fion to urge him on the fubject. To this effeminate courtier (fays he)

I then, all smarting with my wounds being cold,
Out of my grief and my impatience

To be so pefter'd with a popingjoy,
Answer'd neglectingly-I know not what.

Thus has the poet divested the rebel of the hateful crimes of premeditated revolt and deep-laid treachery. He is hurried by an impetuofity of foul out of the sphere of obedience, and, like a comet, though dangerous to the general fyftem, he is still an object of admiration and wonder to every beholder. It is marvellous that Shakespear from bare chronicles, coarse hiftory, and traditional tales, could thus extract the wifdom and caution of the politician Henry, and catch the fire of the martial fpirit of Hotfpur. The wrath of Achilles in Homer is not sustained with more dignity. Each hero is offended that the prize of valour,

Due to many a well-fought day,

is rudely fnatched from him by the hand of power.-One should suspect an author of


more learning to have had the character of Achilles in his eye, and also the advice of Horace in the manner of reprefenting him on the stage.

Impiger, iracundus, inexorabilis, acer.

Jura neget fibi nata, nihil non arroget armis.

His misdemeanors rife fo naturally out of his temper, and that temper is fo noble, that we are almost as much interested for him as for a more virtuous character.

His trefpafs may be well forgot,

It hath th' excufe of youth and heat of blood,

And an adopted name of privilege,


A hare-brain'd Hotspur govern'd by a spleen. The great afpiring foul of Hotspur bears out rebellion: it feems, in him, to flow from an uncontrollable energy of foul, born to give laws, too potent to receive them. In every scene he appears with the fame animation; he is always that Percy

Whose spirit lent a fire

Even to the dulleft peasant in the camp,
Led ancient lords and rev'rend bishops on,
To bloody battles and to bruifing arms.


He has too the franknefs of Achilles, and the fame abhorrence of falfhood; he is as impatient of Glendower's pretenfions to fupernatural powers, as to the king's affuming a right over his prifoners. In dividing the kingdom he will not yield a foot of ground to those who dispute with him; but would give any thing to a well-deferving friend. It is a pardonable violation of historical truth, to give the Prince of Wales, who behaved very gallantly at the battle of Shrewsbury, the honour of conquering him; and it is more agreeable to the spectator, as the event was, to beat down

The never-daunted Percy to the earth, to suppose it did not happen from the arrow of a peafant, but from the fword of Henry Monmouth, whose spirit came with a higher commiffion from the fame fiery sphere.

In Worcester the rebel appears in all his odious colours; proud, envious, malignant, artful, he is finely contrafted by the noble Percy. Shakespear, with the fagacity of a Tacitus,

Tacitus, obferves the jealoufies which must arife between a family, which has conferred a crown, and the king who has received it, who will always think the prefence of fuch benefactors too bold and peremptory.

The character of Henry IV. is perfectly agreeable to that given him by hiftorians. The play opens by his declaring his intentions to war against the infidels, which he does not undertake, as was usual in those times, from a religious enthufiafm, but is induced to it by political motives: that the martial Ipirit may not break out at home in civil wars; nor peace and idlenes givé men opportunity to enquire into his title to the crown, and too much discuss a point which would not bear a cool and clofe examination. Henry had the fpecious talents, which affist a man under certain circumstances to ufurp a kingdom, but either from the want of those great and folid qualities, which are neceffary to maintain opinion loyal to the throne to which it had raised him, or from the impoffibility of fatisfying the expectations of



those who had affifted his ufurpation, as fome of the best historians with great appearance of reafon have fuggefted*, it is cer'tain his reign was full of difcontents and troubles.

The popular arts by which he captivated the multitude, are finely described in the fpeech he makes to his fon, in the third act. Any other poet would have thought he had acquitted himself well enough in that dia logue, by a general fatherly admonition delivered with the dignity becoming a monarch: but Shakespear rarely deals in commonplace, and general morals. The peculiar temper and circumstances of the person, and the exigency of the time, influence the fpeaker as in real life. It is not only the king and parent, but Henry Plantagenet, that chides the Prince of Wales. How natural is it for him, on Percy's revolt, to recur to his own rebellion against Richard, and to apprehend that the fame levities which loft that king, first the opinion, then *Hume's Hift. of H. IV.



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