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mood, with the many short, pregnant metaphors of the Third Period, each left to the hearer's own mind to work out, quite in Shakspere's later budding style seven metaphors in four lines. Yet surely Macbeth might well have expanded his thoughts. Any man less filld with his subject, less crowded with thought, than Shakspere, any man like the writer of Edward III., would surely have availd himself of this splendid chance to “ show off.” The contrast of Duncan wrapt in sleep's security yet pierced with murder's knife, the contrast of innocent sleep with the guilty deed, its balm his bale, its nourishment his poison, would have tempted a smaller man- but not Shakspere in his Third Period. Each metaphor has its touch, and then off.
In Henry IV., Part II., the lower rank of people come more to the front. We've more prominence than before, given to the low tavern life, the country squire and his servants, the administration of justice in town and country, which Shakspere's long experience made him sneer at, as against the knightly life of the former Part, notwithstanding its carriers. This prepares us for the fuller sketches of contemporary middleclass life in The Merry Wives. The chief characters of Part I. are further developt. Though the hand of sickness is on the king, yet “Ready, aye ready is still his word ; and as soon as Hotspur is beaten, another army marches against Northumberland and the Archbishop, whose two separate rebellions Shakspere has put into one. But his cares tell on him : the chronicler Hall calls his reign the “unquiete tyme of Kyng Henry the Fourth.” His mind goes back o'er the troublous past, thinks on his old close friend. ship with his now foe Northumberland, and the dead Richard's prophecy of their falling out. And as the past has little to comfort him, so the future has less. His son's going back, like a sow, to wallow again in the mire, cuts him to the heart, as sovereign even more than as father :
“O my poor kingdom, sick with civil blows !
When that my care could not withhold thy riots,
2 Henry IV., Act IV., sc. iv., p. 145. Was it for this that he'd sufferd exile, riskt his life, won England, and held it with his strong right hand ? Surely a pathetic figure—the strong man worn with care, disappointed in his dearest wish, the labour of his life made vain. Still, comfort was to come ; the son who once before won back his father's willingly. forgiving heart, again spoke words that again at-oned them. And in the king's last speech to his gallant heir, we see the man's whole nature--wily to win, strong to hold, a purpose in all he did ; not perhaps a hero, but a ruler and a king, a father, too.
Such political lesson as Shakspere preacht in these plays was, that tho', like Elizabeth's crown, the suc. cession to it might not be clear, the way to hold it was to govern strongly and well, and that the sovereign must not only attack his foes at home, but unite the nation by foreign war, as Henry the Fifth, Napoleon, Cavour, and Bismarck did. For Prince Hal: have one unworthy scene, two worthy ones. The
shadow of his father's death-sickness is on him, and he goes for relief–half disgusted with himself—(feeling that every one would call him a hypocrite if he lookt sorry) to his old, loose companions. But there's not much enjoyment in his forced mirth. He feels ashamed of himself, and soon leaves Falstaff and his old life for ever—“ let the end try the man,” as he says. It is clear that he now feels the degradation of being Falstaff's friend and Poins's reputed brother-in-law. On hearing of the war again, as in Part I., he changes at a touch, and is himself. The next time we see him is by his father's sick bed, and again he wins to him his father's heart. But surely by a bit of Falstafflike cleverness, and want of truth. Compare his first speech to the crown, with his second giving an account of it to his father. But one part of that first speech he meant; that he'd hold his crown against the world's whole strength; and that was what King Henry wanted. When Hal becomes king, his treatment of his brothers, the Chief Justice, and Falstaff is surely wise and right, in all three cases." One does feel for Falstaff; but certainly what he ought to have had, he got—the chance of reformation. What other reception could Henry, in the midst of his new state, give in public to the dirty, slovenly, debaucht, old sinner who thrust himself upon him, than the rebuke he did ? Any other course would have renderd the king's own professt reform absurd.?
1. Compare, on this point, what the MS. says in Part II. of Dr. Brie's edition of The Brut.
2 The history and state characters of the play are mainly from Holinshed's Chronicle, with the variations noted in Courtenay's "Com.
In Falstaff, we have in this Part II. the old wit and humour, the old slipperiness when seemingly caught, the old mastery over everyone, till the triumph should come, when comes catastrophe instead. But we have more of the sharper, the cheat, the preyer on others (the hostess, Shallow, the soldiers at the choosing), brought out. The slipperiness is seen in his answers to the Chief Justice's attendant, the Chief Justice himself, the hostess, Prince Hal, and Doll. (His excuse for dispraising Hal before Doll is repeated by Parolles for abusing Bertram to Diana in All's Well.) The scenes with Shallow and Silence, and the choice of soldiers, are of course beyond the reach of praise. We cannot help noting the use that the old rascal meant to make of his power over the young king :
“Let us take any man's horses ;
The laws of England are at my commandment.
And woe to my lord chief justice." His end here is imprisonment for a time; and worse, to be chafft by Shallow the despised, and not return it. This prepares us for his fate in The Merry Wives. The moral is the same as that of Love's Labour's Lost. What is mere wit so valued by men really worth ? Wit
" Whose influence is begot of that loose grace
Which shallow, laughing hearers give to fuols." mentaries on the Historical Plays," i. 75–159. Hotspur, Glendower, Northumberland, Mowbray, the Archbishop, and Prince John, are alterd at will by Shakspere. The "artillery” of Part I., Act I., sc. i. p. 28, of course, means bows and arrows, as in 1 Samuel xx. 40.
" The rogues,” says Miss Constance O'Brien, "all come to a bad end. Falstaff dies in obscure poverty, Nym and Bardolph get hung in France, Pistol is stripped of his braggart honour, and even the boy and the luggage,' as Fluellen puts it, are killed together. Poins alone, the best of the set, vanishes silently, without a word as to his fate; and so that wild crew breaks up and disappears, leaving the world to laugh over them and their leader for ever. (If Falstaff was drawn from a living man, that man must have been a little Irish; no purely English brains work quite so fast.")" The contemporary allusions are still kept up in this play. We have the landlady's disjointed talk, which Dickens reproduced for his Victorians, the Wincot of The Shrew Induction again, the tradesmen who wear nothing but high shoes, and bunches of keys at their girdles,” the coming in of glass drinking-vessels for silver ones, specially noted by Harrison (my edition, p. 147), the Thames tide in Act II., sc. iii., p. 71, as in the Rape of Lucrece, the University and Inns of Court, the school-boys' breaking-up, the Cotswold man. All through, the play is Shakspere's England. We may also notice in it the dwelling on special words, as security," accommodate,"
," " rebellion,” like Falconbridge's “commodity,” and Lucrece’s “opportunity." The Epilogue of the play promises a continuation, in which Falstaff is to die of a sweat in France
One word more, I beseech you. If you be not too much cloyed with fat meat, our humble author will con1 And yet the English Shakspere created him.