Perhaps you recall: The transformation of the capering Prince Hal into the formidable King Henry V is the new “defining motif” of this humble weblog. (Scroll down if you click the link.)
This same tranformation, however, broke the spirit of Prince Hal’s fellow-caperer, Sir John Falstaff. After the King broke off their friendship, Fallstaff’s dissolute life finally caught up with him, and he died.
In Henry V, when Falstaff’s friend Bardolph hears that the jolly knight is dead, he declares:
Would I were with him, wheresome’er he is, either in
heaven or in hell! (Act II, Scene 3)
As the statement of a Christian, this sentence makes no sense. In hell, it is impossible to enjoy each other’s company. But as the lament of a friend, it is heartbreakingly beautiful.
…John Wilson was a member of the D.C. City Council when I was in high-school. When I was in college, he became the chairman.
Someone called the new Archbishop of New York “Falstaff in a mitre.”
With all due respect, I do not think that this is apt.
As we Shakespearians know, Sir John’s most lovable quality is that he is not, in fact, a good person. He is a lying, lecherous, selfish, cynical, dissolute coward.
Just because Falstaff is also jovial, garrulous, and imperious does not mean that he makes a suitable literary figure for His Excellency Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who is an industrious and orthodox prelate.
A year ago today, your humble servant was in Bethlehem, venerating the birthplace of Christ.
The Israeli government has erected a wall around the Israeli settlements near Bethlehem.
Don’t forget to eat all the candy in the house today.
A fairly massive Tuesday-night wrap-up here, what with all the interesting developments…
Today the Church keeps the Memorial of St. Catharine of Alexandria. She was not from Alexandria, Virginia.
We do not know much about St. Catharine, other than that she was a virgin and a martyr. But we do know this: Most of the city she lived in is under the Mediterranean Sea.
Once, Alexandria was one of the great cities of Christendom, the site of the world’s largest library. Not any more.
This week is the last week of the Church year. It is the time for us to meditate on the end of things. We do not not know when, but it is inevitable. Everything under the sun will end.
Kingdoms rise and fall. Great cities slip into the sea. Our days on earth are numbered.
At the end of Act V, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part One, Falstaff gives his “catechism.” (You can skip to Prince Henry’s speech halfway through the scene if you don’t feel like wading through a lot of Scotch-English history.)
The Knight of Sack and Bawdyhouses declares that “honor is a mere scutcheon.” It is “air.” It will not outlive death.
Falstaff is a lovably honest character. Two scenes earlier, he admitted to the audience that he had shamelessly abused his commission as an officer of the King’s army and profited by drafting unworthy soldiers.
Falstaff’s speech against honor is disturbingly cogent. And it is especially ironic, considering that, earlier in the scene, Falstaff’s drinking buddy–the Prince–has just made an enormously honorable offer to risk his life for the sake of his army.
Is Falstaff correct? What is honor? Is it worth dying for?
Certainly we all want to have a good reputation. But is that all honor is?
Discuss, and get back to me.
Finally: Dave Johnson and Glenn Consor were so giddy during the third quarter of tonight’s Wizards blowout of the Golden State Warriors that they started joking about teaching Yiddish and Latin to each other. (Glenn Consor sounds a great deal like Ray Romano of “Everybody Loves Raymond.”)