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battles, and treaties, and charters, and commissions, and parliaments, we are now dealing with ; - we look to the Henry of Shakespeare.

That Henry, I repeat, is subject and vassal of Falstaff. He is bound by the necromancy of genius to the “white-bearded Satan,” who he feels is leading him to perdition. It is in vain that he thinks it utterly unfitting that he should engage in such an enterprise as the robbery at Gadshill; for, in spite of all protestations to the contrary, he joins the expedition merely to see how his master will get through his difficulty. He struggles hard, but to no purpose. Go he must, and he goes accordingly. A sense of decorum keeps him from participating in the actual robbery; but he stands close by, that his resistless sword may aid the dubious valor of his master's associates. Joining with Poins in the jest of scattering them and seizing their booty, not only is no harm done to Falstaff, but a sense of remorse seizes on the prince for the almost treasonable deeds

“Falstaff sweats to death,
And lards the lean earth as he walks along;

Wer't not for laughing, I should pity him.At their next meeting, after detecting and exposing the stories related by the knight, how different is the result from what had been predicted by Poins when laying the plot! “The virtue of this jest will be, the incomprehensible lies that this same fat

rogue

will tell us when we meet at supper: how thirty, at least, he fought with; what wards, what blows, what extremities he endured; and in the reproof of this lies the jest.” Reproof indeed! All is detected and confessed. Does Poins reprove him, interpret the word as we will ? Poins indeed! That were lèze majesté. Does the prince? Why, he tries a jest, but it breaks down; and Falstaff victoriously orders sack and merriment with an accent of command not to be disputed. In a moment after he is selected to meet Sir John Bracy, sent

special with the villanous news of the insurrection of the Percies; and in another moment he is seated on his joint-stool, the mimic King of England, lecturing with a mixture of jest and earnest the real Prince of Wales.

Equally inevitable is the necessity of screening the master from the consequence of his deliquencies, even at the expense of a very close approximation to saying the thing that is not; and impossible does Hal find it not to stand rebuked when the conclusion of his joke of taking the tavern-bills from the sleeper behind the arras is the enforced confession of being a pickpocket. Before the austere king his father, John his soberblooded brother, and other persons of gravity or consideration, if Falstaff be in presence, the prince is constrained by his star to act in defence and protection of the knight. Conscious of the carelessness and corruption which mark all the acts of his guide, philosopher, and friend, it is yet impossible that he should not recommend him to a command in a civil war which jeoparded the very existence of his dynasty. In the heat of the battle and the exultation of victory he is obliged to yield to the fraud that represents Falstaff as the actual slayer of Hotspur. Prince John quietly remarks, that the tale of Falstaff is the strangest that he ever heard : his brother, who has won the victory, is content with saying that he who has told it is the strangest of fellows. Does he betray the cheat ? Certainly not-it would have been an act of disobedience; but in privy council he suggests to his prince in a whisper,

“Come, bring your luggage (the body of Hotspur) noblynobly—as becomes your rank in our court, so as to do the whole of your followers, myself included, honor by the appearance of their master

“Come, bring your luggage nobly on your back;

For my part, if a lie may do thee grace,
I'll gild it with the happiest terms I have.”

Tribute, this, from the future Henry V.! Deeper tribute, however, is paid in the scene in which state necessity induces the renunciation of the fellow with the great belly who had misled him. Poins had prepared us for the issue. The prince had been grossly abused in the reputable hostelrie of the Boar's Head while he was thought to be out of hearing. When he comes forward with the intention of rebuking the impertinence, Poins, well knowing the command to which he was destined to submit, exclaims : “My lord, he will drive you out of your revenge, and turn all to merriment, if you take not the heat.” Vain caution! The scene, again, ends by the total forgetfulness of Falstaff's offence, and his being sent for to court. When, therefore, the time had come that considerations of the highest importance required that Henry should assume a more dignified character, and shake off his dissolute companions, his own ex: perience and the caution of Poins instruct him that if the thing be not done on the heat -- if the old master-spirit be allowed one moment's ground of vantage - the game is up, the good resolutions dissipated into thin air, the grave rebuke turned all into laughter, and thoughts of anger or prudence put to flight by the restored supremacy of Falstaff. Unabashed and unterrified he has heard the severe rebuke of the king : I know thee not, old man,” &c., until an opportunity offers for a repartee

