
And our weak ſpirits ne'er been higher reared
With ſtronger blood, we ſhould have anſwered heaven
Boldly, not guilty; the impoſition cleared *,
Hereditary ours. SCENE III.

When Leontes, having conceived a jealouſy of Polixenes, commands Camillo, whom he had appointed cup-bearer to his gueſt, to poiſon him; this good man makes an admirable reflection on diſloyalty and rebellion, in the following ſoliloquy: ‘

If I could find example
Of thouſands that had ſtruck anointed kings,
And flouriſhed after, I'd not do't: but ſince
Nor braſs, nor ſtone, nor parchment, bears not one,
Let villainy itſelf forſwear it. ACT II. SCENE III.

The dumb rhetoric of innocence is finely noted here. When Paulina, the Queen's friend, purpoſes [Page 107] to preſent the new-born child of Leontes before him, in hopes of abating his reſentment againſt its mother, ſhe ſays,

We do not know
How he may ſoften at the ſight o' th' child:
The ſilence often of pure innocence
Perſuades, when ſpeaking fails. ACT III. SCENE II.

The unhappy Queen of Sicilia, when ſhe is called upon her public trial for a ſuppoſed adultery, ſpeaks with a noble ſpirit of parental ſentiment on the occaſion.

Behold me
A fellow of the royal bed, which owe *
A moiety of the throne, a great king's daughter,
The mother to a hopeful prince, here ſtanding
To prate and talk for life and honour, 'fore
Who pleaſe to come and hear, For life, I prize it
As I weigh grief, which I would ſpare—For honour,
'Tis a derivative from me to mine,
And only that I ſtand for.

The beautiful ſentiment expreſſed in the laſt lines, which muſt draw tears of pity from virtuous mothers, and ſhould thoſe of another kind from vicious ones, puts me in mind of a parallel paſſage in Scripture— ‘A mother in diſhonour is a reproach to her children ’. SCENES III. and IV.

The ſudden ebbs of warm and violent tempers, with the revealing nature of a guilty conſcience; which is apt to confeſs its crime even before 'tis charged with it, as Leontes does here, with regard to the intended murder of Polixenes, which remained yet a ſecret in his own breaſt; are ſtrongly depicted in this Scene.

Leontes, on hearing that his ſon had died of grief, and ſeeing his wife fall into a ſwoon on that [Page 108] event, is ſuddenly ſtruck with compaſſion and remorſe.

Apollo's angry, and the heavens themſelves
Do ſtrike at my injuſtice—How now, there?
Hermione faints.
This news is mortal to the queen—Look down,
And ſee what death is doing.
Take her hence;
Her heart is but o'er-charged; ſhe will recover.
Exeunt Paulina and Ladies with Hermione.
I have too much believed my own ſuſpicion—
'Beſeech you tenderly apply to her
Some remedies for life. Apollo, pardon
My great prophaneneſs 'gainſt thy oracle *!
I'll reconcile me to Polixenes,
New woo my queen, recall the good Camillo,
Whom I proclaim a man of truth, of mercy;
For being tranſported by my jealouſies,
To bloody thoughts and to revenge, I choſe
Camillo for the miniſter, to poiſon
My friend Polixenes; which had been done,
But that the good mind of Camillo tardied
My ſwift command; tho' I with death, and with
Reward, did threaten, and encourage him,
Not doing it, and being done; he, moſt humane,
And filled with honour, to my kingly gueſt
Unclaſped my practice, quit his fortunes here,
Which you knew great, and to the certain hazard
Of all incertainties himſelf commended,
No richer than his honour—Now he gliſters
Through my dark ruſt! and now his piety
Does my deeds make the blacker! SCENE V.

Paulina too, being likewiſe a perſon of ſtrong paſſions and an ungovernable temper, ſhews as quick a revulſion in the midſt of her rage againſt Leontes, upon finding him repentant, though ſhe had even told him, the moment before, that neither penance nor penitence itſelf could aught avail him. ‘

Say no more;
Howe'er the buſineſs goes, you have made fault
I'th' boldneſs of your ſpeech .
[Page 109] Paulina.
I am ſorry for't.
All faults I make, when I ſhall come to know them,
I do repent—Alas, I've ſhewed too much
The raſhneſs of a woman; he is touched
To the nobler heart. What's gone, and what's paſt help,
Should be paſt grief. Do not receive affliction
At my petition, I beſeech you; rather
Let me be puniſhed, that have minded you
Of what you ſhould forget. Now, good my Liege,
Sir, royal Sir, forgive a fooliſh woman;
The love I bore your queen—lo; fool again!
I'll ſpeak of her no more—nor of your children—
I'll not remember you of my own lord,
Who is lost too— ſake you your patience to you;
And I'll ſay nothing.
’ Though I cannot help obſerving here, that her vindictive ſpirit appears plainly not to have yet ſubſided, but only taken a different courſe, by the latter part of her ſpeech; for ſhe continues ſtill to accumulate her charges againſt him, as if only by way of enumerating the articles of her forgiveneſs.

Our Author, who almoſt every where manifeſts a perfect knowledge in the anatomy of the human mind, proves his ſcience more particularly in a paſſage of this Scene, by ſhewing a property in our natures which might have eſcaped any common diſſecter of morals; and this is, our ſuffering, upon true penitence and contrition, not only all reproach thrown out againſt us with meekneſs and ſubmiſſion, but even encouraging and augmenting the abuſe, by joining in our own condemnation. This may poſſibly ariſe from a ſtrong wiſh, or ſanguine hope, that ſuch a voluntary penance may in part be accepted, both by heaven and the world, as ſome ſort of atonement for our crimes.

Leontes, while Paulina is arraigning him with the utmoſt virulence and ſeverity, inſtead of having her caſt out from his preſence, cries,

Go on, go on—
Thou canſt not ſpeak too much; I have deſerved
All tongues to talk their bittereſt.

[Page 110] Again, when ſhe ſeems to relent of her ſeverity towards him,

Thou did'ſt ſay but well,
When moſt the truth; which I receive much better
Than to be pitied of thee. Prithee, bring me
To the dead bodies of my queen and ſon:
One grave ſhall be for both. Upon them ſhall
The cauſes of their deaths appear, unto
Our ſhame perpetual; once a day I'll viſit
The chapel where they lie, and tears ſhed there
Shall be my recreation. So long as nature
Will bear up with this exerciſe,
So long I daily vow to uſe it. Come,
And lead me to theſe ſorrows.

In the Firſt Scene of the Fifth Act, the ſame ſubject is renewed, where Leontes manifeſts the ſame humiliation and contrition for his crime, that he did before: but as an interval of ſixteen years, ſpent in ſorrow and repentance, had paſſed between theſe two aeras, he, as would be natural then, ſhews an uneaſineſs at the reproach, and intreats to be relieved from it for the future; but this in a manner ſo gentle and ſubmiſſive, as none but Shakeſpeare himſelf could have conceived. The whole paſſage is worthy of being quoted.

Leontes, Cleomines, and Paulina.
Sir, you have done enough, and have performed
A ſaint-like ſorrow: no fault you could make,
Which you have not redeemed indeed; paid down
More penitence, than done treſpaſs. At the laſt,
Do as the Heavens have done, forget your evil;
With them, forgive yourſelf.
Whilſt I remember
Her and her virtues, I cannot forget
My blemiſhes in them, and ſo ſtill think of
The wrong I did myſelf; which was ſo much,
That heirleſs it hath made my kingdom; and
Deſtroyed the ſweet'ſt companion that e'er man
Bred his hopes out of.
True, too true, my lord;
If one by one you wedded all the world,
Or, from the All that are, took ſomething good,
[Page 111] To make a perfect woman; ſhe, you killed,
Would be unparalleled.
I think ſo. Killed?
Killed? She I killed? I did ſo—But thou ſtrik'ſt me
Sorely, to ſay I did—It is as bitter
Upon thy tongue, as in my thought. Now, good now,
Say ſo but ſeldom. ACT IV. SCENE IV.

There is a poetical hiſtory of love given here, which cloſes with a beautiful deſcription of a chaſte and pure paſſion in a lover.

The gods themſelves,
Humbling their deities to love, have taken
The ſhapes of beaſts upon them. Jupiter
Became a bull, and bellowed; the green Neptune
A ram, and bleated; and the fire-robed god,
Golden Apollo, a poor humble ſwain,
As I ſeem now. Their transformations
Were never for a piece of beauty rarer,
Nor in a way ſo chaſte; ſince my deſires
Run not before mine honour, nor my luſts
Burn hotter than my faith. SCENE V.

Here is a paſſage that I am particularly fond of, becauſe it vindicates the rights of Nature, even over thoſe arts which ſeem to vie and co-operate with her; for her general laws can never be controlled but by bye ones of her own making.

Perdita and Polixenes.
The faireſt flowers o' th' ſeaſon
Are our carnations, and ſtreaked gilly-flowers,
Which ſome call Nature's baſtards; of that kind
Our ruſtic garden's barren, and I care not
To get ſlips of them.
And wherefore, gentle maiden,
Do you neglect them?
For I have heard it ſaid,
There is an art, which in their piedneſs ſhares
With great creating Nature *.
[Page 112] Polixenes.
Say there be,
Yet Nature is made better by no mean,
But Nature makes that mean; ſo over that art
Which, you ſay, adds to Nature, is an art,
That Nature makes; you ſee, ſweet maid, we marry
A gentler ſcyon to the wildeſt ſtock,
And make conceive a bark of baſer kind
By bud of nobler race. This is an art,
Which does mend Nature—change it, rather—but
The art itſelf is nature.
So it is.
Then make your garden rich in gilly-flowers,
And do not call them baſtards.
I'll not put
The dibble in earth, to ſet one ſlip of them;
No more than were I painted, I would wiſh
This youth ſhould ſay, 'twere well; and only, therefore,
Deſire to breed by me.

I have continued the above dialogue beyond the philoſophy of its ſubject, in order to treat my reader with one of the moſt refined ſentiments of a chaſte and delicate mind, that can poſſibly be conceived. Perdita ſhews a charming genuineneſs of nature in her latter ſpeech; for though ſhe confeſſes the truth of Polixenes' poſition, yet is ſhe ſo jealous of the honour of our great parent, that even the appearance of a violation againſt her rights offends her. And the parallel ſhe makes upon the occaſion, is beautiful. Readers ſee not half the greatneſs of Shakeſpeare, who overlook his minutiae.

In the ſame ſcene, the praiſe that Florizel beſtows on Perdita is equally fond and beautiful.

What you do,
Still betters what is done. When you ſpeak, ſweet,
I'd have you do it ever; when you ſing,
I'd have you buy and ſell ſo; ſo give alms;
Pray ſo; and for the ord'ring your affairs,
To ſing them too. When you do dance, I wiſh you
A wave o' th' ſea, that you might ever do
Nothing but that; move ſtill, ſtill ſo,
And own no other function. Each your doing,
So ſingular in each particular,
Crowns what your doing in the preſent deeds,
That all your acts are queens.

[Page 113] To which ſhe replies, with very good ſenſe and prudence,

O Doricles,
Your praiſes are too large; but that your youth,
And the true blood which peeps forth fairly through it,
Do plainly give you out an unſtained ſhepherd,
With wiſdom I might fear, my Doricles,
You woo'd me the falſe way.

In anſwer to this, he ſays,

I think you have
As little ſkill to fear *, as I have purpoſe
To put you to't.

This is the true character of youth in the different ſexes: Sincerity on one ſide, and confidence on the other. Deceit and diffidence are the fruits of riper, or more rotten, years. SCENE IX.

There is a reflection made here, which, if true, would be one of the heavieſt articles of affliction.

Camillo and Perdita.
Proſperity's the very bond of love,
Whoſe freſh complexion, and whoſe heart together,
Affliction alters.

But I ſhall rather hope and believe, with the charming Perdita, in the faith and fidelity ſhe expreſſes in her reply:

One of theſe is true:
I think affliction may ſubdue the cheek,
But not take in the mind. SCENE XI.

There is a good ridicule, here, on the affectations of perſons of rank, in the deſcription of the manners by which the vulgar often diſtinguiſh their betters—perhaps their ſuperiors only.

The old ſhepherd and his ſon, upon ſeeing Autolicus, the ſharper, dreſſed up in a ſuit of the prince's cloaths, debate thus about him: ‘

Son. This cannot be but a great courtier.
Shepherd. His garments are rich, but he wears them not handſomely.
[Page 114] Son. He ſeems to be the more noble, in being fantaſtical. A great man, I'll warrant: I know by the picking of his teeth. ACT V. SCENE I.

There is a good remark made here, on the wrong timing of reproof, in the ſpeech of Cleomines to Paulina, upon her rough treatment of Leontes, on the ſubject of his misfortunes, when ſhe is diſſuading him from marrying.

You might have ſpoke a thouſand things, that would
Have done the time more benefit, and graced
Your kindneſs better. SCENE V.

This Comedy is full of well-deſcribed character, and beautiful deſcription; but theſe not happening to fall within the ſcope I had preſcribed to myſelf in this work, I have reluctantly paſſed them by, without noting. However, there is one paſſage among them, which luckily affords me a proper ſubject of remark, in the account given of Leontes and Camillo, on their being certified of the preſervation of Perdita.

Autolicus and a Gentleman.
Autolicus. Beſeech you, Sir, were you preſent at this relation?
Gentleman. I was by at the opening of the fardel, and heard the old ſhepherd deliver the manner how he found it; whereupon, after a little amazedneſs, we were all commanded out of the chamber. Only this, methought I heard the ſhepherd ſay, he found the child.
Autolicus. I would moſt gladly know the iſſue of it.
Gentleman. I make a broken delivery of the buſineſs; but the changes I perceived in the king and Camillo, were very notes of admiration; they ſeemed almoſt, with ſtaring on one another, to tear the caſes of their eyes. There was a ſpeech in their dumbneſs, language in their very geſture; they looked, as they had heard of a world ranſomed, or one deſtroyed; a notable paſſion of wonder appeared in them; but the wiſeſt beholder, that knew no more but ſeeing, could not ſay if the importance were joy or ſorrow; but in the extremity of the one, it muſt needs be.

This deſcription not only contains the beautiful and the ſublime, but riſes to a ſtill higher ſublimity, or, to ſpeak in the ſtile of the Pſalmiſt, to the moſt [Page 115] higheſt, in the alluſion to ſacred writ, relating to the two principal articles in the Old and New Teſtament, the fall of man, and his redemption. Shakeſpeare makes frequent references to the ſacred text, and writes often, not only as a moraliſt, but as a divine.

Autolicus having by accident had ſome hand in bringing about the diſcovery of Perdita, which was a circumſtance that might have been ſufficient to make another man's fortune, makes only this ſad ſoliloquy upon the occaſion: ‘ Now, had I not the daſh of my former life in me, would preferment drop on my head. I brought the old man and his ſon aboard the Prince; told him I heard them talk of a fardel, and I know not what; but he at that time over-fond of the ſhepherd's daughter, ſo he then took her to be, who began to be much ſea-ſick, and himſelf little better, extremity of weather continuing, this myſtery remained undiſcovered. But 'tis all one to me; for had I been the finder out of this ſecret, it would not have reliſhed, among my other diſcredits.

That honeſty is the beſt policy, is a homely proverb; but this only the more vouches the truth of it, by its having ſtood the teſt of all experience. Character is the immediate jewel of the ſoul, not only in its own worth, but even in the temporal advantages which frequently accrue from it. Loſt health may be repaired, loſt fortune be regained, even loſt ſenſes may be recovered; but a forfeited character is rarely ever to be retrieved.

This is a theme which cannot be too largely or too frequently expatiated upon; which I hope will ſerve as my apology for having taken the hint from ſo mean and trifling an inſtance as the foregoing. SCENE VI.

The old ſhepherd and his ſon having by the medium of the princeſs Perdita obtained into favour at Court, Autolicus aſks forgiveneſs of the Clown for the tricks he had played him. ‘I humbly beſeech you, Sir, to pardon me all the faults I have committed to your worſhip, and to give me your good report to the prince my maſter.’ [Page 116] This requeſt is ſeconded by the old man, in words which deſcribe the proper character of that rank of life to which he had been juſt elevated.

Sh [...]pherd. Prithee, ſon, do; for we muſt be gentle, now we are gentlemen.

But 'tis pity that the conduct and behaviour of too many, in ſo reſpectable a claſs, ſhould afford cauſe for the ſevere ſarcaſm couched in the following words of the ſon: ‘

Clown. Give me thy hand [to Autolicus] —I will ſwear to the prince thou art as honeſt a true fellow as any is in Bohemia.
Shepherd. You may ſay it, but not ſwear it.
Clown. Not ſwear it, now I am a gentleman? Let boors and franklins * ſay it, I'll ſwear it.
Shepherd. How if it be falſe, ſon?
Clown. If it be ne'er ſo falſe, a true gentleman may ſwear it, on the behalf of his friend. SCENE VII.

Paulina ſays to Leontes, on perceiving him to be ſtrongly affected on ſeeing Hermione repreſented ſo much to the life, as a ſuppoſed ſtatue:

I'm ſorry, Sir, I have thus far ſtirred you; but I could
Afflict you further.

To which he replies:

Do Paulina.
For this affliction has a taſte as ſweet
As any cordial comfort.

This is ſpoken with a true ſenſe of a propitiatory and a contrite grief. A ſincere repentance is, indeed, an healing balm to the wounded conſcience; a cordial comfort to the ſoul.



1.9.1. Dramatis Perſonae.



  • DUKE of Illyria.
  • SEBASTIAN, brother to Viola.
  • ANTONIO, friend to Sebaſtian.
  • VALENTINE, an attendant on the Duke.
  • CLOWN, ſervant to Olivia.


  • OLIVIA, beloved by the Duke.
  • VIOLA, in love with the Duke.

1.9.2. Twelfth Night: or, What You Will.

[Page 119] ACT I. SCENE I.

THIS Play opens with a ſweet paſſage, in which the charms of muſic, and the nature of love, are beautifully deſcribed.

If muſic be the food of love, play on;
Give me exceſs of it; that, ſurfeiting,
The appetite may ſicken, and ſo die.
That ſtrain again—It had a dying fall—
O! it came o'er my ear, like the ſweet ſouth,
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour. Enough! no more—
'Tis not ſo ſweet now, as it was before.
O ſpirit of love, how quick and freſh art thou!
That, notwithſtanding thy capacity
Receiveth as the ſea, nought enters there,
Of what validity and pitch ſoe'er,
But falls into abatement and low price,
Even in a minute; ſo full of ſhapes in fancy,
That it alone is hight * fantaſtical.

As I have hitherto obſerved upon Shakeſpeare's critical knowledge in human nature, I hope it will not appear invidious now, if I ſhould here remark upon his deficiency in a paſſage above—lines ſecond and third. The duke is there made to wiſh his paſſion were extinct; which, I believe, the moſt unhappy lover never yet did. We wiſh to remove every uneaſy ſenſation it afflicts us with, by any means whatever; ſometimes even by death itſelf; but never by the extinction of the affection.

This is not peculiar to love alone; 'tis the ſame in all the tender feelings. We wiſh the object of our grief brought back again to life, but deſire not to forget our ſorrow. We wiſh to relieve the ſubjects of our pity, but would not be deprived of our compaſſion. [Page 120] Heaven hath ſo framed us, and Heaven be praiſed for having endowed and adorned us with ſuch ſweet compunctious viſitings of Nature! 'tis in theſe features only that we can reſemble our Maker. In the more heroic qualities of bravery and fortitude, can be traced no likeneſs of the Deity, becauſe ſuperfluous in a perfect ſtate. The ſubject of love is touched upon again, twice, in the ſame Scene: ‘

O, when my eyes did ſee Olivia firſt,
Methou [...]ht ſhe purged the air of peſtilence;
That inſtant was I turned into a hart,
And my deſires, like fell and cruel hounds,
E'er ſince purſue me *.
’ And when Valentine acquaints the Duke with Olivia's vow of ſequeſtering herſelf from the world, for ſeven years, to mourn the death of her brother, he cries out in an extaſy,
O, ſhe that hath an heart of that fine frame,
To pay this debt of love but to a brother,
How will ſhe love, when the rich golden ſhaft
Hath killed the flock of all affections elſe,
That live in her? When liver, brain, and heart,
Three ſovereign thrones, are all ſupplied and filled
(O ſweet perfection!) with one ſelf-ſame king!

I am happy that this latter paſſage happens to occur ſo immediately after my remark above, as it affords me an opportunity of doing juſtice to Shakeſpeare, by obſerving that his inference, from Olivia's grief, to the nature of her heart in love, ſhews a perfect knowledge in this ſpecies of philoſophy. The paſſions are divided into but two claſſes, the tender and the violent; and any one of either affords an earneſt of all others of the ſame kind.

His diſtinction, too, of the three thrones, the liver, brain, and heart, is admirable. Theſe are truly the ſeats of the three chief affections of love; the heart for paſſion, the mind for eſteem, and the liver for jealouſy; if Horace's anatomy is to be credited . SCENE XI.
[Page 121]

In the laſt ſpeech of this Act, Olivia ſpeaks in the uſual manner of all infatuated perſons, who are apt to make the Fates anſwerable for thoſe follies or vices which they have not ſenſe or virtue enough to extricate themſelves from, by their own exertions. For, upon a conſciouſneſs of having too weakly betrayed her paſſion for Viola, appearing under the character of a cavalier, ſhe acquieſces in her indiſcretion, by ſaying,

I do I know not what—and fear to find
Mine eye too great a flatterer for my mind *.
Fate, ſhew thy force, ourſelves we do not owe ;
What is decreed muſt be—and this be ſo!
She repeats the ſame idle apology for herſelf, again, in the ſecond Scene of the next Act:
For ſuch as we are made, if ſuch we be,
Alas! our frailty is the cauſe, not we. ACT II. SCENE VI.

There are ſome good rules and reflections here, upon that principal and intereſting event of life, our marriage, which are well worth attending to; as the natural conſequences of an improper aſſortment, in that ſtate, have been too ſtrongly marked by the general experience of the world.

Duke, and Viola as a Man.
Let ſtill the woman take
An elder than herſelf, ſo wears ſhe to him,
So ſways ſhe level in her huſband's heart.
For, boy, however we do prize ourſelves,
Our fancies are more giddy and unfirm,
More longing, wavering, ſooner loſt and won,
Than women's are.
I think it well, my lord.
[Page 122] Duke.
Then let thy love be younger than thyſelf,
Or thy affection cannot hold the bent;
For women are as roſes, whoſe fair flower,
Being once diſplay'd, doth fall that very hour.
And ſo they are—Alas, that they are ſo—
To die, even when they to perfection grow! ACT III. SCENE I.

There is a ſlight ſtroke thrown out here, againſt an affected refinement on common ſpeech; which however I ſhall lay hold of, as one ſhould animadvert upon every ſpecies of pedantry, which is an incumbrance to literature, and caſts a damp upon all free and liberal converſation.

Clown. My lady is within, Sir; I will conſtrue to her whence you came; who you are, and what you would, is out of my welkin. I might ſay element, but the word is overworn. SCENE XIV.

There is a moſt delicate ſenſibility expreſſed by a perſon here, in his reproach to one whom, by a ſimilarity of appearances, he had miſtaken for a friend on whom he had formerly conferred obligations, which he ſeemed then to have forgotten.

Antonio and Viola..
Will you deny me, now?
Is't poſſible that my deſerts to you
Can lack perſuaſion? Do not tempt my miſery,
Leſt that it make me ſo unſound a man,
As to upbraid you with th [...]ſe kindneſſes
That I have done for you.

To which the innocent and miſtaken Viola replies, with a becoming ſpirit of conſcious virtue,

I hate ingratitude more in a man,
Than lying, vainneſs, babbling, drunkenneſs,
Or any taint of vice whoſe ſtrong corruption
Inhabits our frail blood.

There is an antient adage, which ſays, that the ſin of ingratitude includes every vice *. It renders us unworthy [Page 123] of all the goods and enjoyments of life, even of our very exiſtence; for we owe them all to favour and benevolence. Religion and virtue are, therefore, but barely the acknowledging a debt, which muſt ever remain undiſcharged.

All the moral I have been able to extract from this Piece, concludes in this Scene, with a poſition which it were devoutly to be wiſhed had as much truth in phyſics, as it has in philoſophy: That the outward form is but the viſible ſign of the internal mind.

Thou haſt, Sebaſtian, done good feature ſhame—
In Nature, there's no blemiſh but the mind:
None can be called deformed, but the unkind.
Virtue is beauty; but the beauteous evil
Are empty trunks, o'erflouriſhed by the Devil.

I ſhall here give a quotation from a modern dramatic poem of diſtinguiſhed merit, as the paſſage relates ſo immediately to the ſubject above laſt mentioned.

Beauty and virtue are the ſame;
They differ only in the name.
What to the ſoul is pure and bright,
Is beauty in a moral light;
And what to ſenſe does charms convey,
Is beauty in the natural way.
Each from one ſource its eſſence draws,
And both conform to Nature's laws.



1.10.1. Dramatis Perſonae.



  • MR. FORD.
  • FENTON, in love with Anne Page.


  • ANNE PAGE, in love with FENTON.

1.10.2. The Merry Wives of Windſor.

[Page 127]

THIS is one of the beſt acting Comedies of Shakeſpeare, and is replete with character, humour, and incident; but ſupplies very little toward the purpoſe of this Work. However, whatever there is, has a right to claſs with the reſt; ſo I ſhall proceed to take it in its courſe. ACT II. SCENE I.

Upon Mrs. Page's reading Falſtaff's Love-letter to her, ſhe makes the following reflection: ‘What unweighed behaviour hath this Flemiſh drunkard pickt, i' th' Devil's name, out of my converſation, that he dares in this manner eſſay me? Why, he hath not been thrice in my company— What ſhould I ſay to him? I was then frugal of my mirth."’

And in the next Scene, on communicating this adventure to Mrs. Ford, ſhe recurs to the ſame thought again.

‘Nay, I know not—It makes me almoſt ready to wrangle with mine own honeſty. I'll entertain myſelf like one that I am not acquainted withal; for, ſure, unleſs he knew ſome ſtain in me, that I know not myſelf, he would never have boarded me in this fury.’

This is a very natural ſentiment for a delicate mind to conceive, upon meeting with an affront of this ſort; and 'tis extremely proper, upon all ſuch occaſions, to enter into ſuch a ſelf-examination, by way of inquiring what part of our own conduct, or unweighed behaviour, as ſhe expreſſes it, might have encouraged the offence; and upon an impartial ſcrutiny we ſhall generally find, that 'tis more our indiſcretion than our charms which prompts the attack. SCENE IX.

To preſerve a charity in cenſure, from a conſciouſneſs of our own frailties, is very properly recommended [Page 128] here, though ſpoken in a feigned character.

Ford to Falſtaff.

I ſhall diſcover a thing to you, wherein I muſt very much lay open mine own imperfections; b [...]t, good Sir John, as you have one eye upon my follies, as you hear them unfolded, turn another into the regiſter of your own, that I may paſs with a reproof the eaſier; fith you yourſelf know how eaſy it is to be an offender.

The vice and folly of unlawful love are well expoſed by an excellent alluſion, in the ſame Scene: ‘

Falſtaff. Of what quality was your love, then?
Ford. Like a fair houſe built upon another man's ground; ſo that I have loſt my edifice, by miſtaking the place where I have erected it. ACT III. SCENE XII.

Where Fenton tells Anne Page her father's objections to him for his ſon-in-law, he gives a juſt deſcription and character of thoſe ſpendthrift men of quality, who go into the City to look for wives to repair their broken fortunes.

He doth object, I am too great of birth;
And that my ſtate being galled with my expence,
I ſeek to heal it only by his wealth.
Beſides theſe, other bars he lays before me;
My riots paſt, my wild ſocieties;
And tells me, 'tis a thing impoſſible
I ſhould love thee, but as a property— SCENE XIII.

Anne Page lamenting her father's tyranny, in condemning her to marry a man ſhe deteſted on account of his fortune, ſays,

O what a world of vile ill-favoured faults
Look handſome in a thouſand * pounds a year! ACT V. SCENE IV.

There was ſomething very pleaſing and advantageous to morals in the antient ſuperſtition which [Page 129] ſuppoſed the actions of men to have been under the immediate cognizance of certain ſuperior Beings, who uſed to diſtribute rewards and puniſhments on the inſtant.

Evans, perſonating the King of the Fairies:

Cricket, to Windſor's chimneys ſhalt thou leap;
Where fires thou find'ſt unraked, and hearths unſwept,
There pinch the maids as blue as bilberry.
Our radiant queen hates ſluts, and ſluttery. . . . . .
Go you, and where you find a maid
That ere ſhe ſleep hath thrice her prayers ſaid,
Rein up the organs of her fantaſy;
Sleep ſhe as ſound as careleſs infancy;
But thoſe that ſleep, and think not on their ſins,
Pinch them, arms, legs, backs, ſhoulders, ſides, and ſhins.

The metaphorical expoſition of this fable, is, I believe, and kindly hope too, moſt fully experienced by the difference of ſlumbers between an approving and an upbraiding mind. An evil conſcience is a ſhrew, and gives moſt ſhocking curtain lectures. SCENE V.

There is a very good reflection made here, upon the nature of fear or guilt being apt to confound our reaſon and ſenſes, ſo as to lead us to miſtake appearances for realities.

Falſtaff, upon the mockery of the Fairies being diſcovered to him, ſays, ‘ And theſe are not Fairies? I was three or four times in the thought they were not Fairies; and yet the guiltineſs of my mind, with the ſudden ſurpriſe of my powers, drove the groſſneſs of the foppery into a received belief, in deſpite of the teeth of all rhime and reaſon, that they were Fairies. See now, how wit may be made a Jack-a- [...]t, when 'tis upon ill employment!’



1.11.1. Dramatis Perſonae.



  • VINCENTIO, Father of Lucentio.
  • LUCENTIO, in love with Bianca.
  • PETRUCHIO, a ſuitor to Catharine.
  • HORTENSIO, Rivals, in love with Bianca.
  • GREMIO, Rivals, in love with Bianca.
  • TRANIO, ſervant to Lucentio.


  • CATHARINE, a ſhrew.
  • BIANCA, her ſiſter.
  • Milliner.
  • Mantua-maker.

1.11.2. The Taming of the Shrew.

[Page 133]

AS the buſineſs of this Play, declared by the title of it, is, I fear, a work rather of diſcipline than of precept, we are to expect but few helps from it toward the enrichment of this collection. There are as many receipts for effecting this purpoſe, as there are preſcriptions for a tooth-ach; and for the ſame reaſon, becauſe none of them anſwer the end, but the getting rid of it; for the old proverb ſtill ſtands bluff againſt all ſuch documents, that Every man can cure a ſcold, but he who has her. THE INTRODUCTION. SCENE III.

Among the preparations which are making, in order to deceive the drunken Tinker into the notion of his having been a mad Lord juſt recovering his ſenſes, ſome Strollers are introduced to perform a Play for his entertainment; and the Actors meaning to exhibit one of the old religious Farces, ſtiled the Myſteries, upon enumerating the properties neceſſary toward the repreſentation, aſk for ‘a little vinegar to make their Devil roar.’ Upon which paſſage Dr. Warburton gives the following note:

‘When the acting the Myſteries of the Old and New Teſtament was in vogue, at the repreſentation of the Myſtery of the Paſſion, Judas and the Devil made a part. And the Devil, wherever he came, was always to ſuffer ſome diſgrace, to make the people laugh; as here the buffoonery was to apply the gall and vinegar, to make him roar. And the Paſſion being that, of all the Myſteries, which was moſt frequently repreſented, vinegar became at length the ſtanding implement to torment the [Page 134] Devil, and uſed for this purpoſe even after the Myſteries ceaſed and the Moralities * came in vogue; where the Devil ſtill continued to bear a conſiderable part. The mention of it here, was deſigned to ridicule ſo abſurd a circumſtance in theſe old Farces.’

The giving ſuch theatrical repreſentations of Sacred Writ, was rather ſomething more than barely abſurd; it was extremely profane: but the device of tormenting the Devil with gall and vinegar, had a myſtic conceit in it; being certainly intended by the authors of theſe exhibitions, as an alluſion to a circumſtance in the Paſſion, mentioned by St. Matthew, where he ſays, they gave him vinegar to drink, mingled with gall. Chap. xxvii. ver. 34. And as the ſufferings on the Croſs were undergone for our redemption from ſin, the prieſts, who were the contrivers of this ſtrange and improper ſpecies of drama, might have intended this particular to ſhew the diſtreſs of the Devil upon that occaſion. ACT I. SCENE I.

The proper uſe and choice of travel and ſtudy, of ſuch ſort of travel and ſtudy as rendered ſo many men eminent among the Antients, are well treated of here.

