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0, for a 'muse of fire, that would ascend The brightest heaven of invention!" A kingdom for a stage, princes to act, And monarchs to behold the swelling scene! Then should the warlike Harry, like himself, Assume the port of Mars; and, at his heels, Leash'd in like hounds, should famine, sword, and
fire, Crouch for employment. But pardon, gentles all, The flat unraised spirit, that hath dar'd, On this unworthy scaffold, to bring forth So great an object: Can this cockpit hold The vasty fields of France ? or may we cram Within this wooden 0, the very casques, That did affright the air at Agincourt? 0, pardon! since a crooked figure may Attest, in little place, a million ; And let us, ciphers to this great accompt, On your imaginary forces: work: Suppose, within the girdle of these walls
0, for a muse of fire, &c.] This goes, says Warburton, upon the notion of the Peripatetic system, which imagines several heavens one above another; the last and highest of which was one of fire. It alludes likewise to the aspiring nature of fire, which, by its levity, at the separation of the chaos, took the highest seat of all the elements. JOHNSON.
princes to act, And monarchs to behold -] Shakspeare does not seem to set distance enough between the performers and spectators.
3 Within this wonden 0,] An allusion to the theatre where this history was exhibited, being, from its circular form, called The Globe.
the very casques,] The helmets.
imaginary forces - ] Imaginary for imaginative, or your powers of fancy. Active and passive words are by this author frequently confounded. Johnson.
you see them
Are now confin'd two mighty monarchies,
6 And make imaginary puissance :) This shows that Shakspeare was fully sensible of the
absurdity of showing battles on the theatre, which, indeed, is never done, but tragedy becomes farce. Nothing can be represented to the eye, but by something like it, and within a wooden 0 nothing very like a battle can be exhibited.
KING HENRY V.
SCENE I. London. An Ante-chamber in the
Enter the Archbishop of Canterbury,' and Bishop
of Ely:* Cant. My lord, I'll tell you, thạt self bill is
urg'd, Which, in the eleventh year o' the last king's reign Was like, and had indeed against us pass’d, But that the scambling and unquiet time Did push it out of further question.
Ely. But how, my lord, shall we resist it now?
Cant. It must be thought on, If it pass against us, Wę lose the better half of our possession; For all the temporal ļands, which men devout By testament have given to the church, Would they strip from ys; being valued thus,As much as would maintain, to the king's honour, Full fifteen earls, and fifteen hundred knights ; Six thousand and two hundred good esquires ; And, to relief of lazars, and weak age, Of indigent faint souls, past corporal toil,
of Canterbury,) Henry Chicheley, a Carthusian monk, recently promoted to the see of Canterbury.
-Ely.) John Fordham, consecrated 1388; died 1426.
A hundred alms-houses, right well supplied ;
Ely. This would drink deep.
Twould drink the cup and all.
Cant. The courses of his youth promis'd it not, The breath no sooner left his father's body, But that his wildness, mortified in him, Seem'd to die too: yea, at that very moment, Consideration like an angel came, And whipp'd the offending Adam out of him Leaving his body as a paradise, To envelop and contain celestial spirits. Never was such a sudden scholar made: Never came reformation in a flood, With such a heady current, scouring faults ; Nor never Hydra-headed wilfulness So soon did lose his seat, and all at once, As in this king Ely.
We are blessed in the change. Cant. Hear him but reason in divinity, And, all-admiring, with an inward wish You would desire, the king were made a prelate: Hear him debate of commonwealth affairs, You would say,—it hath been all-in-all his study : List his discourse of war, and you shall hear A fearful battle render'd
9 Never came reformation in a flood,] Alluding to the method by which Hercules cleansed the famous stables, when he turned a river through them. Hercules still is in our author's head, when he mentions the Hydra. JOHNSON.
The air, a charter'd libertine, is still,
Ely. The strawberry grows underneath the nettle:
Cant. It must be so: for miracles are ceaş'd ;
But, my good lord,
* The air, &c.] This line is exquisitely beautiful.
2 So that the art and practick part of life-] He discourses with so much skill on all subjects, that the art and practice of life must be the mistress or teacher of his theorick; that is, that his theory must have been taught by art and practice ; which, says he, is strange, since he could see little of the true art or practice among his loose companions, nor ever retired to digest his practice into theory. Art is used by the author for practice, as distinguished from science, or theory. Johnson.
3 — companies — ] is here used for companions. It is used by other authors of Shakspeare's age in the same sense.
popularity.) i. e. plebeian intercourse; an unusual sense of the word.
crescive in his faculty.] Increasing in its proper power.