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his nose;" and who, as his master tions which are implied in the term remarks, « but for the light in his « gentleman," as the word was receivface, would be the son of utter dark- ed in its better days, yet he had many ness:" and to close the catalogue, which were not consistent with mere mine hostess of the Boar's Head ribaldry and buffoonery. If we have Tavern in Eastcheap, good mistress an eye merely to his imperfections, Quickly; Francis with his everlasting which are no criterion of rank in cry of « Anon, anon, sir!" the “ gee society, our opinion of him will be nius of famine," master Robert Shal. mean and inadequate. He is reprelow; and Justice Silence, whom, as sented as a “ captain of foot," intisir John told him, “it well befitted mate with men of the first title and to be of the peace;" with the ever- authority, and, as may be inferred memorable list of Gloucestershire re. from the scenes into which he is cruits. Amongst all these interesting introduced, as likewise from his bepersonages, however, he who most haviour to the lord chief justice, attracts our notice, and best repays could value himself as highly as any our attention, is sir John Falstaff. of his friends. In the character of aip vüs, pogues To, .
companion to the prince, however Αρνεία μεν γαγε εισχω πηγεσ μαλλο.
unworthy he must, in the eyes of
Il. iii 197. the world have been thought deserv. Nor do those persons do him justice, ing of some attention, I will not say who regard him as a character respect; for it is in vain that we look whose sole constituents are vice and for any virtues in him, calculated to low buffoonery. This was not the inspire us with any thing like reve. intention of Shakspeare. Those who rence. Those who might despise are possessed of a natural vein of them both for their vices, must humour, no less than those who remember that Hal was heir to the constantly affect it, will sometimes crown, and that Falstaff was made detect themselves in a strain of companion to the future hero of u quips and cranks," whose object is Agincourt. The polite attentions of " to set on some quantity of barren master Shallow to his old acquaintspectators to laugh.” Falstaff's wit ance, sir John, which may be accountis often, it must be confessed, of an ed for without any upcommon illegitimate kind; yet the general sagacity, were returned in a mancharacter of his pleasantry, and the ner consistent with the avarice of good sense so frequently sparkling the latter, that would now be deno from under his singular quaintness, minated by the rude name of “swindprove that the poet intended him to ling." Yet the shadow of worthy have the credit of considerable abilis affection existed in sir John, as we ties, however unusual or misem- see throughout his conduct. He ployed. To cancel the imputation of ascribes his fondness for Poins to perpetual buffoonery, an idea origin a singular cause: « I am bewitched ating in the misconception of those with the rogue's company. If the who personate him on the stage, or rascal has not given me medicines would paint him like Bunbury, we to make me love him, I'll be hanged; must recollect that, although he pos- it could not be else.”* But the affecsessed none of those recommenda. tion of the prince for sir John Fal
I were with him wheresome'er he is, either in heaven or in hell!" The same insight into his character is given by another singular expression. When the prince tells Falstaff of his favour with his father, Falstaff recommends the robbery of the exchequer: “ Rob me the exchequer, Hal, and do it with unwashed hands too?" Bardolph, pleased with the proposal, instantly seconds it with, “Do, my lord!”
* This and a number of other characteristick and unobjectionable passages, are injudiciously omitted in the play as represented on our theatres. I fancy these omissione
staff is more easily explained, and nerves of the audience. They are though manifest in the whole inter- delighted to see what they seem to course between them, is more feel themselves to have known in com. ingly described by the poet in the mon life, and to find their acquain. prince's lamentation for his loss, tance precisely what they imagined when he views him extended for him to be. Falstaff's character is dead in the field of battle: “ What! seen at once; he conceals no darker old acquaintance, could not all this features than those exhibited on his desh keep in a little life? Poor Jack! first introduction; and however Farewell! I could have better spared reprehensible in his vices, he seems a better man! Oh! I should have willing to trust them to the mercy a heavy miss of thee, if I were much of his frail audience. This is natural, in love with vanity."
