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KING HENRY IV.
LITERARY AND HISTORICAL NOTICE.
SHAKSPEARE is supposed to have written this play in 1598. Its action comprehends a period of nine years, com mencing with Hotspur's death, 1403, and terminating with the coronation of Henry V. 1412-13. Many of th tragic scenes in this second portion of the history are forcible and pathetic; but the comedy is of a much looser and more indecent character, than any in the preceding part. Shallow is an odd though pleasing por trait of a brainless magistrate; and a character, it is to be feared, not peculiar to Glostershire only. In thu exhibiting his worship to the ridicule of an audience, Shakspeare amply revenged himself on his old War. wickshire prosecutor. On the character of Falstaff, as exhibited in the two plays, Dr. Johnson makes the following admirable remarks: "Falstaff! unimitated, unimitable Falstaff, how shall I describe thee; thou compound of sense and vice; of sense which may be admired, but not esteemed; of vice which may be despised, but hardly detested. Falstaff is a character loaded with faults, and with those faults which naturally produce contempt. He is a thief and a glutton, a coward and a boaster; always ready to cheat the weak, and prey upon the poor; to terrify the timorous, and insult the defenceless. At once obsequious and malignant, he satirizes in their absence those whom he lives by flattering. He is familiar with the prince, only as an agent of vice; but of this familiarity he is so proud, as not only to be supercilious and haughty with common men, but to think his interest of importance to the Duke of Lancaster. Yet the man thus corrupt, thus despicable, makes himself necessary to the prince that despises him, by the most pleasing of all qualities, perpetual gaity; by an unfailing power of exciting laughter, which is the more freely indulged, as his wit is not of the splendid or ambitious kind, but consists in easy scapes and sallies of levity, which make sport, but raise no envy. It must be observed, that he is stained with no enormous or sanguinary crimes, so that his licentiousness is not so offensive but that it may be borne for his mirth."
I, from the orient to the drooping west, Making the wind my post horse, still unfold The acts commenced on this ball of earth : Upon my tongues continual slanders ride; The which in every language I pronounce, Stuffing the ears of men with false reports. I speak of peace, while covert enmity, Under the smile of safety wounds the world: The vent of hearing, when loud Rumour speaks ? | And who but Rumour, who but only 1,
Enter RUMOUR, painted full of Tongues. Rum. Open your ears; For which of you will stop
Make fearful musters and prepar'd defence ; Whilst the big year, swoll'n with some other
Is thought with child by the stern tyrant war,
My well known body to anatomize
Among my household? Why is Rumour here ? I run before king Harry's victory;
Who, in a bloody field by Shrewsbury,
North. Here comes my servant, Travers
whom I sent
On Tuesday last to listen after news.
Bard. My lord, I over-rode him on the way; And he is furnish'd with no certainties, More than he haply may retain from me. Enter TRAVERS.
North. Now, Travers, what good tidings come with you?
Tra. My lord, Sir John Umfrevile turn'd me
With joyful tidings; and, being better hors'd,
Hath beaten down young Hotspur, and his A gentleman almost forspent with speed,
Quenching the flame of bold rebellion
Even with the rebel's blood. But what mean I
Between that royal field of Shrewsbury
They bring smooth comforts false, worse than
SCENE 1.-The same -The PORTER before
Port. What shall I say you are?
That the lord Bardolph doth attend him here. Port. His lordship is walk'd forth into the orchard;
Please it your honour, knock but at the gate,
Bard. Here comes the earl.
That stopp'd by me to breathe his bloodied
Said he, young Harry Percy's spur was cold?
Bard. My lord, I'll tell you what ;—
North. Why should the gentleman, that rode by Travers,
Give then such instances of loss?
The horse he rode on; and, upon my life,
North. Yea, this man's brow, like to a title
Fortells the nature of a tragic volume:
So looks the strond, wheron the imperious flood Hath left a witness'd usurpation. +-
Say, Morton, didst thou come from Shrewsbury?
Mor. I ran from Shrewsbury, my noble lord; Where hateful death put on his ugliest mask,
North. What news, lord Bardolph ? every To fright our party.
