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and the prejudices of the Englishman. For it is observable that many of the noblest thoughts and images in the drama come from her; and in her interview with Burgundy the Poet could scarce have put into her mouth a higher strain of patriotic eloquence, had she been regarded as the patron saint of his father-land. But to have represented her throughout as a heaven-sent deliverer, besides being repugnant to the hereditary sentiment of the author, had been sure to offend the prepossessions of his audience. It is to this cause, probably, that we should attribute whatsoever of discrepancy there may be in the representation. All that is pure and beautiful in her life as depicted in the play resulted, no doubt, from the Poet's universality of mind and heart overbearing for a time the strong natural, and, we may add, honorable current of national feeling. Nor should it be unremembered that herein Shakespeare's course was against the whole drift of the Chronicles; for the account they give of her is indeed consistent, but then it is consistently bad. How the catastrophe of her career in the drama may have affected a contemporary English audience, we of course have no means of knowing: but to us her behavior thereabouts seems nowise of her character, but rather a piece of, perhaps justifiable, hypocrisy, taken up as a sort of forlorn hope, and so forming no part of herself; the impression of her foregoing life thus triumphing over the seeming sacrifice of honor and virtue at its close. What a subject she would have been for Shakespeare's hand, could he have done, what no good man has been able to do, namely, viewed her in the pure light of universal humanity, free from the colorings and refractings of national prepossession!

Amidst the general comparative tameness of the drama in hand, several scenes and parts of scenes may be specified as holding out something more than a promise of Shakespeare's ripened power. Such are the maiden's description of herself in Act i. sc. 2, beginning,-“Dauphin, I am by birth a shepherd's daughter;"—and Talbot's account of his entertainment by the French while their pris


in sc. 4 of the same Act, where the story relishes at every turn of the teller's character, and the words seem thoroughly steeped in his individuality. Not less admirable, perhaps, in its way, is the pungent and pithy dialogue between Winchester and Gloster, Warwick, and Somerset, at the opening of Act iii., where the words strike fire all round, and where the persons, because they dare not speak, therefore out of their pent-up wrath speak all the more spitefully. Again, of whole scenes, the third in Act ii., between old Talbot and the countess of Auvergne, is in the conception and the execution a genuine stroke of Shakespearian art, full of dramatic spirit, and making a strong point of stage-effect in the most justifiable sense. And in the Temple Garden scene, which is the fourth of the same Act, we have a concentration of true dramatic life issuing in a series of forcible and characteristic flashes, where every word tells with singular effect both as a development of present temper and a germ of many tragic events. And, on the higher principles of art, how fitting it was that this outburst of smothered rage, this distant ominous grumbling of the tempest, should be followed by the subdued and plaintive tones that issue from the prison of the aged Mortimer, where we have the very spring and cause of the gathering storm discoursed in a strain of melancholy music, and a virtual sermon of revenge and slaughter breathed from dying lips. And of the fifth, sixth, and seventh scenes in Act iv., also, we may well say with Dr. Johnson, "If we take these scenes from Shakespeare, to whom shall they be given?"

The chief merits of the play are well stated, though doubtless with some exaggeration, by Schlegel, the judiciousness of whose criticisms in the main hath been so often approved, that no apology seems needed for quoting him. "Shakespeare's choice," says he, "fell first on this period of English history, so full of misery and horrors of every kind, because to a young poet's mind the pathetic is naturally more suitable than the characteristic. We do not here find the whole maturity of his genius, yet certainly

its whole strength. Careless as to the seeming unconnectedness of contemporary events, he bestows little attention on preparation and development: all the figures follow in rapid succession, and announce themselves emphatically for what we ought to take them. The First Part contains but the forming of the parties of the White and Red Rose, under which blooming ensigns such bloody deeds were afterwards perpetrated; the varying results of the war in France principally fill the stage. The wonderful savior of her country, Joan of Arc, is portrayed by Shakespeare with an Englishman's prejudice: yet he at first leaves it doubtful whether she has not in reality an heavenly mission; she appears in the pure glory of virgin heroism; by her supernatural eloquence-and this circumstance is of the Poet's invention-she wins over the duke of Burgundy to the French cause; afterwards, corrupted by vanity and luxury, she has recourse to hellish fiends, and comes to a miserable end. To her is opposed Talbot, a rough iron warrior, who moves us the more powerfully, as, in the moment when he is threatened with inevitable death, all his care is tenderly directed to save his son, who performs his first deeds of arms under his eye. The interview between the aged Mortimer in prison, and Richard Plantagenet, unfolds the claims of the latter to the throne, and forms, by itself, a beautiful tragic elegy."




The heroic days of the fifth Henry, when the play opens, belong to the past; but their memory survives in the hearts and in the vigorous muscles of the great lords and earls who surround the king. He only, who most should have treasured and augmented his inheritance of glory and of power, is insensible to the large responsibilities and privileges of his place. He is cold in great affairs; his supreme concern is to remain blameless. Free from all greeds and ambitions, he yet is possessed by egoism, the egoism of timid saintliness. His virtue is negative, because there is no vigorous basis of manhood within him out of which heroic saintliness might develop itself. For fear of what is wrong, he shrinks from what is right. This is not the virtue ascribed to the nearest followers of "the Faithful and True" who in his righteousness doth judge and make war. Henry is passive in the presence of evil, and weeps. He would keep his garments clean; but the garments of God's soldier-saints, who do not fear the soils of struggle, gleam with a higher, intenser purity. "His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean." These soldiers in heaven have their representatives in earth; and Henry was not one of these. Zeal must come before charity, and then when charity comes it will appear as a self-denial. But Henry knows nothing of zeal; and he is amiable, not charitable.-DOWDEN, Shakspere-His Mind and Art.


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Only in one case does Shakespeare-according to our modern ideas—seem to have gone too far and to have been unjust, viz., in his delineation of Joan of Arc's character; but in this he has closely followed his authority, whether we assume it to have been Hall or Holinshed. La Pucelle's character was, up to the seventeenth century, a closed book even to her own countrymen, and has only in recent days by documentary evidence been revealed to us in its full purity and beauty. But even though this want of a correct knowledge of the case were not an unquestionable excuse for the poet, still his error vanishes, and appears as nothing, when compared with the filth which Voltaire her own countryman-has cast upon the character of La Pucelle. And even though Voltaire's wit were a hundred times more poignant, it would never clear him of this wrong.-ELZE, William Shakespeare.

Taking the character [of Joan la Pucelle] as it stands, -the embodiment of motives and disposition in harmony with deeds that the chroniclers assert as facts, it is hard to say that it is other than consistent and natural. The world is now in possession of numerous detailed examples of religious enthusiasm and self-deception combining with ambitious or political purpose in all their strange and mingling manifestations both of the mind and body, and if we scrutinize the most fortunate of them the result is much the same as the catastrophe of Joan even as represented in the play. The false impressions and assumptions that inflame the enthusiast work wonders in their strength, but their weakness tells at last. The self-conviction of the special choice and guidance and inspiration of heaven suffers rude shocks in an extended course, as rude as the blindest fatalism that hardens its purposes by repetition of the phrase of a destiny, a mission or a star. Rarely indeed does the vainly exalted thought of special heavenly protection es

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