Lucentio and Tranio.
Tranio, ſince for the great deſire I had
To ſee fair Padua, nurſery of arts,
I am arrived in fruitful Lombardy,
The pleaſant garden of great Italy;
And by my father's love and leave, am armed
With his good will, and thy good company:
Moſt truſty ſervant, well approved in all,
Here let us breathe, and haply inſtitute
A courſe of learning, and ingenuous ſtudies.
Piſa, renowned for grave citizens,
[Page 135] Gave me my being; and my father firſt,
A merchant of great traffic thro' the world—
Vincentio's come of the Bentivoli,
Lucentio his ſon, brought up in Florence,
It ſhall become to ſerve all hopes conceived,
To deck his fortune with his virtuous deeds—
And therefore, Tranio, for the time I ſtudy,
Virtue, and that part of philoſophy
Will I apply, that treats of happineſs
By virtue ſpecially to be achieved.
Tell me thy mind, for I have Piſa left,
And am to Padua come, as he that leaves
A ſhallow plaſh, to plunge him in the deep,
And with ſatiety ſeeks to quench his thirſt.

The following reply adds a more liberal ſcope to the uſes of ſtudy and travel: ‘

Me pardonato, gentle maſter mine,
I am in all affected as yourſelf;
Glad that you thus continue your reſolve,
To ſuck the ſweets of ſweet philoſophy.
Only, good maſter, while we do admire
This virtue, and this moral diſcipline,
Let's be no Stoics, nor no ſtoeks, I pray,
Or ſo devote to Ariſtotle's checks,
As Ovid be an outcaſt quite abjured—
Talk logic with acquaintance that you have,
And practiſe rhetoric in your common talk;
Muſic and poetry uſe to quicken you;
The mathematics and the metaphyſics,
Fall to them as you find your ſtomach ſerves;
No profit grows where is no pleaſure ta'en—
In brief, Sir, ſtudy what you moſt affect. SCENE III.

A truth is here ſpoken, which is too frequently evinced by the general practice of the ſelf-intereſted, or, more properly ſpeaking, avaricious world; where Gremio and Hortenſio are conferring together about providing a huſband for Catharine, as the younger ſiſter is not to be married till the elder is diſpoſed of.

Gremio. Think'ſt thou, Hortenſio, though her father be very rich, any man is ſo very a fool to be married to hell?
Hortenſio. Tuſh, Gremio; though it paſs your patience and mine to endure her loud alarms, why, man, there be good fellows [Page 136] in the world, an a man could light on them, would take her with all her faults, and money enough. SCENE IV.

Love conceived at firſt ſight, is the ſubject of moſt Romances; and the philoſophy of theſe Northern climes looks for it only there; but if we conſult the volume of Nature more at large, we ſhall find that ſuch extempore paſſions are not infrequent in the more Southern regions of the world: and the clear and warm air of Italy communicates a briſker motion to the heart and ſpirits, than our natural phlegm can poſſibly be ſenſible of.

Tranio, upon perceiving the emotion of Lucentio, on his firſt view of Bianca, ſays to him,

I pray you, Sir, tell me, is it poſſible
That love ſhould on a ſudden take ſuch hold?
O, Tranio, till I found it to be true,
I never thought it poſſible, or likely.
But ſee, while idly I ſtood looking on,
I found the effect of love in idleneſs;
And now in plainneſs do confeſs to thee,
That art to me as ſecret, and as dear,
As An [...]a to the queen of Carthage was,
Tranio, I burn, I pine, I periſh, Tranio,
If I achieve not this young modeſt girl.
Counſel me, Tranio, for I know thou canſt;
Aſſiſt me, Tranio, for I know thou wilt.

Tranio replies, very judiciouſly,

Maſter, it is no time to chide you now;
Affection is not rated * from the heart;
If love hath toiled you, nought remains but ſo,
Redime te captum, quàm queas minimô . ACT II. SCENE II.

Mildneſs oppoſed to violence, with regard to their different effects upon the paſſions and affections of the mind, is juſtly illuſtrated here, by the following ſimile: ‘

Though little fire grows great with little wind,
Yet extreme guſts will blow out fire and all. ACT IV. SCENE VIII.
[Page 137]

Among the various methods that Petruchio makes uſe of, after his marriage with Catharine, to tame her ſpirit, the following paſſage preſents us with one, which the ſatiriſts of our ſex will be apt to ſay was a ſevere teſt of female temper.

Catharine, Petruchio, Milliner, and Mantua-maker.
Here is the cap your worſhip did beſpeak.
Why, this was moulded on a porringer,
A velvet diſh; fy, fy, 'tis lewd and filthy—
Why, 'tis a cockle, or a walnut-ſhell,
A knack, a toy, a trick, a baby's cap.
Away with it; come, let me have a bigger.
I'll have no bigger, this doth fit the time *;
And gentlewomen wear ſuch caps as theſe.
When you are gentle, you ſhall have one too,
And not till then.
Why, Sir, I truſt I may have leave to ſpeak,
And ſpeak I will. I am no child, no babe.
Your betters have endured me ſay my mind;
And if you cannot, beſt you ſtop your ears—
My tongue will tell the anger of my heart,
Or elſe my heart, concealing it, will break;
And rather than it ſhall, I will be free,
Even to the utmoſt, as I pleaſe, in words.
Why, thou ſay'ſt true, it is a paltry cap,
A cuſtard coffin, a bauble, a ſilken pie;
I love thee well in that thou lik'ſt it not.
Love me, or love me not, I like the cap;
And I will have it, or I will have none.
The gown—why, ay—Come, taylor, let us ſee't—
O mercy, Heaven, what maſking ſtuff is here?
What? this a ſleeve? 'tis like a demi-cannon—
What ups and downs, carved like an apple-tart?
Here's ſnip, and ſnip, and ſliſh, and ſlaſh,
Like to a cenſer in a barber's ſhop—
Why, what a devil's name, taylor, call'ſt thou this?
You bid me make it orderly and well,
According to the faſhion of the time.
I never ſaw a better faſhioned gown,
More quaint, more pleaſing, nor more commendable—
Belike you mean to make a puppet of me.

[Page 138] Upon this paſſage, Doctor Warburton has paſſed the following ſtricture:

‘Shakeſpeare has here copied Nature with great ſkill. Petruchio, by frightening, ſtarving, and over-watching his wife, had tamed her into gentleneſs and ſubmiſſion; and the audience expects to hear no more of the ſhrew; when, on her being croſſed in the article of faſhion and finery, the moſt inveterate folly of the ſex, ſhe flies out again, though for the laſt time, into all the intemperate rage of her character.’

This is being ſevere on our ſex at a very cheap rate, indeed; foibles, paſſions, and inconſiderable attachments, are equally common to all mankind, without diſtinction of gender; and the difference of objects gives no ſort of advantage to men, over us; as all eager purſuits, except thoſe of virtue, are alike ridiculous and unimportant, in the candid and impartial eſtimation of reaſon and philoſophy: ‘"Another Florio doating on a flower." YOUNG.

Petruchio having gained a conqueſt in this material point, proceeds to dreſs her and himſelf in poor attire, and propoſes that they ſhould go pay a viſit to her family in ſuch mean garments; upon which occaſion he expreſſes a ſentiment ſo juſt in itſelf, that it betrays a ſad corruption in the morals of mankind, that experience cannot ſupport it.

Well, come, my Kate, we will unto your father's,
Even in theſe honeſt mean habiliments;
Our purſes ſhall be proud, our garments poor;
For 'tis th [...] mind that makes the body rich;
And, as the ſun breaks through the darkeſt clouds,
So honour peereth in the meaneſt habit.
What! is the jay more precious than the lark▪
Becauſe his feathers are more beautiful?
Or is the adder better than the eel,
Becauſe his painted ſkin contents the eye?
Oh, no, good Kate; neither art thou the worſe
For this poor furniture, and mean array. ACT V. SCENE V.
[Page 139]

After Catharine has been thoroughly reclaimed, ſhe takes an occaſion, from a circumſtance in the Play, of reproving another married woman, in an admirable ſpeech; wherein the deſcription of a wayward wife, with the duty and ſubmiſſion which ought to be ſhewn to a huſband, are finely ſet forth.

Fy! fy! unknit that threatening unkind brow,
And dart not ſcornful glances from thoſe eyes,
To wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor.
It blots thy beauty, as froſts bite the meads;
Confounds thy fame, as whirlwinds ſhake fair buds,
And in no ſenſe is meet or amiable.
A woman moved is like a fountain troubled,
Muddy, ill-ſeeming, thick, bereft of beauty;
And while it is ſo, none ſo dry or thirſty
Will deign to ſip, or touch one drop of it.
Thy huſband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy ſovereign; one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance commits his body
To painful labour, both by ſea and land;
To watch the night in ſtorms, the day in cold,
While thou lyeſt warm at home, ſecure and ſafe;
And craves no other tribute at thy hands,
But love, fair looks, and true obedience;
Too little payment for ſo great a debt.
Such duty as the ſubject owes the prince,
Even ſuch a woman oweth to her huſband;
And when ſhe's froward, peeviſh, ſullen, ſour,
And not obedient to his honeſt will,
What is ſhe but a foul contending rebel,
And graceleſs traitor, to her loving lord?
I am aſhamed that women are ſo ſimple,
To offer war, where they ſhould kneel for peace;
Or ſeek for rule, ſupremacy, and ſway,
When they are bound to ſerve, love, and obey.
Why are our bodies ſoft, and weak, and ſmooth,
Unapt to toil and trouble in the world,
But that our ſoft conditions and our hearts
Should well agree with our external parts?
Come, come, you froward and unable worms,
My mind has been as big as one of yours,
My heart as great, my reaſon haply more,
To bandy word for word, and frown for frown;
But now I ſee our lances are but ſtraws,
[Page 140] Our ſtrength as weak, our weakneſs paſt compare;
That ſeeming to be moſt, which we indeed leaſt are.

I have ſtopped ſhort here, as thinking that the following lines might have marred the whole beauty of the ſpeech; the doctrine of paſſive obedience and non-reſiſtance in the ſtate of marriage, being there carried, perhaps, rather a little too far. But I ſhall quote them here, as they afford me an opportunity of remarking on the nature of too prompt reformees, who are apt to run into the very contrary extreme, at once; betraying more of the time-ſerver, than the convert.

But, in general, indeed, it has been obſerved, that the moſt haughty tyrants become, on a reverſe of fortune, the moſt abject ſlaves; and this from a like principle, in both caſes; that they are apt to impute the ſame ſpirit of deſpotiſm to the conqueror, they were before impreſt with themſelves; and conſequently, are brought to tremble at the apprehenſion of their own vice.

The lines I allude to, are theſe:

Then vail your ſtomachs, for it is no boot,
And place your hands beneath your huſband's foot;
In token of which duty, if he pleaſe,
My hand is ready, may it do him eaſe.*



1.12.1. Dramatis Perſonae.





  • An Abbeſs.
  • ADRIANA, wife to Antipholis.
  • LUCIANA, her Siſter.


[Page 143] ACT II. SCENE I.

THE firſt paſſage that I find worthy of being noted, in this Play, happens to be a repetition of the ſame moral which concluded my remarks on the laſt piece; but as this hint cannot be too often repeated, I ſhall ſupply the quotation, though it may be needleſs to make any further obſervations upon the ſubject.

Adriana and Luciana.
Neither my huſband, nor the ſlave returned,
That in ſuch haſte I ſent to ſeek his maſter!
Sure, Luciana, it is two o'clock.
Perhaps ſome merchant hath invited him,
And from the mart he's ſomewhere gone to dinner.
Good ſiſter, let us dine; and never fret.
A man is maſter of his liberty—
Time is their maſter, and when they ſee time,
They'll go or come. If ſo, be patient, ſiſter.
Why ſhould their liberty than ours be more?
Becauſe their buſineſs ſtill lies out a-door.
Look, when I ſerve him ſo, he takes it ill.
O know, he is the bridle of your will.
There's none but aſſes will be bridled ſo.
Why, head-ſtrong liberty is laſhed with woe.
There's nothing ſituate under heaven's eye,
But hath its bound, on earth, in ſea, or ſky:
The beaſts, the fiſhes, and the winged fowls,
Are their male's ſubjects, and at their controuls:
Man, more divine, the maſter of all theſe,
Lord of the wide world, and wide watery ſeas,
Indued with intellectual ſenſe and ſoul,
Of more pre-eminence than fiſh or fowl,
Are maſters to their females, and their lords:
Then let your will attend on their accords.
[Page 144] Adriana.
This ſervitude makes you to keep un-wed.
Not this, but troubles of the marriage-bed.
But were you wedded, you would bear ſome ſway?
Ere I learn love, I'll practiſe to obey.

In the continuation of the ſame dialogue, where Luciana preaches patience to her ſiſter, Adriana points out to her, very naturally, the great difference between giving and taking of advice.

Patience unmoved!—No marvel tho' ſhe pauſe *;
They can be meek, who have no other cauſe.
A wretched ſoul, bruiſed with adverſity,
We bid be quiet, when we hear it cry;
But were we burdened with like weight of pain,
As much, or more, we ſhould ourſelves complain.
So thou, that haſt no unkind mate to grieve thee,
With urging helpleſs patience wouldſt relieve me:
But if thou live to ſee like right bereft,
This foo [...]-begged patience in thee will be left. ACT III. SCENE I.

In a paſſage here, there is a ſentiment of great propriety and delicacy argued upon; in the diſſuading a perſon from the commiſſion of an unſeemly action, even though the thing itſelf might be ſufficiently juſtified in one's own breaſt. A reſpect to decency, and the opinion of the world, is an excellent bulwark to our virtues.

When Antipholis, upon being denied admittance into his houſe from a miſtake in his wife and domeſtics, is in reſentment preparing to force open the door, his friend intreats his forbearance in the following words: ‘

Be ruled by me, depart in patience,
And let us to the Tyger all to dinner;
And about evening [...] me yourſelf alone,
To know the reaſon of this ſtrange reſtraint.
If by ſtrong hand you offer to break in,
Now in the ſtirring paſſage of the day,
[Page 145] A vulgar comment will be made of it;
And that ſuppoſed by the common rout *,
Againſt your yet ungalled eſtimation,
That may with foul intruſion enter in,
And dwell upon your grave when you are dead:
For ſlander lives upon ſucceſſion,
For ever houſed where once it gets poſſeſſion.

Prior ſpeaks very refinedly on the ſame nice ſubject:

Beyond the fixed and ſettled rules
Of vice and virtue, in the ſchools;
Above the letter of the law,
Which holds our men and maids in awe;
The better ſort ſhould ſet before 'em
A grace, a manner, a decorum;
Something that gives their acts a light,
Makes them not only juſt, but bright;
And ſets them in that open fame,
Which witty malice cannot blame. ACT V. SCENE II.

There are ſome excellent documents for wives, laid down in this place, upon the following occaſion:

Antipholis, in this Comedy of Errors, being ſuppoſed to be out of his ſenſes, takes ſanctuary in a Priory to ſcreen himſelf from Adriana and her friends, who attempt to ſeize him; and the Abbeſs, coming forth to forbid their entrance, firſt artfully draws a confeſſion from Adriana of her manners and conduct toward her huſband, upon her having conceived ſome jealouſy of him; and then proceeds to infer the cauſe of his diſtraction from her behaviour.

Hath he not loſt much wealth by wreck at ſea?
Buried ſome dear friend? Hath not elſe his eye
Strayed his affection in unlawful love?
A ſin prevailing much in youthful men,
Who give their eyes the liberty of gazing.
Which of theſe ſorrows is he ſubject to?
To none of theſe, except it be the laſt;
Namely ſome love, that drew him oft from home.
[Page 146] Abbeſs.
You ſhould for that have reprehended him.
Why, ſo I did.
Ay, but not rough enough.
As roughly as my modeſty would let me.
Haply, in private.
And in aſſemblies too.
Ay, but not enough.
It was the copy of our conference;
In bed, he ſlept not for my urging it;
At board, he fed not for my urging it;
Alone, it was the ſubject of my theme;
In company, I often glanced at it;
Still did I tell him it was vile and bad.
And therefore came it, that the man was mad—
The venom clamours of a jealous woman
Poiſon more deadly than a mad dog's tooth.
It ſeems his ſleeps were hindered by thy railing;
And therefore comes it that his head is light.
Thou ſay'ſt his meat was ſauced with thy upbraidings;
Unquiet meals make ill digeſtions;
Therefore the raging fire of fever bred;
And what's a fever, but a fit of madneſs?
Thou ſay'ſt his ſports were hindered by thy brawls—
Sweet recreation barred, what doth enſue,
But moody and dull melancholy,
Kinſman to grim and comfortleſs deſpair?
And at its heels a huge infectious troop
Of pale diſtemperatures, and foes to life.
In food, in ſport, and life preſerving reſt,
To be diſturbed, would mad or man or beaſt▪
The conſequence is then, thy jealous fits
Have ſcared thy huſband from the uſe of 's wits.



1.13.1. Dramatis Perſonae.



  • LEONATO, Governor of Meſſina.
  • ANTONIO, his brother.
  • DON PEDRO, Prince of Arragon.
  • CLAUDIO, his friend.
  • DON JOHN, baſtard brother to Don Pedro.
  • CONRADE, his friend.
  • BENEDICK, a young lord, a marriage-hater.
  • A FRIAR.


  • HERO, daughter to Leonato.
  • BEATRICE, niece to Leonato.

1.13.2. Much Ado About Nothing.

[Page 149] ACT I. SCENE I.
Leonato and Meſſenger.

A Meſſenger from the camp telling Leonato of his having given an account of the gallant behaviour of Claudio to his uncle, ſays, ‘I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in him—even ſo much, that joy could not ſhew itſelf modeſt enough, without a badge of bitterneſs.

Upon this paſſage Doctor Warburton has given a note ſo full and ingenious, that it would be preſumption in me to offer my comment on it, in any other ſenſe or words than his own.

‘This is judiciouſly expreſſed.—Of all the tranſports of joy, that which is attended with tears, is the leaſt offenſive; becauſe, carrying with it this mark of pain, it allays the envy that uſually attends another's happineſs. This he finely calls a modeſt joy; ſuch a one as did not inſult the obſerver, by an indication of happineſs unmixed with pain.’ ACT II. SCENE I.

Phyſiognomiſts ſay, that the features of the mind uſually mark their impreſſions on the countenance. A mirthful or melancholy aſpect, a wanton or malicious one; in fine, every characteriſtic trait of viſage throughout, denote their correſpondent paſſions or affections in the ſoul. Socrates acknowledged the certainty of this ſcience, by confeſſing a deſcription of himſelf to be true, as to his nature, though falſe, regarding his character.

According to this piece of philoſophy, a perſon of a ſevere and ſaturnine complexion is humorouſly deſcribed in this place.

[Page 150]
Beatrice. How tartly that gentleman looks! I never can ſee him, but I am heart-burned an hour after.

From hence this lively girl proceeds to draw a contraſt between him and another perſon, of a contrary diſpoſition, very juſtly cenſuring both of the extremes: ‘He were an excellent man that were made juſt in the mid-way between him and Benedick; the one is too like an image, and ſays nothing; and the other, too much like my lady's eldeſt ſon, evermore tattling.’ SCENE III.

The abſolute dominion which love is found to uſurp, not only over our paſſions, but our very principles, is too juſtly deſcribed in a paſſage here; which may lead one to pronounce, that neither man or woman can truly boaſt a friend, whom they have not had an occaſion of firſt trying as a rival.

Friendſhip is conſtant in all other things,
Save in the office and affairs of love;
Therefore all hearts in love uſe their own tongues *,
Let every eye negotiate for itſelf,
And truſt no agent. Beauty is a witch,
Againſt whoſe charms faith melteth into blood—
This is an accident of hourly proof. SCENE V.

The effect of ſtrong paſſion in the prevention of utterance, is well expreſſed here: ‘

Claudio. Silence is the perfecteſt herald of joy—I were but little happy, if I could ſay how much. SCENE VIII.

The total metamorphoſis of character, manners, and diſpoſition, wrought in us by love, is well deſcribed in a ſpeech in this Scene: ‘

Benedick. I do much wonder, that one man ſeeing how much another man is a fool, when he dedicates his behaviour to love, will, after he hath laughed at ſuch ſhallow follies in others, become the argument of his own ſcorn, by falling himſelf in love! And ſuch a man is Claudio. I have known when there was no muſic with him, but the drum and the fife; and now had he rather hear the tabor [Page 151] and the pipe. I have known when he would have walked ten miles a foot, to ſee a good armour; and now will he lye ten nights awake, carving the faſhion of a new doublet. He was wont to ſpeak plain, and to the purpoſe, like an honeſt man, and a ſoldier; and now is he turned orthographer; his words are a very fantaſtical banquet, juſt ſo many ſtrange diſhes.

From theſe reflections, Benedick goes on holding a debate with himſelf upon this ſubject; and, like moſt people, before their hearts have become a party in the matter, draws a vain portrait of the peerleſs paragon who only can be capable of triumphing over his affections; leaving nothing, in the choice of his miſtreſs, to Heaven itſelf, except the colour of her hair.

‘May I be ſo converted, and ſee with theſe eyes? I cannot tell; I think not. I will not be ſworn but love may transform me to an oyſter; but I'll take my oath, that till he have made one of me, he ſhall never make me ſuch a fool. One woman is fair, yet I am well; another is wiſe, yet I am well; another virtuous, yet I am well. But till all graces meet in one woman, one woman ſhall not come in my grace. Rich ſhe ſhall be, that's certain; wiſe, or I'll none; virtuous, or I'll never cheapen her; fair, or I'll never look on her; mild, or come not near me; noble, or not I for an angel; of good diſcourſe, an excellent muſician; and her hair ſhall be of what colour it pleaſe God. SCENE IX.

Modeſty is as ſure an attendant on Merit, as its companion, as Envy is, as its ſhade *.

It is the witneſs ſtill of excellency,
To put a ſtrange face on its own perfection.

In the ſame Scene, Don Pedro, ſpeaking of Benedick, ſays, ‘The man doth fear God, howſoever it ſeems not in him, by ſome large jeſts he will make.’

This is too common a character in life; of perſons who ſcoff at religion with as much fear and trembling, as would be ſufficient to work out their ſalvation. The whole of infidelity is owing to a fool-hardy diſpoſition [Page 152] of this ſort. The ſtrongeſt Deiſts are but Sceptics; and the Atheiſt, no more than a Deiſt in reality; nay often, as Pope humorouſly expreſſes it on another occaſion, ‘"May be a ſad good Chriſtian in his heart."’ SCENE X.

The ſcheme for inducing Benedick and Beatrice to fall in love with each other, which is commenced with him in the preceding Scene, and concluded with her in the firſt one of the Third Act, is moſt admirably laid. The ſureſt method that artifice can contrive to inſpire a paſſion in any one, is by giving them a notion of the other party's predilection for them; for, as Hero ſays to Urſula, in the plot on Beatrice,

Let it be thy part
To praiſe him more than ever man did merit.
My talk to thee muſt be, how Benedick
Is ſick in love with Beatrice. Of ſuch matter
Is little Cupid's crafty arrow made,
That often wounds by hearſay.
Act III. Scene I.

And again,

If it prove ſo, then loving goes by haps;
Some Cupids kill with arrows, ſome with traps.

When every other circumſtance of years, of rank, and fortune happens to be on a par, ſuch arts may, perhaps, be allowed to paſs under the title of pious frauds, at leaſt; for gratitude is a good cement of affections, as it ſerves to confirm paſſion by principle.

The readineſs with which we are apt to run into the ſnare ourſelves, with the kind of logic we uſe in order to make a ſudden reſolve appear a deliberate purpoſe, may be ſeen diſplayed in the ſoliloquy of Benedick, juſt after Don Pedro, Claudio, and Leonato, had played off their part againſt him, as ſuppoſing him not to be within hearing.

[Page 153] Benedick, advancing from the arbour, ‘This can be no trick, the conference was ſadly * borne. They have the truth of this, from Hero; they ſeem to pity the lady; it ſeems her affections have the full bent. Love me! Why, it muſt be requited—I hear how I am cenſured; they ſay, I will bear myſelf proudly, if I perceive the love to come from her; they ſay too, that ſhe will rather die than give any ſign of affection.—I did never think to marry—I muſt not ſeem proud—happy are they that hear their detractions, and can put them to mending. They ſay the lady is fair; 'tis a truth, I can bear them witneſs—And virtuous—'Tis ſo, I cannot reprove it—And wiſe—but for loving me—By my troth, it is no addition to her wit—nor no great argument of her folly, neither; for I will be horribly in love with her—I may chance to have ſome odd quirks and remnants of wit broken on me, becauſe I have railed ſo long againſt marriage; but doth not the appetite alter? A man loves the meat in his youth, that he cannot endure in his age. Shall quips and ſentences, theſe paper bullets of the brain, awe a man from the career of his humour? No— the world muſt be peopled—When I ſaid I would die a bachelor, I did not think I ſhould live 'till I were married. Here comes Beatrice! By this day, ſhe's a fair lady—I do ſpy ſome marks of love in her.’

The ſpeech of Beatrice, alſo, in the firſt Scene of the Third Act, has a right to take place here, though ſomewhat before its time, as a companion to the preceding.

Beatrice, advancing, after Hero and Urſula had quitted the Scene:

What fire is in my ears! Can this be true?
Stand I condemned for pride and ſcorn ſo much?
Contempt, farewel! and maiden pride, adieu!
No glory lives behind the back of ſuch.
And, Benedick, love on, I will requite thee,
Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand;
If thou doſt love, thy fondneſs ſhall incite thee
To bind our loves up in a holy band.
For others ſay thou doſt deſerve; and I
Believe it better than reportingly. ACT III. SCENE I.

A moſt unamiable character of pride and ſelfconceit is given in this place, which falls very properly [Page 154] within the moral tendency of theſe notes to expoſe to view; though it is only ſpoken in conſequence of the plot againſt Beatrice.

But nature never framed a woman's heart
Of prouder ſtuff, than that of Beatrice.
Diſdain and ſcorn ride ſparkling in her eyes,
Miſprizing what they look on; and her wit
Values itſelf ſo highly, that to her
All matter elſe ſeems weak; ſhe cannot love;
Nor take no ſhape nor project of affection,
She is ſo ſelf-indeared.

The ſame character is continued in the ſame Scene, with the addition of a ſatirical vein, which is extremely well and humorouſly deſcribed: ‘

I never yet ſaw man,
How wiſe, how noble, young, how rarely featured,
But ſhe would ſpell him backward—If fair-faced,
She'd ſwear the gentleman ſhould be her ſiſter;
If black, why Nature drawing of an antick *,
Made a foul blot; if tall, a lance ill-headed;
If low, an aglet very vilely cut;
If ſpeaking, why, a vane blown with all winds;
If ſilent, then a block moved by none.
So turns ſhe every man the wrong ſide out,
And never gives to truth and virtue that
Which ſimpleneſs and merit purchaſeth.

Hero, in the ſame Scene, pretending to lay a ſcheme with Urſula, for curing Benedick of his ſuppoſed paſſion for Beatrice, while ſhe is liſtening, ſays,

No, rather I will go to Benedick,
And counſel him to fight againſt his paſſion.
And, truly, I'll deviſe ſome honeſt ſlanders
To ſtain my couſin with — One doth not know
How ſuch an ill word may impoiſon liking.

The ſucceſs of ſuch a wicked device I have already remarked on, in a paſſage of the Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act Third, and Scene Fifth.

‘"The beſt way is to ſlander Valentine, &c."’

[Page 155] and I ſhall, therefore, make no further note on the ſubject here.

I have not been ſo much an oeconomiſt, in other places, where the recurring of ſimilar topics afforded me opportunities of ſaving myſelf trouble, by references; but this one is ſo very irkſome a theme, that it diſguſts me to dwell upon it for a moment; for which reaſon, ſhould I happen to meet with it again, in the courſe of this Work, I ſhall paſs it by unnoticed for the future. ACT IV. SCENE II.

Hero, being falſely accuſed of an act of diſhonour, is examined before her father, her lover, and a Friar, with other friends, who had all met together in a convent to attend her nuptials; and the bitterneſs of a parent's anguiſh and reſentment on ſo trying an occaſion, is moſt feelingly expreſſed in the following ſpeech:

Leonato, to his daughter on her fainting.
Do not live, Hero, do not ope thy eyes;
For did I think thou wouldſt not quickly die,
Thought I thy ſpirits were ſtronger than thy ſhames,
Myſelf would, on the rereward of reproaches,
Strike at thy life. Grieved I, I had but one?
Chid I for that at frugal Nature's frame?
I've one too much by thee. Why had I one?
Why ever waſt thou lovely in my eyes?
Why had I not, with charitable hand,
Ta'en up a beggar's iſſue at my gates?
Who ſmeared thus, and mired with infamy,
I might have ſaid, No part of it is mine;
This ſhame derives itſelf from unknown loins.
But mine, and mine I loved, and mine I praiſed,
And mine that I was proud of, mine ſo much,
That I myſelf was to myſelf not mine,
Valuing of her; why ſhe—O ſhe is fallen
Into a pit of ink, that the wide ſea
Hath drops too few to waſh her clean again;
And ſalt too little which may ſeaſon give
To her foul tainted fleſh!

[Page 156] Upon this occaſion, the good Friar, with that charity and humanity which ſo well become the ſacred office of Prieſthood, and from that obſervation which his long experience in the buſineſs of auricular confeſſion had enabled him to form, ſtands forth an advocate for Hero's innocence, in the following poetical and philoſophical oration:

Hear me, a little;
For I have only ſilent been ſo long,
And given way into this courſe of fortune,
By noting of the lady. I have marked
A thouſand bluſhing apparitions
To ſtart into her face; a thouſand innocent ſhame [...]
In angel whiteneſs bear away thoſe bluſhes;
And in her eye there hath appeared a fire,
To burn the errors that theſe princes hold
Againſt her maiden truth—Call me a fool,
Truſt not my reading, nor my obſervations,
Which with experimental ſeal do warrant
The tenor of my book ; truſt not my age.
My reverence, calling, nor divinity,
If this ſweet lady lie not guiltleſs here,
Under ſome biting error.

But, a little after, this good caſuiſt aſks her ſuddenly this trying queſtion: ‘Lady, what man is he you are accuſed of?’ Upon which paſſage Doctor Warburton makes the following judicious remark:

‘The Friar had juſt before boaſted his great ſkill in ſifting out the truth; and indeed, he appears, in this inſtance, to have been no fool. He was by, all the while at the accuſation, and heard no names mentioned. Why, then, ſhould he aſk her what man ſhe was accuſed of? But in this lay the ſubtilty of his examination. For, had Hero been guilty, it was very probable that, in the hurry and confuſion of ſpirits into which the terrible inſult of her lover had thrown her, ſhe [Page 159] would never have obſerved that the man's name was not mentioned; and ſo, on this queſtion, might have betrayed herſelf, by naming the perſon ſhe was conſcious of an affair with. The Friar obſerved this, and ſo concluded, that, were ſhe guilty, ſhe would probably have fallen into the trap he had laid for her. I only take notice of this, to ſhew how admirably well Shakeſpeare knew how to ſuſtain his characters.’

But this noble defence for the unhappy Hero, not being ſufficient to obviate the ſtrong impreſſions of her guilt, which the father had conceived againſt her, the honeſt Prieſt then goes on to propoſe a ſcheme of conduct to him, which might peradventure bring about ſome criſis or event, that would clear her innocence; at leaſt ſilence the infamy, and remove her from being any longer an object of obloquy. In this propoſal there is ſhewn a juſt knowledge of the world, and an intimate acquaintance with the ſecret movements of the human heart.

Pauſe, a while,
And let my counſel ſway you in this caſe.
Your daughter here the princes left for dead *;
Let her a time be ſecretly kept in,
And publiſh it that ſhe is ſo, indeed:
Maintain a mourning oſtentation,
And on your family's old monument
Hang mournful epitaphs, and do all rite [...]
That appertain unto a burial.
What ſhall become of this? What will this do?
Marry, this well carried, ſhall on her behalf
Change ſlander to remorſe; that is ſome good:
But not for that I dream on this ſtrange courſe,
But on this travail look for greater birth:
She dying, as it muſt be ſo maintained,
Upon the inſtant that ſhe was accuſed,
Shall be lamented, pitied, and excuſed,
Of every hearer: for it ſo falls out,
That what we have, we prize not to the worth,
[Page 158] Whiles we enjoy it; but being lacked and loſt,
Why then we reck the value; then we find
The virtue that poſſeſſion would not ſhew us,
Whilſt it was ours; ſo ſhall it fare with Claudio▪
When he ſhall hear ſhe died upon his words,
The idea of her life ſhall ſweetly creep
Into his ſtudy of imagination,
And every lovely organ of her life
Shall come apparelled in more precious habit;
More moving, delicate, and full of life,
Into the eye and proſpect of his ſoul,
Than when ſhe lived indeed. Then ſhall he mourn,
If ever love had intereſt in his liver,
And wiſh he had not ſo accuſed her;
No, though he thought his accuſation true.
Let this be ſo, and doubt not but ſucceſs
Will faſhion the event in better ſhape
Than I can lay it down in likelihood.
But if all aim but this be levelled falſe,
The ſuppoſition of the lady's death
Will quench the wonder of her infamy.
And if it ſort not well, you may conceal her,
As beſt befits her wounded reputation,
In ſome recluſive and religious life,
Out of all eyes, tongues, minds, and injuries.

