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Caf. My heart is thirsty for that noble pledge.
SCENE V. Opportunity to be feiz'd on in all Affairs.
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
ACT V. SCENE III.
The Parting of Brutus and Caffius.
Bru. No, Caffius, no; think not, thou noble Res
That ever Brutus will go bound to Rome;
He bears too great a mind. But this fame day
Bru. Why then, lead on. O, that a man might
The end of this day's business ere it come!
But it fufficeth, that the day will end;
And then the end is known.
Melancholy, the Parent of Error.
Oh hateful error, melancholy's child!
Why doft thou fhew to the apt thoughts of men
Antony's Character of Brutus.
This was the noblest Roman of them all :
So mixt in him, that nature might stand up,
It may perhaps be needlefs to inform the reader, that the duke of Buckingham, difpleas'd with what the critics efteem fo great a fault in this play, the death of Julius Cæfar, in the third Act, hath made two plays of it; but I am afraid the lovers of Shakefpear will be apt to place that nobleman's performance on a level with the reft of those who have attempted to alter, or amend Shakespear.
ACT I. SCENE III.
An alienated Child
ET it be fo, thy truth then be thy dower:
For by the facred radiance of the fun,
From whom we do exist, and cease to be
The barb'rous Scy
Or he that makes his generation meffes
Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law My fervices are bound; (2) wherefore should I
(1) Let, &c.] The reader will do well to obferve, Shakespear makes his characters in king Lear strictly conformable to the religion of their times: the not attending sufficiently to this, hath accafioned fome Critics greatly to err in their remarks on this play.
(2) Wherefore, &c.] The baftard is here complaining of the tyranny of cuftom, and produces two inftances, to fhew the plague and oppreffion of it; the firft, in the cafe of elder brothers; the
Stand in the plague of cuftom, and permit
For that I am fome twelve or fourteen moon-fhines
fecond, of baftards. With regard to the firft, we are to fuppofe him fpeaking of himself only as an objector, making the cafe his own, according to a common manner of arguing: Wherefore, fays he, fhould I (or any man) ftand in [within] the plague [the punishment or fcourge] of cuftom, why fhould I continue in its oppreffive power, and permit the courtesy of nations to deprive to take away from, rob, and injure me, becaufe, &c.
(3) Who, &c.] Mr. Warburton quotes a paffage here, well worth remarking---- "How much the lines following this are in character, fays he, may be feen by that monstrous wish of Vanini, the Italian atheift, in his tract, De admirandis naturæ reginæ deaque mortalium arcanis, printed at Paris 1616, the very year our poet died. O utinam extra legitimum & connubialem thorum efTem procreatus! Ita enim progenitores mei in venerem incaluiffent ardentius, accumulatim affatimq; gene ofa femina contuliffent, èquibus ego formæ blanditiam, ac elegantiam robuftas corporis vires, mentemque innubilam confequutus fuiffem. At quia conjugatorum fum foboles his orbatus fum bonis. Had the book been publish'd but ten or twenty years fooner, who would not have believ'd that Shakespear alluded to this paffage ? But the divinity of his genius foretold, as it were, what such an atheist, as Vanini, would say, when he wrote upon fuch a subject."
I have forbore giving a translation of the Latin, because ShakeJpear's words are a fine paraphrafe of it, and because it perhaps, is not proper for all ears: but if, fuppofing Vanini had wrote firft, we fhould have imagined, Shakespear alluded to him ; why may we not, as it is, believe Vanini alluded to Shakespear?
(4) Got 'tween afleep and wake] This reading runs thro' all the editions, and is indeed very plaufible: tho' it seems to me, the
SCENE VIII. Aftrology ridicul'd
(5) This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are fick in fortune, (often the furfeits of our own behaviour) we make guilty of our difafters, the fun the moon and ftars; as if we were villains on neceffity, fools, by heavenly compulfion; knaves, thieves, and treacherous, by fpherical predominance; diunkards, lyars and adulterers, by an inforc'd obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whore-master man, to lay his goatifh difpofition on the charge of a ftar! my father compounded with my mother under the dragon's tail, and my nativity was under Urfa major; fo that it follows, I am rough and lecherous. I fhould
paffage originally flood, Got atween fleep and wake. The a might very eafily have been fo tranfpofed, and atween is very common with all the old writers down to, and below our author,
(5) This, &c] Aftrology was in much higher credit in our author's time than in Milton's, who, nevertheless, hath satirised it in the feverest manner poffible, by making it patronifed even by the devil himself: for in the 4th book of his Paradife Regain'd, the devil thus addreffes our faviour.
- If I read aught in heaven,
Or heav'n write aught of fate, by what the stars
In their conjunction met, give me to spell,
Attend thee, fcorns reproaches, injuries,
Violence and ftripes, and laftly cruel death:
A kingdom they portend thee, but what kingdom,
Real or allegoric, I difcern not,
Nor when eternal fure, as without end.
Where it is to be obferv'd, fays Mr. Warburton, that the poet thought it not enough to difcredit judicial astrology, by making it patronifed by the devil, without fhewing at the fame time, the abfurdity of it. He has therefore very judiciously made him blurder, in the expreffion of portending a kingdom, which was without beginning. This deftroys all he wou'd infinuate,"