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tinue the story, with Sir John in it, and make you merry with fair Katharine of France ; where, for anything I know, Falstaff shall die of a sweat, unless already he be killed with your hard opinions ; for Oldcastle died a martyr, and this is not the man.
This half-promise,” says Munro, was fulfild. When Henry V. appeard with fair Katharine of France, all that we learn of the jovial, fat Jack is the news of his death. The continuation of his story in The Merry Wives, said to have been at the request of Queen Elizabeth, continues the quarrel between him and simple Shallow, and shows him older and less nimble, less quick in mind and more blunted in wit, less of a witty tyrant and more of a butt for others.”
Munro adds : “In the second part of Henry IV. the ravages of civil war have done their work: the old rebellion has been crusht. Hotspur, Glendower and Douglas, three notable characters, pass out of the story ;
Pistol, Shallow, Silence, and the two young princes come in. The old king, once so full
i That Falstaff was first calld Oldcastle in the play, we know also from Old having been printed at the head of the speech,“ Very well, my lord, very well,” in the Quarto, 1600, of 2 Henry IV., Act I., sc: ii. p. 41, and from Prince Hal calling Falstaff in 1 Henry IV., Act I., sc. ii.p. 32, “My old lad of the castle,” &c. That he was called Oldcastle even after Shakspere had alterd the name, is clear from Nathaniel Field's Amends for Ladies, 1618:
“ Did you never see the play where the fat knight, hight Oldcastle, Did tell you truly what this lionour' was?” (see 1 Henry IV., Act V., sc. i. p. 145–6)." Oldcastle's Lollardism (he was martyred December 25, 1417) had brought him into disrepute with the "society" of his time, and Shakspere, no doubt, took up at first the unjust tradition, but altered it on learning the facts. Still, Falstaff is a Lollard, a degenerate Puritan. See my friend Mr. James Gairdner's interesting Paper in The Fortnightly Review, March, 1873. For early protests against degrading the noble Oldcastle into Falstaff, see pp. 249, 266, of Dr. Ingleby's Century of Shakspere's Praise, 2nd ed., New Shaks. Soc., and my additions to it, 1882.
and purpose, now feels the coming of death, and leaves the work to be done by his sons, among whom figures chiefly, in this respect, John of Lancaster. The scenes with the dying king, smitten in conscience and sorrowing for his unruly son, seem to throw a shadow over the whole play. Falstaff's escapades consist not so much in jovial wantonness as wanton vices ; still, his old humor is with him, his old guile and villainy. Prince Hal, who has befriended him all along, has given him a page; and we may believe that he must have made money thru the wars.
He makes a contract with a tailor, and gives his cutpurse companion, Bardolph, for a security. He is again confronted by the Justice; and with his old bluff escapes with nothing more than a severe reprimand for his follies and vices, the full effect of which is shown in his last naïve remark to the lawyer : * Will your lordship lend me a thousand pound ...?! With all his old grey hairs and the half-century of infamy thru which he has past he still talks of himself as one of the wags in the vaward of our youth.' To poor Dame Quickly-who, with her companion Doll, is finally arrested, and not without great difficulty—the knight owes the considerable sum of 100 marks—a debt, like all others of Falstaff's, destined never to be paid. If we see Falstaff in less amusing escapades, we are gratified with more of his biography : Shallow tells us that he was once page to Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk. In those days Shallow himself was of Clement's Inn, with other such famous fellows as little John Doit from Staffordshire, George
Barnes, a dark fellow, Francis Pickbone, and Will Squele of the Cotswolds. Among such exalted and
-according to his own bragging account-dashing society as this even, was Shallow, yeoman and justice, known as 'mad' Shallow, and 'lusty' Shallow, which names he earnd, no doubt, from his recklessness and devilry, having fought with Sampson Stockfish, a fruiterer (and, we may believe, a formidable antagonist), behind Gray's Inn on the very day that Falstaff, the future knight and soldier, broke Skogan's head at the courtgate. The mad days they all had ! They had heard the chimes at midnight, -but that was in their young days when the warm blood is stirring; and they lay all night in a windmill in St. George's field-an escapade connected in some way, perhaps, with a certain Jane Nightwork, who had had, fifty-five years or so before the battle of Shrewsbury, young Robin Nightwork by the old man of that name. They were a wild crew; “Hem boys !' was their watch-word!
Shallow, however, appears to have had an exaggerated idea of the part he playd in these youthful affairs. According to Falstaff he was then the very genius of famine, carvd fantastically like a forkt radish, and known to certain disreputable individuals as drake.' He learnt tunes off carmen, and claimd them as his own; and the only acquaintance he had with John of Gaunt was to have his head crackt by him for foolishly crowding among the marshal's men in the tilt-yard. The truth is that 'mad' Shallow and ‘lusty' Shallow existed nowhere but in the small
imagination and large conceit of fussy, stupid Shallow, justice of the peace, seeking to ingratiate himself with Sir John Falstaff of the court, companion to Prince Hal, and soldier from the wars (as Shallow thought). On his credulity Falstaff playd, suiting himself to circumstances with facility, and corroborating the narrow conceit of his gullible host. To us who have but lately seen the fat knight with his favorite Doll in the house of Dame Quickly, the vision of him eating the justice's pippins and caraways is ludicrous in the extreme.
Falstaff's joy on the accession of Henry V. was natural enough. No doubt he had visions of himself seated in the king's palace, disposing of his enemies and promoting his dissolute friends. The whole kingdom of England was to be at his disposal, we may suppose, with himself as Chancellor, Bardolph as Justiciar, and Pistol as Treasurer ! Other forces than he have been at work, however. With Prince Hal the days are past for good when he will strike the Lord Chief Justice about Bardolph, and get committed for it; and tho' he still plays the fool with the time, he sorrows over his father's sickness. He is again with Poins and his crew in London, when the poor, failing king asks after him in court. Warwick makes what excuse he can,-not that the Prince behaving so for policy, as is intimated in Part I., but that he studies his companions like a foreign tongue in order to know them. Prince Henry is ready, however, for the trials and strivings of kingship; reproved once more, and in the most solemn and unforgettable manner,
by the dying king, whose thought is ever for his poor bleeding country, the young prince, too eager for the crown, but nobly eager, makes those promises and resolutions that render his father's end easier, and his own life more noble.
“ If Falstaff and his crew are certain of advancement, the Justice and his party are certain of dismissal. But a nature like Henry's could not pass thru these trials unchanged: civil war and princely responsibility have shown him the necessity of putting away for all time his youthful wildness; with the kingly crown on his brow, and the destinies of a realm dependent upon him, the nobler part of his nature is aroused, and he resolves to be king indeed. The rebuff that he gives Falstaff is a generous one ; he allows him a competence to keep him from villainy, and the knight gets more than he deserves. The Justice, however, will not be denied: Falstaff and his gang are seizd; the king's palace, in which they might have dwelt, becomes the king's prison, and the world is rid of them all for a time,-not of Falstaff only, but of Hostess Quickly and Doll Tear-sheet too.
The king himself is a pathetic figure. He has obtaind possession of the crown by crooked ways, and his conscience smites him. He intends a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, as a sort of penitence, we may suppose, but his opportunity never comes. His whole reign has been full of turmoil, plot and intrigue. The friends who raisd him to power, turn on him for his coldness. He is stricken by Halos wantonness, and he fears most of all, that his dear land of