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and features which compose the human form. He first had the skill to give it gesture, attitude, the easy graces of real life, and to exhibit its powers in a variety of exertions.
We shall again see Northumberland timid and wavering, forward in conspiracy, yet hesitating to join in an action of doubtful issue.
King Henry is as prudent a politician on his death-bed, as at council; his eye, just before it closed for ever, stretching itself beyond the hour of death, to the view of those dangers, which from the temper of the Prince of Wales, and the condition of the times, threatened his throne and family. I cannot help taking notice of the remarkable attention of the poet, to the cautious and politic temper of Henry, when he makes him, even in speaking to his friends and partisans, dissemble so far, in relating Richard's prophecy, that Northumberland,
who helped him to the throne, would one day revolt from him, as to add,
Though then, Heaven knows, I had no such in
But that necessity so bow'd the state,
To his successor he expresses himself very differently, when he says,
Heaven knows, my son,
These delicacies of conduct lie hardly within the poet's province, but have their source in that great and universal capacity, which the attentive reader will find to belong to our author, beyond any other writer. He alone, perhaps, would have perceived the decorum and fitness of making so wise a man reserved even with his friends, and trust a confession of the iniquities, by which he obtained the crown, only to his successor, whose interest it was not to disgrace whatever could authorize his attainment of it. Let tragedy-writers who make princes prate with pages and waiting-women of their murders and treasons, learn for once, from rude and illiterate Shakspeare, how averse pride is coolly to confess, and prudence to betray, what the fever and deliriums of ambition have prompted us to do.
Falstaffe appears with his former dispositions, but in new situations: and entertains us in a variety of scenes.
Hotspur is as it were revived to the spectator, in the following character given of him by his lady, when she dissuades Nore thumberland from joining the forces of the Archbishop
Lady PERCY. Oh, yet for heav'n's sake, go not to these wars. The time was, father, that you broke your word, When you were more endear'd to it than now; When your own Percy, when my heart-dear larry, H
Threw many a northward look, to see his father Bring up his pow'rs; but he did long in vain ! Who then persuaded you to stay at home? There were two honours lost; yours and your son's: For yours, may heavenly glory brighten it! For his, it struck upon him as the sun In the grey vault of heav'n; and by his light Did all the chivalry of England move To do brave acts. He was indeed the glass, Wherein the noble youth did dress themselves. He had no legs, that practis'd not his gait; And speaking thick, which nature made his blemish, Became the accents of the valiant ; For those, that could speak low and tardily, Would turn their own perfection to abuse, To seem like him: so that in speech, in gait, In diet, in affections of delight, * In military rules, humours of blood, He was the mark and glass, copy and book, That fashion'd others. And bim, wond'rous him! O miracle of men! him did you leave To look upon the hideous god of war in disadvantage; to abide a field Where nothing but the sound of Hotspur's name Did seem defensible. So you left him.
Never, 0, never do bis ghost the wrong,
Justice Shallow is an admirably welldrawn comic character, but he never appears better, than by reflection in the mirror of Falstaffe's wit, in whose descriptions he is most strongly exhibited.--It is said by some, that the Justice was meant for a particular gentleman, who had prosecuted the author for deer-stealing. I know not whether that story be well grounded. The Shallows are to be found every where, in every age; but they who have least character of their own, are most formed and modified by the fashion of the times, and by their peculiar profession or calling. So, though we often meet with a resemblance to this Justice, we shall never find an exact parallel to him, now when manners are so much changed.-History or