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GLOCESTER'S SPEECH TO THE NOBLES.
Brave Peers of England, pillars of the state,
SHAKSPEAKE. CHAP. XV.
HENRY V. TO HIS SOLDIERS.
What's he that wishes for more men from England ?
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian: He that outlives this day, and comes safe home, Will stand a tiptoe when this day is nam’d, And rouse him at the name of Crispian : He that outlives this day, and sees old age, Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours, And say, To morrow is Saint Crispian : Then will he strip his sleeve, and show his scars. Old men forget, yet shall not all forget, But they'll remember, with advantages, The feats they did that day. Then shall our names, Familiar in their mouths as household-words, Harry the King, Bedford, and Exeter, Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Glo'ster,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.
It was at a time, when a certain friend, whom I highly value, was my guest. We had been sitting together, entertaining ourselves with Shakspeare. Among many of his characters we had looked into that of Wolsey. How soon, says my friend, does the Cardinal in disgrace abjure that happiness, which he was lately so fond of! Scarcely out of office, but he begins to exclaim,
Vain pomp and glory of the world, I hate ye!
So true is it, that our sentiments ever vary with the season, and that in adversity we are of one mind, in prosperity of another. As for bis mean opinion, said I, of human happiness, it is a truth, which small reflection might have taught him long before. There seems little need of distress, to illform us of this. I rather commend the seeming wisdom of that eastern monarch, who in the affluence of prosperity, when he was proving every pleasure, was yet so sensible of their emptiness, their insufficiency to make him happy, that he proclaimed a reward to the man who should invent a new delight. The reward indeed was proclaimed, but the delight was not to be found. If by delight, he said, you mean some good; something conducing to real happiness ; it might have been found, perhaps, and yet not hit the monarchi's fancy. Is that, said I, possible? It is possible, replied he, though it had been the sovereign good itself. And indeed what wonder ? Is it probable, that such a mortal as an eastern monarch; such a pampered, flattered, idle mortal, should have attention or capacity for a subject so delicate ? A subject, enough to exercise the subtlest and most acute ?
What then is it you esteem, said I, the sovereign Good to be? It should seem, by your representation, to be something very uncommon. Ask me not the question, said he; you know not where it will carry us. It's general idea indeed is easy and plain ; but the detail of particulars is
perplexed and long; passions and opinions for ever thwart us; a paradox appears in almost every advance. Besides, did our inquiries succeed ever so happily, the very subject itself is always enough to give me pain. That, replied I, seems a paradox indeed. It is not, said he, from any prejudice, which I have conceived against it; for to man I esteem it the noblest in the world. Nor is it for being a subject to which my genius does not lead me; for no subject at all times has more employed my attention. But the truth is, I can scarce ever think of it, but an unlucky story still occurs, to my mind :-“A certain stargazer with his telescope was
once, viewing the moon ; and describing her seas, her “ mountains, and her territories. Says a clown to his com
panion, Let him spy what he pleases; we areas near to “ the moon as lie and all his brethren." So fares it, alas! with these our moral speculations. Practice too often creeps, where theory can soar. The philosopher proves as weak, as those whom he most contemns. A mortifying thought to such as well attend to it. Too mortifying, replied I, to be long dwelt on. Give us rather your general idea of the Sovereign Good. This is easy from your own account, however intricate the detail.
Thus then, said he, since you are so urgent, it is thus that I conceive it. The Sovereign Good is that, the possession of which renders us happy. And how, said I, do we possess it? Is it sensual or intellectual? There you are entering, said he, upon the detail. This is beyond your question. Not a small advance, said I, to indulge poor curiosity ?