I bring you certain news from Shrewsbury.
Kill'd by the band of Douglas: young prince
And Westmoreland, and Stafford, fled the field;
North. How is this deriv'd?
Saw you the field? came you from Shrewsbury? Bard. I spake with one, my lord, that came from thence;
A gentleman well bred, and of good naine,
↑ Important or dreadful event.
And I will take it as a sweet disgrace,
And make thee rich for doing me such wrong.
The ragged'st hour that time and spite dare bring,
Mor. You are too great to be by me gain-To said:
Your spirit is too true, your fears too certain.
I see a strange confession in thine eye:
Mor. I am sorry I should force you to believe
'That, which I would to heaven I had not seen: But these mine eyes saw him in bloody state, Rend'ring faint quittance, wearied and out
To Harry Monmouth: whose swift wrath beat down
The never-daunted Percy to the earth,
From whence with life he never more sprung
In few, his death (whose spirit lent a fire
That arrows fled not swifter toward their aim,
Too soon ta'en prisoner: and that furious Scot,
Had three times slain the appearance of the
In poison there is physic; and these news,
Being sick, have in some measure made me well:
Out of his keeper's arms; even so my limbs,
Are thrice themselves: hence therefore, thou
A scaly gauntlet now, with joints of steel,
Thou art a guard too wanton for the head,
Now bind my brows with iron; and approach
frown upon the enrag'd Northumberland! Let heaven kiss earth! Now let not nature's hand
Keep the wild flood confin'd! let order die !
Tra. This strained passion doth you wrong,
Bard. Sweet earl, divorce not wisdom from
Mor. The lives of all your loving complices Lean on your health; the which, if you give
To stormy passion, must perforce decay.
It was your presurmise,
of blows your son might
You knew he walk'd o'er perils, on an edge,
Would lift him where most trade of danger
Yet did you say,-Go forth; and none of this,
Or what hath this hold enterprize brought forth,
I hear for certain, and do speak the truth,--
This word, rebellion, it had froze them up,
SCENE II.-London.-A Street.
Enter Sir JOHN FALSTAFF, with his PAGE bearing his Sword and Buckler.
Fal. Sirrah, you giant, what says the doctor to my water?
Page. He said, Sir, the water itself was a good healthy water: but, for the party that owed it, he might have more diseases than he knew for.
Fal. Men of all sorts take a pride to gird at me: The brain of this foolish-compounded clay, man, is not able to vent any thing that tends to laughter, more than I invent, or is invented on me: I am not only witty in myself, but the cause that wit is in other men. I do here walk before thee, like a sow, that hath overwhelmed all her litter but one. If the prince put thee into my service for any other reason than to set me off, why then I have no judgment. Thou whoreson mandrake, thou art fitter to be worn in my cap, than to wait at my heels. I was never manned with an agate till now but I will set you neither in gold nor silver, but in vile apparel, and send you back again to your master, for a jewel; the juvenal, the prince your master, whose chin is not yet fledged. I will sooner have a beard grow in the palm of my hand, than he shall get one on his cheek and yet he will not stick to say, his face is a face-royal: God may finish it when he will, it is not a hair amiss yet: he may keep it still as a face-royal, for a barber shall never earn sixpence out of it; and yet he will be crowing, as if he had writ man ever since his father was a bachelor. He may keep his own grace, but he is almost out of mine. I can assure him.What said master Dumbleton about the satin for my short cloak and slops?
Page. He said, Sir, you should procure him better assurance than Bardolph: he would not take his bond and your's; he liked not the security.
Atten. He, my lord: but he hath since done good service at Shrewsbury; and as I hear, is now going with some charge to the lord John of Lancaster.
Ch. Just. What, to York? Call him back again.
Attend. Sir John Falstaff!
Fal. Boy, tell him, I am deaf.
Page. You must speak louder, my master is deaf.
Ch. Just. I am sure he is, to the hearing of any thing good.-Go, pluck him by the elbow; I must speak with him.
Attend. Sir John,-
Atten. You mistake me, Sir.
Fal. Why, Sir, did I say you were an honest man? setting my knighthood and my soldiership aside, I had lied in my throat if I had said so.
