Page images
PDF
EPUB

Exton, From

your own mouth, my lord, did I this deed. Boling. They love not poison that do poison need, Nor do I thee; though I did wish him dead, I hate the murderer, love him murdered. The guilt of conscience take thou for thy labour, But neither my good word, nor princely favour: With Cain go wander through the shade of night, And never show thy head by day nor light.Lords, I protest, my soul is full of woe, That blood should sprinkle me, to make me grow: Come, mourn with me for what I do lament, And put on sullen black incontinent 4 : I'll make a voyage to the Holy Land, To wash this blood off from my guilty hand :March sadly after; grace my mournings here, In weeping after this untimely bier. [Exeunt.

Immediately.

4

This play is one of those which Shakspeare has apparently revised; but as success in works of invention is not always proportionate to labour, it is not finished at last with the happy force of some other of his tragedies, nor can it be said much to affect the passions, or enlarge the understanding. JOHNSON.

[merged small][merged small][graphic]

Hotspur. 0, Harry, thou hast robb’d me of my youth.

Act v. Sc. 4.

FROM THE CHISWICK PRESS.

1826.

FIRST PART OF

King Henry the Fourth.

<

PRELIMINARY REMARKS. * SHAKSPEARE has apparently designed a regular connection of these dramatic histories, from Richard the Second to Henry the Fifth. King Henry, at the end of Richard the Second, declares his purpose to visit the Holy Land, which he resumes in the first speech of this play. The complaint made by King Henry, in the last act of King Richard the Second, of the wildness of his son, prepares the reader for the frolics which are here to be recounted, and the characters to be exhibited.'--JOHNSON.

The historical dramas of Shakspeare have indeed become the popular history. Vain attempts have been made by Walpole to vindicate the character of King Richard JII, and in later times by Mr. Luders, to prove that the youthful dissipation ascribed to King Henry V. is without foundation. The arguments are probable, and ingeniously urged, but we still cling to our early notions of that mad cap—that same sword and buckler Prince of Wales.” No plays were ever more read, nor does the inimitable, all-powerful genius of the poet ever shine out more than in the two parts of King Henry IV. which may be considered as one long drama divided.

It has been said tható Falstaff is the summit of Shakspeare's comic invention,' and we may consequently add the most inimitable comic character ever delineated; for who could invent like Shakspeare? Falstaff is now to us hardly a creature of the imagination, he is so definitely and distinctly drawn, that the mere reader of these dramas has the complete impression of a personal acquaintance. He is surrounded by a group of comic personages, from time to time, each of which would have been sufficient to throw any ordinary creation into the shade, but they only serve to make the supereminent humour of the knight doubly conspicuous. What can come nigher to truth and real individual nature than those admirable delineations Shallow and Silence ? How irresistibly comic are all the scenes in which Falstaff is made to humour the fatuity and vanity of this precious pair !

The historic characters are delineated with a felicity and individuality not inferior in any respect. Harry Percy is a creation of the first order; and our favourite harebrained Prince of Wales, in whom mirthful pleasantry and midnight dissipation are mixed up with heroic dignity and generous feeling, is a rival worthy of him. Owen Glendower is another personification, managed with the most consummate skill; and the graver cha

racters are sustained and opposed to each other in a manner peculiar to our great poet alone.

The transactions contained in the First Part of King Henry IV. are comprised within the period of about ten months; for the action commences with the news brought of Hotspur having defeated the Scots under Archibald Earl of Douglas, at Holmedon (or Halidown Hill), which battle was fought on Holy-rood day (the 14th of September) 1402; and it closes with the battle of Shrewsbury, on Saturday the 21st of July, 1403.

Malone places the date of the composition of this play in 1597; Dr. Drake in 1596. It was first entered at Stationers' Hall February 25, 1597. There are no less than five quarto editions published during the author's life, viz. in 1598, 1599, 1604, 1608, 1613. For the piece which is supposed to have been its original the reader is referred to the Six Old Plays on which Shakspeare founded, &c. published by Steevens and Nichols.

PERSONS REPRESENTED.

} Friends to the King.

KING HENRY THE FOURTH.
HENRY, Prince of Wales,

Sons to the King.
Prince John of Lancaster,
Earl of Westmoreland,
SIR WALTER BLUNT,
THOMAS PERCY, Earl of Worcester.
HENRY PERCY, Earl of Northumberland.
HENRY PERCY, surnamed Hotspur, his Son.
EDWARD MORTIMER, Earl of March.
Scroop, Archbishop of York.
ARCHIBALD, Earl of Douglas.
Owen GLENVOWER.
SIR RICHARD VERNON.
SIR JOHN FALSTAFF.
Poins. GADSHILL.
PETO. BARDOLPH.
LADY Percy, Wife to Hotspur, and Sister to Mortimer.
LADY MORTIMER, Daughter to Glendower, and Wife to

Mortimer. Mrs. QUICKLY, Hostess of a Tavern in Eastcheap. Lords, Officers, Sheriff, Vintner, Chamberlain, Drawers, two Carriers, Travellers, and Attendants.

SCENE, England.

« PreviousContinue »