William Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage - Vol. 6

By Brian Vickers | Go to book overview

safe even in defeat, and seems to rise, like another Antæus, with recruited vigour from every fall; in this, as in every other respect, unlike Parolles or Bobadil: they fall by the first shaft of ridicule, but Falstaff is a butt on which we may empty the whole quiver whilst the substance of his character remains unimpaired. His ill habits, and the accidents of age and corpulence, are no part of his essential constitution; they come forward indeed on our eye, and solicit our notice, but they are second natures, nature not first; mere shadows, we pursue them in vain. Falstaff himself has a distinct and separate subsistence; he laughs at the chace, and when the sport is over gathers them with unruffled feather under his wing. And hence it is that he is made to undergo not one detection only, but a series of detections; that he is not formed for one Play only, but was intended originally at least for two; and the author, we are told, was doubtful if he should not extend him yet farther, and engage him in the wars with France. This he might well have done, for there is nothing perishable in the nature of Falstaff. He might have involved him, by the vicious part of his character, in new difficulties and unlucky situations, and have enabled him, by the better part, to have scrambled through, abiding and retorting the jests and laughter of every beholder. (176-8)


255.

Frederick Pilon, on acting Hamlet

1777

From An Essay on the Character of Hamlet As Performed by Mr. Henderson (1777); second edition in the same year, both anonymous.

Frederick Pilon (1750-88) gave up the study of medicine to become an actor; he worked for Griffin the bookseller on the Morning Post, and after Griffin’s death took to the drama, writing numerous farces and comic operas for Covent

-180-

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