To this innocent deception the father at length conſents, expreſſing himſelf, at the ſame time, in a manner that every perſon's experience, who has ever had the misfortune to have been in ſuch ſituations, muſt have felt the juſtneſs of.

Being that I flow in grief,
The ſmalleſt twine may lead me.

Doctor Johnſon's note upon this paſſage, is worthy of being quoted here:

‘This is one of our Author's obſervations upon life. Men overpowered with diſtreſs, eagerly liſten to the firſt offers of relief, cloſe with every ſcheme, and believe every promiſe. He that has no longer any confidence in himſelf, is glad to repoſe his truſt in any other that will undertake to guide him.’ SCENE III.
[Page 159]

Beatrice, in ſpiriting up Benedick to avenge her couſin Hero's quarrel, thus expreſſes her reſentment againſt the offender: ‘Is he not approved in the height a villain, that hath ſlander'd, ſcorn'd, diſhonour'd my kinſwoman! O, that I were a man! What! bear her in hand until they come to take hands, and then with public accuſation, uncover'd ſlander, unmitigated rancour— O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the market-place. O that I were a man for his ſake! or, that I had any friend would be a man for my ſake! But manhood is melted into courteſies, valour into compliment, and men are only turned into tongue, and trim ones too—He is now as valiant as Hercules, that only tells a lie, and ſwears to it—I cannot be a man with wiſhing, therefore I will die a woman with grieving.’

There is a generous warmth of indignation in this ſpeech, which muſt certainly impreſs a female reader with the ſame ſentiments upon ſuch an occaſion. I am not ſo diſingenuous to take advantage of this paſſage as an hiſtorical fact, but am willing to reſt it upon the ſole authority of the Poet's aſſumption, as this will ſufficiently anſwer the deſign of my introducing it; which is, to vindicate my ſex from the general, but unjuſt charge of being prone to ſlander; for were this the caſe, were not the reſentment of Beatrice, in this inſtance, natural, how could it move our ſympathy? which it actually does here, even though we acknowledge the circumſtance to have been merely imaginary.

I believe, that there is nothing which a woman of virtue feels herſelf more offended at, than defamation or ſcandal; firſt againſt her own character, and proportionably when others are made the victims. There are women, indeed, who may be fond of flander, as having an intereſt in depreciating an idea of chaſtity; but this is owing to their frailty, not their ſex—Vice is neither maſculine, nor feminine; 'tis the common of two. ACT V.
[Page 160] SCENE I.

While the above-mentioned experiment was depending, and before the honour of Hero had been cleared, Antonio, her uncle, endeavours to comfort his brother under this misfortune; who replies to him in a manner very natural for a perſon labouring under the immediate preſſure of affliction, to ſpeak to all adviſers who do not ſuffer the ſame portion of grief themſelves.

I pray thee, ceaſe thy counſel,
Which falls into mine ears as profitleſs
As water in a ſieve—Give me not counſel,
Nor let no comforter delight mine ear,
But ſuch a one whoſe wrongs do ſuit with mine,
Bring me a father that ſo loved his child,
Whoſe joy of her is overwhelmed like mine,
And bid him ſpeak of patience;—
Meaſure his woe the length and breadth of mine,
And let it anſwer every ſtrain for ſtrain;
And thus for thus, and ſuch a grief for ſuch,
In every lineament, branch, ſhape, and form;
If ſuch a one will ſmile, and ſtroke his beard,
Cry, Sorrow, wag! and hem, when he ſhould groan;
Patch grief with proverbs; make misfortune drunk
With candle-waſters; bring him yet to me,
And I of him will gather patience.
But there is no ſuch man; for, brother, men
Can counſel, and give comfort to that grief
Which they themſelves not feel; but taſting it,
Their counſel turns to paſſion, which before
Would give preceptial medicine to rage;
Fetter ſtrong madneſs in a ſilken thread;
Charm ach with air, and agony with words.
No, no—'tis all men's office to ſpeak patience
To thoſe that wring under the load of ſorrow;
But no man's virtue, or ſufficiency,
To be ſo moral, when he ſhall endure
The like himſelf—therefore, give me no counſel;
My griefs cry louder than advertiſement *.
Therein do men from children nothing differ.
I prithee, peace; I will be fleſh and blood;
For there was never yet philoſopher,
[Page 161] That could endure the tooth-ach patiently;
However they have writ the ſtile of Gods,
And made a piſh at chance and ſufferance. SCENE II.

Upon the two brothers meeting Claudio ſoon after, the father challenges him to ſingle combat, for the ſcandal he had thrown upon his daughter's fame; which being paſſed off in a ſort of contemptuous manner, the reſentment of the younger brother is rouſed, and he immediately ſteps between and takes the quarrel upon himſelf, retorting the affront by a juſt deſcription of the bragging profligates of thoſe, or, indeed, of any times. Horatio's taunt to Lothario * ſeems to have been borrowed from this paſſage.

Claudio to Leonato.
Away, I will not have to do with you.
Canſt thou ſo daffe me? Thou haſt killed my child;
If thou kill'ſt me, boy, thou ſhalt kill a man.
He ſhall kill two of us, and men indeed;
But that's no matter, let him kill one firſt;
Win me and wear me, let him anſwer me;
Come, follow me, boy—Come, boy, follow me;
Sir boy, I'll whip you from your foining fence;
Nay, as I am a gentleman, I will.
Content yourſelf—God knows, I loved my niece;
And ſhe is dead, ſlandered to death by villains,
That dare as well anſwer a man, indeed,
As I dare take a ſerpent by the tongue.
Boys, apes, braggarts, jacks, milk-ſops!
Brother Anthony,—
Hold you content—What, man? I know them, yea;
And what they weigh, even to the utmoſt ſcruple:
Scambling, out-facing, faſhion-monging boys,
That lye, and cog, and flout, deprave and ſlander,
Go antickly, and ſhew an outward hideouſneſs,
And ſpeak off half a dozen dangerous words,
[Page 162] How they might hurt their enemies—if they durſt;
And this is all.

As I commenced my remarks on this Play with a note of Doctor Warburton's, I ſhall conclude them, alſo, with another very judicious obſervation of the ſame critic upon this laſt paſſage:

‘This brother Anthony is the trueſt picture imaginable of human nature. He had aſſumed the character of a Sage, to comfort his brother o'erwhelmed with grief for his only daughter's affront and diſhonour; and had ſeverely reproved him for not commanding his paſſion better, on ſo trying an occaſion. Yet, immediately after this, no ſooner does he begin to ſuſpect that his age and valour are ſlighted, but he falls into the moſt intemperate fit of rage himſelf; and all his brother can ſay, or do, is not of power to pacify him. This is copying Nature with a penetration and exactneſs of judgment peculiar to Shakeſpeare. As to the expreſſion, too, of his paſſion, nothing can be more highly painted.’



1.14.1. Dramatis Perſonae.



  • KING of France.
  • BERTRAM, Count of Rouſillon.
  • LAFEU, an old Lord.
  • PAROLLES, a Paraſite and Coward, attendant on Bertram.
  • A Lord.
  • A Steward.


  • COUNTESS of Rouſillon, Mother to Bertram.
  • HELENA, her Ward, Daughter to a famous Phyſician, long ſince dead.

1.14.2. All's Well That Ends Well.

[Page 165] ACT I. SCENE I.

THE Counteſs of Rouſillon ſpeaking of Helena, her Ward, ſays, ‘I have thoſe hopes of her good, that her education promiſes her; diſpoſition ſhe inherits, which makes fair gifts fairer; for where an unclean mind carries virtuous qualities, there commendations go with pity; they are virtues and traitors too; in her they are the better for her ſimpleneſs; ſhe derives her honeſty, and achieves her goodneſs.’

The Commentators are not agreed in opinion upon the verbal ſenſe of this paſſage—but no matter; I ſhall leave their criticiſm undecided, and proceed to the moral interpretation of it; which is, that a derived virtue, which implies a natural good diſpoſition, affords conſiderable aſſiſtance to a good education; that accompliſhments, without ſuch a foundation, are a diſadvantage to the poſſeſſors, as but tending to their condemnation and reproach; that the innocence and ſimplicity of Helena's mind and heart made uſe of no arts, but left her talents to the natural effect of their own operations; and that though a good diſpoſition may be inherited, virtues muſt be purchaſed.

In the ſame Scene, when Bertram comes to take leave of his mother, in order to attend the king, ſhe gives him her bleſſing in a moſt pathetic manner, and the moſt effectual too, where the ſeeds of virtue are, by ſetting his noble father before him as a pattern. To this ſhe likewiſe adds ſome precepts for the conduct of his life, which would have done honour to the firſt Sages of Aegypt, Greece, or Rome.

Be thou bleſt, Bertram, and ſucceed thy father
In manners, as in ſhape! Thy blood and virtue
Contend for empire in thee, and thy goodneſs
Share with thy birth-right! Love all, truſt a few,
[Page 166] Do wrong to none; be able for thine enemy,
Rather in power, than uſe; and keep thy friend
Under thy own life's key: be checked for ſilence,
But never taxed for ſpeech. What Heaven more will,
That thee may furniſh, and my prayers pluck down,
Fall on thy head! Farewel, my ſon! SCENE II.

Frequent deſcriptions of love recur in almoſt every one of Shakeſpeare's Plays. The enamoured Helena ſpeaks very affectingly on this ſubject here; firſt, by reproving the vain ambition of her paſſion for Bertram, a young nobleman ſo far above her hopes, and then proceeding, notwithſtanding, though very naturally, to give an account of the fond indulgencies with which ſhe ſtill nouriſhes her flame.

My imagination
Carries no favour in it, but my Bertram's.
I am undone! There is no living, none,
If Bertram be away—It were all one
That I ſhould love a bright particular ſtar,
And think to wed it; he is ſo above me.
In his bright radiance and collateral light
Muſt I be comforted; not in his ſphere.
The ambition in my love thus plagues itſelf;
The hind that would be mated by the lion,
Muſt die for love—'T was pretty, tho' a plague,
To ſee him every hour; to ſit and draw
His arched brows, his hawking eye, his curls,
In our heart's tablet: heart too capable
Of every line and trick of his ſweet favour!
But now he's gone! and my idolatrous fancy
Muſt ſanctify his relicks.

The preferences which worthleſs people, flatterers and paraſites, too often gain by addreſs and compliances, before perſons of unſupple merit and virtue, are well ſet forth in this place.

Helena, ſpeaking of Parolles, ſays,

I know him a notorious lyar;
Think him a great way fool, wholly a coward;
Yet theſe fixed evils ſit ſo ſit in him,
That they take place, when Virtue's ſteely bones
[Page 167] Look bleak in the cold wind; full oft we ſee
Cold wiſdom waiting on ſuperfluous folly *. SCENE IV.

There are ſome excellent well-ſpirited reflections here thrown out, to encourage men in the exertion of all their active faculties towards the advancement of their fortunes; and to earn their independance by the manly means of induſtry, inſtead of poorly crouching at the gates of Providence, whining for an alms.

Helena, upon her reſolving to undertake the cure of the king's diſorder, in hopes through that means to raiſe her rank and fortune to a reſpect not unworthy of Bertram, ſays,

Our remedies oft in ourſelves do lie,
Which we aſcribe to heaven. The fated ſky
Gives us free ſcope; only doth backward pull
Our flow deſigns, when we ourſelves are dull.
What power is it which mounts my love ſo high,
That makes me ſee, and cannot feed mine eye ?
Through mightieſt ſpace in fortune nature brings
Likes to join likes, and kiſs, like native things.
Impoſſible be ſtrange attempts to thoſe.
That weigh their pain in ſenſe , and do ſuppoſe
What ha'n't been, cannot be—Who ever ſtrove
To ſhew her merit, that did miſs her love?
The king's diſeaſe! My project may deceive me,
But my intents are fixed, and will not leave me. SCENE V.

There is a moſt beautiful character given here, of a gallant ſoldier and virtuous courtier, in the deſcription of Bertram's deceaſed father; with ſome juſt ſtrictures on the deficiency of theſe qualities, in the ſucceeding generation; which being the principal parts of the ſpeech, I have firſt noted in it; but as there is alſo a charming mixture of the old [Page 168] man and the old friend, in the reſt of it, I ſhall here give the whole together.

King to Bertram.
I would I had that corporal ſoundneſs now,
As when thy father and myſelf in friendſhip
Firſt tried our ſoldierſhip: he did look far
Into the ſervice of the time, and was
Diſcipled of the braveſt. He laſted long;
But on us both did haggiſh age ſteal on,
And wore us out of act—It much repairs me
To talk of your good father; in his youth
He had the wit, which I can well obſerve
To-day in our young lords: but they may jeſt
Till their own ſcorn return to them, unnoted,
Ere they can bide their levity in honour *.
So like a courtier, contempt nor bitterneſs
Were in his pride or ſharpneſs; if they were,
His equal had awaked them; and his honour,
Clock to itſelf, knew the true minute when
Exceptions bid him ſpeak; and at that time
His tongue obeyed the hand. Who were below him
He uſed as creatures of another place,
And bowed his eminent top to their low ranks;
Making them proud of his humility;
In their poor praiſe he humbled: Such a man
Might be a copy to theſe younger times;
Which, followed well, would now demonſtrate them
But goers backward.
Would! were with him! he would always ſay—
Methinks, I hear him, now—His plauſive words
He ſcattered not in ears, but grafted them
To grow there, and to bear—Let me not live—
Thus his good melancholy oft began,
On the cataſtrophe and heel of paſtime,
When it was out—Let me not live, quoth he,
After my flame lacks oil; to be the ſnuff
Of younger ſpirits, whoſe apprehenſive ſenſes
All but new things diſdain; whoſe judgments are
Mere fathers of their garments; whoſe conſtancies
Expire before their faſhions—This he wiſhed.
I, after him, do after him wiſh too,
Since I nor wax nor honey can bring home,
I quickly were diſſolved from my hive,
To give ſome labourers room.

[Page 169] The ſelf-interruptions in the above ſpeech, how admirably are they in the uſual ſtile of a narrative old man! What age, what ſex, what character, ſtation, or office of life, eſcapes the touches of Shakeſpeare's plaſtic hand! SCENE VI.

The diffidence which every one ſhould manifeſt, reſpecting their own merits, is well recommended in the following paſſage.

The ſteward, ſpeaking to the Counteſs: ‘Madam, the care I have had to even * your content, I wiſh might be rather found in the calendar of my paſt endeavours; for then we wound our modeſty, and make foul the cleanneſs of our deſervings, when of ourſelves we publiſh them. ACT II. SCENE VI.

There are a number of moral and philoſophic thoughts on worth and virtue, and on the ſevere laws which the pride and vanity of mankind have eſtabliſhed againſt their own happineſs and enjoyments, delivered here, on the occaſion of Bertram's declining a marriage with Helena, who had confeſſed her love for him to the king, becauſe the happened to have neither birth or means to intitle her to the honour of his alliance.

Strange is it, that our bloods,
Whoſe colour, weight, and heat, poured out together,
Would quite confound diſtinction, yet ſtand off
In differences ſo mighty. If ſhe be
All that is virtuous, ſave what thou diſlikeſt,
A poor phyſician's daughter, thou diſlikeſt
Of virtue, for a name. But do not ſo—
From loweſt place when virtuous things proceed,
The place is dignified by the doer's deed;
Where great addition ſwells, and virtue none,
It is a dropſied honour—Virtue alone
Is good, without a name; Helen is ſo;
The property by what it is ſhould go,
[Page 170] Not by the title—She is young, wiſe, fair;
In theſe, to Nature ſhe's immediate heir;
And theſe breed honour. That is honour's ſcorn,
Which challenges itſelf as honours born,
And is not like the ſire. Honours beſt thrive,
When rather from our acts we them derive,
Than our foregoers. The mere word's a ſlave,
Debaucht on every tomb, on every grave;
A lying trophy; and as oft is dumb,
Where duſt and damned oblivion is the tomb
Of honoured bones, indeed. SCENE VII.

When Lafeu has quitted the ſcene, after having bullied and abuſed Parolles, the latter being left alone, makes this ſoliloquy: ‘

Parolles. Well, thou haſt a ſon that ſhall take this diſgrace of me; ſcurvy, old, filthy lord! Well—I muſt be patient; there is no fettering of authority. I'll beat him, by my life, if I can meet him with any convenience, an he were double and double a lord. I'll have no more pity of his age, than I would have of—I'll beat him, an if I could but meet him again.

Upon this paſſage Doctor Warburton takes occaſion to pay the following juſt compliment to our Author:

‘This the Poet makes Parolles to ſpeak alone; and this is nature. A coward would endeavour to hide his poltroonery even from himſelf. An ordinary writer would have been glad of ſuch an opportunity to bring him to a confeſſion.’ ACT III. SCENE IV.

When Bertram, whom the king had compelled to eſpouſe Helena, flies from France to avoid any farther connection with her, and had engaged in the Tuſcan war, her mourning and reflections upon that occaſion, are extremely moving and tender; particularly in her manner of accuſing herſelf with having been the cauſe of all his perils.

[Page 171]
Poor lord! is't I
That chaſe thee from thy country, and expoſe
Thoſe tender limbs of thine to the event
Of the none-ſparing war? And is it I
That drive thee from the ſportive court, where thou
Waſt ſhot at with fair eyes, to be the mark
Of ſmoky muſkets? O ye leaden meſſengers,
That ride upon the violent ſpeed of fire,
Fly with falſe aim; pierce the ſtill-moving air,
That ſings with piercing—Do not touch my lord.
Whoever ſhoots at him, I ſet him there;
Whoever charges on his forward breaſt,
I am the caitiff that do hold him to it;
And though I kill him not, I am the cauſe
His death was ſo effected. Better it were
I met the ravening lion, when he roared
With ſharp conſtraint of hunger; better it were
That all the miſeries which Nature owes,
Were mine at once. No. Come thou home, Rouſillon,
Whence honour but of danger wins a ſcar;
As oft it loſes all. I will be gone—
My being here it is that holds thee hence;
Shall I ſtay here to do it? No, no, although
The air of paradiſe did fan the houſe,
And angels officed all—I will be gone,
That pitiful rumour may report my flight,
To conſolate thine ear. ACT IV. SCENE III.

I ſhall conclude theſe obſervations with a reflection made in this place on the mixed character of human nature in general, in which virtue and vice are often ſo balanced or blended, as to prevent perfection on one hand, and total depravation on the other.

A Lord. The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together. Our virtues would be proud, if our faults whipped them not; and our crimes would deſpair, if they were not cheriſhed by our virtues.


I have here finiſhed my notes upon all the Comedies of Shakeſpeare, and hope that the indulgent Reader will be ſo kind as to diſmiſs me in this part of my work, with a favourable application of the laſt title, or, All's well that ends well.

[Page 172] Perhaps I may not be allowed the diſtinction of Comedies, as referred to the fourteen foregoing Plays; as the ſhipwreck in the Tempeſt, Antigonus being devoured by a bear, and the Prince dying of grief, in the Winter's Tale, &c. are not very comic circumſtances; but this is the diviſion that is generally made of our author's drama; though, ſtrictly ſpeaking, his Plays cannot properly be ſtiled either Tragedies or Comedies, but are, in truth, a more natural ſpecies of compoſition than either.

2. histories



2.1.1. Dramatis Perſonae.



  • PHILIP, King of France.
  • ARTHUR, Nephew to King John.
  • LEWIS, the Dauphin.
  • CARDINAL PANDULPHO, the Pope's Legate.
  • SALISBURY, an Engliſh Lord.
  • FAULCONBRIDGE, baſtard ſon to Richard the Firſt.
  • HUBERT, lieutenant of the Tower.


  • CONSTANCE, Mother to Arthur.

2.1.2. KING JOHN.

[Page 175] ACT II. SCENE VI.

THE following ſpeech, though delivered with an air of levity, and expreſſed in humorous words and images, ſupplies occaſion for three very juſt reflections. The firſt, That ſelf intereſt, in the mere worldly ſenſe of the term, is the ruling principle of mankind. Secondly, That men are too apt to inveigh againſt corruption, more from the being void of temptation themſelves, than their being free from this vice; and, laſtly, That bad examples in the ſuperior ranks of life, have a dangerous tendency to injure the morals of the inferior claſſes of a people.

Upon a peace being made between the kings of England and France, in which the right of Arthur to the Britiſh throne is betrayed on the one hand, and but poorly compenſated on the other, Faulconbridge makes this ſoliloquy:

Mad world, mad kings, mad compoſition!
John, to ſtop Arthur's title in the whole,
Hath willingly departed with a part;
And France, whoſe armour conſcience buckled on,
Whom zeal and charity brought to the field,
As God's own ſoldier *, rounded in the ear
With that ſame purpoſe-changer, that fly devil,
That broker that ſtill breaks the pate of faith,
That daily break-vow, he that wins of all,
Of kings, of beggars, old men, young men, maids,
Who having no external thing to loſe,
But the word maid, cheats the poor girl of that;
That ſmooth-faced gentleman, tickling commodity—
Commodity, the bias of the world;
The world, which of itſelf is poized well,
[Page 176] Made to run even upon even ground;
Till this advantage, this vile drawing bias,
This ſway of motion, this commodity,
Makes it take head from all indifferency,
From all direction, purpoſe, courſe, intent.
And this ſame bias, this commodity,
This bawd, this broker, this all-changing word,
Clapped on the outward eye of fickle France.
Hath drawn him from his own determined aid,
From a reſolved and honourable war,
To a moſt baſe and vile-concluded peace.
Yet why rail I on this commodity?
But for becauſe he hath not wooed me yet;
Not that I have the power to clutch my hand,
When his fair angels would ſalute my palm;
But that my hand, as unattempted yet,
Like a poor beggar, raileth on the rich.
Well, while I am a beggar, I will rail,
And ſay there is no ſin but to be rich;
And being rich, my virtue then ſhall be
To ſay, there is no vice but beggary.
Since kings break faith upon commodity,
Gain, be my lord; for I will worſhip thee.

The aſtoniſhment of Conſtance, on hearing that her ſon's intereſts are ſacrificed to the league, with the doubts which we are naturally inclined to conceive of the truth of ſudden ill news, and the weak ſtate of mind and ſpirits to which perſons in misfortune, eſpecially helpleſs women, are generally reduced, are all finely painted and deſcribed in the following ſpeech.

Conſtance, Arthur, and Saliſbury.
Conſtance to Saliſbury.
Gone to be married *! Gone to ſwear a peace!
Falſe blood to falſe blood joined! Gone to be friends!
Shall Lewis have Blanch, and Blanch thoſe provinces?
It is not ſo; thou haſt miſ-ſpoke, miſ-heard;
Be well adviſed, tell o'er thy tale again—
[Page 177] It cannot be—thou doſt but ſay, 'tis ſo.
I truſt I may not truſt thee—for thy word
Is but the vain breath of a common man.
Believe me I do not believe thee, man—
I have a king's oath to the contrary.
Thou ſhalt be puniſhed for thus frighting me;
For I am ſick, and capable of fears;
Oppreſſed with wrongs, and therefore full of fears—
A widow, huſbandleſs, ſubject to fears;
A woman naturally born to fears;
And tho' thou now confeſs thou didſt but jeſt,
With my vexed ſpirits I cannot make a truce,
But they will quake and tremble all this day—
What doſt thou mean by ſhaking of thy head?
Why doſt thou look ſo ſadly on my ſon?
What means that hand upon that breaſt of thine?
Why holds thine eye that lamentable rheum,
Like a proud river peering o'er his bounds?
Be theſe ſad ſighs confirmers of thy words?
Then ſpeak again; not all thy former tale,
But this one word, whether thy tale be true.

A little further, upon Saliſbury's confirming the bad news, ſhe conceives a very natural though unreaſonable idea, with which, however, we are apt to be impreſſed toward all meſſengers of bad tidings, however innocent of the evil:

Fellow, be gone, I cannot brook thy ſight—
This news hath made thee a moſt ugly man.

That partiality in favour of beauty, which it is natural for all perſons to be ſenſible of, even where their duty and intereſts in different objects are equal, is ſtrongly marked by Conſtance, when her ſon begs her to ſuſtain his wrongs with patience. The whole ſpeech is affecting.

If thou that bid'ſt me be content, were grim,
Ugly and ſlanderous to thy mother's womb,
Full of unpleaſing blots, and ſightle [...]s * ſtains,
Lame, fooliſh, crooked, ſwart, prodigious ,
[Page 178] Patched with foul moles, and eye-offending marks,
I would not care; I then could be content;
For then I ſhould not love thee; no, nor thou
Become thy great birth, nor deſerve a crown.
But thou art fair, and at thy birth, dear boy!
Nature and Fortune joined to make thee great.
Of Nature's gifts thou may'ſt with lilies boaſt,
And with the half-blown roſe.

In the ſame Scene, when Saliſbury tells her that the two kings had ſent for her, and that be muſt not return without her, the anſwer ſhe makes is full of that dignity, which grief, mixed with reſentment, is capable of conferring on illuſtrious unfortunates; and her whole demeanour upon that occaſion is expreſſive of a great ſoul, rendered ſtill braver by miſfortunes.

Thou may'ſt, thou ſhalt; I will not go with thee.
I will inſtruct my ſorrows to be proud;
For grief is proud, and makes his owner ſtout.
To me, and to the ſtate of my great grief,
Let kings aſſemble; for my grief's ſo great,
That no ſupporter, but the huge firm earth,
Can hold it up. — Here I and ſorrow fit —
Here is my throne; bid kings come bow to it.
Sits down on the floor.

Doctor Johnſon has given us a very judicious note on this paſſage; and as it relates to the paſſions, which, as well as morals, are a ſubject of this work, I ſhall preſent the reader with a tranſcript of it here.

‘In Much Ado About Nothing, the father of Hero, depreſſed by her diſgrace, declares himſelf ſo ſubdued by grief, that a thread may lead him *. How is it that grief, in Leonato and Lady Conſtance, produces effects directly oppoſite, and yet both agreeable to Nature? Sorrow ſoftens the mind, while it is yet warmed by hope; but hardens it, when 'tis congealed by deſpair. Diſtreſs, while there remains any proſpect of relief, is weak and flexible; but when no ſuccour appears, is fearleſs [Page 179] and ſtubborn; angry alike at thoſe who injure, and at thoſe who do not help; careleſs to pleaſe, where nothing can be gained; and fearleſs to offend, when there is nothing further to be dreaded. Such was this Author's knowledge of the Paſſions.’ SCENE II.

What expreſſions can be ſtronger in themſelves, or more ſhocking to the ears of her oppreſſors, than the following ſhort exclamation!

Arm, arm, ye Heavens, againſt theſe perjured kings!
A widow cries, be husband to me, Heaven!

Here the ſpeech ſhould have ended; the four remaining lines but weaken and diſgrace it. SCENE III.

When Philip is urged by the Pope's Legate to break the league he had juſt entered into with John, he offers to compound the treachery by ceaſing to be his friend, but without becoming his enemy.

‘I may disjoin my hand, but not my faith.’

To which Pandulpho makes him this reply:

So mak'ſt thou faith an enemy to faith;
And like a civil war ſet'ſt oath to oath,
Thy tongue againſt thy tongue. O, let thy vow,
Firſt made to Heaven, firſt be to Heaven performed!
That is, to be the champion of the Church.
What ſince thou ſworeſt, is ſworn againſt thyſelf,
And may not be performed by thyſelf.
For that which thou haſt ſworn to do amiſs,
Is't not amiſs when it is truly done?
And being not done, where doing tends to ill,
The truth is then moſt done, not doing it.
The better act of purpoſes miſtook,
Is to miſtake again; though indirect,
Yet indirection thereby grows direct,
And falſehood falſehood cures; as fire cools fire,
Within the ſcorched veins of one new burned.
It is religion that doth make vows kept,
But thou haſt ſworn againſt religion;
By which thou ſwear'ſt againſt the thing thou ſwear'ſt;
And mak'ſt an oath the ſurety for thy truth,
Againſt an oath. The truth thou art unſure
To ſwear; ſwear only not to be forſworn;
[Page 180] Elſe what a mockery ſhould it be to ſwear?
But thou doſt ſwear, only to be forſworn,
And moſt forſworn to keep what thou doſt ſwear.
Therefore thy latter vow's againſt thy firſt,
Is in thyſelf rebellion to thyſelf;
And better conqueſt never canſt thou make,
Than arm thy conſtant and thy nobler parts
Againſt theſe giddy looſe ſuggeſtions.
Upon which better part our prayers come in,
If thou vouchſafe them. But, if not, then know,
The peril of our curſes light on thee,
So heavy, as thou ſhalt not ſhake them off,
But in deſpair die under their black weight.

The old Jeſuit argues here as ingeniouſly for the diſpenſing power of the Papacy, as Satan does in Milton for his rebellion. The object of both is the ſame; namely, the abſolute and excluſive dominion of Heaven. SCENE VI.

The wild and enthuſiaſtic manner with which the fondneſs and deſpair of Conſtance for her ſon, impels her to ſpeak of him, has ſomething extremely moving in it:

Father cardinal, I have heard you ſay,
That we ſhall ſee and know our friends in Heaven;
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-fit;
And ſo he'll die: and riſing ſo again,
When I ſhall meet him in the court of Heaven,
I ſhall not know him; therefore, never, never,
Muſt I behold my pretty Arthur more.

There is ſomething very tender and affecting in her making uſe of the epithet pretty, in the laſt line. It has a better effect there than deareſt, angel, or even lovely, (though this laſt has a more comprehenſive ſenſe) would have had in that place. I muſt beg leave to refer to the Reader's own taſte for [Page 181] the juſtneſs of this obſervation; for I own, I cannot explain why it ſtrikes me in this manner myſelf.

The reaſon why we are apt to cheriſh grief in our breaſts; that ſpecies of it, I only mean, which may be diſtinguiſhed by the name of tender ſorrow; from a peculiar ſort of indulgence it is capable of affording us, is admirably well expreſſed in the following paſſage: ‘

You hold too heinous a reſpect of grief.
He talks to me who never had a ſon.
You ſeem as fond of grief, as of your child.
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.
Fare you well. Had you ſuch a loſs as I,
I could give better comfort than you do.
I will not keep this form upon my head,
Tearing off her head-dreſs.
When there is ſuch diſorder in my wits.
O Lord, my boy, my Arthur, my fair ſon!
My life, my joy, my food, my all the world!
My widow's comfort, and my ſorrow's cure.

Theſe laſt three lines are almoſt ſuffocating. I believe no woman with a mother's feeling, could ever be able to pronounce them articulately, even in repreſentation.

Doctor Johnſon gives a good note on one of the paſſages of the above ſpeech:

Had you ſuch a loſs as I,
I could give better comfort than you do. l. 7 and 8.

‘This is a ſentiment which great ſorrow always dictates. Whoever cannot help himſelf, caſts his eyes on others for aſſiſtance; and often miſtakes their inability for coldneſs.’

[Page 182] I remember a couple of French lines on this ſubject of grief, which contain the ſame thought that Conſtance expreſſes above:

Men deuil me plait, et doit toujours me plaire:
Il me tient lieu de celu [...] que je pleurs. SCENE VIII.
Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale,
Vexing the dull ear of a drowſy man.

This may be a juſt image of life, to thoſe who have exhauſted its variety, and palled their ſenſes with its pleaſures. The ſpeech might not have ill become his father, old Philip, then labouring under baffled hopes and diſappointed wiſhes; who had juſt then ſuffered the mortification of having loſt a battle, in the heart of his own dominions, and whoſe miſtaken faith in heaven had obliged him to break faith on earth, without effect too; but it was certainly rather too premature a ſentence to have proceeded from the lips of a young prince, who had been but juſt married to a woman he loved. Such an impropriety in the character of a ſpeaker, hurts the effect of a thought or ſentiment.

In the ſame Scene, there is a ſtrong deſcription given of the ſituation of a ſovereign, with regard to the people, after he has forfeited their love, confidence, or eſteem.

Pandulpho, ſpeaking of John's keeping Arthur in priſon:

This act ſo evilly born, ſhall cool the hearts
Of all his people, and freeze up their zeal;
That no ſo ſmall advantage ſhall ſtep forth
To check his reign, but they will cheriſh it.
No natural exhalation in the ſky,
No ſcape of Nature *, no diſtempered day,
No common wind, no cuſtomed event,
But they will pluck away its natural cauſe,
And call them meteors, prodigies, and ſigns,
Abortives, and preſages, tongues of Heaven,
Plainly denouncing vengeance upon John. . . . . .
[Page 183] And then the hearts
Of all his people ſhall revolt from him,
And kiſs the lips of unacquainted change;
And pick ſtrong matter of revolt and wrath,
Out of the bloody fingers ends of John. ACT IV. SCENE IV.

