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HE peculiar dexterity with which the
author unfolds the characters, and prepares the events of this play, deserves our attention.
There is not perhaps any thing more difficult in the whole compass of the dramatic art, than to open to the spectator the previous incidents that were productive of the present circumstances, and the characters of the persons from whose conduct in such circumstances the subsequent events are to flow. An intelligent spectator will receive great pleasure from observing every action
naturally arifing out of the sentiments and manners of the persons represented. Happier is the poet, the perplexities of whose fable are unfolded by the natural operation of the dispositions of the persons who compose it, than even he, to whom it is permitted to call a deity to his assistance. This play opens by the king's declaring his intention to undertake the crusade as soon as peace will allow him to do it. Westmorland informs him of the defeat of Mortimer by Owen Glendower; the King relates the news of Perey's victory at Holmedon, which turally leads him to the praise of this young hero, and to express an envy of Lord Northumberland's happiness
To be the father of sa bleft a son, While I (fays he) See riot and dishonour stain the brow Of my young Harry; ;, then he mentions Percy's refusal of his prifonors, which Weftmorland attributes to the malevolent suggestions of Worcester. Thus at once is presented to the spectator, the condition of the state, the temper of the
times, and the characters of the perfons from whence the catastrophe is to arise.
The stern authority the king assumes on Hotspur’s disobedience to his commands, could not fail to inflame a warm young hero flushed with recent victory, and elate with the consciousness of having so well defended a crown which his father and uncle had in a manner conferred. Nothing can be more natural than that, in such a temper, he should recur to the obligations the king had rea ceived from his family : and thus while he feems venting his spleen, he explains to the spectator what is past, and opens the source of the future rebellion ; and by connecting former transactions with the present passions and events, creates in the reader an interest and a sympathy which a cold narration or a pompous declamation could not have effected. As the author designed Percy should be an interesting character, his disobedience to the king, in regard to the prisoners, is mitigated by his pleading the unfitness of the person and unfavorableness of the occa