Atten. I pray you, Sir, then set your knighthood and your soldiership aside; and give me leave to tell you, you lie in your throat, if you say I am any other than an honest man.
Fal. I give thee leave to tell me so! I lay aside that which grows to me! If thou get'st any leave of me, hang me: if thou takest leave, thou wert better be hauged: You hunt-counter, hence! avaunt!
Atten. Sir, my lord would speak with you. Ch. Just. Sir John Falstaff, a word with you. Ful. My good lord!-God give your lordship good time of day. I am glad to see your lordship abroad: I heard say, your lordship was sick; I hope your lordship goes abroad by advice. Your lordship, though not clean past your youth, Fal. Let him be damned like a glutton! may hath yet some smack of age in you, some relish his tongue be hotter -A whoreson Achitophel! of the saltness of time; and I most humbly bea rascally yea-forsooth knave! to bear a gen-seech your lordship, to have a reverend care of tleman in hand, and then stand upon security ! your health. -The whoreson smooth-pates do now wear Ch. Just. Sir John, I sent for you before your nothing but high shoes, and bunches of keys expedition to Shrewsbury. at their girdles; and if a man is thorough with them in honest taking up, then they must stand -upon security. I had as lief they would put ratsbane in my mouth, as offer to stop it with security. I looked he should have sent me two and twenty yards of satin, as I am a true knight, and he sends me security. Well, he may sleep in security; for he hath the horn of abundance, and the lightness of his wife shines through it and yet cannot he see, though he have his own lantern to light him.--Where's Bardolph ?
Page. He's gone into Smithfield, to buy your worship a horse.
Fal. I bought him in Paul's, and he'll buy me a horse in Smithfield: an I could get me but a wife in the stews, I were manned, horsed, and wived
Enter the LORD CHIEF JUSTICE ¶ and an
Page. Sir, here comes the nobleman that committed the prince for striking him about Bardolph.
Fal. Wait close, I will not see him.
Fa. Ant please your lordship, I hear his majesty is returned with some discomfort from
Ch. Just. I talk not' of his majesty :- You would not come when I sent for you. Fal. And I hear moreover, his highness is fallen into this same whoreson apoplexy.
Ch. Just. Well, heaven mend him! I pray, let me speak with you.
Fal. This apoplexy is, as I take it, a kind of lethargy, an't please your lordship; a kind of sleeping in the blood, a whoreson tingling.
Ch. Just. What tell you me of it? be it as
from study, and perturbation of the brain: I Fal. It hath its original from much grief: have read the cause of his effects in Galeu; it is a kind of deafness.
Ch. Just. I think, you are fallen into the disease; for you hear not what I say to you.
Fal. Very well, my lord, very well: rather, an't please you, it is the disease of not listening, the malady of not marking, that I am troubled
Ch. Just. To punish you by the heels, would amend the attention of your ears; and I care not, if I do become your physician.
Fal. I am as poor as Job, my lord, but not so patient your lordship may minister the potion of imprisonment to me, in respect of poverty; but how I should be your patient to follow your prescriptions, the wise may make some dram of a scruple, or, indeed, a scruple itself.
Ch. Just. I sent for you, when there were] John of Lancaster, against the archbishop and matters against you for your life, to come speak the earl of Northumberland. with me.
Fal. As I was then advised by my learned counsel in the laws of this land-service, I did
Ch. Just. Well, the truth is, Sir John, live in great infamy.
Fal. He that buckles him in my belt, not live in less.
Ch. Just. Your means are very slender, and your waste is great.
Fal. I would it were otherwise; I would means were greater, and my waist slenderer. Ch. Just. You have misled the youthful prince.
Fal. The young prince hath misled me: 1 am the fellow with the great belly, and he my dog. Ch. Just. Well, I am loath to gail a newhealed wound; your day's service at Shrewsbury hath a little gilded over your night's exploit on Gads-hill: you may thank the unquiet time for your quiet o'er-posting that action. Fal. My lord?
Ch. Just. But since all is well, keep it so: wake not a sleeping wolf.