The ſeveral uſeful reflections and morals to be collected from the following ſpeeches, are ſo many, and ſo mixed, that it is difficult to ſeparate or diſtinguiſh them. I ſhall therefore lay the whole paſſage together before the Reader, to draw his own inferences from; and ſhall alſo begin the Scene a little earlier than may at firſt appear to be neceſſary, not only on account of the admirable painting preſented to us in the beginning of it, but in order to ſhew the ſituation of circumſtances in which the principal ſpeaker ſtands at the time.

King John and Hubert.
My lord, they ſay five moons were ſeen to-night;
Four fixed, and the fifth did whirl about
The other four, in wonderous motion.
Five moons?
Old men, and beldams in the ſtreets,
Do prophecy upon it dangerouſly.
Young Arthur's death is common in their mouths;
And when they talk of him, they ſhake their heads,
And whiſper one another in the ear.
And he that ſpeaks doth gripe the hearer's wriſt;
Whilſt he that hears makes fearful action,
With wrinkled brows, with nods, with rolling eyes.
I ſaw a ſmith ſtand with his hammer thus,
The whilſt his iron did on the anvil cool,
With open mouth, ſwallowing a taylor's news;
Who with his ſhears and meaſure in his hand,
Standing on ſlippers, which his nimble haſte
Had falſely thruſt upon contrary feet,
Told of a many thouſand warlike French,
That were embattled, and ranked in Kent.
Another lean unwaſhed artificer
Cuts off his tale, and talks of Arthur's death.
Why ſeek'ſt thou to poſſeſs me with theſe fears?
Why urgeſt thou ſo oft young Arthur's death?
Thy hand hath murdered him. I had a cauſe
To wiſh him dead; but thou hadſt none to kill him.
[Page 184] Hubert.
Had none, my lord? Why, did you not provoke me *?
It is the curſe of kings to be attended
By ſlaves that take their humours for a warrant
To break into the bloody houſe of life;
And on the winking of authority,
To underſtand a law, to know the meaning
Of dangerous majeſty; when, perchance, it frowns
More upon humour, than adviſed reſpect.
Here is your hand and ſeal for what I did.
Oh, when the laſt account 'twixt Heaven and earth
Is to be made, then ſhall this hand and ſeal
Witneſs againſt us to damnation.
How oft the ſight of means to do ill deeds,
Makes deeds ill done? for, hadſt not thou been by,
A fellow by the hand of Nature marked,
Quoted, and ſigned to do a deed of ſhame,
This murder had not come into my mind.
But taking note of thy abhorred aſpect,
Finding thee fit for bloody villainy,
Apt, liable to be employed in danger,
I faintly broke with thee of Arthur's death.
And thou, to be endeared to a king,
Madeſt it no conſcience to deſtroy a prince.
My Lord—
Hadſt thou but ſhook thy head, or made a pauſe,
When I ſpake darkly what I purpoſed;
Or turned an eye of doubt upon my face,
Or bid me tell my tale in expreſs words;
Deep ſhame had ſtruck me dumb, made me break off,
And thoſe thy fears might have wrought fears in me.
But thou didſt underſtand me by my ſigns,
And didſt in ſigns again parley with ſin;
Yea, without ſtop, didſt let thy heart conſent,
And conſequently thy rude hand to act
The deed, which both our tongues held vile to name—
Out of my ſight, and never ſee me more!
My nobles leave me, and my ſtate is braved,
Even at my gates, with ranks of foreign powers;
Nay, in the body of this fleſhy land,
This kingdom, this confine of blood and breath,
Hoſtility and civil tumult reign,
Between my conſcience and my couſin's death.

Doctor Johnſon has made a comment on the latter part of this Scene, which the Reader has a right to claim in this place.

[Page 185] ‘There are many touches of Nature in this conference of John with Hubert. A man engaged in wickedneſs would keep the profit to himſelf, and transfer the guilt to his accomplice. Theſe reproaches vented againſt Hubert, are not the words of art or policy, but the eruptions of a mind ſwelling with the conſciouſneſs of a crime, and deſirous of diſcharging its miſery on another.’

‘This account of the timidity of guilt, hadſt thou but ſhook thy head, &c. is drawn ab ipſis receſſibus mentis, from an intimate knowledge of mankind; particularly that line in which he ſays, that to have bid him tell his tale in expreſs words would have ſtruck him dumb. Nothing is more certain, than that bad men uſe all the arts of fallacy upon themſelves, palliate their actions to their own minds by gentle terms, and hide themſelves from their own detection in ambiguities and ſubterfuges.’ SCENE VII.

When Hubert has been ſuſpected and charged with the murder of prince Arthur, the ſpeech of Faulconbridge to him is finely expreſſive of the ſtrength of deſpair ariſing from a guilty conſcience:

If thou didſt 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. ACT V. SCENE I.

The manner and ſpirit with which great perſonages ſhould act, on extraordinary occaſions of difficulty or danger, are bravely pointed out by the gallant Faulconbridge, in the following ſpeech to king John, when the French had invaded his kingdom.

[Page 186] Faulconbridge.
But wherefore do you droop? Why look you ſad?
Be great in act, as you have been in thought—
Let not the world ſee fear and ſad diſtruſt
Govern the motion of a kingly eye.
Be ſtirring as the time; be fire with fire;
Threaten the threatener, and out-face the brow
Of bragging horror. So ſhall inferior eyes,
That borrow their behaviours from the great,
Grow great by your example, and put on
The dauntleſs ſpirit of reſolution.
Away, and glitter like the God of War,
When he intendeth to become the field;
Shew boldneſs and aſpiring confidence—
What! ſhall they ſeek the lion in his den,
And fright him there? and make him tremble there?
O, let it not be ſaid! Forage *, and run
To meet diſpleaſure farther from the doors,
And grapple with him ere he comes ſo nigh. SCENE II.

The ſtruggles and compunctions of a good mind, upon the being neceſſitated to take that part in a public cauſe which in polity is ſtiled Rebellion, and alſo the horrid nature of a Civil War, are finely and juſtly drawn here.

Saliſbury and the Dauphin.
And, noble Dauphin, albeit we ſwear
A voluntary zeal and un-urged faith
To your proceedings; yet, believe me, Prince,
I am not glad that ſuch a ſore of time
Should ſeek a plaiſter by contemned revolt;
And heal the inveterate canker of one wound,
By making many—Oh, it grieves my ſoul,
That I muſt draw this metal from my ſide,
To be a widow-maker—Oh, and there,
Where honourable reſcue and defence
Cries out upon the name of Saliſbury.
But ſuch is the infection of the time,
That for the health and phyſic of our right,
We cannot deal but with the very hand
Of ſtern injuſtice, and confuſed wrong.
And is't not pity, oh my grieved friends!
That we the ſons and children of this iſle,
Were born to ſee ſo ſad an hour as this,
[Page 187] Wherein we ſtep after a ſtranger march,
Upon her gentle boſom, and fill up
Her enemies ranks? I muſt withdraw and weep
Upon the ſpot of this enforced cauſe,
To grace the gentry of a land remote,
And follow unacquainted colours here!
What! here?—O nation, that thou couldſt remove!
That Neptune' arms, who clippeth thee about,
Would bear thee from the knowledge of thyſelf,
And grapple thee unto a Pagan ſhore!
Where theſe two Chriſtian armies might combine
The blood of malice in a vein of league,
And not to ſpend it ſo un-neighbourly.

The anſwer to this ſpeech is fine; it pays due honour to the generous conflict in the ſpeaker's breaſt, and makes a diſtinction between the effects of male and female tears, paying the uſual, but too partial, compliment to the former. Be it ſo—The firſt are ſtronger on account of their being more rare, owing ſolely to the ſuperior harſhneſs of men's natures; but as the paſſions and feelings, which the ſpectator is ſenſible of, from each, are ſo very different in their nature too, I cannot ſee how any ſort of compariſon can be fairly made between them.

A noble temper doſt thou ſhew in this;
And great affection wreſtling in thy boſom
Doth make an earthquake of nobility.
Oh what a noble combat haſt thou fought,
Between compulſion, and a brave reſpect!
Let me wipe off this honourable dew,
That ſilverly doth progreſs on thy cheeks.
My heart hath melted at a lady's tears,
Being an ordinary inundation;
But this effuſion of ſuch manly drops,
This ſhower blown up by tempeſt of the ſoul,
Sta [...]tles mine eyes, and makes me more amazed,
Than had I ſeen the vaulty top of heaven
Figured quite o'er with burning meteors—
Lift up thy brow, renowned Saliſbury,
And with a great heart heave away this ſtorm.
Commend theſe waters to thoſe baby-eyes
That never ſaw the giant world enraged;
Nor met with fortune other than at feaſts,
Full-warm of blood, of mirth, of goſſipping. SCENE X.
[Page 188]

Saliſbury, ſpeaking to King John, perceives him dead.

‘My Liege! my Lord!—but now a king—Now thus!

This would make a good epitaph for a royal Sepulchre!

This Play cloſes with one truth in fact, and another in prophecy, which I hope all time will vouch the inſpiration of.

This England never did, nor ever ſhall,
Lye at the proud foot of a conqueror,
But when it firſt did help to wound itſelf.
Now theſe her Princes * are come home again,
Come the three corners of the world in arms,
And we ſhall ſhock them—Nought ſhall make us rue,
If England to itſelf do reſt but true.



2.2.1. Dramatis Perſonae.



  • RICHARD the Second.
  • DUKE of York. Uncles to the King.
  • JOHN of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaſter. Uncles to the King.
  • MOWBRAY, Duke of Norfolk.
  • BOLINBROKE, Son to John of Gaunt.
  • AUMERLE, Son to the Duke of York.
  • EARL of Northumberland.
  • BISHOP of Carliſle.
  • EXTON, Governor of Pomfret Caſtle.
  • BUSHY, Servants to the King.
  • SCROOP, Servants to the King.


  • QUEEN to King Richard.

2.2.2. RICHARD the SECOND.

[Page 191] ACT I. SCENE I.

THIS Play opens with a proper caution to all judges and jurors, in criminal cauſes, to attend moſt carefully to the principle, or motive, by which the accuſer appears to be actuated, that the credit of his teſtimony may be rated accordingly.

When the King calls the ſuit of Bolinbroke againſt Norfolk upon trial, he ſpeaks thus to the father of the former: ‘

Old John of Gaunt, time-honoured Lancaſter,
Haſt thou, according to thy oath and bond,
Brought hither Henry Hereford, thy bold ſon,
Here to make good the boiſterous late appeal,
Which then our leiſure would not let us hear,
Againſt the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray?
I have, my liege.
Tell me, moreover, haſt thou ſounded him,
If he appeal the Duke on antient malice,
Or, worthily, as a good ſubject ſhould,
On ſome known ground of treachery in him?
As near as I could ſift him on that argument,
On ſome apparent danger ſeen in him,
Aimed at your Highneſs; no inveterate malice.
Then call them to our preſence; face to face,
And frowning brow to brow. Ourſelves will hear
The accuſer and the accuſed freely ſpeak. SCENE II.

When the King forbids the combat, and commands the Duke of Norfolk to throw down Bolinbroke's gage *, he anſwers with the true ſpirit of a gallant nobleman: ‘

Myſelf I throw, dread ſovereign, at thy foot,
My life thou ſhalt command, but not my ſhame;
[Page 192] The one my duty owes; but my fair name,
Deſpite of death, that lives upon my grave,
To dark diſhonour's uſe thou ſhalt not have.
I am diſgraced, impeached, and baffled here.
Pierced to the ſoul with ſlander's venomed ſpear;
The which no balm can cure, but his heart-blood
Which breathed the poiſon *.
Rage muſt be withſtood.
Give him his gage—Lions make leopards tame.
Yea, but not change their ſpots. Take but my ſhame,
And I reſign my gage. My dear, dear lord,
The pureſt treaſure mortal times afford,
I [...] ſpo [...] reputation; that away,
Men are but gilded loam, or painted clay,
A jewel in a ten-times-barr'd-up cheſt,
Is a bold ſpirit in a loyal breaſt.
Mine honour is my life, both grow in one;
Take honour from me, and my life is done.
Then, dear my liege, mine honour let me try;
In that I live, and for that I will die.

Afterwards, when Bolinbroke is called upon to the ſame purpoſe, he alſo replies as bravely; but as he expreſſes himſelf in ſo much an inferior manner to the former, I think it could afford the reader no great entertainment to have the paſſage quoted. SCENE IV.

When the King ſentences theſe two champions to exile, he exacts an oath from them both, not to be reconciled to one another abroad, ſo far as to confederate againſt the ſtate of England; in the adminiſtering of which bond, he deſires them to

Swear by the duty that you owe to Heaven. . . . .
Our part therein we baniſh with yourſelves.

Upon which latter line Doctor Warburton gives the following note:

‘It is a queſtion much debated among the writers on the Law of Nations, whether a baniſhed man be ſtill tied in allegiance to the ſtate which ſent him into exile. Tully and Clarendon declare for the affirmative: Hobbes and Puffendorf hold [Page 193] the negative. Our Author, by this line, ſeems to be of the latter opinion.’

But I agree intirely with Cicero and Clarendon. The undergoing any penalty of law cannot diſſolve either the moral or the political duty we owe our country. Socrates, by refuſing to eſcape out of priſon, ſhewed, that he thought his obedience and ſubmiſſion to the ſtate continued ſtill to be obligatory on him, even though the decree was unjuſt, and the ſentence death. And under the Oſtraciſm, which impoſed baniſhment upon men for their very eminence and virtue, we do not hear of the illuſtrious exiles either ſpeaking, or acting, as if they deemed their allegiance to have been cancelled.

Nay, Ariſtides carried the ſubmiſſion of a good ſubject ſo far, as to think himſelf obliged in duty to write his own name on a ſhell, at the requeſt of an illiterate citizen of Athens, who voted againſt him on that very law. And Themiſtocles, though baniſhed through the ſpirit of faction, not that of the laws, and kindly entertained and preferred in the armies of Perſia, choſe to ſwallow poiſon, rather than march againſt his country.

'Tis not the community that baniſhes a man, but the laws which govern it.

‘"It is the law, not I, condemns your brother *.’

Theſe ſurely are no object of reſentment; and to riſe in arms againſt a nation, becauſe one of its ſtatutes had fallen heavy upon us, would be juſt as rational, as to ſet a foreſt on fire, becauſe we had received the baſtinado by a cudgel that was taken out of it. SCENE V.
King and Lancaſter.
Why, uncle? Thou haſt many years to live.
But not a minute, king, that thou canſt give;
Shorten my days thou canſt with ſullen ſorrow,
And pluck nights from me, but not lend a morrow;
[Page 194] Thou canſt help time to furrow me with age,
But ſtep no wrinkle in his pilgrimage;
Thy word is current with him for my death;
But dead, thy kingdom cannot buy my breath.

Upon which paſſage there is the following reflection, in the note by Doctor Johnſon:

‘It is matter of very melancholy conſideration, that all human advantages confer more power of doing evil, than good.’ A very melancholy reflection, indeed, were we to ſuppoſe it true!

In the inſtance before us, the hand of power, ſtrength, or treachery, may certainly deprive us of a life, which it cannot reſtore; but Shakeſpeare does not mean to make the reflection univerſal. A good Prince may render his whole people happy; a bad one can only affect a part. When tyranny becomes general, it defeats itſelf, at the coſt of the oppreſſor.

If my objection to the above uncomfortable maxim be valid, in the higheſt example, it would be trifling to adduce any leſſer ones to prove it. SCENE VI.

Lancaſter, by way of comforting his ſon upon the ſentence of baniſhment, paraphraſes and poeticiſes the old Engliſh ſentence, of every place is an honeſt men's home, in theſe words:

All places that the eye of heaven viſits,
Are to a wiſe man po [...]ts and happy havens;
which lines are followed by a long and equivocal declamation in the ſtile of the Stoic philoſophy; to which Bolinbroke impatiently replies, in a manner perfectly natural to the unhappy; for it requires leiſure to grow wiſe; nor is this ever effected by our becoming better able to bear misfortune, but by our feeling it leſs, from uſe and habit.

B [...]l [...].
Oh, who can hold a fire in his hand,
By thinking on the froſtly Caucaſus?
Or wallow naked in December's ſnow,
By thinking on fantaſtic ſummer's heat?
Or cloy the hungry edge of appetite,
By bare imagination of a feaſt *?
[Page 195] Oh, no! the apprehenſion of the good,
Gives but the greater feeling to the worſe;
Fell Sorrow's tooth doth never rankle more,
Than when it bites, but lanceth not the ſore. ACT II. SCENE I.

The weight of perſuaſion which the admonitions of a dying perſon are apt to impreſs upon the mind, more than the moſt lively remonſtrances of one in perfect health, is well expreſſed here. The circumſtances of the time impreſs us with an awe which imprints the advice more ſtrongly on our memory, and gives it additional authority.

Lancaſter brought in ſick, attended by the Duke of York.

Will the king come, that I may breathe my laſt
In wholeſome counſel to his unſtayed youth?
Vex not yourſelf, nor ſtrive not with your breath;
For all in vain comes counſel to his ear.
Oh, but they ſay the tongues of dying men
Enforce attention like deep harmony.
Where words are ſcarce, they're ſeldom ſpent in vain;
For they breathe truth, that breathe their words in pain.
He that no more muſt ſay, is liſtened more
Than they whom youth and eaſe have taught to gloſe ;
More are men's ends marked, than their lives before;
The ſetting ſun, and muſic in the cloſe,
As the laſt taſte of ſweets, is ſweeteſt laſt;
Writ in remembrance more than things long paſt:
Though Richard my life's counſel would not hear,
My death's ſad tale may yet undeaf his ear.

In the continuation of this dialogue, the fatal conſequences to a Prince of ill-choſen favourites, the danger of ſuffering foreign faſhions and manners to be introduced into a ſtate, with an enumerative deſcription of the peculiar advantages of England, with regard to its ſituation, and other happy circumſtances, are ſtrongly pointed out.

His ear is ſtopt with other flattering charms;
As praiſes of his ſtate; there are, beſide,
[Page 196] Laſcivious meeters *, to whoſe venomed ſound
The open ear of youth doth always liſten;
Report of faſhions in proud Italy,
Whoſe manners ſtill our tardy apiſh nation
Limps after, in baſe aukward imitation.
Where doth the world thruſt forth a vanity,
So it be new, there's no reſpect how vile,
That is not quickly buzzed into his ears?
Then all too late comes counſel to be heard,
Where will doth mutiny with wit's regard.
Direct not him whoſe way himſelf will chuſe;
'Tis breath thou lack'ſt, and that breath wilt thou loſe.
Methinks, I am a prophet new inſpired;
And thus expiring do foretel of him,
His raſh fierce blaze of riot cannot laſt;
For violent fires ſoon burn out themſelves.
Small ſhowers laſt long, but ſudden ſtorms are ſhort;
He tires betimes that ſpurs too faſt betimes;
With eager feeding food doth choke the feeder.
Light vanity, inſatiate cormorant,
Conſuming means, ſoon preys upon itſelf.
This royal throne of kings, this ſceptred iſle,
This earth of majeſty, this ſeat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradiſe,
This fortreſs, built by Nature for herſelf,
Againſt infection, and the hand of war;
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious ſtone ſet in the ſilver ſea,
Which ſerves it in the office of a wall;
Or as a moat defenſive to a houſe,
Againſt the envy of leſs happy lands;
This nurſe, this teeming womb of royal kings,
Feared for their breed, and famous for their birth,
For Chriſtian ſervice, and true chivalry;
Renowned for their deeds, as far from home
As is the Sepulchre, in ſtubborn Jewry ,
Of the world's ranſom, bleſſed Mary's ſon;
This land of ſuch dear ſouls, this dear, dear land,
Dear for her reputation through the world,
Is now leaſed out, I die pronouncing it,
Like to a tenement, or pelting farm.
England bound in with the triumphant ſea,
Whoſe rocky ſhore beats back the envious ſiege
Of watery Neptune, is bound in with ſhame,
[Page 197] With inky blots, and rotten parchment-bonds.
That England that was wont to conquer others,
Hath made a ſhameful conqueſt of itſelf.

The latter part of this ſpeech ſeems to be as prophetical as the firſt, if we compare it to the ſtate of our national debt—to our ſtocks—by which we have long ſince become tenants to foreigners. SCENE V.

There are undoubtedly certain notices, or premonitions, in the order of Providence, which mankind have been frequently ſenſible of; ſometimes from dreams, at other times from unaccountable impreſſions on the mind, foreboding particular misfortunes of our lives, let philoſophy reaſon againſt the notion ever ſo wiſely.

Indeed, there appears one argument to oppoſe this opinion, which, in any indifferent caſe, might be thought ſufficiently able to overthrow it; which is, that ſuch hints rarely, if ever, have been found to anſwer any other purpoſe, than to render us unhappy before our time.

But matter of fact is not to be controverted by ſyllogiſm. The objection only ſerves to reſolve it into a myſtery, and leaves it ſtill uninveſtigable by human ſcience. The more of ſuch inexplicable ſecrets of Providence which fall under our obſervation, the better; as they may ſerve to rouze the Atheiſt from his lethargy, and afford the Deiſt occaſion to ſuſpect, at leaſt, that what he calls Natural Religion, is not the intire ſcheme of the Divine oeconomy with regard to men:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philoſophy. HAMLET.

Here follows the paſſage which gave riſe to the above reflection.

The Queen and Buſhy.
Madam, your majeſty is much too ſad.
You promiſed, when you parted from the king,
[Page 198] To lay aſide ſelf-harming heavineſs,
And entertain a chearful diſpoſition.
To pleaſe the king, I did; to pleaſe myſelf,
I cannot do it; yet I know no cauſe
Why I ſhould welcome ſuch a gueſt as grief;
Save bidding farewell to ſo ſweet a gueſt,
As my ſweet Richard. Yet again, methinks,
Some unborn ſorrow, ripe in fortune's womb,
Is coming toward me; and my inward ſoul
With ſomething trembles, yet at nothing grieves ,
More than with parting from my lord the king.
Each ſubſtance of a grief hath twenty ſhadows,
Which ſhew like grief itſelf, but are not ſo;
For ſorrow's eye, glazed with blinding tears,
Divides one thing intire to many objects;
Like perſpectives, which rightly gazed upon,
Shew nothing but confuſion: eyed awry,
Diſtinguiſh form *. So your ſweet majeſty.
Looking awry upon your lord's departure,
Finds ſhapes of grief, more than himſelf, to wail;
Which looked on as it is, is nought but ſhadows
Of what it is not. Gracious Queen, then weep not
More than your lord's departure; more's not ſeen;
Or if it be, 'tis with falſe ſorrow's eye,
Which for things true weeps things imaginary.
It may be ſo; but yet my inward ſoul
Perſuades me otherwiſe. Howe'er it be,
I cannot but be ſad; ſo heavy-ſad,
As though on thinking on no thought I think,
Makes me with heavy nothing faint and ſhrink.
'Tis nothing but conceit, my gracious lady.
'Tis nothing leſs; conceit is ſtill derived
From ſome fore-father grief; mine is not ſo;
For nothing hath begot my ſomething grief;
Not ſomething hath the nothing that I grieve.
'Tis in reverſion that I do poſſeſs ;
But what it is, that is not yet known; what
I cannot name, is nameleſs woe, I wot.

Shakeſpeare has given a deſcription of the ſame complexion of mind, before, in the perſon of Anthonio, in the Merchant of Venice. See my firſt remark on the Firſt Scene of the Firſt Act of that Play. SCENE IX.
[Page 199]

Hope has been often termed the aſſuager of our grief; but Shakeſpeare has juſtly raiſed it to an higher character, by making it an augmentation to our joys, alſo.

And hope to joy, is little leſs in joy,
Than hope enjoyed. ACT III. SCENE II.

The biſhop of Carliſle, endeavouring to awaken the king to a manly exertion of his ſpirit againſt the rebellion, and neither to truſt to the weak defence of right againſt might, nor expect that Providence ſhall, out of reſpect to his divine right, fight his battles for him, while he looks idly on, ſays,

The means that Heaven yields muſt be embraced,
And not neglected; elſe, if Heaven would,
And we would not Heaven's offer, we refuſe
The proffered means of ſuccour and redreſs.

To which the king, after expreſſing a contempt for Bolinbroke and his adherents, makes a reply agreeable to the vain notion and political ſuperſtition of thoſe times, with regard to the abſurd doctrine of indefeaſible right.

Not all the water in the rough rude ſea
Can waſh the balm from an anointed king;
The breath of worldly men cannot depoſe
The deputy elected by the Lord.
For every man that Bolinbroke hath preſt,
To lift ſharp ſteel againſt our golden crown,
Heaven for his Richard hath in heavenly pay
A glorious angel; then, if angels fight,
Weak men muſt fall, for Heaven ſtill guards the right. SCENE III.

However, he afterwards begins to ſpeak more rationally upon this ſubject; for though he appears a little caſt down at firſt, yet, on hearing ſome further ill news, he rouzes himſelf again, in the following ſpeech: ‘

I had forgot myſelf. Am I not king?
Awake, thou coward majeſty, thou ſleep'ſt;
[Page 200] Is not the king's name forty-thouſand names *?
Arm, arm, my name; a puny ſubject ſtrikes
At thy great glory. Look not to the ground,
Ye favourites of a king, are we not high?
High be our thoughts. SCENE IV.

But this poor abdicating king had no true heroiſm in his ſoul; for, upon the intelligence of ſome more croſs events arriving to him juſt after, he ſuddenly drops the character of a fighting prince, and immediately ſinks into that of a preaching prieſt. ‘

Enter Scroop.
More health and happineſs betide my liege,
Than can my care-tun'd tongue deliver him!
Mine ear is open, and mine heart prepared.
The worſt is worldly loſs thou canſt unfold.
Say, is my kingdom loſt? Why, 'twas my care;
And what loſs is it, to be rid of care?
Strives Bolinbroke to be as great as we?
Greater he ſhall not be; if he ſerve God,
We'll ſerve him too, and be his fellow ſo.
Revolt our ſubjects, that we cannot mend;
They break their faith to God, as well as us.
Cry woe, deſtruction, ruin, loſs, decay;
The worſt is death, and death will have his day.
’ This kind of homily he continues afterwards, in the ſame Scene; including, however, ſome good reflections on the unſtable and unſatisfactory ſtate of mortality, even in the higheſt ſpheres of life; which would have become his confeſſor better than they did himſelf, as the ſpirited Biſhop, a true ſon of the church militant, tells him, in the cloſe of the following paſſage.

Where is the duke, my father, with his power?
No matter where—Of comfort no man ſpeak—
Let's talk of graves, of worms, of epitaphs;
Make duſt our paper, and with rainy eyes
Write ſorrow on the boſom of the earth!
Let's chuſe executors, and talk of wills.
And yet not ſo—for what can we bequeath,
[Page 201] Save our depoſed bodies to the ground?
Our lands, our lives, our all are Bolinbroke's,
And nothing can we call our own, but death;
And that ſmall model of the barren earth,
Which ſerves as paſte and cover to our bones.
For Heaven's ſake, let us ſit upon the ground,
And tell ſad ſtories of the death of kings;
How ſome had been depoſed, ſome ſlain in war;
Some haunted by the ghoſts they diſpoſſeſſed;
Some poiſoned by their wives; ſome ſleeping killed *;
All murthered—For within the hollow crown,
That rounds the mortal temples of a king,
Keeps Death his court; and there the antick ſits,
Scoſhing his ſtate, and grinning at his pomp;
Allowing him a breath, a little ſcene
To monarchize, be feared, and kill with looks;
Infuſing him with ſelf and vain conceit,
As if this fleſh, which walls about our life;
Were braſs impregnable; and, humoured thus,
Comes at the laſt, and with a little pin
Bores thro' his caſtle-walls, and farewel king!
Cover your heads, and mock not fleſh and blood
With ſolemn reverence; throw away reſpect,
Tradition , form, and ceremonious duty,
For you have but miſtook me, all this while;
I live on bread, like you; feel want, like you;
Taſte grief, need friends, like you—Subjected thus,
How can you ſay to me, Thou art a king?
My lord, wiſe men ne'er wail their preſent woes,
But preſently prevent the ways to wail.
To fear the foe, ſince fear oppreſſeth ſtrength,
Gives, in your weakneſs, ſtrength unto your foe;
And ſo your follies fight againſt yourſelf.
Fear, and be ſlain; no worſe can come from fight;
And fight and die, is death deſtroying death;
Where fearing dying pays death ſervile breath.

There are ſeveral other paſſages of the ſame kind, in this and the ſubſequent Act, where Richard alternately riſes to a vain confidence in his indefeaſible right, and then ſinks again under a deſpondency about his fortunes; which I ſhall not diſguſt the Reader with here, as the repreſentation of a great [Page 202] man ſuffering misfortunes meanly, is rather an object of contempt than of compaſſion.

In the latter part of this Scene, upon his finding matters growing worſe and worſe, he exclaims,

By Heaven, I'll hate him everlaſtingly,
That bids me be of comfort, any more.

Doctor Johnſon has prevented my obſervation on this paſſage, by a note of his upon it.

‘This ſentiment is drawn from Nature. Nothing is more offenſive to a mind convinced that its diſtreſs is without a remedy, and preparing to ſubmit quietly to irreſiſtible calamity, than thoſe petty and conjectured comforts which unſkilful officiouſneſs thinks it virtue to adminiſter.’ ACT V. SCENE I.

There is ſomething, however, extremely affecting, in what this unhappy man ſays to his queen, upon her lamenting the miſery of his ſituation.

Join not with grief, fair woman, do not ſo,
To make my end too ſudden!

This ſhort ſentence lays hold of the heart, makes us forget him as a king, and feel for him as a man. The fondneſs of his expreſſion too, of fair woman, increaſes the tenderneſs of our regret at the additional unhappineſs of their ſeparation. SCENE II.

This poor moralizing prince makes a very juſt obſervation here, on the nature of all alliances in vice.

The King to Northumberland.
Northumberland, thou ladder, wherewithal
The mounting Bolinbroke aſcends my throne,
The time ſhall not be many hours of age,
More than it is, ere ſoul ſin gathering head
Shall break into corruption; thou ſhalt think,
Though he divide the realm, and give thee half,
It is too little, helping him to all;
And he ſhall think that thou who know'ſt the way
[Page 203] To plant unrightful kings, wilt know again,
Being neer ſo little urged, another way
To pluck him headlong from the uſurped throne.
The love of wicked friends converts to fear;
That fear to hate; and hate turns one or both
To worthy danger, and deſerved death.

A further and ſtronger reflection upon ſuch vicious connections, occurs in the laſt Scene of this Play, which I ſhall bring forward here before its time, where Exton, who had murdered Richard, brings an account of his great ſervice to Bolinbroke.

They love not poiſon, that do poiſon need;
Nor do I thee—though I did wiſh him dead,
I hate the murderer, love him murdered.
The guilt of conſcience take thou for thy labour;
But neither my good word, nor princely favour.
With Cain, go wander through the ſhade of night,
And never ſhew thy head by day or light. SCENE X.

The following ſoliloquy, in which the ſtate of the mind is compared to that of the world, though the thought is rather too much laboured, deſerves to be quoted, on account of the beauties it contains, the reflections it ſupplies, as well as for the moral compaſſion, and generous reſentment, with which it is capable of inſpiring the virtuous Reader for the unhappy ſpeaker.

King, in priſon at Pomfret Caſtle.
I have been ſtudying how to compare
This priſon where I live, unto the world;
And for becauſe the world is populous,
And here is not a creature but myſelf,
I cannot do it; yet I'll hammer on't.
My brain I'll prove * the female to my ſoul,
My ſoul the father; and theſe two beget
A generation of ſtill-breeding thoughts;
And theſe ſame thoughts people this little world,
In humour like the people of this world;
For no thought is contented. The better ſort,
As thoughts of things divine, are intermixt
With ſcruples, and do ſet the word itſelf
Againſt the word—as thus—Come, little ones
And then again,
[Page 204] It is as hard to come, as for a camel
To bread the p [...]ſ [...]on of a needle's eye *
Thoughts tending to ambition they do plot.
Unlikely wonders; how theſe vain weak nails
May tear a paſſage through the flinty ribs
Of this hard world, my ragged priſon walls;
And for they cannot, die in their own pride—
Thoughts tending to content, flatter themſelves
That they are not the firſt of fortune's ſlaves,
And ſhall not be the laſt; like ſilly beggars,
Who ſitting in the ſtocks, refuge their ſhame,
That many have, and others muſt ſit there;
And in this thought they find a kind of eaſe,
Bearing their own misfortune on the back
Of ſuch as have before endured the like.
Thus play I, in one priſon, many people,
And none contented. Sometimes am I a king,
Then treaſon makes me wiſh myſelf a beggar,
And ſo I am. Then cruſhing penury
Perſuades me I was better when a king;
Then am I king'd again; and, by and by,
Think that I am unking'd by Bolinbroke,
And ſtraight am nothing. But whate'er I am,
Nor I, nor any man, that but man is;
With nothing will be pleaſed, till he be eas'd
With being nothing.