but it is no extenuation of crime. Indeed, we must think more hum. The prepossession in favour of such bly of the prince's judgment and men arises from the love of truth good sense than we are justified in and sincerity implanted in us by nadoing from his known character, if ture (not to mention the secret tri. we suppose that he did not observe bute paid to our vanity and self-love some amiable features in the man on such occasions) and every one, with whom the poet makes him at some period or other of his life, spend the greater part of his time, must have felt it extorted from him. and for whom he procured a Such a man is Falstaff. Superlatively ** charge of foot.” Similarity, in vitious and reprobate, he never apsome degree, of dispositions, might pears without exposing some darling be thought a sufficient cause; but excess or evil propensity. Yet, in where there was not a single praise. spite of all this, his habits savour so worthy object of mutual affection, much of every-day profligacy, and the poet would not so have erred his promises of reform and repenagainst human nature as to have tance are so frequent, that we can. represented a friendship. The in- not help feeling, against our better consistency of the prince's future judgment, something like partiality. conduct to him, while it reflects As in the beautiful paintings of somewhat of ingratitude on his poeti. objects in themselves ugly or con. cal memory, was certainly neces. teinptible, such as are observable sary, and tended to the retrieving of in the works of Murillo, Schalkens, his character in the publick mind. Hemskerck, and the greater part of
But to solve all difficulties on the Flemish school, the attention is this head, it will be requisite only forcibly drawn from the considerato select a single trait in this mot- tion of the minute parts and their ley personage, which will ever awa. deformity, and rests with pleasure ken a partiality for him in every on the natural colours, or striking audience. The poet, to counterba proportions, of the "whole; so, in a lance his thirst of gold, and his more full view of the character of Falstaff, serious vices, has given him an insi. his vices seem completely in the nuating air of frankness and simpli. back-ground. There is a charm, city of manners. It may be observed which withholds the spectator from that in the first scene of his appear the contemplation of them. Still, ance, you see a man from whom however, they are of no inconsider. every subsequent part of his history able magnitude; and it may well be might be expected. The nature objected, that moral propriety, which displayed in this is too much for the can never be too much attended to
were made by Colley Cibber: if so, they do him as much credit for pocticed feeling as his own tragedies.
n dramatick composition, has been and they are for the town's-end to infringed, seriously, by giving inward beg during life.” turpitude to so alluring a disguise. Thus all his faults and imperfec. Besides his avarice, cruelty, and tions are so well depicted, and so voluptuousness, he has the glaring effectually made the objects of defaults of a liar, a drunkard, and a rision, that we can scarcely refrain robber. But, in palliation of all from loving the company of the man this, you must hear his message to who affords us so much diversion Mrs. Ford: “ Bid her think what at his own expense. For we find he man is; let her consider his frailty, has always so much grace left as to and then judge of my merit." His be continually pleading and pro. remarkable cowardice is an essential claiming his purposes of reform. part of his character, and obliges us In one place he says: “I must give to remove our attention to the poet. over this life, and I will give it It is a trite and indisputable truth, over;" and adds, “I'll be damned that fortitude is the offspring of for never a king's son in Christennone but virtuous principles. This dom.” So he tells Bardolph he feature of his character, therefore, will repent, and that quickly, while while it is closely natural, the poet he is in some « liking," &c. and, in observed would likewise prove an his letter to the prince, he gives him endless source of ridicule and this advice: « Repent at idle times amusement to the audience. How as thou may'st, and so farewell." Judicrous is it to see this egregious This is, indeed, holding the mirror liar, who insists that “manhood, up to Nature. Those who have good manhood, will be forgotten most reason to reform their habits, upon the earth, when he dies," talk' violently of their resolutions, standing at a respectful distance, and are ever last to execute them. while his fellows are plundering the The same opportunities of indulpoor pilgrims, and exclaiming gence recur, and always find the « Strike! Down with them! Cut the same complying weakness. This is villains' throats!" with all the energy specifically exemplified where sir of a bloodthirsty hero. Or who can John makes a long parade of his refuse a smile, when he hears him penitence; and, after he has finished, request the prince, in the camp at is asked by the prince: “Where Shrewsbury, in this ignoble form of shall we take a purse to morrow, words: “ Hal, if thou see me down Jack?” and the hoary sinner answers: in the battle, and bestride me, so; « Where thou wilt lad, I'll make 'tis a point of friendship?” Even his one; an I don't, call me villain, and detestable cruelty, is rendered laugh- baffle me.” able, where he observes of his poor He has, however, in a manner, no scare-crows, with whom he was unnecessary or superfluous vices. ashamed to walk through Coventry, They are all the natural excrescen“ I have led my ragamuffins where ces of his character. We may be they are pepper'd: there's not three inclined to connive at his “drinking of my hundred and fifty left alive, old sack," " unbuttoning after sup.
• It is to be remembered that robbers, at that time of day, were very differently received in society from what they are at present. It could not be otherwise, when the example began around the king's person, by courtiers who pleaded in justification the scantiness of their allowance from their royal master. This made it a " vocation," as sir Julm calls it, of less publick disgrace. Matthew Paris mentions two merchants of Brabant, in the time of Henry UI. who complained of an open robbery in the middle of the day, and after much trouble the perpetrators were discovered to be men of rank at court. Yet even then“ resolution was fobbed by the rusty curb of old father Anück, the law," for no less than thirty of them were hanged.