* Know, the grave doth gape

For thee thrice wider than for other men.” Some joke on the oft-repeated theme of his unwieldy figure was twinkling in Falstaff's eye, and ready to leap from his tongue. The king saw his danger: had he allowed a word, he was undone. Hastily, therefore, does he check that word :

“Reply not to me with a fool-born jest ;" forbidding, by an act of eager authority - what he must also have felt to be an act of self-control — the outpouring of those magic sounds which, if uttered, would, instead of a prison be

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many a better

coming the lot of Falstaff, have conducted him to the coronation dinner, and established him as chief depositary of what in after-days was known by the name of backstairs' influence.

In this we find the real justification of what has generally been stigmatized as the harshness of Henry. Dr. Johnson, with some indignation, asks why should Falstaff be sent to the Fleet ?- he had done nothing since the king's accession to deserve it. I answer, he was sent to the Fleet for the same reason that he was banished ten miles from court, on pain of death. Henry thought it necessary that the walls of a prison should separate him from the seducing influence of one than whom he knew

man,

but none whom it was so hard to miss. He felt that he could not, in his speech of predetermined severity, pursue to the end the tone of harshness toward his old companion. He had the nerve to begin by rebuking him in angry terms as a surfeit-swelled, profane old man - as one who, instead of employing in prayer the time which his hoary head indicated was not to be of long duration in this world, disgraced his declining years by assuming the unseemly occupations of fool and jester— as one whom he had known in a dream, but had awakened to despise — as one who, on the verge of the gaping grave, occupied himself in the pursuits of such low debauchery as excluded him from the society of those who had respect for themselves or their character. But he can not so continue; and the last words he addresses to him whom he had intended to have cursed altogether, hold forth a promise of advancement, with an affectionate assurance that it will be such as is suitable to his “strength and qualities.” If in public he could scarce master his speech, how could he hope in private to master his feeling? No. His only safety was in utter separation: it should be done, and he did it.* He was emancipated

* Hazlitt says, “ The truth is, that we never could forgive the Prince's treatment of Falstaff, though perhaps Shakespeare knew what was best, according

by violent effort; did he never regret the ancient thraldom ? Shakespeare is silent: but may we not imagine that he who sate crowned with the golden rigol of England, cast, amid all his splendors, many a sorrowful thought upon that old familiar face which he had sent to gaze upon the iron bars of the Fleet ?

As for the chief justice, he never appears in Falstaff's presence, save as a butt.* His grave lordship has many

solemn admonitions, nay, serious threats to deliver; but he departs laughed at and baffled. Coming to demand explanation of the affair at Gadshill, the conversation ends with his being asked for the loan of a thousand pounds. Interposing to procure payment of the debt to Dame Quickly, he is told that she goes about the town saying that her eldest son resembles him. Fang and Snare, his lordship's officers, are not treated with less respect, or shaken off with less ceremony. As for the other followers of the knight - Pistol, Nim, Bardolph--they are, by office, his obsequious dependants. But it is impossible that they could long hang about him without contracting, unknown even to themselves other feelings than those arising from the mere advantages they derived from his service. Death is the test of all; and when that of Falstaff approaches, the dogged Nym reproaches the king for having run bad humors on the knight; and Pistol in swelling tone, breathing a sigh over his heart “fracted and corroborate," hastens to condole with him. Bardolph wishes that he was with him wheresoever he has gone, whether to heaven or hell : he has followed him all his life. why not follow him in death? The last jest had been at his

to the history, the nature of the times, and of the men. We speak only as dramatic critics. Whatever terror the French, in those days, might have had of Henry V., yet to the reader of poetry at present, Falstaff is the better man of the two. We think of him, and quote him oftener.”—M.

* The colloquies between Falstaff and the Chief-Justice are to be found in King Henry the Fourth, Part II., Act I., Scene 1, in Act II., Scene 1, and in Act V., Scene 5.-M,

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