The laſt reflection has been ſo often made and remarked upon, before, in the courſe of this Work, that I ſhall leave it unnoticed here, and ſo conclude my obſervations on this Play.



2.3.1. Dramatis Perſonae.



  • HENRY the Fourth.
  • HENRY Prince of Wales.


  • LADY PERCY, wife to Hotſpur.


[Page 207] ACT I. SCENE I.

IN the firſt ſpeech here, Henry the Fourth, in order to encourage his ſubjects to attend him with the better ſpirit on the Cruſade expedition, which he had then reſolved upon, gives a horrid deſcription of their former ſtate of civil war, which the kingdom was happily at that time free from.

No more the thirſty entrails * of this ſoil
Shall trempe her lips with her own children's blood;
No more ſhall trenching war channel her fields,
Nor bruiſe her flowrets with the armed hoofs
Of hoſtile paces. Thoſe oppoſed files,
Which like the meteors of a troubled Heaven,
All of one nature, of one ſubſtance bred,
Did lately meet in the inteſtine ſhock,
And furious cloſe of civil butchery,
Shall now in mutual well-beſeeming ranks
March all one way, and be no more oppoſed
Againſt acquaintance, kindred, and allies;
The edge of war, like an ill-ſheathed knife,
No more ſhall cut his maſter. SCENE II.

The method that men take to diſguiſe the nature of their vices, by palliating epithets, is of dangerous conſequences in life. It not only ſerves to blunt the edge of remorſe in ourſelves, but often helps to induce a milder cenſure in others, upon the moſt flagrant enormities.

Thus a proſtigate fellow, who debauches every woman in his power, is ſtiled a man of galantry; a pennyleſs adventurer, who carries off a rich heireſs, [Page 208] is called a ſoldier of fortune; a duelliſt, dubbed with the title of a man of honour; a ſharper, un chevalier d'induſtrie; an atheiſt, a free-thinker; and ſo forth.

A good ſpecimen of this ſort of deceitful phraſeology is preſented to us in part of this Scene.

Falſtaff to the Prince.

Marry, then, ſweet wag, when thou art king, let not us that are ſquires of the night's body, be called thieves of the day's booty. Let us be Diana's foreſters, gentlemen of the ſhade, minions of the moon; and let them ſay we be men of good government, being governed as the ſea is, by our noble and chaſte miſtreſs the moon; under whoſe countenance we — ſteal.

Piſtol, in ſome other place, ſays of ſtealing,convey the wiſe it call *.’ SCENE III.

I think I may venture to pronounce, for the honour of human nature, that the moſt abandoned perſon breathing, means not to paſs his whole life in a ſtate of profligacy. He purpoſes, from time to time, to take up, as the phraſe is; but is too apt, from time to time, to procraſtinate his amendment; thus ſilencing the clamours of his conſcience, by the hopeful deſign of reformation, and thinking his repentance ſufficiently advanced, by a ſelf-confeſſion of his vice or immorality.

The danger of this ſpecies of quietiſm, is ſtrongly pointed out, in part of a work lately publiſhed; and as it may afford a uſeful warning to ſome of my diſſipated readers, I ſhall quote the paſſage I allude to here.

An EPITAPH on Human Life.
Eheu! fugaces, Poſtume, P ſtume,
Labuntur anni! HOR.
Be early wiſe, leſt prudence come too late!
Think how to-morrow ſteals from us to-day,
And leaves the ſpendthrift further in arrear,
To purpoſes unfiniſhed! till old Time,
[Page 209] Who lends on uſury, calls in the account,
And takes the body for its debt unpaid,
Forecloſing life in the inſolvent tomb *!

The following ſpeech affords us a beautiful inſtance of this method of amuſing our too flexible and indolent tempers of mind; which I copy here with the greater pleaſure, as the ſpeaker of it did effectually reform his life and manners, and has enriched the annals of England with a memoir of true glory.

The Prince of Wales, ſpeaking of his looſe companions, who had juſt quitted the ſcene, ſays,

I know ye all, and will a-while uphold
The unyoked humour of your idleneſs;
Yet herein will I imitate the ſun,
Who doth permit the baſe contagious clouds
To ſmother up his beauty from the world;
That when he pleaſe again to be himſelf,
Being wanted, he may be more wondered at,
By breaking through the ſoul and ugly miſts
Of vapours, that did ſeem to ſtrangle him.
If all the year were playing holidays,
To ſport would be as tedious as to work;
But when they ſeldom come, they wiſhed for come,
And nothing pleaſeth but rare accidents.
So when this looſe behaviour I throw off,
And pay the debt I never promiſed,
By how much better than my word I am,
By ſo much ſhall I falſify men's hopes;
And, like bright metal on a ſullen ground,
My reformation glittering o'er my fault,
Shall ſhew more goodly, and attract more eyes,
Than that which hath no ſoil to ſet it off.
I'll ſo offend, to make offence a ſkill;
Redeeming time, when men think leaſt I will. SCENE IV.

When the brave Hotſpur is taxed by the king with having refuſed to ſurrender the priſoners which he had taken at the gallant action of Holmedon-Moor, to his order, the ſpeech he makes upon that occaſion, in excuſe for his refractorineſs, preſents us with a [Page 210] very natural deſcription of the uneaſy, froward, and difficult temper of mind, a perſon is ſubject to in ſuch circumſtances as he paints himſelf to be at the time mentioned; and alſo entertains us with a character, admirably and humorouſly drawn, of a pert, foppiſh, and affected Court minion. The contraſt of the two figures here before us, would make an excellent picture on canvas.

My liege, I did deny no priſoners;
But I remember, when the fight was done,
When I was dry with rage, and extreme toil,
Breathleſs and faint, leaning upon my ſword,
Came there a certain lord, neat, trimly dreſt,
Freſh as a bridegroom, and his chin new reaped,
Shewed like a ſtubble land at harveſt home.
He was perfumed like a milliner,
And 'twixt his finger and his thumb he held
A pouncet-box, which ever and anon
He gave his noſe, and took't away again.
And ſtill he ſmiled and talked—
And as the ſoldiers bare dead bodies by,
He called them untaught knaves, unmannerly,
To bring a ſlovenly unhandſome corſe
Betwixt the wind and his nobility.
With many holiday and lady terms
He queſtioned me—Among the reſt, demanded
My priſoners, on your majeſty's behalf.
I then, all ſmarting with my wounds grown cold,
Out of my grief, and my impatience,
To be ſo peſtered with a popinjay *,
Anſwered neglectingly I know not what;
He ſhould, or ſhould not; for he made me mad,
To ſee him ſhine ſo briſk, and ſmell ſo ſweet,
And talk ſo like a waiting gentlewoman,
Of guns, and drums, and wounds—God ſave the mark!
And telling me the ſov'reigneſt thing on earth,
Was Parmacity for an inward bruiſe;
And that it was great pity, ſo it was,
That villainous ſalt-petre ſhould be digg'd
Out of the bowels of the harmleſs earth,
Which many a good tall fellow had deſtroyed
So cowardly. And but for theſe vile guns,
He would himſelf have been a ſoldier—
This bold unjointed chat of his, my lord,
[Page 211] I anſwered indirectly, as I ſaid;
And, I beſeech you, let not this report
Come current for an accuſation
Betwixt my love and your high majeſty.

The king, not being ſatisfied with his apology, ſays to him, after ſome prior altercation between them,

Send me your priſoners with the ſpeedieſt means,
Or you ſhall hear in ſuch a kind from me,
As will diſpleaſe you—
Send us your priſoners, or you'll hear of it. Exit.

Upon this menace, the impatient temper of Hotſpur breaks out into the following expreſſions; which, though the ſubſtance of them does not fall within the purpoſe of this Work, I ſhall, however, repeat here, and alſo continue the dialogue a good deal further, as it leads to the character of the ſpeaker, which I deſign to give a deſcription of, in the cloſe of my obſervations on the two next Plays.

And if the devil come and roar for them,
I will not ſend them. I'll after, ſtrait,
And tell him ſo; for I will eaſe my heart,
Although it be with hazard of my head.

And again, to the ſame purpoſe:

I'll keep them all —
By Heaven, he ſhall not have a Scot of them;
No, if a Scot would ſave his ſoul, he ſhall not—
I'll keep them, by this hand—
You ſtart away,
And lend no ear unto my purpoſes—
Thoſe priſoners you ſhall keep.
I will; that's flat—
He ſaid he would not ranſom Mortimer,
Forbad my tongue to ſpeak of Mortimer *;
But I will find him when he lies aſleep,
And in his ear I'll holla, Mortimer!
Nay, I will have a ſtarling taught to ſpeak
Nothing but Mortimer, and give it him,
To keep his anger ſtill in motion.
Hear you, couſin, a word.
[Page 212] Hotſpur.
All ſtudies here I ſolemnly defy,
Save how to gall and pinch this Bolinbroke.
And that ſame ſwaſh-buckler, the Prince of Wales,
But that I think his father loves him not,
And would be glad he met with ſome miſchance,
I'd have him poiſoned with a pot of ale.
Farewel, my kinſman! I will talk to you
When you are better tempered to attend.
Why, what a waſp-tongued and impatient fool
Art thou, to break into this woman's mood,
Tying thine ear to no tongue but thine own?
Why, look you, I am whipt and ſcourged with rods,
Nettled and ſtung with piſmires, when I hear
Of this vile politician Bolinbroke.
In Richard's time—What do you call the place?
A plague upon't—it is in Gloſterſhire—
'Twas where the madcap duke his uncle kept—
His uncle York—where I firſt bowed my knee
Unto this king of ſmiles, this Bolinbroke,
When you and he came back from Ràvenſpurg.
At Berkley Caſtle.
You ſay true—
Why, what a deal of candied courteſy
This fawning greyhound then did proffe me!
Look, when his infant fortune came of age—
And gentle Harry Percy—and kind couſin
The devil take ſuch cozeners—God forgive me—
Good uncle, tell your tale, for I have done.

The precarious confidence that men can venture to place in unwarrantable ſervices performed for another, is well marked in the ſame ſcene, by one of the diſloyal conſpirators who had aſſiſted Henry to dethrone king Richard.

For, bear ourſelves as even as we can,
The king will always think him in our debt;
And think we deem ourſelves unſatisfied,
Till he hath found a time to pay us home.

The Reader may here refer back to the quotation from the Second Scene in the Fifth Act of the former Play. ACT III.
[Page 213] SCENE I.

In this truly comic Scene, which may be the rather ſtiled ſo, becauſe there is no buffoonery in it, and which I therefore think preferable even to the humour of Falſtaff, the vanity of old Glendower, in ſuppoſing himſelf to have been a peculiar object of the notice of Providence, which has, however, been the foible of ſeveral great men, Caeſar, &c. with the vulgar ignorance of miſtaking natural events for miracles, is finely contraſted with the careleſs humour, ſturdy ſpirit, and rational inveſtigation of Hotſpur.

It would be doing injuſtice to the dialogue, to parcel it out as it refers ſingly to the ſeveral articles above ſpecified; therefore I ſhall entertain my readers with the whole paſſage intire, leaving them to mark the application in their own minds which will occur in their proper places.

Glendower, Hotſpur, Worceſter, and Mortimer.
Theſe promiſes are fair, the parties ſure,
And our induction * full of proſperous hope.
Lord Mortimer and couſin Glendower,
Will you ſit down?
And uncle Worceſter—a plague upon't!
I have forgot the map.
No, here it is.
Sit, couſin Percy—ſit, good couſin Hotſpur—
For, by that name, as oft as Lancaſter
Doth ſpeak of you, his cheek looks pale; and with
A riſing figh he wiſheth you in Heaven.
And you in hell, as often as he hears
Owen Glendower ſpoke of.
I blame him not—At my nativity,
The front of Heaven was full of fiery ſhapes,
Of burning creſſets . Know, that, at my birth,
The frame and the foundation of the earth
Shook like a coward.
And ſo it would have done.
At the ſame ſeaſon, if your mother's cat
Had kittened, though yourſelf had ne'er been born.
[Page 214] Glendower.
I ſay, the earth did ſhake when I was born.
I ſay, the earth then was not of my mind,
If you ſuppoſe as fearing you it ſhook.
The Heavens were all on fire, the earth did tremble.
O then the earth ſhook to ſee the Heavens on fire,
And not in fear of your nativity.
Diſeaſed Nature oftentimes breaks forth
In ſtrange eruptions; and the teeming earth
Is with a kind of cholic pinched and vext,
By the impriſoning of unruly wind
Within her womb; which for enlargement ſtriving,
Shakes the old beldam earth, and topples down
High towers, and moſs-grown ſteeples. At your birth,
Our grandam earth, with this diſtemperature,
In paſſion ſhook.
Couſin, of many men
I do not bear theſe croſſings. Give me leave
To tell you, once again, that, at my birth,
The front of Heaven was full of fiery ſhapes;
The goats ran from the mountains, and the herds
Were ſtrangely clamorous in the frighted fields.
Theſe ſigns have marked me extraordinary;
And all the courſes of my life do ſhew
I am not in the roll of common men.
Where is he living, clipt in with the ſea,
That chides the banks of England, Wales, or Scotland,
Who calls me pupil, or hath read to me?
And bring him out that is but woman's ſon,
Can trace me in the tedious ways of art,
Or hold me pace in deep experiments.
I think there's no man ſpeaks better Welch—
I'll to dinner—
Peace, couſin Percy, you will make him mad.
I can call ſpirits from the vaſty deep.
Why, ſo can I or ſo can any man—
But will they come when you do call for them?
Why, I can teach thee to command the devil.
And I can teach thee, coz, to ſhame the devil;
By telling truth—Tell [...]uth, and ſhame the devil.
If thou haſt power to raiſe him, bring him hither,
And Ill be ſworn I've power to ſhame him hence—
O, while you live, till truth, and ſhame the devil.
Come, come!
No more of this unprofitable chat.
Three times hath Henry Bolinbroke made head
Againſt my power; thrice from the banks of Wye,
[Page 215] And ſandy-bottomed Severn, have I ſent
Him bootleſs home, and weather-beaten back.
Home, without boots, and in ſoul weather too!
How ſcaped he agues, in the Devil's name?
Come, here's the map, ſhall we divide our right,
According to our threefold order taken?
Methink my portion, north from Burton here,
In quantity equals not one of yours—
See how this river comes me crankling in,
And cuts me from the beſt of all my land
An huge half moon, a monſtrous cantle out.
I'll have the current in this place dammed up;
And here the ſmug and ſilver Trent ſhall run
In a new channel, fair and evenly;
It ſhall not wind with ſuch a deep indent,
To rob me of ſo rich a bottom here.
Not wind? It ſhall, it muſt, you ſee it doth.
I'll have it ſo; a little charge will do it.
I will not have it altered.
Will not you?
No, nor you ſhall not.
Who ſhall ſay me nay?
Why, that will I.
Let me not underſtand you then.
Speak it in Welch.
I can ſpeak Engliſh, lord, as well as you,
For I was trained up in the Engliſh court;
Where, being young, I framed to the harp
Many an Engliſh ditty, lovely well,
And gave the tongue * a helpful ornament;
A virtue that was never ſeen in you.
Marry, and I'm glad of it, with all my heart—
I had rather be a kitten, and cry mew!
Than one of theſe ſame metre ballad-mongers;
I'd rather hear a brazen candleſtick turned,
Or a dry wheel grate on the axle-tree,
And that would nothing ſet my teeth on edge,
Nothing ſo much as mincing poetry;
'Tis like the forced gait of a ſhuffling nag.
Come, you ſhall have Trent turned.
I do not care—I'll give thrice ſo much land,
To any well-deſerving friend—
But in the way of bargain, mark ye me,
I'll cavil on the ninth part of an hair. SCENE II.
[Page 216]

Again, after Glendower goes away, ‘

Fie, couſin Percy, how you croſs my father?
I cannot chuſe. Sometimes he angers me
With telling of the moldwarp and the ant *,
Of dreamer Merlin, and his prophecies;
And of a dragon, and a finleſs fiſh,
A clipt-wing griffin, and a moulting raven,
A couching lion, and a rampant cat;
And ſuch a deal of ſkimble ſkamble ſtuff,
As puts me from my faith. I tell you what.
He held me, the laſt night, at leaſt three hours,
In reckoning up the ſeveral devils names,
That were his lackeys—I cried hum—and well
But marked him not a word—O, he's as tedious,
As a tired horſe, or as a railing wiſe;
Worſe than a ſmokey houſe. I'd rather live
With cheeſe and garlic in a windmill, far,
Than ſeed on ca [...]es and have him talk to me,
In any ſummer-houſe in chriſtendom. SCENE III.

Here is a beautiful deſcription given of that moſt pleaſing criſis of mind and body, between ſleeping and waking, when the paſſions are juſt ſubſiding to reſt, but the ſenſes not yet deprived of their notices.

Lady Mortimer, daughter to Glendower, not being able to ſpeak any language but Welch to her huſband, which he does not underſtand, the father undertakes to interpret between them.

O, I am ignorance itſelf in this.
She bids you
All on the wanton ruſhes lay you down,
And reſt your gentle head upon her lap,
And ſhe will ſing the ſong that pleaſeth you,
And on your eyelids crown the god of ſleep,
Charming your blood with pleaſing heavineſs;
Making ſuch difference betwixt wake and ſleep,
As is the difference betwixt day and night,
[Page 217] The hour before the heavenly harneſſed team
Begins his golden progreſs in the eaſt.

There is neither metre-ballad-mongers ſtuff nor mincing poetry, in the above ſpeech. If Glendower is not original in it, he has at leaſt the merit of a good tranſlator.

A little further on in the ſame ſcene, the uſual expletives of converſation, and childiſh phraſes of aſſeveration, are humorouſly turned into ridicule.

After lady Mortimer has ſung her Welch ſong, Hotſpur, in order to amuſe his mind, then pondering on momentous intents, ſays to his wife,

Come, I'll have your ſong too.
Lady Percy.
Not mine, in good ſooth.
Hotſpur. Not yours, in good ſooth! Why, you ſwear like a comfit-maker's wife—Not you, in good ſooth; and as true as I live; and as God ſhall mend me; and as ſure as day; and giveſt ſuch ſarcenet ſurety for thy oaths, as if thou hadſt never walked further than Finſbury.
Swear me, Kate, like a lady as thou art,
A good mouth-filling oath, and leave in ſooth,
And ſuch proteſt of pepper gingerbread *,
To velvet guards, and Sunday citizens.
Come, ſing. SCENE IV.

This whole Scene is ſo beautiful, ſo ſpirited, and ſo affecting, that it would be a maſſacre in literature to fever its members aſunder; which I ſhould lay myſelf under the barbarous neceſſity of doing, were the ſeveral ſentiments, obſervations, and reflections, which naturally ariſe from it, ſuffered to challenge their ſeveral references ſeparately: I ſhall therefore ſerve up the compact body of it unbroken, before the Reader, and leave the diſſection of its parts to his own judgment, taſte, and feeling.

Let the father who has an untoward ſon, here learn how beſt to reprove; let the youth, whoſe [Page 218] virtues are obſcured by his errors, be inſtructed how to reform; let the ſovereign, who would preſerve his dignity, be hence taught how to maintain it; and the king, whoſe ſoibles have rendered him the object of contempt, be herein warned of the dangerous conſequences of his becoming deſpiſed.

The King, and the Prince of Wales.
I know not whether God will have it ſo,
For ſome diſpleaſing ſervice I have done,
That in his ſecret doom, out of my blood
He'll breed revengement, and a ſcourge for me;
But thou doſt, in thy paſſages of life,
Make me believe that thou art only marked
For the hot vengeance, and the rod of heaven,
To puniſh my miſ-treadings. Tell me, elſe,
Could ſuch inordinate and low deſires,
Such poor, ſuch baſe, ſuch lewd, ſuch mean attaints,
Such barren pleaſures, rude ſociety,
As thou art matched withal, and grafted to,
Accompany the greatneſs of thy blood,
And hold their level with thy princely heart?
So pleaſe your majeſty, I would I could
Quit all offences with as clear excuſe,
As well as I am doubtleſs I can purge
Myſelf of many I am charged withal.
Yet ſuch extenuation let me beg,
As on reproof of many tales deviſed,
Which oft the ear of greatneſs needs muſt hear,
By ſmiling pick-thanks, and baſe news-mongers,
I may for ſome things true, wherein my youth
Hath faulty wandered and irregular,
Find pardon on my true ſubmiſſion.
Heaven pardon thee. Yet let me wonder, Harry,
At thy affections, which do hold a wing
Quite from the flight of all thy anceſtors.
Thy place in council thou haſt rudely loſt,
Which by thy younger brother is ſupplied;
And art almoſt an alien to the hearts
Of all the court and princes of my blood.
The hope and expectation of thy time
Is mined, and the ſoul of every man
Prophetically does fore-think thy fall.
Had I ſo laviſh of my preſence been,
So common hackneyed in the eyes of men,
So ſtale and cheap to vulgar company,
[Page 216] Opinion, that did help me to the crown,
Had ſtill kept loyal to poſſeſſion *,
And left me in reputeleſs baniſhment;
A fellow of no mark or likelihood.
But being ſeldom ſeen, I could not ſtir,
But, like a comet, I was wondered at,
That men would tell their children, This is he;
Others would ſay, Where? Which is Bolin [...]roke?
And then I ſtole all courteſy from heaven ,
And dreſſed myſelf in ſuch humility,
That I did pluck allegiance from men's hearts,
Loud ſhouts and ſalutations from their mouths,
Even in the preſence of the crowned king.
Thus I did keep my perſon freſh and new,
My preſence, like a robe pontifical,
Ne'er ſeen but wondered at; and ſo my ſtate,
Seldom but ſumptuous, ſhewed like a feaſt,
And won by rareneſs ſuch ſolemnity.
The ſkipping king he ambled up and down,
With ſhallow jeſters and raſh bavin wits,
Soon kindled and ſoon burnt; 'ſcarded his ſtate,
Mingled his royalty with carping fools,
Had his great name profaned with their ſcorns,
And gave his countenance againſt his name ,
To laugh at gibing boys, and ſtand the puſh
Of every beardleſs vain comparative §;
Grew a companion to the common ſtreets,
Enfeoff'd himſelf to popularity ;
That being daily ſwallowed by men's eyes,
They ſurfeited with honey, and began
To loath a taſte of ſweetneſs; whereof a little
More than a little, is by much too much **.
So when he had occaſion to be ſeen,
He was but as the cuckoo is in June,
Heard, not regarded; ſeen, but with ſuch eyes,
As, ſick and blunted with community,
Afforded no extraordinary gaze,
[Page 220] Such as is bent on ſun-like majeſty,
When it ſhines ſeldom in admiring eyes;
But rather drowzed and hung their eye-lids down,
Slept in his face, and rendered ſuch aſpect,
As cloudy men uſe to their adverſaries;
Being with his preſence glutted, gorged, and full.
And in that very line, Harry, ſtand'ſt thou;
For thou haſt loſt thy princely privilege
With vile participation; not an eye,
But is a-weary of thy common ſight,
Save mine, which hath deſired to ſee thee more;
Which now doth, what I would not have it do,
Make blind itſelf with fooliſh tenderneſs.
I ſhall, hereafter, my moſt gracious lord,
Be more myſelf.
For all the world
As thou art, at this hour, was Richard then,
When I from France ſet foot at Ravenſpurg;
And even as I was then, is Percy now.
Now by my ſceptre, and my ſoul to boot,
He hath more worthy intereſt in the ſtate,
Than thou, the ſhadow of ſucceſſion *!
For, of no right, nor colour like to right,
He doth fill fields with harneſs ; in the realm
Turns head againſt the lion's armed jaws,
And being no more in debt to years, than thou,
Leads antient lords and reverend biſhops on
To bloody battles and to bruiſing arms.
What never-dying honour hath he got,
Againſt renowned Dowglas, whoſe high deeds,
Whoſe hot incurſions, and great name in arms,
Hold from all ſoldiers chief majority,
And military title capital,
Through all the kingdoms that acknowledge Chriſt?
Thrice hath this Hotſpur, Mars in ſwathing cloaths,
This infant warrior, in his enterprizes,
Diſcomfited great Dowglas; ta'en him once,
Enlarged him, and made a friend of him,
To fill the mouth of deep defiance up,
And ſhake the peace and ſafety of our throne.
And what ſay you to this? Percy, Northumberland,
Th' Archbiſhop's Grace of York, Dowglas, and Mortimer,
Confederate againſt us, and are up.
But wherefore do I tell this news to thee?
Why, Harry, do I tell thee of my foes,
[Page 221] Which art my neareſt * and deareſt enemy?
Thou that art like enough, thro' vaſſal fear,
Baſe inclination, or the ſtart of ſpleen ,
To fight againſt me under Percy's pay,
To dog his heels, and curtſie at his frown,
To ſhew how much thou art degenerate.
Do not think ſo—You ſhall not find it ſo—
And heaven forgive them that ſo much have ſwayed
Your majeſty's good thoughts away from me!
I will redeem all this on Percy's head;
And in the cloſing of ſome glorious day,
Be bold to tell you, that I am your ſon;
When I will wear a garment all of blood,
And ſtain my favours in a bloody maſk,
Which waſhed away, ſhall ſcower my ſhame with it—
And that ſhall be the day, when e'er it lights,
That this ſame child of honour and renown,
This gallant Hotſpur, this all praiſed knight,
And your unthought of Harry, chance to meet—
For every honour ſitting on his helm,
'Would they were multitudes, and on my head
My ſhames redoubled! for the time will come,
That I ſhall make this northern youth exchange
His glorious deeds for my indignities.
Percy is but my factor, good my lord,
To engroſs up glorious acts on my behalf;
And I will call him to ſo ſtrict account,
That he ſhall render every glory up,
Yea, even the ſlighteſt worſhip of his time,
Or I will tear the reckoning from his heart.
This, in the name of heaven, I promiſe here;
The which if I perform, and do ſurvive,
I do beſeech your majeſty may ſalve
The long-grown wounds of my intemperance:
If not, the end of life cancels all bonds;
And I will die an hundred thouſand deaths,
Ere break the ſmalleſt parcel of this vow.
An hundred thouſand rebels die in this!
Thou ſhalt have charge, and ſovereign truſt herein. . . .
Our hands are full of buſineſs—Let's away;
Advantage feeds him fat, while men delay.

There is hardly a line in the above ſpeech of the King, that is not worth the whole of what Sophocles [Page 222] makes Oedipus ſay to his ſon in the ſame circumſtances. But I don't expect that the learned will ever give up this point to me, while one paſſage remains in Greek, and the other only in Engliſh. SCENE I.

The nobleneſs of Hotſpur's character is admirably ſuſtained throughout this Play. The following ſpeech ſhews a fine part of it:

Hotſpur to Dowglas.
Well ſaid, my noble Scot. If ſpeaking truth,
In this fine age, were not thought flattery,
Such attribution ſhould the Dowglas have,
As not a ſoldier of this ſeaſon's ſtamp,
Should go ſo general current through the world.
By heaven, I cannot flatter, I defy
The tongues of ſoothers; but a braver place,
In my heart's love, hath no man than yourſelf—
Nay, taſk me to my word; approve me, lord.

The precarious and critical ſituation of unwarrantable and hazardous undertakings, is well reflected upon in the following paſſage of the ſame Scene, when the conſpirators are informed that Northumberland is prevented by ſickneſs from attending the rendez-vous:

Worceſter to Hotſpur.
But yet I would your father had been here;
The quality, and hair of our attempt
Brooks no diviſion *; it will be thought,
By ſome that know not why he is away,
That wiſdom, loyalty, and meer diſlike
Of our proceedings, kept the Earl from hence—
And think how ſuch an apprehenſion
May turn the tide of fearful faction,
And breed a kind of queſtion in our cauſe.
[Page 223] For well you know, we of the offending ſide
Muſt keep aloof from ſtrict arbitrament,
And ſtop all ſight-holes, every loop, from whence
The eye of reaſon may pry in upon us.
This abſence of your father draws a curtain,
That ſhews the ignorant a kind of fear,
Before not dreamt upon.

The gallant ſpirit of Hotſpur is well ſhewn in his reply:

You ſtrain too far;
I rather of his abſence make this uſe—
It lends a luſtre and more great opinion,
A larger dare to our great enterprize,
Than if the earl were here; for men muſt think,
If we, without his help, can make a head
To puſh againſt the kingdom; with his aid,
We ſhall o'erturn it topſy-turvy down.
Yet all goes well, yet all our joints are whole.

Upon this occaſion Dowglas makes a boaſt, which though intended by him as an excluſive compliment to his own nation, may be challenged as the general characteriſtic of Great Britain at large.

Dowglas, in continuation of Hotſpur's ſpeech:

As heart can think—there is not ſuch a word
Spoke of in Scotland, as this term of fear. ACT V. SCENE I.

Upon a parley or convention, held between the chiefs of the two parties, Worceſter enumerates the ſeveral grievances of the nation that had induced the Percy family to riſe in arms for redreſs. In reply to theſe charges, the King gives a very juſt account of the nature, pretences, and artifices of rebellion.

Theſe things, indeed, you have articulated,
Proclaimed at market-croſſes, read in churches,
To face the garment of rebellion,
With ſome fine colour that may pleaſe the eye
Of fickle changelings, and poor diſcontents,
Which gape and rub the elbow at the news
Of hurly-burly innovation.
And never yet did inſurrection want
Such water-colours to impaint its cauſe,
[Page 224] Nor moody beggars, ſtarving for a time
Of pell-mell havock and confuſion.

The liberal mind and brave heart of the Prince of Wales are beautifully marked in the following ſpeech, where he makes a generous encomium on Hotſpur, and ſends him a ſpirited defiance to ſingle combat, at the ſame time.

Prince to Worceſter.
In both our armies there is many a ſoul
Shall pay full dearly for this bold encounter,
If once they join in trial. Tell your nephew,
The Prince of Wales doth join with all the world
In praiſe of Henry Percy. By my hopes,
This preſent enterprize ſet off his head,
I do not think a braver gentleman,
More active-valiant, or more valiant-young,
More daring, or more bold, is now alive,
To grace this latter age with noble deed.
For my part, I may ſpeak it to my ſhame,
I have a truant been to chivalry;
And ſo, I hear, he doth account me too.
Yet this, before my father's majeſty—
I am content that he ſhall take the odds
Of his great name and eſtimation,
And will, to ſave the blood on either ſide,
Try fortune with him in a ſingle fight. SCENE II.

The arguments of cowardice are whimſically diſcuſſed and expoſed, in the following paſſage. The Prince, juſt as he goes out, ſays to Falſtaff, ‘Why, thou oweſt Heaven a death.’ Upon which the fat Knight takes occaſion to hold this humorous ſoliloquy with himſelf: ‘

Falſtaff. 'Tis not due, yet—I would be loath to pay him before his day. What need I be ſo forward with him, that calls not on me? Well, 'tis no matter; honour pricks me on; but how if honour pricks me off again, when I come on? Can honour ſet to a leg? No—Or an arm? No—Or take away the grief of a wound? No. Honour hath no ſkill in ſurgery, then? No — What is honour? A word—What is that word Honour? Air—A trim [Page 225] reckoning—Who hath it? He that died on Wedneſday. Doth he feel it? No—Doth he hear it? No—Is it inſenſible then? Yea, to the dead—But will it not live with the living? No—Why? Detraction will not ſuffer it. Therefore, I'll none of it—Honour is but a meer ſcutcheon *, and ſo ends my catechiſm. SCENE III.

When the King has made the proffer of a general amneſty to the conſpirators, the natural diſtruſt and diffidence which rebels muſt ever labour under, is well deſcanted upon in this Scene.

It is not poſſible, it cannot be,
The king ſhould keep his word in loving us;
He will ſuſpect us ſtill, and find a time
To puniſh this offence in other faults.
Suſpicion, all our lives, ſhall be ſtuck full of eyes;
For treaſon is but truſted like a fox,
Who ne'er ſo tame, ſo cheriſhed, and locked up,
Will have a wild trick of his anceſtors.
Look how we can, or ſad, or merrily,
Interpretation will miſquote our looks;
And we ſhall feed like oxen at a ſtall,
The better cheriſhed, ſtill the nearer death.

If the Reader will take the trouble to revert to the laſt obſervation on the fourth Scene in the Firſt Act of this Play, he will meet with a like reflection there, made by the ſame perſon. This repetition is a ſtroke of Nature given us by the Poet, to ſhew the perturbation of ſpirits, and diſtruſt of mind, which perſons in his ſituation are ever ſenſible of. But, indeed, this reflection may more generally be applied to every ſpecies of vice; for in guilt there can be no peace within, nor confidence without. SCENE IX.

