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wicked; and when the occasion forces out his latent qualities, he is great without effort, and brave without tumult: the trifler is roused into a hero, and the hero again reposes in the trifler. This character is great, original, and just.
• Percy is a rugged soldier, choleric and quarrelsome, and has only the soldier's virtues, generosity and courage.
• But 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 satirises in their absence those whom he lives by flattering. He 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 gaiety; 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.
• The moral to be drawn from this representation is, that no man is more dangerous than he, that, with a will to corrupt, hath the power to please ; and that neither wit nor honesty ought to think themselves safe with such a companion, when they see Henry seduced by Falstaff.'
After the defeat and death of Hotspur at Shrewsbury, the king
despatches his son Prince John of Lancaster and the earl of Westmoreland, at the head of a large army, to encounter the northern insurgents, under the command of Scroop, archbishop of York. The two armies meet at Gualtree Forest in Yorkshire, where Prince John, unwilling to hazard a general engagement, invites the discontented chieftains to a conference, with whom he concludes a treaty, promising a full redress of their alleged grievances, and stipulating for a dismissal of the troops on either side. The royalist forces however receive secret instructions, and, by an unparalleled act of perfidy, are commanded to destroy the disbanded insurgents, while the archbishop and his coadjutors are led to immediate execution. In the mean time, Prince Henry is summoned from the society of his dissipated companions to attend the death-bed of his father, whom he finds in a Swoon,
with the crown on his pillow. Judging him to have breathed his last, the prince removes the diadem ;-an act, which incurs the bitter reproaches of the king when he awakes : bis son justifies his conduct to the satisfaction of the dying monarch ; and no sooner assumes the regal dig. nity, than he dismisses for ever from his presence sir John Falstaff and the companions of his youthful excesses, and resolves to signalise bis reign by the splendor of his achieve. ments and the virtues of his character.
KING HENRY THE FOURTH.
V.) duke of Bedford ;
Henry V.) duke of Gloster;
enemies to the king.
Lords and other Attendants; Officers, Soldiers, Messenger,
Drawers, Beadles, Grooms, &c.
Warkworth. Before Northumberland's castle.
Enter RUMOR, painted full of tongues. Ru. Open your ears; for which of
you The vent of hearing, when loud Rumor speaks ? 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 : And who but Rumor, who but only I, Make fearful musters, and prepared defence ; Whilst the big year, swoln with some other grief, Is thought with child by the stern tyrant war, And no such matter? Rumor is a pipe Blown by surmises, jealousies, conjectures; And of so easy and so plain a stop, That the blunt monster with uncounted heads, The still-discordant wavering multitude, Can play upon it. But what need I thus My well-known body to anatomise