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Philosophy cannot better set forth the superior danger of a rebellion sanctified by the Church, than by the following words of Morton.
The gentle Archbishop of York is up
With well appointed powers. He is a man,
Turns insurrection to religion:
Suppos'd sincere and holy in his thoughts,
He's follow'd both with body and with mind,
Nor can the indecency of a prelate's appearing in arms, and the abuse of an authority derived from the sacred function, be more strongly arraigned, than in the speeches of Westmorland, and John of Lancaster.
Then, my lord,
Unto your grace do I in chief address
The substance of my speech. If that rebellion
Of base and bloody insurrection,
With your fair honours. You, my lord archbishop,
Whose see is by a civil peace maintain'd,
Whose beard the silver hand of peace hath touch'd,
Wherefore do you so ill translate yourself
My lord of York, it better shew'd with you,
Your exposition on the holy text;
It is ev'n so. Who hath not heard it spoken,
How deep you were within the books of Heav'n
To us, the speaker in his parliament,
To us, th' imagin'd voice of Heav'n itself,
As a false favourite doth his prince's name,
The subjects of his substitute, my father;
The Archbishop of York, even when he appears an iron man, keeps up the gravity and seeming sanctity of his character, and wears the mitre over his helmet. He is not, like Hotspur, a valiant rebel, full of noble anger and fierce defiance: he speaks like a cool politician to his friends, and like a deep designing hypocrite to his enemies, and pretends he is only acting as physician to the state.
I have before observed, that Shakspeare had the talents of an orator, as much as of a poet; and I believe it will be allowed, that the speeches of Westmorland and Lancaster are as proper on this occasion, and the particular circumstances as happily touched, as they could have been by the most judicious.
orator. I know not that any poet, ancient or modern, has shewn so perfect a judgment in rhetoric as our countryman. I wish he had employed his eloquence likewise, in arraigning the baseness and treachery of John of Lancaster's conduct, in breaking his covenant with the rebels.
Pistol is an odd kind of personage, intendcd probably to ridicule some fashionable affectation of bombast language. When such characters exist no longer but in the writings, where they have been ridiculed, they seem to have been monsters of the poet's brain. The originals lost and the mode forgotten, one can neither praise the imitation, nor laugh at the ridicule. Comic writers should therefore always exhibit some characteristic distinctions, as well as temporary modes. Justice Shallow will for ever rank with a certain species of men; he is like a well-painted portrait in the dress of his age. Pistol appears a mere antiquated habit, so uncouthly fashioned, we can hardly believe, it was made for any thing but a masquerade