Ful. To wake a wolf, is as bad as to smell a fox.
Ch. Just. What! you are as a candle, the ter part burnt out.
Fal. Yea; I thank your pretty sweet wit for it. But look you pray, all you that kiss my lady peace at home, that our armies join not in a hot day! for, by the Lord I take but two shirts out with me, and I mean not to sweat extraordinarily if it be a hot day, an I brandish any thing but my bottle, I would I might never spit white again. There is not a dangerous action can peep out his head, but I am thrust upon it: Well, I cannot last ever: But it was always yet the trick of our English nation, if they have a good thing, to make it too common. If you will needs say, I am an old man, you should give me rest. I would to God, my name were not so terrible to the enemy as it is. I were better to be eaten to death with rust, than to be scoured to nothing with perpetual motion.
Ch. Just. Well, be honest, be honest; And God bless your expedition!
Fal. Will your lordship lend me a thousand pound, to furnish me forth?
Ch. Just. Not a penny, not a penny; you are too impatient to bear crosses. Fare you well: Commend me to my cousin Westmoreland.
Exeunt CHIEF JUSTICE and ATTENDANT. Fal. If I do, fillip me with a three-man beetle. -A man can no more separate age and bet-covetousness, than he can part young limbs and lechery but the gout galls the one, and the pox pinches the other; and so both the degrees prevent my curses.-Boy!-Page. Sir?
Fal. A wassel candle, my lord; all tallow: if I did say of wax, ny growth would approve the truth.
Ch. Just. There is not a white hair on your face, but should have his effect of gravity. Fal. His effect of gravy, gravy, gravy. Ch. Just. You follow the young prince and down, like his ill angel.
Fal. What money is in my purse?
Fal. I can get no remedy against this consumption of the purse: borrowing only lingers and lingers it out, but the disease is incurable. is-Go, bear this letter to my lord of Lancaster; this to the prince; this to the earl of Westmoreland; and this to old mistress Ursula, whom I have weekly sworn to marry since I perceived the first white hair on my chin: About it; you know where to find me. [Exit PAGE.] A pox of this gout! or, a gout of this pox! for the one or the other plays the rogue with my great toe. It is no matter, if I do halt; I have the wars for my colour, and my pension shall seem the more reasonable: A good wit will make use of any thing; I will turn diseases to commodity.
Fal. Not so, my lord; your ill angel light; but, I hope, he that looks upon me, will take me without weighing: and yet, in some respects, I grant, I cannot go, I cannot tell Virtue is of so little regard in these costermonger times, that true valour is turned bear-herd: Pregnancy is made a tapster, and hath his quick wit wasted in giving reckonings: all the other gifts appertinent to man, as the malice of this age shapes them, are not worth a gooseberry. You, that are old, consider not the capacities of us that are young you measure the heat of our livers with the bitterness of your galls and we that are in the vaward of our youth, I must confess, are wags too.
Ch. Just. Do you set down your name in the scroll of youth, that are written down old with all the characters of age? Have you not a inoist eye? a dry hand? a yellow cheek? a white beard? a decreasing leg? an increasing belly? Is not your voice broken? your wind short? your chin double? your wit single? and every part about you blasted with antiquity? and will you yet call yourself young? Fie, fie, fie, Sir John!
Fal. My lord, I was born about three of the clock in the afternoon, with a white head, and something a round belly. For my voice,-I have lost it with hollaing, and singing of anthems. To approve my youth further, I will not: the truth is, I am only old in judgment and understanding; and he that will caper with me for 2 thousand marks, let him lend me the money, and have at him. For the box o'the car that the prince gave you,-he gave it like a rude prince, and you took it like a sensible lord. have checked him for it; and the young lion repents: marry, not in ashes and sackcloth; but in new silk and old sack.
Ch. Just. Well, heaven send the prince a better companion!
Fal. Heaven send the companion a better prince! I cannot rid my hands of him.
Hast. Our present musters grow upon the
Bard. The question then, lord Hastings,
Whether our present five and twenty thou
May hold up head without Northumberland.
A large wooden hammer so heavy as to require
Ch. Just. Well, the king hath severed you and