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Enter CHORUS.

O, for a muse of fire, that would ascend The brightest heaven of invention!? A kingdom for a stage, princes to act, And monarchs to behold the swelling scene! Then should the warlike Harry, like himself, Assume the port of Mars; and, at his heels, Leash'd in like hounds, should famine, sword, and

fire, Crouch for employment. But pardon, gentles all, The flat unraised spirit, that hath dar'd, On this unworthy scaffold, to bring forth So great an object: Can this cockpit hold The vasty fields of France? or may we cram Within this wooden 0;} the very casques, That did affright the air at Agincourt? O, pardon! since a crooked figure may Attest, in little place, a million; And let us, ciphers to this great accompt, On your imaginary forces' work: Suppose, within the girdle of these walls

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'0, for a muse of fire, &c.] This goes, says Warburton, upon the notion of the Peripatetic system, which imagines several hea. vens one above another ; the last and highest of which was one of fire. It alludes likewise to the aspiring nature of fire, which, by its levity, at the separation of the chaos, took the highest seat of all the elements. Johnson.

· princes to act, And monarchs to behold -) Shakspeare does not seem to set distance enough between the performers and spectators.

3 Within this wooden 0,] An allusion to the theatre where this history was exhibited, being, from its circular form, called The Globe.

the very casques,] The helmets. s- imaginary forces - Imaginary for imaginative, or your powers of fancy. Active and passive words are by this author frequently confounded. Johnson.

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Are now confin'd two mighty monarchies,
Whose high upreared and abutting fronts
The perilous, narrow ocean parts asunder.
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Into a thousand parts divide one man,
And make imaginary puissance:6
Think, when we talk of horses, that you see them

rinting their proud hoofs i’ the receiving earth:
For 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our

kings,
Carry them here and there; jumping o'er times;
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass; For the which supply,
Admit me chorus to this history;
Who, prologue-like, your humble patience pray,

, Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.

And make imaginary puissance :) This shows that Shakspeare was fully sensible of the absurdity of showing battles on the theatre, which, indeed, is never done, but tragedy becomes farce. Nothing can be represented to the eye, but by something like it, and within a wooden , nothing very like a battle can be exhibited.

KING HENRY V.

ACT I.

SCENE J. London.

London. An Ante-chamber in the

King's Palace.

Enter the Archbishop of Canterbury,' and Bishop of

Elys Cant. My lord, I'll tell you,—that self bill is

urg'd, Which, in the eleventh year o' the last king's reign Was like, and had indeed against us pass’d, But that the scambling and unquiet time Did push it out of further question.

Ely. But how, my lord, shall we resist it now?

Cant. It must be thought on. If it pass against us, We lose the better half of our possession: For all the temporal lands, which men devout By testament have given to the church, Would they strip from us; being valued thus,As much as would maintain, to the king's honour, Full fifteen earls, and fifteen hundred knights ; Six thousand and two hundred good esquires; And, to relief of lazars, and weak age, Of indigent faint souls, past corporal toil,

1 of Canterbury,) Henry Chicheley, a Carthusian monk, recently promoted to the see of Canterbury.

Ely.) John Fordham, consecrated 1388; died 1426.

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Corea thaars, Yuri wenu majonit fath been all-in-ail his study: Lanthidunne, of war, and you shall hear A fearful trattle render'd you in musick: Turn hinn wo any cause of policy, 'Il Cordian knot of it he will unloose, Vanniliur an hiu garter; that, when he speaks,

Nner rume reformation in a flood,] Alluding to the method by www steroolen cleanud the famous stables, when he turned a vive through them, Hercules still is in our author's head, when I mention the Hydra. Johnson.

The air, a charter'd libertine, is still,
And the mute wonder lurketh in men's ears,
To steal his sweet and honeyed sentences;
So that the art and practick part of life
Must be the mistress to this theorick:
Which is a wonder, how his grace should glean it,
Since his addiction was to courses vain:
His companies' unletter'd, rude, and shallow;
His hours fill'd up with riots, banquets, sports;
And never noted in him any study,
Any retirement, any sequestration
From open haunts and popularity.*

Ely. The strawberry grows underneath the nettle;
And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best,
Neighbour'd by fruit of baser quality:
And so the prince obscur'd his contemplation
Under the veil of wildness; which, no doubt,
Grew like the summer grass, fastest by night,
Unseen, yet crescive in his faculty.”

Cant. It must be so: for miracles are ceas'd ;
And therefore we must needs admit the means,
How things are perfected.
Ely.

But, my good lord,
How now for mitigation of this bill
Urg'd by the commons? Doth his majesty

The air, &c.] This line is exquisitely beautiful. * So that the art and practick part of life -] He discourses with so much skill on all subjects, that the art and practice of life must be the mistress or teacher of his theorick; that is, that his theory must have been taught by art and practice; which, says he, is strange, since he could see little of the true art or practice among his loose companions, nor ever retired to digest his practice into theory. Art is used by the author for practice, as distinguished from science or theory. Johnson.

companies -] is here used for companions. It is used by other authors of Shakspeare's age in the same sense.

- popularity.] i. e. plebeian intercourse; an unusual sense of the word.

crescive in his faculty.) Increasing in its proper power.

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