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horse, levied contributions all over selves half an hour in the post of the country, spreading dismay, and Denain, I had been in time. So I declaring that I was at his heels with had calculated, supposing matters my army. It was then that he is re. at the worst, had I even been de. ported to have said: “ If Landrecyceived by the manoeuvre of Villars. is taken, I will put myself at the .. I found only eight hundred men, head of my nobility, and perish ra- and three or four generals drowned ther than see my kingdom lost." in the Scheldt; and all those who Would he have done so ? I cannot had been surprised in the intrenchtell. He wanted once to leave the ments, killed without making any trench, but was dissuaded. Henry defence. Albemarle, and all the IV. was formerly advised the con- princes and generals in the Dutch trary. He made the sign of the cross, service, were taken prisoners, while and remained where he was. endeavouring to rally their troops.
Villars thinking himself not strong The conduct of the former was reenough to attack me, as I had ho- presented in very black colours to ped he would, attempted the deli- the states-general. I wrote to Heinverance of Denain in another way. sius, the pensionary: “It would be I have mentioned my vexation re- my province, sir, to throw the faults specting the magazines at Marchi- or the disasters of that day on the ennes, upon which depended the earl of Albemarle, if I had a single continuation of the siege. Two reproach to make him. He behaved leagues of ground were too much like a man of honour; but I defy the for the Dutch corps. Had it not ablest general to extricate himself, been for the defection of the En- when his troops, after a vile, disglish, they might have been defend- charge, ignominiously run away. ed. The following circumstance de. Your obstinacy in leaving your maa' monstrated the talents of Villars, gazines at Marchiennes, is the and a kind of fault with which I had cause of all this. Assure their high to reproach myself
. To conceal a mightinesses of the truth of what I movement made on his left toward write you, of my dissatisfaction and the Scheldt, with the greatest pos- profound mortification." sible secrecy and celerity, he, with I was obliged to raise the siege his right, drew my attention to Lan- of Landrecy, and to approach Mons, drecy, as if he designed to attack for the purpose of subsisting my the lines of countervallation. All at army; so that I could not prevent once he drew back his right towards Villars from retaking Douay, Queshis left, which during the night had noi, and Bouchain. easily formed bridges, as the Scheldt I often examine myself with the is not wide at this place. These two utmost possible strictness. It ap. wings united, advanced unknown to pears to me, that if I had placed the earl of Albemarle, who attempte twenty battalions more in the lines, ed with his cavalry, but in vain, to which would have been necessary to fight what had passed. He relied defend them,Villars, who was strongupon me, but I reckoned upon )
him. er than I, would then have beaten On the first firing of his artillery, I me. Out of the lines, posted as I marched to his succour, with a was, I provided for every contingenstrong detachment of dragoons, at cy. Could I expect that an hour, at full trot, intending to make them the utmost, more or less, would be disonount, if necessary, and followed decisive of my glory, of the war, by my infantry, which came up at a and of the salvation of France ? The quick pace. The cowardice of the artillery of the lines, which were Dutch rendered my efforts unavail- thickly planted with it, ought alone ing. Had they but maintained them to have given me time to have come
up. Instead of being well served, it of songs at Paris. Here is one which was abandoned in as cowardly a man- I thought pretty, because it gives my ner as the intrenchments. The two history in very few words: faults which I committed, were not disregarding the remonstrances of Eugene, opening the campaign, the deputies respecting Marchien- Swore with air most furious, nes, and confiding a post of such
He'd march straightway to Champagne, importance to their troops, the flow
To swig our wines so curious.
The Dutchman for this journey gay er of which had perished at Mal- His cheese to Marchienne sent away; plaquet.
But Villars, fir'd with glory, cried: It may easily be supposed, that I “Faith, where you are you'd better bide; was the subject of criticism at Vi. Scheldt's muddy water is, I think, enna, London, and the Hague, and Quite good enough for you to drink."
ON THE CHARACTER OF SIR JOHN FALSTAFF.