per," and « sleeping upon benches it. If the definition of wit is just, at noon," because he tells us «he that it discovers real congruities not has more flesh, and therefore more before apparent (and to me it apfrailty;" and we may allow him to pears a very just one) the effusions ask: Shall I not take mine ease of Falstaff are, in most instances, in mine inn?" but no indulgence entitled to that name. It would be must blind us to his real faults, and useless to demonstrate what is selfhe must be reprobated for too often evident in every scene of his ap
leaving the fear of God upon the pearance. Much of his wit, so called, left hand;" in his dishonesty. to however, is of another description, Dame Quickly, and Master Shallow; and arises from his assigning wrong for his enormous lies and obsceni. causes, which, from their seeming ties; and the vices consequent upon probability and relation, produce the his avarice. Hence, the exhibition same effects as the bulls attributed of such a character to a young per- to the Irish. son, should be attended always with The effects of wit upon the hear. an admonition to distinguish between ers, are generally favourable. In the fascinations of poetry, and the addition to its known influence upon depravity which it may seem to ex- the muscles, which are never so tenuate, by the beauty of the resem- moved without a degree of pleasure, blance to nature.*
it opens a new source of gratifica¢ But, it is astonishing how much tion, by flattering our vanily. We the attention is drawn aside from feel almost as though we ourselves these dark parts of his character, by were the authors of it, when we his wit and incessant humour. I give ourselves the credit of underbefore hinted to you, that there are standing and experiencing its full persons who value his wit no more force. It is, perhaps, from this cause than the jests and scurrilities of a likewise, that we look with favour on buffoon; who look upon him as no the more objectionable parts and better than the clowns in Twelfth profligacies of this « gray iniquity," Night, and, As You like it; and who sir John. The man who would win conceive that the same degree of upon our affections, or rather our talents would be requisite to per- partiality, cannot do better than to sonate them all. To these Falstaff address hiinself to our self-love. might answer in his own words: This kept alive the prince's affection "Men of all sorts take a pride to for Falstaff; and continues to exgird at me; the brain of this foolish- cite in us the same favourable sencompounded clay, man, is not able timents. to produce any thing that tends to Having said thus « much in be. laughter, more than I invent, or is half of that Falstaff,” I cannot help invented on me. I am not only adverting to the prospect of a New witty myself, but the cause that wit Theatre. Whatever may be the inis in other men." Contrary to the tended plan of such an establishfashion of Shakspeare's age, Fal- ment, I am sure the lovers of rationstaff's wit is, for the most part, pure al amusement (for if it ceases to be and sterling; and often supported rational, it had better cease altothrough a whole soliloquy. Few gether) look forward to a long men can read half a dozen lines of wished for reformation in theatrical any of them, without acknowledging representation. I am far from think
ing it fastidious pedantry, to con- and inexperienced part of the audio demn, with very few exceptions, the ence; and the familiarizing all with whole mass of modern dramatick words and actions at which they poetry.
ought to shudder. Let us, there. It has mistaken the plan, the fore, hope, that the theatre now in means, and the end, of such compo- contemplation to be erected, will sitions. The plots, intrigues, and give the lie to those who think procharacters, of these plays, are either priety and popular amusement inbad imitations of originals, unneces. compatible. The first step towards sarily neglected, grotesque tran- this will be the formation of an “Inscrips from low life, or they are so dex Expergatorius," containing the unnatural and unmeaning, as to dis- names of plays not to be represented gust even the criticks of the gallery. on any terms, and the names of As to the means, I believe no one those which shall be prohibited, ever thought of fixing in his memory « donec corrigantur.” It is absurd a single line or sentiment of these to imagine that we want new plays: plays, for the instruction contained we have already a great sufficiency. in them; and with regard to their whose merits have been approved. wit, none but raw apprentices would Let these, and these only, find adever consider them worth repetition. mission on our new stage; and when But, to the publick are these authors the evening's amusement is announamenable for their deviation from ced, every man will know whether he the great end of dramatick writing. may safely indulge his children, of I am not inclined to cant, when I introduce a female, where, as the declare my abhorrence of the oaths, stage is now constituted, common obscenities, immoralities; nay, of prudence fordids their appearance. the solemn addresses and prayers to Much more might be advanced the Deity, which are without number upon the regulation of such a theatre, so perniciously introduced. This which, if I had influence to effect, it may be called stage-effect. The should be almost exclusively a only effect I know of from such re- Shakspeare theatre. presentations and expressions, is
A. B. E. the gradual depravity of the ignorant
FROM THE EUROPEAN MAGAZINE. OBSERVATIONS ON THE NEWLY DISCOVERED ART OF PRINTING
WITH STONE. IT will probably be in the recol. a minute inspection and deep conlection of many of our readers, at templation of the engravings, stated, least we will endeavour to bring the that there was a coarseness in the circumstance to their knowledge, art, or rather in the material upon that, in our review of that splendid which it was practised, which only and truly ingenious work, “The Anti- adapted it to the production of large quities of Westminster, by John Tho. works; at the same time we admitmas Smith,' a method of drawing and ted, that it included properties caengraving on STONE, invented and pable of great improvement. This practised by Mr. Aloys Senefelder, improvement has, we understand, is mentioned, and two specimens of been in progress, and learn that exthe different methods of increasing periments have been made, and are copies alluded to. We there, al. now making, that afford the prosthough we allowed the discovery to pect of very considerable advantage have been extremely curious, from to the arts in general, and to those