The magnanimity of the Prince of Wales is preſerved throughout his character. After he has ſlain Hotſpur, he makes his elegy in theſe words: ‘

Brave Percy—Fare thee well, great heart!
Ill-weaved ambition , how much art thou ſhrunk!
[Page 226] When that this body did contain a ſpirit,
A kingdom for it was too ſmall a bound;
But now two paces of the vileſt earth,
Is room enough. This earth, that bears thee dead,
Bea [...]s not alive ſo ſtout a gentleman—
If thou wert ſenſible of courteſy,
I ſhould not make ſo great a ſhew of zeal—
But let my favour hide thy mangled form,
And, even in thy behalf, I thank myſelf,
For doing theſe fair rites of tenderneſs.
Throwing his ſcarf over him.
Adieu, and take thy praiſe with thee to heaven;
Thy ignominy ſleep with thee in the grave,
But not remembered in thy epitaph. POSTSCRIPT.

I thought that my taſk was done with this Play, when I had got to the end of it; but there is ſomething ſo very great, ſingular, and attractive, in the two principal characters of this hiſtoric piece, that I find a pleaſure in keeping them ſtill 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 ſaid he uſed to be affected with, on a peruſal of the old Ballad of Chevy-Chaſe; as if he had heard the ſound of a trumpet. Perhaps the following obſervation may better account for my impulſe:

Women are apt to eſteem the antient virtue of courage at an higher rate than men in general are; and this, for theſe two eſpecial reaſons. 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 ſtronger, and therefore braver, ſex may naturally be ſuppoſed to compliment it with. Men, feeling the principles of it in their own breaſts, conceive no very ſupernatural idea of it; while [Page 227] women, having no ſuch premiſſes to reaſon from, look on it as ſomething more than human.

Theſe reflections, with the frequent occaſions I have had, thoughout 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 ſhould 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 Shakeſpeare has opened enough of this Prince's character, here, to ſupply ſufficient materials for the compariſon, and that his unfortunate rival is juſt ſlain, I thought the Parallel might have a better effect on the mind of my Readers, in this place, than it would be likely to produce after the delay had ſuffered the impreſſion of Hotſpur's qualities to wear out of their remembrance. A PARALLEL BETWEEN HOTSPUR, AND HENRY PRINCE OF WALES.

THEY are both equally brave; but the courage of Hotſpur has a greater portion of fierceneſs in it— The Prince's magnanimity is more heroic. The firſt reſembles Achilles; the latter is more like Hector. 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 ſame of Hotſpur, behind his back, and while he is ſtill his enemy.

They both of them poſſeſs a ſportive vein of humour in their ſcenes of common life; but Hotſpur ſtill preſerves the ſurly and refractory haughtineſs of his character, throughout, even in the relaxations [Page 228] he indulges himſelf in. The Prince has more of eaſe and nature in his; delivering himſelf over to mirth and diſſipation, without reſerve. Hotſpur's feſtivity ſeems to reſemble that of Hamlet; as aſſumed merely to relieve anxiety of mind, and cover ſanguinary purpoſes; the Prince's gaiety, like that of Faulconbridge *, appears to be more genuine, ariſing from natural temper, and an healthful flow of ſpirits. The Prince is Alcibiades—Percy is—himſelf.

There is likewiſe another character in this rich Play, of a moſt peculiar diſtinction; as being not only original, but inimitable, alſo—No copy of it has ever ſince appeared, either in life or deſcription. Any one of the Dramatis Perſonae in Congreve's Comedies, 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 a certain characteriſtic peculiarity in all the humour of Falſtaff, that would ſound flatly in the mouths of Bardolph, Poins, or Peto. In fine, the portrait of this extraordinary perſonage is delineated by ſo maſterly a hand, that we may venture to pronounce it to be the only one that ever afforded ſo high a degree of pleaſure, without the leaſt pretence to merit or virtue to ſupport it.

I was obliged to paſs by many of his ſtrokes of humour, character, and deſcription, becauſe they did not fall within the rule I had preſcribed to myſelf in theſe notes; but I honeſtly confeſs that it was with regret, whenever I did ſo; for, were there as much moral, as there certainly is phyſical, good in laughing, I might have tranſcribed every Scene of his, throughout this, the following Play, and the Merry Wives of Windſor, for the advantage of the health, as well as the entertainment, of my readers.



2.4.1. Dramatis Perſonae.



  • EARL OF NORTHUMBERLAND. Againſt the King.
  • ARCHBISHOP OF YORK. Againſt the King.
  • LORD BARDOLPH. Againſt the King.
  • MORTON. Againſt the King.
  • EARL OF WARWICK. For the King.
  • LORD CHIEF JUSTICE. For the King.
  • POINS.


  • LADY PERCY, Widow of Hotſpur.


[Page 231] ACT I. SCENE III.

THE quick eye of ſuſpicion, with the prophetic nature of anxious apprehenſions, are well marked here. The latter is a ſpecies of that kind of foreboding, often unaccountably ariſing in the mind, which I have taken notice of in former places *.

‘Northumberland, Lord Bardolph, and Morton.’

Morton, giving an account of the action at Shrewſbury, ſays to Northumberland,

Dowglas is living, and your brother, yet;
But for my lord, your ſon—

Here Northumberland haſtily interrupts him:

Why, he is dead—
See what a ready tongue ſuſpicion hath.
He that but fears the thing he would not know,
Hath, by inſtinct, knowledge from other's eyes,
That what he feared is chanced.
Yet for all this, ſay not that Percy's dead.
Northumberland to Morton.
I ſee a ſtrange confeſſion in thine eye;
Thou ſhak'ſt thy head, and hold'ſt it fear or ſin,
To ſpeak a truth. If he be ſlain, ſay ſo.
The tongue offends not, that reports his death;
And he doth ſin that doth belie the dead,
Not he that ſaith the dead is not alive.
Yet the firſt bringer of unwelcome news
Hath but a loſing office, and his tongue
[Page 232] Sounds, ever after, as a ſullen bell,
Remembered tolling a departed friend.

I was juſt going to obſerve upon the latter part of this dialogue, when I happened to recollect that I had already taken notice of a parallel paſſage, in my ſecond remark on the Firſt Scene of the Third Act of King John; and to which I beg leave to refer my Reader.

The human mind, when rouſed by danger, or inflamed with paſſion, is capable of inſpiring the brave heart with additional courage, and of ſupplying new vigour to exhauſted ſtrength. This admirable oeconomy in the human frame is contrived by nature, as being neceſſary to ſelf-defence, as well as in order to render injury the more difficult and hazardous to the offender.

For this I ſhall have time enough to mourn;
In poiſon there is phyſic; and this news,
That would, had I been well, have made me ſick,
Being [...]ck, hath, in ſome meaſure, made me well.
And as the wretch, whoſe fever-weakened joints,
Like ſtrengthleſs hinges, buckle under life,
Impatient of his fit, breaks, like a fire,
Out of his keeper's arms; even ſo my limbs,
Weakened with grief, being now enraged with grief,
Are thrice themſelves. Hence, therefore, thou nice crutch!
A ſcaly gauntlet, now, with joints of ſteel,
Muſt glove this hand—And hence, thou ſickly quoif!
Thou art a guard too wanton * for the head,
Which princes fluſhed with conqueſt, aim to hit.
Now bind my brows with iron, and approach
The rugged'ſt hour that time and ſpite dare bring,
To frown upon the enraged Northumberland!
Let heaven kiſs earth! now let not Nature's hand
Keep the wild flood confined; let order die,
And let this world no longer be a ſtage,
To feed contention in a lingering act,
But let one ſpirit of the firſt-born Cain
Reign in all boſoms; that each heart being ſet
On bloody courſes, the rude ſcene may end,
And darkneſs be the burier of the dead!

[Page 233] I have continued this ſpeech, for eight lines further than my preface to it required; but I thought the whole ſpirit and language of it too fine, to ſuffer it to be mangled by ſtopping ſhort. Beſides, this latter part of it ſhews that extravagance of deſpair and rage to which grief, reſentment, and misfortune are apt to drive a perſon, whoſe mind is not happily tempered by philoſophy, or reſtrained by religion.

See the ſecond remark, with the paſſage it refers to, in the Firſt Scene of Act the Fourth of the preceding Play, as it will ſave me the trouble of making a new obſervation here, or of repeating the ſame again, as applicable to the following ſpeech: ‘

My lord, your ſon had only but the corpſe,
But ſhadows, and the ſhews of men to fight;
For that ſame word, Rebellion, did divide
The action of their bodies from their ſouls,
And they did fight with queaſineſs conſtrained,
As men drink potions; that their weapons only
Seemed on our ſide; but for their ſpirits and ſouls,
This word, Rebellion, it had froze them up,
As fiſh are in a pond. SCENE VI.

There is a moſt diſguſting picture, but a too hiſtorically juſt one, given, in this place, of the unſtable and fluctuating affections of the multitude— No popularity can be permanent, which is not earned by virtue, and preſerved by perſeverance in it. The Public is a Weather-Cock; it continues ſteady only while the wind remains ſo; when that ſhifts, the vane turns alſo.

Let us on;
And publiſh the occaſion of our arms.
The Common-wealth is ſick of their own choice;
Their over-greedy love hath ſurfeited.
An habitation giddy and unſure
Hath he that buildeth on the vulgar heart.
O, thou fond Many! with what loud applauſe
[Page 234] Did'ſt thou beat heaven with bleſſing Bolinbroke,
Before he was what thou would'ſt have him be?
And now, being trimmed up in thine own deſires,
Thou, beaſtly feeder, art ſo full of him,
That thou provokeſt thyſelf to caſt him up.
So, ſo, thou common dog, didſt thou diſgorge
Thy glutton boſom of the royal Richard;
And now thou wouldſt eat thy dead vomit up,
And howl'ſt to find it. What truſt is in theſe times!
They that, when Richard lived, would have him die,
Are now become enamoured of his grave;
Thou that threw duſt upon his goodly head,
When through proud London he came ſighing on,
After the admired heels of Bolinbroke,
Crieſt now, O earth, yield us that king again,
And take thou this. O thoughts of men accurſt!
Paſt and to come ſeem beſt; things preſent worſt. ACT II. SCENE IV.

The extravagant and ſuperſtitious notions of the vulgar, in former times, with regard to kings and heroes, though not really ſuppoſed in this Scene, are, however, very humorouſly ridiculed in it.

The Prince and Poins.
Prince. Truſt me, I am exceeding weary.
Poins. And is it come to that? I had thought that wearineſs durſt not have attacked one of ſo high blood.
Prince. It doth me, though it diſcolours the complexion of my greatneſs to acknowledge it. Doth it not ſhew vilely in me, now, to deſire ſmall beer?
Poins. Why, a Prince ſhould not be ſo looſely ſtudied, as to remember ſo weak a compoſition.
Prince. Belike then, my appetite was not princely got; for, in troth, I do now remember the poor creature, ſmall beer. But, indeed, theſe humble conſiderations make me out of love with my greatneſs. What a diſgrace is it in me, now, to remember thy name? or to know thy face, to-morrow? or to take note how many pair of ſilk ſtockings thou haſt? Videlicet; theſe, and thoſe that were once the peach-coloured ones—or to bear the inventory of thy ſhirts; as one for uſe, and another for ſuperfluity.

That common diſpoſition of vaunting ourſelves above others, ſo natural to mankind, that ſome writer [Page 235] ſtiles it a mint at every one's tongue's end, to coin their own praiſe, is well marked in the latter part of this Scene. But I ſhall commence the dialogue a little earlier than may be juſt neceſſary to this reference, in order to treat my reader with a beautiful trait in the Prince's character, who is made to preſerve his virtue untainted, in the midſt of all his debauchery and diſſipation.

Poins, being piqued at the Prince's having expoſed the ſhabbineſs of his wardrobe, replies: ‘

Poins. How ill it follows, after you have laboured ſo hard, you ſhould talk ſo idly? Tell me how many good young princes would do ſo, their fathers lying ſo ſick as yours at this time is?
Prince. Shall I tell thee one thing, Poins?
Poins. Yes, and let it be an excellent good thing.
Prince. It ſhall ſerve among wits of no higher breeding than thine.
Poins. Go to; I ſtand the puſh of your one thing that you'll tell.
Prince. Why, I tell thee, it is not meet that I ſhould be ſad, now my father is ſick; albeit, I could tell thee, as to one it pleaſes me, for fault of a better to call my friend, I could be ſad, and very ſad, indeed, too.
Poins. Very hardly, upon ſuch a ſubject.
Prince. By this hand, thou think'ſt me as far in the Devil's book as thou and Falſtaff, for obduracy and perſiſtency. Let the end try the man. But, I tell thee, my heart bleeds inwardly, that my father is ſo ſick; and keeping ſuch vile company as thou art, hath in reaſon taken from me all oſtentation of ſorrow.
Poins. The reaſon?
Prince. What would'ſt thou think of me, if I ſhould weep?
Poins. I would think thee a moſt princely hypocrite.
Prince. It would be every man's thought; and thou art a bleſſed fellow, to think as every man thinks. Never a man's thought in the world, keeps the road-way better than thine. Every man would think me an hypocrite, indeed. And what excites your moſt worſhipful thought to think ſo?
Poins. Why, becauſe you have ſeemed ſo lewd, and ſo much ingrafted to Falſtaff.
Prince. And to thee.
Poins. Nay, by this light, I am well ſpoken of; I can hear it with my own ears. The worſt they can ſay of me, is, that I am [Page 236] a ſecond brother, and that I am a proper fellow of my hands *; and thoſe two things, I confeſs, I cannot help.

The delicacy of the Prince's difficulty upon this occaſion, in not being able to manifeſt the concern he was really ſenſible of for his father's illneſs, leſt, from the former complexion of his life and manners, he might be ſuſpected of inſincerity in ſuch profeſſions, muſt have a fine effect on the ſentiment of a reader who is poſſeſſed of the leaſt refinement of principle or virtue.

A moſt uſeful leſſon might be framed, upon the very ſingular character of this amiable perſon. The pattern is not perfect; and therefore—ſhall I venture to ſay it? the example is the better, for that reaſon. His manners are idle, but his morals uncorrupt. He ſuffers Falſtaff to make as free with him as he pleaſes, but breaks his head, as Mrs. Quickly tells us in a former Scene, for his having thrown out a jeſt upon his father. Young men may learn from him never to be guilty of more vice, than the temptation to it might precipitate them into. He connives at the robbery of his companions, for the diverſion of playing the ſame game upon them, again; but reſolves to make ample reſtitution for the wrong . He offends his father by the diſſoluteneſs of his conduct; but his filial affection and reſpect are ſtill unremitted towards him. He ſhews a ſpirit of juſtice in injuſtice, and of duty, even in diſobedience.

I here offer this comment as a ſupplement to the character I have already drawn of this Prince, at the end of the former Play. I could not have fairly added it there, as any thing that did not immediately relate to the compariſon between him and Hotſpur, would have been improperly introduced in the Parallel. SCENE V.
[Page 237]

The vanity with which men are apt to plume themſelves, with regard to titles of honour to which they can claim no merit, in themſelves, is humorouſly ridiculed here by Poins, in his notes on Falſtaff's letter to the Prince, which is given him to read.

Poins, reading.
John Falſtaff, Knight. Every man muſt know that, as often as he hath occaſion to name himſelf; even like thoſe that are a-kin to the king, for they never prick their finger, but they cry, there is ſome of the king's blood ſpilt—How comes that? ſays he that takes upon him not to conceive it. The anſwer is as ready, as a borrower's cap *I am the king's poor couſin, Sir.
Prince. Nay, they will be a-kin to us, or they will fetch it from Japhet. SCENE VI.

The ſervile adulation uſually paid to great or diſtinguiſhed perſons, even to an imitation of their very defects, and which Alexander properly reprehended, by giving a box on the ear to one of his courtiers who had mimicked the wryneſs of his neck, is well repreſented here:

Lady Percy, ſpeaking of Hotſpur,

He was, indeed, the glaſs,
Wherein the noble youth did dreſs themſelves.
He had no legs, that practiſed not his gait;
And ſpeaking thick , which nature made his blemiſh,
Became the accents of the would-be valiant;
For thoſe that could ſpeak low and tardily,
Would turn their own perfection to abuſe,
To ſeem like him. So that, in ſpeech, and gait,
In diet, in affections of delight,
In military rules, humours of blood,
He was the mark, and glaſs, copy and book,
That faſhioned others.

[Page 238] In the laſt paſſage of this Scene, the uncertain and irreſolute deliberation of mind, in which men are apt to be held in ſuſpence, upon the criſis of doubtful adventures, is well deſcribed by an apt ſimile.

'Tis with my mind,
As with the tide ſwelled up unto its height,
That makes a ſtill ſtand, running neither way.
Fain would I go to meet the archbiſhop *,
But many thouſand reaſons hold me back.
I will reſolve for Scotland; there am I,
'Till time and 'vantage crave my company. SCENE X.

In this Scene, Doll makes a ſpeech that is worthy to be remarked upon. When Piſtol is ſtiled captain, ſhe ſays, ‘Captain! thou abominable damned cheater, art thou not aſhamed to be called captain? If captains were of my mind, they would truncheon you out of taking their names upon you, before you have earned them. A captain! theſe villains will make the word captain odicus—therefore captains had need look to it.’

There is a punctilio of the kind hinted at here, already eſtabliſhed in the Army; but it is confined only to one article, namely courage. If an officer declines a challenge, or ſuffers an affront to paſs unreſented, his corps refuſe to roll with him. It would be better, if this po [...]nt of honour reſpected the moral as well as the natural part of a ſoldier's character; and better ſtill, if the ſame ſpirit and virtue were exerted in every claſs or diſtinction of life; among lords, commoners, lawyers, parſons, and phyſicians. A rule of this ſort would go further towards the reformation of manners, than all the laws and preachments that ever were made. SCENE XI.

The ſl [...]ght merits and ſuperficial accompliſhments which too often connect young perſons in fellowſhip with each other, are here well expoſed. When Fortune [Page 239] is whirling her wheel about, the turning of a tobacco-ſtopper, or of a ſtraw, may make a man, according to Trinculo's expreſſion*.

Falſtaff, and Doll Tearſheet.
Doll. Sirrah, what humour is the prince of?
Falſtaff. A good ſhallow young fellow; he would have made a good pantler; he would have chipped bread well.
Doll. They ſay Poins has a good wit.
Falſtaff. He a good wit? hang him, baboon! His wit is as thick as Tewkſbury muſtard. There is no more conceit in him than is in a mallet.
Doll. Why does the prince love him ſo, then?
Falſtaff. Becauſe their legs are both of a bigneſs, and he plays at quoits well, and eats conger and fennel ; and drinks off candles ends for flap-dragons , and rides the wild mare with the boys, and jumps over joint ſtools, and ſwears with a good grace, and wears his boot very ſmooth, like the ſign of the leg, and breeds no bate with telling of indiſcreet ſtories; and ſuch other gambol faculties he hath, that ſhew a weak mind, and an able body; for the which the prince admits him, for he is himſelf ſuch another; the weight of an hair would turn the ſcales between their avoirdupois. ACT III. SCENE I.

In the fine ſpeech which fills this Scene, the anxieties of the great, with the content of the commonalty, the difference between the labour of the mind, and that of the body, are beautifullly contraſted, and moſt poetically compared.

The King alone in his night-gown.
How many thouſands of my pooreſt ſubjects
Are at this hour aſleep! O gentle ſleep,
Nature's ſoft nurſe! how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down,
[Page 240] And ſteep my ſenſes in forgetfulneſs?
Why rather, ſleep, lieſt thou in ſmoky cribs,
Upon uneaſy pallets ſtretching thee,
And huſhed with buzzing night-flies to thy ſlumber,
Than in the perfumed chambers of the great,
Under the canopies of coſtly ſtate,
And lulled with ſounds of ſweeteſt melody?
O thou dull god, why lieſt thou with the vile,
In loathſome beds, and leav'ſt the kingly couch
A watch-caſe *, or a common larum-beil?
Wilt thou, upon the high and giddy maſt,
Seal up the ſhip-boy's eyes, and rock his brains,
In cradle of the rude imperious ſurge;
And in the viſitation of the winds,
Who take the ruffian billows by the top,
Curling their monſtrous heads, and hanging them
With deaf'ning clamours in the ſlippery ſhrouds,
That with the hurley death itſelf awakes?
Canſt thou, O partial ſleep, give thy repoſe
To the wet ſea-boy in an hour ſo rude?
And in the calmeſt and the ſtilleſt night,
With all appliances, and means to boot,
Deny it to a king? Then, happy, lowly clown,
Uneaſy lies the head that wears a crown. SCENE II.

There is a ſad, becauſe a too true, proſpect of human life, preſented to us here, which juſtifies the goodneſs of Providence, ‘"And vindicates the ways of God to man,"’ in hiding the future from our view. Quid ſit futurum cras, fuge quaerere.—All the knowledge that is neceſſary to true wiſdom, the intire volume of morality and devotion lies open before us; the contingencies of events only, of little import, upon the whole of our exiſtence, being veiled from our ſight.

Heaven from all creatures hides the book of fate,
All but the page preſcrib'd, their preſent ſtate;
From brutes what men, from men what ſpirits know,
Or who could ſuffer being here below?
Pope's Eſſay on Man.

Were we capable of foreſeeing effects in their cauſes, and admitted to peer through the teleſcope of [Page 241] time, it would more frequently and generally make us unhappy before our ſufferings; would render the future and precarious evil preſent and certain; dull the ſenſe of anticipated good, by giving us enjoyment before poſſeſſion; hope, the enhancer of expected bliſs, would be loſt in aſſurance; and that dear cordial of deſpair be then ſtruck off from the materia medica of affliction.

Cicero ſpeaks finely upon this ſubject. I forget the place; but 'tis where he ſuppoſes Priam, Pompey, and Caeſar, to have had their ſeveral pages in the book of Fate laid open before them, in the height of their proſperity.

The King, Warwick, and Surry.
Oh Heaven, that one might read the book of Fate,
And ſee the revolution of the times,
Make mountains level, and the continent,
Weary of ſolid firmneſs, melt itſelf
Into the ſea; and, other times, to ſee
The beachy girdle of the ocean
Too wide for Neptune's hips! How chances mock,
And changes fill the cup of alteration
With divers liquors! O, if this were ſeen,
The happieſt youth, viewing his progreſs through,
What perils preſſed *, what croſſes to enſue,
Would ſhut the book, and ſit him down and die.—
'Tis not ten years gone,
Since Richard and Northumberland, great friends,
Did feaſt together; and in two years after
Were they at wars. It is but eight years ſince
This Percy was the man neareſt my ſoul,
Who like a brother toiled in my affairs,
And laid his love and life under my foot;
Yea, for my ſake, even to the eyes of Richard,
Gave him defiance. But which of you was by?
You, couſin Nevil, as I may remember, To Warwick.
When Richard, with his eye brimful of tears ,
Then checked and rated by Northumberland,
[Page 242] Did ſpeak theſe words, now proved a prophecy:
"Northumberland, thou ladder, by the which
"My couſin Bolinbroke aſcends my throne;"
Though then, Heaven knows, I had no ſuch intent,
But that neceſſity ſo bowed the ſtate,
That I and greatneſs were compelled to kiſs *;
"The time will come," thus did he follow it,
"The time will come, that, foul ſin gathering head,
"Shall break into corruption;" ſo went on,
Foretelling this ſame time's condition,
And the diviſion of our amity.

However, the reply to this reflection ſays, very juſtly, That, in many caſes, the ignorance of the future may be often ſupplied by thoſe who have made proper obſervations on paſt experience, and are capable of forming judgments upon character.

There is an hiſtory in all men's lives,
Figuring the nature of the times deceaſed;
The which obſerved, a man may prophecy,
With a near aim, of the main chance of things,
As not yet come to life, which in their ſeeds,
And weak beginnings, lie intreaſured.
Such things become the hatch and brood of time;
And by the neceſſary form of them,
King Richard might create a perfect gueſs,
That great Northumberland, then falſe to him,
Would of that ſeed grow to a greater falſeneſs,
Which ſhould not find a ground to root upon,
Unleſs on you. SCENE III.

The uſual prate, or, as Hotſpur phraſes it, the bald unjointed chat of old fellows among their cotemporaries, the fond and vain boaſtings of their youthful frolics, and their trite reflections, intermixed, at the ſame time, with a particular attention to their own intereſts, are all moſt excellently well diſplayed in this Scene, which I have a double purpoſe in laying before the Reader; to warn the old from rendering themſelves tedious or ridiculous by ſuch foibles; and alſo to incline the young to ſhew ſome tenderneſs to natural weakneſſes, ariſing not from the peculiarities [Page 243] of the perſons, being characteriſtical only of reſpectful years, and time-honoured age.

Shallow and Silence, two Juſtices, meeting.
Shallow. Come on, come on, come on; give me your hand, Sir; an early ſtirrer, by the rood *. And how doth my good couſin Silence?
Silence. Good morrow, good couſin Shallow.
Shallow. And how doth my couſin, your bed-fellow? and your faireſt daughter, and mine, my god-daughter Ellen?
Silence. Alas, a black ouſel , couſin Shallow.
Shallow. By yea and nay, Sir, I dare ſay my couſin William is become a good ſcholar. He is at Oxford ſtill, is he not?
Silence. Indeed, Sir, to my coſt.
Shallow. He muſt then to the Inns of Court ſhortly. I was once of Clement's Inn; where, I think, they will talk of mad Shallow yet.
Silence. You were called luſty Shallow then, couſin.
Shallow. I was called any thing, and I would have done any thing, indeed, too, and roundly too. There was I, and little John Doit, of Staffordſhire, and black George Barc, and Francis Pickbone, and Will. Squelt, a Cotſwold man; you had not four ſuch ſwingebucklers in all the Inns of Court, again; and I may ſay to you, we knew where the bona-roba's were, and had the beſt of them all at commandment. Then was Jack Falſtaff, now Sir John, a boy, and page to Thomas Mowbray, duke of Norfolk.
Silence. This Sir John, couſin, that comes hither, anon, about ſoldiers?
Shallow. The ſame Sir John, the very ſame. I ſaw him break Schoggan's head at the court gate, when he was a crack, not thus high; and the very ſame day did I fight with one Sampſon Stockfiſh, a fruiterer, behind Gray's Inn. O the mad days that I have ſpent! And to ſee how many of my old acquaintance are dead!
[Page 244] Silence. We ſhall all follow, couſin.
Shallow. Certain, 'tis certain, very ſure, very ſure. Death, as the Pſalmiſt ſays, is certain to all; all ſhall die. How go a good yoke of bullocks, at Stamfora fair?
Silence. Truly, couſin, I was not there.
Shallow. Death is certain. Is old Double, of your town, living yet?
Silence. Dead, Sir.
Shallow. Dead!—See, ſee—He drew a good bow—And dead? He ſhot a fine ſhoot. John of Gaunt loved him well, and betted much money on his head. Dead!—He would have clapt in the clowt at twelve ſcore, and carried you a fore-hand ſhaft, a fourteen and fourteen and a half , that it would have done a man's heart good to ſee — How a ſcore of ewes, now?
Silence. Thereafter as they be. A ſcore of good ewes may be worth ten pounds.
Shallow. And is old Double dead! SCENE IV.

The ridicule, in the following paſſage, is directed againſt the affectation of uſing what the vulgar call hard words, in familiar converſation, with the ſynonimous explications of ignorance, by throwing the ſame word into different tenſes or caſes, as if the ſenſe of it could be hit off, by the repetition of its own ſound.

Bardolph and Shallow.
Bardolph. My captain, Sir, commends him to you; my captain, Sir John Falſtaff, a tall gentleman, by Heaven! and a moſt gallant leader.
Shallow. He greets me well, Sir, I knew him a good backſword man. How doth the good knight? May I aſk how my good lady, his wife, doth?
Bardolph. Sir, pardon; a ſoldier is better accommodated than with a wife.
Shallow. It is well ſaid, Sir; and it is well ſaid, indeed, too— better accomm [...]dated —It is good, yea, indeed, is it—Good phraſes ſurely are, and ever were, very commendable. Accommodated— It comes of accommodo—very good, a good phraſe.
Bardolph. Pardon me, Sir; I have heard the word. Phraſe call you it? By this day, I know not the phraſe; but I will maintain the word with my ſword, to be a ſoldier-like word, and a word of exceeding [Page 245] good command. Accommodated—that is, when a man is, as they ſay, accommodated; or when a man is, being whereby he may be thought to be accommodated, which is an excellent thing. ACT IV. SCENE VIII.

There is a ſtriking deſcription given of the Prince, here, which does honour likewiſe to the ſpeaker. Parents, in general, while they are fond of their children, are apt either to ſee them without blemiſh, or, when they are offended with them, to ſhew no indulgence to their failings. But the good old king ſpeaks here impartially of his ſon, fairly balancing his merits with his blames, and weighing them with the charity that Heaven itſelf will do hereafter.

The King, Duke of Clarence, and Warwick.
Thomas of Clarence,
How chance thou art not with the prince thy brother?
He loves thee, and thou doſt neglect him, Thomas.
Thou haſt a better place in his affection,
Than all thy brothers; cheriſh it, my boy;
And noble offices thou may'ſt effect
Of mediation, after I am dead,
Between his greatneſs and thy other brethren.
Therefore omit him not; blunt not his love,
Nor loſe the good advantage of his grace,
By ſeeming cold, or careleſs of his will;
For he is gracious, if he be obſerved.
He hath a tear for pity, and a hand
Open as day for melting charity;
Yet, notwithſtanding, being incenſed, he's flint;
As humorous as winter, and as ſudden
As flaws * congealed in the ſpring of day;
His temper, therefore, muſt be well obſerved.
Chide him for faults, but do it reverently,
When you perceive his blood inclined to mirth;
But being moody, give him line and ſcope,
Till that his paſſions, like a whale on ground,
Confound themſelves with working. Learn this, Thomas,
And thou ſhalt prove a ſhelter to thy friends,
A hoop of gold to bind thy brothers in,
That the united veſſel of their blood,
[Page 246] Mingled with venom of ſuggeſtion,
As force-perforce the age will pour it in,
Shall never leak, though it ſhould work as ſtrong
As acc [...]itum, or raſh gunpowder.

One cannot help loving ſuch a character, taking the whole together. The good part of it is its nature, the bad one but its youth. Fruits of a wild favour are the choiceſt, when well cultivated.

In part of the above ſpeech, there is a good direction given to thoſe who have to deal with paſſionate or capricious perſons, Chide him for faults, &c.

I ſhould have expatiated on the unanimity of the royal family, recommended here, as neceſſary to the ſafety of the crown; but that I could not poſſibly have urged any new argument on the ſubject, ſtronger than the old ſimile of the bundle of twigs in the Fable.

Juſt after, the king ſpeaks again of the prince, with the ſame tenderneſs, and in a moſt affecting manner, upon hearing that he ſtill continues to aſſociate with his looſe companions: ‘

Moſt ſubject is the fatteſt ſoil to weeds;
And he, the noble image of my youth,
Is o [...]read with them; therefore my grief
Stretches itſelf beyond the hour of death.

In anſwer to this melancholy proſpect, Warwick endeavours to make an apology for the prince, in a very pretty and ingenious alluſion, wherein is implied, what happens to have too much truth in it, that no one can know the world, or be fit to govern in it, who is not ſufficiently acquainted with the baſe and corrupt part of mankind.

My gracious lord, you look beyond him quite;
The prince but ſtudies his companions,
Like a ſtrange tongue, wherein to gain the language,
'Tis needful that the moſt immodeſt word
Be looked upon and le [...]rned; which once attained,
Your highn [...]ſs knows comes to no farther uſe,
But to be known, and hated. So, like groſs terms,
The prince will, in the perfectneſs of time,
Caſt off his followers; and their memory
[Page 247] Shall, as a pattern, or a meaſure, live,
By which his grace muſt mete the lives of others;
Turning paſt evils to advantages.

To this piece of ſoothing flattery the king replies, with as apt a ſimile, on his part, to expreſs his diffidence in the hopeful prophecy: ‘

'Tis ſeldom when the bee forſakes her comb
In the dead carrion.
’ Intimating that our affections, like the honeycomb, however improperly placed at firſt, will too naturally continue ſtill to attract us, even in ſpite of our b [...]tter reaſon. The ſimile here made uſe of, tho' it may appear ſomewhat too coarſe, at firſt thought, will quickly be found to contain a very poetical beauty in it, upon recollecting the epiſode of Ariſtaeus, at the end of the Fourth Georgic; where the miraculous generation of bees, from the putrid carcaſe of an ox, is related by Virgil; and to which this image may be looked upon as an alluſion. SCENE IX.

There is a reflection made here upon the unſatiſfactory or perverſe ſtate of things, in this life, which will have double its effect, as being delivered from that ſo much falſely envied ſtate, a throne.

Upon hearing that the rebels had been overthrown, the king ſays,

And wherefore ſhould theſe good news make me ſick?
Will fortune never come with both hands full,
But write her fair words ſtill in fouleſt letters?
She either gives a ſtomach, and no food;
Such are the poor in health: or elſe a feaſt,
And takes away the ſtomach; ſuch the rich,
Who have abundance, and enjoy it not. SCENE X.