(Continued from Vol. 4. page 408] THE plays in which we should Henry IV. are, beyond a doubt, the contemplate the character of Fal- most diversified, in point of characstaff, are the two Parts of Henry IV. ter and language, of any of the We see him again, indeed, in the historical plays of our great drama“Merry Wives of Windsor,” and tist. Who does not marshal in his with great satisfaction; but he is in mind the spirits of “ that same mad fetters. He might say of himself, fellow of the north, Percy;" “ of him as after the exploit at Gadshill: of Wales, that gave Amaimon the “ Am not I fallen away? do not I bastinado, Owen Glendower;" and bate? do not I dwindle? Why my skin « his son-in-law, Mortimer; and old hangs about me like an old lady's Northumberland; and the sprightly loose gown!" His meanderings are Scot of Scots, Douglas?” Who canreduced to a straight course, and not paint to himself that goodly, we scarcely recognise the beauty of portly man, sir John;" the chief justhe stream. Our memorable queen, tice (sir William Gascoigne); and when she requested to see Falstaff that whóreson mad compound of in love, appears to me (to use a vul- majesty, prince Henry, who, as he gar but pertinent expression) to have himself observes, had sounded the mistaken her man." Eccentricity very base-string of humility?" Or, of affection was expected; and, as who cannot conjure up the manes of might have been foreseen, we are the knight's myrmidons, swaggering presented only with his avarice. Pistol,*
* Poins, Peto, and honest But to return; the two parts of Bardolph,t " whose zeal burned in
* Pistol is a very remarkable character. He seems to be ranting spouter of sentences and hard words, unconnected and unintelligible; and was introduced by Shakspeare for the purpose of ridiculing the bombast absurdities of his cotemporary dramatick writers. If this was really the object of the character, it must have had a wonderful effect at its first performance, when the plays of Cophetua, Battle of Alcazer, Tamburlain's Conquests, &c. from all which Pistol makes quotations, were before the publick. It strikes me, likewise, as a very ingenious method of silencing the whole train of envious scribblers which his genius would otherwise have brought upon his own back.
+ The character of Bardolph is one of those bold dashes of the pencil, which our great painter from nature so frequently exhibits. His great attachment to Falstaff is admirably described. When he is told of the knight's death, he exclaimo: “Would VOL. y.
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 “ge- 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 ofGloucestershire re. from the scenes into which he is cruits. Amongst all these interesting introduced, as likewise from his be. personages, 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 ανηρ νϋς, μεγας τε,
companion to the prince, however Αρνείω μεν έγωγε εισχω πηγεσ μαλλω." .' unworthy he must, in the eyes
of II. iii. 197. the world have been thought desery. 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 reveintention 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 “quips and cranks," whose object is Agincourt. The polite attentions of s 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 uncommon 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 denofrom under his singular quaintness, minated by the rude name of“ swind. prove that the poet intended him to ling." Yet the shadow of worthy have the credit of considerable abili- affection existed in sir John, as ties, however unusual or misem- see throughout his conduct. He ployed. 1'o 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 recommendą. tion of the prince for sir John Fal
! 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 Jalstaff 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 in, judiciously omitted in the play as represented on our theatres. I fancy these omissions
staff is more easily, explained, and nerves of the audience. They are though manifest in the whole intere delighted to see what they seem to course between them, is more feel themselves to have known in comingly described by the poet in the mon life, and to find their acquainprince's lamentation for his loss, tance precisely what they imagined when he views him extended for him to be. Falstaff's character iş dead in the field of battle: « What! at once; he conceals no darker old acquaintance, could not all this features than those exhibited on his Besh 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 ús 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 ap: some 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 concal memory, was certainly neces. temptible, 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 man from whom however, they are of no inconsiderevery 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 bim u muph credit for poetical feeling as his own tragedien.
in 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 imperfecBesides his avarice, cruelty, and tions are so well depicted, and so voluptuousness, he has the glaring effectually made the objects of de. faults 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 proremarkable 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 Christen. none 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." ludicrous 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 tomorrow, 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-clows, 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
• Lt 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 Jolin calls it, of less publick disgrace. Matthew Paris mentions two merchants of Brabant, in the time of Henry Ifr. who complained of an open robbery in the middle of the day, and after mucli trouble the perpetrators were discovered to be men of rank et court. Yet even then resolution was fobbed by the rusty cub of old father An. tick, the law," for no less than thirty of them were hanged.