The prince ſitting by his dying father, in a ſlumber, with the crown lying by him, lays open the ſcene, and expoſes to view the real, or, as it may more properly be expreſſed, the private ſtate of greatneſs, in the following ſoliloquy: ‘ [Page 248]

Why doth the crown lye there upon his pillow,
Being ſo troubleſome a bedfellow?
O poliſhed perturbation! golden care!
That keeps the ports of ſlumber open wide,
To many a watchful night. Sleep with it, now,
Yet not ſo ſound, and half ſo deeply ſweet,
As he whoſe brow with homely biggen bound,
Snores out the watch of night. O majeſty!
When thou doſt pinch thy bearer, thou doſt ſit
Like a rich armour worn in heat of day,
That ſ [...]s with ſafety. By his gates of breath
Ther [...] [...]s a down [...] feather, which ſtirs not—
Did he [...]u [...]p [...]re, that light and weighleſs down
Peri [...]e muſt mo [...]—My gracious lord! my father!
—This ſleep is ſound, indeed; this is a ſleep,
That from the golden rigol * hath divorced
So many Engliſh kings. Thy due from me
Is tears, a [...] [...]eavy ſorrows of the blood;
Which nature, love, and ſi [...]l tenderneſs,
Shall, O my father! pay thee plenteouſly.

I have continued this ſpeech further than was merely neceſſary to the purpoſe for which it was introduced, becauſe I am fond of exhibiting my heroe in the beſt lights of his character. ACT V. SCENE I.

There are ſome good obſervations made here, on the powerful effects of the company we aſſociate with, over both our minds and manners; and the truth is not the leſs ſerious, or worthy of attention, for being humorouſly urged, or ridiculouſly expreſſed.

Falſtaff, on Shallow's going out, ‘If I were ſawed into quantities, I ſhould make four dozen of ſuch b [...]d [...]d h [...]rmit-ſlaves, as maſter Shallow. It is a wonderful thing to ſee the [...]ble coherence of his men's ſpirits and his.—They, by obſerving of him, do bear themſelves like fooliſh juſtices; he, by [...]verſing w [...]th them, is turned into a juſtice-like ſerving-man. Their ſp [...] are ſo married in conjunction, with the participation of ſociety, that they ſtock together, in conſent, like ſo many wild [...]. If I had a ſuit to maſter Shallow, I would humour his men [...] the imputation of being near their maſter; if to his men, I [...] carry with maſter Shallow, that no man could better command [Page 249] his ſervants. It is certain, that either wiſe bearing, or ignorant carriage, is c [...]ught as men take diſeaſes, one of another; therefore, let men take heed of their company. I will deviſe matter enough out of this Shallow, to keep prince Henry in continual laughter, the wearing out of ſix faſhions; which is four terms, or two actions *; and he ſhall laugh without intervallums . O, it is much, that a lie with a ſlight oath, and a jeſt with a ſad brow, will do with a fellow that never had the ach in his ſhoulders. O, you ſhall ſee him laugh, till his face be like a wet cloak ill laid up.’ SCENE II.

The following paſſage, though long, will not be found tedious; and is ſo full of excellent matter for obſervation, that it would be unpardonable to ſhorten it. The particulars worthy of notice in it, are already ſo ſtrongly marked by the principal ſpeakers themſelves, that it would be an uſeleſs and impertinent labour in me, to point them out to the Reader.

The prince of Wales, now king, with the dukes of Lancaſter, Glouceſter, Clarence, and the Lord Chief Juſtice.

Chief Juſtice.
Heaven ſave your majeſty!
This new and gorgeous garment, majeſty,
Sits not ſo eaſy on me, as you think.
Brothers, you mix your ſadneſs with ſome fear—
This is the Engliſh, not the Turkiſh court
Not Amurath an Amurath ſucceeds,
But Harry, Harry—Yet be ſad, good brothers,
For, to ſpeak truth, it very well becomes ye;
Sorrow ſo royally in you appears,
That I will deeply put the faſhion on,
And wear it in my heart. Why then be ſad;
But entertain no more of it, good brothers,
Than a joint burden laid upon us all.
For me, by Heaven, I bid you be aſſured,
I'll be your father, and your brother too;
Let me but bear your love, I'll bear your cares.
Yet weep that Harry's dead? Well, ſo will I;
But Harry lives, that ſhall convert thoſe tears
By number into hours of happineſs.
[Page 250] The Brothers.
We hope no other from your majeſty.
You all look ſtrangely on me; and you moſt,
Who are, I think, aſſured I love you not. To the Chief Juſtice.
Chief Juſtice.
I am aſſured, if I be meaſured rightly,
Your majeſty hath no juſt cauſe to hate me.
No! might a prince of my great hopes, forget
So great indignities you laid upon me?
What! rate, rebuke, and roughly ſend to priſon,
The immediate heir of England? Was this eaſy?
May this be waſhed in Lethe, and forgotten?
Chief Juſtice.
I then did uſe the perſon of your father;
The image of his power lay then in me;
And in the adminiſtration of his law,
While I was buſy for the common weal,
Your highneſs pleaſed to forget my place,
The majeſty and power of law and juſtice,
The image of the king whom I preſented,
And ſtruck me in my very ſeat of judgment;
Whereon, as an offender to your father,
I gave bold ſway to my authority,
And did commit you *. If the deed were ill,
Be you contented, wearing now the garland,
To have a ſon ſet your decrees at nought,
To pluck down juſtice from your awful bench,
To trip the courſe of law, and blunt the ſword,
That guards the peace and ſafety of your perſon;
Nay more, to ſpurn at your moſt royal image,
And mock your working in a ſecond body.
Queſtion your royal thoughts, make the caſe yours;
Be now the father, and propoſe a ſon,
Hear your own dignity ſo much profaned,
See your moſt ſacred laws ſo looſely ſlighted,
Behold yourſelf ſo by a ſon diſdained,
And then imagine me taking your part,
And in your power ſo ſilencing your ſon—
After this cold conſiderance, ſentence me;
And as you are a king, ſpeak in your ſtate,
What I have done that miſbecame my place,
My perſon, or my liege's ſovereignty.
You are right, Juſtice, and you weigh this well—
Therefore ſtill bear the ballance and the ſword;
And I do wiſh your honours may increaſe,
Till you do live to ſee a ſon of mine
Offend you, and obey you as I did .
For which I do commit into your hand,
The unſtained ſword that you have uſed to bear;
With this remembrance, that you uſe the ſame
[Page 251] With a like bold, juſt, and impartial ſpirit,
As you have done 'gainſt me. There is my hand,
You ſhall be as a father to my youth,
My voice ſhall ſound as you do prompt mine ear,
And I will ſtoop and humble my intents
To your well-practiſed wiſe directions.
And, princes, all believe me, I beſeech ye;
My father is gone wild into his grave,
For in his tomb lie my affections ;
And with his ſpirit ſadly I ſurvive,
To mock the expectations of the world,
To fruſtrate prophecies, and to raze out
Rotten opinion, which hath ſet me down
After my ſeeming. Though my tide of blood
Hath proudly flowed in vanity till now,
Now doth it turn, and ebb back to the ſea,
Where it ſhall mingle with the ſtate of floods,
And flow, henceforth, in formal majeſty.
Now call we our high court of Parliament,
And let us chuſe ſuch limbs of noble counſel,
That the great body of our ſtate may go
In equal rank with the beſt-governed nation;
That war, or peace, or both at once, may be
As things acquainted and familiar to us;
In which you, father, ſhall have foremoſt hand.
Our coronation done, we will accite,
As I before remembered, all our ſtate;
And, Heaven conſigning to my good intents,
No prince nor peer ſhall have juſt cauſe to ſay,
Heaven ſhorten Harry's happy life one day!

This judge's name was Hankford. But the favourable event here deſcribed, never happened, with regard to him. Shakeſpeare, I ſuppoſe, only introduced it, by way of heightening our idea of the young king; and in this light, though the fact be falſe, it may, however, according to the diſtinction of ſome moral writer, be conſidered as a ſecondary truth, becauſe it correſponds with the character of the agent, and [Page 252] would probably have happened, had the poor man lived to have appeared before him.

But, alas! the inconſiſtencies of human nature! This upright judge, this brave man, was ſtruck with ſuch a panic on the demiſe of Henry the Fourth, that he inſtantly formed a ſcheme for deſtroying himſelf, in the following manner: He gave ſtrict orders to his park keeper, to ſhoot any perſon that ſhould attempt to paſs through his grounds, without giving an account of his name and buſineſs. In the middle of that night, he put himſelf in the way, refuſed to anſwer, and was immediately killed, according to the mad ſcheme of his puſillanimous purpoſe. SCENE VII.

I ſhall cloſe my remarks on this Play, with the following noble ſpeech of the young king, in which his truly great and amiable character is finely wound up.

Falſtaff, Piſtol, and others.
My king, my Jove, I ſpeak to thee, my heart!
I know thee not, old man, fall to thy prayers—
How ill white hairs become a fool and jeſter!
I have long dreamed of ſuch a kind of man,
So ſurfeit-ſwelled, ſo old, and ſo prophane;
But being awake, I do deſpiſe my dream.
Make leſs thy body hence, and more thy grace;
Leave gormandizing. Know, the grave doth gape
For thee thrice wider than for other men.
Reply not to me with a fool-born jeſt,
Preſume not that I am the thing I was;
For Heaven doth know, ſo ſhall the world perceive,
That I have turned away my former ſelf;
So will I thoſe that kept it company.
When thou doſt hear I am as I have been,
Approach me, and thou ſhalt be as thou waſt,
The tutor and the feeder of my riots:
Till then, I baniſh thee, on pain of death,
As I ſhall do the reſt of my miſleaders,
Not to come near our perſon, by ten miles.
For competence of life I will allow you,
That lack of means enforce you not to evil;
And, as we hear you do reform yourſelves,
We will, according to your ſtrength and qualities,
Give you [...] cement.

2.5. HENRY the FIFTH.


2.5.1. Dramatis Perſonae.



  • HENRY the Fifth.
  • DUKE OF YORK, Uncles to Henry.
  • DUKE OF EXETER, Uncles to Henry.
  • DUKE OF BEDFORD, Brothers to Henry.
  • DUKE OF GLOUCESTER, Brothers to Henry.
  • EARL OF CAMBRIDGE, Conſpirators.
  • LORD SCROOP, Conſpirators.
  • SIR THOMAS GREY, Conſpirators.
  • FLUELLIN, a Welch Captain.
  • RAMBURES, French Lords.
  • GRANDPREE, French Lords.
  • The Conſtable of France.
  • MOUNTJOY, a French Herald.
  • BATES and WILLIAMS, Engliſh Soldiers.


  • ISABEL, Queen of France.
  • CATHARINE, her Daughter.
  • A LADY of the French Court.

2.5.2. HENRY the FIFTH.

[Page 255] ACT I. SCENE I.

THE ſudden reformation of Henry Prince of Wales, upon his ſucceſſion to the crown, is a fact recorded in hiſtory; and there have been ſufficient inſtances of ſuch an exertion of latent virtue in mankind, upon record, to evince its not being a thing unnatural; though, ſad to ſay it, not enough to prevent its being reckoned in the claſs of uncommon events. Let us but lend our own aſſiſtance, and grace will ſeldom be found wanting. This extraordinary character is moſt beautifully deſcribed in the example now before us.

Canterbury and Ely, diſcourſing about the King.
The courſes of his youth promiſed it not—
The breath no ſooner left his father's body,
But that his wildneſs, mortified in him,
Seemed to die too; yea, at that very moment,
Conſideration like an angel came,
And whipt the offending Adam out of him;
Leaving his body as a paradiſe,
To invelop and contain celeſtial ſpirits*.
Never came reformation in a flood,
With ſuch an heady current, ſcowering faults;
Nor ever hydra-headed wilfulneſs
So ſoon did loſe his ſeat, and all at once,
As in this king. SCENE II.
[Page 256]

Here follows a fine leſſon for ſtates and potentates to reflect ſeriouſly upon, when they are publiſhing manifeſtos, or meditating a war.

The King, and Canterbury, who was preſident of his council: ‘

My learned lord, we pray you to proceed;
And juſtly and religiouſly unfold,
Why the law Salic, that they have in France,
Or ſhould, or ſhould not, bar us in our claim.
And, God forbid, my dear and faithful lord,
That you ſhould faſhion, wreſt, or bow your reading,
Or nicely charge your underſtanding ſoul,
With opening titles miſcreate, whoſe right
Suits not in native colours with the truth.
For God doth know how many now in health,
Shall drop their blood in approbation *
Of what your reverence ſhall incite us to.
Therefore take heed how you impawn your perſon ,
How you awake the ſleeping ſword of war;
We charge you, in the name of God, take heed.
For never two ſuch kingdoms did contend,
Without much fall of blood; whoſe guiltleſs drops
Are every one a woe, a ſore complaint,
'Gainſt him whoſe wrong gives edge unto the ſwords,
That make ſuch waſte in brief mortality.
Under this conjuration, ſpeak, my lord;
For we will hear, note, and believe in heart,
That what you ſpeak is in your conſcience waſhed,
As pure as ſin with baptiſm.

There is a juſt deſcription of the nature of government, given a good deal further in the ſame Scene.

Canterbury and Ely.
While that the armed hand doth fight abroad,
The adviſed head defends itſelf at home;
For government, though high, and low, and lower,
Put into parts, doth keep in one conſent,
Congreeing in a full and natural cloſe,
Like muſic.

Both the diſtinction and the ſimile here made uſe of, are almoſt a literal tranſlation of a parallel paſſage [Page 257] in Cicero; and there are ſo many other alluſions of the ſame kind, to be met with throughout our author's writings, as might lead one into an opinion of his being a tolerable claſſical ſcholar, notwithſtanding Ben Johnſon's invidious line, ‘"Altho' thou hadſt ſmall Latin, and leſs Greek."’ But in denying him the accompliſhment of literature, he paid an higher compliment to his genius, than perhaps he meant; as this was to impute to him the greater merit of being poſſeſſed of the ſame fancy and judgment with the beſt of the Antients, without the advantages of their example or inſtruction.

The ſubject of the above ſpeech is conſidered more at large, and treated in detail, in the deduction drawn from it in the reply.

Therefore Heaven doth divide
The ſtate of man in divers functions,
Setting endeavour in continual motion;
To which is fixed, as an aim or butt,
Obedience. For ſo work the honey-bees;
Creatures, that by a rule in nature, teach
The art of order to a peopled kingdom.
They have a king, and officers of ſort,
Where ſome, like magiſtrates, correct at home;
Others, like merchants, venture trade abroad;
Others, like ſoldiers, armed in their ſtings,
Make boot upon the ſummer's velvet buds;
Which pillage they with merry march bring home
To the tent-royal of their emperor;
Who buſied in his majeſty, ſurveys
The ſinging maſon building roofs of gold;
The civil citizen kneading up the honey;
The poor mechanic porters crowding in
Their heavy burdens, at his narrow gate;
The ſad-eyed juſtice with his ſurly hum,
Delivering o'er to executors pale,
The lazy yawning drone. I thus inſer,
That many things, having full reference
To one conſent, may work contrariouſly.
As many arrows looſed ſeveral ways,
Come to one mark; as many ways meet in one town;
As many freſh ſtreams meet in one ſalt ſea;
As many lines cloſe in the dial's center;
[Page 258] So may a thouſand actions, once a-foot,
End in one purpoſe, and be all well borne,
Without defeat. SCENE III.

When the ambaſſadors of France come before Henry, they aſk him whether they may ſpeak their errand in expreſs words, or muſt be reſtrained to deliver the ſubſtance of it only, in more covert terms. To which he replies: ‘

We are no tyrant, but a Chriſtian king,
Unto whoſe grace our paſſion is as ſubject,
As are our wretches fettered in our priſons;
Therefore, with frank and with uncurbed plainneſs,
Tell us the Dauphin's mind.

The above ſpeech is worth noting, conſidering the maxim generally. Reſentment may be excuſable in a man, but is unpardonable in a king. In this character he is to conſider himſelf but as one of the ſtates of government only; and legiſlature is diſpaſſionate. Shall a judge ſuffer himſelf to be biaſſed by private pique, when pronouncing a public ſentence? When power is made uſe of to revenge perſonal affronts, royalty ceaſes, and tyranny begins. ACT II. SCENE I.
O England! model to thy inward greatneſs,
Like little body with a mighty heart!
What might'ſt thou do, that honour would thee do,
Were all thy children kind and natural!

This is a reflection which cannot too frequently be made, and ſhould be the preamble to every act or deed of Kings, Lords, and Commons. See the ſpeech and reflection which concludes King John, in this Work. SCENE III.

If I had attended to the order of the ſubjects, without regarding that of the Scenes, I ſhould have added the following paſſage to the laſt obſervation on the former Act; and to which note I beg leave now to refer the Reader.

[Page 259] The King, on ſentencing the conſpirators, Cambridge, Scroop, and Grey; ſays,

God quit you in his mercy! Hear your ſentence.
You have conſpired againſt our royal perſon;
Joined with an enemy proclaimed, and from his coffers
Received the golden earneſt of our death;
Wherein you would have ſold your king to ſlaughter,
His princes and his peers to ſervitude,
His ſubjects to oppreſſion and contempt,
And his whole kingdom into deſolation.
Touching our perſon, ſeek we no revenge;
But we our kingdom's ſafety muſt ſo tender,
Whoſe ruin you three ſought, that to her laws
We do deliver you. Go, therefore, hence,
Poor miſerable wretches, to your death;
The taſte whereof God of his mercy give
You patience to endure, and true repentance
Of all your dear offences! SCENE V.
The King of France, and the Dauphin.
My moſt redoubted father,
It is moſt meet we arm us 'gainſt the foe:
For peace itſelf ſhould not ſo dull a kingdom,
Though war and no known quarrel were in queſtion,
But that defences, muſters, preparations,
Should be maintained, aſſembled, and collected,
As were a war in expectation.
Therefore, I ſay, 'tis meet we all go forth
To view the ſick and feeble parts of France;
But let us do it with no ſhew of fear;
No, with no more, than if we heard that England
Were buſied with a Whitſun morris-dance.

Such ought to be the vigilance of all ſtates.— When ſovereigns repoſe their heads ſupinely in the lap of peace, they muſt expert to be taken napping at ſome unguarded hour, or other. The beſt way of making peace is with ſword in hand, they ſay— Yes—and to preſerve it, too.

In the continuation of this Scene, the ſame ſpeaker adds another rule of prudence and ſafety to the former.

In cauſes of defence, 'tis beſt to weigh
The enemy more mighty than he ſeems;
[Page 260] So the proportions of defence are filled;
Which of a weak and niggardly projection
Doth, like a miſer, ſpoil his coat with ſcanting.

And again; the ſame ſubject is in ſome ſort carried on, with additional reflections.

French King.
You ſee this chaſe is hotly followed, friends.
Turn head, and ſtop purſuit; for coward dogs
Moſt ſpend their months*, when what they ſeemed to threaten
Runs far before them. Good my ſovereign,
Take up the Engliſh ſhort; and let them know
Of what a monarchy you are the head.
Self-love, my liege, it not ſo vile a ſin,
As ſelf-neglecting. SCENE VI.

In the ſpeech of the Engliſh Ambaſſador to the French King, claiming the rights of Henry, there are ſome truly alarming reflections propoſed to the conſideration of all ſtates that undertake or maintain a war in an unjuſt cauſe; and may be conſidered as a ſupplement to Henry's firſt ſpeech, in the former Act.

He bids you, in the bowels of the Lord,
Deliver up the crown; and to take mercy
On the poor ſouls for whom this hungry war
Opens his vaſty jaws; upon your head
Turning the dead men's blood, the widows' tears,
The orphans' cries, the pining maidens' groans ,
For huſbands, fathers, and betrothed lovers,
That ſhall be ſwallowed in this controverſy. ACT III. SCENE IV.

The ſame ſubject and reflections are repeated here, before the beſieged gates of Harfleur.

How yet reſolves the governor of the town?
This is the lateſt parle we will admit;
Therefore to our beſt mercy give yourſelves,
Or like to men proud of deſtruction,
Defy us to our worſt. As I'm a ſoldier,
[Page 261] A name that in my thoughts becomes me beſt,
If I begin the battery once again,
I will not leave the half-achieved Harfleur,
Till in her aſhes the lie buried.
The gates of mercy ſhall be all ſhut up;
And the fleſhed ſoldier, rough and hard of heart,
In liberty of bloody hand ſhall range,
With conſcience wide as hell, mowing like graſs
Your freſh fair virgins, and your flowering infants.
What is it then to me, if impious war,
Arrayed in flames like to the prince of fiends,
Do with his ſmircht complexion all fell feats
Enlinked to waſte and deſolation?
What is't to me, when you yourſelves are cauſe,
If your pure maidens fall into the hand
Of hot and forcing violation?
What rein can hold licentious Wickedneſs,
When down the hill he holds his fierce career?
We may as bootleſs ſpend our vain command
Upon the enraged ſoldiers in their ſpoil,
As ſend our precepts to th' Leviathan
To come a-ſhore. Therefore, ye men of Harfleur,
Take pity of your town, and of your people,
While yet my ſoldiers are in my command;
While yet the cool and temperate wind of grace
Diſperſe * the filthy and contagious clouds
Of heady murder, ſpoil and villainy.
If not, why, in a moment look to ſee
The blind and bloody ſoldier with foul hand
Defile the locks of your ſhrill-ſhrieking daughters,
Your fathers taken by the ſilver beards,
And their moſt reverend heads daſhed to the walls;
Your naked infants ſpitted upon pikes,
While the mad mothers with their howls confuſed
Do break the clouds; as did the wives of Jewry,
At Herod's bloody-hunting ſlaughter-men.
What ſay ye? Will ye yield, and this avoid?
Or, guilty in defence, be thus deſtroyed?

What an horrid repreſentation is here given of the too general ſtate of routed battle! A civil war excited among all the wild beaſts of the foreſt, could not afford ſo ſhocking a picture. No creature, but [Page 262] man, joins cruelty with fierceneſs, or adds malice to rage! None, but the inhuman human ſavage, Man!

The above deſcription of a victorious enemy is too true a one, if hiſtoric evidence can force reluctant credit—For war has its barbarous rights — or wrongs, rather—which neither humanity can prevent, nor diſcipline reſtrain, nor juſtice puniſh—War is its own legiſlator, and victory to itſelf a law.

‘"It is War's prize to take all 'vantages*."’ SCENE VIII.

After the ſurrender of Harfleur, when Henry is on his march to Calais, he is met by Mountjoy, the French Herald, who delivers an inſolent defiance from the king of France, requiring to know what ranſom he will compound to pay, for leave to retire alive out of the kingdom; to which he replies,

Thou doſt thy office fairly. Turn thee back,
And tell thy king I do not ſeek him now,
But could be willing to march on to Calais
Without impeachment; for, to ſay the ſooth ,
Though 'tis no wiſdom to confeſs ſo much
Unto an enemy of craft and vantage,
My people are with ſickneſs much enfeebled,
My numbers leſſened, and thoſe few I have,
Almoſt no better than ſo many French;
Who, when they were in health, I tell thee, Herald,
I thought upon one pair of Engliſh legs
Did march three Frenchmen—Yet, forgive me, God,
That I do brag thus! this your air of France
Hath blown that vice in me; I muſt repent.
Go, therefore, tell thy maſter, here I am—
My ranſom is this frail and worthleſs trunk,
My army but a weak and ſickly guard;
Yet, God before, tell him we will come on,
Though France himſelf, and ſuch another neighbour,
Stand in our way. There's for thy labour, Mountjoy;
Go, bid thy maſter well adviſe himſelf—
If we may paſs, we will; if we be hindered,
We ſhall your tawny ground with your red blood
Diſcolour; and ſo, Mountjoy, fare you well.
The ſum of all our anſwer is but this:
We would not ſeek a battle, as we are,
[Page 263] Yet, as we are, we ſay, we will not ſhun it—
So tell your maſter—

There is ſomething extremely fine in Henry's reply to the French gaſconading taunt above. It is uncommon to meet with ſo much careleſsneſs and courage in the ſame character—There is no ſuch deſcription in hiſtory, nor have many people, probably, ever been acquainted with it among the living manners of men; and yet the repreſentation of it appears to be ſo perfectly natural, that we muſt greatly admire the talents of a writer, who could thus realize, in effect, a mere idea.

The bravery of Henry ſcorned to deny the condition of his troops, either with regard to their health or numbers: theſe circumſtances the enemy pretended to have been acquainted with already, or were determined to make an experiment of, at leaſt; he therefore openly acknowledges the truth of his weak ſituation; and this with the ſame eaſe and humour, as he would have delivered himſelf to Falſtaff, had he been his aid-du-camp for the day.

Upon his royal face there is no note,
How dread an army have enrounded him *;
But, at the ſame time, he moſt reſolutely declares his purpoſe of trying the event; at every hazard of life, claim, and liberty.

The contemptuous ſarcaſms he throws out, in this ſpeech, againſt the French nation, beſides ſhewing an admirable temper and compoſure of mind in ſuch difficult circumſtances, convey alſo an apt repartee to the ſcornful inſolence of the Dauphin; who, in return to Henry's demanding his right of ſucceſſion to the crown of France, ſent him a parcel of tennis-balls to play with, in alluſion to the ſlight repute of his former life and manners, Pertneſs is impertinence; but repartee has the lex talionis, or law of retaliation, on its ſide.

[Page 264] Shakeſpeare has a great reſemblance to Arioſto, whoſe ſtile had a mixture of humour, with ſublimity in it. The late ingenious Mr. Hawkins ſays of the latter, ‘His heroes are full of merriment in the midſt of danger, and he ſeldom deſcribes a battle, without a jeſt.’ SCENE II.

The ſame magnanimity of character in Henry, is diſplayed throughout this Play. One of the inſtances of it we may ſee in this Scene, out of which alſo ſome other things worthy of notice may be picked up. The Reader will mark them as he peruſes.

The Engliſh camp at Agincourt.
Henry and Glouceſter.
Glo'ſter, 'tis true, that we are in great danger;
The greater, therefore, ſhould our courage be.
Enter Bedford.
Good-morrow, brother Bedford—God Almighty!
There is ſome ſoul of goodneſs in things evil,
Would man obſervingly diſtil it out;
For our bad neighbours make us early ſtirrers,
Which is both healthful, and good huſbandry.
Beſides, they are our outward conſciences,
And preachers to us all; admoniſhing,
That we ſhould dreſs us fairly for our end.
Thus may we gather honey from the weed,
And make a moral of the Devil himſelf.
Enter Erpingham.
Good morrow, old Sir Thomas Erpingham;
A good ſoft pillow for that good white head,
Were better than a churliſh turf of France.
Not ſo, my liege; this lodging likes me better;
Since I may ſay, now lie I like a king.
'Tis good for men to love their preſent pain,
Upon example; ſo the ſpirit is eaſed;
And when the mind is quickened, out of doubt,
The organs, though defunct and dead before,
Break up their drowſy grave, and newly move
With caſted ſ [...]ough *, and freſh legerity.
[Page 265] Lend me thy cloak, Sir Thomas. Brothers both,
Commend me to the princes in our camp;
Do my good morrow to them, and anon,
Deſire them all to my pavilion.
We ſhall, my liege.
Shall I attend your grace?
No, my good knight,
Go with my brothers to my lords of England.
I and my boſom muſt debate awhile,
And then I would no other company.
The Lord in heaven bleſs thee, noble Harry!
God a-mercy, old heart, thou ſpeak'ſt chearfully. SCENE IV.

And again; his excellent compoſure of mind is manifeſted further, in this Scene; where he anſwers the challenges of the guards going their rounds, but without revealing himſelf. I ſhall here preſent the intire paſſage to the Reader, referring, as in the former inſtance, the ſeveral parts of it which deſerve obſervation, to his own apprehenſion.

Henry going out, enter Bates and Williams, two Soldiers: ‘

Williams. Who goes there?
Henry. A friend.
Williams. Under what Captain ſerve you?
Henry. Under Sir Thomas Erpingham.
Williams. A good old commander, and a moſt kind gentleman. I pray you, what thinks he of our eſtate?
Henry. Even as men wrecked upon a ſand, that look to be waſhed off the next tide.
Bates. He hath not told his thought to the king?
Henry. No; nor is it meet he ſhould; for, though I ſpeak it to you, I think the king is but a man, as I am—The violet ſmells to him, as it doth to me; all his ſenſes have but human conditions. His ceremonies laid by, in his nakedneſs he appears but a man; and though his affections are higher mounted than ours, yet when they ſtoop, they ſtoop with the like wing; therefore, when he ſees reaſon of fears, as we do, his fears, out of doubt, be of the ſame reliſh as ours are; yet in reaſon no man ſhould poſſeſs him with any appearance of fear, leſt he, by ſhewing it, ſhould diſhearten his army.
[Page 266] Bates. He may ſhew what outward courage he will; but, I believe, as cold a night as 'tis, he could wiſh himſelf in the Thames up to the neck; and ſo I would he were, and I by him, at all adventures, ſo we were quit here.
Henry. By my troth, I will ſpeak my conſcience of the king; I think he would not with himſelf any where, but where he is.
Bates. Then would he were here alone; ſo ſhould he be ſure to be ranſomed, and many poor men's lives ſaved.
Henry. I dare ſay you love him not ſo ill to wiſh him here alone, however you ſpeak this to feel other men's minds. Methinks, I could not die any where ſo contented, as in the king's company; his cauſe being juſt, and his quarrel honourable.
Williams. That's more than we know.
Bates. Ay, or more than we ſhould ſeek after; for we know enough, if we know we are the king's ſubjects; if his cauſe be wrong, our obedience to the king wipes the crime of it out of us.
Williams. But if the cauſe be not good, the king himſelf hath a heavy reckoning to make; when all thoſe legs, and arms, and heads, chopped off in a battle, ſhall join together at the latter day, and cry all, we died at ſuch a place; ſome ſwearing, ſome crying for a ſurgeon, ſome upon their wives left poor behind them, ſome upon the debts they owe, ſome upon their children rawly left. I am afeared there are few die well, that fall in battle; for how can they charitably diſpoſe of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if theſe men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king, that led them to it, whom to diſobey were againſt all proportion of ſubjection.
Henry. So, if a ſon that is ſent by his father about merchandize, do fall into ſome lewd action, and miſcarry, the imputation of his wickedneſs, by your rule, ſhould be impoſed upon the father that ſent him; or, if a ſervant under his maſter's command, tranſporting a ſum of money, be aſſailed by robbers, and die in many irreconciled iniquities, you may call the buſineſs of the matter the author of the ſervant's damnation. But this is not ſo—The king is not bound to anſwer the particular endings of his ſoldiers, the father of his ſon, nor the maſter of his ſervant; for they purpoſe not their deaths, when they purpoſe their ſervices. Beſides, there is no king, be his cauſe never ſo ſpotleſs, if it come to the arbitrament of ſwords, can try it with all unſpotted ſoldiers. Some, peradventure, have on them the guilt of premeditated and contrived murder; ſome of beguiling virgins with the broken ſeals of perjury; ſome making the wars their bulwark, that have before gored the gentle boſom of peace with pillage and robbery. Now, if theſe men have defeated the law, and out-run native puniſhment, though they can cut-ſtrip men, they have no wings to fly from God. War is his beadle, war is his vengeance; ſo that herein men are puniſhed, for before-breach of the king's law, in the king's quarrel [Page 267] now—Where they feared death, they have borne life away; and where they would be ſafe, they periſh. Then, if they die unprovided, no more is the king guilty of their damnation, than he was before guilty of thoſe impieties for which they are now viſited. Every ſubject's duty is the king's, but every ſubject's ſoul is his own. Therefore ſhould every ſoldier, in the wars, do as every ſick man, in his bed, waſh every moth out of his conſcience; and, dying ſo, death is to him an advantage; or, not dying, the time was bleſſedly loſt, wherein ſuch preparation was gained; and to him that eſcapes, it were not ſin to think that, making God ſo free an offer, he let him out-live that day to ſee his greatneſs, and to teach others how they ſhould prepare.
Williams. 'Tis certain that every man that dies ill, the ill is upon his own head; the king is not to anſwer for it.

In the continuation of this Scene, Williams quarrels with the king, ſtill unknown, and they exchange gages with each other, to fight on their next interview. Henry does all this in ſport; and I ſhould not have brought it forward to the Reader's view, but that this particular is alluded to, juſt now, in the Sixteenth Scene of this Act. SCENE V.

The following beautiful ſpeech is replete with fine reflection, rich language, and poetical imagery. It immediately follows the above dialogue, when the ſoldiers quit the Scene, and is a meditation naturally ariſing from the argument there diſcuſſed.

Henry ſolus.
Upon the king! let us our lives, our ſouls,
Our debts, our careful wives, our children, and
Our ſins, lay on the king; he muſt bear all.
O hard condition, and twin-born with greatneſs,
Subject to breath of every fool, whoſe ſenſe
No more can feel, but his own wringing!
What infinite heart-eaſe muſt kings neglect,
That private men enjoy! And what have kings,
That private have not too, ſave ceremony?
Save general ceremony?
And what art thou, thou idol ceremony?
What kind of God art thou, that ſuffereſt more
Of mortal griefs, than do thy worſhippers?
What are thy rents? What are thy comings in
[Page 268] O ceremony, ſhew me but thy worth;
What is thy ſoul, O adoration?
Art thou aught elſe but place, degree, and form,
Creating awe and fear in other men?
Wherein thou art leſs happy, being feared,
Than they in fearing.
What drink'ſt thou oft, inſtead of homage ſweet,
But poiſoned flattery? O, be ſick, great greatneſs,
And bid thy ceremony give thee cure.
Think'ſt thou the fiery fever will go out,
With titles blown from adulation?
Will it give place to flexure and low bending?
Can'ſt thou, wnen thou command'ſt the beggar's knee,
Command the health of it? No, thou proud dream,
That playeſt ſo ſubtly with a king's repoſe;
I am a king that find thee; and I know
'Tis not the balm, the ſceptre, and the ball,
The ſword, the mace, the crown imperial,
The entre-tiſſued robe of gold and pearl,
The farſed* title running 'fore the king,
The throne he ſits on, nor the tide of pomp,
That beats upon the high ſhore of this world;
No, not all theſe thrice-gorgeous ceremonies,
Nor all theſe laid in bed majeſtical,
Can ſleep ſo ſoundly as the wretched ſlave,
Who with a body filled, and vacant mind,
Gets him to reſt, crammed with diſtreſsful bread,
Never ſees horrid night, the child of hell,
But like a lacquey, from the riſe to ſet,
Sweats in the eye of Phoebus, and all night
Sleeps in Elyſium; next day, after dawn,
Doth riſe and help Hyperion to his horſe;
And follows ſo the ever-running year,
With profitable labour, to his grave.
And, but for ceremony, ſuch a wretch,
Winding up days with toil, and nights with ſleep,
Hath the fore-hand and vantage of a king.
The ſlave, a member of the country's peace,
Enjoys it; but in groſs brain little wots,
What watch the king keeps to maintain the peace,
Whoſe hours the peaſant beſt advantages.

What is, indeed, the ſuperior ſtate of kings, but greater pomp, anxiety, and danger! SCENE VI.
[Page 269]

Henry makes a good prayer here, juſt before the engagement; in the firſt part of which is expreſſed a proper theological ſenſe, in the referring all events to the diſpoſition of Providence; but in the latter end of it, the Popiſh doctrine of Commutation, the making atonement for miſdeeds by pious acts, without performing the juſtice of Retribution, is fully ſet forth. ‘

O God of battles! ſteel my ſoldiers hearts;
Poſſeſs them not with fear; take from them now
The ſenſe of reckoning, leſt the oppoſed numbers
Pluck their hearts from them—Not to day, O Lord,
O not to day, think not upon the fault
My father made in compaſſing the crown,
I Richard's body have interred new,
And on it have beſtowed more contrite tears,
Than from it iſſued forced drops of blood,
Five hundred poor I have in yearly pay,
Who twice a-day their withered hands hold up
Toward heaven, to pardon blood; and I have built
Two chauntries, where the ſad and ſolemn prieſts
Sing ſtill for Richard's ſoul. More will I do;
Though all that I can do is nothing worth,
Since that my penitence comes after all,
Imploring pardon. SCENE VII.

The briſk, preſumptuous, and gaſconading ſpirit of the French nation, is well expoſed in the following Scene, laid in their camp, juſt before the action.

The Dauphin, Duke of Orleans, Rambures, &c.
The ſun doth gild our armour; up, my lords.
Montez cheval—My horſe, valet, lacquey, ha!
O brave ſpirit!
Enter Conſtable.
Now, my lord Conſtable?
Hark, how our ſteeds for preſent ſervice neigh!
[Page 270] Dauphin.
Mount them, and make inciſion in their ſides,
That their hot blood may ſpin in Engliſh eyes,
And daunt them with ſuperfluous courage. Ha!
What, will you have them weep our horſes' bloo
How ſhall we, then, behold their natural tears?
Enter a Meſſenger.
The Engliſh are embattled, you French peers.
To horſe! ye gallant princes, ſtrait to horſe!
Do but behold yon poor and ſtarved band,
And your fair ſhew ſhall ſuck away their ſouls,
Leaving them but the ſhales* and huſks of men.
There is not work enough for all our hands,
Scarce blood enough in all their ſickly veins,
To give each naked curtle-ax a ſtain,
That our French gallants ſhall to-day draw out,
And ſheath for lack of ſport. Let's but blow on them,
The vapour of our valour will o'erturn them;
'Tis poſitive 'gainſt all exception, lords,
That our ſuperfluous lacqueys and our peaſants,
Who in unneceſſary action ſwarm
About our ſquares of battle, were enow
To purge this field of ſuch a hilding foe;
Though we upon this mountain's baſis by,
Took ſtand for idle contemplation;
But that our honours muſt not. What's to ſay?
A very little, little, let us do,
And all is done. Then let the trumpet ſound
The tucket-ſonance, and the note to mount;
For our approach ſhall ſo much dare the field,
That England ſhall couch down in fear, and yield .
Enter Grandpree.
Why do ye ſtay ſo long, my lords of France?
Yon iſland carrions, deſperate of their bones,
Ill-favouredly become the morning field;
Their ragged curtains poorly are let looſe,
And our air ſhakes them paſſing ſcornfully.
Big Mars ſeems bankrupt in their beggared hoſt,
And faintly through a ruſty bever peeps;
The horſemen ſit like fixed candleſticks,
With torch-ſtaves in their hands; and their poor jades
Lob down their heads, dropping the hide and hips;
The gum down-roping from their pale dead eyes;
[Page 271] And in their pale dull mouths the gimmal-bit
Lies foul with chewed graſs, ſtill and motionleſs;
And their executors, the knaviſh crows,
Fly o'er them, all impatient for their hour.
Deſcription cannot ſuit itſelf in words,
To demonſtrate the life of ſuch a battle,
In life ſo liveleſs as it ſhews itſelf.
They've ſaid their prayers, and they wait for death.
Shall we go ſend them dinners and freſh ſuits,
And give their faſting horſes provender,
And after fight them?

Grandpree's deſcription, given here, of a fatigued, diſpirited, and weather-beaten hoſt is moſt maſterly drawn, in the true pictureſque ſtile, in the above paſſage; and if the French had fought, on that memorable day, but as well as Shakeſpeare has made them ſpeak upon the occaſion, England might not, perhaps, have numbered France among the titles of its crown. SCENE VIII.

The gallant ſpirit of a ſoldier is nobly ſet forth in this ſcene, which, were it founded merely in the imagination of the poet, would not be ſo material to be remarked upon; but being grounded on hiſtoric fact, ought to be taken notice of for the honour of our Engliſh heroe.

Henry and Weſtmorland.
O that we now had here
But one ten thouſand of thoſe men in England,
That do no work to-day *!
What's he that wiſhes ſo?
My couſin Weſtmorland? No, my fair couſin,
If we are marked to die, we are enow
To do our country loſs; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater ſhare of honour.
God's will! I pray thee wiſh not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous of gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my coſt;
[Page 272] It yerns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my deſires;
But if it be a ſin to covet honour,
I am the moſt offending ſoul alive.
No, 'faith, my lord, wiſh not a man from England—
God's peace! I would not loſe ſo great an honour,
As one man more, methinks, would ſhare from me,
For the beſt hopes I have. Don't wiſh one more;
Rather proclaim it, Weſtmorland, through my hoſt,
That he who hath no ſtomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his paſſport ſhall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purſe.
We would not die in that man's company,
That fears his fellowſhip to die with us.
This day is called the feaſt of Criſpian—
He that outlives this day, and comes ſafe home,
Will ſtand a tip-toe when this day is named,
And rouſe him at the name of Criſpian.
He that ſhall live this day, and ſee old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feaſt his neighbours,
And ſay, To-morrow is Saint Criſpian;
Then will he ſtrip his ſleeve, and ſhew his ſcars.
Old men forget, yet ſhall not all forget,
But they'll remember, with advantages ,
What feats they did that day. Then ſhall our names,
Familiar in their mouths as houſhold words,
Harry the king, Bedford, and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Saliſbury and Glo'ſter *,
Be in their flowing cups freſhly remembered.
This ſtory ſhall the good man teach his ſon,
And Criſpin Criſpian ſhall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it ſhall be remembered;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he, to-day, that ſheds his blood with me,
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er ſo vile,
This day ſhall gentle his condition.
And gentlemen in England, now a-bed,
Shall think themſelves accurſed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap while any ſpeaks,
That fought with us upon ſaint Criſpian's day.

The latter part of this ſpeech, though ſomewhat too declamatory, contains many of thoſe reflections [Page 273] and conſiderations, which uſed, formerly, to inſpire our troops with courage, while that virtuous and noble ſpirit was yet retained among our brave anceſtors, which led them to reſpect what their country or poſterity might think or ſay of them. SCENE IX.

The tenor of Henry's character is ſtill finely preſerved, in the following paſſage; which, as his cauſe was juſt, and that his magnanimity and reſolution ſo happily bore him through the infinite odds of oppoſition, deſerves well to be obſerved upon.

When the two armies are juſt on the point of joining battle, the French Herald comes again to the Engliſh camp, repeating the ſame challenge as before from the Conſtable, requiring to know what terms the king would propoſe for his ranſom; as ſuppoſing him already a captive.

I pray thee, bear my former anſwer back.
Bid them achieve me, and then ſell my bones.
Good God! why ſhould they mock poor fellows thus?
The man that once did ſell the lion's ſkin,
While the beaſt lived, was killed with hunting him.
And many of our bodies ſhall, no doubt,
Find native graves; upon the which I truſt,
Shall witneſs live, in braſs, of this day's work. . . .
Let me ſpeak proudly; tell the Conſtable,
We are but warriors for the working day *;
Our gayneſs, and our gilt, are all beſmirched
With rainy marching in the painful field.
There's not a piece of feather in our hoſt—
Good argument, I hope, we will not fly;
And time hath worn us into ſlovenry.
But by the maſs, our hearts are in the trim;
And my poor ſoldiers tell me, yet ere night
They'll be in freſher robes, or they will pluck
The gay new coats o'er the French ſoldiers heads,
And turn them out of ſervice. If they do,
As, if God pleaſe, they ſhall, my ranſom then
Will ſoon be levyed—Herald, ſave thy labour;
[Page 274] Come thou no more for ranſom, gentle Herald;
They ſhall have none, I ſwear, but theſe my joints;
Which if they have as I will leave 'em them,
Shall yield them little—Tell the Conſtable. SCENE XII.

Here follows a noble example of bravery, friendſhip, loyalty, and compoſure of mind—in fine, of every manly excellence and virtue, moſt beautifully deſcribed in the recital of one ſhort and ſingle action on the field of battle.

Henry and Exeter.
Well have we done, thrice valiant countrymen.
But all's not done, the French yet keep the field.
The Duke of York commends him to your majeſty,
Lives he, good uncle? Thrice within this hour
I ſaw him down, thrice up again, and fighting,
From helmet to the ſpur all bleeding o'er.
In which array, brave ſoldier, doth he lie,
Larding the plain; and by his bloody ſide,
Yoke-fellow to his honour-owing wounds,
The noble earl of Suffolk alſo lies.
Suffolk firſt died, and York, all haggled over,
Comes to him where in gore he lay inſteeped,
And takes him by the beard, kiſſes the gaſhes
That bloodily did yawn upon his face,
And cries aloud, "Tarry, my couſin Suffolk,
"My ſoul ſhall thine keep company to heaven—
"Tarry, ſweet ſoul, for mine, then fly a-breaſt;
"As in this glorious and well-foughten field
"We kept together in our chivalry."
Upon theſe words, I came and cheered him up;
He ſmiled me in the face, gave me his hand,
And with a feeble gripe, ſays, "Dear my lord,
"Commend my ſervice to my ſovereign."
So did he turn, and over Suffolk's neck
He threw his wounded arm, and kiſſed his lips,
And ſo eſpouſed to death, with blood he ſealed
A teſtament of noble ending love.
The pretty and ſweet manner of it, forced
Thoſe waters from me, which I would have ſtopped;
But I had not ſo much of man in me,
But all my mother came into my eyes,
And gave me up to tears.
[Page 275] Henry.
I blame you not;
For hearing this, I muſt perforce compound
With miſtful eyes, or they will iſſue too— An Alarm.
But hark, what new alarum is this ſame?

The Poet has moſt judiciouſly interrupted Henry's ſpeech, in this critical place. It would have been expected from him to have ſaid ſomething more, upon ſo intereſting an occaſion; and yet it would have been impoſſible to have carried either ſentiment or expreſſion higher than Exeter had juſt done, on the ſame ſubject. Shakeſpeare has herein imitated the addreſs of Timanthes, who, in his picture of the ſacrifice of Iphigenia, covers her father's head with a veil. SCENE XIV.
I was not angry, ſince I came to France,
Until this inſtant. Take a trumpet, Herald,
Ride thou unto the horſemen on yon hill;
If they will fight with us, bid them come down,
Or void the field; they do offend our ſight;
If they'll do neither, we will come to them,
And make them ſker away, as ſwift as ſtones
Enforced from the old Aſſyrian ſlings.

The firſt ſentence in the above ſpeech, is one among the many inſtances in which Shakeſpeare has manifeſted his thorough knowledge in human nature. Henry acts with an heroic reſolution during the whole of this perilous conflict, and replies with a daring and careleſs ſpirit to all the inſolence and contempt of a powerful enemy; but he expreſſes no rage, nor betrays the leaſt manner of reſentment, throughout. The dangers and difficulties of his ſituation required the utmoſt command and preſervation of his temper. Diſtreſs and affliction are ſovereign ſpecifics for the pride and fierceneſs of man's nature. But theſe reſtraints being now removed, by his victory, he begins to yield the rein a little to paſſion, upon ſeeing the obſtinacy of the enemy ſtill continuing after their defeat. SCENE XVI.
[Page 276]

Here the paſſage hinted above, from the latter part of the Fourth Scene in this Act, comes to be cleared up, when the ſoldier finds that the unknown perſon he had engaged to fight with was his king. Upon this occaſion he makes an apology for himſelf, which may have its uſe in being extended to a general reflection, applicable to all the ſuperior ranks of life; That thoſe who demean themſelves below their character or dignity, can have no right to challenge that reſpect from the world, which they might otherwiſe be intitled to.

Henry and the Soldier.
Henry. How canſt thou make me ſatisfaction?
Soldier. All offences, my lord, come from the heart; never came any from mine, that might offend your majeſty.
Henry. It was ourſelf thou didſt abuſe.
Soldier. Your majeſty came not like yourſelf; you appeared to me but as a common man; witneſs the night, your garments, your lowlineſs; and what your highneſs ſuffered under that ſhape, I beſeech you take it for your fault, and not mine; for had you been as I took you for, I made no offence; therefore, I beſeech your highneſs, pardon me. SCENE XVII.

Henry preſerves the ſame ſpirit of piety after his victory, as he had expreſſed juſt before the action, in Scene the Sixth of this Act; in imputing his ſucceſs to the arm and protection of Omnipotence alone.

Henry, Exeter, and Fluellin.
O God! thy arm was here!
And not to us, but to thy arm alone,
Aſcribe we all. When without ſtratagem,
But in plain ſhock and even play of battle,
Was ever known ſo great, and little loſs,
On one part, and on t'other? Take it, God,
For it is only thine.
'Tis wonderful!
Come, go we in proceſſion to the village;
And be it death proclaimed through our hoſt,
To boaſt of this, or take that praiſe from God,
Which is his only.
[Page 277] Fluellin.
Is it not lawful, an pleaſe your majeſty, to tell how many are killed?
Yes, captain, but with this acknowledgment,
That God fought for us. ACT V. SCENE III.

In this Scene, a congreſs is held between the Engliſh and French, which is opened by the duke of Burgundy with a declamatory repreſentation of a country during a ſtate of war, which moves me more even than the deſcription of a battle would do. The barbarous ſcene here ſet forth, is more general and permanent.—The latter paſſage, which mentions the condition of uneducated youth, is by much the moſt affecting part of the picture. The former damage, by labour, money, and a good harveſt, may be repaired, but neither induſtry, mines, nor leſs than an age, can retrieve the other loſs.

Since then my office hath ſo far prevailed,
That face to face, aad royal eye to eye,
You have congreeted, let it not diſgrace me,
If I demand before this royal view,
What rub, or what impediment there is,
Why that the naked, poor, and mangled peace,
Dear nurſe of arts, plenties, and joyful births,
Should not, in this beſt garden of the world,
Our fertile France, put up her lovely viſage?
Alas! ſhe hath from France too long been chaſed;
And all her huſbandry doth lie on heaps,
Corrupting in its own fertility.
Her vine, the merry chearer of the heart,
Unpruned dies; her hedges even pleached,
Like priſoners wildly over-grown with hair,
Put forth diſordered twigs; her fallow leas *,
The darnel, hemlock, and rank fumitory,
Doth root upon, while that the coulter ruſts,
That ſhould deracinate ſuch ſavagery;
The even mead, that erſt brought ſweetly forth
The freckled cowſlip, burnet, and green clover,
Wanting the ſcythe, all uncorrected, rank,
Conceives by idleneſs; and nothing teems,
But hateful docks, rough thiſtles, keckſies, burs,
Loſing both beauty and utility;
And all our vineyards, fallows, meads, and hedges,
Defective in their nurtures, grow to wildneſs.
[Page 278] Even ſo our houſes, and ourſelves, our children,
Have loſt, or do not learn, for want of time,
The ſciences that ſhould become our country;
But grow like ſavages, as ſoldiers will,
That nothing do but meditate on blood,
To ſwearing and ſtern looks, diffuſed * attire,
And every thing that ſeems unnatural.

When a council is ſelected to retire apart, and confer upon the preliminaries of peace, the queen of France, who is preſent at the treaty, is aſked by Henry, whether ſhe chuſes to go with the plenipotentiaries, or would ſtay where ſhe is?

Our gracious brother, I will go with them;
Haply a woman's voice may do ſome good,
When articles too nicely urged be ſtood on.

What Iſabel ſays upon this occaſion is very true. Men may be ſometimes too ſturdy with one another, even in matters of mere punctilio, or of trifling concern; each too proud or obſtinate to recede; when the interpoſition of a woman may remove the difficulty, or compoſe the ferment, without either of the parties appearing to give up to the other.

The interfering of a woman, in diſputes between men, is ſeldom an indifferent matter. It generally renders them either more gentle, or more refractory. SCENE IV.

Shakeſpeare appears to be ſo fond of the perſonage of Henry, that though he has already raiſed him to the higheſt pitch in our admiration and eſteem, he continues to recommend him to us ſtill further, by introducing him in a new character and ſituation, that of a lover and a courtier. He did the ſame for Falſtaff before, in the Merry Wives of Windſor, at the requeſt of Queen Elizabeth; but here he enters a volunteer in the ſervice. Had any other writer ventured on ſuch an attempt, he would have rendered him a quite different man from himſelf, [Page 279] as Racine has miſrepreſented Achilles; but Henry continues to be the ſame perſon ſtill, only appearing in new circumſtances; the ſame humour, playful ſpirit, and careleſs eaſe, remain in his courtſhip, as may be ſeen in his rallying of Falſtaff, replying to Mountjoy, or exchanging gages with the ſoldier.

It is neceſſary to tranſcribe the intire dialogue between him and his miſtreſs, to ſupport my obſervation, as well as for the entertainment of my Reader.

Henry, Catharine, and a French Lady.
Fair Catharine, moſt fair,
Will you vouchſafe to teach a ſoldier terms,
Such as will enter at a lady's ear,
And plead his love-ſuit to her gentle heart?
Catharine. Your majeſty ſhall mock at me, I cannot ſpeak your England.
Henry. O, fair Catharine, if you will love me ſoundly with your French heart, I will be glad to hear you confeſs it brokenly with your Engliſh tongue. Do you like me, Kate?
Catharine. Pardonnez moy. I cannot tell what is like me.
Henry. An angel is like you, Kate, and you are like an angel.
Catharine. Que dit il, que je ſuis ſemblable à les anges?
Lady. Oui, vrayment, ſauve votre grace, ainſi dit il.
Henry. I ſaid ſo, dear Catharine, and I muſt not bluſh to affirm it.
Catharine. O, bon Dieu, les langues des hommes ſont pleines de tromperies.
Henry. What ſays ſhe, fair one? that tongues of men are full of deceit?
Lady. Ouy, dat de tongues of de mans is be full of deceits. Dat is de princeſs.
Henry. The princeſs is the better Engliſh woman. I'faith, Kate, my wooing is fit for thy underſtanding; I am glad thou canſt ſpeak no better Engliſh; for, if thou could'ſt, thou would find'ſt me ſuch a plain king, that thou would'ſt think I had ſold my farm, to buy a crown. I know no ways to mince it in love, but directly to ſay, I love you; then, if you urge further than to ſay, do you, in faith? I wear out my ſuit. Give me your anſwer; i'faith do; and ſo clap hands, and a bargain. How ſay you, lady?
Catharine. Sauf votre honneur, me underſtand well.
Henry. Marry, if you put me to verſes, or to dance for your ſake, Kate, why you undid me; for the one I have neither words, nor meaſure; and for the other, I have as little addreſs. If I could [Page 280] win a lady at leap-frog, or by volting * into my ſaddle, with my armour on my back, under the correction of bragging be it ſpoken, I ſhould quickly leap into matrimony. Or if I might buffet for my love, or bound my horſe for her favours, I could lay on like a butcher, and ſit like a jack-a-napes never off. But, before God, Kate, I cannot look greenly, nor gaſp out my eloquence, nor have I cunning in proteſtation; only downright oaths, which I never uſe, till urged, and never break, for urging . If thou canſt love a fellow of this temper, Kate, whoſe face is not worth ſunburning, that never looks in his glaſs for love of any thing he ſees there, let thine eye be thy cook. I ſpeak plain ſoldier; if thou canſt love me for this, take me; if not, to ſay to thee that I ſhall die 'tis true; but or thy love, by the Lord, no; yet I love thee too. And while thou liveſt, Kate, take a fellow of plain and uncoined § conſtancy, for he perforce muſt do thee right, becauſe he hath not the gift to woo in other places; for thoſe fellows of infinite tongue, that can rhyme themſelves into ladies favours, they do always reaſon themſelves out again . What? a ſpeaker is but a prater; a rhyme is but a ballad; a good leg will fall, a ſtraight back will ſtoop, a black beard will turn white, a curled pate will grow bald, a fair face will wither, a full eye will wax hollow; but a good heart, Kate, is the ſun and the moon; or rather the ſun, and not the moon; for it ſhines bright, and never changes, but keeps his courſe truly. If thou would'ſt have ſuch a one, take me; take a ſoldier; take a king. And what ſay'ſt thou then to my love? Speak, my fair, and fairly, I pray thee.
Catharine. Is it poſſible dat I ſhould love de enemy of France?
Henry. No, it is not poſſible that you ſhould love the enemy of France, Kate; but in loving me you ſhould love the friend of France; for I love France ſo well, that I will not part with a village of it; I will have it all mine; and, Kate, when France is mine, and I am yours, then yours is France, and you are mine.
Catharine. I cannot tell vat is dat.
Henry. No, Kate? I will tell thee in French, which I am ſure will hang upon my tongue, like a bride about her huſband's neck, [Page 281] hardly to be ſhook off—Quand j'ay le * poſſeſſion de France, & quand vous avez le poſſeſſion de moi—Let me ſee—What then? St. Dennis be my ſpeed!—Donc votre eſt France, & vous etes mienne. It is as eaſy for me, Kate, to conquer the kingdom, as to ſpeak ſo much more French. I ſhall never move thee in French, unleſs it be to laugh at me.
Catharine. Sauf votre honneur, le Francois que vous parlez eſt meilleur que l'Anglois lequel je parle.
Henry. No, faith, it's not, Kate; but thy ſpeaking of my tongue, and I thine, moſt truly falſely, muſt needs be granted to be much at one. But, Kate, doſt thou underſtand ſo much Engliſh? Canſt thou love me?
Catharine. I cannot tell.
Henry. Can any of your neighbours tell, Kate? I'll aſk them. Come, I know thou loveſt me; and at night when you come into your cloſet, you'll queſtion this gentlewoman about me; and I know, Kate, you will to her diſpraiſe thoſe parts in me, that you like beſt; but, good Kate, mock me mercifully; the rather, gentle Princeſs, becauſe I love thee cruelly. If ever thou beeſt mine, Kate, as I have ſaving faith within me tells me thou ſhalt, I get thee with ſcambling , and thou muſt, therefore, needs prove a good ſoldier-breeder—Shall not thou and I, between St. Dennis and St. George, compound a boy half French, half Engliſh, that ſhall go to Conſtantinople, and take the Turk by the beard? Shall we not? What ſay'ſt thou, my fair Flower-de-Luce.
Catharine. I do not know dat.
Henry. No, 'tis hereafter to know, but now to promiſe. Do but now promiſe, Kate, you will endeavour for your French part of ſuch a boy; and, for my Engliſh moiety, take the word of a king and a bachelor. How anſwer you, le plus belle Catharine du monde, mon tres chere & divine deeſſe?
Catharine. Your majeſtee ave fauſe French enough to deceive de moſt ſage damoiſel dat is en France.
Henry. Now, fy upon my falſe French; by mine honour, in true Engliſh, I love thee, Kate; by which honour I dare not ſwear thou loveſt me; yet my blood begins to flatter me that thou doſt, notwithſtanding the poor and untempting effect of my viſage. Now, beſhrew my father's ambition, he was thinking of civil wars when he got me; therefore was I created with a ſtubborn outſide, with an aſpect of iron, that when I come to woo ladies, I fright them; but in faith, Kate, the elder I wax, the better I ſhall [Page 282] appear. My comfort is, that old age, that ill layer up of beauty, can do no more ſpoil upon my face. Thou haſt me, if thou haſt me, at the worſt; and thou ſhalt wear me, if thou wear me, better and better; and therefore, tell me, moſt fair Catharine, will you have me? Put off your maiden bluſhes, avouch the thoughts of your heart, with the looks of an empreſs; take me by the hand, and ſay, Harry of England, I am thine; which word thou ſhalt no ſooner bleſs mine ear withal, but I will tell thee aloud, England is thine, Ireland is thine, France is thine, and Henry Plantagenet is thine; who, though I ſpeak it before his face, if he be not fellow with the beſt king, thou ſhalt find the beſt king of good fellows. Come, your anſwer in broken muſic; for thy voice is muſic, and thy Engliſh broken—Therefore, queen of all, Catharine, break thy mind to me in broken Engliſh, wilt thou have me?
Catharine. Dat is as it ſhall pleaſe le roy mon pere.
Henry. Nay, it will pleaſe him well, Kate—It ſhall pleaſe him, Kate.
Catharine. Den it ſhall alſo content me.
Henry. Upon that I kiſs your hand, and call you my queen.
Catharine. Laiſſez, mon Seigneur, laiſſez, laiſſez—Ma foy, je ne veux point que vous abaiſſiez voſtre grandeur, en baiſant la main de votre ind [...]gne ſerviteure *; excuſez moy, je vous ſupplie, mon tres puiſſant Seigneur.
Henry. Then I will kiſs your lips, Kate.
Catharine. Les dames & demoiſelles ne faut pas etre baiſ [...]es devant leur nopçes—Il n'eſt pas la coútume de France.
Hen [...]y. Madam my interpreter, what ſays ſhe?
Lady. Dat it is not be de faſhon pour les ladies of France—I cannot tell what is baiſer, en Engliſh.
Henry. To kiſs, Mademoiſelle.
Lady. Your majeſty entendre better que moy.
Henry. 'Tis not a faſhion for the maids of France to kiſs, before they are married, would ſhe ſay?
Lady. Ouy, vrayement.
Henry. O, Kate, nice cuſtoms curtſie to great folks. Dear Kate, you and I cannot be confined within the weak liſt of a country's faſhion—We are the makers of manners, Kate; and the liberty that follows our places, ſtops the mouth of all find-faults; as I will do yours for the upholding the nice faſhion of your country, in denying me a kiſs—Therefore—patiently, and yielding— [Kiſſing her.] You have witchcraft in your lips, Kate; there is more eloquence in a touch of them, than in all the tongues of [Page 283] the French council; and they would ſooner perſwade Harry of England, than a general petition of monarchs. Here comes your father.

In the laſt paſſage of the foregoing dialogue, Henry affords a good ſubject for reflection, where he ſpeaks of the powerful influence of kings over the manners of a people. The maxim appears to be plauſible, but is not true, in every reſpect. Rank and example alone, will not be ſufficient for this effect, unſupported by dignity and precept. It is not enough for a prince to act well himſelf, and intend well to morals—He muſt form a purpoſe for their ſupport, and be active in his general, as well as private, capacity. A ſovereign, indeed, has it in his power, whenever it is in his will, moſt effectually to encourage virtue, and diſcourage vice, if he chuſes to make this object the rule of his polity. This would be the ſureſt and ſafeſt method of rendering himſelf abſolute; for as poor Cardinal Wolſey ſays—upon a maxim too late diſcovered— ‘"Corruption wins not more than honeſty."’ Religion itſelf has judged it neceſſary to hold out diſtant rewards and puniſhments, to allure and deter mankind, and kings can only have a right to be ſtiled the vice-gerents of Heaven, when they render theſe ſanctions more immediate. A king is ſaid to have long hands; but they are of no uſe except to wrap himſelf up, while he keeps them folded.

Lewis the Fourteenth happily brought ſuch a golden age to bear, toward the latter part of his illuſtrious reign, if we may give credit to what St. Evremond ſays, in a letter of his to Ninon de l'Enclos.

‘You live in a country where people have extraordinary advantages towards ſaving their ſouls. There, vice is almoſt as much againſt the faſhion, as againſt virtue. Sinning paſſes for ill-breeding; ſhocks decency, and offends good manners, as much as religion. Formerly, it ſufficed to be [Page 284] wicked; but, at preſent, one muſt be a ſcoundrel, to be damned, in France. They who have not regard enough for another life, are led to ſalvation by the conſideration and duties of this.’

In order to leave the impreſſion of this moſt intereſting and moral reflection more ſtrongly on the minds of the great, the powerful, and the opulent, I ſhall here conclude my obſervations on this Piece, ſo fruitful of example and document, throughout.

2.6. HENRY the SIXTH.



2.6.1. Dramatis Perſonae.



  • DUKE OF GLOUCESTER, Protector, and Uncle to the King.
  • BISHOP OF WINCHESTER, Cardinal, and Great Uncle to the King.
  • RICHARD PLANTAGENET, afterwards Duke of York.
  • DUKE OF ALANSON, A French Peer.
  • MORTIMER, Earl of March.


None are brought upon the Scene, throughout the few remarks I have had any opportunity of making on this Play.


[Page 287] ACT I. SCENE I.

WINCHESTER, ſpeaking of the death of Henry the Fifth:

He was a king, bleſt of the King of Kings.
Unto the French the dreadful judgment day
So dreadful will not be, as was his ſight;
The battles of the Lord of Hoſts he fought—
The Church's prayers made him ſo proſperous.

We may remember in the former Play, that Henry the Fifth, like a true Chriſtian heroe, imputes all his ſucceſſes immediately to Heaven; but the good Biſhop, I am ſorry to ſay it, like a true prieſt, of thoſe days, here interpoſes between them, and attributes his proſperity ſolely to the mediation of the Church. SCENE V.

There is a good deſcription given of the common Engliſh, in the following ſpeech: ‘

They want their porridge, and their fat bull-beeves;
Either they muſt be dieted, like mules,
And have their provender tied to their mouths,
Or piteous they will look, like drowned mice.

A true phyſical knowledge is here expreſſed. A great part of perſonal courage depends upon the animal ſpirits; and to keep men ſtout, you muſt keep them ſtrong. If philoſophy ſhould be ſo difficult as to deny that good feeding can render a ſoldiery more brave, it muſt admit, however, that it will render it more ſerviceable, at leaſt; which is all that we mean to contend for here. ACT II.
[Page 288] SCENE V.

The partiality which we are all apt to manifeſt towards our own intereſts, is well noted in this place. This principle is ſo powerful in human nature, that it not only engages our affections, but warps our judgments alſo; ſo that it often impoſes on our reaſon, and frequently makes us continue obſtinate, more from error than ſelfiſhneſs. Our opinions differ, even in matters of no concernment to us; and how much leſs is it to be expected, that we ſhould be of accord, when we are become a party in the queſtion ourſelves?

Somerſet and Plantagenet being engaged in a warm diſpute, appeal to the umpirage of a third indifferent perſon, with all the ſeeming candor imaginable.

Judge you, my lord of Warwick, then, between us.
Between two hawks, which flies the higher pitch,
Between two dogs, which hath the deeper mouth,
Between two blades, which bears the better temper,
Between two horſes, which doth bear him beſt,
Between two girls, which hath the merrieſt eye,
I have, perhaps, ſome ſhallow ſpirit of judgment;
But in theſe nice ſharp quillets of the law,